Technology Research Projects Give Students Freedom in Honoring Black History Month
Feb. 21, 2013 (TAMPA, FL)– When Darina Glover, Corbett Prep Director of Instructional Technology and middle school teacher, assigns a project, the students dig in because they have choices that read like a menu. This month, Mrs. Glover challenged her students to find historical, often unknown, African- Americans to research, to identify their significant contributions, and to connect the International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner Profile attributes to these figures. What makes this project so motivating and engaging? The students were able to choose their subjects based on predetermined criteria and used creative technologies to design and share their findings with teams of their peers.
Corbett Preparatory School of IDS begins formal technology instruction in PreK4 so by the time students are in middle school, they are well-versed in both Mac and PC platforms as well as Google Docs and up-to-date presentation formats that include Prezi, iMovie, and GarageBand.
Eighth graders were to choose any five African- Americans who have made a significant and positive mark in the world and thoroughly research their lives. Mrs. Glover encouraged the students to dig deep in their research as she charged them with discovering influential people other than those who are already well known today. Like the sixth and seventh graders, the eighth graders connected their subjects with one or more of the IB Learner Profile attributes: principled, reflective, open-minded, caring, knowledgeable, thinker, inquirer, risk taker, balanced, and communicator. They shared their work via the creative, moving visual format Prezi, “a cloud-based presentation software with a zoomable canvas.”
Traditional Powerpoint, Prezi and iMovie are the choices seventh grade students had when creating their presentations. The seventh graders were charged with researching five figures and narrowing down to one as the choice for the most deserving of having a school in a small town named after him or her. Students had to convincingly and creatively persuade other members of the class that the contributions of their subject were significant enough to be the best choice for the name of a school.
For sixth grade students, the list of choices grew even longer. They could also create a Powerpoint, Prezi or iMovie, but they were also given the options to create a virtual collage, Venn diagram, handbill, newsletter, crossword puzzle, and even compose a rap song using GarageBand software to share the message of their influential African-American.
“My favorite part of technology is the designing. Creating a Powerpoint that shows how someone changed the world makes the research easy to understand and easy to remember because we have our own options. Some people learn best by writing, some by hearing and some by reading. When you have a choice, the project is much more interesting,” said sixth grader Alexis Jaskiel.
Under the direction of technology teacher Mr. Matt Melnick, all Intermediate Division students in grades three, four, and five are also using technology to celebrate famous African-Americans. They are nearing the completion of their podcasts created in GarageBand. They experienced an “outdoor classroom” where they spread out by the lake adjacent to campus with their MacBook Airs to record their podcasts.
“Using different technologies such as Prezi gives us more freedom and keeps the audience’s attention because no two are the same,” added eighth grader Emily Baruch.