by Denise H. Stuart
Collaboration is the pronounced theme of the classroom website Students for Tomorrow developed by Social Studies teachers Garth Holman of Beachwood Middle School and Michael Pennington of Chardon Middle School. Not only did they develop this multimedia site together but it has become a platform for their students, in two different school districts, to collaborate on projects integrating reading, writing and history content with web 2.0 and multimedia technology. Garth describes the work of blog buddies where “they are writing historical fiction stories in first person about the Middle Ages and then getting feedback on the blogs from the opposite school.” Parents are invited to be a part of the process with a link to a page that describes 21st Century Skills. Videos, podcasts and sample student work enrich the rationale for how and why social media is used in the classroom.
A visit to this site will inspire one with the many student projects like the above tagxedo, developed from words submitted by all students, collected on a google doc. Garth and Mike put to action their expressed beliefs in constructivist learning by providing students with a wealth of resources to support deep learning. Embedded in the site are teacher made videos demonstrating use of web 2.0, social networking and other digital tools such as building a voki, using diigo saving an iMovie to quicktime, and tagging and taking screenshots on Google Earth. A group diigo develops social bookmarking between Chardon and Beachwood Middle Schools. Unit centered activities like the Middle Age Quest engage students to listen, view, blog, search, read and write comments through 10 quests to learn about the Middle Ages. The Wall encourages use of social media to text in ideas, described on Garth’s and Mike’s teacher-centered website Teachers for Tomorrow.
This classroom website celebrates the possibilities of learners of the 21st Century. A powerful page was added in recent months that features student made videos, songs, writing, and drawing, as well as photos and YouTube videos from the world community when Chardon tragically experienced the loss and injury of students in a shooting at the High School. In Memory 2.27.12 shows the reach of the collaborating Beachwood class in sending thoughts of care to their partner school. This page became a place for many to express support for the losses of the Chardon community.
Denise Stuart is from The University of Akron, Ohio.
This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).