Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tweaking to make things relevant II

My wife, Tania, told me this story yesterday.

Her Writer's Craft class is working on a research assignment where they find information about a certain historical period. The goal of the assignment is for the students to improve their research skills as writers often need to do research before writing, whether they are writing fiction or non-fiction. Tania has done this before and she and the teacher-librarian collaborate to put together the assignment and instructions for the students. As a side note, the teacher-librarian at my wife's school is terrific and exemplifies the combination of teacher and librarian that is so helpful to a school, its students, and its staff.

The best part of the story was how good use of technology allowed Tania and the teacher-librarian at her school to make the assignment more personalized and thus relevant and interesting for the students. Tania did sign ups for the various historical periods on Monday on her interactive whiteboard, which she saved as a PDF (Adobe Acrobat) file and emailed to the librarian. He then took the information from the PDF and added the student's names and chosen historical periods to his instruction sheet.

On Tuesday, when the students arrived at the library to begin their research, they received an up-to-date instruction sheet including the list of who had signed up for what. The students were impressed, which probably motivated them to work a little harder on their research.

Oh, speaking of technology, the results of the students' work will be posted to the class wiki. This means that anyone on the Internet can come across the students' work, read it, and use it. Compare that to a student handing in the research and only having the teacher read it, after which the work likely gets thrown out.

Stories like this are why I am such a big fan of appropriate use of technology in education.

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