This past weekend I came up with a couple of new blogging goals. Once of these is to share more of the technology projects my students are doing in class. I know that as I stumble through the blogosphere I appreciate the ideas of others. Sometimes the simplest, most effective uses of technology never cross my mind until I seem them some place else.
Over the past few years my friend Lisa and I have one gripe about student technology projects – sometimes take way too long!. Based on some advice from John Patten to keep it simple, this week my students are working Atomic Comic Life projects. On Tuesday I presented a direct instruction lesson on atomic structure and today my kids had to create a Comic Life demonstrating their knowledge of protons, neutrons, electrons, the nucleus and electron clouds. I supplied my students with four atom pictures to choose from and some step-by-step directions and requirements through our class Moodle page. I didn’t develop a rubric because so far this year I keep finding that my expectations might be a little too high. However, next semester when I have a new batch of kids I will have a rubric for students to independently assess their work before submitting it for a grade. I gave students only one period to complete the assignment and nearly everyone had it turned in by the time the bell rang. My few stragglers did not finish due to technical difficulties.
Yes, I know we’re using Comic Life, a Mac-only program, but a similar project could easily be accomplished using Word, Inspiration, or PowerPoint. When doing projects like these I find it most efficient to choose a group of images from which students can select. This saves enormous amounts of time by not letting them peruse or get lost in Flickr. I also find it helpful to give them an example. For my English-learners and academically struggling students an example gives them some scaffolding either for terminology or content. The high-achievers use the example as a starting point and always end up amazing me with extra information or some sort of techie wiz-bang. Regardless of how you set it up projects like Atomic Comic Lifes are a great way to get kids to demonstrate content knowledge and pick up a few technical skills at the same time. You’ll also be amazed at how quite your class is with everyone focusing on their computer project!