WRITTEN BY: KATE PETTY -originally published JAN• 22•12
See the end of article for links to a step-by-step lesson plan and Common Core Standards Rubric for the written portion.
Why: Assessment for the online work students have learned over the semester
I’ve spent the semester introducing my students to a paperless, flipped classroom. They’ve been taught several skills that involve creating essays online, creating assessment projects with iPods, working intensely in a group setting, and we’ve tried out online quizzes and tests. We read our literature in class and do the assignments in class. They get the literature “lectures” and short literary reviews in film form on my website.
I chose to take the Saturation Paper created by Carol Booth Olson and digitize it, Troy Hicks-style. Students work with a group to choose a topic, research, compose an essay, create a podcast of the essay, and film a movie. This assignment effectively assesses each of the technological points that were taught over the semester thereby letting me assess how much the students learned.
The other why: Standards. All of our technology standards and even the Common Core asks us to teach students how to use online publishing tools- what a great, guided way to do it!
This assignment was created for college-prep level seniors. Most of the students have smart phones, we have iPods for those who do not. All of the students have access to a computer at home. The class has periodic access to a computer lab on campus.
This assignment can be adapted for any grade level by adjusting the prompt and outcomes. It can also be adjusted for students without a lot of access to technology by using paper handouts for the pre-write, outline, and even essay. There is not an expectation that all teachers incorporate the podcast or movie versions. The plan is to take the idea and adjust it to what you can work with.
Groups of 4-6 students research major historical decisions and choose one to develop a narrative story around using three major characters. Students use Google Forms to choose and plan out their essay. I like Google Forms because I can check the responses quickly in the morning before class and see what students are thinking before class starts- it saves about 10 minutes of time in class. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Forms, I you can view my post and/or my “how to” info page about Google Docs. Students use Forms to research the event, each of the three characters, and they will also use Forms to organize their narrative around a plot diagram. (I created a VoiceThread review for them to use)
Within their groups, I had them break into teams to research one of the three characters and then create on outline for that character during the time span that will be narrated in the essay. Students then come back as a group, share and discuss their outlines, and then create one final outline that weaves each of the smaller character outlines into one. All four of the outlines (the three character outlines and one final outline) are typed into the original Google Doc that the group has shared with me.
Finally, they begin the rough draft in their Doc on the page after the outlines. I require 25 minutes of group attention and input as one person begins typing the essay, this way everyone has a solid sense of what the essay will look like and be able to give input if they don’t like it. Students actually surround the person typing so everyone can see the screen.
As two people continue typing the essay, using the group’s final outline as a guide, the other group members begin planning the audio for the podcast and the scene requirements for the movie. Because I do not have a 1:1 classroom, I could not use computer-based audio programs like Audacity. My students were given the option to use VoiceThread or iMovie and create a photo-essay to accompany their audio (they can do this on their phones or the class iPods).
Before the video is created or the audio has been recorded, students come back to the essay and, as a group, read and edit the story. Once the group is satisfied with the work, they create the podcast and movie and then embed all three elements (story, audio, video) on a class wiki site (I use PBworks).
The other groups and classes then spend a day or two reading and responding to the essay in the comments boxes on the wiki. Groups will then have one last opportunity to revise and edit their stories before releasing the Google Doc for grading. At this point, they will also use the last page of their Google Doc for each group member to reflect on the overall assignment and justify the assignment’s credibility to me.
Down-time. If the students let themselves, there can be incredible amounts of downtime throughout this essay process. I solved the problem by informing them that this was their final exam grade and that part of the assessment was watching how each group member used the downtime- when their section was “finished” did they contribute to the other sections of the group effectively to get the overall assignment complete?
Step-By-Step Planning Guide