One of the most difficult times I have in creating projects is balancing projects which are real world, significant and applicable to life versus the academic standards and foundational ideas in terms of 5th grade learning standards that I need to reinforce. Teaching parts of speech has always been one of the most challenging because while I always prefer to use the students own writing to reinforce concepts. But rather than having students make a list of adverb, verbs, etc. from their writing I try and let them create their own way of teaching the concepts using a narrative structure and several presentation tools. I've done this particular project several times and always start with a set of Discovery Education videos called Pendemonium that tell a story while teaching parts of speech.
I've used Comic Life in the past and broken down the groups by topic such as "adjective" or "nouns" groups, etc. This year I again had the students grouped the same and begin by creating their story using a linear story board (link will download or display pdf) from Tech4Learning. I decided this year to have them writing a script in Google docs and then using Voicethread to record the story with students being expected to follow a basic set of instructions and created a homepage to also link off group pages and if needed embed screencasts or in this instance links to a screencast. I also as has been my practice for awhile to have some kind of simple bulletin board to post questions and share ideas.
I again used a Wallwisher this year but it wasn't running or loaded very slowly in many instances and I didn't push the students to use it this year. I liked how it has expanded to become something more than just a simple text based tool.
They were also expected to create their own artwork, although that could mean anything from drawing and scanning hand drawn artwork using Skitch and uploading to our classroom Flickr account to using the drawing tools in Kerpoof to create images. I tried to introduce Aviary education this year since there are education accounts available to students but I'll need to show them more on what they can do with the tool since they seemed to prefer the ease of using Kerpoof at this age.
We watched all the videos in the series and I asked students to not only keep track of what the rules of grammar introduced in each video but also to write down what happened in each episode in terms of plot, setting, and characters. The notes were turned in and as I told the students this was a primary way for them to show evidence of learning the rules of grammer. Students were then asked to brainstorm their own story. Earlier in the year I had done several activities surrounding Bloom's Taxonomy and I again referred to the poster that I have up in my room and asked students to think up ways to achieve the higher levels of thinking with what they were going to do for the project. I gave them the sheet to begin creating a storyline and have a rough drawing of what they needed. Several groups preferred to jump right into a shared Google doc.
Everyday as students finished with that day's work they were expected to do a reflection on what was done and whether everyone was contributing.
I also gave students a deadline of two weeks to complete the work for the Voicethread and also to create a Glogster that was to advertise their Voicethread like a movie poster but also needed to have at least four links to learning tools or websites. but had to extend the time allowed so that all students could finish. I also set up a Wallwisher for students to ask questions and post ideas but the tools has become problematic in its not being reliable to use.
The final results were to be posted to a wikipage that each group was given as a home page. The homepage was expected to have a description of the project as well as a Glogster poster which was to advertise the final voicethread as well as have at least four links to learning tools to help in understanding the part of speech assigned.
An example of what the final wiki pages with the Voicethread and Glogster can be seen here.
The final projects for the most part turned out well. The hardest part was getting students to check and adjust their volume level using the headset mics or built in mics on the computers.
Students were asked to play their Voicethread and to share ideas behind their project. I used a Coverit live blog that I embedded in the wiki and could moderate comments while the presentation was happening.
I ended up with two sessions because I couldn't remember how to restart a previously paused session.
Since this was the first time many of the students had used many of these tools the groups that were most successful were those that were proactive in learning how to use the tools and how to embed them in their wiki page. We had also brainstormed all the possible jobs involved with completing the project but some groups struggled to complete everything on time.