Learning goals of the project
The ability to gather information and clearly communicate it to an audience is a skill that is crucial for success at most levels of schooling and the job market. A well-executed research report holds the potential to stir deep interest and curiosity in the minds of both the author and her readers. However, most assignments of this nature emphasize only the mechanics of the process and neglect the capacity for wonder and excitement. In order for children to learn the power of this type of writing, they must be given opportunities to experience and practice it in meaningful ways. During this initial foray into the craft of research writing, students will use multimodal literacy practices to create brochures that explain the various systems of the human body. The project will have particular meaning as students’ finished products will be placed in a local medical facility for consumption by the public. A medical professional from the facility will also communicate with the students to express a need for comprehensible materials for patients thus adding an air of importance to the task. To launch the project, the teacher will share with students an article that describes the problem of overly complex health literature. During this launch time, the students will also hear from at least one local medical professional making a request for more understandable materials. The teacher will then introduce the ultimate goal of the unit which will be to create brochures, using Google Docs and Pages that clearly explain systems of the human body.
How does the technology engage students in learning? Co-engagement/social use?
To launch the unit I created an iMovie that aimed to show students the amazing things our bodies are capable of. Within this movie I interviewed a physical therapist at ATI Physical therapy in downtown Ann Arbor. The physical therapist told students how important it is that health literature can be understood by patients. The physical therapist then went on to tell the students that he needed them to create brochures to distribute to the patients that would teach them the importance of maintaining the various systems within their body. By using popular athletes and many different sports, along with the instrumental of a popular song, students were very engaged and excited to help educate the patients at ATI Physical Therapy. For this unit students were responsible for writing a report about a specific body system, as well as creating a brochure that would be displayed at ATI Physical Therapy. However, students were assigned their system based on their table groups. This allowed for lots of co engagement. Students were able to conduct research and then share their findings with their tablemates on a shared google doc. Also, by creating groups, students were constantly working together on the computer, conducting research, peer editing reports, and creating brochures.
How does the technology enhance student learning?
By conducting the majority of their research online, students had access to a plethora of
resources. Rather than simply reading information from a book, they studied interactive diagrams,
watched videos, and read articles. By writing their essays in Google Docs and sharing them with me, I
was able to simultaneously log in with multiple students to help them with their writing in real time.
One student with an IEP was able to use the speech-to- text feature to reduce the amount of writing
that he needed to do which served as a helpful scaffold. Finally, by having students create brochures
with the information they gathered, they were able to solidify their understanding by deciding how to
communicate it to the public and add meaning by including appropriate pictures and diagrams. An
unintended benefit of using Pages on the iPads was that it provided an opportunity for students to
develop perseverance. The app was new to them and somewhat challenging at first. They were
initially extremely frustrated- so much so that I considered not having them use it. Instead, I talked to
them about perseverance and how it was understandable for them to have difficulty on the first try. I
encouraged them to stick with it and emphasized the benefit of learning a new tool that they could
use for other purposes in the future. I was somewhat taken aback at the attitude shift and how
quickly they learned the app after that brief “pep talk.”
How does the technology extend student learning? Connect to student lives, connect to authentic purposes?
Once students finished writing and revising their reports, they used the “pages” application to create a brochure to be displayed at the physical therapy office. I don’t think the technology necessarily made connections to student lives, but it made those connections possible. What I mean is that in this unit the connections to student lives were made by the meaningful work they were doing. The technology simply made that work more presentable, neat, and engaging. Creating the brochures gave students another opportunity to work with the information they have been learning about, by succinctly restating the information in their reports. Being able to display the brochures in the physical therapy office provided an authentic purpose for students that engaged them in their learning. Using the pages app allowed students who are not “artistic” to be just as involved as other students. It also allowed for more presentable and professional appearance of the brochure. I think the unit in general connected to student lives since everyone has experience with each body system, and can relate to the feelings when a system is experiencing a change of some sort.
Triple E Score: 14/18 (learn about reading the results)