Saturday, 6 March 2010

Project Sketch

My ESL students (Gr. 9-11 'advanced' proficiency level) are reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. We've just started reading, but I see possibilities for setting up a PLN as described in this week's reading in Chap. 4 of 'Reinventing Project-Based Learning.' The focus of the story is the need for kids who experience trauma to be able to speak out and express themselves to someone they can trust. My students, who represent quite a variety of different cultural backgrounds, could use their blogs to first explore who they might trust (as this value varies from culture to culture) and who to go to for their own problems/issues—both within their own families, among their friends—f2f or online from their social networks, before branching out to other professionals at school or within the community. (Have a look at my ESL classes that have just set up their blogs. The 'What if?' post sets up for the reader the what the main character, Melinda, goes through in her experience.)

At the next level of involvement, would be a f2f meeting with their counselors (this could be set up in groups according to the counselor who is assigned to a particular part of the alphabet in the high school), to interview and get ideas on how young people can communicate about a trauma in their own lives (or that of a friend's), what community members are available in or outside the school. They'd be required to ask their counselors to send them a list contacts via email.

Next would be communicating with a professional in the community—asking for advice/ information on how to best deal with emotional trauma/problems, information on when to go outside their immediate comfort zone to ask for help as well as where to find professionals of different languages to communicate with. In class, we'd practice the text type for this type of writing and post these first on the blog for practice—they'd have a look as to what others are writing and I could look them over and give feedback before officially posting. Next, once communications start coming in, we'd gather the data and set up a database on, whereby the data could be entered as it comes in—a dynamic database—and one which might actually be used by the students who may be looking for contacts themselves.

For presentation of the data, in groups, using the data collected students could present a 'How to Manage Issues/Problems,' or we could generate some other possible topics, given the type of data that we have to work with. These presentations could be set up on Voicethread. ESLs do need practice and opportunity for rehearsal of their voices and Voicethread has worked well for this in the past. We also set up an ESL Ning last year, so another possibility is to reactivate the Ning and post all the work and presentations there.

This whole process isn't necessarily 'geeking out' whereby there's 'peer-based reciprocity,' rather it's more the 'qualities' discussed in Chap. 4 that include: constructing meaning, realistic, crossing disciplines, inquiring from experts, structuring learning so students learn from one another, reaching out to others and it would especially involve 'risk-taking' as ESLs are still grappling with both spoken and written proficiency. And, an added bonus for me is that I'm learning about the community (and how to better manage all of this) along with the students.

One last follow-up would be to invite Laurie Anderson, Speak author, to the Ning, with the possibility of further recognition for their efforts, if she were to 'publish' any of their presentations on her website.

I see this project involving a minimum of 15 classes. Rubrics would be used to evaluate each part of the project, including the writings and presentations. Past rubrics for online work could be revised and used as needed.

Regarding the NETS-T standards, this project addresses the following two standards specifically:
1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity: (b.) engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources, and
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning: (b.) collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation.

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