This exhibit is a component of the PBS TeacherLine/ISTE Capstone Certificate Program. The exhibit is part of the Portfolio intended to demonstrate proficiency in the ISTE NETS for Teachers.

Exhibit Details

Capstone II
Proficient Use of Technology with the NETS•T
Title
The Secret Life of Bees and Other Integration Adventures
Summary
Students in 9th grade Honor English create a collaborative wiki based on the novel The Secret Life of Bees.
Author(s)
LaMaster, Jennifer
School
Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School
Grade Taught
9-12
Primary Subject
Reading/Language Arts
Curriculum Topic(s)
American Literature: Characterization
Exhibit Description

The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP) focuses on the “dynamic elements of experience, reflection and action… at work in the classroom.” (Metts, 7) The Jesuit order was created as a teaching order. From its inception, the IPP was different from other paradigms because it acknowledged, welcomed, and strived to develop “men and women for others”.

Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School is a Jesuit, Catholic and Interfaith high school in Indianapolis, IN. Our students come from over 30 sending private and public schools locally as well as some from overseas. Current enrollment is 823 in grades 9-12. Demographics reveal our ongoing work to diversify our student body: 82% White, 8% African American, 6% Multiracial, 3% Asian and 1% Latino. Brebeuf does offer reading-based learning support for students with diagnosed learning needs, working closely with the local metropolitan public school system. While students do take state standardized tests, this is not the focus of instruction. (Current state statistics show 100% of students passing the ISTEP exam).

Indiana State academic standards for 9th grade English Language and Literature focus on use of character as literary device. The classroom teacher wanted to challenge students to explore characterization devices in the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Susan Monk Kidd. She was looking for a collaborative, online learning environment. We decided to pilot a Wikispaces wiki with her 7th period section of Honors English. Students will create content related to elements of theme and characterization. The teacher was open to letting students have free rein in the wiki. Academic standards addressed are Indiana 9th grade English 9.3.3, 9.3.4 and 9.4.9,NETS-S addressed by this project are 1A, 2A, 5A and 5B. Students will create discussion posts, respond to posts, create content pages, experiment with tools (widgets, uploads) available on the site. Assignments will include original and response posts to the online discussion and creation of pages based on individual curiosity and expression of knowledge. Assessment is threefold. First, students will be required to engage each discussion prompt with an original response and reply to at least two other responses (formative). Second, students will be invited to follow individual curiosities and create pages or edit pages with content related to the novel (formative). Students were intentionally given a great deal of autonomy and freedom in the second level. The classroom teacher and I wanted to see, if given the chance to engage the literature without constraint, what the students would do. Finally, students will have a traditional, formal summative assessment on the novel at the end of the three weeks. The end product will be a collaborative wiki.

Time Frame
The time frame for this project is three weeks. Week One involves setting up wiki accounts, instruc
Tech Rationale

In 1599, the Ratio Studiorum provided Jesuit educators with teaching strategies and objectives for a systematic approach to education. One could argue the Ratio Studiorum was a predecessor to state sponsored academic standards. What is referred to as the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, key elements to Jesuit education, have held all these years: context, experience reflection, action and evaluation. I am continually fascinated that almost 500 years later; educators are still talking about the same issues! I find 21st century technology and learning fits right in with this “old school” paradigm. Suzie Boss may be a Jesuit educator deep down. Her article, “High Tech Reflection Strategies Make Learning Stick,” on the importance of reflection resonated with me. Reflection is a key element to the Jesuit classroom. Finding 21st century tools to aid in reflection has become much easier in recent years. The advent of blogging brought the tradition journaling process online and engaged students in an interactive activity while keeping the personal articulation of thoughts and ideas. When the Freshman Honors English teacher came to me with the idea of blogging as a reflective tool for her students reading Susan Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, I immediately jumped at the chance to collaborate. The classroom teacher and I discussed blogging options such as Edublogs and Blogger. In this case, the learning objective was the discussion and reflection piece, not necessarily elaborate, individual blogs. The teacher wanted the students to engage in the conversation on one site with enough options to be interesting but not so many as to distract. I recommended Wikispaces. The discussion feature was a tool I tested with AP US Government students but had not fully utilized other features. The teacher looked over the product and agreed to try it. Students were given free access to the BJPS Secret Life of Bees wiki. Students embedded YouTube videos, podcasts and images. Some used outside word processing tools (WordPad) and others composed with the built-in editor. They were required to respond to teacher facilitated reflection prompts, but could post individual discussion prompts, edit pages, create pages and introduce multimedia using the tools mentioned above.

Student Learning

The school day no longer ends at 3:15. Our students are posting online assignments at all hours of the day and night. They are blogging, video conferencing, file sharing, collaborating, and creating at home, at school, in the car (hopefully not when driving!). Those of us in IT departments are on call 24/7 thanks to smartphones. Our world is no longer home - school - practice - home…. We are connected to all elements at all times. The teaching paradigm of Brebeuf Jesuit is that of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm (IPP). The core elements of the paradigm are context, experience, reflection, action and evaluation. In order to engage students and facilitate creative reflection, I stepped in to a freshman Honor’s English class. The classroom teacher wanted an online tool, accessible 24/7 to engage student reflection on Susan Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees. The teacher did not want a flashy tool, she was more interested in written reflection than talking avatars, but did want a tool that would allow for flexibility of presentation (audio and visual uploads, video links). The teacher and I decided a Wikispaces wiki would be a great reflective tool. The Wikispaces product has a discussion feature which allows for reflective posts and discussion. Students can create and edit pages easily with an intuitive editor. Furthermore, the wiki would be a new technology for students, facilitating flexibility of skills. For me, the key was for the students to have free rein over content creation. The wiki would not work as a reflective tool if the students were required to answer set prompts on dictated topics. The classroom teacher agreed. Students were assessed twofold. First, formative assessments on required discussion prompts (checklist and rubrics uploaded under 2D) evaluated synthesis of ideas and reading comprehension. Second, a summative assessment on the novel as a whole was given by the classroom teacher (traditional test). Students were not formally assessed on the extras they posted. At first I was concerned that students would not experiment with the wiki because they were not being formally assessed on content creation. However, they proved me wrong. Students posted freely based on their individual curiosities and interests. Students responded to each other and engaged in the reflection process. The student control of content creation, evaluation and exchange surpassed my expectations. I highly recommend the Wikispaces tool for reflective exercises.

Standards Addressed

1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D

Collections

Status:
Approved as of June 14, 2010

All original materials created or authored by a participant are owned by that participant. PBS TeacherLine reserves the right to use such materials, at its discretion, in their entirety without modification.