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3-5 | Social Studies | Digital Storytelling
Station GPB in Georgia
My Classroom Innovation
As the Technology Lab Teacher at my school, I have found that innovative activities must be interactive, engaging, and meaningful.
Interactive- Fourth grade students took a journey back to the American Revolution. They had the opportunity to look at the war through the eyes of Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, King George III, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Students researched the life of each of these individuals using videos, websites, music, photographs, newspaper articles, and obituaries. Students collected facts about each individual, including information about their positions and the impact they had on the United States during this period in American History.
Engaging- Once students completed their research, they used the information they found to create a Digital Story using Microsoft Power Point to tell about the lives of the key figures of the American Revolution. They learned how to create slides, add animation, record and insert their voice onto each slide and set up their Digital Story to share with classmates.
Meaningful- To culminate the activity, students participated in small discussion groups to share the information they learned about the key figures, their favorite parts of the project, what they found to be most difficult, and how they will be able to use the information and skills in the future.
To enhance my students’ learning through media, I had them view three PBS videos: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Ben Franklin, Declaring Freedom…But for Whom?, and A Cause for the Separation of Powers. They also used facts from the Men and Women of Liberty biographies located on the PBS website as part of their Digital Stories. These resources showed my students that information can be collected from various types of sources and media.
How Students were Engaged
Imagine walking into a classroom. Do you see focused, on-task students? What would you expect to hear…..talking, music, videos, discussion, excitement, or amazement? Anyone who walked into my classroom during the two weeks it took to complete this project would hear all of those things and more! Students were engaged in music of the American Revolution and reacting to the mood of each piece listened to. They used critical thinking skills to determine which websites had the information that was needed and analyzed photographs of the time period. Browsing the January 2, 1750 edition of The Pennsylvania Gazette allowed students to practice making inferences about what life was like during Benjamin Franklin’s lifetime, as well as determine what information was factual and what was another person’s opinion. Students practiced manipulating computer hardware and Microsoft Power Point by inserting slides, information, pictures, animation, and voiceovers. They had to be aware of classmates recording their voices and monitor the noise level of the room. Students practiced social skills by participating in discussion groups. They had to take turns sharing, be respectful of others’ opinions, and listen to their peers.
Were there gains in learning? I would have to say “most definitely!” Student knowledge was shown by the completion of journal notes and creation of Digital Stories. Student work was assessed through a rubric. Gains were also made in the students’ ability to apply research skills and use computer programs to create a product. Students have also been able transfer skills learned in my class to projects completed with other teachers.
American History not only came alive for these fourth grade students but engaged them in activities that can be used in and out of the classroom.
PBS Program/Content Used
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PBS Learning Media)