Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blogging and Skyping Through the Middle Ages: Learning Takes on New Meaning Using 1TWO1 Computing

Guest bloggers: Mr. Atkins, Muller Road Middle and Mr. Abernathy, Blythewood Middle

Students in Mr. Atkins’s third period Honors Language Arts class at Muller Road Middle School (MRMS) and Mr. Abernathy’s Honors Social Studies classes from Blythewood Middle School (BMS) collaborated together as students researched and wrote about the Middle Ages.  Titled Blogging Through the Middle Ages, students in both classes researched topics and concepts about the Middle Ages based on Common Core Standards.  Students from both schools researched and wrote blogs constructing topics, event, and concepts about the Middle Ages. Students from each school read and responded to students’ blogs from the other school.

The culminating activity was a Skype Meeting between the sixth grade classes.  Mrs. Brandon, the Media Specialist from Muller Road and Mrs. Swetnam, the Media Specialist from BMS set up the Skype event.  Students collaborated using Socratic Seminar methods--students from each school were given ten minutes to discuss assigned topics they wrote about and the other school had five minutes to summarize what students from the other school discussed.  

Student examples: Blog 1; Blog 2; Blog 3

During the last five minutes, students reflected on the experience.  All of them responded to the experience.  Comments included the following:  
"It was nice to learn from students rather than teachers."  
"I enjoyed working with students from another school."  
"I enjoyed getting criticism from other students.  It made me a better writer."  
"Learned a lot from reading the other blogs."

Three or four years ago, students would have read about the Middle Ages and completed a project.  One-to-one computing has enabled them to become researchers, writers, reporters, and collaborators with students at other schools.