Project Ponderings

After spending many hours playing around with WordPress and replaying the recording from the last course session, I think I have the basics of blogging. I know the difference between pages and posts, know how to categorize, know how to add hyperlinks and photos. I’ve also connected my blog to Twitter and created a banner. So that’s it right? I doubt it, but at least I feel like I have a base to get rolling with some of the technical set up out of the way.

As I alluded to in my introductory post, I will be teaching fulltime in the fall so I’m hoping this course will expose me to many ideas and processes in the world of social media and open education that I can infuse into my classroom. For my project, I’ve thought about teaching parents about effective social media for their kids and as a communication tool between the classroom and home. However, I think that is a great project to start in the fall and try to spring board as an entire staff or at least pilot such a project with a couple of dedicated teachers. So instead my thoughts to a project that I could design and implement in Term II with my students.

I currently teach grade 8 and 9 PAA. My area of focus is construction, but I also dabble a bit in small mechanics and car maintenance. Since this is a largely hands-on course, I have not used technology (specifically social media or open education) as a vehicle of learning. I mean, there have been a few times where I’ve used teaching tools on the web or we have researched a specific topic, but that has been minimal. So I thought why not design a project that could support the theory portion of the course that at times is difficult to work through for both me and the students as they cannot wait to apply the theory to the shop situation.

I would appreciate some feedback, but I would like to explore using YouTube as my social medium focus and have students find plausible videos as exemplars and then create their own videos to share their learning. Of course the students would have to research on the web the theory/ knowledge needed for the course and then create videos that would teach others about car mechanics or construction. I believe that this process could be very engaging for the students and that they would find themselves becoming the experts in practical knowledge that they could then apply in the shop. Theory would become less of a chore and something fun to do! It always rewarding to get to the final project and see the results come together, but having a solid foundation is important.

Here are some samples of some artistic 3-legged stools my grade 8’s just finished up…

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…and patio tables my grade 9’s completed…

PAA 9 patio tables untitled22

The projects are very motivating and rewarding for students because they can see a tangible and useful project develop in front of their eyes. They feel very proud of their work when it is complete and cannot wait to take it home to use or give away to a special family member. This is why I think teaching PAA can be so rewarding as students do not always have that tangible or useful project that fulfills the “now” in their lives. For example, they cannot see the connections in math until they apply it to real life, which I also can do in PAA, but the theory or teaching the math foundation and other topics is the challenge I want to address with this project.

Of course I will have to create some criteria/ rubrics to follow so that the students know what is expected of them and so that they have parameters around the direction their research and videos can move in. These are the details that I will have to sort out, but I’m excited about the idea of finally making theory more fun! Students always make the connections once they’re in the shop and I try to draw connections for them as we go, but this could be a solution to dreaded strain on their middle year’s faces as you tell them we have to do some classroom preparation work before we go to the shop!

I will have to play around, but here is an animated example of one learning tool I’ve used on the internet to teacher about basic engine operations and how they’re powered. There is so much out there and with a clearly developed project, I think my students could run with it, making learning engaging as they learn from one another and teach one another via YouTube video. If this project is successful, I would like to adapt it to new PAA courses that I will be teaching in grades 10-12 next year and for Social Studies nine.

So what are your thoughts? Would this be a good project for students to engage in?

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4 thoughts on “Project Ponderings

  1. I really like the idea! I think with the combination of these things it really lends itself to do-it-yourselfers down the road because a lot of what the students learn with this can be applied to other “life skills” and as you said, it gives them something tangible now as well so they can say “I did that”.

    That animated learning tool you mentioned was sweet! Simple but very easy to observe… I am rubbish when it comes to that stuff and I actually found myself checking out how all those engines worked!

    I know I have a hard time creating a rubric that is specific yet allows the students some flexibility for projects like this and I would look at what Alex and Katia have used for this course as good templates.

    Good luck!

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  2. Hey Nathan, I think this would be a great project and look forward to following your student’s progress. I think it would be cool if your students used stop/motion videos to show the beginning and end result. I have never made one but came across the idea when reading other blogs. It could be one way to use technology as a vehicle for learning.

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    1. Good idea. I think I might use regular videos where they will be teaching each other and also this idea to demonstrate a whole process from start to finish. Now you have me thinking more. Thanks.

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