Students have finished their Maasai Culture iMovies, we have received feedback via email from our Maasai representative, and we are currently awaiting feedback from Jakarta International School; the sixth grade class that is collaborating with us. It’s been a great experience for students and teachers and all of us have taken the time to reflect on the process in a number of ways. Through the use of Google Forms, students reflected about the role of technology in the unit and how it helped their learning. They also reflected about team work and the general set up of the project. Teachers, in turn, reflected about the use of technology, the integration of curricular outcomes, the collaboration process, grading, and the general design of the unit. Important ideas were discussed and revisions have been discussed and noted for next year’s implementation.
We are happy and excited because we believe that this unit was truly an “upgrade” from what we had done with Maasai research in the past. Over the past two years, our team has been redefining the unit, in terms of outcomes, process, and evaluation. The key factor in improvement this year, was the target audience. Having an audience composed of sixth graders outside of our school was a huge motivator for the students. It prompted them to do their best work and problem solve together to find the most interesting ways to present their information.
The goal of the project:
“collaboratively create a multimedia presentation which highlights an element of culture as it relates to the Maasai people with the purpose of teaching the information to an audience of sixth graders.”
Students were introduced to the project following an introductory mini-unit which examined the universal elements of culture through the lens of the Dani of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Following , students began reading Countdown, by Ben Mikaelsen, a book that we use as a class novel study, which compares the culture of an American middle school boy to that of a Maasai boy of a similar age. Students were excited at the prospect of learning about yet another culture that was so different from their own.
In culture teams of four or five, students collaborated on a research plan, carried it out, shared their research, composed narrations, and completed a film clip of their research which was then edited together to create one iMovie which focused on one element of culture as related to the Maasai. We had a total of five culture teams.
Students used the following tools to research, plan, write, create, and share:
We initially began to use Keynote as the mode of presentation, but made the decision to switch to iMovie for the final products, although students had the choice of importing Keynote slides into their iMovies. The decision was made because, while Keynote would meet the requirements for presentation, iMovie seemed to be the best fit for what the students needed in completing their final creations.
The students worked hard, collaborated effectively, problem-solved thoughtfully, negotiated frequently, and produced final products which met requirements and achieved the goal. We shared the projects with a sixth grade class at JIS via edublog which included a reflection template for collecting feedback.
This project, without a doubt, enhances the learning of the culture unit. Following are areas that we feel were very strong:
- Collaboration with a class outside of our school
- Collaboration with an expert in Maasai culture
- Student choice based on interest
- Digital citizenship built into lessons
- Effective integration of reading, writing, and social studies outcomes
Next year, we would like to keep in mind the following:
- Front-loading lessons regarding paraphrasing and research citation
- Transparency and communication of the different phases of the unit with student reflections built in after each one
- Additional topics offered for each element of culture to allow for even more student choice
- Strive to maintain an authentic connection with the Maasai and refine an effective feedback process with them
I’ve learned a lot in this fifth course with the implementation of the final project. Technology can be effective, but it’s clear that it is only as effective as the carefully planned learning activities that it supports. This unit is an example. In considering the SAMR model, some augmentation and modification are evidenced in this unit, but technology enabled us to raise the stakes and move this project towards redefinition. The creative capabilities that iMovie allowed and the global sharing aspect and “connectedness” that Edublog made possible, without a doubt, created meaningful activities that could not have been accomplished without technology.
Thanks to CoETaIL, I have gained more confidence as an educator. I understand the importance of collaboration now more than ever before. I have gained knowledge and skills that will enable me to plan effective learning events that utilize technology in ways that challenge and interest my students, while enabling them to become the best digital citizens, collaborators, problem solvers, and future innovators that they can be.