When I posted the link to the Google Map I made of the homesteaders’ journey west on Twitter, a few History teachers tweeted back something along the lines of, “Great – did the students collaborate?” to which the answer, unfortunately, was no.
It did make me think, however, about how this might be achieved in a school where the majority of students don’t have Google accounts, there’s no wireless in the History classrooms and computer rooms are as rare as hen’s teeth, especially in the last week before Christmas.
The plan I came up with was related to 1066. This unit, which focuses mainly on the Battle of Hastings, lends itself well to a Google Map, being all about the geography, both of the battles and the characters fighting for the throne.
I split the group up into six teams. Each had a topic, textbooks, printed articles from the BBC History website, and a netbook. I had the skeleton map on the board, with the markers in place, though without any text. I talked the students through the task and made the objectives clear, and off we went. The aim was that they would write a short piece for their marker, which could be saved on a memory stick and then transferred to my computer and pasted into the box.
Here is the map they came up with. (Frustratingly I can’t make WordPress embed it. I seem to have forgotten the trick from last time…)
The students enjoyed they task and were rightly proud of themselves for completing it in a single lesson. We have produced a resource which their parents can see and which I can embed into the Moodle. We have also consolidated our knowledge of the unit, ready for the assessment this week (assessments: what children REALLY want for Christmas).
- Everybody in the group needs a clearly defined role and I will aim to give them too much information – there just wasn’t enough for some students to do. This led to some members of the group having some downtime which led to silly behaviour (which led to me being in a poor temper)
- I’d like to find a way of getting them pictures. I thought about letting them use my phone as a wifi hotspot, to search for pictures; but even though I have unlimited data on my plan I was afraid a lot of searching might lead to a stern letter from T-Mobile about fair usage. If we’d had a little more time they could have taken it in turns to use my laptop.
- Better spellchecking. I told them to take care (see screenshot) but they ran out of time.
And as an awesome aside to this lesson – I set a big project HW which involved researching Medieval weapons/battle tactics with a creative presentation of findings. One kid made a longbow! Thankfully he didn’t bring in any arrows.