As we study the United States in my class, we’ve been using projects to demonstrate learning. This has actually been quite a challenge for my students, who are used to worksheets with fill in the blank or multiple choice questions.
We generally have spent about 2 weeks studying a region of the United States. We started in the Northeast. When we finished watching some Discovery Education videos and reading from the textbook, we then spent time researching basic facts about each state. This was a great chance for students to practice researching online. They had to find the origin of the state’s name, the year it became a state, it’s state motto, song, tree, bird, etc. Interestingly, that was the first they had experienced the idea that states have mottos, songs, etc.
We then moved on to the South. As they studied the South, we watched a video about the Appalachian Trail. This fascinated my classes. The idea of hiking for months at a time was a new idea for them. Their project this time was creating a brochure about a shelter on the Trail. This required research online to get information about the shelter.
The biggest challenge was when we studied the Midwest. Their project was to create a Midwest Amusement Park. They were given certain pieces of information they had to include, and a 12/18 sheet of white construction paper. Again, research was needed to get the information for the rides, restaurants, etc.
Finally, for the Western states, we made videos. Using the iPod touches that I have available, each small group made a video showing information about the region. We then mirrored the videos on the smartboard. Since I have a class that needs more structure than that, they created scenes on paper, which we then videotaped as they were moved into view. This allowed the students to still participate in making a video, but with more structure to the process.
Each of these projects were seen as “fun” for the students, but also provided a challenge for all levels of learners. We’re moving on to Canada next – I’ll have to think about what to do with the Provinces!