Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trying to be a Renaissance (Wo)Man

It seems that we teachers do a heck of a lot more than teach. When I decided to become an educator I was thrilled with the idea teaching events and ideologies from history to students. In reality, this job is sooooooo much more than that!

Here's my list of roles that a teacher has to take on everyday. By no means should it be considered an exhaustive list:

teacher
expert in (insert subject area here)
counselor
student
friend
parent
colleague
techie

The last category has been my latest endeavor. How can I learn more about how to use technology, social networking, file sharing, etc. in my classroom? I've really been stretching myself this year.

My latest effort seems to have paid off. There are a few links below to some websites that my freshman honors students created over the past few weeks. I decided to look at the Renaissance from a different angle. Once we discussed what a "Renaissance Man" is, I asked them to find a person from today or from a period in history besides the Renaissance that had those characteristics. Then they had to conduct research and come up with an annotated bibliography with at least 10 sources. Instead of writing a traditional research paper, they had to create a website with images, videos, and sometimes even polls.

Here were some of the results:

Jennifer Lopez

Thomas Jefferson

Paul Newman

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Ronald Reagan

While some are better than others, and I tried to provide a cross section, the kids really did a nice job reporting the information. In the mean time, they had a pretty good time typing paragraphs on a website rather than into a Word document. On his class blog, one student said "I liked how we did a website rather than a paper because it makes it so much more interesting and fun. Also now the world can see our research and use it." I swear I did NOT feed him that line. He typed it on his own in his blog! I have to admit, I enjoy grading websites more than grading research papers any way. That doesn't mean that I won't assign research papers throughout the year, but this was a great way to teach the freshman how to research using the tools at the RMHS library and integrate a little technology at the same time.

Not only that, but the project was easier to manage than one might expect. I hope you enjoy clicking through the websites. I know my students will be thrilled to see any comments you are willing to share. Thanks for helping me celebrate a little success as I try to embrace this new "techie" role.