Monday, June 10, 2013

Teens Tussle Tech-Style

Maya city of Palenque
The Maya were an impressive people.
  • They built massive stone pyramids and temples throughout huge cities without the wheel or beasts of burden.
  • They organized and conducted commerce via a complex system of roads throughout their geographical area of the Yucatan Peninsula and beyond.
  • They used terracing, raised crop beds, and slash and burn to grow plentiful crops to feed a growing population in less than ideal agricultural conditions.
    Maya number system
  • The created a complex calendar that calculated the 365 day year and used a combination of math, astronomy and science to be more accurate than any civilization on Earth at the same time.
  • They were the first to contemplate and use the concept of "zero" in their system of mathematics.
But which achievement is the most remarkable?

Using the Document Based Question information from the DBQ Project and my own knowledge of technology, my students presented their arguments tech-style.

Each class was divided into 5 groups and each group was charged with arguing that their achievement was the most remarkable by touting its importance and downplaying the significance of the other four.  They also had to use the rich images and video available to them online to make their argument more engaging than a typical DBQ essay.  Still, they used essential DBQ/Common Core skills like making connections between different pieces of evidence, analyzing documents with conflicting claims about which achievement is the most remarkabledeciding which presentation tool was the best fit for them, and organizing their presentation in a logical way.

The three Web 2.0 tools students learned to use as they put together their presentations were:
A combination of reading, analyzing, writing, and web 2.0 skills ended with decent results.  Some, of course, were mediocre but the majority of students put together a project that they would not have been able to when the school year began, or even a month ago. Here are a couple of the highlights:

This Weebly was well-organized, used text in a limited way, and students successfully integrated helpful images and video clips, using TubeChop and HTML embed code, to structure their presentation.
This Prezi used enticing images, an organized structure, and impressive path animation to put together an effective argument and presentation.  They even had background music that set the mood without being distracting.


The combination of a year's worth of reading, writing, and technology skills worked out pretty well.  They helped each other figure out the web 2.0 tools, they worked through the documents, they went online and did additional research to fill the holes they found, and they presented in an organized professional manner.  Not bad for June, a time of notorious apathy.