This year has undoubtedly forced us to reexamine assignments and assessments, reimagine what collaboration and projects look like, and create new avenues for students to actively participate in all aspects of class, whether at home or in the classroom.
It has been a joy to see teachers creatively dream up new ways for students to present material. These are changes that will live on way beyond this school year. Whereas taking one or two days for class presentations was common in the past, teachers and students have seen the power of leveraging tech tools for asynchronous presentations. What’s more, in so many cases, we have seen interaction increase as students have an opportunity to choose how long to engage with each presentation. For projects that pique their interest, students might choose to do a deeper dive. With the shifted format, students now have a chance to explore at their own pace.
Dr. Vardi’s 8th Grade American Studies Class
In Dr. Lisa Vardi’s 8th grade American Studies class, students recently engaged in two research projects — the first to honor Black History month and the second to honor Women’s History month. These projects involved multiple elements, including learning to properly use and cite primary and secondary sources and presenting what they learned to their classmates in a creative and engaging way.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH RESEARCH PROJECT
The first research project was done during Black History Month. The goal was for students to honor a Black American from the past by researching and reporting out on a Black American that made history.
STEP 1: RESEARCH USING SECONDARY AND PRIMARY SOURCES
To begin, students engaged in the research portion of the project. Using the databases Bullis makes available, students chose three individuals from three different time periods to learn about. After their initial research, students selected one individual to study further.
To capture their research, students were given specific prompts to answer. They needed to find secondary and primary source documents to support their answers. Students would learn how to document their sources in more detail in the next project.
STEP 2: WRITE A SCRIPT
The next step was for students to write out a script addressing the prompt:
[Individual’s name] changed history by ___________.
To best tell a story, students were asked to find visuals to engage their classmates and showcase this person’s contributions to history in a concise, 3-minute video presentation.
STEP 3: PEER TO PEER SHARING & LEARNING USING FLIPGRID
Students used Flipgrid to record their presentations, integrating visual elements, text, tone, and telling a story to teach their classmates what they had learned (tutorial).
After recording their presentation, it was time to learn from classmates. Students watched 5 other Flipgrid responses and then commented (using a combination of text and video comments, tutorial).
In this way, students had an opportunity to choose which projects most interested them and engage fully with the presentation their classmate had given. Before Flipgrid, it would take a minimum of one full class period for presentations and students wouldn’t have had the same chance to do a deeper dive into the topics or individuals that most interested them.
WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH RESEARCH PROJECT
The second research project was done during Women’s History Month. The goal was for students to research and report out on an American woman that made history using valid sources, Noodletools and Flipgrid.