Thursday, April 27, 2006

Motivating Middle School Students with Technology

Originally uploaded by shay_beach.
Yesterday, in our weekly teachers meeting, we brainstormed some ideas for strategies we might implement the last few weeks of this school year to prepare our students for their End-of-Grade tests. One idea was to have other teachers review a list of literary terms. Earlier in the week, my students had been learning about how to use social software in science class. So, today, I asked my middle school students to give this activity a try.

My students, all over age 13, had created their first account. Then, they used fd's Flickr Toys, and a feature called Motivational Poster. Several steps are required to create the fd's Flickr Toys poster, but my students really got into the process. It was a real challenge to them. Not just a spelling bee, or flash cards or a worksheet. I knew I had their attention when one of my students who already has given up on himself. This school year has been a total waste for this child. He came into my class late this morning and immediately put his head down to fake being sick or act like he was sleepy. All the other students in the class already had their laptops fired up and we logging into their Flickr account. I just calmly walked over to the desk of my student that had his head down and asked him if he was interested in having fun. He perked up and replied, "sure, what ya doing?" I almost passed out. I was so tickled that I almost shouted YeeHaw!

I have included one of his three posters in this post. More than most of the students in the class. We will be working on this project for a few days. Basically, until they get tired of working on them. Our art teacher and I will be team teaching a session tomorrow, Friday, in which we plan to have the students sketch and paint their own images for their literary posters. I am not sure exactly how to really make this project work better, but the most difficult part of the activity is having the students searching for image to use in their posters. I thought about having the use our digital cameras to photograph object that would work to illustrate the terms. This would take forever. I tried having the use the terms as part of a Google search for images. This worked for some of the terms. That is until they got to the term allusion. One of my students pulled up an image of a artists figure. They sneakered and one said- "oh Mr. B, this is nothing compared to what my mother gets on her computer when she is trying to search for stuff for her classes in nursing school." I am not real sure this activity will be one to share, but it worked with my students- until that search. Tonight, I am looking for alternate image resources for my middle school students.

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