Indicates an EdTechTeacher project
These technology integration projects and activities engender student creativity & empowerment. For more examples, visit our partner sites: Best of History Web Sites, The Center for Teaching History with Technology, and Teaching English with Technology.
"Day in Life of Hobo" podcast
Tom's interdisciplinary creative writing/historical simulation activity calls on students to research the plight of homeless teenagers during the Great Depression and then create their own fictionalized account of a day in the life of a Hobo. Students posted their story on their blog and read each other's work. Students commented by articulating what they liked about the story they read -- and what made it seem authentic. Students were then interviewed in character and recorded as part of a "1930s Radio Show" podcast. Music, clapping, and special effects were added to give it an authentic "studio' feel.
"Blogging provided a venue to publish student work to a broad audience. Indeed, the assignment has been profiled in Web English Teacher, and other web sites, and hundreds have read my students' stories. It is gratifying and motivating for them to know that others read their work. As for podcasting, the 1930s were the "Golden Age" of radio, so it only seemed natural to create a radio show podcast. We used Apple's Garage Band and I interviewed the students in small groups and later edited the assorted interviews. I added music samples from the GarageBand program and recorded my students clapping to simulate a live audience sound. I simply copied and pasted the clapping at different points of the podcast. Students were nervous but excited to participate in an assignment that stressed creativity and artistic expression while being grounded in historical authenticity. It was an overt attempt on my part to gain a deeper understanding of my students' abilities and personalities by offering an assignment that tested a different type of "intelligence" normally found in formal essay assignments. It also personalized the experience of the Great Depression for the students." - Tom Daccord
For more on blogging visit our Discussion and Communication section.
Instructions to students:
In this assignment you are to write from the perspective of a Hobo who is "riding the rails." Use your knowledge of the period and your creativity to create a story (500-1000 words) about a day in your life as a Hobo. Here are some questions to help guide your story: How old are you? Where are you from and why have you left home? Are you traveling alone or with someone? Who? Why did he/she leave home? What possessions do you have? What are your plans? What are your concerns? How are you feeling, physically and emotionally? What happened to you today? What dangers have you experienced? What have you been eating? What are you wearing? What have you seen? How does what you see make you feel?
Excerpt from a student story:
"When you’we gotta worry ‘bout starvin’ and freezin’ to death you forget to keep track of what day it is, but I’d estimate today’s the 15th of December, year 1932. It took me near three weeks to get here. “Here” is Lancaster, California. I left home in Abilene, Kansas when Dadi told me he’d got word from Aunt Sarah in California. “Aunt Sarah’s got a place for you to stay with her and she’s found you a good job in a shop downtown Lancaster,“ he said. “You go put your things in the bag that I’ve left you upstairs and I’ll take you to the train in the morning. . . I made quick friends with a hobo ‘bout my age named Jim. He warned me ‘bout the bulls and told me where the camps that made the best mulligan stew were on the way from Kansas to California. I spent ‘near three weeks ridin’ the rails, walkin’ on route 66 to get from station to station and stoppin’ at hobo camps in between. Pretty much ‘came a ‘bo myself..."
Great Debate of 2008
Tom created a wiki and a private online social network for the Great Debate of 2008 project, a student exploration and discussion of issues and candidates surrounding the 2008 presidential election. The project connected students around the country in a wiki and a private online social network to share information and ideas related to the 2008 presidential election. Students post information on campaign issues to the wiki and partake in online discussions and survey with other students in the private online social network.
Math Movies Trailers
This is a creative and lively student-produced website that employs humorous student-created videos to motivate and engage students in the study of mathematics. Kids gain a deeper understanding of how mathematics is part of our daily life through topical and enjoyable stories.
Student News Action Network
This student-produced current events journal features contributions from around the world and is led by five student-bureaus: The American School of Doha, Bishops Diocesan College, International School Bangkok, International School of Luxembourg, and Washington International School. The students have cleverly adopted the free Ning platform and far-flung students work collaboratively to create an interactive, multimedia-rich, and student-driven online newspaper.
"Social Mobility" audio blogging
Tom's group audio blogging activity calls on students to compare social mobility and social inequality in America today with the "Gilded Age" of the late 19th century. Tom used VoiceThread, a web-based program that enables users to upload pictures, record accompanying audio or video commentary, and invite others to record commentary as well. Students read assignments on the issue of social mobility and interviewed one of their parents or guardians before recording into VoiceThread. In VoiceThread, students were asked to discuss their interview and record their audio in the school's computer language lab or on a home computer.
"VoiceThread provides a wonderful opportunity for student self expression and creativity. The simple combination of visual and recorded media is perfect for creating multimedia presentations in a relatively short time frame using simple tools. It also prompts students to think carefully about what they are going to say before recording themselves. As many educators have discovered, especially language and art teachers, there are a myriad of educational possibilities with VoiceThread. For example, students can practice foreign language skills by describing a picture. They can analyze and comment VoiceThreadupon historically significant photographs or architecture. Photography students could present and explain their work and artists could upload and describe their drawings. A class can create a virtual tour of a place or event they are studying. VoiceThread can even be used as a means to debate a topic. For instance, students could analyze and comment on photographs of the crisis in Darfur and debate the appropriateness of United Nation's intervention in the area." - Tom Daccord
Excerpt from a student contribution:
"My mother's answers to my questions didn't surprise me as much as I thought they would . . . What surprised me is that she didn't say that parents were the primary indicator of future social and economic status. She said that education was the most important thing. . . I think that social inequality is much worse today than in the Gilded Age but that social inequality was more recognizable back then by one's dress."
Who Am I?
Middle school students create brief but lively presentations about themselves that touch upon genealogy and family history. In this creative self-expression project students mesh art, writing, and storytelling, to communicate their stories.
Henry IV Wiki
This high school wiki features creative student-produced content, including a "Henry IV rap," a Henry IV poem, a radio show, movies, charts, a slideshow, and more. Students provide a much information about the Shakespearean world and do so in an engaging way that addresses varied learning styles.
This middle school science blog provides students with an opportunity to showcase their scientific knowledge and interests. The blog stories are student produced and it appears that the entire class is having lots of fun while learning a lot!
The Flat Classroom Project
The award-winning Flat Classroom project brings together high school and middle school students from around the world to explore the ideas presented in Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat. These collaborative projects harness the most powerful Web 2.0 tools available including wikis, online social networks, digital storytelling, podcasts, social bookmarking, and more.
Lead Portal -- Bringing out the Leader in You!
This award winning and student created website allows kids to explore various leadership theories and features interviews, activities and assessment tools.
"Cold War" student website
Tom's students created web sites on subjects such as the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. Students had individual assignments and responsiblities during these projects, but ultimately they were contributing to a collective presentation, one that was shared with a larger community.
"I am always looking for ways to vary my assignments and engage students in creative, community-building activities. In my web site projects students have individual responsiblities, but they are contributing to a collective whole. For our first class web-site project, students researched the Cold War and each student created a section on a Cold War topic for inclusion in the web site. They were required to include links to primary and secondary sources on the Web and include public domain images. (See our EdTechTeacher collection of resources for public domain images.) I used Dreamweaver for this first web site project because I already knew the program and I could easily organize and format their web pages. The downside, I soon realized, is that I was in control of the web site production process, not the students. They were researching and writing, yes, but not formatting web pages primarily because I decided not to use valuable class time to teach them an elaborate program like Dreamweaver. So, for the next project we used Google's free Page Creator. It required little-to-no introduction and students were builidng web sites quickly. While I sacrificed some polished features available in Dreamweaver, and loosened administrative control, I put my students squarely in control of the creation process, a goal of a student-centered classroom." - Tom Daccord
Note: Google Page Creator has been replaced by Google Sites.
Web Site Creation Tools
Multiple tools exist for creating web sites and web pages. From Adobe Dreamweaver to Apple iWeb, software packages vary in terms of cost and complexity. Some free options include Google Sites and Weebly. For more information about creating web pages, visit The Center for Teaching History with Technology.
Mrs. Yollis’s Classroom blog
Mrs. Yollis is a third grade teacher who incorporates images, interactive multimedia, and student-produced content to create a lively, informative, and engaging classroom blog. She uses this web site both to communicate with parents about her class, but also to introduce key media literacy concepts, such as blog comments, to her students.
The Middle East
High School students in the United States and Afghanistan communicate via a blog and Skype to discuss the war in Afghanistan and the role of the United States in the region. The students use the blog to share thoughts on a possible resolution to the conflict. Click "comments" to read student posts.
"Interview a Boomer" iPod Activity
Tom directed his students to find and interview a "likely but unsuspecting" Boomer - a parent, teacher or family friend born between 1946 and 1964. Equipped with a mic-enabled iPod, each student asked their interviewee ten questions - five required and five of their own design - about their perceptions of America during the 70s and 80s. After the interview, students turned in their audio file to Tom and blogged about the interview. With the audio files in hand, Tom was able to create a podcast "radio show" of the interviews. Many students interviewed their parents. In many cases, it provided them with personal, and sometimes suprising, perspectives on the topics covered in class.
Why an iPod?
"Most people think of the iPod only in terms of an audio playback device and are not aware that it can serve as a convenient audio recorder. To record audio with the iPod you simply need to attach an iPod-compatible microphone, such as Griffin's iTalk or Belkin's TuneTalk. So, with mic-equipped iPods it was easy for my students to conduct their Boomer interview. (It's not like I had to teach them how to use an iPod!) Mind you, the challenge with iPod recordings is getting separate audio files into a single iTunes program since iPods are tethered to a single iTunes account. We solved this problem by distributing school-owned iPods. We use a single "hub" that connects multiple iPods to a single computer, and a single iTunes account. From there the files could be distributed easily. Since the iPod is not an audio-editing device, I moved the audio files into Apple' GarageBand to edit them and combine separate files into a single "radio show" podcast." - Tom Daccord
Excerpt from a student blog:
"From the interview, I now have a more complete idea of how many Americans felt about events like the Vietnam War. Although my mother is more liberal than the rest of my family, I was surprised by the certainty with which she stated the United States should not have gone to Vietnam. I knew that there was widespread outcry to the war, especially among college aged Americans, but I never expected my mom to be one of the protesters. It is a bit of a shock to realize that family members had active lives, and that I am studying both the events that shaped this generation and the people in the generation itself. I also found stunning the lack of time that my interviewee spoke of Watergate. From what I have learned and heard through the media, Watergate was a huge national affair. Although I believe this to be true, my mom did not even touch on the subject, only stating that she voted for Nixon in 1972. I was surprised that such a big affair could have left such a small impact on her that she failed to mention it in a fifteen-minute interview about the 70’s and 80’s."
iSearch Literature Reflection Project
The I-Search is an independent literature research project where students keep a daily log of their interactions with the works and authors they are researching. Students choose a piece of literature they wish to investigate in depth, read scholarly critiques about the work, and then respond to what they read. Few structured guidelines are provided; stu- dents are encouraged to follow whatever theme or topic interests them and discuss their interactions with the literature. The I-Search blog serves as a personal diary of sorts as students record their reflections on the literature they are studying. During the process, students respond to comments made by their teacher, and possibly peers, and use these as the basis for developing a more sophisticated exploration of literature. Peter Raymond, an English teacher at the Noble and Greenough School, says that the I-Search project that he undertakes with high school juniors “encourages a deep personal exploration” with literature within a public context. Student posts “become increasingly sophisticated, personal, and refined” as students develop a comfort with the blogging process and better understand the work in question.
"Class Unit Wrapup" Cell Phone Podcasting
Tom used his cell phone in class to record a unit-ending conversation that was immediately posted to the Web. Students were preparing to write an analytical essay and Tom wanted his students to listen to the classroom conversation later on and revisit the different points made in class before writing their essay. With today's smart phones, many of them have built-in voice memo fuctions or other apps to record audio.
Why a Cell Phone
"A cell phone is incredibly versatile, and portable, and provides a simple yet effective means of recording commentary and conversation. Too often students are busy typing or scribbling notes and not paying careful attention to what others are saying, and, even if they are, they sometimes forget important points made in the classroom. Cell Phone podcasting makes it easy for me to record a conversation in class or an a field trip. I simply pass my cell phone to whomever is speaking, and then students can review it at any time to help them prepare for assignments and assessments. I see mobile podcasting via the cell phone as a particularly useful means of capturing student ideas and commentary on school trips and excursions" - Tom Daccord