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Innovative Projects & Lessons

Learning Futures Summit

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.

ETT Indicates a project from the EdTechTeacher Team.

Books for Babies

  • Creator: Suzy Brooks (@simplysuzy)
  • Suggested Grade Level: Elementary
  • Subject Area: English/Language Arts & Service Learning

Project Description
Students research and reflect on early literacy environments including their affect on children and their reading ability. To build background, students begin by viewing online videos, reading articles, and conducting personal interviews. After exploring the genre of baby books, students ultimately choose one to use for fluency practice. They incorporate mobile technology such as iPads, iPods, or laptops to record their voice and provide each other with feedback. After many rehearsals, students record their best reading for a class anthology of readings which are burned onto CD.

Students reflect on their research, as well as their experience, and write a persuasive letter to new parents that might convince them to read to their babies. The letters are then sent to the local hospital maternity department, along with a board book and the CD of recordings. The gift bags are given to new parents in celebration of early literacy!

>>>Find out more about this Books for Babies project on Suzy's blog.

Extending the Project
Students could leverage mobile technology to provide audio recordings of books to younger students in the school or after school programs. Another option for older students would be to create recordings of adult texts - news articles, short stories, poems, etc - for those who struggle with reading such as the elderly.

iFake Text - Having fun with Dialogue!

  • Creator: Erin Klein (@KleinErin)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: English/Language Arts or History

Project Description
iFakeText creates text message screenshots from a computer. Students could use this tool at all grade levels to work on their development of dialog. As Erin writes, "One really interesting idea I'd like to explore with this tool is the idea of developing character voice. Having students develop dialogue in the voice of their character would be powerful for their writing. I believe this activity would encourage learners to chose specific vocabulary to fit the time period, select strong verbs to convey precise action, and to develop mood to elicit proper tone between the characters."

It could also be a powerful tool for modeling digital citizenship and media literacy, as students could share their fake texts and analyze them for context, meaning, language, and vocabulary.

>>>Read more about this project and Erin's ideas on her blog.

Extending the Project
A great project could be for students to recreate historical or literary events as though texting existed. What would Paul Revere have sent via text message? How might Romeo and Juliet corresponded after their meeting at the ball? This could be a fun way for students to explore more advanced concepts.

Fact Check Your Textbook ETT

  • Creator: Shawn McCusker (@shawnmccusker)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: History/ Social Studies

Project Description
Rather than have students study the facts as presented by the textbook, challenge them to check them against other texts as well as online resources for bias and accuracy. Students then assign a "grade" to their textbook. As a result, students could submit a rubric of assessment or create a presentation about their discoveries, as illustrated below.

>>>To learn more, read Shawn's blog post The Textbook is Dead, Long Live the Textbook! What 1:1 is doing to Traditional Classroom Resources.

Extending the Project
While this project refers to history or social studies textbooks, a similar approach could be taken with other subject areas. Given the rapid advances in the sciences, it could be an interesting project in light of technological advancements.

Living Wax Museum

  • Creator: Suzy Brooks (@simplysuzy)
  • Suggested Grade Level: Elementary
  • Subject Area: English/Language Arts & History/Social Studies

Project Description
After selecting a famous character from history, students use computers and mobile devices to research pertinent facts in order to write a traditional research report. Their research will also be used to create a first-person script for the culminating project. Ultimately, the students will "become" their historical character. They will design a costume, collect relevant artifacts, and memorize their script for a Living Wax Museum performance.

Living Wax Museum requirements

Mobile devices, or desktop computers with built-in cameras, can be used to record and review practice sessions. Final performances can also be recorded and posted online (a great way to review past years' efforts) for sharing with families.

To extend the project, QR codes can be created and posted during the Living Wax Museum presentation, where attendees can scan them onto their personal smart phones or mobile devices and watch video performances later.

>>> View Grade 3 Living Wax Museum requirements, rubrics and photos.

Extending the Project
In combining QR codes with video presentations, students could create a variety of museum type exhibits with a focus ranging from historical figures to ancient artifacts.

"Social Mobility" audio bloggingETT

  • Creator: Tom Daccord (@thomasdaccord)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: History/ Social Studies

VoiceThread Screen ShotProject Description
This group audio blogging activity, using VoiceThread - a web-based program or iPad app that enables users to upload pictures, record accompanying audio or video commentary, and invite others to record commentary - requires students to compare social mobility and social inequality in America today with the "Gilded Age" of the late 19th century. Students read assignments on the issue of social mobility and then 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.

>>>Learn more about using VoiceThread in history and social studies classrooms on our partner site, Teaching History with Technology.

Extending the Project
This project could be completed on a laptop, computer, or iPad. Using VoiceThread for audio blogging could apply to a number of subjects beyond history and social studies.

Industrial Philosophers Project ETT

  • Creator: Shawn McCusker (@shawnmccusker)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: History/ Social Studies

Project Description
The goal of this Industrial Philosophers unit is to have students research and compare a variety of the ideas and philosophies that came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Students need to gain broad information about all of the philosophers, compare two or more of them, and then do an in-depth investigation of one individual. Three products that demonstrate the students' understanding are submitted electronically. Students are encouraged to pick and choose the individuals that are most interesting to them, and then create a product that they feel best demonstrates their knowledge of the content as illustrated by the video below

>>> For more information about the structure of the project, check out Shawn's Choice Board.

Extending the Project
The project choice board could be applied to any historical era or topic. Shawn also recommends concluding this unit, or a similar unit, with a class debate where students argue for which philosopher is best and which proves to be wrong.

Foreign Films with iPads ETT

  • Creator: Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: Foreign Language

Project Description
Students create their own sub-titled foreign films based on the existentialist genre of Henri le Chat. Students work in groups to pick a theme, write the subtitles for their scenes in the target language, and then video the final performance. Not only does this project allow students to build their vocabulary, but it also provides them with an authentic context in which they can practice their pronunciation. The final videos can all be curated onto a class web site or blog such as this Ode de Henri the Cat created with Wix.

>>> Greg describes the process in full on his blog.

Extending the Project
Though this iPad was completed using iPads, it could just as easily be accomplished with a different tablet or mobile device. Video could be edited with iMovie (Mac), Animoto, or WeVideo.

Collaborative Stock Market Game ETT

  • Creator: Beth Holland (@brholland)
  • Suggested Grade Level: Middle School
  • Subject Area: Math

Project Description
In playing The Stock Market Game, students gain real-world experience with trading, advanced mathematics concepts, and economics. They also compete against other individuals, teams, and schools from across the country. By incorporating spreadsheets, in addition to the paper forms provided by the game, students gain hands-on experience with writing formulas and leveraging graphing capabilities.

stock market game, sample spreadsheet

Beyond using Excel or Numbers, students can collaborate on this process by using a combination of Google Forms and Spreadsheets. The end result is that they not only learn the math, but also the concepts of raw vs. formatted data and the establishment of business rules for effective collaboration. To scaffold the process, 7th graders played the game using primarily off-line tools, and 8th graders collaborated in a Google Docs environment.

>>>For an overview of the 7th grade workflow, visit Beth's blog.

Extending the Project
The only limitation of this project is the students' mathematical capabilities and comprehension. For an interdisciplinary project, connections could be made to the History curriculum by tying into the creation and evolution of the stock market. Public speaking or non-fiction writing could be incorporated as students present their findings.

Creating Equation iBooks with Book Creator

  • Creator: Dan Bowdoin (@danbowdoin)
  • Suggested Grade Level: Middle School
  • Subject Area: Math

Project Description
In order to have middle school students understand the value of solving simple equations - rather than just doing mental math - they used videos created by math peer tutors as inspiration for their own books on one-step equations.

Students used a combination of paper, pencil and iPad to create these books. In addition to including images and facts, students recorded short videos explaining the process verbally. This last feature encouraged students to strengthen their math vocabulary and reflect on their problem solving.

>>>Learn more about the Tools and Tasks to make this project a reality.

Extending the Project
The concept of having students create their own math books could be extended to other aspects of the curriculum. By creating eBooks, students further improve their mathematical vocabulary, problem solving, and metacognition - especially by incorporating screencasts to make their thinking visual.

For more project ideas about student created iBooks, read How Students Can Create Their Own e-Textbooks on our blog.

Suspects and Crime Tape and iPads, Oh My!

  • Creator: Elizabeth Glassman (@eglassman757)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: Science - Biology

Project Description
This 9th grade forensic science unit divides biology students into teams with the charge to solve a faculty murder. Each group has its own crime scene, suspects, and victims. The overall unit lasts three weeks and provides an opportunity to interact with every 9th grade student in the school.

Each team is armed with iPads containing Google Drive, Dropbox, Explain Everything, and iMovie. First, students are introduced to the concepts of evidence collection and chain of custody. This allows them to gain some knowledge of case proceedings before beginning to work independently. Students then navigate through the project by completing a series of tasks and labs that narrow the suspect list.

DNA profiling ultimately reveals the guilty suspect. The highlighted activities include hair analysis, fingerprint analysis, blood spatter pattern, drug analysis, karyotype analysis, blood typing and DNA profiling. Throughout the process students collect and share photos, notes, and sketches. As teams progress through the lab, they do all of this via iPad.

As a final demonstration of their learning, students collaborate to create an iMovie "Mockumentary" to demonstrate the scientific processes as well as their problem solving throughout the three weeks.

>>>Learn more about this project, and see Mockumentary Examples

Extending the Project
This project could provide a great opportunity for collaboration with the drama and English departments. With their support on the "Mockumentary" students could also work on writing dialog, fiction, as well as drama.

Stop-Action Anatomy Animation

  • Creator: Jodie Deinhammer (@jdeinhammer)
  • Suggested Grade Level: High School
  • Subject Area: Science

Project Description
As an introduction to the unit, students created a brief stop motion video that demonstrates an action potential being sent down the axon of a nerve. Using a combination of iPads, the My Create app, and leftover Halloween candy, students had to build a nerve, demonstrate the basic steps of nerve impulse, and show their comprehension of the basic functioning of the neuron.


Project created by @MadisonDC11 & @jess_nes

This activity was completed in two 50 minute class periods. On the first day, students practiced and planned their animations. They created their videos on the second. They had no prior knowledge of nerve structure or function, and self taught the majority of this as well as the MyCreate app.

>>>Learn more about this activity and see project examples on Jodie's blog.

Extending the Project
Stop action animation could be used to demonstrate a variety of scientific concepts including physics experiments as well as other biological systems. It could also support teaching sequencing as well as digital storytelling.

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