Seventh Graders have recently finished creating individual websites as part of the Latin American History Country Project. This is the third year of the websites, which replaced individual poster projects as a far more interactive way for students to learn and teach about their countries.The websites allow students to complete a number of skills tasks within a creative framework.
Requirements include scanning in hand-drawn maps and flags, writing several explanatory pieces, listing social and economic facts, finding pictures and captions, imbedding video and audio clips, imbedding a google map, imbedding “hot spots”, creating bibliographies, and providing links to other sites and games that teach about the country. Students have a great deal of latitude with design and presentation, and each chooses his/her own hotspots, pictures, games, and “your choice” topic.
The project takes just over two weeks to complete, and students have both a self evaluation checklist and evaluate three assigned classmates’ websites. Students understand that part of their evaluation is both how independently they work, and how they help and seek help from other students. Students often have excellent problem-solving suggestions for each other, and equally good suggestions for us in their project evaluations. This year, for instance, some suggestions were that we start the scanning in the first week, present the bibliography requirements earlier, do more of the tech instruction at once, and incorporate http://www.scribblemaps.com
Almost universally, students appreciated learning how to construct a website, and all appreciated the wide variety of design and information from which they could choose. We feel that the project is a superb teaching tool which can only get better as we all learn more. Miles Billings and Svetlana Grinshpan spearheaded the original websites, and the projects from the last two years are viewable on Knightline, (username and password: knightline, knights74) under Middle School History. As well as research, essays, artwork, and timelines, students will also undertake and present individual virtual trips at the end of the year to complete their individual country studies.
Bill Rogers, MS Department Head, History