My students were about to begin a thematic unit in American literature on war and remembrance. A couple of the books we read pertain to the Vietnam War (The Things They Carried and In Country) so I like to provide students with ample background information about the war. This year, I decided that students would be responsible for researching more of the information. I openly tell students that the historical background is not my area of expertise and that we must work together to learn about the war.
I borrowed a documentary about the Vietnam War from my school's history department and I gave students the following directions to complete during their viewing of the film by opening a shared Google Apps presentation:
In class today, you will be assigned to one of the topics on the next few slides to build class research on the Vietnam War (from this website http://www.nationalvnwarmuseum.org/exhibits.htm). Please work with your partner silently to take information from the film, the packet, and the website to add to the presentation and remember that the main purpose is to increase our background knowledge.
Include at least 3 key points/facts.
Feel free to include a relevant link/picture that you can find on your topic.
The website for the National Vietnam War Museum helped me to assign pairs of students to topics and sub-topics on the shared presentation. Students subsequently needed to view the documentary and the corresponding packet to develop the three points or facts they wanted to present. They worked with their partners to incorporate any relevant links and images.
I found that having students work in pairs motivated them to stay on task. Also, I had the shared presentation open during the film and I was able to comment on slides that students were working on to give students more direction and guide them to related links for images and video. Since it was a shared presentation, students could refer to the presentation throughout their readings this quarter by accessing their Google Apps accounts. This link will bring you to the initial slides I developed and a sample slide a pair of students created during class.
Thank you for reading. Please respond to tell me about any innovative ways you've used Google presentations, films, or virtual museums in your classroom!