A teacher story about her experiences with implementation from
Tara Copeman, Hardisty School, Edmonton Public:
The implementation of the resources, strategies, and Social Studies front matter presented in the Social Studies Inquiry In-service strand has both enhanced and given direction to: the engaging delivery of content; the development of fundamental critical thinking and inquiry skills; the creation of student-centred, project based learning and assessment; and the meaningful integration of technology and 21st century literacies.
The first year of teaching the grade 7 Social Studies, I had the privilege of teaching in a 1 to 1 laptop class, and integrating technology and the online guide to implementation was very easy. Access to technology lent itself very well to inquiry-based projects and assessments, as well as providing opportunities to teach digital and media literacy, and how to locate and assess relevant material. The class morphed over the course of the year, at first relying heavily on me for providing resources, notes, and direction for assignments, to by March, I was functioning much more as a coach or a guide as they took a concept, searched it out for themselves, and turned it into a medium that was relevant to them and their peers. I felt very much like it "fell together", but I was looking for some ideas or projects to anchor me. I wanted my delivery to be more intentional. It seemed that my students of year one were very good at locating, assessing, and producing, but synthesizing and connecting events was not as strong. My biggest challenge was that they saw each event or even chapter as finite, isolated events, and had a hard time transferring events that happened earlier to how they affected events that happened later on, or how those events shaped what Canada is today.
Having a year of teaching the course under my belt, I taught it again last year, and again, with a one-to-one laptop class. Upon attending the Social Studies Inquiry strand with David Evans and Betty-Lou Ayers starting in September, one of the most encouraging things was seeing them take Web 2.0 apps and internet resources outside the Implementation Guide and model how they can be used to deliver and/or demonstrate curriculum objectives. I had experience with many apps, even the ones they had showcased, but was struggling to implement them meaningfully into Social Studies. I was able to take these ideas and make curriculum fun! One is example is David showing us tenbyten.org, an international news site where headlines are pictorially represented and is updated every hour. It visually conveys what the hot topics in international news are for that hour. I thought that this was a neat way to grab student's interest in current events by looking at the pictures. Once I showed them how to find articles this way, I also showed them how to find local articles in the Edmonton Journal and view comments.
I had students go to either site and pick an article, any article. I walked them through picking out the main idea, relevant facts and details, detecting bias, and forming a personal opinion on the issue presented in the article. Once they deconstructed the article, they had to find a related video on YouTube. It didn't have to be the on the exact SAME event, but if the article was on a drunk driver, the video had to be on drunk driving. Once they located their video, they utilized the Web 2.0 app Bubbleply. This app allows them to layer thought or speech bubbles on top of the YouTube video, like Much Music's old-school Pop-Up Video! They then took the info from their article and related it to their video, making connections and synthesizing information and media, solving my problem of getting them to understand that events do not stand alone, and that what we learn from one thing connects to another.
This has been something that I have repeated, and that the kids are extremely engaged in. Students that find newspapers "boring", or who typically do not finish, or do not share their work, were excited, working on their Bubblplys at home to make them perfect, and eager to show their work to their peers and watch everyone else’s. I continue to be impressed by the quality of work and the variety of issues the kids explored. By combining choice, an engaging medium, and 21st century literacy skills with Social Studies inquiry-based learning, I was able to make Social studies relevant and meaningful to my students in a way that met them on their level and at the same time meet the goals I set for them.