Students love collaborating on Google Maps. The emphasis on sharing generates discussion about content as partners or groups locate news stories on their map. Students open a second tab or work from two devices to find news stories. They select details to copy and paste into story locations on the map thereby gaining spatial understanding of the world and events of interest. Using provided icons and colors, students categorize their stories into one of four categories: economic, cultural, political and environmental. This engages students in discussion with each other and with me. What makes a story political helps them develop a deeper understanding of the nuances of that term and the actual event. The colored icons help students see what type of news and areas of the world that are drawing attention. This simple analysis helps them make decisions to investigate areas of the world that they do not pay attention too thus broadening their knowledge of geography. Students quickly accelerate with their ability and their interests in the world.
2 Direct Instruction
News Investigation becomes meaningful when students discover stories on their own. They choose Feedly or Flipboard apps to aggregate their sources from RSS feeds. I recommend following BBC News and Al Jazeera but they can choose additional sources. Individuals take notes on stories they've posted to their maps but they conference with peers about the sources or journalists. Students naturally like discussing and sharing their work loads. By tracking stories from different sources, they easily and excitedly search for comparisons in how stories are followed. The constant flow from invesigation to discussion and discovery gives me time to engage with students. News analysis needs 1:1 direct instruction as students work through different questions and reading comprehension needs, depending on the nature of the story. In a routine work flow environment I can provide this as I move from student to student.
3 Guided Practice
When students make the choice to commit to research it helps to have them check in periodically with their progress. It is possible to miss conversing with all students and it takes time to write down what they promise to do. After students pick a story to analyze they send me a quick commitment through Croak.it. This 30 second "audio only" is a great summative or formative assessment tool; students explain what news story and the source that they are following and the predicted outcome. Oral presentation of a rationale for research helps students check for understanding. Often, students will practice their presentation for me face to face for clarification before posting the Croak.it. It can post to our Facebook page, or Twitter or straight to my email. Posting to Facebook provides a model and an opportunity for others less committed to find interests for investigation. Email provides privacy for those who need more assistance. Croak.it is a smart classroom management tool since it can be completed in the last few minutes of class time.
4 Independent Practice
Students can collaborate or work alone with this app. Notes taken on developing news stories can be posted in separate slides according to stages of development. Or, comparative sources on a story can be posted in separate slides. Students can read their notes with the audio recorder and provide additional insight individually or with a partner. With each practice students develop skills with the many tools that Explain Everything has to offer making it a perfect tool to differentiate. Most students gravitate towards adding screen shot images from news stories, personalized with photos of themselves. The web clipping tool appeals to those who hope to save time clipping an article directly from a site . Highlighting and writing tools help scaffold content into stages of analysis. Students can do this as they record their audio or they can organize their presentation before they record. The personalized learning makes it possible for me to help students in small groups. Projects are handed into the teacher through a variety of public and private channels. It is important to work in a space that allows for small group work, private recording and rehearsal.
recording audio can be uncomfortable for students who hate presenting,
Students who choose to publish projects to a public site like Facebook or Twitter can utilize feedback from peers and their teachers. It is important to set the tone for constructive criticism. I also like to gamify this process. Students brave enough to post receive bonus points or currency for purchasing other game like activities in upcoming classes. Students who offer constructive critique also deserve incentives. Anyone who acts upon a critique and spends time editing can develop classroom privileges making for some important collaborative teaming.