Summer Technology Institute 2011
Elements of Fiction in Applied English 9
At the beginning of the school year, the freshman classes that I teach do a unit on short stories and elements of fiction. My plan thus far is to assign one element of fiction to a pair of students, one partner from each of the two sections of the class. The students will prepare an informative web page using a template that I will create for them in Google Docs, and each one will present the page to his or her individual class. This requires both students to be involved in every step of the production of the project, and it also presents an element of the unknown to the kids. Their work will be presented to a class of which they are not a member. They will have very little knowledge of the chemistry of the class and of the other students’ reactions to their work. Hopefully this will help to motivate these students to deliver their very best work. This asynchronous pairing will foster a dependence on technology for the completion of the project, and will help students realize the potential for using Google Docs in a way that they might not have previously thought of.
Throughout the unit, I will consistently update my blog to display some of the students’ work, photos of them working, and examples of what they have done so far. Because the Google domain in which the students are required to work is already set up to display the students’ full names, I am not able to require students to publish their web pages for public viewing. However, I do plan to require them to share their pages with their other teachers, and will require them to log in from home to show their work to their parents and guardians. I will be sending emails (and where necessary, letters) home to parents and guardians to ensure that they have been given consistent access to their students’ work. If necessary, I will make printouts of the web pages available for parents without Internet access. My hope is to have the parents give me feedback on the students’ projects and progress in my class.
Elements of fiction are abstract ideas that will follow us throughout the year, and it is imperative that the students have an ingrained understanding of these concepts. The unit provides underlying structure for all the reading and writing that we do in my class for the rest of the school year. Students also are required to use Google Docs in two of their other ninth grade classes, and the asynchronous pairing will help them to scaffold new skills onto previously existing ones.
Students will demonstrate the ability to collaborate with a partner who is not readily available to deliver feedback. They will utilize technology to assist them with communication with a remote participant.
Students will develop a clear, in-depth understanding of the elements of fiction as applicable to our class.
Students will deliver clear, correct, and concise information to members of their class.
The teacher will gain a clearer understanding of practical applications of Google Docs in the classroom.
The teacher will allow part of the instruction of this unit to come from the students, and will help them as needed with the practical elements of the project.
The parents will gain a clearer understanding of the technology involved in their children’s school work.
The parents will offer feedback to the teacher and the students about their participation in the project, and their participation in English class in general.
Methodology and Timeline
Over the course of the summer, I will create a product descriptor and several web page templates so that students will have a choice of layouts for their projects. After the first week of school, the students will be assigned a partner and an element of fiction. As we read the stories, different presentations will be due on different dates. The due dates will be determined by drawing numbers from a hat. Students are given roughly ten to fifteen minutes for Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) during my class, and those that have not completed their project yet may use the time to work on their project. However, I will be hovering nearby, and any student not working on their project will lose the privilege of working on their project during class time. Those students who have completed their presentations MUST participate in SSR, as that will also be the basis for the following unit. Students must share their project with me two class periods prior to the due date, so that I can review the validity of the information that they are presenting. The unit runs until the very end of October, when we begin our first novel unit. By that time, all student presentations must be completed.