Where in Washington? — Engage, Motivate, Learn
Trisha Doumit teaches fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary in Pullman. She oversees a lively gaggle of young learners who have just made their mark in a recent Where in Washington? learning assignment. This research-based project took place by video conference (VC) over the K-20 network.
Says Doumit, “I think the highlight for me was seeing how excited the students were to participate in the project. Everyone was actively engaged.”
Where in Washington? is a popular introduction to VC technology, online research and the development of digital presentation materials — all of which integrate beautifully into state standards for educational technology, reading, communication and geography.
Doumit’s class made progress toward four state learning goals:
- Investigate and think critically. (Education Technology Goal 1.3)
- The student reads different materials for a variety of purposes. (Reading Goal 3)
- The student uses listening and observation skills to gain understanding. (Communication Goal 1)
- The student communicates ideas clearly and effectively. (Communication Goal 2)
- Describe the natural characteristics of places and regions. (Geography Goal 2.1)
Research, Team Work, Critical Analysis, Creativity
Where in Washington? puts the 21st century skill set into play. Here’s how it works.
- Following a period of research, students create a presentation that reveals clues about their location. (Generally, eight or so classrooms join the project.) Presentations come packaged as short dramatic scenes, slide decks, videos, infographics — whatever form works best to communicate a set of geographic clues. During the first VC session, each class presents their clues while the other classes take notes.
- Once all the presentations are complete, the kids use their
notes to launch an intense 30-minute research sprint that takes
advantage of atlases, maps, Encarta software and Internet
- Back on the VC, each class gets to ask one critical question
of the competing classroom teams. It’s a tense moment; this new
information could change or confirm research conclusions.
- As the live VC feed rotates among the classrooms, each class
announces their guess for all the mystery locations and,
one-by-one, each team reveals their location.
- Much excitement follows and the session closes with a chorus
of high-spirited good-byes.
“The students really directed everything. They decided what clues they wanted to research for our city and how they would present the information. They wrote the script and created visual aid posters. I did several lessons with them covering effective online research and how to use the Washington State Maps…but everything else was student generated,” says Doumit.
Doumit followed the Where in Washington?
task outline to guide her class through the project. And, given that the technology was all-new to her class, they prepared a news cast with posters to keep their presentation simple and easy to follow. As it turned out, the video conferencing equipment was pretty easy to figure out, helped along by the school’s technology department staff who made sure the class was outfitted adequately with laptops for online research. Doumit plans to take this first foray into tech integration further by guiding her students through a digital presentation by VC next time around.
Ripple Effect into Teaching and Learning
Trisha Doumit was thrilled to find out from parents that kids were excited about the experience and talking plenty about it — before and after the video conference. Relative to instruction, Doumit says “It was a nice way to review the geography, history, geology, economic and political content we covered throughout the year.” And motivating. She notes that this project energized and added a “fun element” to the hard work of research, writing, presentation and collaboration. Newbie no more — Doumit plans to build the Where in Washington? experience into her fourth-grade curriculum.
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