Module 2: Learning Log 2

18 Sep

One of our assignments in Module 2 was to read a few chapters from the Fontichiaro text.  One set of articles I found incredibly to be incredibly helpful was a series by author Leslie Preddy on “Student Inquiry in the Research Process” (Fontichiaro pages 130 – 145).

A project that I love to assign (and in the end, students love doing) is an oral history (OH) project.  They pick a time period or event and then chose a friend or family member to interview that lived through the time period or event.  Next, students compare their family member/ friend to the historical record of the time period.  I’ve found students like to find out the “dirt” on their family members and as a teacher, it is so enjoyable reading papers that students clearly have a personal connection to.  While reading the Preddy chapters, I came up with a lot of great ideas to make the project better this year.

1) Have students keep a notebook/ journal of the OH project.  From the brainstorming phase (what topic or time period am I most interested in?  What questions should I ask my interview subject”) through the interview and reflection phase (how did my interview subject experience the time period?  Are they similar to other Americans during this time?  What do their experiences tell us about American identity?”) students have LOTS of papers floating about.  Purposeful organization would beneficial to them and me.

2) Model AND practice the interview process.  In the past, I have had another teacher come in and I mock interviewed her to give the students a look at the types of questions that would elicit the best results.  However, I should go a step further and allow the students to mock interview her (or a different teacher) as well.  Perhaps the interviewed teacher could give feedback to the students on how she thought the interview went.

3) Grade the process and the product.  Believe it or not, I have had students plagiarize their OH.  In one case, I had students make up responses that they thought a person may have had during the time period (I caught them because the responses sounded too generic) and in a second case, a student from a previous year allowed a current student to use a few of their body paragraphs (I caught them because the OH’s are very unique).  Perhaps other students slipped through.  By grading the process, students will be accountable for every step of the project

4) Allow students to chose their formatting.  In the past, the OH has always been a paper.  But for students who tape their interviews, creating a video would be a lot more powerful.  Other students could put together a visual with scanned images or photos from the time period of artifacts that their subject owns.  Allowing them to pick the format would give students more ownership over the final result.


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