Over the past several weeks, I have been working with both my students and colleagues to combat the lack of global awareness many teens (and adults!) display through both formal and informal discussions. One of the reasons that students have offered for their lack of knowledge in current events is a lack of teen-friendly resources at their disposal. Students, who live their lives online, are craving an accessible website or social media platform to help them become more well-informed, without having to search through pages of headlines. While Twitter does a great job offering news in small, bite-sized pieces, tweets also pass by in an instant–so, if students are not online at a given moment (during class, for example), they likely miss whatever Twitter has to offer them.
In order to help my students become better informed, as well as in an effort to help them see the true benefit of educational technology (beyond Google Docs and PowerPoint), I have designed a lesson in which students create an activity or online resource to help their peers become and remain well-informed. Students are able to use a variety of technologies to support their work, but ultimate they must aggregate their information in one place, making it easily accessible for teenagers. Students also must plan for a way to disseminate information about their new news tool to their peers.
As global awareness is one of P21’s core subjects/themes, this lesson nicely aligns with the 21st century learning outcomes (Partnership for 21st Century Skills 2011). This lesson is also reflective of Renee Hobbs’s core competencies (2011) and asks students to achieve all five competencies in a meaningful and sustained manner.
This lesson and activity are also deeply woven into our curriculum. As tenth graders, students are focusing on analyzing non-fiction sources and evaluating digital content. Students are learning how to discern a credible source from a non-credible source, and are also being asked to extend their learning beyond the classroom and school whenever possible. Authentic learning and creating for an authentic audience is one of the four cornerstones of our school, and this lesson/project will be a clear demonstration of that cornerstone.
I look forward to sharing this lesson and activity with my students, and am also excited to share the results of their work and creating in this space.
To read the lesson plan and lesson rationale, please click here. Also, please check back for updates on the lesson and additional student exemplars.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2011). Framework for 21st Century Learning. doi:10.4135/9781473935457