Earlier this year our school district offered high school teachers an opportunity to submit a proposal to “Re-imagine the 21st Century Classroom” . I, along with two English teachers - Tricia Buck and David Lunn - were awarded 30 netbooks and an opportunity to introduce technology driven activities to our curriculum. We are being supported by our district’s Instructional Technology Specialist, Cary Harrod. I am thrilled to discover what my Spanish students can achieve when they augment their studies with technology on a daily basis.
My Twitter friend and colleague, Leigh Murrell (who lives & teaches in sunny California) and I are very excited about our first student collaborative project. Two of our Spanish III classes are working together to learn about different music genres heard in Spanish speaking countries. We started planning our hispanic music collaboration in January. We talked about mutual goals we had for our classes, and came up with a three part assignment.
This week marks the end of the first part. Our students self-selected a music genre that interested them and researched the genre’s history and artists that represent it. They summarized their findings and linked two sample songs to our Ning. Although I am a huge music fan, my students taught me a lot about online music sources. They started sampling music from Internet radio sites like Pandora, Jango, and Blip.fm. They found specific songs to link or embed to the Ning on sites like Last.fm, Rhapsody, Lala and Actualidades. Unlike California, Cincinnati does not have a radio station that plays hispanic music, so my students have been exposed to a significant amount of hispanic music just doing research for this project.
I am very impressed with the depth and quality of writing coming from Leigh’s students, and seeing such good work from other Spanish students has been great for my kids. I have some very strong writers, but many students wrote their summary directly on the Ning without any peer editing or revising. My students were very impressed with their California peers, when they read what they had posted on the discussion threads. I took the opportunity to talk about the importance of editing and taking pride in what was published. I hope this will encourage them to proofread their work before posting it next time. (Here is the rubric for part one.)
I love how some of my more reluctant Spanish students are so engaged in this project because of the music content, and I think it is safe to say that after this project Ricky Martin will not be the only singer that pops into my students’ head when Hispanic singers are brought up.
Monday, we Skype! The kids are very excited to meet their partners, as we embark on the second leg of this project. I bet that my students will ask them about their sunny California weather, as they complain about our snowy winter days. Several have already requested a field trip. Please read what Leigh has to say about our collaboration.