I get the great pleasure of spending an hour “teaching” in a classroom next Thursday with some 5th Year students at a school just outside of Sydney, and I thought I’d write a quick post soliciting some ideas for what I might do. They’re just starting a unit on China and will be doing some research about the country and its people, so I’ve been asked to do a lesson that shows kids how to “pull” in information and hit on some of those “manage, analyze, synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information” (NCTE) skills and literacies that we all need these days. I’ve obviously got some ideas, but I’m wondering, given that very brief lead-in, what ideas do you have that might help me serve those kids well?
Rachelle Lamoureux says
Are you asking the students to crowdsource? If so, how to ensure that all levels of NCTE? In my experience, most if not all of my students gravitate towards proficient level of information (basic facts etc.) Also, are you going to guide their searches with examples provided by you or leave it open to any/all suggestions? Are there specific aspects about China that HAVE to be covered? These are just a few thoughts I had while reading your post. Would love to hear your final conclusion/results!
tim comfort says
I love the idea of them planning a class trip to China and them doing the research from all angles, travel accomodation, tourist attractions, budget, fund raising, etc. Of course, included in this will be some form of communication with students in China through collaborative documents, skype, etc. Many decisions will have to be made by the group involving critical thinking. How much to spend, which places to go, what time of year, etc. I have never done a great job of this, maybe you have just challenged me to go ahead and do it.
Let us know how it goes.
Rob Flynn says
My immediate guess is that the reaction of most kids would be, “I know how to do that, Google!” To a degree, they’re right. They have a lot of skills regarding information that their parents might not.
To me, “googling” presents a nice jumping off point to talk about information and search because it’s something that everyone is familiar with. Obviously it’s a limited medium, but it can be a basis that you can build on as you talk about different techniques to “pull.” You can keep building, bringing up more complex ways to find, analyze, and manage information.
I’m a coach, so I always think about things in terms of progressions. First step, first two steps, first two steps and punch, first two steps punch and drive. Works for football players!
Grant Franke says
I was recently at the EARCOS conference in KK, Malaysia, and I learned some great search tools on google that could help the students refine their search. For example, you could use “site:edu” or “site:gov” to limit the searches to education and goverment webpages. For more things like this, you should check out the Google Educator Index, Google Educator Tools, and Google Educator Poster. I hope this helps!
Katie Piatt says
Use the lovely Wordle (http://www.wordle.net/create) to get them to dump in loads of search results and ideas and see what common themes come out.
I would think using a collaborative bookmarking tool like Evernote, Delicious, Diigo, etc. is a start. Maybe using that information to create a resource with a wiki or possibly Qwiki. The trick is to come up with an authentic task.
David Marcovitz says
I wonder if you might find a class in China for them to email via ePals.
Another thought…perhaps, you could look at China from the standpoint of a controversial topic so they don’t just have to find the first thing from Google to gather facts, but build an understanding of the wide range of viewpoints on the topic. I’m not sure if there are enough age-appropriate resources for this in a short lesson, but topics such as the impact of China’s growth on the environment, the training methods of Chinese athletes, China’s control of their currency, China’s relationship with Tibet or Hong Kong, etc. I’m sure you can think of more ideas (and maybe more age-appropriate ideas), but those are just a few off the top of my head.
I would want to know more about the context of the China unit, and I would suggest that asking a few more questions might be beneficial both for you and for your host school in order to ensure that you’re giving them the best possible experience. What do students need to know and be able to do at the conclusion of the unit? That will help cement that you aren’t just there as an entertaining guest but as a partner in the other learning activities about China. The Australians are a pretty amazing country of educators, as a whole, and the ones I’ve worked with wouldn’t bat an eye to be asked about the big picture of the unit.
Inherent in the NCTE standard you quote is that they should be dealing with all this information for a useful purpose. So if further communication with the school isn’t an option, I would echo others’ comments and suggest doing a bang-up lesson on synthesis. The teacher and student probably have better mastery of the other levels of learning, but synthesis is the difficult, Big Kahuna. How can they not only pull in the information but make sense of it and use it to solve a problem? For example, if they were starting a business in China, what socio-cultural traditions and practices would they need to be mindful of?
Brian Crosby says
Hi Will – Can you give us any information about what resources / learning tools the students have? Laptops? Other tech? Do they have any skills with web 2.0 or newbies? Do they already blog or wiki – have access to Skype, Google Docs or???
Would be great to do a collaborative piece or connect somehow.
Larry Hanley says
How about mashing up with google maps? E.g. using google maps as a platform to synthesize, organize, etc. etc. . . . and helping students to make “visible” their knowledge.
Well China and its people is sooooo broad. As a Library Media Specialist, my first question would be “how can we narrow this down?”
Are we looking for culture, economics, evolution of the society, China’s emerging middle class, issues with pollution, comparisons to the Industrial Revolution in the west a century ago, history….
Once there is a focus, then pinpointing resources and planning an appropriate strategy and deciding on a product.
I would think that many students at this school wil have touched chinese communities int heir daily lives, but not perhaps understand the culture or country of Chine. This site might be nice for some comparative and discussion work: If it were my home: http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/index/AU or even Wolfram Alfa: http://www.wolframalpha.com/ (thanks @k8tra) Enjoy and see you at the conference. Cheers, Pip
Deb Hogg says
How about introducing them to search engines other than google! We all love google but putting China as a search term would probably give you almost as many results as there are people who live there! As a NSW teacher, living in Sydney I would suggest a little research regarding the DET blocking system – terrible to have a fabulous plan relying on sites that are blocked – your contact person will be able to assist in testing sites and/or applying for unblocking if you give them a couple of days. Also, students don’t have YouTube access but staff do. No skype either. I sound like a wet blanket but these are the sorts of issues teachers face everyday. There is bound to be a virtual tour or a photosynth you could have fun with… Nothing like going on a tour of China without leaving the classroom! Maybe come dressed as Flight Staff and rearrange the classroom as a wide body aircraft! Just expect a captivated/captivating audience who will treat you as royalty because they love visitors!
Regards, Deb (Sydney, Australia)
HI – As many of these students may have touched the chinese culture through other students in their class/school, it would be good to deepen their cultural understanding of hte country. I love comparison activities to build disucssions and collaborations such as those that can be done from IfItWereMyHome: http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/index/AU and Wolfram Alfa: http://www.wolframalpha.com/ You may even like an impromptu cooking lesson….
Ann S. Michaelsen says
My first thought was about an article in one of our Newspapers in Norway today. You can Google translate it in class. http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/uriks/article4070413.ece
Since receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in November 2010, (without being permitted to leave the country), Liu Xiabo has not been seen since October 2011 and many other famous freedom activists and lawyers are missing in China. The uproar and unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has hardened the situation in China and they are afraid of similar actions in China. That would certainly be different approach to China and put emphasis on the importance of social media. All good points when trying to manage, analyze, synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.
Mary Worrell says
I love the ideas others have shared already and if you’re looking for something light the “planning a trip” idea would be good. You can incorporate Google Maps and a collaborative document or notebook for students to add resources they think are important and useful. Could also get into the sticky issues like visas and embassies…what do you need to know before visiting? What do you need when you get there? Depending on where we go, will we hire a translator? How do we find that person?
You could also incorporate some other disciplines and focus the topic that way. I’m thinking a science/history focus so you can narrow the research a bit. Lots of environmental issues going on as a result of population explosion. Could talk about migration from a push/pull standpoint incorporating a bit of history and then get into science with some of the environmental issues going on. Then ask – is there any way we can fix this? That’s a lot to do in a day, but it gives plenty of jumping off points for research. Could split groups up to tackle different portions. Collaborative research leading to whole-group presentations/discussions of what they found.
I’m just brainstorming, but can’t wait to hear what you come up with and how it goes with the students.
George Mayo says
Maybe the students could “manage, analyze, synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information” by getting into small groups and interviewing various experts via Skype. I did a quick time zone search between Sydney and Beijing and its only a three-hour time difference. Of course, the experts don’t all have to be in China.
So you could set up 4 or 5 Skype stations throughout the room. Each group would be assigned a particular station/topic, where they would conduct an informal interview/conversation with an expert about an aspect of China. In my experience, twenty minutes is a good amount of time for students to participate in a Skype interview w/ an expert. It’s pretty amazing how productive these short Skype chats can be. The students often feel very proud of themselves after participating in a lively conversation that THEY led, not the teacher. The information also tends to stick because the onus is on the students to lead the interview and keep the conversation moving.
After the Skype interviews, each group would have the rest of class to organize all their information they gathered into a class presentation. You could use a wiki site for each group to prepare their presentations.
Next class, each group would present what they learned to the rest of the class. This way, all the students benefit and learn from all the various Skype chats. The class as a whole must now “manage, analyze, synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information.” Those multiple streams being all the experts that Skyped in.
The students would need at least one class period to prepare questions for their interviews. It’s a bit of work setting this all up. However, it would be a blast to kick back and watch all the students in action. We’re just wrapping up a big research/documentary project and the most helpful and informative information my students found was from their Skype interviews with various experts.
Will Richardson says
Thanks to all for the ideas. Much to think about.
I’m still trying to get a better handle on what these students can already do in terms of research. Hoping their teacher will get back in touch before Thursday’s session. I’m thinking they might be too young for RSS feeds, but maybe creating a PageFlakes page could be a good start. Maybe their own China Daily that they create from searches on Google News? Maybe as a start? Really haven’t had too much time to think about it… Nothing like waiting until the last minute.
susan marie says
check out http://www.imqq.com it’s China’s FB, look for educators groups. find a Chinese PLN group.
David Best says
If you are looking to Skype with a class, we are a school in Hong Kong and we would be more than willing to arrange something. We have used Skype with people from different areas of the world and our students really enjoyed the live interaction. If your students are interested in learning about Hong Kong, a part of China that is very distinct from the rest of the country, let us know! 🙂
How long are you in Australia for? Will you be speaking anywhere else?