I've spent a good deal of time in this blog talking about my vision, ideas, and beliefs about how education can be improved. Now, with the school year rapidly approaching, it's time to take a much more practical approach and begin to propose how I paln to implement some of this in my classroom. In the spirit of collaboration I hope you will provide me with ideas, questions, criticism, and helpful advice.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I plan to revisit an experiment I began last year in American Studies - a year long interdisciplinary course that combines English and US History. I'm hoping to engage students and parents by making the unit and lesson planning process more transparent and inviting them to participate.
I've also begun to think of this in terms of a long term project that might connect to the required research paper. If we begin the year by having students reflect on their interests, the unique experiences they and their familes have had, and how all this might apply to the themes, issues, events, arts, literature, cultures, and places that we cover in this course, perhaps each student can become engaged in an area that will have meaning for him or her.
After doing some initial research, students can be taught how to utilize news aggregators as a way to keep track of the latest material published on the internet about their topic. They could conduct interviews, collect artifacts, and write reflections on what they discover. They would then publish this all on a weblog, and when we get to the time period or unit to which their topic best relates, the student can be the expert on this by presenting what he or she has discovered. By publishing it through a weblog each student can get feedback along the way from teachers, parents, students and other experts in their chosen area.
Finally, they would examine the impact this topic had for the country in the traditional social studies research paper.