I’m still trying to figure out the Flat Classroom Project. So far I understand that there are two main places to look for information- the wiki and the Ning space. On the wiki, you can reach each of the participating schools wikis. On the Ning space, everyone participating in the project posts information, media, and contributes to discussions. I noticed a new post on the Ning for the Flat Classroom about the Horizon Project. It’s described as the sister project to Flat Classroom. The Horizon Project Ning page is broken into smaller subgroups with very interesting topics (and relevant to our class discussions). Some of the topics include:
Shift of content production to users (Wikipedia)
Games as Pedagogical Platforms
Data Mashups (what are those?)
I surfed through some of the information posted on each of the subtopics, and it seems that students are in charge of researching and reporting on each topic in a small group. Some groups were not getting along, based on the postings, and I can imagine that it would be frustrating to collaborate with people who lived all over the world. It can be challenging enough for students to get things done when they are all sitting at the same table, let alone add in different locations, time zones, work styles, and personality differences (amplified by cultural differences). I think it is valuable for students to participate, but can imagine that teachers need to support their students in a variety of ways in order to make the interaction a positive one.
I have new friends. PALS is an online, standards-based resource bank of performance assessment tasks. Basically, really great authentic assessment activities. The site is organized based on NSES (National Science Education Standards). PALS is funded by a grant from a division of the NSF (National Science Foundation).
Here are the tasks for grades 5-8.
Some of my favorites include:
All of these activities come with a printer-friendly student page, teacher directions, and a rubric for assessing the task.
Adults navigate the Internet and sift fact from reality with the click of a button. How did we learn to identify bias in web resources? I learned to do this for the first time in a college, but I think that 8th graders are absolutely capable of learning the basics of what makes a website a good resource. Students should use the 5 W’s when evaluating website credibility. I took a summer class and my helpful professor guided us to these sites from the libraries of Widener University and UCLA. A good starting place is the video tutorial. Be sure to preview it before you show it to your classes as it deals with some racist language in reference to MLK and propaganda from the KKK). I think the strong themes make the point even more compelling to students- it is crucial to know who is writing the information you are reading. Next, visit these links to evaluate the authority and accuracy of websites. Finally, test your ability to determine real from hoax.