Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Third Week -- interest based learning

Ten students and one teacher:

  • One is dealing with connectivity issues in Central Pennsylvania
  • One is just returning from ten days of being off the grid in Mexico and poor hotel wifi in Toronto
  • One spent six days at wrestling camp--no time after three a days and three showers a day.
  • One is in China and finding the Great Wall applies to the internet as well. After five days of silence he finally reappeared to write an eloquent comparison of a speech by abolitionist Angelina Grimke and an essay by slavery apologist George Fitzhugh.
  • One student is in Italy
  • Six other students are chugging along juggling work, friends, US History and managing to have some fun as well.
  • I am behind in my grading.
  • I SKYPED with three students since last Thursday and had email exchanges with the rest.
  • By design I was less active in the Discussion Forum. The kids carried on beautifully.
How do you manage time zones? Our class meets in the evenings from 7-8:30 EST. In Italy that is 1-2:30AM and China 7-8:30 AM.

Tonight we shared projects! Every meeting adds some new experience and some new snag. The new feature was figuring out how to share videos with the kids. When I tried this the first week they could see but not hear. Tonight I had a solution and we had two student produced videos. The first two students shared a video they had created about women's participation in the Civil War. One student said "I had no idea women dressed as men to enter the army, I thought they were just nurses". This led into a discussion of nursing and Florence Nightengale and his "just nurses" comment withered. Discussion shifted to disease in the camps, medical practices and what made this a modern war. Another student researched the role of drummer boys and created a film demonstrating some of the drum signals.

And now the snag: I had a great deal of lag caused by my audio. It got so bad, my computer froze and I decided to exit the program and reenter with IE instead of Chrome. Tonight I learned that the class continues even if I exit the program! While I was out a student shared a poetry slam on the Ghost Dance and Wounded knee. Other than the fact that my name disappeared they didn't really notice and judging by the chat when I re-entered they had a lot to say about this poem. 

In all there were presentations on drummer boys, a case for the most illustrative of the time events from 1878-1900, the Diary of a Mill Girl, women's contributions to the Civil War effort, and a poem on the Ghost Dance.

We finished with a short discussion by me on the overall strategy of the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War and Lincoln's generals. 

I asked one student to stick around after the other's left to discuss with him the need to be more active in the chat! I was worried he had left on his computer and walked away. He talked with me about some of what was discussed and I was reassured he really had been present.

Overall a good class!