“Imagine Life Before the Internet” is a cross-curricular learning scenario intended for 7th Graders (1st grade of Junior High school, 12-13-year-old students). The topic encompasses different curricular areas (History, ICT, Technology) integrated with the English Language Arts.
The general aim of the scenario is to acquaint students with the technological inventions used in the past for communication. This lesson also aims to make them aware of the impact the internet had on several aspects of human life. Technological inventions constitute part of the tangible national and international cultural heritage and contribute to the general understanding of the concept of innovation and entrepreneurship in society. They also make clear how imagination and creativity shape the way to the future. The inspiration for the learning scenario was drawn from the textbook Think Teen 1st Grade of Junior High School which is the official textbook used for the teaching of English in the respective grade, according to the Unified Curriculum for Foreign Languages (EPS-XG), which follows the systematic planning of the FL levels/criteria defined by the Council of Europe (CEFR).
The learning scenario can also be implemented as a cross-curricular eTwinning project, as students communicate and collaborate with each other, engage in group work, research a topic, compare and contrast, reach conclusions, make digital products and publish their work on the internet. The activities take place in a computer lab where there is also an interactive whiteboard.
During the preparation session, the teacher presented the students with the web 2.0 tools: Padlet, Popplet and Adobe Spark. The students registered with the tools using group e-mail accounts. A brief introduction was made to the Europeana and Historiana platforms. The groups were divided beforehand so that the students would get to know each other so as to establish positive interdependence and promotive interaction among the members.
During the teaching sessions, students watched relevant videos from YouTube, brainstormed ideas and answered the teacher’s questions.
During the brainstorming activities, the teacher took notes on the whiteboard so as to help the students with the mind mapping and the digital product creation activities. Each group worked collaboratively. Students used the Europeana and Historiana platforms. They searched for and downloaded “free to use” images of past inventions that led to the invention of the internet. Then, they used the images to create their digital products.
We used Padlet as a publishing tool for the groups’ products, as a notice board where the teacher posted the videos and the materials she used during the sessions and it also served as a tool for product evaluation. Students used Popplet to create mind maps in order to link ideas relating to the lesson’s topic. They also used Spark Adobe to create a poster for a virtual museum. Pupils assumed the role of a curator. Later, they created posters that advertised the thematic collection of the Greek ICT museum “Life Before the Internet”.
Finally, they presented their posters to the whole class. Then, the other groups evaluated each other by voting for the best poster on the lesson’s Padlet. They were also self-evaluated in order to assess the achievement of learning objectives by using Google forms. The teacher evaluated the learning scenario by using Europana’s DSI-4 Assessment criteria.
Despite some unexpected problems (internet connection, electricity, e-mail login), the students managed to complete the project tasks and create their digital products.
The self-evaluation results revealed that the majority of the students managed to achieve the learning objectives of each session:
- 71% of the students felt comfortable searching for information on the Europeana platform;
- 59% of the students felt comfortable searching for materials using specific criteria;
- 77% of the students felt comfortable downloading and saving pictures in a file in the computer for later use;
- 35% of the students felt comfortable assuming the role of a curator;
- 35% of the students felt comfortable thinking creatively of how to present a poster;
- 41% of the students felt comfortable thinking critically of what to include in a poster.
The students were very satisfied with the work done. They learned about communication in the past, played the role of a curator, presented their products, and evaluated their products and developed 21st century skills.
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