13 September 2012

Incidental Learning: Educational Trickery

For both my Multimedia and Graphic Design classes, I have the same intro unit that covers a few easy programs and attempts to bring the less-computer-literate up to speed. Little did I know it also adds internet-age literacy and English reading comprehension.

The project uses Prezi, a cloud presentation tool that just keeps getting better. (Before moving on, I should explain that they had already briefly learned the tool by creating a presentation about themselves. The beauty of it is that they only need to learn the tool, with no research to be done.) Our mascot is a knight, so I told my students to create a presentation about all kinds of knights. It starts with a definition of the word, moves into true stories of knights (or at least partially true), then covers fictional knights (even as far as The Dark Knight or jedi knights), and finishes with what they think it means to be a knight at our school, or rather what knightly traits they should have.

I just thought it would be a good way to get better at Prezi, as well as promote a little school spirit, but as I saw them working, I noticed they were forced to critically think about what search terms they were entering into Google. It was tricky finding real stories of knights without ending up with a whole lot of fake stories and pictures of Batman. I thought it was good practice.

The second unanticipated positive was that as they found stories of real and fictitious knights, they were forced to summarize their stories for the presentation. This is a solid reading comprehension practice that the new common core is pushing for all subjects. It's an easy thing to do in class, but the best part about this project is that they don't realize they're getting English practice.

As I said, I didn't do it on purpose, but I intend to do on purpose in the future.

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