Monday, April 25, 2011

State Research Projects Going Google

Planning a summer vacation to a state you’ve never visited?  Look no further than Edina Public School’s fourth grade state research project websites.  

Every year the fourth grade students in Edina Public Schools do a research project on the United
States.  Each student is assigned a state that he or she researches using printed materials, media and the internet. The end result used to be a tri-fold brochure, but now, thanks to Google Apps for Education, each student creates a web site.

With the adoption of Google Apps for Education we were able to transform this state research
project into a relevant and engaging project for the students.  Instead of brochures, students create a web site using Google Sites.

Another aspect of the project is to make a map in Google Maps. Using the My Maps feature, the
students tag three areas of interest or fun facts about their state. The map is embedded into their
Google Site using the unique URL generated by the App.   

Then, using Google Forms, each student creates a five-question quiz that is placed on the front page of his or her web site. On the last day of the project, the students go into the computer lab, visit each other’s sites and take the quizzes. The teachers then use Google Spreadsheet to collect the answers and summarize them in a graph.

The students were energetically engaged in this project, as it was the first web site most students had ever created. They loved creating this website for an audience of people outside of their classroom walls. For the teachers, this was an eye-opening project. We all know that excellent teaching is the reason behind all learning, but this project shows that the content the students were learning didn’t change, but how the students were learning and sharing did change.

Integrating Google Apps for Education has transformed the perspective that teachers and students have about their world. Google Apps for education provides tools that engage students in projects and learning outside of their classroom walls. Collaboration, sharing and publishing using Google Apps means students have tools that connect them to their peers, teachers, community, parents and world.

The simple transformation of creating web sites instead of brochures is a great example of how we can engage students and unleash their passion for learning in new and meaningful ways.

At Edina Public Schools, we are excited not only about what our students learn but about how they are learning. Google Apps for Education allows our students to stay current in the evolving world of technology while engaging deeply with their academic pursuits. Students are now learning without boundaries, any time, anywhere.

The next time you are planning a trip in the United States, let me know and I can hook you up with some amateur, but tech-savvy travel agents.


Manaiakalani said...

Great idea! I am heading to Philadelphia for ISTE so will be very pleased to find the Site about that state!


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