In essence this came about after a lengthy discussion with colleagues to try and determine what is the guiding question for our unit on light and sound. This is the hardest aspect of any unit plan I feel but of course, like anything that is hard, it is generally worth the effort in the end!
We came up with the idea that the way we communicate in so many different ways is predominantly made of waves in the electromagnetic spectrum. We are aiming to try and get students to understand what IT is that travels between my mouth and their ears? What is IT that allows our computers to connect? What is IT that allows us to see all objects? What is IT that is going into our eyes and enables us to see?
Of course this is a huge amount of content that we were not overly keen on dumping on the students. So we decided to break it up.
1. Small groups and each group is allocated one of the 6 sections of the spectrum; Radio, UV, Visible Light, Infra Red, X-Rays and Gamma rays.
2. Research is conducted however during the process, authenticity of sources is taught explicitly, along the way modelling the use of Google short cuts such as linkto: scholar: site.edu:
3. Once the group has a general idea of what their wave is about then they delve deeper into the subject. Prompting them to look for significant people involved, research that has been conducted, impacts on society both positive and negative.
4. We really wanted the students to know their own part of the spectrum AND aspects of the others, purely because there are some amazing things that are out there. So sharing of information was going to be essential.
5. The format we chose was the Pecha-Kucha format 15 slides at 20 seconds a slide.
6. To avoid having to sit through 23 presentations in class time and to reduce the stress on ESL students, recording the presentation digitally was the preferred option. We gave all students options on what particular program they would like to use. Out of interest students disliked Voice thread, most used Photo Story or Movie Maker, some used Powerpoint.
7. In addition to the information gathering, students are also explicitly taught aspects of the copyright law. Modelling the use of Creative Commons in particular when searching for images. Wylio, Flickr and FLickr Storm search tips were also included.
8. Powerful images were encouraged to be found for their slides as well as the correct acknowledgements for authors.
9. All these presentations are to be posted into the class blog which enables the peer review and commenting to occur. Also it gives the class an instant set of information should they need to revise.