A Learning Journey into Timelines

The French Revolution.  Grade Eleven students. The task? Create a timeline of the French Revolution (recognizing that not every single event can be included, so selection is important). Next? Select the five most significant events, based on long term impact and widespread effects and explain your choices.

Mr. Foreman, a student teacher, provided some pre-teaching prior to the task, then set the kids off to research and create their timelines. He demonstrated  one on-line timeline maker, but left it up to the students to decide what format they would prepare and share their findings. Students had choice of how to represent their learning.

Some students chose to make a poster timeline, and provided a written write up of the explanation of their five significant events. Predictable, and in many respects ordinary, though many successfully demonstrated successful critical thinking on his assessment rubric.

Then there were the students that created amazing, creative, innovative products from this learning task. One student in particular used Thinglink (from a previous task designed from the mentor teacher) and created a Thinglink for her five significant events. She selected powerful images, and embedded the explantations of her choices of the five most significant events of the French Revolution.

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Though her Thinglink was impressive, Mr. Forman at first thought she missed the timeline aspect of the task, until he realized she self-discovered, created and embedded a tiki-toki timeline into her Thinglink. She masterfully created her timeline, complete with citations. Innovative use of technology, completely student driven, applied to a new application to successfully complete the learning task. Wow! What students are capable of producing when teachers get out of the way and make space for innovation.

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Upon reflection of this task, we focused on his assessment rubric. We focused on combining organized, attractive and creative as one criteria that would be more precise to tease apart. We discussed the potential use of Grant Wiggins’ recent ‘Creative‘ rubric as part of the assessment of this task in the future. Looking at this student’s work, what would you give this student if  creativity had been explicitly described as a piece of the assessment? What about the student with the timeline poster and paper write up? Does creativity and innovation have a place on the rubric with this task?

Mr. Foreman (and myself) have never heard of tiki-toki web tool to create timelines. What an amazing tool. And what an amazing way to  synthesize technology to produce a unique product. It is amazing what you can learn from your students!
photo credit: wallyg via photopin cc

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