Think About It
“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”
—Mark Van Doren
We love to hear from readers of the Thoughtful Learning Newsletter, especially when they report on what's going on in their classrooms.
One such reader, Todd Kemper, used the photojournalism project from the last newsletter in a very different context from the Midwestern American classroom where it first appeared:
I am a teacher at Prommanusorn Phetchaburi School located in Phetchaburi, Thailand. It's a secondary school, and the students are 12 years old and in their first year at this school. They are part of an EMS (English, Math, Science) program, and they did this project for an English writing course that I teach. I meet with these students once a week.
As the article suggested, Todd assigned his students to take or find photographs of historical places in their city and develop presentations that describe them. He worked past the tech requirements of the article to capture the essence of this student-centered project for a very different setting:
Due to a lack of technology, I wasn't able to have students present their projects with a computer or a projector as Mrs. Smith did in Burlington. Instead, my students displayed their projects on poster board. I also work with a very large class consisting of 45 students. Some of the students worked on their projects individually and some worked in pairs.
Todd first modeled the project. Then he had students select a topic, research it, and compile a set of photographs to display.
Before they made their own projects, I presented a project sample based on the Statue of Liberty. Then we brainstormed different historical places in Thailand and how they may be different from historical places in the United States. For example, Thailand has many temples and palaces, where the U.S. has more churches and monuments. The students chose a specific historic place in Thailand and created a presentation with different pictures including the place's location within Thailand and photos of the place from different perspectives. If students chose a local place, they took pictures for their project. If they chose a famous place in Bangkok or some other distant location, they searched for photographs online or in other resources.
Todd also provided a set of questions for students to answer.
For the writing portion, I gave them a series of when, where, and why questions about their location. The students’ answers are on the short side and contain a few grammar/punctuation errors. But, overall, the writing is about average for this class. I should also mention that this particular group of students really concentrates on math and science so their English writing skills may not be as polished as some other classes would be.
Todd understood the value of this technology-based project and adapted it so that his students, with a far different set of resources and expectations, could participate in their own community. Even without technology, his project was student centered, community based, and authentic, combining writing and visual literacy. Knowing his students and his resources, Todd created a meaningful learning experience that opened the door to discovery.
We'd love to hear what's going on in your classroom! Feel free to contact us with text, pictures, and videos. Who knows, we may ask to feature you and your students in an upcoming edition of the newsletter!