(This post is part of our Case Study series, in which educators share how they have incorporated instaGrok into a school setting. Here Shawn Jacob takes us step by step how he uses new hardware (like the iPad) and software (like instaGrok) in his classroom, and how it helps his students explore concepts that are too complicated to be resolved by a simple search engine query.
Here’s a project that I have my English 10 students do, using their iPads to consume, to think critically, to communicate, to collaborate, and to create. And instaGrok plays a major role in this process.
While reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, students are introduced through a Prezi to ten themes connected to the novel.
Then they select one theme statement, brainstorm, and use instaGrok to research real-world topics connected to that theme. Finally, they create a multi-genre portfolio consisting of genre writings and repetends (a repeating motif that carries the theme through the pages of their project), as well as a creative presentation and visual aide based on their final portfolio.
Then, not only do my students develop the necessary critical thinking skills by using the instaGrok classroom edition, but they also discover that effective research takes time. They explore sites that discuss their themes and topics, and some even use social networking apps to post surveys and to send interview questions. Additionally, they make great use of their iPads and instant access to the internet to familiarize themselves with the genres in which they chose to synthesize their new, research-based understanding. Along the way, I am able to monitor students’ progress through the instaGrok teacher dashboard by reviewing their instaGrok Journals. Then I offer suggestions for additional search terms and phrases, as well as ways to improve their note taking in their Journal.
Throughout their journey, students use their iPad camera to capture images that they can combine with their original writings to create recurring motifs/repetends; Apple’s Pages app is used for penning many of the writings, including MLA format Works Consulted pages; the iPad app, Paper by 53, which may be accessed here, helps with brainstorming a visual aide, functioning as a metaphor to use in a public presentation of their final product; and the iPad’s camera is even used to film rehearsals of their presentations. I have them use good ol’ pen and paper to meticulously peer review each other’s multiple drafts; I believe in maintaining a balance between the digital and analog worlds for my students.
The process is intense, but their end-products, and the ability to engage in meaningful, project-based learning that challenges them to be creative problem solvers is incredibly rewarding. Download iTunes U, then follow this link to subscribe to my iTunes U course. Tap on the Materials tab to download a PDF of the multi-genre project; the document title is “TFA Multi-Genre Project.”
Below is a video that Zeeland Public Schools put together about Mr. Jacob’s students and this project:
Shawn Jacob earned his bachelor’s degree from Hope College. After a decade on the road working as a motivational speaker and comedy magician, he added a master’s from Aquinas College. He’s in his ninth year of teaching, which has entailed everything from British Literature and World Literature to Creative Writing and Journalism, as well as the dreaded Yearbook—for which his staff has earned more than 20 national awards over a 4-year period. He’s the technology coach at Zeeland East High School in Zeeland, Michigan. He has presented on 1:1 technology at the past two MACUL conferences in Michigan.