Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Silk Route Travel Blog, Then and Now

Eighth Grade Students Bring the Ancient Trade Route to Life

Recently, students in eighth grade social studies classes began a virtual journey as a way to understand how the Silk Route brought cultures of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe together. In crafting learning experiences, teachers are always looking to create authentic ways for students to express their work. In this case, each student is creating a travel blog to record what they learn about places, cultures and connections to the modern world along the way. The blog format offers a natural way for students to share their work and provide peer feedback through the blog comments feature.   

While the travel blogs are the final work product, students use a variety of other tools and apps on their iPads to do research, gather evidence, create images, and make audio and video productions—all of which are incorporated into their blog posts.  With the social studies iTunes U course, students can access dozens of resources as they make their way across Asia.  The variety of resources and tools available—all on their iPads—gives students choices about the best way they express their learning. Some students chose to focus on written narratives while others produce graphics, audio or video to demonstrate their understanding.

Here is a small sample of content from student blogs.  Thanks to Clara, Spencer, Natalie, for allowing us to share it.  

In this graphic, Clara blends text and photos into a compelling image (using the PicCollage app).

In this creative audio clip, Spencer reports on the scene at a crowded street in Kashgar, China.

Natalie weaves text and pictures together in this post about her stop in Xi’an, China.  

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In addition to learning about the Silk Route through this project, students developed problem-solving skills as they set up and used the blogging tool. There were a number of hurdles and technical challenges they had to overcome as they used new technology and ultimately, they had to practice flexibility and perseverance to succeed.

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