After kicking ideas around for awhile, I finally settled on a new project that I have nicknamed "Educate, Challenge, or Inspire." The basic idea behind the project is that students in my World Studies class will sign up for one day over the course of the quarter to educate, challenge, or inspire their classmates. At the beginning of class they will stand in front of their peers and give a speech with a maximum length of 3 minutes (more on this later). Their goal is to either educate their audience about the topic, challenge their audience to think differently, or inspire them to act differently. Each option brings a different level of difficulty and therefore provide an appropriate challenge for every student, regardless of their ability. I like giving the students choice, so there are no parameters as to what they can choose to talk about other than tie it to some point in world history (which leaves the door pretty wide open to anything). Aside from traditional research skills, writing, and live performance practice, I also believe this project will allow students to be creative in the way in which they tell their stories to the class. I have made it clear that my expectations are that each performance is unique and is a clear representation of who they are as a person. I am excited to see what they come up with.
I am also planning on incorporating Google Forms to allow the students who are listening to the speech a chance to give some constructive and supportive feedback. Once I have all of the feedback, I will then share the results with the student through Google Drive. Teacher feedback is important, but peer feedback can be just as important, if not more in some cases.
But then I got to thinking...
We can take this to another level. Why limit the audience to 20-30 students? We have the tools and the power to increase the audience size and potentially increase our feedback. I also have the change to teach my students the powerful positive potential of social media. Last year I used Audioboo to create daily announcements for my students as a fun way (at least for me) to prep my students for the days schedule. I was pretty consistent for about a month, but then the year came to a close and I decided not to continue it the following year. So, I decided to create an Audioboo channel for the project and intend to share our historical podcast through social media. The free Audioboo account allows users to record and upload 3 minute podcasts at no cost to the users, which is why students are limited to a 3 minute speech. I plan on using Twitter to get the word out and hopefully we can get some people around the world to listen to what the students have to say, and better yet, to start a conversation. Our Audioboo channel is called "History In Our Words" and we ask that you give it a listen, or even set up an Audioboo account and follow our channel so that you can be notified whenever we upload a new podcast. The first two podcasts were created by myself and a student teacher I am working with this semester. We wanted to take some of the pressure off the students of being "the first to go." We encourage you to give us feedback and also help us spread the word.