The video below describes a Romeo and Juliet unit where web 2.0 tools were combined with a problem based lesson. It started as a classic fail on my part, but ended as a very successful exploration of Romeo and Juliet. The video was created as part of the NAIS Teacher of the Future program.

Explore the student generated definitions of Love and add your own here.

Outline of Unit

  • Read and discussed Romeo and Juliet
  • Assessed understanding using writing prompts (blogs), discussion (class and online), and final essay.
  • Goals
    • Interpret and analyze Romeo and Juliet
    • Support a thesis using textual evidence
    • Identify the key characteristics of a sonnet

Tools Used to Manage this Project

Our Defining Love wiki was used to store the results of the group work, videos of guest speakers, and facilitate class discussions about Love. The choice to use this wiki came from a class discussion on which tools served our purpose. Once the students recognize that they needed to be able to find evidence from the information collected they felt that the wiki was the best tool.

Notes for Teachers:

  • This tool was a fabulous way to jump start class discussion in both large and small groups. Connecting the group projects, survey results, or a guest presentation to the reading we did for homework created wonderful discussions about the play.
  • Occasionally, the wiki was referred to as the evidence pool and having the guest presentations as videos allowed the students to go back to find the support they needed for their essays.
  • Impromptu discussions popped up on the wiki that were not classwork or homework.
  • Discussion on the wiki allowed me to do more reading in class which helped the students work through the text.
  • Our school has purchased our own wikispaces domain where we setup our wiki, but there are several free or low cost wiki solutions.

Student Blogs were used to give students a space to explore their own thinking about Love. Entries were usually sparked by a writing prompt but credit was given for any entry that explore the topic of understanding/defining Love or Romeo and Juliet.

Notes for Teachers:

  • Students used the blog entries to clarify their thinking which improved class discussion and their essays.
  • Blog entries were never shared in class without the student’s permission. Occasionally, students would share pieces of their blog entries to start class discussion.
  • Again, our school has a domain with Edublogs so student blogs were built and manage within our domain. This gives us control of usernames, passwords, and blog creation/management. There are free blogging sites but I recommend always having an administrative account to access blogs if needed.
  • Our blogs are private spaces. Students know that the audience is just me.

Using Flip Video Cameras enabled us to quickly and easily record our guest speakers.

Notes for Teachers:

  • Students appreciated having the videos so that they could review the presentations to pull evidence for their final essays.
  • Rotated the responsibility of video taping between the students. Definitely recommend getting a small tabletop tripod. Some of our videos will make you seasick.
  • We did not edit the video. The raw file was uploaded to and then embedded into the wiki. I was responsible for the upload and embed. A Phanfare account was used to give better control over privacy of the videos than youtube or teachertube, it does cost to use to have an account.

Sources and Voices

  • John Dewey can be difficult to read but worth the struggle. His ideas focus on helping students become problems solvers and active members of the community.
  • Ted McCain wrote Teaching for Tomorrow which explores problem solving and student center models in the classroom.
  • Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind and Drive are two books that have shaped my classroom.
  • Carol Dweck is a Stanford professor of Psychology who explores the concept “growth mindset”.
  • Michael Wesch is a Cultural Anthropologist at Kansas State University who explores the effects of social media and digital technology on global society. Through this exploration he has given voice to the reasons and rationale for shifting our teaching practices toward collaborative, student centered constructs.
  • Marco Antonio Torres is a teacher who often speaks about digital storytelling. More important are his ideas about how we need to give students voice and choice. His work led me to the idea that student work should not be created to come to my desk to die.


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Student Centered Learning Discussion | IGNITING INNOVATION

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