3rd post in a series about a new Google Apps project for 5th grade musicians
After making the switch to Google Apps myself in January 2012, it didn't take long to realize Google Apps would be the perfect way to revamp and revitalize my 5th grade composer research project. I knew what I didn't care for in the old project and what Google Apps could bring to the game for my students (see previous post). What I was not prepared for was the immense amount of work getting ready for a project like this.
I have spent about 6 weeks prepping for this project. Along the way, several big issues came up, such as:
• In the past, I provided a file folder of research for each composer. The focus has always been on research, and as a first research experience for most of these students, I have always simplified the volume of materials available for each composer. But how would I guide student research on the internet?
• As I created an online repository of information for student research, I had to make sure that every one of our 25 composers had enough information, copyright free images, etc. for student use.
• Once students are researching, how will they take notes online? Reading for information, citation of sources, and organization of notes were difficult enough when we used pencil and paper. What would happen when we move online, and how would I facilitate success in notes and organization?
• Although I have created many websites over the years, none of them had been on Google Sites. Now I would have to become an expert at Google Sites as fast as possible. Not that the students will have to know everything, but I feel like I need to be fluent to guide the students.
• Would I be able to get computer lab time - enough to make it worthwhile?
• What would be the minimum expectations for our composer website? Even the minimum expectations will require students to use Google Docs and Sites, as well as limited experience with Videos and Forms. What did I want students to know at the end of the project?
• From a curriculum-design standpoint, what are the essential questions that should frame the entire unit?
And none of that takes into account the numerous organizational details. The good news is that all of these questions have been addressed positively, often with great consultation with my colleagues and tech integration specialist. I think you will see how these questions resolve as the project unfolds.