This weekend, Mulian and I presented on our Grade VII Architecture project at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) Conference – the largest foreign language conference in the country. Check out the video of Student Reflections on these cultural studies that Mulian made – it was a hit at the conference!
After viewing the video, Cynthia wrote, “I would be interested in hearing about your approach and training that it took to think about, plan and structure a project like this…. what was the teacher time that needed to be invested and how did it change what you did with your time with students?”
Here’s my response…
Start with the goals/essential questions: The Latin program approaches cultural studies through stories. In 7th grade, we think about how architecture and art convey stories of Ancient Roman culture. I wanted to develop a year long project that considered our essential questions:
* How do the form and the function of buildings interact? * How do Ancient Roman buildings and architectural elements act as storytellers? * How do they influence our 21st century story?
Think about time, space, and resources: The project happens in three phases – one per term. We use MacBook Airs from the library, in the classroom/library/conference room, when available. Fall Term – Intro to classical architectural elements; then write a short research paper about your building Winter Term – Create blueprints of your buildings; then write 1-2 paragraphs about what you learned via the blueprint process Spring Term – Digitally reconstruct your building in MinecraftEdu; then screencast a tour of your building that encapsulates all that you learned throughout the yearlong project
Use Your Inspirations and Resources: I owe a huge “thank you” to so many people!
Elaine and Pamela were enormously helpful in thinking about the essential questions, and how we can go from looking at individual elements (e.g., arches and columns) and end up reconstructing entire buildings
Elaine and Pamela also spent time with me discussing the design thinking process and how best to approach this project in practice
Tory and Jorge helped purchase, load, and maintain the MinecraftEdu program during a very busy time of year
Mulian provided fresh ideas and feedback throughout the year, and I was thrilled that both of our classes took on the project! We spent time thinking about how the same project can work for both a modern and classical language.
The internet, especially the MinecraftEdu blogs, were critical in helping me a) to learn about a program I had never used before, and b) to understand what the students needs were. This research required the most amount of time. It took a leap of faith to teach a program that the students knew better than I. But I am a firm believer that you learn best in practicing the skills.
The 7th graders themselves were incredibly flexible and enthusiastic about piloting a project with me. They watched me make mistakes constantly, and were always happy to help.
Max Ewald always talks about Minecraft, and last summer kept asking me if he could build Roman buildings in Minecraft. He provided the inspiration for the Minecraft digital reconstruction!
Encourage Students to Celebrate Their Accomplishments:
Mulian made the excellent video (above), helping students to reflect upon the project.
Last fall, Ainlsey was adamant that she “couldn’t do Minecraft.” Her aqueduct is wonderful, and she beams with pride when she talks about the cultural studies project now!
Ask Erika about the story of Julius Caesar – just make sure you have 20-30 minutes to hear the answer!
This year’s 7th graders are already talking to the 8th graders for tips and tricks, especially those that have the same buildings. They are finding mentors in their older classmates sua sponte!
My 8th graders are proud that their work is shared at the ACTFL National Conference! And they are begging to present their hard work at a Morning Meeting *Update: Come watch MM on December 7th!*
The students (now 8th graders) are begging to share their work on cultural studies. I hope they will do a Morning Meeting soon, or perhaps share at a conference with me.
I hope to incorporate more information about engineering in Ancient Rome. In other words, what tools and engineering principles were used in the building process during the 1st century AD? How are they the same or different from today? What is the impact of those similarities and differences?
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Kathleen Reardon is excited to be the first Director of Academic Technology at Dedham Country Day School in Massachusetts. Prior to joining, DCD, she held the positions of Latin Teacher and Technology Coach at The Park School in Brookline, MA. She is also a Private Tutor in Needham, MA, and Attorney at Reardon Law Office LLC in Boston, MA.
Kathleen focuses on using digital tools to foster learned discourse among elementary and middle school children. As sole owner of Doctiloqua, she develops curriculum and programming that help education professionals integrate technology into the classroom. She regularly presents on topics related to digital citizenship, social media in the classroom, game-based learning, and educational field trips and experiential learning. She has hosted workshops and presented at the ISTE Conference and Expo, AISNE's The Connected Teacher Conference, MassCUE Annual Technology Conference, The Park School E3 Conference, and the American Classical League Institute.
Kathleen believes it is important to give back to the community and foster an appreciation for the preservation of cultural heritage. To this end, she works with cultural institutions to improve educational programming that promotes the protection and preservation of our shared cultural heritage. Kathleen is a member of the Board of Education Advisors at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, one of the first participants in the Teacher Advisory Council at the New England Aquarium, a Panelist on the PBS Education's Teacher Advisory Group, and an Ambassador for the TES Global Network.
Kathleen holds a Preliminary Teaching License in History in Massachusetts and is a member of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bar and the New York State Bar. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Classics & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross, and her Juris Doctor in Comparative & International Business Law from the Catholic University of America.
As Mom of an amazing 6 year old, and Director of Academic Technology, I am always thinking about parenting and teaching in our digital world. This is where I post exciting projects, observations of good edtech practices, and new ideas!
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