Case Number:8029-2

Case Summary

Sophomores in a Social Studies class are engaged in a complex activity that requires internet searching, information analysis and preparation of a PowerPoint presentation to sustain the oral presentation of their findings. The teacher learned that they needed some more close guidance for the development of their presentations.

Index Content
General Context
Teaching experience 28
Teacher technology experience/skill level used consistently at home and in classroom;
Kind of school high school (9-12 or 10-12)
School location suburban(major city)
Connectivity link to world (WWW)
Location of technology resources located in media labs and distributed to classrooms
Social Economical Situation of Student mixed middle class and affluent
Story Context
Grade Level of Students grade 10;
Subject/Unit Social Studies;
Goal in Story
Planned Activities in Lesson information searching;making a presentation;
Level of learning outcome sought comprehension of information for writing or presentation;
Standards activity not associated with standards;
Story Activities
Technologies used in Lesson internet searching;presentation software (PowerPoint);
Reason for using technology thought it up;
Nature of activities presentation by students;data collection;
Difficulties run into
Repair Strategies
Help/Assistance used none;
Role of Teacher director, giving structured learning activities and explicit directions;
Role of Student student, learning through structured activities;teacher, sharing and representing what they have learned;
Observations students performing required activity;presentation skills increased;
Assessment of learning subjective assessment (e.g. observation);
Lessons learned

Whole Story

Interviewer: I would like for you to share a story with me about a use of technology in a lesson or unit or module in your classroom that was successful.

Teacher: Okay, we did last year, we did a project where we were studying revolutions, in class we did the French Revolution in detail together and so we assigned individual students Latin American revolutionaries to research. They researched their particular revolutionary and did a PowerPoint presentation to use as a backdrop for an oral report. Because they were going to talk about their revolutionary, and then we incorporated those reports into the unit. So we would do a little bit of summarizing the event and then call on the person to talk about that particular revolutionary and they would give their report using the PowerPoint presentation as you would in a business setting, like a backdrop for what you were saying. It worked really well as far as getting the content covered. It turned into somewhat of a nightmare with the technology because doing the PowerPoint presentation meant they needed to store a large quantity of stuff in their home folder and their home folders weren't large enough to store their presentations. We had to work around that. One day the whole server system went down and they couldn't get on the Internet to get their information that they had stored in their home folders. They just got really frustrated. I guess the biggest problem that we have is that our kids tend to have better technology at home than we have at school, and they get really frustrated with the inability to do things that they know they could do at home if they just had that software. But beyond those dealing with technology issues, it worked well as far as getting the content covered.

Interviewer: Okay and used technology to do the research?

Teacher: Yes. They were in the computer lab and they did the research online. And then they did the PowerPoint presentation using...they used online clip-art and they used images that they that they downloaded off the Internet.

Interviewer: And they did that in the lab as well?

Teacher: Yes. They did that in the computer lab in the library.

Interviewer: Did they do any of their research at home?

Teacher: Some did, some didn't. They had three days in the computer lab to do research. Then if they were not finished or they didn't have enough time, they could do research outside of class time. So some went in during lunch periods or they did it at home in addition to what they did during the class period.

Interviewer: And what grade level was this?

Teacher: Sophomores.

Interviewer: And what is the subject?

Teacher: World History.

Interviewer: Okay. That's great, in fact that's a success and an unsuccessful at the same time. That's great! Let me ask you some questions to put some parameters around the story. How long have you been teaching?

Teacher: Twenty-eight years.

Interviewer: And your technology skill level? Would you say that you are proficient in the classroom and at home? You use it regularly?

Teacher: Yes.

Interviewer: Okay. And this is a high school. Is it ten through twelve now? Or is it nine through twelve?

Teacher: It's nine through twelve, but the ninth graders are in a separate building.

Interviewer: Okay. And suburban major-city. And the connective access? World Wide Web? Ethernet, fast? But still you have problems?

Teacher: Yes, Uh-huh. Well, yes all that's true except that our network tends to have bugs in it and go down occasionally. But when the network is up and running we have, I think it's a T1 line...

Interviewer: Okay. We are back. The location of technology resources in the school?

Teacher: Okay, in this particular classroom there are two computers. One of which hooks up to the TV monitor. Some classrooms, like the English classrooms especially have six or eight computers where they do actually word processing more. To do anything with the whole class, there are four computer labs that seat about twenty-four, twenty-five kids each. And you sign up for those on the days you want to use them.

Interviewer: How about the library?

Teacher: That's where the computer labs are, in the library. Oh then in the open library there is a section that has probably twenty-five or so computers that are just available for individual students if they go down during a class period or before school or after school, at lunch, and those all have Internet access. And all the students in the school have got an account on the school server so they all have email on the school server, a home folder on the school server where they can store their work. And then they have the ability to mail things home to themselves, if they need to work on it at home and mail it back.

Interviewer: Oh, that's great! Okay and the social economic status would be mixed or affluent, or mixed middle-class and affluent?

Teacher: Mixed middle-class and affluent.

Interviewer: And could you tell me the goal of the lesson that you just described?

Teacher: Oh, the one I just described? Okay, we were trying to cover revolutions of the seventeen, eighteen hundreds. The goal was to get them to study one revolution in detail, which was the French Revolution, and then to recognize and become acquainted with famous people from other revolutions. Like, they would need to know Simon Bolivar, someone whose name they should at least recognize and know he was a Latin American revolutionary. But we didn't want to do every single revolutionary in detail. So we were looking for a way to get people's names, famous people's names in front of them with a little bit of information about that person but not have to do ever revolutionary in detail because that would take too long.

Interviewer: Okay, and a lesson that you might have learned from this use of technology that you could pass on to another teacher?

Teacher: They need a lot of direction if they are going to use PowerPoint effectively. They like all the bells and whistles. They like to put lots of typing letters and flashing noises that are really distracting. They need to learn how to filter some of that because it becomes distracting from the information if they put too much stuff in there.

Teacher: One last thought about doing PowerPoint presentations. You probably need to allow yourself as much time as you think it will take to do the presentation plus a day, because they want to play. Especially if you've got kids that haven't really used PowerPoint before. They want some playtime, to play with all the bells and whistles and they will eventually kind of sort it out and get back to what they are going to leave in their final presentation. But they do a lot of experimenting, and that takes more time than if they went in with a really clear-cut idea. If I were going to do a PowerPoint, I would know, I want just key words up there and want one picture on each thing and I would have that in my mind, but they don't. They want to try out everything that's there, see what they can do and then do the final thing. So you probably need to allow extra time.

Interviewer: Extra time. Okay, great, thank you.