Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reflection on Lesson Plan Implementation (Module 6.3)

Benoit Reflection on Lesson Plan Implementation

Lesson Plan:
For my lesson, my 12th grade students were asked to write “Where I am From” poems and then turn them into digital stories using a slideshow website. This lesson fit the 12th grade curriculum for poetry and self-exploration. It helped students review and interact with the elements of poetry and especially the “Where I am From” format.  Through the slideshow websites students created a digital story demonstrating their understanding for the “Where I am From” poetry, as well as how to visually present their poem to an audience. The students needed access to computer labs to type, search for photos, and create their digital story. They also needed instruction on how to find Creative Commons photos and cite them correctly. After they made the digital story, they posted the videos to their blogs and showed them off to their peers.

The lesson plan was scheduled to take place just over the course of a week, but ended up taking almost two weeks. The class started off by reviewing important elements of poetry (imagery, descriptions, tone, showing not telling, figurative language, etc). Then we read and discussed the original “Where I am From” poem as a class. We also looked at several other examples of “Where I am From” poems that people had written. We talked about what we liked, what we didn’t, and the different poetry elements that were implemented. Next, students received a template and started writing their own version of the poem. After completing the template, students typed their poems on Google Docs. After multiple discussions, check-ins, and self and peer editing, students took their final “Where I am From” poem and turned it into a digital story.  The step of the process took a lot of pre-planning by me. I had to locate different websites that would work for our digital story assignment. I also had to find Creative Commons websites for students to find photos. Before students got started, we spent time watching sample digital stories, talking about where to find Creative Commons photos, and some techniques for making digital stories. I gave them multiple online slideshow websites to try, but most students chose to use I only allotted for three days in the computer lab. It ended up taking almost a week for students to find Creative Commons photos, create a digital story, and cite their photos correctly. Since making the videos took longer to create than anticipated, we ran out of time to show most of them in class. Instead students posted them on their blogs and were able to spend part of the last lab day doing a gallery walk. Overall, the lesson plan went fairly well according to how I planned. It took a little longer than the allotted time, but overall was a success!


Question Set One:
As students crafted their “Where I am From” poem and created their digital story, they made choices about the word choice, song, narration, images, and text they include. The creative choices they made helped determine the tone and mood of their poem. They learned how to find Creative Commons images and cite them correctly. I assumed that since students have been using Google Docs that will not needed re-teaching.  That was mostly accurate. Students who did have questions were able to ask a peer or figure it out after a few minutes. Another assumption I made was the fact we’ve used Creative Commons websites to find pictures before, so it should have made this concept a review for students. This however, took additional time and explanation than I originally thought. The final assumption I made was that students had never made written this type of poem or made a slideshow before and will need constant help, support, and modeling when working on it. This was extremely accurate, as I continually was helping students and finding examples to help them create their own.

The slideshow websites allowed students to make their poems into digital stories. The poem wasn’t just a class assignment for me to see, it became a public representation of them. Some students were hesitant at first to post them and I was worried this would be a constraint, but it actually pushed students to create better quality poems and digital stories. They wanted to edit additional times and were anxious to get more feedback from me. Some of the constraints of the digital story making was that students could only have a total of thirty slides, so sometimes they had to change words or cut out lines. This changed some of the integrity of the original poem. Students were then forced to revise as they made their video, which in most cases worked out. It just added additional work on to the process. Finding Creative Commons photos also limited students because they couldn’t just use any image they found. Instead, they had to be creative or use their own photos to get exactly what they wanted.

Learning took place in several ways. The constructivist learning style says that students adapt knowledge based on new information. Students came to the table with knowledge of writing previous poems or pieces of writing. Some of that knowledge was more accurate than others. They also came with different levels of technology knowledge. As they learned, they had to adapt their thinking and learn new ways to complete the task. Along with the behaviorist learning style, students have been conditioned to use Google Docs and find Creative Commons photos. Those tasks are things students have seen before. Students were able to re-experience the correct method by remembering what they did before.

 The “Where I am From” poem is intended to enhance the learning of poetry, which is already engrained in the English curriculum. The video component is meant to give students a new way to think about the audience and purpose of the work they are producing.

The poem writing in general accounted for differences among learners. The poems were student’s own stories, so they were able to include what they knew. Length requirements and expectations were adjusted as necessary for accommodations. The students who felt comfortable with technology, incorporated more elements with transitions, slides, narrative, etc.

The good thing about this project is that there are lots of examples and templates available to help teachers and students. The teachers need to be well versed on computers, especially Google Docs, and the slideshow websites. An understanding of this will save time and energy trying to learn it as the students do.  The students need a basic understanding of Google Docs and the Internet, so they can navigate accordingly. The knowledge students learn during this process will help them when working with technology later on. It helps them develop critically thinking skills and tools like effective communication.

I assessed the students in several ways. We had multiple check-ins and discussions as they lesson progressed. I was able to see students progressing at each step of the writing process and then again during the digital story making. I gave students credit for drafting, as well as participation points for check-ins along the way. I also gave a survey at the end to see how the process went for students. Posting the projects on their blogs made them accountable for producing a quality product. Finally, they got a project grade for their finished work.

Question Set Two
Technology played a big role in implementing this lesson plan. Students typed, shared, and edited their poem using Google Docs. They could access their poem and edit it no matter where they are. They can also give feedback to a peer without being in the same place. The slideshow websites offered advantages in that they can be worked on from anywhere a student has Internet access. PhotoPeach was easy to use and had very limited tools that students needed to learn to create their story. This could also be seen as a disadvantage. Because it only did so much, it limited student creativity when it comes to making the video. The technology allowed someone who felt they weren’t very creative or technology savvy the chance to create a very polished product.

Students enjoyed using the different technologies. At first, they struggled a little trying to use the new tool. After awhile, however, they embraced the challenge and worked through the process. Students had a lot of questions about where things were located, how to add images, and how to find and cite Creative Commons photos. I pulled up the websites on my computer to project them to class. We had discussions also to talk about how to use different tools. Students helped each other and also shared tips when they discovered things that worked well.

Students seemed to be really analyzing the content while they used the technology. They were thoughtful when using Google Docs to write their poems. They took care to edit and choose the right words to get their ideas across. After that, they were thinking intensely about their poem as they chose images and music to go along with the text. The technology definitely motivated students to work harder on their poem than they normally would have. It was exciting to watch students work passionately about a class assignment.  The technology also made the assignment feel less like another class assignment and instead like a more personal, meaningful piece. At the end, they have a movie about their life to show off!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TPACK Lesson Plan

This is my lesson plan for my CEP 800 class. The assignment was to create a lesson plan that used a specific technology and also applied the TPACK elements. I've included the plan below (both in text and a PDF link).

Benoit Lesson Plan:
Title: “Where I am From” Poem and Digital Story
Technologies Integrated: Google Drive/ Slideshow Websites
Teacher: Ms. Melissa Benoit
Grade/Content Area: 12th grade English

Lesson Overview:
This lesson fits the 12th grade curriculum for poetry and self-exploration. It will teach students about the elements of poetry and especially the “Where I am From” format.  Through the slideshow websites students will create a digital story demonstrating their understanding for the “Where I am From” poetry, as well as how to visually present their poem using a slideshow website. The lesson plan will take approximately a week of time with each class being approximately seventy minutes.

·      Computers with Internet access (computer lab time)
· (Gmail based) accounts
·      Copies of “Where I am From” poem
·      “Where I am From” template copies
·      “Where I am From” example poems (on computer)
·      Poetry self and peer edit copies
·      A list of slideshow websites
·      “Where I am From” digital story examples (on computer)
·      A list of Creative Commons image websites
·      MLA citation generators

Common Core Standards:
·      W. 11-12.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
·      W. 11-13.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
·      W. 11-12.5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
·      W. 11-12.5: Use technology including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
·      L. 11-12. 1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
·      L. 11-12.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Day 1
Student Will Be Able To (SWBAT):
·      Review poem elements (imagery, descriptions, tone, showing not telling, figurative language, etc).
·      Read and discuss the original “Where I am From” poem.
·      Analyze “Where I am From” poem for content and poetry elements.
·      Discuss student examples of “Where I am From” poems, focusing on good/ bad qualities.
·      Read and discuss project requirements and expectations as a class.
·      Complete a template with own experiences (finished for homework as needed).

Day 2
·      Check-in with instructor over completed template to get feedback and suggestions.
·      Write a rough draft of their “Where I am From” poem using Google Docs.
·      Ask questions and seek help as needed.
·      Finish the poem outside of class if necessary.

Day 3
·      Peer and self edit rough drafts to finalize poem using worksheet and Google Docs.
·      Discuss and explore the different options for making their digital story (via list of websites).
·      See examples of digital stories done from previous years.
·      Choose a format to create their digital story.
·      Brainstorm and storyboard their digital story (this can be finished outside of class time).

Day 4
·      Review and discuss how to find and cite Creative Commons images online.
·      Search Internet for Creative Commons images to use in their project.
·      Save images to Google Drive to insert into project.
·      Create digital story using a slideshow website (time outside class should also be used).

Day 5
·      Review finding and citing Creative Commons images.
·      Discuss Works Cited slide and how it should look.
·      Ask any pending questions about digital story
·      Finish digital story (for homework if needed).

Day 6
·      Present digital stories to the class.
·      Reflect on project through a survey and writing.

·      Formative: Discussions, check-ins, brainstorms, storyboards, revisions, etc will be used to access student understanding and plan accordingly. Students will be assessed for participation.
·      Summative: The final poem and editing process (template, rough draft, peer/self edit, etc) will be graded for format, content, form, voice, descriptive language, etc.  The final poem implemented into the digital story will be graded for content and creativity through a pre-discussed rubric.

·      Google survey reflecting on tools used and implementation of project.
·      Write-up about what they learned and how the process improved their understanding of themselves, poetry, and digital movie making.

Your lesson plan should address the following issues:
  1. Content:  
Students will demonstrate their understanding of “Where I am From” poetry by writing a personal “Where I am From” poem and then turning their poem into a digital story. Students struggle with poetry because of its unique format and creative elements. They have a hard time using lots of detail and making the writing vivid and exciting. By giving students a template to work off of, the process becomes manageable while still assessing the poetry criteria and letting students be creative.  The poem is also personal, so students can use real life memories and experiences to help guide their writing. As seniors, they are about to leave school and head out into the real world.  A lot of them have questions about where they are going and what their future looks like. So we spend some time thinking about who they are and where they came from in an effort to help them realize how far they have come and give them some confidence to take the next step. The reflection at the end gives me feedback about the process and also lets them reflect on what they learned and how the project went. The Common Core Standards (applicable ones listed above) focus solely on content skills like writing; however a big theme (from the state of Michigan standards) in Senior English is learning where you come from and applying that to how you’ll be a leader in the future. So I used the standards to drive my instruction, I also thought about the themes/ big ideas of the class and what students need at this point in their lives.
Essential Questions:
                           Who am I?
                           What does my story say about me?
                           Why do memories mean so much?
                           What most influences the choices we make?
                           How does the environment in which we live or are raised shape us?
  1. Pedagogy:
Discussion will be used to review the different elements that go into a poem. This discussion will be a low-states opportunity for students to review the elements as a class. Next, we will read and analyze the poem “Where I am From” by George Ella Lyons. Reading it out loud as a class makes sure everyone student hears and sees the poem. There will be a copy of the poem for each student and a larger visual on the overhead projector. After reading, the class will discuss anything they didn’t understand or want more information about. We will then discuss what word choices she made and pick out any poem elements that were done especially well. Next, I’ll put student examples on the overhead projector and students will discuss what things they recognize and what the student did or did not do effectively. This form of modeling will show students how to write their own. The requirements and rubric will be given, so students know what is expected of them before they even start working. To help them follow the “Where I am From” format and get a start on the assignment, students will be given a template to complete about their own life. This scaffolding will allow students to go off on their own ready to take on the task. The writing of the poem will be done on Google Docs and shared with me. Students will also peer and self edit to help finalize their poem. This form of collaboration will be essential for students to make their poem better. Students will be given some slideshow websites to use and will be allowed to try them out before starting. They can share what sites they liked with each other to help each other choose a website tool. Also, samples from previous years will be shown to students. I will scaffold this section and provide less and less instruction to the students in order to let them grasp the information on their own. The reflection at the end gives me insight into what students took away from the project and also lets them contemplate what they learned and how it has changed their understanding.
  1. Content & Pedagogy:
Different learning styles will be addressed in this lesson through the use of modeling, scaffolding, and various discussions and check-ins. The Social Cognitive Theory of modeling will help students who don’t understand the concept. The example poems and projects will give concrete ideas of what the project should look like. Having discussions and providing a rubric will make expectations of how the poem should be written and the story completed. The reflection at the end will help students adjust their thinking and contemplate what they learned. Some scaffolding will be done, but only a little since they are seniors and will have other resources available to them. The students receive a template to help them work through the format of the poem. Students will feel a sense of value and accomplishment since they have to showcase their story to a larger audience. The project also lets students give a creative spin to a poem. Constructivism is also used with students working through the process of making a video.  They have to think critically about the choices they are making for images, sound, and text. The websites will take some getting use to for students, since it’s a new process. They are pretty easy to use and have very limited tools that students need to learn. The goal is to get students to express themselves in a new, engaging format. The poem connects to them personally and
  1. Technology:
For my technology, I am going to be using Google Docs in conjunction with a slideshow making website like,,,, etc. The writing and editing of the poem will be done using Google Docs, which makes it easy to share and edit from anywhere. Then students will be introduced to a slideshow website to construct their video. They will need to find Creative Commons images to include in their video as well as music or narration. Everything is digital and offers instant access for students. They can get their poem and edit it no matter where they are. They can also give feedback to a peer without being in the same place. The slideshow websites offer advantages in that they can be worked on from anywhere a student has Internet access. Unlike iMovie, MovieMaker or Photostory (which have to be downloaded to a computer), the slideshow websites are all online. This means students can edit and work on their slideshow outside of class. The technology allows someone who feels they aren’t very creative or technology savvy the chance to create a very polished product. The technology also makes the assignment feel less like another class assignment and instead like a more personal, meaningful piece. At the end, they have a movie about their life to show off!

5.     Technology & Pedagogy:
The technology fits my pedagogy by allowing students to work on the project anywhere, thus expanding the classroom.  The Google Doc feature allows students to continually edit and discuss their poem. They can have numerous people edit and help them with their poem even outside of the classroom. This form of collaboration will help students critically think about their poem and feel more value in writing it, since multiple students will be able to see it. The digital stories make the project seem authentic to students. They are creating something meaningful they can show off and be proud of. Examples are digital and students can access those online to have various viewpoints of the project. The digital story making forces them to think critically and use their English skills. Scaffolding is done at a minimum since students have online resources and tools to use. This allows senior level students to learn how to work through a process on their own, a skill they will be using often in the future. The reflection at the end helps students think about their learning and reflect on what they accomplished in this process.
  1. Technology & Content:
The technology helps me teach the “big ideas” and meet my standards by encouraging students to creatively write about themselves in Google Docs and then display it in a final video. It allows students to reflect on how far they have come and what makes them who they are. The hands-on format of the video is a real-world problem students need to solve. The way they create their video will really show they learned the “Where I am From” format and are able to express themselves in a creative and authentic way. It also displays their poetry knowledge and ability to construct a coherent narrative piece of writing. They peer-edit and draft their poems, which is another important skill, as revision will be a tool they use again. Finally, it shows their technology skills and how they can work through the process of making a video. They have to overcome challenges, think critically, and try different avenues before finalizing their project.
  1. Assessment:
I want my students to reflect on their own lives and what has impacted them to be where there are now. I also want them to feel comfortable sharing their story and producing something to showcase publicly. The “Where I am From” poem is one tool to assess if students have learned about language, voice, purpose, audience, figurative language, description, etc. The quality of the poem will let me know how well students can implement these tools into their writing. The peer editing will let me know if students are able to collaborate and accept critical feedback. The digital story will let me know that students are able to work through a process with just the necessary tools, resources, and examples. I will know my students have succeeded when they present their final project. Technology is a tool they will need to know how to navigate and understand no matter what they do in life. This experience will teach them how to think through processes and produce a quality product.

Overall, the project offers a chance for students to engage with the content in a meaningful way. They will produce a poem which is a narrative about themselves and make a movie showcasing this story of “where they are from”. The poem also displays their mastery of English skills especially in regard to poetry elements. It also addresses multiple learning behaviors and helps appeal to different learning styles. Students get lots of examples and modeling, with some scaffolding to make sure they understand the assignment and are supported by both teacher and peers in the process. The technology component gives students a chance to complete a hands-on assignment and show it off in a meaningful way. In this lesson plan, content, pedagogy, and technology are integrated together to create an authentic assignment to promote student understanding and success.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

CEP 800: Digital Story

Here is my video:


My name is Melissa Benoit and I’m a high school English teacher at Allegan High School in Allegan, Michigan. 

I teach mostly Senior English. The focus of Senior English is leadership, and has students think about their role in society and how to be an effective citizen. We spend a lot of time analyzing characters in our novels and discussing if they have qualities of leaders.

One big project we do asks students to think about a world issue or problem and how they can get involved in solving the problem.  The goal is to create a final presentation using a web 2.0 tool of their choice. It involves lots of research, which students struggle in completing accurately, especially how to cite their sources.

I wanted to figure out what previous knowledge students had about citing sources.  I wanted this to be an informal conversation. I decided to use a Poll Everywhere, so students could answer honestly. It also allowed me to get the information quickly and discuss it with students the same class period. Most students no idea how to do it or couldn’t remember how.

After the initial questionnaire, I gave a PowerPoint about why it’s important to cite credible sources. The PowerPoint covered how to find the sources and then how to cite them. We discussed the CARRDSS method of finding reliable sources and then what it means  to “cite” sources and what information they would need to do this effectively.  Students worked together and talked about some places they visit frequently and if they would be considered credible. They got in small groups and brainstormed before we discussed as a class. Then they had a chance to visit some websites and decide if they were credible or not, by filling out a sheet. Students were also able to tell if they were reliable because when they went to cite the, the non-credible websites didn’t have the necessary information to cite it correctly.

Students spent time in the lab practicing how to find sources, determining if they are credible, and citing them.  We came back and had a discussion about what they learned and found. This helped me gauge what students needed more help with and what they understood.

Finally, students picked a topic for their research project and looked for credible sources on their own. They had to fill out a sheet for each piece of research to determine if it was credible. They worked through finding sources and citing them correctly using various websites like and I was able to monitor their progress as they looked for sources and cited them to make sure they were on track.

When they went to put their projects together, students had to find creative commons pictures and also site them correctly. We talked through the process and I gave students multiple resources to help them with the process. I posted all of these resources on the wiki, so students were able to access them from anywhere. I was impressed by how well they did with these new tools. They took the information from before and applied it to this new task.

The majority of students did an excellent job finding credible sources and citing them. They were even able to find creative commons photos and cite those in their projects. I was proud of students for their hard work. I could tell they had learned the process of citing sources, both websites and photos. They also had come up with professional looking projects they could be proud of.

At the end of the trimester, I wanted to make sure students had retained the information and could successful cite sources. I gave them a research survey to check their knowledge and remind them about some aspects of citing sources.

I was impressed by how much they had retained from the previous activities, but I wanted to see if given a project, could they successful cite things without worksheets or constant guidance. I still explained the expectations clearly and told students they needed to cite their sources, but I let them work on their own. The project I used was for the novel we just finished, The Catcher in the Rye. Students had to find sources and images and successful implement them in the projects. When I saw finished projects, I knew students had mastered the concept and left on their own were able to cite successfully.

By having students complete the assignment multiple times the cognitive perspective learning theory was implemented. Students were able to re-experience the correct method by remembering what they did before.  Along with this, social perspective learning theory helped students take an authentic activity like the research project and apply the credible source lesson. By helping students through the process multiple times, I was helping scaffold the skill. Eventually, I let students complete the task on their own.

The different learning theories helped me teach my students how to find and cite credible sources. Overall, the lesson was a success J