As the title implies this unit centres around the idea of the students exploring the personal histories, and possible one of the most powerful situations for authentic integration of ICTs I have ever seen.
What is possibly most exciting is the way the use of technology has evolved so naturally - from a very simple premise to something which is now incredibly sophisticated, and yet the majority of Grade 3 students take it all in their stride.
In essence this unit is simply about using PowerPoint to create a slideshow that tells their family stories, with a particular emphasis on the key concepts of connection and change. This year the team decided to shift the tool away from PowerPoint to Google Presentations mainly because its web situated context opens up more options for home/school collaboration which is a powerful aspect of this unit, as the children's parent are, in effect, the primary source for most of the children's inquiries.
Very quickly other forms of ICT were utilised to contribute to this process, starting with the use of Picasa to facilitate the children's collection images of family and related images. Sure they could do this via email, or memory sticks, (and some did) but Picasa automatically takes care of resizing, they can be uploaded and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Then once a collection of images (and album) is formed, the children can easily insert those images into their Google Presentation by using the 'Copy Image Address' option, and pasting that in via the Insert > Image command.
Next it became apparent that the students would need to crop some of the images, eg, to isolate Grandad's portrait from within a family group photograph. So instead of fiddling about downloading and editing with Microsoft Picture Manager or Preview, all they had to do was edit and crop any image in IN Picasa, using Piknik, and then save it as a copy.
Next we utlised the Draw tool within Google Presentation within a Google Drawing (inserted into a Presentation slide). Students learned how to search Google images effectively in order to locate and insert a map of the region of the earth that is relevant to their family (his)story. then they were able to annotate and label the image to indicate the movement of their ancestors within the last few generations.
We were then able to capitalise on these skills by using a similar technique to build a family tree using another Google drawing, one that plots the family back to Grandparents, and in some cases great grandparents, using the same technique of image annotation within a Google drawing.
At this point the students were ready to use a time-line program, in this case Timeliner XL to take the results of their inquiry as evident in their family tree to plot a family tree that automatically organises events chronologically using years to mark important events. From that point they were able to develop the time-line in line with the ongoing enquiries, adding basic images from the program resource library, Google and of course their growing Picasa album of family images.
Next the students brought home iPod Touches to record an interview/s with
their parents. This video was then transferred to a school drive,
where the students could consult and review the footage to assist with
the reminder of their presentations, where they independently created a
series of slides to compete their individual family stories.
Once the time-line was complete students were guided through the process of exporting the time-line as an image and then inserting that image into their presentation.
Wow - this has come along way from being 'just' a PowerPoint Presentation.
Finally, as their presentations were already online, it was a relatively simple matter to share these with the peers, their teachers, their parents, and of course their grandparents!