My 5th graders are working on an interesting social studies project. We're testing it out for the county and trying to cram it into the last few weeks. On the whole, it's a great project. The kids have to think about global interdependence across time, cultures, or both. They can look at it through art, literature, trade, government, etc. It's a rare chance for them to make a lot of choices about their learning and how they present their findings. Our technology teacher has been a huge help. The technology office, social studies office, and librarians did a lot beforehand to set things up for us. There is very little more that could have been done to make this project successful.
And yet...certain things are driving me insane. Many of my kids are creating PowerPoints. A couple of them are fantastic. Most are not. They are so focused on making the slides look cool, transition in interesting ways, and have fun graphics that the content is getting no focus. A lot of kids are creating websites. Again, a couple are really well done. Most are so focused on having fun with the technology (and posting on each other's guestbooks) that their content stinks.
Should I give them opportunities earlier in the year and throughout the year to work with these technologies in the hope of getting this out of their systems? Should I require a storyboard of their PowerPoint or website before I allow them on a computer so that I can get the focus on the content before they can play? Any other thoughts?
I really want to do this project again next year - and others like it. But I clearly need a better plan.