Thursday, June 20, 2013

Learning Artifacts

I routinely speak about the need for students to produce learning artifacts that demonstrate conceptual mastery.  Knowledge often comes to us via transcribed content or artifacts, which is derived from other's knowledge. These are facts, concepts, processes, procedures, and principles (Clark & Chopeta, 2004). Thus, artifacts are used in the learning process for creating knowledge, while in turn, knowledge creates new artifacts. With the technological tools that are at our disposal today this has become easier than ever.  Providing students the ability to actively apply what they have learned in creative ways using real-world tools is as authentic as it gets.  Even in a Common Core world this can be accomplished if teachers are given the autonomy and empowered to develop innovative lessons that push students to think critically while having them showcase what they have learned.

One New Milford High School teacher continues to push the envelop in this area.  Earlier in the year I blogged about Mrs. Westbrook's use of Instrgram in her English class as a means for her students to demonstrate conceptual understanding.  Today I was super excited to see yet another one of her impressive learning activities.  For their last project,  her 9th graders had to complete a video explication of a poem dealing with one of the four themes from the year. They used the videos from the Favorite Poem Project as exemplar texts and followed the basic structure of those videos. After Mr. Pevny, another NMHS teacher, gave her some suggestions on how to use iMovie, the kids ran with it.  

It them about a week of writing, rehearsing, and creating to finish the explications. In the final versions, students spoke briefly about a poem's personal significance. They then read the poem aloud connecting to the poem’s message and its impact on their lives. The major focus for their work was on making personal and original connections and on demonstrating a deep understanding of the text. Therefore, the students emphasized interpretation and the thoughtful recognition of devices that contribute to tone and theme.  

Mrs. Westbrook is pretty proud of the results.  The video below show the explication of "If" by Rudyard Kipling where one of her students even added extra thoughts to the explication with a second video because he felt he could say more. In his explication, you hear him note the personal and universal significance of the poet's message and make productive and substantive points about the poet's diction.  It was exactly what I Mrs. Westbrook was hoping for. 

To view the complete project that Mrs. Westbrook developed click HERE.

How are you or your school using artifacts created with the use of technology as a means for students to demonstrate conceptual mastery and learning?


  1. Thanks for sharing these great examples.

  2. Great examples! I do a lot of work with students to create movies in Movie Maker and lately sites in Google Sites while incorporating research skills. One of my plans this summer is working out how to chunk these projects into smaller deadlines so that I get higher quality products. Ideally you want the kids doing it, but I'm hoping some modeling helps. I've found that a lot of my students aren't doing homework as expected.