To view these projects, you need to download MicroWorlds Web Player
I designed the Mission project for the fourth grade students at Campbell Hall School. They were studying about California Missions and each student was assigned by the classroom teacher to create a project about a California Mission of their choice. Mission histories have never been too exciting and students have hard time internalizing them. My idea was to use MicroWorlds’ multimedia and programming tools to recreate a scene from the history of a mission. I asked students to think about something special that comes to their mind about their mission and try to imagine the scene in their head. Then, I asked them to create the background and characters involved using MicroWorlds’ graphics, animation, and programming tools. In addition to animating, they also had to write about it. The results were amazing. Excitement replaced boredom and students could vividly recall the story of their mission. In preparation for their project, students conducted research and looked at pictures of their mission.
Several components involved in this activity turned it into a success. Students’ role changed from passive participants in the learning process (reading or listening to stories about missions) to become active learners (creators of projects about missions). They took charge of their own learning by researching, imagining, developing, and executing their mission stories. Their learning became driven by a goal and they had to direct their technological skill towards accomplishing it. Identifying essential information from within a body of work is a difficult and important skill that students were required to engage in. Focusing on a scene and then animating it made it more relevant to their daily realities. Some missions experienced earthquakes, fires, and other types of things that students encounter in their daily lives. Suddenly, they felt intimately close to the inhabitants of the mission and what they went through.
I think that this project was very successful and if I had to repeat it today, I would have done the same thing. This is such an effective way for learning and internalizing what was learned. Today, I would probably expand on it by comparing it to missions in other states or other countries and try to give it a more global view. Also, the ability to compare and contrast is a skill worth developing because it is essential for better critical thinking.