CEP810 Major Assignment #1: Content Connections Website and Inquiry-Based Student Projects


Objective: Students will create a website that focuses on a specific content connection between Rouen/E.Lansing and a subject that they teach. Students will also create an accompanying inquiry-based student project that supports the development of new literacies skills and requires collaborative knowledge building.

Part A: The Website

Here are some important questions and answers to consider as you build your website.

1. Q: What are websites good for?
A: It depends.

There are several different kinds.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website#Types_of_websites

Note the difference between static and interactive websites. Static websites present information, interactive websites permit users to engage with them in different ways.
Examples of static websites:
http://www.loc.gov/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/
*Although, there are places for users to “ask a librarian” and “post comments” -- so even static websites that present content often include elements of interactivity. The web 1.0/2.0 dichotomy isn’t always as clear-cut as it once was.

2. Q: What kind of website should I build?
A: A static website (though you are welcome to integrate integrate interactive elements that support student learning).

3. Q: How do I create a website?
A: There are lots of different ways to do it. You do NOT have to know anything aboutHTML to create a professional looking site. You can use one of the following resourcesto create your site -- or, if you know of another option, please add it!

4. Q: What should I include on my website?
A: Of course, it depends on the purpose of your site. Generally, we expect your website to provide information for your students (and others, too!) on the topic you’ve selected. The topic must be connected in some meaningful way to either Rouen or E. Lansing and to the subject(s) that you teach. Whatever you decide for your site’s purpose and content, it will be important for your site to have a very clear focus. Also, be sure to provide information that will support your site’s validity. Tell visitors who you are, whyyou’ve created this site, where you have found your information, how visitors can contact you, when your site was created and last updated. All of this information will giveyour site legitimacy -- and can serve as an object lesson for your students in evaluating content on the Internet.

Sample Idea

To give you a little context for the development of your website, here’s an idea. If you teach language arts or science or social studies, you might want to create a website that focuses on clocks -- the Gros Horloge of Rouen being a beautiful example of a clock -- or the clocktower at MSU being another. You could bring together photos, stories that feature time or clocks as a central idea, informational texts about how clocks work, how they are made, when and why “time” was invented, a short movie and a screencast (that you create) that focuses on clocks in some significant way.
Technical Specifications for your Website

In addition to the content (that should include text, hyperlinks, embedded resources from the web) your website must also integrate ONE multi-media element that you create. Options include:
1) A screencast (using Jing, Screencast-o-matic)
2) An audio podcast (using Audacity http://www.wikihow.com/Record-a-Podcast-with-Audacity or Garage Band)
3) An edited movie (which could be a collection of still images or movie footage) (using any number of video editing tools -- iMovie, Picassa Movie Maker, Animoto etc. etc. etc.)

Part B: The Inquiry-Based Student Project


In addition to creating your website, you need to imagine how your students will use the resource you create. You will create an inquiry-based assignment for your students. This means that the assignment should NOT simply be a “read and tell what I’ve learned” kind of assignment. Rather, the assignment should ask your students to create a question on your topic (e.g., How are clocks made? Why do we use clocks? Have we always measured time with clocks? Can clocks be art? Why do we measure time in hours? etc.) and use your website (and perhaps other web-based resources as well?) to answer it. Remember -- inquiry/problem-based learning encourages students to ask their own questions so that students feel motivated to answer them.

In the process, students will also be developing at least two New Literacies Skills (Questioning, Locating, Evaluating, Synthesizing & Communicating).

Students should also be asked to engage in a collaborative knowledge building exercise of some sort with their peers.

Examples of collaborative knowledge building include (but are definitely not limited to): brainstorming important questions on the topic, sharing background knowledge so that everyone benefits from the collective wisdom in the classroom, working together to answer a single question by pooling information that we find together and deciding on which bits of information are most relevant and important to the question at hand, sharing search strategies and/or resources that we find, evaluating information together, offering constructive feedback that improves another student’s work but also helps me to think critically about the assignment.