Thursday, February 04, 2010

Communism has fallen in China? Lawsuits abound?

I was just talking with a CFF (Classrooms for the Future) coach yesterday and this is the scenario he used for a project with his Social studies students. The 9th grade students were divided into groups, with members coming from different classes. That forced them to use discussion forums, etc to communicate. They had studied the various Dynasties of China and this was their final project that the students built in a wiki.

"Imagine you are members of a team of lawyers for a large law firm.  The team is 20-25 freshmen, and the law firm is your freshman class.  What is at stake is control of the most populated and up and coming world power on the planet - CHINA!  China's history is rich and extensive with accomplishments.

Your job is to prepare a court document arguing why your dynasty is the greatest dynasty to ever rule China and deserves to rule China
.  Your team members are other lawyers from Mr. XXXXXXs, Mr. YYYYY's, Mr. ZZZZZ’s, and Mr. AAAAAA’s classes.

The whole reason for going to court is because other groups think your dynasty does not deserve to rule China.  They want their dynasty to have the right to rule China and they are going to try and discredit your group’s dynasty.  So along with pointing out your dynasties accomplishments, you must also defend potential accusations others may make against your dynasty and why your dynasty doesn’t deserve to rule China.

There are 3 important details that you, as lawyers, should remember:
  1. Communicate with your team so everyone is on the same page when you present your document to the court.
  2. You must have credible evidence, so your team MUST create a bibliography page.
  3. Also, while you have access to all the same evidence, you do not have access to other teams’ arguments – your argument is protected under attorney-client privilege.  Any discussion forum or wiki you click on leaves a history that your judges view.  Be careful, because any evidence of "spying" or tampering will lead to severe penalties.
This is a massive and important case.  Trillions of dollars and billions of people are at stake.  Lawyers cannot change the history of their clients.  All they can do is represent them to the best of their abilities to try and win their case."

Students had access to Graphic organizers, discussion forums, Google Docs, and many other tools of the web. (From what I could see their filter is very reasonable.)

I liked the idea that the students were in groups with students from other classes to force them to communicate frequently online. I also liked the fact that this wasn't just a Multiple Choice test, but an assignment that forced them to think critically about not only their Dynasty but the others, as well. They had to be able to do more than just gather one liners.

What level of the new Bloom's taxonomy does this reach? What "21st Century Skills" must the students use to accomplish their task? And, what might you have done to enhance the lesson a bit? What tools would you be certain that the students knew how to use?

I'm sure the teachers who were involved would love to hear your thoughts on the assignment. That's how we learn and grow, right?

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