Kids Say the Darndest Things

Every semester when we begin our feudal Europe unit, I bring out the above picture.  In the past, I had students examine the picture on a laptop using the Photo Analysis worksheet.  This year, my students wrote two column notes because I wanted them to focus on specific aspects of the picture:  people, objects, and activities.
The essential question for this assignment:  What types/kinds of people, objects, and activities are found on a manor?
This is the first step to a bigger investigation about life in feudal Europe.  On MyBigCampus, I have a bundle set up with videos, pictures, and excerpts for students to examine and analyze.  Last semester, students worked across periods to create a presentation using HaikuDeck.  But to be honest, it was a logistical nightmare.  So I’m scrapping that assignment.  This semester, students are going to work with peers in their own classes, but they will have the opportunity to collaborate with peers in other periods who are examining the same primary/secondary source.  I’m not sure if I’m going to have students use GoogleDocs or our HaikuLMS class.  Guess I better decide pretty quickly.
The lesson went pretty smoothly on Friday.  I loved walking around, listening to students discuss what they are seeing.  Here are a couple of memorable student remarks…
Student 1:  Is that a guy hanging himself?
Students 2:  I don’t think people hang themselves.
Student 1:  I think that guy is doing a cartwheel or somersault.
Student 2:  That’s not a guy.  It’s a horse.
Student 1:  No, it’s clearly a guy.  I just don’t know why he’s doing a somersault.
Student 3:  That’s not a guy.  It’s a horse.  See the face?
Student 1:  You can’t see his face because he’s taking his shirt off!
Student 2:  Because he’s doing a somersault?
Student 1:  I guess.
Kids say the darndest things.
I can’t wait to see what they come up with on Monday as we take this examination a bit further.  We’ve been working with visual context clues and citing textual evidence to prove a point.  Based on their interpretation of the picture, students (as a group) wrote a inference about manor life and two unanswered questions (which will be the impetus for a possible research assignment).  As you can tell, this project is still in it’s fluid stage.  I’ve been doing variations of this type of lesson for many years, but having the iPads has allowed me to experiment with using different technology tools as my students practice utilizing tools of a historian.  It’s days like this that make teaching so worthwhile.  =)

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