[Update: Jonathan, your comments are so helpful. Thanks and keep them coming. You know I'll be commenting back ]
I could scribble notes or work on an asocial Word document, but I figure doing it here might invite some free collaboration and good ideas from those of you reading along. If you don’t know how to use wikis, I hope this “Think-Aloud” will help you learn; and if you do know wikis, I hope you’ll help me learn.
Objective: Students will “write to learn” about the French Revolution by role-playing specific characters or members of social classes involved in the events, using the Wiki “Ant Farm” project design.
Okay, so what does that mean?
Unit Scope and Sequence:
They’re going to read about the main events and ideas of the French Revolution (online, I might add. Our textbook is your typical obese, boring, student back-breaking, and biased American specimen–don’t get me started–and the web has much better ones here and here. Note the differentiation in reading level that webtexts offer over textbooks. How many schools realize how much money could be better spent by investing in other things with textbook money, and using web resources for readings?)
That means they’ll have a specific historical start date and end date to limit the project. Say, from the summoning of the Estates General to the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Good: I’ve got my bookends.
Now I need to subdivide the events between the first and last event. (It would be better to do this on a wiki instead of a blog,
- crisis over voting method (class conflict)
- June 10, ’89: formation of the National Assembly and Tennis Court Oath
- June 23: Assembly disobeys Louis’ order to disband
- late June: rural peasant unrest–bread convoys for Paris attacked and plundered, boycott of dues, taxes, rents, and tithes; burning landlords’ houses and records because of rumors (the “Great Fear”)
- Arisotcrats terrified–Assembly exploits this fear by representing rural “Third Estate”
- June 27: Elites refuse Louis’ call for compromise: stalemate
- Louis mobilizes the army around Paris and Versailles
- Inflation in Paris (bread costs 80% of workers’ income) and rumors of Aristocrat conspiracy to topple the Assembly
- July 14: Storming of the Bastille (mostly women!)
- [I'll finish this later. The online textbook readings are all "sticky-noted" with my annotations on my Diigo bookmarks, so it's easy enough to transfer that to here later.]
- July 1788-June ’89: Louis XVI summons the Estates General:
- July ’89:
- August ’89:
Okay, so when that’s finished with events leading through the terror to Napoleon, I’ve got my topics for the writing-to-learn wiki project. The next thing I need to do is figure out the roles the students will play.
How? Seems like main characters and social types are the logical answer.
Wiki Writing Simulation Roles:
- Rural peasant
- Urban artisan
- Urban bourgeois
- Urban Philosophe (ooh–Voltaire?)
- Rural landlord
- Executioner (ooh–a view from the guillotine!)
- Bastille prison guard?
- Court servant at Versailles?
- Louis XVI
- Marie Antoinette
- Members of the First Estate–upper clergy
- Lower clergy
- Members of the Second Estate–upper nobility
- Lower nobility
- Members of the Third Estate:
- David (painter)
- Thomas Jefferson (wasn’t he there? Or was it John Adams?)
- etc [Again, to be continued]
Does it matter if some roles are taken by multiple students? I don’t think so. They can take different genders and age groups to spice the stories up.
Should I team students somehow? I think so–not to write the same character, but to give feedback on each others’ writing. Pairs? More? Homo- or heterogeneous ability groups?
I want the teams’ characters to encounter other characters in the stories as the simulation advances and they get time to know each others’ writings. I need to decide how many encounters each student must write with other students’ characters.
It would be fun to let them encounter student characters from the other class!
I need to divide the unit into lessons to determine how many role-play writings they do.
I need to decide on the length of each entry.
I need to decide on the criteria for success (rubric): factual accuracy (make a list of factors they have to address y number of per post), insight into the impact of each event on the character (causes/effects of decisions and reactions, motives, emotions), imagination and creativity, effective introductory scene, conflict, complication, climax (plot), proper use of dialog conventions, plus mechanics and conventions. I’ll make the rubric tomorrow.
I want them to include pictures on their wiki pages. Maybe audio voice files of them acting out certain scenes (or videos, for that matter: film–post to YouTube–embed on wiki. Easy and fun multimedia.)
AHA. Which brings me to the 20th century blind spot: presentation and appearance (design) of wiki page was a telling absence in my rubric brainstorm above. Web/visual design skills are more important in the digital age, and these kids face a better future if they develop those “new visual literacy” skills now instead of later.
Okay, I’m hungry. I’ll finish later. WOULD LOVE SOME IDEAS OR FEEDBACK.