Topic outline

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9BS 2015 NZ Current Issues documentary
by Chris Bester - Monday, 14 September 2015, 11:55 AM

During the 2015  9BS Social Studies class studied NZ Current Issues as a topic with special emphasis on the issues of the day in NZ. The topic allowed us to do an assessed research inquiry to be internally peer assessed and then to use the research and develop the topic into  a video presentation tool.

Great thanks go to Callum Crawley, Ronan Carroll, Finn Martin and Junius Ong for the great help they have given to the Year 9 boys in developing their individual presentations.

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Video documentary - Year 9 Social Studies Inquiry and Presentation task
by Chris Bester - Thursday, 20 November 2014, 8:55 AM

During the year my Year 9 Social Studies class studied Australia as a topic with special emphasis on the issues Aboriginal people faced during and after occupation of Australia in 1788 by Britain. The topic allowed us to do an assessed research inquiry to be internally peer assessed and then to use the research and develop the topic into a cross curricular exercise with their ICT teacher (Mark Callagher) to use a video presentation tool. Here is a link to the full research inquiry task.

The students had to develop three of their own focussing questions to guide their research on a chosen topic (a range of topics were allocated). In class research as partners, students were able to present their inquiry in their specific topic to the task, wch was peer assessed on SOLO taxonomy. They then developed a script from their research and presented in documentary format with the guidance of their ICT teacher using the WeVideo tool. They were shown very early in the task some model research clips on YouTube how to create effective documentary productions. It was also a very solid base for the students as they prepared for examinations on ts topic.

One of the most pleasing successes was that I could play the clips of the topics that were to be covered for examinations as part of revision. The students could take notes from these videos and with earlier teacher presentation in class were able to gain gh marks in the examinations.

Below is a playlist of the videos that 9GI Social Studies created in ts task:


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Video Documentary - Student Centred Collaborative Inquiry Research & Presentation Task
by Mark Callagher - Wednesday, 12 November 2014, 8:58 PM

For my second topic of the year my Year 10 Social Studies class studied Global Issues. Up to half of the end of year examination would also cover ts topic and a range of analysis skills. The topic allowed us to do an assessed research inquiry to be internally assessed allowing individual teachers the freedom to try new methods.

Ts time around I decided to do a quick one lesson introduction to the students to discover their understanding of Global Issues. I followed ts up with the students analysing a young american student made documentary on Cld Labour in the late 19th Century. The purpose was for the students to not only analyse the components of what they were expected to produce, but to look at set a standard - a summary of the student analysis is here. I then followed ts up with John Pilger's (a world renowned professional documentary maker) documentary on US intervention in South America called "War on Democracy". Ts allowed the students to discuss a range of the Global Issues available for research in the documentary (Global Corporations, American Imperialism, Poverty, Media Manipulation & others) but also to analyse the documentary in terms of use of background music, case studies etc.

I then made a range of Global Issues topics for the students to choose from wch they would research and present in documentary format together in pairs. The issues ranged from ENVIRONMENTAL to HUMAN IMPACT to POLITICAL. Students chose using Google Forms with 3 preferences and topics were then allocated.

Here is a link to the Research and Documentary Task Document along with a link to wch is a good source site for many of the issues. The task was assessed using SOLO Taxonomy wch has been  introduced into the school since late last year and is having a positive impact on students tnking and understanding about the way they learn.

As ts was my first attempt at sometng new there were a few tngs I would do differently, however I would have to say that ts was a massive success. So much so that another teacher half way through adapted the e assessment for s Australian Aboriginal Issues Internal Assessment Task for a class that we co-taught (me Y9 ICT and m Y9 Social Studies) the following term. 

One of the most pleasing successes was that I did not teach the topic content to the students prior to the exam. Instead I played 3 of the student created videos to the students on 1. Poverty & Global Inequality2. The Greenhouse Effect & Global Warming and 3. Deforestation just prior to the recent end year examinations. The students took notes from these videos and over half of them chose ts essay for the examination with many of them writing excellence essays and two gaining full marks.

Students creating top quality content good enough to help other students learn is the ultimate testament to the success of any task.
The main tngs that students have learned from ts task are:
  • how to collaborate effectively on a large scale research and presentation task
  • how to write good focus questions (and the need to revisit and re-write them when needed)
  • how to research and gather information in a way that avoids plagiarism
  • how to write a script - put research information into another form (other than an essay to answer the focus questions)
  • how to present information as a documentary considering factors wch influence audience emotion such as:
    • powerful introduction
    • use of titles
    • use of colour
    • powerful images and appropriate images to back up points
    • modulation of voice, use of emphasis
    • influence of music
    • balance of audio, silence, voice, type, etc...

The Video Creation tool we used was WeVideo as it is fully cloud-based and allows for collaboration between the students who worked on Chromebooks and from home. The education version comes at a cost to the school for signing up but having tried it, I would thoroughly recommend it. We are now looking at signing up the entire school for 2015. Note: Our Media Studies department also trialed WeVideo and are also planning to roll out for all Senior Media Studies for next year.

There were a range of tngs that the students, and I, learned from our first foray into producing documentaries. One of the tngs that we will certainly do differently next time is refrain early on from using snippets of popular music as students run into problems once it is published on YouTube. Although copyrighted and allowed to play - it leads to pop-up adds and warnings and blocks in some countries. There are a range of free background music styles freely available in YouTube editor providing good backing music for video creation.

Below is a full playlist of our videos wch you can watch at your leisure.

All produced by 10BA Social Studies (who for international audiences are aged at 14 years old - some going on 15).
Note: Apologies if some videos do not play due to blocking in some countries due to copyrighted music, but others will play.

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SOLO Group Inquiry Task - "What Causes World War One?"
by Mark Callagher - Saturday, 14 June 2014, 2:23 PM

A collaborative tool like Lucidchart enables students to easily research and share their creative ideas together, either at school, or online wle at home.

At the start of ts year, for their 20th Century History topic, one class of Year 10 students were given the task to: Create and present to your class a diagram answering the question: “What Caused World War One?”

Groups were given resources such as a video to watch but from there it was left entirely up to them. Given a simple, accessible and reliable tool in Lucidchart, students were able to develop their inquiry, research and collaborative skills and even show some artistic flair.

Here is the SOLO assessment marking schedule

Student groups were named after World War II leaders for the duration of the topic.

Team Zhukov - Causes of WWI:
mind mapping software

Other Groups work shown here:

Team Montgomery - Causes of WWI

Team Freyberg - Causes of WWI

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Year 10 World War II Battles - Research Publications
by Mark Callagher - Sunday, 8 June 2014, 11:07 AM

All Year 10 Social Studies students are required to complete a research assignment for their Term One 20th Century History Topic.

The task for students in 10BA was:

"You are a news reporter for a magazine of your choosing. You are to research, write and present a news magazine report on a significant battle of World War II wch caused challenges to people"

Each report required:

      1. An Article about the background and reasons for the event
      2. An Article reporting from the location about the event
      3. An article about the leaders involved
      4. And an article about new innovations wch impacted the event

Ts task was assessed using SOLO Taxonomy, wch has proven very helpful for our students by challenging them to tnk about how they can move their tnking and learning to a gher level.

The full task description can be found here

Other 10BA Publications well worth viewing are:

The Battle of The River Plate - by Curtis Rutland

The Battle of Midway - by Matthew O'Leary

The Battle of Nanjing - by Joe Ryan

The Battle of Crete - by Anson Price