Was planning on going to a Google Earth session at 4:00 and the presenter never showed up. Moved down to the second choice – another session on GE – and walked in just as the presenter said

I really don’t know much about Google Earth and I’m not that techie so I hope you guys can help with lots of conversation.

Or something like that.

I kinda blanked out when I heard “not much of a techie” in a session where the focus is on using a piece of instructional technology. I’m sure the presenter is a very nice person and hardly ever kicks her dog but it’s not what I’m looking for on a late afternoon after two days of conference breakouts.

I’m a little cranky.

Can ya tell?

Anyway . . . snuck into a session on Holocaust artwork. Not bad, I suppose. The content certainly matched my mood.

I am going to be very optimistic that the last session of the day, Using Simulations to Teach World Geography, will be outstanding. You can’t go wrong with that.

You can’t . . . can you?

—————–

Presenter Neil Lowenstern of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin, TX just made a witty, humorous comment. I’m feeling better.un

He starts by suggesting that simulations help build what he calls “civic competence and social understanding.” Nice. He uses the United Nations site to gather data and topic ideas. Neil says that no matter what your topic, the UN has some sort of forum or committee that is exploring / researching / solving it. Once he has selected a topic and found resources online, he creates a list of possible countries, ethnic groups or NGOs that kids can represent.

His students use something that Neil calls UN PRIDE, basically a graphic organizer that helps the kids make sense of their data and task.

  • UN = Understanding the problem (basic the five Ws)
  • PR = Policy Review (what is or has been done already?)
  • I = Initatives (what policies will you be pushing?)
  • D = Delegate (what UN, NGO or agency should do the work?)
  • E = Explanation (why are you supporting your specific position?)

(Okay . . . I’m a bit off task here but . . . the guy’s doing a good job explaining how he makes this whole thing work in his classroom and I look over and see a lady knitting. Knitting? Really? You’re having such a hard time paying attention that you have to bring out the needles? A first for me.)

Neil’s kids use a modified Model UN to actually run the simulation, he suggest this site for resources.

Looks like pretty good stuff. The question? How does he assess the learning? Someone else asked for me and Neil explains that he uses a participation rubric duing the debate, scores the position papers that the groups write and also looks at how accurately the groups represent the actual position of their selected country. (i.e. he suggested that if the Kurdish group decides that the Turkish government is really a bunch of nice guys, we’re looking at points being lost.)

Finally, the debrief is huge. At least one class period needs to be devoted to going over the process and decisions made by the groups.

Not a bad way to end the day. Some good takeaways here.

Knitting? Really?