Redefining the Scaffold: Part II.

Continued from Redefining the Scaffold: Part I.

Redefining the Scaffold:  The Climb from Teaching to Learning.

Part II: The Academic Blog Post and the Unit 3 cross-curricular differentiated project using a Global Thinking Routine.

Castleton Tower Moab Desert

TGS Global Studies goes boxing to understand the concept of Americans as ‘doers and fighters.’


During Unit 3: American identity as ‘doers and fighters,’ students participated in a range of events and lessons to understand how this concept may apply to American in all sorts of ways both positive and negative. Through the Academic Blog students explored different viewpoints, and worked to never accept a ‘single story.’ Later they would apply this cross-curricular skill of blogging to the creation of both a historical essay and an effective art/new media project.

The Academic Blog is a new application for a skill they used and learned in New Media Lab. These blog assignments followed Lindsay Clark’s criterion on what blogs should look like and contain. The blog assignment began as a student investigation answering certain direct questions and progressed to become free-form submissions involving student curated content. These blogs often led to lengthy class discussions and became a vehicle for students to challenge their own understandings of the single story they had been dealt.  The progression of both student individuality and blogging skills are evident in the following links.

In response to current events in North Korea.

Our overnight experience on board the USS Massachusetts #battleship.

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy #jfk.

The Boston Marathon bombings, #marathon.

The events of September 11, 2001, #sept11, Liisa’s blog post.

Student commentary regarding the Academic Blog Post.
I made a lot connections between events or other assignments, and explored sides of topics that I normally wouldn’t have. I learned to question the question, and never take any information at face value. Integrating visuals was a creative aspect of assignments that I am I had the chance to experience. – Samhaoir
It made me put my thoughts and ideas into words. Some of this was pretty difficult, like writing North Korea, this was something I always talked about and cared about but couldn’t quite put into words. I am actually proud of what I’ve made in your class this semester. – Hannah
The blog assignments were a mixing both the ‘hey, research about this’ and then write about it and we were not only learning what Martino says but what we wanted to know so it was pretty cool. – Melissa
I feel that the blogs we did for 9/11, North Korea, Boston Marathon, etc., really gave us the opportunity to gather our own thoughts on these events which I don’t think I would have come for me as clearly as it did, if not given then time and space. – Gawa
They were very interesting as well as academically beneficial. It also prepared and made us better bloggers. The indentation of photos and videos were very creative both on the teachers and students side. – Yodsel
I actually enjoyed spending time writing each blog, doing research, listening to TED Talks, spoken word poems, photos and sharing them in the blog. – Tiana

Unit 3: American identity as ‘doers and fighters.’

In order to understand the concept of American identity as ‘doers and fighters’ students combined skills learned from the Unit 2 info graphic, the formal writing skills from their FreddyD essay and the autonomous inquiry from the Academic Blog Post. The prezi below explains the process using the Global Thinking Routine with examples of student work and student reflections.

Student commentary regarding the Unit 3 Project:

“I connected this project to the concept of ‘machismo’ in Argentina where we learned about the gaucho, futbol, and tango. Latin culture makes a lot more sense. I read a lot of content on sexual harrassment and most anthropologists believe ‘machismo’ reinforces and supports harrassment and the idea of women as objects.”  – Hannah
“I’m happy that it gave me the opportunity to express my findings for this project in a medium that I actually enjoy. Therefore it went by faster and I enjoyed the process. I loved including my song with the ukelele.” – Gawa
“I did procrastinate a lot because whenever I sat down to write I got confused, but by putting off the writing aspect I ended up researching more and finding new articles that further proved my points. ” – Anonymous
“The creation of ‘Sustainable Joy’ was something new and exciting for me to start something that could be spread outside of TGS.” – Alejandro
“I feel that I was very innovative in this project as I used multiple programs to create a visual aid to my lesson.” – Joseph

I was floored by the individuality and student creativity shown in the Unit 3 Projects. Students really set their expectations high and produced well-researched, well-written academic papers accompanied by great visuals, videos, and spoken word performances. As a teacher, I couldn’t be happier with my students creations. I am excited to continue the climb and eventually summit the peak in transitioning from teaching to learning.

Click here to read about the differentiated grading of the Unit 3 Project.


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