Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Action Research and Technology in Classroom-Juanjuan Zhao

In a world of globalization and exchange of information at a fast pace, it seems impossible to live without modern technology. My question is, how many of us are using technology in classroom to conduct action research projects that engage students?

In a course I am currently taking, one of my group partners, a secondary teacher, is sharing pictures of Vietnam war through voicethread (voicethread.com).There are American and Vietnamese soldiers and Vietnamese people in those pictures. The teacher asks her students to narrate a story by pretending to be a character from those pictures. I agree that this is a brilliant idea to know a historical event by bringing characters in history to life and getting students engaged. However, my first thought is what if there are biases and stereotypes? There might be students who chose to be Vietnam soldiers, but still they are not from Vietnam and it is highly possible that they judge the history based on their life and imposed American values. Is there a way to bring voices from Vietnam?

I even began to imagine a solution – that if there is collaboration between schools in America and in Vietnam on this Vietnam War project, students from both sides will be able to express their opinions when acting as certain characters in the pictures. By doing so, we now have voices from Vietnam in which the event actually occurred.

This might sound like a fantasy because history, even as a fact, allows different interpretations and perspectives. However, my point is, since technology is right at hand, why not we make the best use of it? A principal in an elementary school in China asked me the other day if I have an idea to let her students know more about elementary students in America. She was considering creating a program that can let her students visit America every year. I was shocked by her thought because I do not know how to take care of children around 8-13 years old who can only say ‘Hello' and 'How are you?' So maybe the Internet and technology are the best way for a start.

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