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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 11-12

Writing WHST.11-12.6

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

Set the Stage

Working by themselves or in groups, your students will use technology to create writing products that can be shared with their classmates or a wider audience. An important part of this standard is allowing students to respond to one another’s projects. Students should then update their projects in response to peer feedback, answering questions, refuting counterarguments, and providing new information as appropriate. Writing in the technological age is never quite “finished,” and students need the experience of writing for an audience who can provide immediate feedback. These types of discussions, synchronous or asynchronous, offer students opportunities to better understand concepts. We now reveal our top secret way to accomplish this mission.

Example

Dress Rehearsal

In US Government class, your peeps have been discussing how members of the United States government share foreign policy powers. You’ve learned how the president has the power to send troops anywhere and everywhere without congressional approval; how the secretary of state acts as a diplomat to other countries; and how White House staff and cabinet members influence foreign affairs.

Nothing charges you up like the CIA though. The Central Intelligence Agency gathers information and then advises the president in making decisions about “governments, economies, and armed forces of other nations.” Yes, we can see you now… oh, no we can’t, you’re undercover.

So, when Mr. Johnston assigns the class to choose one aspect of foreign policy to explain, you and your quad-pod volunteer to enlighten your classmates about the CIA. Yep, you’ll gladly accept that mission. Better yet, you must use technology to present information about the CIA’s function, its powers, its duties, and its operations. You’re equal to the task.

You’ll also be required to post your project on the class webpage where all the other projects will be stored. A blog will be started for the “Shared Foreign Policy Powers” assignment that will allow your classmates to offer feedback or ask questions about your specific project. You will be part of a network of learners and will be expected to comment on others’ projects as well as answer any comments made in response to yours, sort of an ongoing online discussion. Comments posted will be synchronous, meaning in real time, such as a class period, or asynchronous, meaning at any time, any place.

You begin by doing research in the computer lab about the CIA. You naturally first study the agency’s webpage. Here, you find links that explain the missions and the ways in which they fulfill them. The page also explains the five types of intelligence, the intelligence cycle, and the structure of the agency into four teams.

To make things interesting, you search YouTube, where you learn about the bloody secrets of the CIA, and the History Channel, where you learn about plots and coups. Yep, you’re glad you picked this topic, all right. You’ll be making a Prezi presentation (similar to PowerPoint with some way cool features) out of your project, so you sign up online and start creating, using notes from your research. Like any good agent, you go underground to your safe house for a while to finish your report.

Your completed project will not only explain the workings of the CIA, it will also dispel the rumors about it. What you DID learn about the CIA in your research was that movies, such as the Bourne series, Mission Impossible, and Body of Lies, aren’t exactly telling the whole truth. You’ll have fun posting photographs, logos, maps, charts, videos, and recordings to your presentation.

Once uploaded, your project logs the most hits and comments! You think Ryan’s comment about why the CIA was created will need clarifying. Matt’s response to the CIA mission at the Bay of Pigs deserves a double “thumbs up.” Sara’s additional information about the agent charged with murder in Pakistan is helpful. You provide thoughtful posts in response to these and other comments in the ongoing discussion, further developing your ideas and information in the process.

You also navigate the website to visit other projects, and comment on those as well. Now, you not only understand the functions of the CIA, you also understand the secretaries of defense and state, the national security advisor, the power to declare war, and treaty-making, all topics in the foreign policy chapter of your textbook.

Mission accomplished.

That’s a Wrap

The use of technology can positively affect student understanding and mastery of difficult concepts, and it puts writing tasks into real-world contexts. Better news: web-based projects and assignments will be welcomed by students since they are oh-so-techno-savvy. What better way to generate discussion, offer feedback, and boost critical-thinking skills than through the proper use of technological tools? No better way we can think of.

Sources:

“Kids Page: Grades 6-12.” Central Intelligence Agency Web Site. 3 January 2012. Central Intelligence Agency. 18 June 2012. Web. https://www.cia.gov/index.html

Remy, Richard C. “Shared Foreign Policy Power.” United States Government: Democracy in Action. New York: McGraw Hill Glencoe, 2008.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Matching

Write the letter of the description next to the correct word.

  1. ____ technology

    Correct Answer:

    the application of scientific knowledge using machines, such as computers, to create, explain, or document

    Answer Explanation:

    Technology is any application of scientific knowledge, though today, we tend to think of technology in terms of our smartphones and computers.


  2. ____ update

    Correct Answer:

    to give the latest information about something

    Answer Explanation:

    Since you update your Facebook status all the time, we’re pretty sure you got this one right.


  3. ____ feedback

    Correct Answer:

    information about reactions to a product or task

    Answer Explanation:

    Feedback is how other respond or react to something. Good writers use feedback to improve their writing and further develop their ideas.


  4. ____ synchronous

    Correct Answer:

    occurring at the same time, in the same place, on the same topic

    Answer Explanation:

    This is a scary-looking word, but it means in sync or occurring at the same time.


  5. ____ asynchronous

    Correct Answer:

    occurring outside the constraint of time and place

    Answer Explanation:

    Another scary word, but remember the prefix a- means not, so asynchronous means not in sync or not occurring within the same time period.


  6. ____ critique

    Correct Answer:

    a detailed assessment, both positive and negative

    Answer Explanation:

    When you critique something, you identify and explain both the strengths and weaknesses, like when your teacher critiques your writing.


  7. ____ publish

    Correct Answer:

    to make available to others in print or online

    Answer Explanation:

    You’re not writing just for your teacher anymore. When you publish something, you give your work a wider audience.


  8. ____ blog

    Correct Answer:

    a website which allows for original posts and comments on a regular and ongoing basis

    Answer Explanation:

    Blogs are all about getting feedback from readers. You post, they respond, then you respond, and so on.


  9. ____ network

    Correct Answer:

    a group of people exchanging information

    Answer Explanation:

    When you are part of a network, you share information and ideas; it’s what the Internet is all about.


  10. ____ instant messaging

    Correct Answer:

    quick exchange of typed messages between computer users in real time

    Answer Explanation:

    Instant means instant; you exchange messages immediately, in real time. But we’re pretty sure you knew this one too.