Student Created Content: Wicked Worth It

Tonight’s #flipclass #flashblog is all about student created content!! This is something I’ve been tinkering around with on and off over the past year, and have really started making it more of a thing this year.

And it is wicked worth it.

This year is the first year for AP Biology at my school, and I’m lucky enough to be teaching it. I have an A-MAZ-ING group of 11 seniors who are pretty much psyched to learn everyday (although occasionally senioritis seems to creep in). All but one of them I had as sophomores in advanced biology, and in order to bring life to AP Bio without it feeling like a complete re-hash of what they did two years ago, I’ve tried to be creative. The two main ways we’ve accomplished this is through greater reflection on their learning and having them more directly involved in creating the content.

There have been two ways in which they have been involved in creating content:

  • Creating Vodcasts
  • Google Presentations

Creating Vodcasts

This turned out to be an amazing exercise of two levels: 1) My students were able to share their understanding in a way that was for the purpose of teaching others, and 2) They gained a much greater appreciation for the process I go through when I create theirs!

I gave them a number of screencasting (Snagit for ChromeScreenCastify, & Google Hangout to name a few) options and a day to play with them, I wanted them to use what was comfortable. They had a topic and were expected to put together an outline (based on our standards for AP Bio) of their plan – then they went to town to create them.

Here’s a few examples of their work:

While this did serve its purpose and the students were able to learn the basics of cellular respiration; it was not the only thing they learned. They put themselves out there in a way that is different from just a regular ‘ol project presentation.

What they created wasn’t just for me. In fact, it wasn’t for me at all. It was for each other. Their understanding hinged on how well they were able to get their message across. Now, I didn’t disappear during this process. I was there with them as they developed it, and worked with it, and guided them when they had questions. The vodcasts aren’t flawless, and I’m pretty sure they all wish they could go back to fix them and make them better, but they were vulnerable and they dared to put it out there, and I’m proud of them.

Google Presentations

Play-Doh Translation

The second way my students have created content for the class is through presentations. While I’m sure there are some who may not see the difference between this and students being asked to create a presentation on a topic – the BIG, HUGE difference is the audience they are created for. These weren’t created for me to grade. They were created with purpose to teach each other. This is game changer – students see a bigger purpose when the audience is wider than when it is just for the teacher to look at, grade, and hand back. This gives them ownership in what they learn, and various ways in which to learn it.

And for this reason – it is wicked worth it.


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