Awesome Final Projects in Tech & Civ

My Technology & Civilization students studied Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. One student in particular really wowed me on his final exam. Here is his final exam project:

The school wikispace holds the complete Tech & Civ final assignment along with the rest of the class’ work.

This was the first time I’ve taught Technology & Civilization. My plan was to turn a high school computer technology class into a study of one of my favorite books. I chose Guns, Germs, and Steel for two main reasons: 1) there are plenty of available materials, including a documentary and 2) the globe and history-spanning scope could provide something of interest to nearly every student.

Along the way, students learned the following computer-y goodness (a partial list):

  • Getting to the point, tight editing, cutting the dissembling
  • Putting together short films with Windows Movie Maker
  • Posting to YouTube
  • Narrating pictures with VoiceThread to tell a story or teach
  • The importance of outlining first, writing second, then recording audio last
  • Wiki editing on Wikispaces
  • Collaborating on Google Documents

A Whole New Adventure

My next course will be based on A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. I’ve written about this idea twice before: My Whole New Mind and A New Kind of Great Books Course.

What did I learn from Guns, Germs and Steel?

  • Provide a copy of the text to each student that they keep after the course. Underlining and making notes are two ways to exert ownership and I want the students to own this material.
  • Go on more field trips. Tech & Civ ventured out only once — to buy foods made from some of the earliest domesticated crops at the local Trader Joe’s. It was a blast & I can be sure those students will remember just how old flax, millet, and spelt are.
  • Plan shorter assignments. My students respond better to 2-4 days per assignment/project rather than the 2-3 weeks I originally designed for.

2 thoughts on “Awesome Final Projects in Tech & Civ

  1. Just want to let you know that Dan Pink will be my guest on Living Hero towards the end of February. Just enter your email in the subscription box on to receive an email when the Podcast is broadcast. I’m writing to you and others in advance to give you a chance to participate in the formation of the interview questions. Just type your question into the question box widget on the right column of the page. Also, to see recent blog posts, just click into the recent posts question in the right side column. Once the Podcast is posted, comments can be added at the bottom of the podcast post. I look forward to a highly generative ongoing conversation and I do hope you’ll be part of it! Please spread the word! My very best, Jari Chevalier

  2. Jari: That’s really cool! I’m going to show this to my students and encourage (ie assign) them to ask questions. Today was our first day, I mentioned your interview, and they’re jazzed to have the chance to ask the author questions!

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