While teaching Geography, I noticed that the students were not thoroughly engaged with the content. This sparked an idea to integrate a range of thinking and design skills, key learning areas, and collaboration. By keeping the focus on how the environment influences humans, I developed a short unit that looked at the Viking era and how they lived in the European climate.
The project utilises many skills that are required in the 21st Century working environment, i.e. peer research, problem solving, collaboration, and design. By incorporating STEM aspects, the main challenge enabled the students to use their prior geographical knowledge of cold climates to design their housing.
Students learned and conveyed their understanding using a range of apps that were both familiar and new. By using a range of materials and media the learning experiences were moving freely between the SAMR model, as well as many components of the Bloom’s Taxonomy framework. However, for fun, each group were also able to briefly study a famous Viking traveller and mark their exploits on a map of Europe as well as designing their own symbols using Assembly.
The project utilises many skills that are required in the 21st Century working environment
Kahoot! was used to introduce the students to the topic with Showbie being a place for the students to collaboratively learn. After engaging in peer research, they were required to apply this information into a sketch of a Viking dwelling. Each group then analysed their design and collaboratively built in Minecraft. By evaluating their house plan and noticing which components worked and which didn’t, the students independently used Tinkercad to develop a more defined housing appearance. The long houses with sloped roofs were then 3D printed and placed on play dough fjords.
All students were engaged and invested in the project. Their learning from the first lesson was built upon and developed rather than jumping from one piece of knowledge to another. The project broke down the concerns of learning a new piece of content each lesson but instead added a necessary extra step toward an end goal.
The Viking Geography project is an ideal starting point for many educators to venture beyond explicit instruction and develop a student-centred design and research mindset. Acting as facilitators, teachers can enable students to develop their problem solving skills and apply it to real world applications. With the technology and resources in schools today, it is imperative educators develop thinkers with creative and innovative minds.