Posted on 03 April 2014.
Every grade in elementary school learns about seasonal changes and the weather (SOL K.10, 1.7, 2.7, 3.8, 4.8, 5.7) so a small group of kindergarten students was given the task of making an informational video announcing the start of spring on the school-wide morning announcements. First the students met together to discuss the signs of spring and select which ones they wanted to do. They came up with four main signs of spring: the weather gets warmer, animals have their babies, flowers start to bloom, and gardens begin to grow. Then each student chose the topic that interested him or her. Next they read books and watched videos about the spring to get ideas and background knowledge to share in their video. On some of our session days it was too cold to film outside (and very un-spring-like) so they decided to include some of their artwork in the video. They used Pixie to draw pictures illustrating their special sign of spring. Finally, it was warm enough to film, and they explored the grounds of the school looking for signs of spring and ways to communicate them to their peers. They improvised their lines in the video (there was no written script since we weren’t sure what we’d find, but we had made some predictions). The film was edited by the teacher outside of class and then presented on the morning announcements to the entire school. It is also posted online to help other people remember and recognize the signs of spring!
The students used teacher selected text and videos, as well as their own prior knowledge and field research, to collect information about their chosen sign of spring. Then they synthesized their findings in their own words to present it in an authentic and unique way to the entire school.
The students came up with many of their own ideas for filming around the school. They pointed out signs of spring and identified places around the school to showcase their topic on film. They used Pixie to create digital drawings of whatever they thought would best illustrate their chosen sign of spring. They decided among themselves who would say what and even helped each other with their lines. Some volunteered on-the-spot to speak for others who didn’t know what to say. Their finished video was presented to the entire school and published online for a wider audience.
The students were basically presenting facts in their video, so there wasn’t a lot of critical thinking and problem solving.
The students not only chose their topic but also decided how best to illustrate that topic using Pixie and video. They synthesized their research to create an original film that was helpful for the entire student body to review the signs of spring. They predicted where to find signs of spring outside and what would be entertaining for their audience.
Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - Dev, Elementary School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Science
Posted on 03 April 2014.
A small group of advanced 4th grade students were given the special task of creating something that would help the other 4th graders do better on their SOL Tests. It was left open-ended so they could choose any subject area and any means of presenting their project to the school. They brainstormed ideas on their own and came up with this idea of a roller coaster through the Virginia studies curriculum. The roller coaster would be like a timeline of events. Each student chose a period of Virginia history and they were instructed to find 5 important events from that period to include on the timeline. They collected their information and images from a variety of online sources into a Google Doc. Once their research was complete, they used two websites to build the timelines. Basically all they had to do was copy and paste their data from the Google Doc, and the websites generated the timelines automatically. Finally they decided that the best way to display their timelines was to embed them in a webpage and share the webpage with the other 4th grade students. They included a poll on the webpage to get feedback from visitors. Their hope is that this website will be used by teachers and students to review the information in a fun way and to improve on the SOL test. They see how their site is being used by viewing the analytics and getting feeback from the form.
The students selected the main topic that they wanted to research as a group, Virginia Studies. They also chose which period of Virginia history they wanted to research individually, based on their interests and background knowledge. Next they had to evaluate a multitude of events that occurred during that period in order to narrow it down to the five most important ones. They summarized the events in a few sentences and found pictures online to illustrate the events. They presented their information in a cohesive theme of a roller coaster timeline that is authentic and useful to other 4th grade students (as well as anyone interested in a visual overview of Virginia history).
The students collaborated together to choose the topic and the roller coaster theme. They also worked together to make the videos and present their information. Since they collected their data and resources on a shared Google Doc, they could access it anywhere… in class and at home. They assigned themselves various tasks, such as designing the roller coaster, and they often had to work on this project without adult supervision. Finally they shared their finished project online so it could be accessible to a wider audience than just the intended 4th grade classes. They also asked for input from their viewers by including a feedback form.
The project was purposefully open-ended so the students could be in control of the decision-making process. They selected the topic and decided on the best way to present it. They picked the programs and web tools they wanted to use. Throughout this project the students were making evaluative judgments to determine which events would be most beneficial to include on the timeline. Most of the problems they encountered had to be solved within their small group since this was an independent project, apart from the rest of the class.
The students were encouraged to take risks, try new things, and come up with original ideas… and they did just that! They created the roller coaster idea on their own and one of them tried a new website he had never used before (neither had the teacher!). They wanted their project to be interesting and entertaining, so if something seemed boring or lackluster, they thought of ways to liven it up. One retook her picture because she realized she looked kind of “meh” and a couple of them re-recorded their videos in order to be more enthusiastic. They did this without any teacher prompting, just self-evaluation and a bit of peer pressure. Their final project went way beyond the original specifications because they added their own ideas to it.
Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Elementary School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Social Studies
Posted on 03 April 2014.
Each year the 3rd grade students at Holladay Elementary take a PE field trip to Three Lakes Park to go fishing. This year we were scientific and strategic about catching our fish! In groups we researched which kinds of fish are at the park and what types of bait to use. We developed our hypotheses about which type of bait would work best, and then we tested our hypotheses at the park by keeping track of which types of bait caught which kinds of fish. We also measured the fish as we caught them and took photos. Back at school we analyzed the data and drew our conclusions. We published our findings in a brochure for the visitors center at Three Lakes Park. We also created group presentations about the different types of fish using the program of our choice (Comic Life, Keynote, Pixie, and/or video). Our presentations were linked to the back of the brochure so visitors could view them and learn more about the fish they caught as well as what types of bait to use. We are hoping that visitors also leave us comments and suggestions. Finally, we scored our projects using a rubric. Now hopefully next year’s 3rd graders can fish with confidence… as well as other visitors to Three Lakes Park!
In our initial research, the students determined what would be the most reliable source(s) of information for finding out about the fish and the bait to use at Three Lakes Park. There were several websites about Three Lakes Park, but we determined that the most reliable one would be the one published by the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries. Through class discussion we also determined that for our field research, it would be best to ask real fisherman who have fished at Three Lakes Park. Other people could be asked, but they would not be as reliable. During the experiment phase the students gathered their own data, and then they analyzed it in class in order to determine the best type of bait to use. When they researched a type of fish (#6 above) they selected their own resources and chose the type of digital tool they would use to present their information. Their findings were published online and at the Three Lakes Park Visitor Center in order to be authentic and helpful to other fishermen.
Students asked for information from real fishermen and they shared their findings with fishermen using both print and digital means. They worked in self-selected groups and assigned each other tasks based on their various skills. For example, students who were good speakers recorded their voices, and students who were good artists drew pictures. They published their presentations online and invited comments from viewers. All four classes collaborated by combining and analyzing their data collected during the various field trips (not all classes went on the same day).
Students solved an authentic and unique problem that was personally relevant. They were going to be fishing at Three Lakes Park and wanted to catch a lot of fish. It was also helpful to others because no one has published a resource like this specifically for Three Lakes Park. They applied their knowledge of ecosystems, food chains, probability, data collection, and graphing to analyze their data and draw conclusions about the best kind of bait to use. They also determined what would be the most effective way of communicating their findings to the public.
Students were given the opportunity to present their research in whichever way they believed would be most effective. As long as they met the requirements of the rubric, they had complete freedom to be creative. As a result there were many different projects: videos, drawings, slideshows, comics. A source of copyright-free images was generated by teachers and parents and posted to Comemories. Students made predictions and analyzed their self-generated data from Three Lakes Park to create something new and useful to the public, a Fishing Guide brochure and website (Google Doc).
Posted in Comm/Collab - Target, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Elementary School, Health & PE, Info Fluency - Target, Math, Project, Science
Posted on 29 March 2013.
First grade students imagined that they were Christopher Columbus. As an explorer, they needed a way to sail across the ocean to discover new lands. They were instructed to use limited resources to design, plan, and construct a ship. Then they would test their ships in an actual water race where they selected the type of force they would use to get the ship to move. At the start of the project, the students were told to find 1-2 partners. They did research in the library using books and websites to find out how ships are constructed and how they move as well as answering other questions they had. Next, they conducted an experiment on Sinking/Floating to see which materials would work best for constructing their ship. Once they had selected a design and their materials, they drew a labeled diagram using Pixie. Then they built their ship with the help of the art teacher. They tested their ships in the water table to see if they would float and if they could achieve straight motion with the type of force they had chosen. They made adjustments to their ships based on their reflections and comparisons with the other voyagers’ experiments. Finally, we had the Great Ship Race where students raced their ships in a gutter full of water. They documented the race with the iPad video cameras. They rated their own and each others’ ships using a rubric. They also shared their ships with other first grade classes.
This project scores in the Ideal/Target range of Research & Information Fluency.
-Students created their own questions to assist with research.
-Students used a variety of resources: books, websites, etc.
-Students evaluated the resources based on appropriateness and quality to their project using a rubric.
-Students used various types of experts to expand their questioning and revise their projects.
-Students conducted experiments to test the designs of their ships and made adjustments accordingly.
This project scores in the Ideal/Target range of Communication & Collaboration.
-Students chose their own groups and assigned each other roles.
-iPad videos and interviews were used to get ideas from other groups.
-Students collaborated to research (using websites/videos), design (using Pixie), and construct their ships.
-Students’ reflections were communicated through Pixie, iPads, and rating themselves with rubrics.
-Students were able to use the media specialist and art teacher as expert sources.
-Videos and pictures of their projects were posted to the classroom blog and their diagrams were posted to Comemories.
This project scores in the Ideal/Target range of Critical Thinking/Problem Solving.
-Students conducted a floating/sinking experiment prior to construction to plan their design.
-Students regularly revised their ideas based on updated information.
-Students were presented with a real-life problem related to Social Studies and Science.
-Students were required to choose from a limited number of materials (or they could trade with each other).
-Students reflected on their experiences individually and with their partners using a rubric.
-The class reflected on the entire project and reviewed the answers to the questions posed.
This project scores in the Ideal/Target range of Creativity/Innovation.
-Students created their own boats using materials they chose and decided what type of force to use to make their ships move.
-Students were encouraged to take risks and try new things that would help their ship succeed in the race.
-Students were creative in managing their resources since they could only select 5 or they could trade with other students.
-Students evaluated the creative process afterwards using a rubric.
- Lesson Plan (Word)
- Reflection Questions (PDF)
- Resource Evaluation Rubric (PDF)
- Supply List (PDF)
- Ship Race Evaluation Rubric (PDF)
- Copies of student boat diagrams
Posted in Comm/Collab - Target, Creativity - Target, Critical Thinking - Target, Elementary School, Info Fluency - Target, Math, Project, Science, Social Studies
Posted on 20 March 2013.
This school is implementing the “Leader in Me” character education program, so for this project, students studied a famous American and predicted how that person would show the 7 Habits at their school. Students were grouped into pairs and decided which famous American they wanted to research (Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, Martin L. King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Susan B. Anthony). The students then used PebbleGo, BrainPop Jr., biographies, or any other source to gather information. They notated and evaluated their sources, then they took their research and completed a four square planning sheet for their presentation. Next, partners decided what digital program to use to present their research online. Pixie and Comic Life were their top choices since those were the two programs they had learned so far this year. The students took turns putting their research into the comic strip or Pixie. They had to include the famous American’s contribution, one new fact, how that person would be a leader at the school, and any other interesting facts of their choice. The finished projects were presented to the class and published online via Flipsnack. Afterwards they evaluated how well they worked as partners by filling out a Partner Work Reflection Sheet.
This project scores in the Approaching range of Research and Information Fluency. The teacher modeled how to read a book and gather research about a Famous American. Students worked together to gather research from multiple sources (online and print) to fill out a four square organizer in order to make sure they had all of the necessary information. They also recorded and rated their sources.
This project scores in the Approaching range of Communication & Collaboration. The students worked together in pairs choosing what famous American to research and what type of digital program to use to show their research. Their work was published online for others outside the classroom to access. Students reflected on their roles using the partner work reflection worksheet.
This project scores in the Developing range of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. Students had to think of how the 7 Habits from the “Leader in Me” program were displayed in the life of their famous American. They had to apply what they have been learning in character education to a new historical situation and predict how their person would be a leader at their school. Their project was authentic because reinforces the school-wide “Leader in Me” program, and it will be used as an example of how the school is implementing the “Leader in Me” program.
This project scores in the Developing range of Creativity and Innovation. Students could choose which digital tool they wanted to use to display their information. They were able to select their own pictures and special effects. They predicted how their character would respond in a new situation.
Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - Dev, Critical Thinking - Dev, Elementary School, Info Fluency - App, Social Studies
Posted on 20 March 2013.
The objective of this lesson is for small groups of students to collaborate to create layered rhythm vocal ostinatos (repeating rhythm phrases) using puppets, based on a topic of their choice. Students will create ostinatos using repeated words or sounds in synchronization with puppet movements to create layers of sound patterns that compliment and contrast with the others in their group. During the course of this activity, students will become more confident and creative in their performances as shown through better voice projection, increased complexity of rhythms with movement, and increased sharing of ideas within their groups. They will plan, practice, perform and share these performances using various technology devices. Their performances will also be posted to Vimeo.
This project scores in the Developing range of Research & Information Fluency. The students used a reliable professional source (the symphony website) as well as each others’ projects to get ideas and improve upon them. The lesson builds on their research of rhythm using the symphony website and prior experience reading and playing rhythm patterns in instrument groups. Students have the choice of using various technology tools to record their performances, including iPads, Flip cameras and laptops.
This project scores in the Approaching range of Communication & Collaboration. Students worked in collaborative groups to create their ostinato vocal rhythms and puppet movements. They evaluated their performances and revised them in order to make them more complex. They chose what digital tool to use to record their performance and they posted the video of their projects online.
This project scores in the Developing range of Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. Students had to think about ways to make their ostinatos more complex by adding additional layers, turning simple words into longer phrases, and adjusting their puppets’ movements. By studying the recordings of their performances, students evaluated each other and themselves based on many applicable criteria: creativity, balance, contrast, rhythm, teamwork.
This project scores in the Developing range of Creativity & Innovation. All groups created the same product (puppet shows), but they were encouraged to think of new rhythms and topics for their ostinatos, making more than just one. This lesson provides multiple opportunities to plan, create, perform and share. It synthesizes the talents of students with different learning styles and abilities to create a new group experience. Each group performs for the class numerous times resulting in significant growth in the areas of rhythm, technology, teamwork and creativity.
Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - Dev, Critical Thinking - Dev, Elementary School, Info Fluency - Dev, Music, Project
Posted on 19 March 2013.
In groups of three, students chose a topic from the science curriculum that was taught during the first semester. Students individually researched their sub-topics, developed a plan using 4-Square, and wrote an expository paper. Students then collaborated with their group to plan their presentations on their topics. Students recorded the information that they would share during their presentations on note cards and worked with their peers to develop an appropriate visual display. They then presented their information to the class. They evaluated their projects and presentations with a rubric.
This project scores in the Approaching range of Research & Information Fluency. Students constructed questions to guide their research, they selected their own research tools, they rated their sources and research skills using a rubric, and organized their own information in a meaningful way.
This project scores in the Developing range of Communication & Collaboration. Students worked in groups selected by teachers. They chose their topics (within the scope of our science curriculum for the first semester) and worked together to create a presentation for the class using a digital tool of their choice.
This project scores in the Developing range of Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. The students used technology to come up with a new and creative way to present their information to the class. Several students used more than one program to create the visual components of their presentations. For example, students used Garageband to add sounds to their Keynotes. Students also had to decide which information was important to share and what order the group members would share their facts. Students evaluated their presentations using a rubric.
This project scores in the Developing range of Creativity & Innovation. Students chose the information they wanted to share with their classmates, and they also chose the tools they would use for their presentation. They created an interesting, entertaining way to review the semester science curriculum with their class. They also rated their creative process using a rubric.
- Lesson Plan (Word)
- Assignment Guidelines (Word)
- Research Guide (Word)
- 2 Evaluation Rubrics (PDF)
- 3 Examples of Student Papers (PDF)
- 3 Examples of Student Projects (Keynote)
Posted in Comm/Collab - Dev, Creativity - Dev, Critical Thinking - Dev, Elementary School, Info Fluency - App, Lesson, Science
Posted on 19 March 2013.
Students review various computer programs. Students read various traditional fairy tales and fractured fairy tales. Students get in groups to write their own fractured fairy tales, following the steps of the writing process. Groups choose which program they would like to use to present their writings. Groups create storyboards on construction paper to plan out their presentation. Students use their chosen program to create a presentation for their writings.
This project scores in the Developing range of Research & Information Fluency. Students researched fractured fairy tales that had been selected by the teacher and the school media specialist. They analyzed and extended the ideas in those stories to create their own fractured fairy tales. They also evaluated and rated the stories using a rubric
This project scores in the Approaching range of Communication & Collaboration. Students worked in collaborative groups to decide which type of fairy tale to create and which digital tool to use to effectively communicate their fairy tale to an audience. Fairy tales were published online and classmates provided feedback. Students reflected on their group work using a rubric afterwards.
This project scores in the Developing range of Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. Students had to work together to decide which elements of the fairy tale could be changed and which ones needed to remain in order to keep the core narrative recognizable. Students evaluated their own, as well their classmates,’ fractured fairy tales using a rubric.
This project scores in the Developing range of Creativity and Innovation. Students were given the opportunity to choose which fairy tale to adapt and which digital tool to use. They were given creative license to change whatever aspect of the fairy tale they wanted as long as their new story retained certain recognizable features. They published their creations online and evaluated their creativity with a rubric.
Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - Dev, Critical Thinking - Dev, Elementary School, Info Fluency - Dev, Language Arts, Lesson
Posted on 14 March 2013.
Families visiting Three Lakes Park have an interactive way to learn more about the animals they see in the nature center thanks to third graders down the street at Chamberlayne Elementary. The third graders researched native animals in the park and created virtual guides that can be accesses via QR codes at the park’s exhibit. The students were required to include a description and facts, but were then given the choice of what other technologies to use to help the public learn more about the animals. The self-guided group work resulted in content rich InstaBlogg sites that include creative movies, keynotes, quia games, polls, thinglinks, beeclips and pixie projects. Students were required to use the background knowledge developed during our animal studies unit to create a product that encourages the community to learn more.
The students were working in the Ideal range for Resarch and Information Fluency. This project was a culmination of our animal studies unit so students were already familiar with terms and megafauna. They were challenged to put their knowledge of animal relationships and adaptations to use in a relevant way so that others could benefit from their learning. Students were given a guide sheet and worked in groups to research the animal. They chose their own groups based on what animal they were interested in researching. The students used books from the library and Internet search sites such as OneSearch, DuckDuckGo and Pebble Go to find information about their animals. Because students were already familiar with content vocabulary and concepts from learning about the world’s various environments, they were able to hit the ground running. Most groups finished the required research and continued to find additional facts beyond the requirements. The facts that came from their own curiosity proved to be the most interesting for them and the ones they highlighted the most in their final product. One group, for example, learned that the large mouth bass has an amazing sense of smell. They were so proud of this fact in their video that their enthusiasm seemed to better engage the rest of the class when they watched the video. Groups also did some field research when they visited Three Lakes Park to view the animals up close and figure out where the best place was to put their QR codes.
Students worked in the Ideal range of Communication & Collaboration as they took on new roles in this activity. They became the experts and needed to create an interesting site to engage community members and encourage them to learn more about the animals in their back yards. Students were asked to teach about their animals in the most interactive way that they could using a blog which could be accessed by visitors to Three Lakes Park via a QR code. With that goal in mind, some groups worked on a video, others created “fact or fiction” games that reflected a fun way that they like to learn, and others created pixie pictures to illustrate life cycles. Many groups delegated tasks and were able to create more than one technology project to enhance their site. They used what they liked from their favorite websites to make their blog more interesting for others. Because they had the editing link, their sites would often look different in the morning. This was because students were going over to each others’ houses and working on their sites at home. They continue to make edits to improve their sites and better serve the community!
Students worked in the Ideal range of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. With so many choices regarding their information and how to present it, students had to decide which facts were best to include and how to effectively communicate those ideas to the public. As they worked on their projects, the students needed less and less teacher assistance. They were taking advantage of shortcuts on the keyboard, dropping photos and videos into their folders for future use, and applying their knowledge from former Keynote lessons to perform advanced skills, like transitions and builds, on their own. They gained a better understanding of the pros and cons of each type of digital tool and made decisions based upon those insights. One of the goals of the project was to persuade visitors to protect the animals and preserve their environment, so students had think of ways to do that as well. This challenged them to apply the facts they learned to a new and specific situation at Three Lakes Park. Students also had the chance to help design the QR code poster that was displayed at the park. As a class they named important elements to include on the sign. Since they wanted to get people’s attention and make it easy to read, they realized the importance of font and color choice. Each group worked on a design and voted on the final poster as a class. Throughout the project, students were presented with challenges that had more than one solution. At the end of the project, they evaluated how well they performed each step of the process using a rubric.
Students worked in the Ideal range of Creativity and Innovation. They enjoyed making things that were different from their classmates and that would “WOW” their audience. One student really wanted to make a game. Each day he would ask how to make a game, so the teacher introduced him to Quia and gave him a brief overview of how to program the game. He produced an amazing game and the questions reflected a strong understanding and ability to extend the knowledge. He created “distractor” choices that were tricky, unless you read his group’s site. That’s just one example of how students went beyond the basic requirements for the assignment and took risks. It was exciting to see what they came up with. Everything was left up to individual groups and each page reflects the diverse ideas in the class.
Posted in Comm/Collab - Target, Creativity - Target, Critical Thinking - Target, Elementary School, Finalist '12-'13, Info Fluency - Target, Project, Science, Winners
Posted on 14 March 2013.
Students created their own blogs about an animal of their choice using Instablogg and a variety of other web tools. Topics included on the blog were the animal’s adaptations, habitat, diet, and fun facts. The students had 2 class periods to complete their research using the Internet and books from the library. As part of their research, students found an online photo of their animal to import into Thinglink. Thinglink allows users to create an interactive image with hotspots that can be clicked for more information. The students created a Thinglink image of their animal incorporating 3 adaptations (hotspots) and telling why they were beneficial to their animal. Students then created a video about the animal’s habitat using Photobooth and a background they selected so they appeared to be standing in the animal’s habitat. The video also included a variety of “fun” interesting facts. Videos were uploaded to Vimeo so students could post them to their blogs. Next, the students used Audacity to record an audio description of the diet of their animal. Those audio files were uploaded to Blabberize along with another photo of their animal, so it appeared like the animal was talking about its diet. The final step was to create a poll that asks visitors a question about their animal. Students embedded the Thinglink, the video, the Blabberize, and the poll onto their blogs. All blog links were posted to one page for easy access.
This project scores in the Approaching range of Research & Information Fluency. The students chose an animal they were interested in and used Duck Duck Go (Safe Internet) search engine to acquire their information. They also searched for and selected their own books from the library. The accuracy and reliability of the sources was discussed. To guide their research, we talked about what people might want to know about the animals and the class developed 3 categories that they needed to research.
This project scores in the Developing range of Communication & Collaboration. Students did not work in groups to conduct their research, but they did collaborate to produce the final product using a variety of digital tools. Their blog posts are online for others to view and interact with outside the classroom.
This project scores in the Developing range of Critical Thinking & Problem Solving. Students worked together to figure out what questions they had about their animals and what categories they wanted to learn more about. They collaborated to answer some of the essential questions that they came up with together. They determined what was important to include on their blogs and how to divide the information based on which web tool would best convey that information.
This project scores in the Approaching range of Creativity & Innovation. The students chose their animal, the information, and the pictures they wanted to use. They were introduced to a variety of web tools and were able to choose 3 of them to use to present their animal information on their blogs. They created useful, interactive, and entertaining sites for other people to learn more about their animals.
Posted in Comm/Collab - Dev, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - Dev, Elementary School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Science