Keeping Project Momentum When the Schedule Gets in the Way: One Use of Google Hangouts

Barrow Peace Prize Criteria   Google Docs

Our 2nd grade is deep into their project on six people from Black History.  Most classes are finishing up their research for our Barrow Peace Prize Flipgrid project.  Before students begin the writing process, we want them to understand what the Nobel Peace Prize is and consider the character traits that someone might have who receives this award.  Every class needs the exact same lesson, but they need the lesson before students can really move forward with their writing.  Sometimes the library schedule can get in the way of these kinds of projects.  I don’t want the library schedule to cause a project to be delayed simply because we can’t fit everyone into 30 minute slots across a day or two.  This is the perfect time to use technology to maximize our time.

For the 2nd time, I did a Google hangout with an entire grade level in order to save time.  Before the hangout, I setup a Google Hangout on Air and sent the participation link to all of the teachers via email.  I also created a Google doc where we could do some brainstorming and invited all four of the 2nd grade teachers to be collaborators.  I made sure that the link to the doc was “view only” for anyone else with the link.

Before the hangout started, I opened the hangout, turned on my cam, and muted my microphone.  As the four classes joined, I could easily hear if their microphone and video was working or not.  Then, I could use the control room tool to mute each teacher’s microphone while we waited on all classes to join.  Periodically, I came back on the microphone to update the classes who were waiting and remind teachers to open our shared Google doc.

The purpose of the hangout was to help 2nd graders get familiar with Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Peace Prize as well as to develop a list of characteristics for our own Barrow Peace Prize.  After a quick intro, I read the book Alfred Nobel: The Man Behind the Peace Prize by Kathy-jo Wargin and illustrated by Zachary Pullen.  Then, I told the students just a bit about Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  We watched just the beginning of a CNN video of her acceptance.

Then, I invited each class to look a the shared Google doc and brainstorm the qualities that we hoped would represent the Barrow Peace Prize.  I muted all microphones while classes discussed and added to the doc.  While that was happening, I shared the viewable link to the doc on Twitter so that an audience could watch the list be constructed.

We immediately had multiple viewers of our work in progress.

Each class had an opportunity to step the microphone and share just a bit of what they discussed.  I was in charge of calling on each classroom and muting and unmuting each teacher’s microphone.

Finally, I closed by reminding students to use their research as well as the character trait list when writing their piece about their person from Black History.

What would have taken 3-4 hours on the library calendar took only 30 minutes and now the 2nd grade can move forward with the writing process.  I want to check in with the 2nd grade teachers to see how things felt on the other side of the camera, but from my side, this seemed like a great model for whole grade lessons that lend themselves to a hangout.  I certainly wouldn’t want all lessons to be like this one, but this format felt right for this situation.

5 thoughts on “Keeping Project Momentum When the Schedule Gets in the Way: One Use of Google Hangouts

  1. […] Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Peace Prize in a Google Hangout and crafted a list of criteria for our own Barrow Peace […]

  2. […] Keeping Project Momentum When the Schedule Gets in the Way: One Use of Google Hangouts […]

  3. Rachel says:

    Hi Andy, I have just recently found your blog and I LOVE reading all your inspirational goings on! I am a first year librarian in Alabama, and reading this post made me want to ask how you do your library schedule and set up research projects like this with teachers? Right now I am on a very fixed schedule with 25 forty minute classes a week. I would love to hear back if you get a chance. And thanks for sharing all you do!

    • plemmonsa says:

      I have a flexible schedule. I meet with a team of teachers (or a rep from the team) at the beginning of each quarter to talk about the big projects and map out what we might do together. We go ahead and book times on the calendar then. I still do storytimes for any classes that want one which is typically Prek-1st grade classes.

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