American Symbol Research in Kindergarten

Students in 2 Kindergarten classes have been hard at work researching American symbols as part of their social studies standards. Doing research projects with the youngest learners in our school doesn’t look like it does in the upper grades. We think about what some of the biggest barriers might be for our young creators and put pieces in places to support students in getting over those barriers.

First, students chose one of four American symbols to research: American flag, statue of liberty, liberty bell, and bald eagle.  In the library, we introduced students to a graphic organizer for collecting 3 facts about their chosen symbol. I learned from another Kindergarten teacher a few years ago during research to set an expectation that allows all students to succeed or exceed during the first research session. We asked students to have a goal of writing at least one fact during the first work session, but if they still had time, they should keep going.

research 1

Students used Capstone’s PebbleGo for their research. We love this database for many reasons but mostly because it breaks information down into manageable pieces and reads the text in a human voice for students. I modeled for students how to listen to a portion of the text and then think about what they had learned by listening. Then, we talked about what we would write on our organizer. This modeling was done with a different American symbol than the one students were researching.

At tables, I setup computers for students to use in pairs. We chose pairs because it gave students one more source of support as they worked. Also at each table, we tried to place an adult for support. The teacher, classroom paraprofessional, and me all worked at tables. If a parent volunteer or student teacher was available, they stayed at the 4th table. Otherwise, the adults took turns checking between tables.  We found that we had to continue modeling for students how to listen, ponder, and then write rather than just copying a sentence off the screen. However, some students still chose a sentence to copy.  All students left with at least one fact but many left with 3 or more.

research 2

After this initial work session, students continued their research in centers in the classroom.  Then, they returned to the library for another work session in small groups. Each group came for 15-20 minutes. We did a short tinkering session with Chatterpix Kids to see how you can take a picture of something, draw a mouth on it, and then record that picture talking. Ahead of time, I chose creative commons images of the symbols for kids to use for their pictures. Rather than having every student create their own Chatterpix, each group created one Chatterpix video with the iPads. Each student chose one fact from their research to read.

Before recording, students chose their fact. We decided the order students would read and practiced a few times. Students helped take the picture of the symbol and draw the mouth. Then, we pressed record and passed the iPad to record. If we needed to record a few times, we did. Then, we uploaded our videos to Youtube and created a playlist to share with the class, families, and you.  I hope you will take a moment to listen to their work.

I love building foundations of research in our early grades and seeing where these students end up by the time they are in 5th grade. We have a lot of work to do, but we celebrate the work of these Kindergarten students and what they have created.

Ms. Lauren’s American Symbols:

Ms. Boyle’s American Symbols:

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.

List Poetry Google Hangout with 2nd Grade

list poems (1)During a collaborative planning meeting at the beginning of the quarter, 2nd grade all wanted to come to the library to learn about list poetry.  We love to use the book Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard.  We had a problem, though.  It was hard to find a time on the calendar for each of the 4 classes to come.  Rather than only serve a few of the classes or abandoning the project all together, I suggested that we use a Google Hangout to bring us all together for the same lesson and that we collaborate with one another on a Google Doc.

This was a perfect solution because it really served multiple purposes.  All of these teachers were able to experience a Google Hangout for the first time.  The students all heard the same information from me.  All of the students saw how multiple people can collaborate on a Google doc without erasing one another’s work.  It created more time on the library calendar for more classes to come for other projects rather than one project taking up 4 hour-long slots.

Yesterday, the teachers and I practiced after school for about 10 minutes.  I’m glad we did this because it allowed me to work on some issues with sharing the hangout with them.  I found that emailing teachers the link to join the hangout was much easier than inviting them via their Google Plus.  We also had to install the Google Hangout plugin on all of their projectors.  This didn’t take long, but it was much better to do without a group of students waiting.

list poems (6)

Today, I sent out the link to the hangout.  I also emailed the link to the shared Google doc so that teachers could have it pulled up on their screens.  Mrs. Yawn’s class came to the library since they have a longterm sub.  The other 3 classes tuned in from their own rooms.  As the creator of the hangout, I had the hangout controls pulled up so that I could mute all microphones.  This eliminates feedback from the projector speakers.  If a class needs to speak, I (or even the teacher) can unmute the microphone.  We could also communicate with one another via the chat.

I did a short mini lesson for all of the classrooms.  I talked about the kinds of lists that we all make and how those can turn into poems with just a few added adjectives.  I read Jane Yolen’s “In My Desk”.  Then, I muted my microphone, shared my screen, and we all started writing lines to a new list poem called “Under My Bed”.

List Poem by 2nd Grade   Google Drive

I shared the link to the document on Twitter, and we instantly had viewers watching our poem develop.  This created a great discussion about how quickly something that is posted on the Internet can be seen because we literally had 8 viewers the second that I pressed “tweet”.  Many more viewers came in and out of the document while we worked.  The kids really liked knowing that they had an audience watching their poem come to life.

list poems (5) list poems (4) list poems (3)

The students also loved watching the lines magically appear on the screen from all of the classrooms.

list poems (2)

At the end, I called us all back together and read the poem aloud.  It was amazing to hear how creative their lines were!  To close, I invited students to spend some time in their classrooms revising the poem.  There were several lines that were very similar so it was a natural follow-up to spend time deleting or combining lines.

Many students seemed interested in writing this kind of poetry in for our media center poetry contest.  Students have 2 more weeks to submit a poem.  I’m sure I’ll be reading several more list poems in the future.  Here is our poem as it looked at the end of our hangout:

 

Foam Letter U letter N Vintage Sticker Letter D letter E R

 Vintage Sticker Letter M letter Y

Britten Shopping Centreletter EFret Saw Letter D

Under my bed

you will find…

 

Three old pacifiers from when we were babies.

Two pairs of stinky, dirty socks from my last soccer game.

A box of last years Christmas wrapping paper.

Last night’s dinner that I didn’t like.

My little brother.

A pair of destroyed Jordan’s.

My shiny diamond.

A toy skeleton that I bought last year for school.

Old, yucky trash.

A little brown shoebox with really old seashells.

My tiny puppy.

A Kidz Bop 25 CD.

Motorcycles, cars, crayons, American Girl Dolls, and stuffed animals.

A peach, toy train track,

Hidden laundry like dirty jeans and shirts.

New, blue jewelry I just bought.

Cheetah printed sneakers.

A very old picture of a dog I drew.

Old chewing gum.

Brown Pokemon cards covered in dust.

moldy, blue  roller skates that don’t fit anymore

thousands of stuffed animals that belong to my dog

three feathery pillows that my dog chewed up

a beach ball that popped on a pointy shell at the beach

old shark teeth that are at least 500 years old

nasty, dead cockroaches smooched onto the floor

old baseball cards

five old socks, moldy carrots and clementines, and an old water bottle

muddy shoes from playing outside on the last rainy day

a scratched torn up bookbag that my cat ripped apart

a wrinkly gum wrapper

the teeth that I lost in kindergarten

some thank you cards I was supposed to send to my relatives last year

lots of old baby toys

big mushy bags of clothes I don’t wear anymore

crumply old pieces of paper

red and white basketballs

a black old tissue box

a humongous collection of cars

posters of basketball and soccer players

a nerf gun

the toon collection of children’s comics

a blue light-up yo-yo

a cow stuffed animal

pizza leftover from my sleepover

a huge broken clock

two bags of books

canvas travel bags

two huge blood shot eyes

old notebooks

a big fluffy stuffed animal

old scratched CDs

toys in a tank

a big fluffy gray cat

an annoying brother

old baby suitcases

books that I didn’t even know I had

crumbs from a cookie

dead cockroaches waiting for a pet to eat

an old collection of cricket heads

 

It’s amazing to discover

what’s under my bed