Beginning the Barrow Peace Prize: A Flipgrid Project

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Each year, our 2nd grade takes on a big research project that has evolved into a project called the Barrow Peace Prize. Students research one of six people from black history, write a persuasive piece convincing people to vote for their person to win, and record their writing using Flipgrid. These videos are shared with the world along with a Google forms voting ballot. We celebrate the winner with the Flipgrid team via Skype.

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This year’s project is off to a great start, and I’m amazed by what these 2nd graders are doing with their technology, especially since they aren’t 1:1 in their classes.  With fewer devices to practice on, it takes these students a bit longer to navigate tools on the computer.

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To start, each student chose one of six people: Langston Hughes, Wilma Rudolph, Bessie Coleman, Jesse Owens, Charles Drew, and Ruby Bridges. Using Google Classroom, each teacher shared a Google doc graphic organizer with students. In the library, students brought class computers and I provided additional computers so each student had one. We did a review of how to login to Google and navigate to Classroom to get the doc. I also showed students how to click between tabs in Chrome, how to copy and paste facts, and where to look for information.

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Students started in 2 resources: PebbleGo and Encyclopedia Britannica. I love these sites because they have great information and both will read the content to students who need that extra support. I debated about teaching students how to copy and paste because I don’t want to set students up for just copying. However, we wanted students to have access to a collection of the best facts when they prepared to do their writing without having to weed through all of the articles. The writing workshop time would be the time to focus on taking those copied facts and put them into students’ own words.

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We did 3 hour-long sessions of research. Each session we saw students get more proficient at navigating the technology, and even in the frustration we faced, I reminded myself and the teachers to step back and really look at what 7-year olds were doing. Students were logging into email, accessing Google Classroom, finding a Google doc, visiting multiple resources, using ctrl C and ctrl V, keeping track of where facts came from, and leaning to use the research tool in a Google Doc. This list could definitely be added to because there was a lot more.

Once facts were gathered, teachers began writing workshops in their classrooms for students to start writing scripts for their videos. Prior to this, we held a Google Hangout where all classes tuned in from classrooms. The purpose of this was to establish a list of character traits that someone who is deserving of the Barrow Peace Prize might represent. We read about Alfred Nobel and looked at Malala and why she represented peace. Then, classes added to a Google Doc to create a list of these character traits. This list was displayed during writing times for all students to consider in their writing.

Now, students are continuing to fine tune their writing before recording takes place.  We can’t wait to share the videos with our school, families, and classrooms around the world.  Be on the lookout for a post in the next couple of weeks inviting you to view and vote for the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize.

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Third Grade Rockhounds

Our third grade is just beginning a study of rocks and minerals in their standards.  We are taking an inquiry approach to this study and using the lens of transliteracy as we plan.

In class, students began a KWL in their science journals.  They wrote what they know about rocks and what they wonder about before coming to the library.  I planned groupings of experiences to give them multiple platforms for looking at rocks.  One stations was a big box of rocks and minerals that I collected in my childhood during yearly visits to Santa’s Land in Cherokee, NC where we always stopped at the “ruby mine”.  Students could explore the rocks and minerals using hand lenses and write observations or sketches in their journals.  Another station had multiple informational books about rocks and minerals as well as poetry using photographs of rocks.  The final station was at the computer where I created a pathfinder of games, videos, interactive sites, ebooks, and informational sites about rocks and minerals.

Students started in the floor where I talked about transliteracy and the natural flow in and out of different platforms of information.  We talked about how more questions will develop the more that you research and how to document those new questions in the science journals.  Rather than ask students to switch every 20 minutes or so to a different center, I gave them the freedom to move in and out of centers as they chose.

I gave them a little structure by providing a sheet that asked them to visit 4 books, 7 websites, and the box of rocks and minerals.  Students were welcome to move back and forth between the stations as many times as they needed.  For example, a student might make an observation of a rock in the box, look in books to identify the rock, go back to the box to clarify observations, and visit websites to confirm the identification.  The classroom teacher, spectrum teacher, and I floated among the groups and conferenced with students to encourage them to be curious and to document their learning.  As always, some students had a natural curiosity and freely documented their learning, while others needed more guidance and support.

Now the classes will return to their rooms to use the information they gathered to support their study of rocks and minerals.  They will revisit the resources I’ve gathered throughout the study.

This is a model I am starting to replicate in more and more lessons.  I love the freedom that it offers students and the support it offers for individualized instruction.

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Navigating the Information Tsunami: Engaging Research Projects that Meet the Common Core Standards, K-5

Cherry Lake Publishing has a new and exciting book coming out called, Navigating the Information Tsunami:  Engaging Research Projects that Meet the Common Core Standards, K-5.  This text offers 18 projects, three from each grade level K-5, that go well-beyond fact recall.  These lessons are all grounded in the new Common Core Standards and focus on quality student research from our earliest learners to our older elementary students.  Each lesson is written by an educator who is an expert on the many literacies involved in research projects, the school teacher-librarian.  While the  lessons are written for classroom teachers, they all incorporate collaboration with the school librarian at some point during the project.  Also within the pages of the book, there are many graphic organizers and tips on topics such as citing sources in a multimedia world, creative commons images, what to do when Youtube is blocked, and more.  I encourage every elementary library to own at least one copy of this book.  I have a featured 1st grade project about the 4 seasons and fellow school librarian, Linda Martin, from Hall County has a featured 1st grade project about animals.  Check out the attached flyer and order your copy today!

Sharing Massive Content: A Collaborative Strategy

 

Every year, I’m amazed at the amount of content that our 5th grade teachers have to teach in just Social Studies.  Not only do these teachers have to concern themselves with the Reading and Math CRCT scores, they also have to teach a massive time span in history with many intricate details.

This year the 5th grade team began talking with me about a project they wanted to try this year to hand over some of the content of their “Bigger, Better, Faster: The Changing Nation” unit.  Students will work in teams of 3-4 students.  The groups will be mixed across the grade level with students of varying abilities in groups.  Teachers will assign topics from the unit to the various groups.  In the media center, I’ll do a lesson on note taking and gathering information from a variety of sources.  I’ve also made a pathfinder with resources connected to each topic as well as all of the standards covered in the project.  I’ll introduce this pathfinder and how the various resources work in my introduction lesson with students.  My paraprofessional has worked to pull print resources from the library and sort them by category.  These will be checked out to the 5th grade and placed in a central location in the grade level for students to use.  The teachers have booked both computer lab and laptop cart time as well as media center time for me to assist students with their research.

Once students get going with their research, the teachers and I will share a variety of options for final products.  The teachers want to use a variety of technology along with more traditional kinds of final products such as brochures.  The tools I will share with students include Glogster Edu, Animoto, and Photo Story.

Finally, students will showcase their work in the media center.  This showcase will allow the 5th graders to learn from all of the projects in an effort to allow students to help teach and take ownership of the 5th grade GPS standards.  It will also allow students from other grade levels to see their work as a preview of what is to come in 5th grade.  Students will have an authentic audience for the work and will hopefully retain the content better as they share their learning with others.

We’re giving this a try this year, and we’ll fine tune it as we go.  I hope that this grows into future kinds of projects like this one for other 5th grade content and other grade levels as well.