Kindness Rocks

Third grade studies rocks and minerals in science.  Ms. Hicks, 3rd grade Spectrum teacher, is always dreaming up ways to extend and enrich the study.  We have collaborated together many times, and I always love leaping into something new.  In the past, we’ve Skyped with a jewelry studio and designed our own jewelry.  We’ve thought about climbing wall design and how the hardness of different rocks and minerals would support the design. Students even 3D printed prototypes of their climbing walls.  This year we once again worked together to add a new layer to this science unit.

I’ve been watching lots of people getting involved in kindness rock projects locally and globally. The idea of these projects is to spread words of inspiration in the world through randomly placed rocks and inspire people to create good in the world.

Our local Athens Rock Project

I’ve found a few of these rocks myself and know that it gives you a bright moment in your day just to know that someone cared enough to create a piece of art intended for good.

Be light in a dark world #rockpoetry #rock #paintedrocks

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Gretchen Thomas, UGA instructor, and I have been brainstorming the idea of weaving this project into makerspace, but we held off this semester.  I passed the idea on to Ms. Hicks and we decided to give it a trial run.

We started by showing images of rocks and asking students if they had ever found a rock like these.  I was surprised at how many stories were already in our small group of 15 kids.  From a rock in a stream to a rock in the park, students had stories of words and images they had found on rocks.

Then we watched this video to consider the meaning of a project like this.

We also read an excerpt from If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian and Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor. These books helped us think beyond a rock just being a rock but instead a symbol of something else.

Starting our rock project today with some 3rd graders #kindness #kindnessrocks #rock

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At tables, students used an index card to plan out their rock.  We wanted them to really take their time in planning so that they chose their words with purpose, so Ms. Hicks and I conferenced with students as they worked. They chose a word or phrase, wrote a short explanation of their choice, and sketched a design for their art.  Students also selected a rock. All of this took one class session.

In the next session, students used paint pens and paint to design their rock.  Most started by getting the word(s) onto the rock and then worked on design. If they finished early, they helped one another fan portions of rocks to get them dry enough to keep painting on.

Kindness rocks in progress #choosekind #rocks #kindnessrocks

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My wonderful computer technician, Allie, added layers of Mod Podge onto the rocks before our 3rd session. Here’s where this project is taking a different turn that many of the kindness rock projects.  We don’t really want to be random.  We want the person who finds our rock to know a bit more about it.

In our 3rd session, we used Flipgrid to record videos to tell the story of our rock.  Students talked about the reason they chose their word and even why they designed it the way they did.  We also brainstormed what someone would need to know in order to get to the video we recorded.

I took this brainstormed and turned it into an information card to put with our rocks.

Instead of randomly placing the rocks, we are putting them all in one container. We’ve talked with Avid Bookshop in Five Points and will be placing this container somewhere outside the shop.  Our hope is that people will select a rock, take an information card, watch the accompanying video, and hopefully leave a response video to the student.

It’s all a big experiment, and I’ve tried to be very open with students about that from the beginning.  Anything could happen.  We of course want every rock to be taken and for every person to leave a response, but we also know that might not happen.  Whatever happens, we’ll know that our rocks have gone into the world and caused at least one person to pause for just a moment and think about kindness.

Before our rocks go to Avid, we’re making a few more.  If your’e in the area, keep your eyes open in Five Points for a clear acrylic container near Avid Bookshop sometime this week!

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Kindergarten Green Screen Animal Interviews

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Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class has been hard at work on an animal research project that is unlike any other I’ve been a part of.  For the culmination of the project, students recorded an interview of an animal in its habitat using our green screen and the Do Ink app.  There were many layers to the process that students went through the create their final product. The class has been to the library throughout the project to initiate various pieces and then moved forward with the project work in class.

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It’s hard to even go back to where the project began, but eventually each student came to be in one of 4 groups researching an animal of interest: crows, sharks, spiders, and alligators. Students checked out both fiction and nonfiction books about their animals in the library during one piece of the project. During another piece, students spent time researching their animals and gathering facts.

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In another lesson, students came to the library to talk about crafting great interview questions. We looked at the Story Corps great question generator and practiced interviewing one another in a way that would elicit extended responses from the person being interviewed.

Students took this skill and went back to class to write questions that they would ask to their animals if they were doing an interview of the animal they researched.  Using their research, they thought about the answers to their questions.

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In another session, students came just to learn about how the green screen worked.  We watched a tutorial video from Do Ink as well as a video that had been made on our green screen.

Finally, students came back for one more work session in the library to prep for their interview project. This was a work session because students were in all kinds of stages of their completed project. The teacher, parapro, and I all worked with groups of students at the point they were at. My group was getting close to ready for use of the green screen, so we took some time to experiment a bit with what students hoped to do. Instead of a static picture of the animal’s habitat, students wanted a video of the habitat. We searched creative commons Youtube videos for nature scenes that matched where an animal would be found and used the iPad to record snippets of those videos. This helped us think about what we would need to accomplish before recording.

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Back in the classroom, students made final preparations for their animal interviews. They made props. They wrote our their script on cue cards and assigned parts to each person in the group.  The teacher made copies of these cards for students to practice with in class as well as sent them home for weekly homework practice.  Students also decided exactly what they hoped to have a video of for the background of the green screen. The teacher sent these to me in advance, so that I could pull some videos from Youtube for us to use.

Each group came individually to the library to record. We did a practice run of the script.  The teacher held the cue cards and I ran the iPad.  I flipped the screen so that students could see themselves as they talked. This helped them know to be in the right place, but it also tempted them to wave at the camera and make faces.

Once students finished recording, they had a chance to watch their video back. I uploaded the videos to Youtube so that we could share them with families and authentic audiences.  I encourage you to take a look at the work.

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Pulling off Kindergarten projects like this takes some creative thinking. Anytime that we can break the project into pieces, work in small groups rather than the whole group, and do recording within single groups makes the project run much more smoothly. I also love when a project flows in and out of the library and classroom.

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Ms. Kelly is an awesome teacher to collaborate with because she finds so many connections to the standards students are working on but also weaves in student interest and expertise.  She dives into a project and trusts that along the way she is going to realize just how many standards a project based in student interest and curiosity can actually included. She also thinks about how to reinforce the project so that students are fully prepared before jumping in to creating the final product. I thought it was genius (and time consuming) to create so many cue cards and give students copies to practice for homework.

I’ve been doing several technology computer projects lately, and I’m so thankful for the flexibility of our schedule so that we can get creative with how to break the projects down into pieces as well as smaller groups.  Bravo Kindergarten for another awesome project.

 

 

 

 

A Year-Long Kindergarten Interdisciplinary Space Project

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I have to take a moment to brag on another teacher and group of students in our school.  Kelly Hocking is an amazing Kindergarten teacher, and she has a talented group of Kindergarten students who are some of the biggest researchers and creators in our school.  I love how each year she finds something that her class takes an interest in and somehow weaves into every subject area and standard that they study in Kindergarten.  One year it was art.  Another year it was a study of maps and stretching the imagination.  This year it was space.

Kelly never knows at what point in the year something will pop up as an interest in her class, but this year it happened when they were doing a GoNoodle.  It happened to feature space, and it took the class into a series of questions and wonderings about space.

They started reading lots of books about space as well as studying the science standards about the day and night sky.

The more they read, the more they started to notice about space popping up in so many areas of their curriculum and life.

They launched into research mode and asked lots of questions.  In the library and classroom they used print and digital resources to learn about the planets and collect facts about each one.

In February, the class celebrated Fat Tuesday by dressing as planets and parading around the school.  Each costume was space-inspired and they handed out coins and beads to lots of classes.

Research continued in the classroom and the media center.  Students used all of their facts to write a series of notes.  In groups, the students put those notes in an order that made sense and prepared to make their own ebooks about space using the Storykit app.

At this point, we were approaching poetry month, so I suggested that the students think about space poetry.  I connected the class with several poetry books about space, and they started crafting some poems in class.  Ms. Kelly also has ukuleles in her classrooms, so the poems eventually were turned into songs with music composed by the students.

At our annual Poem In Your Pocket day, the groups of students performed their poetry songs for a live audience.  We even had poet, Laura Purdie Salas, listen in to the poetry since students were inspired by her space poems and songs.

At this point in the year, lots of attention turned to Mars and space exploration.  Students really didn’t want to travel to Mars themselves, but they did want to think about helping other people get there some day.  We created a Padlet to collect all of our research in the library and the classroom.

Eventually, the students wanted to start making some inventions to help Mars explorers, so we did a lot of tinkering in our Makerspace.  In class, students constructed elaborate prototypes of their inventions and did informational writing to accompany their creations.

If we had more time in our year, I’m sure Ms. Kelly and her students would have come up with even more miraculous things, but it truly was an amazing year of exploration and I’m glad that our library was a part of it.

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You can read more about the library parts of this project in these posts:

Why Do We Explore Space: A Virtual Field Trip Opportunity

Can a Foodini 3D Printer Go to Space?

Kindergarten Mission to Mars: A Makerspace Exploration

Kindergarten Researchers in Action

Also, you can view Ms. Kelly’s full deck of slides which includes lyrics to a cumulative song that explores all of the planets and the facts the students learned.  They performed this song at our end of the year assembly.

View the full slidedeck here.

Celebrating Our Genius with a 4-State Geniuscon Google Hangout

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Since January, Mrs. Ramseyer’s 2nd graders have been working in the library and in their classroom on Geniuscon projects.  They have explored the question: “If I could change one thing about my school, what would it be?”

We started our project with brainstorming and some inspiration from Peter Reynolds.

Then, we worked on selecting topics and developing questions.

We partnered with Gretchen Thomas’s EDIT2000 students at UGA to work on researching our topics.

We continued working with our UGA partners to finish research and begin Google presentations on our topics.

Now we’ve arrived at the end of the year with only 4 days of school left.  Students are still finishing up their presentations and thinking about their questions.  Mrs. Ramseyer and I are working to schedule meetings with students and adults in the school who can create change based on their topics.  For example, one student wants more enrichment clusters at our school so he will meet with Ms. Maher, the enrichment cluster coordinator.  One student wants devices to go home and another wants more use of the 3D printer, so they will meet with me in the library.

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We also wanted students to have a chance to share their genius ideas and projects with a larger audience.  Sherry Gick and Matthew Winner have established an Edmodo group for Geniuscon.  This is from Sherry & Matthew’s blog post:

Join the Edmodo group by logging into www.edmodo.com, clicking on “+” symbol next to GROUPS, selecting JOIN, and typing in the code ru9b7d. This will make you a member of our Edmodo GeniusCon group, which is a private community. The advantage of keeping this community private is that we can also keep the work and identities of our participating students private. However, we have the option of also sharing posts publically, allowing the whole world to see what your students have created. These public posts are viewable through our GeniusCon homepage under the PROJECTS tab.

I posted some possibilities for when our 2nd graders would be able to connect.  Then, I looked at the members of the Edmodo group and sent some messages on Twitter.  Shawna Ford in Weatherford Texas had a group of students ready to listen to our 2nd graders.  We started planning a connection and Sherry and Matthew jumped on board with their students too.

Edmodo   Home

We decided to hold a Google Hangout On Air so that others could watch our students share their genius live, but we could also archive the event for people who couldn’t attend.  My 2nd graders and Sherry’s 8th graders had topics and projects to share.

Our format looked something like this:

  • Introductions from Georgia, Texas, Indiana, and Maryland
  • Matthew Winner set the stage for what Geniuscon is all about since 2 of the classes in the hangout had not participated in the project yet.
  • I gave an introduction to what my students, and then one of my second graders kicked off the event.  Each of my students shared their topic, what their solutions were, and how they felt about what they found out.
  • My students alternated with Sherry’s students sharing.
  • Then, we closed by letting each school give some closing thoughts.

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First, I was amazed by how professional all of the students were in their presentations whether they were in 2nd grade or 8th grade.  I was inspired by the variety of topics and how some of the 2nd graders had some of the same topics as the 8th graders.  It made me wonder about next time and the potential for collaborating between schools on the same topic.  I also loved the different approaches that students took to completing their projects.  Sherry’s students worked in groups while Matthew’s students were tackling one big topic together: bullying.

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It was also fun to know that our students’ voices were being heard by a global audience.  Our librarian friend, Randie Groden, in MA watching live.

Randie

We also had some encouragement from our friends at Capstone Press.

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Uniting our voices in 4 different states was powerful.  Thinking about the power of students stepping up and sharing their genius in multiple states made me proud to be an educator.

My students closed our time with some reflection on our project.  We talked about what we loved about the project.  I loved that one student brought up the idea that even if our projects didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to, we had the chance to learn about so many kinds of technology like Google forms and Google presentation and working together.  There were many meaningful pieces of this project, and I’m grateful to Sherry Gick and Matthew Winner for encouraging us all to help our students share their genius.

 

 

 

#GeniusCon: Topic Selection and Question Development

question development (9)We’ve been having so much fun participating in #GeniusCon.  Haven’t heard of #GeniusCon? Visit this archived webinar to learn more and read the post about our first steps.

After students left the library for our kickoff session, they spent time in class reflecting on our chalk talk, writing in their notebooks, and fine tuning their topics.  Today, they came to the library with their topics ready to work on question development.

We started with an overview of what happened since our last session.  I shared tweets from Sherry Gick, Matthew Winner, Peter Reynolds, and more.  I also told them how their work had been featured in the #GeniusCon webinar.  Their eyes lit up knowing that their work was already making a difference!

I framed our session for the day by talking about how questions help us think about what we need to know about our topics in order to focus our research.  We did a practice session asking questions about a topic that I could do for #Geniuscon:  Teaching all of my lessons from home.   At the moment, I’m not really doing this topic, but I wanted to choose something that might raise some eyebrows, and it really did!  Students began asking questions about my topic, but as we progressed they started to ask questions like “how would you feel if you didn’t see us anymore?” and “what if we needed help with something in the library?” and “Wouldn’t you miss being here?”.  This topic did exactly what I wanted because it allowed us to have a conversation about our chosen topics.  I told them that it wasn’t our jobs to tell one another that our topics aren’t possible, that they’re wrong, or that we need to pick a different topic.  Our job is to push one another’s thinking through questions and to support one another even if it means we disagree with topic choice or we feel personally that a topic is “impossible”.

We spent a bit more time brainstorming questions for my topic with partners.  Here are a few questions that they came up with:

  • What lessons should I teach?

  • Do I know anyone that will be interested in learning from home?

  • How will I do it?

  • How many students will I have?

  • How many lessons from home can I teach?

  • What happens if someone needs help checking out and I’m not here?

  • Why would I want to do this?

  • How would people know how to connect with me?

  • What if the Internet doesn’t work?

Next, students logged into their Google Drive and created a document with their topic listed at the top.  Then, they started a bullet list and began adding their own questions.  After all students were set with their doc ready, we began passing the laptops around the circle and asking one another questions.  Students looked at the topic at the top and read the question already generated.  Then, they thought of what questions they would add to the list for the researcher to consider.  I’ll admit that this part was difficult.  Even with our lively opening, students had a hard time generating questions.  Several adults had individual conversations with students to support their question development.  These conversations were critical.  At different times we had me (the media specialist), the classroom teacher, a gifted teacher, a tech integration specialist, and and early intervention teacher supporting students.  Here are a few topics with the questions generated.

Taking Tablets Home:

  • can we for a week?

  • or for month?

  • what happens if you break it?

  • What do students do if they don’t know how to use it?

  • what happen’s if somone needes one at school and you forget it at home?

  • how long?

  • what if people don’t have internet at home?

 

More Playground Equipment:

  • what equipment should we get?

  • how much equipment?

  • what   kind?

  • what if there’s not enough space?

  • isn’t it expensive?

  • why do you wont to change the playground?

  • will we be kind on it?

  • is the play ground equipment safe?

  • who would pay for it?

At our closing, students got their own computers back, read their questions, and shared their documents with me.  I told them that it was ok if they didn’t understand a question or if they even disagreed with a question.  We closed by once again asking “Why are we asking questions and not jumping into answers?”  We framed the idea of thinking about what we need to research.  Next, we will spend some time developing a research plan.  We’ll brainstorm where we need to look for answers and begin our search for answers.

 

 

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!