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.