A few weeks ago, Mrs. Mc stopped by the library for a casual chat. Five minutes later, a plan was hatched, fusing library research, databases, and technology to in-class curriculum.
I love chatting. And I’m a big fan of Mrs. Mc.
See, during our impromptu chat, she mentioned an upcoming literacy unit on outer space. Tentatively, I threw out an idea: could we team up and research about planets using PebbleGo, then make learning videos with ChatterPix Kids to share new knowledge with others? She was on board (!!), and this is what’s happened so far.
(NOTE: Our school is on a fixed specialist schedule, and the K’s come to library 1x/week for 40 minutes. Our library has 18 desktops and 10 iPads.)
Week 1: After we settled down with Rhyme Time, I explained the next 3-4 weeks would be devoted to a library/classroom unit on outer space. Prior to class, I’d printed out photos of the eight planets and our sun…and Pluto. Arranging them on the floor as an intro, a handful of students knew that Pluto wasn’t a planet anymore but didn’t know why…the perfect lead-in to the story Pluto Visits Earth by Steve Metzger.
After reading, students were asked to think about which planet they would most like to learn about while watching a BrainPop Jr video on the planets. Post-viewing, each student selected a planet. It was awesome seeing their authentic energy and excitement. Some asked if they could research TWO planets!
Between week 1 and 2: Planning time -creating a note-template for the K’s, checking to be sure it’s accessible and K-appropriate for all the students, emailing parents to request help for the research lesson, preparing clipboards with pencils and personalized note-templates (student name/planet filled in). One thing I should’ve included on the note template: a space for citing PebbleGo. Argh!
During open library periods in weeks 1 and 2: visiting the K classrooms during Friday Fun to share/show/teach the ChatterPix Kids app. Knowing that we have 10 iPads and 24 students who have never used the app, giving them more hands-on playtime is important.
Week 2: A quick review of the planets to start our lesson, followed by a refresher in accessing/using PebbleGo. Students had experience with it earlier in the year, having completed an in-class animal project. Now, they’d use a new area of the database: SCIENCE. My sample was Pluto, as it was not a planet they would research. After modeling how to navigate/read/listen to the information about Pluto, I showed them how to write what was learned in your own words (not PebbleGo’s words). Paraphrasing was a goal, but not a requirement.
Students then received clipboards with their personalized planet note-template and a pencil and went to work at desktops/iPads. Two parents were on hand to assist with PebbleGo navigation and note-taking (a VERY good thing, as there is no aide or para help). At the end of our lesson, each student had written down (either by themselves or with the help of an adult) at least one fact about their planet. Including check out and the whole-group lesson, it was 40 fast minutes!
Between weeks 2-3: reading and deciphering the K notes, emailing parents to request help for the iPad recordings, testing ChatterPix on the iPads (does the camera/mic work?). By rewriting the student notes, it’ll help a nearby adult prompt them if needed. No changes are being made…just legible handwriting on sticky notes.
Weeks 3-4: The current plan is to create – then share – our learning using ChatterPix Kids to make videos. Here are samples made using my Pluto notes:
How this’ll all get pulled off is still TBD. Given that it’s right before/after Spring Break, many students will be absent. With only 10 iPads and 24 students, there is no fair sharing (which is a BIG concern for 5/6 year olds). And what about when they’re not making their video…what will they do then? Ack! Food for thought…
Once the mini-movies are made, I’m not sure what application to use to gather them into one large video…iMovie, Sway, or something else…but there is still time to figure that out. Updates to come!
Moral of this post: all it takes is one conversation at the right time with the right teacher. Take a minute. Get up. Chat. Connect. Because what you learn may lead to some great teaching and learning for you…and your students.