Thanks for following along during From the Classroom Week, an entire week dedicated to sharing stories and ideas from our classrooms…and yours. We hope the things we’re sharing this week will inspire you in your own work with children.
Today it’s time to switch it up a bit. We’d like to shift the focus of From the Classroom Week from OUR classrooms to YOURS. We recently asked readers to submit stories about their students’ work. There were some great responses and today we’d like to share three with you…
Ben Rimes is a K-12 Tech Integration Specialist right here in Michigan, in Mattawan to be precise. His amazing blog, the Tech Savvy Educator, is a must-read source of ideas and insight. You should follow him on twitter, too. What’s he been up to lately? Three words: Video story problems. Awhile back, I discovered the video story problems that he created himself. I found them engaging and challenging. Here’s an example:
I thought this was such a great problem. I like it more every time I watch it. BUT, my students are too young to handle the complicated math required. So I decided to have them make their own. I found that kids had trouble writing problems, and I was surprised by this. Even students who are good at solving word problems had trouble, for example, writing a multiplication word problem. This worked great for helping students see what these mathematical operations really mean, as opposed to just memorizing algorithms.
Their problems weren’t complicated, but I liked them. Here’s one:
You can view all the video story problems that have been submitted to Ben’s vimeo channel here–66 and growing!
Another teacher who shared their story is Alison Anderson from Portland, OR. Alison teaches fifth grade and she shared an awesome science project. Her objective? Create a “field guide to the planets.” Here’s her description:
This year we transformed a planet travel brochure group project, into a green screen movie project in which small groups created a travel show for each planet in our solar system. Instead of just research, writing, editing, illustrating and then putting them on display, the students did all those same steps, PLUS, performing, practicing, performing for an audience, listening to each groups performed, and finally having unlimited access for sharing and reviewing it on the website at school and at home. Turning this project into a multimedia one not only raised the students level of enthusiasm, but more importantly, engaged them in a much deeper level of learning.
Wow. I told Alison I’m definitely stealing this project. Her class doesn’t have a lot of technology access, but they made it work using their school computer lab for research and her own Mac laptop to do the video editing and production.
But why make the move from a great “pencil and paper” project to a digital one? Again, Alison’s response:
Ultimately, I decided to change from a paper and pencil project to a multimedia one because it allows the students to engage in their learning at a deeper level. Now instead of just researching, writing, editing, illustrating and displaying, the kids are researching, writing, editing, orally practicing MULTIPLE times, performing, and then reviewing. They review by watching it in class and, when I post it on line, they watch it again at home to show their parents, etc. I love taking advantage of the fact that they love to see themselves… they review the material over and over because they are excited to see it and very proud to share it! Everyone gets excited about it- which spurs conversation in the classroom and at home. The learning continues and ends up at a much deeper level of thinking.
This, my friends, is a fellow engaging educator, for sure. You should follow Alison on twitter @tedrosececi.
We were also lucky enough to hear from Deidre Bailey and Amy Park from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Their lucky students explored biological cycles in an engaging way. Here’s how they described it to us:
This project began with a conversation on how best to develop deep understanding of biological cycles. When we considered simply slicing fruit and vegetables in half and leaving them out in the open to observe the resulting changes, we never anticipated the smells, the new life, or the learning that would ensue.
The suggestion that we use Google Docs to facilitate collaboration and data management through the scientific process provided an excellent opportunity for introducing students to the incredible value of facilitating collaborative research and documentation through technology.
Although our decomposed specimens are now carefully buried in soil, the memory of the experiment is alive and well among our grade 4 students. From Day 1 to Day 12, these young scientists were engaged, excited, and passionate about their discoveries. Throughout the process, students developed deep understanding of decomposition, the scientific process, collaboration, problem solving, data analysis, and so much more.
Deep, meaningful learning…did we mention these are fourth graders?
Thank you so much to Ben, Alison, Deidre, and Amy for sharing their “From the Classroom” stories. We found them inspirational, and we hope you did, too.
There’s still more left this week, including an epic global adventure, fun with QR codes, and a blooper reel. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!