A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about my class starting our 20% projects. At that time the students had only brainstormed and picked a topic they wanted to learn more about. I introduced the concept by explaining what a 20% project would entail and reading the story “Going Places” by Paul Reynolds. I first showed the students the book trailer (here) then read the story aloud. This story is about “thinking outside of the box” when creating things.
We discussed how the characters discovered something new because they found a way to do something that had never been done and that in our class we are going to be discovering new things. I also explained that we would get to teach each other what we would be learning. Now we are almost on week 4 of our projects and I could not be happier!
After the students picked their topics they got started right away on the research. This had me a little weary as researching a topic is a hard thing to teach. In order to research students need to curate through information they find on the web. To point my students toward a direction I gave each student a “Discovery Lab” sheet. On this sheet students had to write the topic they were researching, keywords about their topic, and then information they found. I directed my class to our school website which has a Symbaloo of different resources students can use.
I told students they could use any of the search engines from here to find information since they are kid friendly and safe (kidrex, safesearchkids, etc.). I also encouraged students to use our ebooks resources (Big Universe, Razkids, and Epic!). As the students started to research they quickly learned that you will not always find exactly what you are looking for right away. I helped many students learn how to refine their searches and to ask specific questions to the search engine. Students were required to find eight facts about their topic but many went above and beyond.
A lot of my students are still on the research phase but some are working towards our next part of the project which is blogging. I researched a few different options (kidblog, google classroom, etc.) for blogging and realized that the easiest way for my students to blog about their 20% projects would be through our Seesaw app. The Seesaw app allows your class to have a blog that can be either private to your students, parents, and school or public to the entire world.
I introduced the concept to my students by explaining that blogging is a good way for us to get our thoughts down and for other people to know what we are thinking. I then went on to say that other people can even give us suggestions about our projects by leaving us comments. I showed the students how to write a blog on Seesaw then gave them a template (guided questions/statements) to follow for their first blog. At first I was not going to give them a template but many students asked what they should write in their blog. This is the criteria I have to them for their first post:
- I am researching about ______________________________________.
- I was interested in researching this because _________________________.
- Some (3) interesting facts I have learned are _________________________
- I am going to teach my classmates about this by (make a presentation, make a poster, make a collage, demonstrate the skill, bring in things to show, make a video, make a book, make a song, build something, etc.)________________________..
- The materials I need to do this are _________________________.
My students helped me to create this criteria as we wrote it together on the SMARTboard. The suggestions on how to present the projects are all ideas thought of by them! Students are very excited about starting the blogging portion of this project! One of my students is on the blogging phase and started this post last week:
The next phase of this project will be the “presentation plan”. In this phase I am asking that all of my students write all the required materials they will need to present to the class. This will get them thinking about how they will present and what they are going to have to do in order to teach the class.