Our Mystery Skype this time around happened to be with a school in our own state. Now, those of you that Mystery Skype know that there is a lot of excitement placed on the fact that you choose a school OUTSIDE of your state.
Choosing a city in the state we lived was part of our 4th grade curriculum because it caused students to have to look at our own state, find important cities, key highways, and other landmarks to guess the other location.
We kept the state a secret from both classes, so they were surprised to learn they were in the same state. Then we used highways, counties, and regions to locate each others' cities.
Students did a great job synergizing to find the locations. What a great job!
In Hallsville High School, one of the teachers, Mr. Proffitt, has taken something we all see during campaign season, and made it a part of his curriculum this year.
Each student group (about 3/group) has chosen a Presidential candidate and one of their scandals or key issues. For example, one group chose Chris Christie and how it was rumored that he spent taxpayer money on food. Another group chose Trump and used his immigration comments.
The students had to create a 30 second rough-sketch of a commercial. Many of them are using clips from speeches or other commentary. They are using Tweets, images, text, or other media, to portray their message.
After their commercial has been approved, most used Adobe Premiere, a video editing program. Students quickly have learned how to navigate the software, asking for help when needed. Some Photoshop was used for creating some, shall we say, interesting images of candidates.
What I really enjoyed about watching this project, was the fact that sophomores in high school were learning who the candidates were, delving into their issues, and finding out how these commercials are so easily manipulated.
My next goal is to try to find an audience of high school social studies students to watch and give feedback on the commercials. I have reached out via Twitter and am hoping for some bites on that.
Genius Hour is over for second grade. I have some mixed feelings about how it went and things I would do in the future.
What our time looked like: We had 30(ish) minutes 3-4 days a week for about 5 weeks, meeting only about 14 times. Looking back, this is not ideal. We were slightly displaced because we had about 3 different rooms we worked in depending on the day because the 2nd grade classes do not have student devices. They would come in from recess and we would make it to a room. By then, we would have 20-25 minutes of work time. Mini-lessons were rushed and didn't feel very good. I would prefer one really solid hour of time per week to work, then allow students time when they are done with other work, to continue inquiring on their own.
What the structure looked like: Students were usually 2:1 with computers, researching. Students unable to research online were to use books or confer with the teacher. So, this is the part I feel needed help. Students had had such inexperience researching, that they didn't know how to do this piece on their own. The mini-lesson on this happened, but again, due to time, it felt rushed and not strong. This showed in their own time for researching because they depended heavily on the teachers, and rightly so. This left little time for conferring with students.
By the end of this project, I had to shift gears a little, and be okay with the students who were not delving in and going totally inquiry-based. I mean, really, many of them had never been able to just research something they liked. This was an important piece for many of them. The students took the projects and made them their own. Researching a meaningful topic kept them engaged and excited when they came into the room. Genius Hour was their time to show who they were as a person, and they took a lot from that.
One of my biggest disappointments was how quickly it ended. Students did not get enough time to finish their projects. That's the trouble with the position I am in sometimes, I am not on my own schedule, I am on someone else's. The opportunity to take the projects up a notch didn't happen for all of them, even though some had some great ideas. Even the slideshows created did not all get to be completed because, well, time. That was rough for me to accept because I wanted them to have a finished product. I am proud of what they accomplished though, and hope to do something like this in the future with another group.
Click here to see them working on their projects.
Click here to see some of the finished products.
Donna Bader, this post is a shoutout to you! Way to go on thinking about a great way to show Kinders how email works! Jodie Langston, thank you for sharing your experience so I can share it, too!
If you have been trying to figure out when to introduce kids to email, Kindergarten may be the perfect time. Now, before you start saying that your Kinders can't type that well or that you don't want them to have email addresses, hear me out.
Kids don't have to have email addresses to LEARN about email. My wonderful friend and peer in education, Jodie, told me about what she and a couple of Kindergarten classes at her school have done.
One of the Kindergarten teachers hopped on board with the expectation to have her kids introduced to email before the end of K. Jodie (in 2nd grade) received an email from Mrs. Bader's class, using the friendly letter format. Jodie's class then email back. The kids in Mrs. Bader's class learned about how quickly email can travel.
They now contact each other regularly. Before Jodie's class went to the zoo, Mrs. Bader's class emailed her class telling them what the weather was going to be that day and what their recommendation for clothing was, as well as asking them to tell about their trip. Well, in order to show that email can travel quickly from one location to another, Jodie sent a picture from their field trip to the Kinders back at school. They were so excited!
Jodie said it opened up a lot of dialogue about how emails are replied to, how they travel, and the correct etiquette to use. I can't wait to tell my teachers here about this great idea! What a great way to MODEL digital citizenship for students!
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom