Friday, December 15, 2017

Today Was a Good Day!

I just introduced my class to Sway.  It is available in the App store. But I found out that to be able to add searchable photos, my students had to use sway.com.  Sway is the perfect tool for my students to share what they are learning about explorers. It comes with a library of searchable Creative Commons photos that students can easily add to their project. No copyright infringement here!

What I like about Sway is that it is easy for students to use. Additionally, students focus on content before they start changing font, color, or adding a background to make their project pretty. Once they have their content, they can quickly customize their cards to find the perfect look for their presentation.

So let's go back to the content. Students used Georgia Studies Weekly, Brain Pop, and Discovery Streaming to research different explorers. Dinah Zike's 4-door Notebook Foldable helped them organize their notes. I started with Columbus and modeled how to take highlight and take notes. The organizer proved to be very helpful because each "door" on the organizer later become a separate "card" on Sway.                                                                                                                                                              
Students working Together
Foldable to organize Notes



As I was modeling how to complete the cards one student commented that it reminded her of  "Boxes and Bullets" that we had just learned during Writer's Workshop. Oh, Joy!  I decided to capitalize on that and quickly revised the cards to follow the Boxes and Bullets format.

Now it was time for the students to research a different explorer in their small groups.  So I divided the students into smaller groups and gave them their new foldable to begin their research.  Then I watched as students sat beside or near their partners, but did not really interact with their partners. I listened as I heard them talk about basketball and video games; everything but explorers. I did just tell them to "work together", didn't I?

That's when it hit me and I called them all back to the carpet for a Mid-Workshop Teaching Lesson (as Lucy Calkins calls it). But this lesson was not about Explorers nor how to make a Sway.  This lesson was about how to work together with a partner.  And to do this I needed a partner.  I picked 1 student to come sit beside me.  I took the lead and together we modeled how to use the materials together, how to talk about what either of us found, how to make sure we each had the notes we needed.  We talked to each other (about our explorer) and we showed each other where we found text evidence to support our thinking.

I think the most important part of the lesson came next. We had a discussion about what they saw or heard that let them know we were working cooperatively. Students shared their responses. They said things like: "You leaned closer when the other person was talking" and "You looked at the paper and listened when they were reading".  I wanted specifics. If they merely said "You were working together", I asked them for specifics. What did they see or hear us say that let them know we were working together?  I wanted specific examples.

Then I sent them off to work and the difference was phenomenal! See for yourself.





I only wished I had recorded their responses on a T-Chart. The beautiful thing about teaching is I'm sure I will have another opportunity. Soon.

Check out Liliana's final product.


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