At the beginning of the lesson I have students brainstorm everything that they know about the American Revolution. They use padlet in order to put down everything they know from famous people to the names of battles that took place. Their "digital stickys" will be all over the page. Once I have given them time to brainstorm we look through the padlet wall and organize their ideas in sections: Life During the War, Battles, Famous People, and Foreign Influence. After our padlet wall is completely organized students select a topic that they are interested in studying. This process allows students to draw upon some background knowledge while exposing them to knew ideas. It is important to give students choice, so by allowing them to select their own topic they have a higher chance of buying into the rest of the project.
2 Direct Instruction
- Each student creates a new googledoc and labels one through five down the side of the document. We then discuss, as a class, important questions for students to address in their research. As the teacher it is important to discuss effective questioning so that students can generate successful essential questions that will drive their research.
- Once students have written their essential questions, we discuss how to search for information. I walk them through effective web searching and discuss what keywords they can use to find information on their topic.
3 Guided Practice
- Students begin to research as I walk around the room and check essential questions, as well as assist and guide them through the research process. I use Britannica School for my 4/5th graders because it is a safe place for them to search and it allows you to change the reading level of the text.
- As students conduct their research they fill in notes underneath each of their five essential questions. As the teacher I have already modeled an example of an essential question and what their notes should look like when answering the essential question.
- After giving the class some time to research I start pulling groups by the category that they are studying. For example: I pull the Battles of the Revolution group and each student goes through their essential questions so that we can provide them with feedback to enhance their research.
4 Independent Practice
- Students then take their research from googledrive and create a 5-8 minute keynote presentation demonstrating what they have learned. By creating the keynote they are reviewing their research and determining what they think are the most important facts to include in their presentation.
- After creating their keynotes they present their research to a small group. I like to use the Edcamp format for students to present. Check out http://carpeedtech.weebly.com/edcamps.html to learn more about student led edcamps.
After completing the presentations students went onto a new padlet wall and posted three new facts that they learned as a result of listening to their peers teach. This is a nice way to wrap up the project because they are reflecting on their own new learning, and also receiving feedback about what other students learned from them. Finally, I had students write a reflection in googledrive answering the following two questions: What was successful about my presentation? and What would I change next time, if I did this presentation again? This allows them to be thoughtful and reflective.