Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tech Integration & Student Choices in Science Animal Unit

We are in the middle of animal unit. Every year before we get deeply into animal inquiry and research, we spend some time learning about animal adaptations. After reading some information on this website, we watched a DVD to learn more. As we watched the DVD, my students recorded something they learned on Today's Meet. This is a part of students' recording.

This is a great way to ensure students' engagement during any type of video. The DVD was about 20 minutes long, and it was packed with great information. I sectioned the video and stopped it several times to give my students time to record. By the end of the video, my students had created a list that we can go back to review animal adaptations.

The following week after learning more about some animals, I asked my students to record and share what they knew about animal adaptations. The students were to:
  1. pick an animal
  2. show the animal and label its special body part for adaptation
  3. write how the animal uses the adaptation on Kidblog
For this activity, I provided my students with some choices. Of course they were able to pick an animal of their choice. Also they choose a way how they were going to show the animal. The choices were:
  • Choice 1; draw the animal on a piece of paper
  • Choice 2; draw the animal on iPad 
  • Choice 3; use a photo of the animal
  • Choice 4; make a play dough model of the animal
Here are some of the students' blog post.

Choice 1
<Praying mantis>
Choice 2 (Doodle Buddy)

Choice 3 (PicCollage)

Choice 4

We have 12 iPads for 22 students. I did this activity in two groups. It was quite busy to get them going, but once everyone got started, they were very engaged and willing to help each other. 

I believe that providing choices to young learners teaches them to take ownership to their own learning, help with self discovery and building confidence. Some choices in my classroom may be small, but I love seeing my first graders give serious thoughts before making decisions because they are here to learn for themselves, not to do what they are told all day long!

You can also read about providing choices in math here.