Enter - ANIMALS!
I connected with a wonderful teacher from Alberta (through Google Hangouts in Education G+ Community) who was open to the idea of our Grade 2 classes preparing presentations about animals from our respective communities and sharing this with each other over Hangouts. This was a perfect connection to our current curricular inquiries about animals and would provide a real audience of inquisitive learners.
First we brainstormed animals from our community and students selected teams based on animals of interest. Students used Pebble Go and Britannica from our D2L links as well as the Google research tool to conduct their research.
What are the characteristics of these animals?
How do these animals interact with humans?
(Positive and Negative)
Here are a few samples. Click for our slide deck.
During the Hangout I used the Screenshare setting. This allowed the students to present the slide deck to the other class while they spoke about the information. I was very impressed about how they articulated their understanding and new learning so clearly and effectively. The real audience played a very important role in this. I think sometimes when we are presenting to our same classmates repeatedly our level of accountability wanes. Our first 30 minute Hangout was over in a blink of an eye, with only 50% of students sharing their work. We, of course, re-connected the next day.
What was perhaps the most pivotal "ah ha" for me, was what happened the following day. Students wanted to learn MORE about the animals we were introduced to by the class from Alberta. The learning did not stop once the Hangout was over - it propelled us forward. Students co-created a Google doc of their learning about animals from Alberta. We continue to discuss and compare animals and their habitats based on our shared understanding for the Hangout.
Yes! Deep, authentic learning made possible by embracing the unknown.