Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Body Systems #8 - Collaborating on writing

Hello Friends,

In post #7 I said I would write about  how we use our class Google Drive for collaboration and moderation. This is something I started using last term, when our school server "died'. I wanted some way that students could write on-line and access for collaboration and moderation. Enter our class Google account.
Now there are probably snazzier ways that people are using the internet for this purpose but as a starting point, this was perfect for me and my Y4 kiddies last year. This Year I am repeating it with my Y6's and so far so good. The only difference of course is that last year we were a digital class (12 iMacs- 1:2) and this year we are 1:3 with variable devices (iMac, windows laptops, iPads).
P.S. I still like to think that we are a digital class because its about mindset really, not the hardware you have.

Anyhow...this is how we did it:
Step 1) Open a Google account for the class. Make it something generic that can move with you if you should change rooms or levels.

Step 2) Make the password something relevant to you and your students.

Step 3) Agree on a set of user etiquette with your students on the appropriate use of this shared drive.

Step 4) Create folders as required and teach your students a few basics, they'll soon figure out the rest.

Home Folders: I created a class 2013 HOME folder first and tasked each student to log in, open the Home folder and create their own Home folder inside this one. They had to name their personal folders as follows:
e.g. name_home2013, and finally assign a colour to it.
This is where they file away completed or personal work.

Work Folders: next I created a folder for our current theme - Who we are-Body Systems. Within that there are 3 folders - draft (red), peer review(orange) and teacher chat(green).  As students prepare to type up a paragraph from their research notes, they create a new document each time. Again the naming convention is important: e.g. name_1_intro, name_2_heart. This way its clear to see at a glance whether a student is keeping up with the pace, or needs a little extra support. 

Once they are happy with their paragraph, they move it to the peer review folder. They then set up appointments with other kiddies (also in that orange folder) for a peer review. I require them to have 3 collaborative sessions, before posting into the teacher chat folder.

As work appears here, I call students for a teacher conference about their paragraph. Following this the final work is filed into the group folder for that body system. Once the work has been used in the presentation, it is filed away in the student's Home folder.

Teacher Chat: I copy and paste the student's work below in the same document. I work with or without the student in the copy only, leaving the original work untouched. Great thing is that I can easily access this drive from anywhere, even my iPhone and edit work if we are backed up.

Notice the Peer Reviewers names below the student's paragraph.

 I have a marking code that I use as follows. This document also sits inside our drive for reference. The student then pastes a 3rd copy beneath mine and makes the edits suggested. This way there is a very clear trail of evidence to show progress. They can use this to talk to when sharing their learning at parent evenings

Here are our rules for using the drive:
 And here are the process steps that we had for reference:

Once all the editing is completed, then comes the fun part of creating a presentation, the brain can switch fully into creative mode as it no longer needs to worry about elements of handwriting, accurate copying, spelling, etc.

I'll post about the presentation options next term when we get to that, lots of hard work researching, writing and editing first -  haha :D

Would love to hear about how you use Google Drive with your kiddies.
'Til next time :)

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Body Systems #7 - Student Inquiry and freebie

Hello friends,

With the Digestive system inquiry model done, students could start to reflect on what other systems our bodies have, how they function and connect.

For home learning they were asked to find as many systems as they could. This proved interesting because depending on the source (and the number of cross-checking sources they used) they came up with varying amounts. A good lesson to follow on from Body System #6.

From the main ones, we made a chart with a brief description of each.

Then I created a sister chart where students could indicate their choice of the system they wished to inquire into. First we completed a quick prior knowledge activity (Kwl) using this foldable. Quite revealing really!

Next, students wrote and shared their questions (based around Form, Function and Connection), and they were off (kWl).

I posted a whole list of internet links to articles, 3D animations, videos and diagrams for the Y6 group on our team Wiki so that they could access from home if they wished. There was also a pile of non-fiction books to refer to in  class. And thank you Brainpop :) for the videos.

Graphic organisers are a great way to guide this independent part of the journey for your students, so I gave the kiddies this explanation tracker with all the markers we had learned about previously. They can highlight off each bit as they complete it.

I also created this research sheet for them to use and have posted it for FREE on my stores. The links are at the end of this post so hop on over for your copy :)


Students that felt they needed 1-1 with me listed their names on the board and were called down in order for a conference. After working with a couple of students, I added the key concepts to the key words section of their research sheet to remind them what they were looking for and to help them 'sift' out the relevant information.

As they got going, they began to notice some trends with body systems. When looking at the forms (parts) of the systems, they realised that some systems are a circuit, and some are made up of distinct, but in some way, connected parts. (and so kwL begins :)
 We came up with this list on the board.

By having this list on the board to refer to, they could quickly check where to next. Once they had completed and orally shared their introductions, they could add these to our Google Drive for collaboration and moderation. I'll post about how this went, next time.

The links to my shops are here. Hope you find this useful too :)

How do you use organisers to support your inquiries? Would love to read your ideas below.
'Til next time :)

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Body Systems #6 - resources for research

Hello friends,

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the first time to share 5 items from my week :)
This will take the form of 5 varied resources students can use for research.

Inquiry Learning - open ended by its nature because students follow their own interests. While this is a concern for many teachers who feel that they have a better handle on the quality of learning in their rooms when they prepare and teach their own lessons, Inquiry Learning  offers true engagement as students really want to find answers to their own questions to satisfy their curiosity.

We teachers are now the facilitators of the learning, there to support, encourage and (dare I say) push students to reach their potential.

One of the ways we do this is by creating 'wanting' in our students. I 'wanted' them to 'want' to persist with research through a variety of resources in order to clarify their understanding as well as to confirm the accuracy of the facts that they were gathering. Simply due to their lack of life experience, they don't see the point of continuing their research if they believe to have found the answer in the first place they look. And teachers telling them they need to do so ...well why?... when they have the answer.

To initiate the research for the teacher guided inquiry, I provided my kiddies with (no.1) an explanation of the digestive system. I made it purposefully challenging (similar to the non-fiction topic books they would encounter on the subject) so that they felt that they got some information out of it but were still unclear about many areas.

After reading through it, I asked them to read it a second time and this time to highlight any words or key ideas that they would like to use in an oral retell.

Next I had them explain their understanding to a buddy, in their own words with reference only to their highlighted words.

By a show of hands I asked them to vote whether they were totally clear on the topic and could confidently explain it to anyone. No-one was willing to commit. So asked them what they felt would help them at this stage. One of the things they asked for was a diagram (no.2), so I gave them one. Their task was to go through the text again and to sequence the events with the labels on the diagram.

Many felt they gained some clarity. What they really wanted next was something to explain the Topic Words - so I provided the glossary (no.3) I had prepared. Now they felt they understood the text a lot better but still found it difficult to visualise the process because this was not part of their prior knowledge or experience. All they really knew was that food went in and 'poop' came out, so something went on in between. Sounds like a hypothesis to me!

Bring on the experiment (no.4):

This was such fun! The toughest kiddies were turning green at the gills, by the end.
Finally (no.5) we watched a few animations and videos on youtube (wonderful resource).

Exposing students to such a wide variety of resources allows access for varied learning styles, to the information that needs to be processed.

In their shared writing groups, they were able to access the necessary information from the aforementioned resources and collaborate on a paragraph for the class exemplar explanation.

Next time I'll post about kicking off the Student Initiated part of this Inquiry.

Be sure to head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to share your five for the week :)
Have a great day everyone :)