Be the change, being a student, being a teacher, projects

The 2030 UN Challenge – A Social Advocacy Project

In my district we are well aware of our demographics.  How we mostly teach one demographic students, and while these students span an enormous socioeconomic range, they look a lot like each other.  How sometimes our world can seem protected with only the biggest stories slipping through.  I also teach 7th grade where the rest of the world tends to slip away as the students are focused on their own social development and their own place in the world, rather than the world that surrounds them.  Yet, we try.  We constantly try to engage the students in projects that will bring the rest of the world in, start conversations, and ultimately lead to change.

When AJ Juliani first posted about the 2030 UN Challenge I didn’t much notice it.  He has a lot of great idea but this one slipped by until my awesome colleague , Reidun Bures, brought it up to me again.  We decided that this was the perfect opportunity to collaborate between our classes, but more importantly to simply make our students more aware of the major challenges that faces our world.

So for the past 3 weeks, we have combined classes and worked on the 2030 UN Challenge.  Students watched the video listing the 17 goals that the UN has set for the next 15 years (it came out in 2015) and then decided which goal they would focus their project on.

TheGlobalGoals_Logo_and_Icons

Once their “lens” had been chosen, they had to narrow their scope.  Where in the world would they focus their research knowing that they had to present their information in an infographic to the rest of the class.  Some chose to focus locally in our very county or state, while others went to far-flung regions that sought their attention.  Students then spent five 90-minute blocks, every other day, researching  their “problem.”  Examples were racial inequity in Dane County, water quality in the United States, gender inequity in education in Pakistan, the extinction of sharks due to shark fin soup, the gender pay gap in the United States and so many other projects.  We were blown away by the passion they had for their problem.

But we didn’t just want to them to become aware, we wanted them to realize that they could make a difference.  So part of their project became an advocacy piece as well; either highlight a group that is already working to solve the problem such as Black Lives Matter, the Water Project, or Second Harvest Food Bank, or come up with actual things that your fellow students can do.  It was amazing.

On the final day of the project, students had to present their infographic and their advocacy piece to the class.  As one student said, “Can I present more than once because I really want people to hear this.”  It was clear that many students were passionate about their project, wanted others to hear them, and wanted to make a difference.  But even more importantly the knowledge that crept into the consciousness of the minds of our students was unmatched.  They may not all go on to change the world but at least they have heard what some of the major challenges that affect us as a human race are.  At least they have had a window opened once again to the world, supporting what our other amazing teachers try to do, hopefully inspiring them become more aware.  It was more than once that a pair of students called us over to share a fact with us, disbelieving that it was true.

So why share?  Because this small projet has made a difference and has made an impact on us that we were not expecting.  So we hope you will take the pledge; do the 2030 UN Challenge in whichever way suits your kids and open up the world more.  Go here for more information or check out the original post from AJ Juliani.

Part of one student’s infographic.

Also if you are looking for another small global project, join the 1 School 1 World project on February 22nd, where classrooms around the world will share a picture of what their learning environment looks like using the hashtag #1S1W – for more information and to sign up, go here.

To see more of the how-to of what we did, go here.

 

 

being a teacher, collaboration, global, Literacy, MIEExpert15, picture books, projects, Reading, skype, student choice

Our Epic Nonfiction Picture Book Project Take 2

For the past few years, my students have written nonfiction picture books for younger audiences around the world.  Last year, I decided to share the lesson plan to serve as inspiration for those who wanted it, and this year I thought I would do the same.  While the foundation is the same, the process has been tweaked a bit for a more meaningful experience for the students.

The goal of the project is rather simple; create a 15 to 25 slide/page nonfiction picture book meant for a 2nd or 3rd grade audience on anything you wish to write about.  Throughout this project we have been able to successfully marry tech tools with writing, as well as use Skype, Padlet, Twitter and other interactive tools.

Why this project?  Because within it we have been able to work on:

  • How to take organized notes in a way that works for them.
  • How to write a paragraph and all of the myriads of lessons that are attached to that.
  • Grammar!  Spelling!  Punctuation!
  • How to find legal images.
  • How to cite sources, including images, books, and websites.
  • How to uncover reliable sources (yes, there is a place for Wikipedia in our research).
  • How to search the internet better.
  • How to conduct market research using Skype to ask 2nd or 3rd graders what they want to read and how they want to read it.
  • How to rewrite information in our own words.
  • How to do design and layout on a page to make it inviting.
  • How to create good questions.
  • Exploring our own interests.
  • How to write assessment rubrics.
  • How to work as a peer mentor group.
  • How to monitor self-engagement.

So a few details about the project:

  • This is a 3-week long project, anchored by a 10 or so minute mini-lessons every day and then work time the rest of class.
  • Mini-lessons have centered around how to take notes ( I showed them 3 different ways), how to research well, how to write paragraphs, how to rewrite information, and anything else we have had to address.
  • Students were able to ask questions to 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms via Skype to do market research, and incorporate that feedback into their project.
  • I am using this blog and Facebook to find classrooms that will assess the final product.  If you would like to be one, please fill out the form at the end of the post.  Those that sign up to give us feedback, fill out this Google form.
  • Students create their books in Google Slides for easy access for all (we check out Chromebooks), as well as easy design and layout.

Major Changes for this year:

The addition of Google Classroom.

This year we have been using Google Classroom to post tools, create the project, as well as use as a gathering point.  This addition has made it much more manageable as far as giving students the information they need, as well as seeing where students are.  If you have not looked into Google Classroom, this is a great project to use it for.

The Peer Mentor Group.

Students are in peer mentor groups as of today.  These groups are meant to be support groups that also help hold each other accountable.  Students gave me three names; a friend they know well, someone they kind of know, and a name for someone they would like to know.  I then made the groups puzzling out their requests.  Groups are between 2 and 4 people are will be used almost every day as an informal check-in.

The shortened timeline.

Last year we did this project for 6 weeks and although the students stayed fully engaged, we shortened it to 3 because we realized we could achieve the same deep engagement with a shortened product.  It also means the students are using their time better because they know every minute counts.

The actual lesson plan:

Expectations:

  • Finished product should be a 15 to 25 page book, created in Google Slides,  that not only includes 4-5 or so “chapters/sub-topics” but also has a glossary, table of contents, works cited, front and back cover, as well as an about the author.
  • Font size of text should be at least 20.
  • Students will use at least one print research material and supplement with reliable internet sources.
  • We will use the website Easybib.com to cite all of our sources which will be done in conjunction with tech tools.  Cross collaboration is a great idea here.
  • We will spend time in class researching, writing, as well as sharing our work.  Students should be able to finish this in class if time is spent wisely.  

Sample:  Will be shown in class and linked to here.

Modifications/Support provided:

  • Some students will be invited to work in small groups with me and/or support teachers.
  • Graphic organizers and templates can be provided for those who need to follow a format.  To access them, please go to this Google presentation and make a copy as needed.

Mini-Lesson Materials:

Every day, we will focus on a mini-lesson meant to bolster the skills and needs of the students.  The following mini-lessons will be taught (in order):

  1. Exploring NF picture books; what are their text features and why are they important?  Template for this discovery can be found here.
  2. What do you want to teach the world?  Narrowing down topic and finding research materials.  Brainstorming research questions to guide their reading.  
  3. Who is your audience?  What do we know about 2nd and 3rd graders? Preparing for our market research Skype call.  Creating a Padlet with what we think we know about 2nd and 3rd graders reading preferences.  An example can be seen here.  Students also meet in their peer mentor groups to share their topics, their questions and what they are excited about.  
  4. Skype call to classrooms, during the call students will take notes for themselves and afterwards we will update our Padlet with what we know now.  Research time reading their books.
  5. Taking 3 column notes in notebook or Google docs.  Example template can be found here.  More information on this type of note-taking can be seen here
  6. Taking notes on notecards and providing graphic organizers for the notes.  (I glued 6 envelopes into Manilla folders and then laminated them many years ago.  These work well for students because they can use them to organize their notes in sub-topics and can write on the folders using dry erase markers.)  Here is what I share with them as an example.
  7. Using Diigo as a way to take notes (refresher from Tech tools).
  8. Unscrambling a paragraph – parts of a paragraph  (example taken from here)
  9. Fill in the main idea and conclusion – found here
  10. Informal to formal paragraph – found here Alternate is writing a sample paragraph
  11. Teach to your partner, checklist can be found here
  12. Table of contents – what does it do, what does it need?
  13. Glossary – what does it do, what does it need?
  14. Self-assessment, peer edit if they want to and review, checklist can be found here
  15. Turn in 

That’s it, pretty much.  Feel free to modify/adapt/share.

If you would like to receive some of our finished picture books to give feedback on and your teach 4th grade or younger, please fill out the form.  Picture books will be shared at the end of December and you will have until mid-January to provide the feedback.

 

authentic learning, global, projects, students

Want to Be Our Audience?

My fantastic 7th graders are working on short choral poetry performances and would love a real-live audience.  Well not live, but actual kids to watch their short videos and then give them feedback on their performance.  We are looking for 4th grade and lower to assess us, videos will be shared via Google Drive and feedback will be given via a short Google Form.  This is open to anywhere in the world.  Videos will be posted next week and then we would love feedback by the following Monday, November 9th.

If you are interested, please fill in the form below and you will receive a link with the videos when they are available, you can do as many as you would like.

ideas, projects, Sponsored

It’s Back…Join the H&R Block Budget Challenge For This Spring

HRB-Concept3-Twitter

This summer was the first time i posted about the H&R Block Budget Challenge for Teens and it made me pine for some high schoolers to teach.  After all, when we talk about school being a tool to not just teach knowledge but also teach life skills, this type of program is what we mean.  It is frightening how few of my 7th graders seem to know what the value of a dollar is or how much money it takes to have a n adult life.  I know when I was a teen, money was something I wasn’t really that concerned with, not because we had a lot, but because I assumed I didn’t have to think about it.  I was very wrong in this notion as my early 20’s and their terrible financial decisions proved to me.  So while I may not teach high schoolers, which this program is intended for, my wheels are still spinning trying to think of ways I can incorporate it with my 7th graders.  After all, it is never too soon to teach more about financial literacy.

So why this program?  Well, it’s free, which I love, it is really in-depth and yet can be covered spending about 15 min a day while the challenge runs.  And there are prizes.  Not just little tiny ones either, but massive, make-a-difference types of prizes which just sweeten the whole deal.

What is the H&R Budget Challenge?

Participants encounter real-world personal budgeting situations, problem-solving, and decision-making through an online simulation and accompanying lessons that meet national standards. With sessions October through April, teachers have six opportunities to participate.  This is for students 14 years or older, enrolled in grade 9 through 12 full-time.  Today is the kick off to their new event, which of course is free for teachers to sign up for, but even better; there are scholarships and grants to be won!

What are the grants and scholarships?

For the top classrooms and teachers, so those who budget the best, there are prizes to win!

H&R Block will award $3 million in classroom grants and scholarships throughout the competition including a $100,000 GRAND PRIZE SCHOLARSHIP.

60 opportunities for classroom grants up to $5K
132 opportunities for student scholarships of $20K
Grand prize scholarship of $100K
Student incentive during game play

When does this start?

Sign up starts today and the next session kicks off January 16th.  This is a great opportunity for teachers to help students learn solid financial skills before they make stupid mistakes like I did.

I have more questions!  

Go to their website to read more about it and also register.

Wait, have real teachers really done this?

You bet!  Quotes from Teachers who participated in the H&K Block Budget Challenge

My kids love this challenge. Everyday they are engaged and want to learn more about personal finance—and, more importantly, they are becoming more financially literate.

I must thank you for the wonderful resource this simulation is and how useful I’m sure it is going to be for their future financial success. They are checking on their status in class all the time, even when it isn’t our scheduled activity. Those who have downloaded the app have found it incredibly useful and convenient as well.

My Juniors and Seniors do this for a Project grade every Wed. and Fri. We have a good time with this “bonding” experience and there is great laughter as well as dread when they have late fees! I really appreciate the people who put this challenge together. It is wonderful to witness them learning about “real life”!

So there you have it.  A great opportunity for anyone who is lucky enough to teach high schoolers.  And yes, H&R Block did compensate me for this post, but I would have shared it even if they hadn’t.  I think this is a pretty incredible program.

being a teacher, MIEExpert15, Passion, projects, student choice

Our Epic Nonfiction Project

I don’t share specific lessons on here often but this time I have to because this one has just made the last 6 weeks, yes 6 weeks, fly by.  Not just for me either, most of my students that reported on their survey that they hate writing but love this project.  So without further ado, let me tell you all about our rather epic nonfiction picture book project.

The goal of the project is rather simple; create a 30 to 50 page nonfiction picture book meant for a K or 1st grade audience on anything you wish.  Throughout this project we have been able to successfully marry tech tools with writing, as well as using Skype, Twitter and other interactive tools.

Why this project?  Because within it we have been able to work on:

  • How to take organized notes in a way that works for them.
  • How to write a paragraph and all of the myriads of lessons that are attached to that.
  • Grammar!  Spelling!  Punctuation!
  • How to find legal images.
  • How to cite sources, including images, books, and websites.
  • How to uncover reliable sources (yes, there is a place for Wikipedia in our research).
  • How to search the internet better.
  • How to conduct market research using Skype to ask K or 1st grade classrooms what they want to read and how they want to read it.
  • How to rewrite information in our words.
  • How to do design and layout on a page to make it inviting.
  • How to create good questions.
  • Exploring our own interests.
  • How to write assessment rubrics.

I had a hunch that it would be a success, but I didn’t know how much.  Yet the conversations that have happened within our room have been incredible.  The hush that falls over the room when 26 students are all intently researching, writing, and quietly conferring with me or friends have been amazing to witness.  They get it.  They know what their purpose is.  They are writing an authentic piece for an authentic audience who not only is guiding them forward but will also be providing feedback once it is complete.

So a few details about the project:

  • This is a 6 week long project, anchored by a 10 or so minute mini-lessons every day and then work time the rest of class.
  • Mini-lessons have centered around how to take notes ( I showed them 3 different ways), how to research well, how to write paragraphs, how to rewrite information, and anything else we have had to address.
  • Students were able to ask questions to K and 1st grade classrooms via Skype to do market research, they are also asked to do a live interview with a child ages 5, 6, or 7 and incorporate that feedback into their project.
  • I reached out through Twitter and Edmodo to find classrooms that will assess the final product, they are asked to fill out this Google form with their feedback.
  • Students created their books in Google Presentations for easy access for all (we checked out Chromebooks), as well as easy design and layout.
  • To see all of my handouts and resources, go to my classroom’s English Resource Page where all the nuts and bolts can be found.

Why have we loved it so much?

  • Using Skype in a meaningful way to interview the audience we are writing for got the students on-board and excited right away.
  • Audience became an ongoing conversation and what we kept in the back of our mind throughout the process.
  • It allowed me to really dig in with each student through mini-conferences.
  • I was able to cover basic grammar over and over without the students finding it repetitive.
  • Students were in charge of their project starting with the choice of their topic to what they would write about.
  • It is an authentic project, not just being written for me.
  • Plagiarism is easily circumvented because students have to simplify the language of their research.
  • We were able to meaningfully collaborate between English and their Tech Tools class.
  • Students have been able to finish the project within English class if they spent their time wisely.
  • We were able to delve into nonfiction in an exciting way, students sometimes hate nonfiction because they find it boring, they forget how much of our life is surrounded by nonfiction and how much fun it can be.
  • And yes, it covers 4 of the 10 standards I have to cover which should never be the only reason we do something but is still a reality of my day-to-day.

Tomorrow they hand in their projects.  They will present by having them run on Chromebooks and students doing a gallery walk, that way we can show off all of them within our 45 minutes.  Then students will self-reflect as always and I will spend a lot of winter break poring over their hard work and assessing them.  I can’t wait.

Thank you Corinne for allowing me to share your finished project

 

 

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

global read aloud, projects

Top 10 Reasons You Should Join the Global Read Aloud #GRA14

Besides the babies we already have at our house, I have another baby; The Global Read Aloud.  The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible.  Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be.  Some people choose to connect with just one class, while others go for as many as possible.  The scope and depth of the project is up to you.  In the past we have used Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, our wiki, email, regular mail, Kidblog, and any other tools we can think of to make these connections.  Teachers get a community of other educators to do a global project with, hopefully inspiring them to continue these connections through the year. 

So why should you join, well, let me count the ways:

  1. It is free.  There is nothing to buy besides the book, there is nothing you have to pay to be a part of it, and for free you get access to educators all over the world.
  2. It brings the world in.  Every year, educators who participate in it cannot believe how many connections they make, whether just in the US or around the world.  Having a common project provides you with a platform to start collaborating with others that you can then use the rest of the school year.
  3. You decide.  This project is great because of its simplicity, I don’t tell you how to connect or what tools to use, just which book you should be discussing.  Different teachers have different time to dedicate so this fits in with any curriculum anywhere.
  4. Students get it.  The reason I keep doing this is because my students cannot wait to hear what others think of the book we are reading.  They cannot wait to connect, they cannot wait to share, they cannot wait to reach out and learn with others.
  5. It is only 6 weeks.  We keep it short because we know how busy we all get.  6 weeks is just the right amount of time to discuss, elaborate and dissect a great book without getting overwhelmed by all of the to do’s.
  6. There is a book for your level.  Last year we expanded into two separate books, one for younger grades and one for upper grades.  This year we took it a step further and now span K through 12.  Now you truly get to pick which book you feel the most comfortable with for your students.  There is even a French version of the project for those who would rather do it in French.
  7. It provides a way to introduce tech tools.  I use the project to introduce students to Skype, KidBlog, Edmodo, Animoto and other tools.  This way I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but get to use the tools in a meaningful way with my students for their intended purposes.
  8. You get a voice.  I invite others to make it their own and share their ideas.  This is not just “my” project, it is for everyone to make their own.  I love all of the sharing and great ideas that come from being part of this project, it really sets me up for great collaboration and idea creation for the the rest of the year.
  9. You don’t have to be a techie to do it.  Sometimes technology is really overwhelming and the great thing with this project is that you don’t have to use a lot of it if you don’t want to.  You can email one other class, or even use regular mail to share observations and discussions.  However, if you are feeling adventurous, this is a great project to get your tech feet wet because there is a whole group of participants that would love to help you!
  10. It’s fun!  The biggest reason for why you should join, it is a great project!  Many teachers have embraced this project and made it their own, using it receive grants and propel their own teaching. The students love it, the books are always thought provoking and who doesn’t love a great read aloud.  So why not take something you probably already do and make it even better.
I could keep going, but I hope some of these reasons have at least sparked your curiosity.  So to get more information head over to the Global Read Aloud blog.  To sign up go right here.
I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students Starting Today” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.