This year we are piloting ipads in the combined Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten grade that I teach. After the introduction to the device (very little was required) and talking about how to take care of them, the students have been using the ipads to explore the various educational apps that help them learn, review and practice concepts such as letters, numbers, beginning sounds and words. I find that both my teaching and my students learning have changed. My teaching is a lot more engaging and my students’ learning seems to be accelerated. Hence I am pleased with how effective a learning tool the ipads have been and how much my students have learnt in a very short period of time.
Yet we were ready for something more or at least I was. I felt that while positive, we were mainly doing “old things” in a “new way.” I was ready to “mess about” and find out how else I could use this tool to further my students learning. How could my students DO something that they would not have been able to do without the use of technology?
With this sentiment in mind (and of course the standards that I need to meet at this point of the year) I started thinking of the how, what and why of this project.
How do I create a learning experience that is embedded as opposed to an add-on through which the students apply technology so that their learning and creativity is promoted?
Lesson Title: My Fairy Tale – Creating an original story with the basic text elements of a fairy tale.
We used the Puppet Pals app during a fairy tale unit in order to review the basic text elements of fairy tales (good character, bad character, problem, solution and a happy ending) and for each student to create their original fairy tales showcasing their knowledge of these elements. Each student was able to pick out their own characters, setting, and record their narration telling the audience what the problem was and how the characters solved it so that there was a happy ending to the story.
Puppet Pals HD app by Polished Play, LLC
Lesson Plan using the UbD template:
Children learn to organize complex information and thoughts into small steps and goals.
Children extend their understanding when they think creatively about new ideas.
Literature consists of a variety of elements to convey meaning.
How do I understand the steps of a task? How do I finish a task?
How do I use what I already know to learn new things?
How do I recognize the different elements in a story?
Goal: To create an electronic puppet show using the Puppet Pals app on the ipad. The puppet show will use the basic text elements of good and bad characters, a problem, solution and a happy ending.
Role: Students will work independently to pick out their story elements. Step two includes learning how to move the characters on screen so that the story is being told by the puppets. Once they have completed this step, they will narrate the story using the record button. Third step will be to playback and view their show to see how they can make it better. Fourth step is to edit and re-record.
Audience: Other students and parents.
Situation: To demonstrate knowledge of text elements and to create a puppet show in a new way that can be recorded and shared outside the classroom.
Product: A puppet show based on an original fairy tale that can be exported and emailed to parents.
Six Facets of Understanding:
Explain: Students will explain who their characters are, where the story is taking place, what the problem and solution in their story are and ensure that there is a happy ending.
Interpret: Students will create an original tale by picking their own characters, setting and then record their narrations.
Apply: Students will use the ipads and the Puppet Pal app to create an electronic puppet show to apply what they have learnt about fairy tale story elements and to create an original story that they can share with others.
Have perspective: Students will see that the different parts of their story have to work together for it to make sense (eg. problem and solution have to match).
Empathize: Students will see that there are different ways to engage in an activity and to create a story. They also had to be respectful of each other workspace and voice levels while recording their narrations.
Have self-knowledge: Students will start to develop an understanding of why it is important to break up a task into smaller parts that need to be learned and practiced one step at a time. They will also review their recorded show and reflect on how they can make it better. For eg. Move the characters in a different way, use different vocabulary, voice level, clarity in their narrations, etc
Resources for developing a UbD Unit Planner: http://www.diigo.com/user/mscofino/ubd
To meet these standards:
ISR Pre-Kindergarten Standards and Benchmarks:
Developmental Domain: Approaches to learning through play
Standard 2: Organizing and Understanding Information
Benchmarks: Work towards completing task independently
Standard 3: Applying Knowledge
Benchmarks: Produce and explain the purpose for a new creation
Developmental Domain: Language and Literacy Development
Standard 1: Learning to read independently
Benchmarks: Use new vocabulary when speaking
Standard 2: Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Text
Benchmarks: Identify characters and text features in a story
Standard 5: Quality of Writing
Benchmarks: Illustrate and /or tell about a specific topic; Generate ideas for a picture or story
ISTE – NETS Standards Met:
Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
2. Communication and Collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
This was the most challenging part of the project for me. I guess its because I am still tinkering with my philosophy on assessment in a combined Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten classroom. I bring to the table my belief in the importance of letting young children mess about and focus more on the process than the product. Yet we need to stay accountable and make sure that standards and benchmarks are being met.
For the purpose of this assignment I did consider the types of assessment that were shared in the readings and feel that it would be appropriate to say that this project lends itself as a performance task where the students have to use what they have learned about fairy tales and create their own stories that they can share with their parents. By listening and watching their recorded show they have use self-assessment and their observations to reflect on the quality of their work and think about how they can make it better.
I am unable to post photos or the finished work of my students due to school restrictions but I did ask one of my students (who is 5) to reflect on what she thought of the lesson and what she learned from it. Her reflections are attached. I loved how ‘being quiet’ was part of what she had learned J After hearing the play-back she said, “I also learned about the setting of the story. I should have said that and that I had fun.”
Overall I thought that this project was very successful because students were engaged, the standards were met and we used technology to complete a task that we would not have been able to do otherwise.
Technology is changing the learning landscape in the classroom for sure not only because I have access to and am making use of tools such as ipads, laptops, and document cameras because we are able to explore, engage and create in ways that had not been possible before. In addition, as I continue to learn and connect with peers through this course, reading RSS feeds, following blogs, and reflecting on my own teaching, I am finding that both my practice and the students’ learning is changing. As I look back at the big ideas on which this first course was build: find ways to connect digital tools to create a learning network; see how learning is connected, networked and increasingly digitalized; start to think about how I apply technology in my classroom and how to make the shift between these applications so that its not just a new way of doing old things so that the learning landscape truly changes, I realize that I am coming along this journey quite nicely. Perhaps not as fast as I would like (but then I need to remember my mantra of ‘pole pole’ and that I am not able to spend as much time as I would like to reading my RSS feeds and following blogs but then again its always a balancing act. Important thing is that I am learning and I am changing as a teacher. Looking forward to course 2.