Previously, I only worked with Grade 1 and below at the early childhood campus and this year was my first year working at both the Lower School and ECE campus. When thinking about this final project, I thought this would be a great opportunity to challenge myself and choose an age and grade that I don’t have a lot of interactions with and so I chose Grade 4. I wanted to dig in deeper to get a better understanding of the units they’ve done and then hopefully create some tech-rich experiences that they will want to add for the next time they are working on this unit. I modified the unit with additional learning experiences and added a digital presentation for the summative assessment. A major aspect of the PYP is action so I wanted students to synthesize and connect to their learning by including their action plan as part of their digital presentation. Students are given options and choice about what kind of digital presentation they wanted to create and what technology tool they could use. I created a rubric for the digital presentation so students were all aware of how they can meet the success criteria.
I chose these standards because this is an age where they will have a better understanding of digital citizenship and to get them in the habit of sourcing their material. By creating this final project, students are knowledge constructors and through their presentation, assembly and seesaw post, they are creative communicators. We also use the common core at our school and this also meets some of our ELA standards for our non-fiction writing as well as speaking and listening.
I’m a big advocate for using technology as a creation tool so having students create something on the iPad is what most of my learning experiences are for students so this really plays on my strength and experience. The biggest difference is the quality of the presentation because students have deeper content that they can include and their use of technology skills are also higher so I have to keep up to date with more features across all of the different apps and programs than I have before.
Looking back at this course, there are a few things that I wanted to explore with my teaching. One was going back to Kim Cofino’s article about making it relevant for the students. How can I connect it to the real world? That’s why I included the action portion of the digital presentation but I don’t want to stop there. It is also important to have an authentic audience and for students to have back and forth communication. If they post it on the seesaw blog, that’s a great way to get outside feedback and maybe find others who are passionate about the same issues. Also, I realize the importance of giving students the time and space to hang out, mess around and geek out. Even though there isn’t enough time in the school day for all of this to happen, encouraging them and giving students more choice means they also have more agency. This, in turn, might spark a passion in the format they are presenting or activism in what they’re learning.
In the end, I hope that students are able to create presentations that are informative, provide an opinion and an action plan. I would like for the students can make the connection that all of these external forces are caused or influenced in some way by humans. I hope they have learned that humankind and life on earth are all connected in some ways and the choices we make might have unintended consequences somewhere else.