Stories my Grandparents Tell…Unit 4 UBD

I decided I wanted to try Projects Based Learning (PBL) after reading more about it and reviewing the Wikipedia  definition:

A student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.Students learn about a subject by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, challenge, or problem.


grandparentI figured it would be fun to try PBL with my next unit,  “Stories my Grandparents Tell” that focuses on time (past/present) and needs and wants.  Also, the The Five E’s was recently reintroduced (I am sure I learned about it years ago, but have never actually incorporated it in my lesson plans for some reason) and I thought that was a perfect way to focus more on inquiry and make this unit more projects based.

The five E’s begins with Engage, then Explore followed by Explain. I had always done the Engage portion, however I would mix the explore and explain. I quickly realized that if I explained everything, then went to explore, the children are not really asking questions or wondering about what is happening since I had already told them what would most likely happen. Seems so simple to reverse, yet I had never done that and realize the disservice I was doing by not allowing the children to explore and inquire about what they explored.

I decided to try to Explore before Explain while working with the thermometer and I was impressed at how well the children noticed what was happening and coming up with some of their own conclusions and questions while exploring. When I explained the thermometer after exploring with it, explaining seemed so much easier! The children understood what I was talking about and could relate to it more because they’ve already explored.

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So with all these new ideas on how to create my unit and try to make it as PBL as possible while incorporating the five E’s,  I came across some major roadblocks. I was trying to think of ways to engage and explore about the past and technology of the past without doing too much explaining first. I struggled with ways to have the children explore more since they were not around in the past. I planned to use pictures, videos, etc. with the hope that they can get some ideas (I will even show them pictures from my childhood).


Then I thought it would be fun to do some interviewing. Of course, interviewing their grandparents is a must, but I figured it may be fun to practice on someone closer to their age who is still a student. I am hoping I can round up some high schoolers keen to work with the younger kids and willing to be interviewed and share their experiences from when they first began school.  Ten years is not a huge age difference, but the children in my classroom have a completely different experience than the high school children did (I know this because the way I taught ten years ago was completely different than now!) I hope to have the students generate their own questions for their interviews based on some of the pictures and videos we looked at.

Hopefully we can videotape the high school interviews and watch them in class to discuss them more (not only how to interview people, but what exactly the high school’s past was like compared to their lives). Once the children are more comfortable with interviewing, then we will discuss more about tools and technology and the differences from now and then. The children can use the same questions asked in the beginning or generate new questions to ask their grandparents (or parent). We will not be able to videotape those interviews (many will not be in English and will require some translation help from the parents) but I am hoping we can get some pictures from some of the people being interviewed. That would help bring things into perspective and would be a great experience for the children and their families!

I hope to have the children create ebooks using the book creator app and upload everything they create (whether a video, picture or book) to SeeSaw as well.

I am not sure how to make this more hands on and add more technology.  Take a look at the unit and any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated! I’ll begin the unit in January and we shall see how it goes (more to come on the final project in course five!)


Improved…but still have a long way to go

As I think about the technology I use in my classroom and reflect back to how much I was using prior to COETAIL, I do have to say I have learned a lot and improved in some ways.

Often, I would just add technology because it was expected, but I never really thought about the purpose or exactly how useful the technology was that I had implemented. After learning more about the SAMR model and recently reading the blog from another COETAILer Jennifer Coleman, New Possibilities, that caught my eye I realized that I have began to reflect more on SAMR as I implement different forms of technology in the classroom.


As Jennifer discusses in her blog, she is reflecting and realizing she is using technology in more ways than she had expected and is using it more in terms of Modification and Augmentation. I feel my technology integration falls within the same Modification and Augmentation as well.

I know I still use some technology for substitution (youtube videos, brainpopjr, etc.) and that will not really change as I enjoy using those tools to help explain different concepts we have been experimenting with. However, I am using technology more than just as a substitution tool now. I have began to use different forms of technology to help change the task or improve the task at hand.

I have dabbled some with SeeSaw to help not only improve parent involvement and what they have access to, but also to allow the children opportunities to decide what is shared with their parents and make them more accountable in their learning. I am still struggling to find a way to have the children post more, but they have enjoyed trying it and the parents have already made several comments about how much they enjoy seeing different items kids are working on.

Once Seesaw is running more smoothly (hopefully that can be accomplished in the next few week prior to the holidays!) I would like to explore the other tools that Seesaw provides. Unfortunately, I am a very linear thinker  so it is hard for me to try something new till I’ve tackled the first thing, but I am working on that and hope to try some new tools after the holidays.

I’ve also attempted blogging and creating global communication. My goal would be to have a blog that kids are more interactive with other kids around the world and have a penpal sort of relationship with. It would be great for the children to learn from other kids around the world and discuss some of what they are learning with them. Unfortunately, that has seemed to fizzle out some, but I hope to bring it back at some point. I had a lot of fun with it last school year.

Following the break, we will also begin to explore ebooks and maybe dabble some in digital storytelling with our new unit “Stories my Grandparents Tell.”  The children may be interviewing their grandparents (or parents if no grandparents exist). Hopefully we can gather some pictures from the past and the students can create their stories through an ebook or spark video.  I have never tried this before, so I am a bit nervous but I’ve been earning right along side with the children and it has been a great education for me as well.

I do have ideas and I am thinking more about the SAMR while I decide what technology to use, but I still need to work on utilizing my PLN more. I struggle with so many different aspects of technology and often give up, but I forget that I have a massive PLN out there that can help me out if I just reach out and ask. That is something I will need to continue to work on because it would be foolish to give up on an awesome idea or tool just because I am stuck when there are so many people who may be able to help or share their own ideas.  The goal is to use the PLN more, but try not to become overwhelmed with all the new changing technology. It is ok to take a step back and reevaluate what is most effective and what can be adapted, changed or tweaked to work with my class.