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We have finished our third grade bird research project. My intent was to have the students read for content in a web page and write their own sentences about what they learned. With each research assignment, we used a new tool.
PowerPoint as a Writing Tool
I placed a PowerPoint file with the glyph from the Winter Wonderland project in each students folder on the file server. It gave the students their first experience with the file server. We talked about how the files on each computer are "locked" on that computer's hard drive. The file server is connected to each computer in the building, so we can share its hard drive.
The students arranged the parts of the penguin into an individual representation and learned to use the notes section. They wrote sentences telling what each part of the penguin represented. For example, they used one color beak if they like warm weather and another color if they liked cold weather. They wrote five sentences in all to describe the glyph. Next they added three sentences telling what they knew, for sure, about birds.
Learning About Our State Bird
Next, we reviewed what the students might know about the Eastern Goldfinch - our state bird. I did not tell them if they were right or wrong with the details about the eastern goldfinch. The following week, we looked at the flip chart while holding a printout from Little Explorer's Picture Dictionary. I would show a question and the voting results, such as where does the eastern goldfinch live. I asked them to read the page and stand up when they thought they found the answer. Everyone was successful in finding all the answers.
At the end, they retired to the computer and Kid Pix to draw the eastern goldfinch by following the outline on the Little Explorer's printout.
When they returned to class the following week, I had each of their images on the second page of their PowerPoint. They chose five details to share with the class about the bird.
Comparing the Penguin and the Goldfinch
The final activity was creating a Venn diagram in Kidspiration to compare the penguin and the goldfinch. I made a template, which I will place on my project wiki. They found three facts that only apply to penguins. Three facts that only apply to the goldfinch and three that both birds shared.
When they returned the following week, they added three sentences to the PowerPoint slide that contained their Venn diagram. They wrote three sentence: what they liked most about penguins, what they liked most about goldfinches, and one sentence telling why they thought the birds were more similar or more different from each other.
A First Presentation Experience
The work culminated in the students standing at the front of the room, reading their PowerPoint notes, and advancing the presentation by tapping the Activboard with the stylus. They did a great job speaking loud enough for the class to hear, being a good audience member, and switch from one piece of paper to the next - a big juggling job.
All the presentations are on the computer class wiki.