The fifth grade students continue to extend their learning through presentations and reports. They write a report on an influential person around February and a president around April. The intention is to have the student complete all the work in class and learn how to independently find answers with a guide in the classroom.
I include links to web sites we use and my project wiki with more detailed directions.
Who Wrote This Information
We begin the year with a little research into time zones. In the fourth grade, the students practice paging forward and backward through pages. They learn to do simple searches in Pics4Learning to find images. They copy citations for images into presentations. The students review those skills as they complete a worksheet about time zones.
After they work, we regroup to review the answers and begin thinking about who wrote those pages. It is important to know that the Internet is a collection of pages that anyone can write. I chose two pages for the students. America's Story is maintained by the Library of Congress. Mystery Class is maintained by Annenberg Learner.
Digital Citizenship Skills
Every year, I attempt to have the students collaborate with another class outside our time zone to collaborate and share through Skype and Edmodo. We need to work synchronously with our partner to have a Skype call. Skype allows us to work at the same time from different locations. This year, Vicky Sedgwick and I connected our students via a Mystery Skype call. The students used their geography skills to determine where the partner class was located. The students moved from hemisphere, to continent, to state, to county, to town. It was very exciting. We will eventually work on digital citizenship skills as the students connect with each other in small groups in Edmodo.
The students learn to communicate appropriately while on a Skype call. There is a lot of learning involved in inviting another class to join ours including speaking clearly, listening well, and behaving appropriately in front of a web camera. Mistakes are made in a learning environment. After the call, we talk about how to improve our communications the next time we work together, if necessary. The students eventually collaboratively edit a Google Drawing and learn to respect the work of others by adding to, not destroying, another student's work. They communicate with posts to an Edmodo group and learn to type appropriate and respectful messages.
The fifth grade teacher assigns each students a historic figure in late January. This is the first time I assist the students in finding their own answers for a teacher's essay. The students receive a template in a document to collect their answers. We have tried paper worksheets over the years, but the document seemed to really help them this year.
The big skills in completing their research is learning how to build a query in Sweet Search 4 Me and Google. I want the students to begin to build on thinking about who wrote the website. The learn to use quotation marks around search terms to make sure the name of their historic figure is on the results page. They work to bookmark the actual web page so they can return a create their citation.
Through the searching phase, the students bookmark web pages and note the name of their bookmark or encyclopedia in a word processing document. When the project is nearing completion, the students and I practice creating a citation for the encyclopedia on one class day, the web sites on a second class day, and formatting of the entries in a word processing document on the third day.
Giving Students Feedback
The students turn their completed work into Edmodo. I give the students feedback by marking up their documents. When they open their documents with my highlighting I ask them to reply in Edmodo with sentences about what they will improve in their next document. These are solid first steps in looking for information in encyclopedias, on the Internet, and citing sources.