Sunday, May 31, 2015

Westward Expansion Projects

This year I have had the great opportunity to collaborate with the third grade teachers on many of their science and social studies units.  Last month, we worked together to elaborate on student learning about westward expansion by utilizing our enrichment time, and some library time to create student interest projects.  Students spent time learning about some westward expansion topics--everything from clothing, to dangers on the trail, to the Gold Rush was explored using books and online resources!  Next students selected an individual topic that they wanted to learn more about. Students took notes and found images to support their learning.  In their classrooms students wrote a research report on their topic.  During enrichment time students created a project.  The guidelines for this project were broad, and students were encouraged to be creative as they thought about what type of project would best share information about their topic with others. It was really great giving students a chance to explore something they wanted to learn more about, and it provided depth to their in class curriculum learning about westward expansion.

The projects that students designed were as varied as their topics and included: clay models, cooking, wooden models, Google presentations, green screen movies, songs, posters, cartoons, drawings and more!

One important aspect of any project is knowing that your work has an audience.  On Friday, third graders were thrilled to share their great work (reports and projects) with the second grade classes.  Third graders set up their projects and then answered questions as second graders visited each of the classrooms. I was really impressed with the conversations that I witnessed that showed that second graders were truly interested in learning about a new subject and that proved that third graders had become topic experts! This was a great connection for second graders who are starting to think about becoming third graders next year and our third graders were really proud to share their learning.

The below video shows the westward expansion project share so that you too can celebrate this great learning. Enjoy! 

And as promised in a previous blog post, a sample green screen project:

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