In late September I saw an online announcement for a technology project that involved pumpkins and Halloween. I checked out the site and found "The Pumpkin Project" , A Project by Jen (http://projectsbyjen.com/). After sending out information to our K-2 teachers Mrs. Gilbar and Mrs. Riggs expressed interest in working on the project with their classes. The great thing about this project was that it encouraged classrooms to weigh and carve a pumpkin and count the seeds. Classes could do this anyway that made sense, and just had to report their data and experience in two ways: submit their data through a Google form and create a page on a common Google presentation.
I was lucky enough to get to work on this project with Mrs. Riggs class. It was really fun! Mrs. Riggs blogged about it here:
Students were very excited to estimate, count and report their data. They also enjoyed an additional aspect of the project in which we skyped with another class that was doing the same project. I think that the authentic audience for their results really made them think hard about their data and be careful to get it right. When it was time to discuss our results students did a good job of giving math clues to challenge our new Kansas friends to guess how many seeds we had counted! I also observed many skills that students had to have during this interaction. Students had to be clear in their presentation of information (so the other class could understand them). Students had to take a risk as they participated in introductions in a new technology medium. Students also had to be excellent listeners. For me, this inclusion of the technology component really added a new dimension to the learning that carving a pumpkin created. I am thrilled to be working in classrooms where technology is an integrated component of learning, and not a separate stand alone learning objective. I am excited to contemplate a time when we will make a quick call to a class in Kansas to share some new learning--and that authentic audience will lead to bigger and better projects!
A few hours later I was in the hallway and observed two second grade students looking at a U.S. map and hunting for Kansas (the state we had skyped). Their interest was authentic and driven by a real world connection and I felt so lucky to witness it. Encouraged by the great student engagement in this project and the fun we had skyping, we are working on how we can use this new relationship to engage in future projects together.