Kids love social media; even my elementary school students. I’ve shamelessly used this love to motivate them to expand their vocabulary. I was inspired to have my kids “tweet” after seeing the various ways other teachers have students jot down their learning in Twitter format. Simply search Pinterest for examples. In our classroom, we use it to create grammatically correct sentences featuring a selected term.
Each week, I post a Twitter Word of the Week on the board. I generally select vocabulary words that my students might not be familiar with, but might find themselves confronted with while reading directions or tasks. I try to use a variety of higher level words to expand my students’ vocabulary: annotate, support, defend, etc. We review the definition of the word, I give them a couple of example sentences, and we discuss affixes that could be added to the word. Students then have the remainder of the week to create one single sentence using the word appropriately in a grammatically correct sentence.
Students write a rough draft of the sentence in their journals, self-edit, then “tweet” their sentence. Since we can’t use Twitter at school, we fake it. I update a discussion topic on our class blog weekly. This blog is found on our school hosted website, and is a safe place for students to learn blogging. Students use the Scan app on the iPads to scan a QR code that sends them directly to the discussion topic. After logging in, they simply type up their sentence and submit it. I grade the sentence for grammar conventions and appropriate use of the new word. It’s an easy way to expand my students vocabulary, a quick and easy ELA grade, and a great way to engage my students in what could otherwise be a fairly boring weekly task.
So it became blatantly obvious on Friday, that even after a retest, my students were still unable to classify animals as carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. I was pleased that some could tell me what those words meant, but almost none could generate examples of these animals. I of course wondered how I could support my science teacher while integrating technology. My solution? Pic Collage.
I blogged earlier this year about Pic Collage being a great photo collage tool that was made even better with the ability to search the web for safe images straight from the app. As my students have already used this app, I planned a quick one period review lesson on the classification of consumers and let the kids go to work. Each student chose a random card with carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore on it. From there they were given the requirements of the project and set loose. Each student had to identify at least five examples of an animal that fit into the category they chose. They had to add text to the collage to label the animal classification as well as their name. Besides that, students were free to choose whatever layout, images, text, and color scheme they wanted. I can happily report that 100% of my students completed the task in our 50 minute block of time and most actually made pic collages for each of the animal classifications. Each student independently uploaded their file to Dropbox and got a chance to check out the other projects as well. With only a few exceptions, they also showed 100% mastery of generating animals to fit a given consumer classification.
In the midst of this lesson, I had another Pic Collage idea. Students could create Pic Collages of nouns and verbs. This would be a fun iLesson to cement the parts of speech.