Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Project Based Learning {Part 1}

We began our Project Based Learning adventure yesterday.  Students are exploring a habitat and learning more about the animals that live in that habitat.  After learning about the habitat and the animals that live there, students will create their habitat and share their learning with their families after our kindergarten graduation ceremony.

Prior to beginning our project, I called students over one at a time and had them tell me an animal they wanted to learn more about.  I then put students into groups of 3 or 4 based on the habitat of the animal they chose.  I have 6 groups.

Day 1:
I introduced the project by putting the letter below up on our SMARTboard and gave each student a copy.  We read the letter together.  The "characters" in the letter include one from each habitat being studied.

We followed the introduction with getting our bags of books.  I reserved books at the library about each habitat as well as books about animals that live in each habitat.  These books were sorted and bagged for each group.  Students started yesterday learning about their habitat.

After filling in our graphic organizer about their habitat, we went to the computer lab in the afternoon to type sentences about the habitat.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how well students worked together to type their sentences. Because of limited availability and our crazy end of the year schedule, students even had to share computers.  We printed these sentences, and they will be displayed by our completed habitats.

Day 2:
Today we continued our learning about our habitat and also began learning about an animal that lives in our habitat.  Each group had one "notetaker".  His/her job was to write down the animal facts needed on our graphic organizer.  The other members of the group were responsible for using the books in the book bag to find the needed information and share it with the notetaker.  Any information not found it books was then searched for on National Geographic Kids.  Each child will eventually have a turn to be the notetaker in their group.  The notetaker was also responsible for drawing that animal.

It was very interesting to me the way students divided the responsibilities.  The groups are relatively well mixed in terms of ability.  One group does not have a strong reader, but a student in that group has really stepped into a leadership role, which is great to see!  Two groups function VERY well together and their roles just naturally fall into place.  It seems that the groups of 3 work together better than the groups of 4 at this point.  I thought it would be the opposite with the "odd man out" scenario in a group of 3.

We ended the day with students making me a shopping list of the things they thought they might need to create their habitats.  This was interesting.  I showed them a couple examples I had found online and told them to think creatively.  We just finished talking about reusing and recycling, so I encouraged them to think about items they could reuse.  I took a trip to the Dollar Tree tonight to pick up some of the things on their lists.  I'll post a picture when they begin creating their habitats (Friday or Monday).

I'm really excited about this project, and I think my students are too.  This is the most independent they have had the opportunity to be and I think their ownership helps their engagement and excitement.

We are off to be college students tomorrow morning as we visit my alma mater! :)


  1. Congrats on the achievements! You have budding researchers! Smiles and stop by anytime!

  2. Thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to continuing to work on our project :)