Monday, February 29, 2016

Looking to the Future (Careers)

We spent the last few weeks learning about different careers in conjunction with our unit about communities.

Each student chose a career they wanted to learn more about; it wasn't necessarily what they wanted to be when they grow up, just what they might be interested in.  I only allowed one student to do each career.  I found a little "menu" of careers on Pinterest, it seems I didn't pin it and can't find it, but it was basically a table with 30 careers in it.  Each child was called over one at a time and able to choose a career to learn about; if they had their own idea that wasn't on this menu, they were certainly encouraged to learn about it.  Careers chosen include: author, illustrator, artist, actor/actress, dancer, musician, doctor, nurse, dentist, vet, investigator, chef, coach, teacher, news reporter, Dunkin Donuts worker, custodian, banker, librarian, pilot and counselor.  As a class, we learned about a police officer, fireman and mayor as we all attended presentations about these careers; I did not allow any students to then choose these careers.

My little "illustrator" teaching her group about drawing using a Steve Harpster video.  She interviewed him via e-mail.

I wanted this to be a "speaking and listening" experience as much as it was academic, so I set out to find people in these careers my students were interested in to interview.  This proved to be MUCH harder than I anticipated!  I used resources in the community I teach in as well as my church, blog buddies and the community I live in.  Facebook helped me connect with a few people as well.

In-person interview with the Children's Dept. librarian from our local library.
We came up with a list of 5 questions every child would ask: "What do you have to do to be a _____?" (background, interests, education), "Do you have to wear special clothes?" "Do you use special tools?"  "What do you do at your job?"  "Where do you do your job?"  For a few jobs, some of these were obvious (like the child who chose teacher obviously knows where many teachers do their jobs).    Students then got to work interviewing; we had FaceTime, phone, in-person and e-mail interviews.  For the e-mail interviews, I taped the kids asking the questions so they at least had the experience of asking.  I then went over the e-mailed responses with them as if I was being interviewed.

In the end, it took me about 3 weeks to get all the interviews complete. It was a crazy process; I do have a student teacher, which freed one of us up to be with each phone, FaceTime and in-person interview to be the "note taker" for the child.

After learning about their career, students then decided upon a short activity to do with their peers related to their career.  Each day, 4-5 students presented their careers.  I broke the rest of the class into groups, and these groups rotated to each of the day's presenters.  So, by the 4th rotation, the presenters had their ideas down pat.

The "coach" teaching his group to dribble.
The "investigator" fingerprinted each child in his group.
The "vet" showed her groups animal x-rays.
The "nurse" took each child's temperature.
The kids loved everything about this project!  It helped them learn about some new careers they had never heard of, and it gave them great practice talking to the peers as well as an adult.  After learning about all 21 careers, one student said to me "I have no idea what I want to do now!".  I asked him if he learned something new and found something else he might want to try.  He responded "Yes!" This is all I needed to make me want to do it all over again next year!

**If any of our friends who were interviewed see this, thanks so much for your help!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Famous Americans Project

I added a "research center" to our center time about 6 weeks ago.  My students have really enjoyed visiting this center with nonfiction books and graphic organizers related to our theme.  This week is packed with things to celebrate, so I wanted to include some of these things in our research center.  I am thrilled with the results of this project!

I decided to focus on Presidents and Black History Month in the research center. Books available included: Barack Obama, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Jackie Robinson.  We used the Rookie Biographies series of books to research.  I asked each child to visit the center, choose a Famous American and complete a research graphic organizer.  This was pretty basic, but it allowed students to find important information.  I made each idea a different shape to help them visually organize their research.  This way everyone, even those with limited reading skills, could use the sheet.
For those that needed help reading the books, my student teacher jumped in during their visit to the center.  We have been using nonfiction books in my small groups, so many children were able to use the books relatively independently.  We also worked on just looking for the information the wanted to know rather than reading the whole book, though most of them did want to read the whole book anyway.
After completing their research, they came to me and shared what they learned, either the same day or later in the week depending on the day's schedule.  We went over their learning on their graphic organizer and talked about a shape that related to their person.  Students use use this shape to share their learning with others.  

Shapes were made on large pieces of tagboard or rolled bulletin board paper.  I coached the kids about remembering what they learned and thinking about a shape that would represent that learning.  I also did not let them duplicate any other shapes used by other students in the class.
After making their shapes, the kids decided where to place their information. I did sit with each child (usually 2 at a time at my table) and helped them with formatting of dates, text size, etc.  They haven't had a lot of experience with larger workspaces, so this was a new challenge as well.   The first wrote with pencil then traced their shape and all their words with a Sharpie.  Using a permanent marker was quite the thrill for them.
I think their work turned out awesome!  I was truly amazed with what they could share with me and their ideas for their projects.  Warning: picture overload coming!  I wanted you to see a variety of projects.

"He experimented with plants and made medicine from them, so I want to make a flower."
"We should make a railroad because that is how she helped people."  Side note: We did discuss that it wasn't a real railroad.

Lincoln's Log Cabin.  "I wrote his name on the door so everyone knows it is his cabin."

"Martin Luther King Jr. wanted peace because he wanted us to all get along."

"How about a number 1 because he WAS the first president?"
We went back and added an 's' to "Parks" after this picture was taken!
"O" for Obama.  We are from Ohio, so a block O was easy for this teacher with limited art abilities to show her.  She did a great job with it.

How have you tackled research in your classroom?  I'm starting to think about our next project!  Have a great weekend!