Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Student Led Research Projects

Missing these kids.
I saw someone online recently call this time of staying at home The Pause. Not sure if they made that up or it is a common term, but I liked it. I have to say, as I see some friends and segments of the country angry at our political leaders, I feel the opposite. I am happy to do my part, to sit back and let the scientists and doctors try to fight this while I work on not spreading the illness. While I type that, I am also very aware that I wrote that from a point of privilege, I can sit back and let them work because I have a job that is being done from home. I don’t know what the answer is for those that don’t, but I also think we have nothing left to fight for if we’re sick and die, so I’ll stay home.

With that being said, teaching has been interesting during The Pause. I’m still connecting with kids, still talking to them online on a regular basis. It’s not the same, but it has benefits. I’ve loved getting to know them in their home environments. Parents have appeared in Flipgrid videos, Zoom calls. We’ve had some experiences together that have made me laugh out loud. There are absolutely elements of what we’ve been doing that make me want to continue them once school returns to normal. Fingers crossed and praying to anyone who will listen, that’s in the fall.  

As we wrap up the school year, my colleague and I were looking at our last research project. Due to the dates of the school year and remote learning, we’d have less time than usual. Also, a lot of the lessons would be too difficult to do over this type of teaching. Not to mention our district asked us to look at what we taught in this time frame, take half, then take half again. How could we do this project? I thought a bit about how we often give the question - How do humans impact the planet? - then let them pick their own topic to research under that umbrella. Looking at this year, I wondered what if we removed the umbrella? 

As I wrote about in a previous post (HERE), our class during remote learning has had components that could be found in a typical week in class.

  • Daily reading - read independently for 30 minutes a day. Record your reading on the sheet online, similar to our Status of the Class.
  • Daily writing - write for 10 minutes a day. What they write is their choice. One day’s worth of writing shared each week.
  • Weekly interaction - Google Poll question and Flipgrid to respond to. Optional Zoom meeting on Wednesdays. This takes the place of our conferences. 
  • Optional read aloud to follow along with in Flipgrid.
  • New learning - in April they had a poetry assignment each week. Typically this involved a set of poems to read and respond to, either by writing about them, answering questions, or writing their own poem. In May, this will be their research topic.
This week our poll question was this: 

Starting next week, you will research a topic you want to learn more about. You will share this learning on a Google Slide presentation that you will upload to Kidblog to share with us. What is a topic that you would like to spend ten days immersing yourself in to learn more about? 

Now, their poll question isn’t due until Sunday, but here are some of the answers so far:

  • Who is the best baseball player of all time?
  • How do you make the best icing?
  • I want to research and learn more about volcanoes.
  • How do you make the best homemade bread?
  • How do I improve the most as a runner?
  • Livelihood of Justin Thomas(Pro Golfer)
  • Who is the best college softball player of all time?
  • How do you learn to play the piano?
  • What do you have to do to get to a major league sport?
  • How to make the best Brownies?
  • What is the impact of plastic on the environment?
  • Who is the best softball player in the world?
  • Why are pigs so smart?
  • How much good has Corona caused?
  • How do you train a dolphin?
  • Who is the best basketball player of all time?
  • I might research what the best bakery in the world is. Let's be honest with ourselves, it is probably the one Harry Styles used to work at. (I laughed out loud here. Love these kids and miss them something fierce.)
  • Where is the best beach in the world?
  • Why do professional photos look the way they do?
  • What is causing global warming?
  • Who are the greatest musical artists of all time?
  • What happens to you if you do not sleep?
  • Who is the best football player of all time?
  • Who is the best cheerleader?
  • I would want to learn more about adaptations.
  • What are dreams?
  • What is the best way to study the bible?
  • What is the Burlsworth award?
  • Who is the best eventer ( a person who jumps with horses) of all time?
As a result, I cannot wait to see how these kids research these topics and share their learning with us. I think has the potential to be amazing and something we come back to each year.  I've attempted to include my sample below. Hope it helps!