Thursday, January 05, 2012

Sometimes It's Okay to Jump Right In: Adaptations!
That's what I did today.  I've been thinking about the fourth grade animal adaptation rotation I manage each year for all fourth graders for the past couple of months.  Each year I teach it a bit differently, and last year I even tried a new project with each class.  I've never been disatisfied with the unit, but with only three lessons for each rotation, I wanted to make it more engaging, fun and imaginative while also covering the material.

I put my thoughts out on Twitter, and a faithful member of my PLN sent me this exciting website a month or so ago.  Please remind me if you were the kind colleague who sent it to me as I am very grateful.  I tried out the site and found it to be lots of fun.

Then I created the unit design including:
  • A website for project links, procedure, and publishing.
  • A quick introduction to adaptation.
  • Project Design (located on website)
Then we got started.  I introduced adaptation, the project outline and let students begin.  The tech savvy students followed the directions quickly and got to work on the project.  I literally ran around the room helping those that needed redirection or help.  As soon as some students finished the first leg of the project, I asked them to help me help the others.  The room was buzzing with activity.

Then I sent them back to their homeroom with paper instructions in case they wanted to work on the project at home too--the project can be completed in three short classroom periods or extend to many hours depending on the students' interest and creativity.

It's a bit daunting to jump right in, but if the rationale is solid, and the students are willing, the spontaneity and vitality of a project's birth can lead it in wonderful directions.  Don't hesitate to contact me with content/project revision ideas.  I'm always open to learning.  And, stay tuned for updates.

Evening Note:  The students were so excited about this that they've been sending me their Adaptations via Google docs tonight.  Here's one terrific example to begin with: