Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our Rainbow Loom Research Project Is Going Global and Bringing A Whole Lot Of Happy With It!

I have never seen this group so excited about anything before.  They are able to research, create, and share something they are all passionate about.  Even though they are having a blast making more and more bracelets in the library, the skills and knowledge they are gaining will stay with them.  

This time I went home and thought of something else.  

When we talked about the impact this project could have on others, we started a conversation that could lead to something very meaningful and contribute to something bigger.  

That night I reached out to a couple of my teaching friends and started down another road with this project too....

More to come in the next post on that!  
So this is the next post and one filled with thoughts I have been wanting to share for a few weeks now. I just had to get a few things started before I got too excited.

Like I said above, when the third graders and I were brainstorming ideas and essential questions for the Rainbow Loom project, we had a lot of thoughts about how we could use this creativity and collaboration to share with others and make a difference outside of the walls of our school.  We wanted to connect to something bigger than just doing a research project....something that would impact others globally.  
I went home after school and started brainstorming.  

I pulled up the BIE website again and looked through a few of the supporting documents for project based learning such as the PBL Essentials Elements Worksheet.  

On this worksheet there were several phrases that jumped out, such as....
  • Includes a public audience beyond their classmates and teachers
  • Students build competencies valuable for today's world, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity
  • Encourage voice and choice by allowing students to make some choices about the products to be created, how they work, and how they use their time.  
  • Establish a need to gain knowledge and apply skills.  They must generate interest and knowledge.  
With this project, there were so many different elements that the students could dig deeper into.  By creating the bracelets, by connecting with each other, by being empowered, and by having choices, they were in the perfect place to take this outside of the school.  

First step....finding a couple of teachers who wanted to start connecting too.  

I immediately thought of my amazing friend Erin Klein.  Erin is a 2nd grade teacher in Michigan.  We have been tossing around ideas for connecting our students this year and I just knew that this would be a great opportunity to make it happen.  

As Erin and I were tweeting back and forth, one of my Iowa friends jumped in.  She wanted to know more.
Rachel Langenhorst is the technology integrationist in Rock Valley.  She is awesome and I love that we are Iowa friends.  Rachel and I have also been brainstorming and planning, so this would be a perfect fit too.

We wanted to connect all of the students and get them engaged in making the decisions that would impact their project.

We wanted them to brainstorm how this could be taken into the world.....

What good could come from it?  Who could it help? How could it bring change? How could the Rainbow Loom project make a difference?  What change would it bring?  
From those conversations and the one that we had with the kids in Rock Valley, they came up with some really beautiful ideas.  

They decided that they were going to create Rainbow Loom Bracelets and find a school in Africa where they could connect to and send their bracelets.  

They want to bring color and happy to other young people who truly need friendship and hope. 
At the end of the conversations we had between their fourth and our third, we brainstormed names for our new project.  I wrote them down and created this Google Form.  
In the next couple of days, all three of our schools will vote on this form, which I made public and added to the Symbaloo.  
In the meantime, our students are researching, learning about citations and EasyBib, and doing a lot of wondering as they create a project that is truly unique.
Rachel and her students are having so much fun in their classrooms and library....we had to include pictures of their day too.
I look forward to hearing the name of our new global project and seeing where this project is going to take us.

I would love to see this continue and grow, outside of just our three schools.  By coming together, we can all learn from one another and make a difference.
Today I saw Brian's Bracelets for Mr. B Facebook page and love how this little boy is raising money for his teacher who has cancer.  

Brian is making such a difference....and with Rainbow Loom.  
I also asked my friend Mark Flynn to help us out too....I have been wanting to do another project with him so this would be perfect.  Mark is a retired superintendent from Wisconsin and now does mission work in Africa.  He definitely would have connections for @RainbowLoomProjectToAfrica.

I just know that our young people will make a difference in the lives of so many from around the world through this project.  I am excited to see where they will take it.
Before they left the library, two of the girls made a sign that says "Rainbow Loom Collections".  

It will be very fun seeing that basket fill up with their creations.  


  1. Fantastic work, Shannon!!!! I'm sure the kids are having so much fun making them.

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  3. I love this idea! How clever to get the kids involved in research while incorporating something they are excited about it! So much more meaningful! We are a big PBL school, but so far I have not attempted one in the library. This may become my first PBL as I am trying to figure out when I can do it. Would you mind sharing more of your lesson plans?