Wednesday, January 29, 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.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

EasyBib Joins The Rainbow Loom Project As We Dive Into Research With The Third Graders

What an exciting day in the library and at Van Meter!  

We Skyped with two of our favorite authors.....Jenni Holm connected with our 5th graders and Jonathan Maberry connected with Renee Martin and her high school creative writing class.  

We had so much fun learning and creating with Manasi from Buncee with the 5th graders.  

And at the end of the day, the third graders and I welcomed two very special guests to the library.

Emily and Michele, who are both librarians and my amazing friends from EasyBib, were Skyping in to talk about research, search engines, and the importance of citing resources.  

As the third graders work through the stage of "Wonder" in their Rainbow Loom Research Project this week, the next stage will be "Investigation" where they will be diving into research.  By inviting the girls and having a conversation with the kids, we were able to really get them thinking and wondering about the essential questions they want to answer during this project.  
For those of you who are new to EasyBib, it is an online citation and bibliography tool which allows you to cite any type of resource you will use.  There is a super handy EasyBib app that they will be using on the iPads if they need to as well.
Emily and Michele engaged the third graders in a conversation about the questions they were writing during the "Wonder" stage.  I love how they pushed them to think of more questions...deeper questions.....I could hear little whispers from the groups on what they were going to add and change.
They discussed search engines and told them about SweetSearch4Me, the best educational search engine for our young learners from Mark Moran and Finding Dulcinea.  

We are hoping to learn with Mark in the next few weeks too. 

I loved how they gave the students fun examples of what not to do.  For example, you don't say that you found the answer on Google.  Instead, you might say that you found it on the Rainbow Loom website. 
Emily and Michele introduced how EasyBib is a tool to help them cite the resources they use within a project such as the Rainbow Loom Research Project.

They discussed citing things like the Rainbow Loom website, a Pinterest wall about Rainbow Loom, and videos on YouTube about creating different bracelets.

One of our little friends said she finds her ideas on the Rainbow Loom Facebook wall.  That can be sited too and they will learn how to do that using EasyBib.
Next time they come, we will be Skyping with Emily and Michele to actually introduce the EasyBib website.  They will all have a laptop so they can learn right along with the girls.

The students will use their Google Drive accounts to sign into EasyBib.  This will be nice for them to have access to EasyBib for this project and all of the ones they are working on this year and next.
At the end of our connection today, Brooklyn showed Emily and Michele all of her bracelets....She is awesome at creating them and loves to share with her friends too.
The girls had the kids hold up their Rainbow Loom bracelets to show them!  

I think they definitely have some coming to them in New York City too. 

We will have the whole EasyBib crew wearing them by the end of our project.  
This is just the start of a whole lot of amazing learning that is going to take place between our EasyBib friends and the third graders.  Through these connections they will become better researchers and wonderers.
Thank you so much girls....We had a good time learning with you two.  

You are great teachers and librarians!  We appreciate everything you bring to us within our library and school.  

What Happens When You Just Step Back, Learn, and Redesign A Project.....Post 2 Of Rainbow Loom Research Project

I am excited to write this post, because throughout this project in the last couple of weeks I have had some big "A-ha's" that really have me thinking.   

We are moving toward Project Based Learning at Van Meter.  This will be in place for all of our students in grades K-12.  This semester we are all integrating PBL into our classrooms....It has been super exciting planning and collaborating with everyone.  

Van Meter is also one of ten schools involved in the Iowa Competency-Based Education Collaborative and I am part of that group from our school.  After our meeting in Des Moines last week, all of this got me thinking too.  
In my post about this project, And Just How Does Rainbow Loom Fit Into the Library and School, I shared this thought....

As this hour ended, I asked around the room what their research focus would be.  Some were able to really explain, but others seemed a little lost yet on what they were to be doing. 

That told me that I had to take a step back time, just a little one, and introduce a model that would help all of the students be successful at this part of the project.  It would be a model that they will be able to use forever as learners. 

The next time they come to the library, we will try out this new model and see what happens. 

After that day, I went home and dug in a little deeper to my recent work with PBL, Competency Based Education, and also took a look at.... 
a book that I was involved in this last year, Inquiry and the Common Core....Library and Teachers Designing Teaching for Learning.  

The kindergarten team and I wrote a chapter for the Exemplars of Learning Plans in this book for our Just Why Does My Iowa Animal Live There? Research Project with the kindergarteners.  I have been reading this book and sharing it with so many people because I just love how they have brought together many wonderful leaders within this book.

One chapter that really stuck with me is Barbara Striping's chapter entitled Inquiry in the Digital Age.

Barbara writes,

"The ability to solve problems and use information literacy skills to pursue inquiry-based learning has increasingly been identified as critical in the twenty-first century.  Based on research about constructivist learning and inquiry, I developed a six-phase model for the inquiry cycle (Stripling 2003), known as the Stripling model of inquiry.  

The Stripling Model of Inquiry is a frame for learning that involves connecting to personal interests and a desire to know, asking questions that probe beyond simple fact gathering, investigating answers from multiple perspectives, constructing new understandings and conclusions, expressing the new ideas through a variety of formats, and reflecting on both the process and product of learning.  

True inquiry should result in new understandings for learners, but not final answers, because learners should naturally discover intriguing areas to pursue in future investigations."  
I am going to take the Stripling Model of Inquiry and focus on several of the pieces starting with "Wonder".  
I also went to the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) website, which is an amazing site and resource for PBL. 

Jen Sigrist, our elementary principal and director of teaching and learning has shown us several helpful tools that we could use in planning PBL.  I went to the Resources tab on BIE and found so many things that would be perfect for supporting me through this project. 

I started by filling out the Project Overview, which helped me take the standards and learning targets I wanted to incorporate into this project and take a closer look at how they fit into PBL.
I also used the PBL Essential Elements Checklist and Project Design Rubric as resources to guide my thinking too.  

From this work and research I did at home, I now felt like I could step back in and create something even more meaningful for my students. 
I created a new packet, Rainbow Loom Project Research Packet to include the Stripling Model and the first steps we would focus on, Wonder and Investigation.  This is available within a Google Document and can be accessed online.  I will continue to add to this and revise as we move through the project.  

I printed off the Presentation Plan from the Student Handouts section on the BIE site.  This will help focus their thoughts and lead to deeper thinking and planning throughout their project. 
I also printed off the Project Team Work Plan and Project Team Contract.  A big part of this project is working collaboratively as a group and also being part of the class as we all work through the project. These worksheets would be helpful and guide them too.
I added the Rainbow Loom Research Packet to the Third Grade Symbaloo as well....Just in case they wanted to fill it out online with their Google Drive.   
After a wonderful conversation with the third graders about PBL and the Stripling Model, they were ready to take the work they had done the first day of the project, and dig deeper.

They were focusing on "Wonder".....It was so fun walking around the room listening to the questions they were asking one another....

Let's figure out which country sold the most Rainbow Looms for Christmas this last year.  I wonder if we could then figure out why that country had the most sales? 

I wonder what would happen if they made the Rainbow Loom even bigger?  

I predict that if we change the pattern on all of the bracelets that we want to show in our presentation we will make them look like they were done backwards.  
It was great to see how each group personalized their work folder too.  This group called their project Banding Together and told me they loved being able to collaborate with each other.
Next, we will focus on the "Investigate" stage....finding and evaluating information to answer their questions.  They will also use this stage to think about how the information they are finding will bring even more questions to their work.  

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!  
I just had to share what Hagan has been up after school each day ever since we started this project. Luke and Hagan have been learning all kinds of new designs together.

I love what this project is bringing to everyone.