Monday, September 12, 2011
The 5th Grade Buddies program is something our teachers developed three years ago primarily as a means of giving our Kindergartners a familiar face in the "big kid" wing while exposing our 5th graders to meaningful communal service. This year, however, Mrs. Lewter and Morah Michelle decided to give the program a 21st century twist. The result was a stunning display of what 21st century learning is all about.
As part of the Kindergarten unit on families, each student was assigned an "animal family" from which they had to choose an animal to research. While the concept of "research" was new for our Kindergartners - and while their inventive spelling would probably have left even Google perplexed - such was not the case for our 5th Graders. So the Kindergartners were tasked with asking questions about their animals while their 5th grade Buddies used glossy picture-filled print pamphlets and our new laptops to walk them through the process of finding their answers. If they ran out of questions or had trouble finding answers, one of the teachers was there to guide them along or to get them back on track.
Together the Kindergartners and 5th Graders examined articles and pictures on National Geographic, Kidzone, Wikipedia, and a host of other sites. Together they identified fascinating facts about their animal and entered them into a Google Doc for everyone else to see. Together they modeled for the rest of us what 21st century education ought to look like: collaborative learning driven by student interest and student inquiry in which teachers guide the information gathering process rather than dominating it.
Of course, this was only step one. When the Kindergartners and their Buddies get back together next time, they'll take the information they've gathered and put it to good use. So stay tuned for the next update. In the meantime enjoy the pictures and the video clip below.
Posted by Gil Perl at 9/12/2011 10:42:00 PM