Monday, September 12, 2011

C21: Collaborative Research In Kindergarten

What do camels, jaguars, and sharks have in common?  They were all the subjects of a collaborative research project launched today between our Kindergartners and their 5th Grade Buddies.

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.



Tami said...

I love your idea of collaborative learning. It sends a wonderful message to the different age groups. Your animal research topic immediately brought to mind an article that appeared in Israel's Ha'Aretz newspaper this past Friday. It dealt with saving Israel's endangered Griffon Vulture:
How about expanding your project to include animals appearing in the Bible? I will be happy to help out.
Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Mkatz said...

That sounds really cool! We are getting back together with our buddies next week. We were thinking about giving each group more key questions to answer. We could add some of those types of questions for research. I would love to think it through with you, thanks for the idea!My email is . Michelle Katz-Kindergarten teacher.