The Island of Ablai (pt 11)
Pt 11 Personal Inquiries - How does google make money?
We have been collecting some really great questions over the course of this unit. With a couple days left in the 5th week of the unit, and the final weeks focus finally clear*, I thought it would be a good time to work on some personal inquiries and share what we have found.
To backtrack a little, this is something I have struggled with this year. Half of the kids in my class need nothing more than a well phrased question and they are off. They will research, synthesize, and present their findings in a creative way with little to no support. The other half needs structure. I feel that if I give too much structure, I shut down those that don't need the support, and I if I don't give enough, the other half is floating without a life jacket.
This time around, we spent some time on the carpet and helped everybody find their question. We discussed what makes a good question, and what some of the pitfalls were with some of the suggestions. Once we all had a good question, I explained what the goal was. A Haiku Deck presentation. I love Haiku Deck because the words are minimized, the images maximized and their discussion is what matters. It forces them to be very aware of how they are presenting, and the words they are saying versus the words they are showing.
We got the iPads out and started researching. It was clear that some of the students have grown tremendously in their search capacities. They are learning to rephrase their search terms to get what they want (this is also related to the previous part of asking a good question). The ones that never need support were off and running.
For the other half (and I am very fortunate to have a very small class size where I can do this) we all sat together on the carpet and just talked about what we were doing. I asked them to narrate what they were doing and thinking. I sat with them and modelled, and when they said something I could advice.
It sounded a bit like this, but with 5 voices layered on top of each other at the same time, and me having this same dialogue with 5 other people, all intermingled:
I am going to search google with the question "what is saving?". The answers are mostly about saving lives, oh, here is one. It is from the Wall Street Journal.
That might be too difficult to read, but give it a try.
Ok. The first paragraph is way too hard, I'll try something else.
Maybe you could try a more specific Google search.
How about "How do I save money?"
It was very beneficial for them to think out loud, though I admit it was hard for me to keep focused and listen to so many voices at once. The great thing was, however, that as they were narrating, they solved many of their own problems.
Once they had their research done (they all have different styles, some write in point form, others in paragraph, others in words and pictures) we had to organize our slides. Before they even open the app, I asked them to make a list of the slides they need, what each slide will say, and what picture they wanted for each. I say wanted because often what is in your head and what you have to settle for are too completely different things, so an open disposition is required.
As for using the program, it is a snap, and they needed zero support. Literally, zero. Even the new student who has never used it before figured it out in minutes. The Grade 1.2 class in our school used it recently and had little problems. Very easy interface, very easy to learn, and the presentations do like beautiful.
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad
Another key skill we targeted during this project was presenting with notes. The students in my class have a tendency to just read their presentations, scripted. I tried to offer some support by making little cue cards. Each page for your presentation required one cue card.
While the presentations were going on, we had every audience member on an iPad, giving live feedback via the comments on their googlesite page. This was so cool. They were leaving really short, but powerful comments. You didn't make eye contact with me, or, I like how you hardly looked at your notes. When they finished their presentation, they had a chance to read through the comments and reflect on their performance. The comments were very short, but with all of them taken in context, I think it was a powerful form of collective assessment.
As a final activity to finish this day off, they chose three new terms they learned in their research and put them up on shared key vocabulary googledoc.
This was a great day to end the week on. They loved the topics they were looking into, and they tried really hard not to just read their presentations. Huge growth from the beginning of the year. In Asia, a good presentator is someone who reads their presentation very smoothly and clearly, and stays very still. It is a different style to Western ways of engaging an audience. I always try and be mindful of both ways, and point out to the kids that both ways are valid. Today, however, we practiced this way. Another day, we might practice another way.
Be aware of the road you are on, or you will find yourself lost.
*they are so curious about responsibility of companies, so we will focus on ethics, from the company and the consumer perspective; which is also a great way to recursively bring this back to our central idea