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Kindergarten Insect Research

I realized I have quite a bit of catching up to do in terms of sharing projects from the spring. I'm going to try and get them posted before school starts so I'm not TOO behind! Up first - kindergarten insect research.

The last project I did with kindergarten this year was insect research. As a whole group, we had been using PebbleGo throughout the year. We learned about penguins and other animals, about seasons and weather, and about important people. I wanted the kindergarteners to have a chance to use PebbleGo themselves before the end of the year. I chose insects because students were studying the insect life cycle in the classroom. They had background knowledge about metamorphosis and life cycles and were studying "mystery insects" from egg to adult (ladybugs).

For me, this project was about students experiencing going into a resource and finding specific information and sharing the information with others. In a perfect world with unlimited time, I would love for the kids to ask the questions and do more exploring rather than fact finding because we do that a lot throughout the year. I'd also like this to be collaborative with the classroom teacher and instructional technology teacher...alas, it was neither of those things but still a fun and engaging end of year project in kindergarten library.

Setting Up:
I went through PebbleGo's insect section and made a list of the insects we could study. I paired students and ran my note sheet by the kindergarten teachers. I hadn't taught students how to access PebbleGo from the desktop of our computers or iPads so I set up the screens ahead of time. Luckily, my instructional technology teacher, parents, or 4th grade helpers were there to help with this step when I had back to back classes!

The Project:
We spent two classes taking notes. Students used the categories and tabs in PebbleGo to find the sections that matched their note sheet. They wrote words and added pictures to their notes about what their insect looks like, what it eats, where it lives, and what its life cycle looks like. They also cited their source! Can't start that too early.



After we finished note taking, students spent the next class creating a picture of their insect using Drawing Pad on our iPads. They added their names and saved the image to the camera roll. We had practiced this during the year.

The last (fourth) class in this project was our recording studio day. I had downloaded the images onto my iPad and imported them into a free app called 30 Hands. I called students over one at a time and recorded them sharing a fact about their insect. 30 Hands is very easy to use and will export your slideshow to a movie. This is one of our insect movies:

Lessons Learned:
- Use our computers earlier in the year. We should have spent a class or two practicing using a mouse or touch pad before this project. As a group, they are very comfortable using our iPads but a lot of students were unfamiliar with using a mouse and navigating on a computer. As I mentioned, I also set up the computers ahead of time because the kindergarteners didn't know how to get from a desktop to PebbleGo. Next year, I hope this is something we can practice and master by the end of the year. PebbleGo was very familiar to them because we use it often as a group and they had no trouble navigating it to do their research. We did a lot with iPads but for most of the year PebbleGo was not compatible. Now that it is working on iPads (and hopefully even better than it was in June) I think I'll definitely be able to have kindergarteners use it more on their own.

- Reach out to parents to get extra volunteers for projects. I unexpectedly had an extra volunteer in one class and it went much more smoothly because there were several extra adults to answer questions. Along with this, I really hope to do more parent education, especially with incoming kindergarten families about what we do in the library because some parents still think we "just read a story". The parents who helped with this project made a lot of comments about how great it was to see the kids working with PebbleGo, taking notes, and sharing their learning through our iPad apps.

- Show teachers what the kids have done in library. Two of my three kindergarten teachers said they would like to work on a project like this TOGETHER next year! Woo! I was able to meet with this team a few times over the year to talk about how I can support them but wasn't able to do any actual collaboration. I think showing them how capable the kids are in terms of using our technology and how excited the kids were made a project like this seem more do-able.

Overall, I was really happy with this project! I really hope to transition it to something more collaborative next year!

*You can get lesson plans and note sheets for this project on TPT*