Thursday, July 9, 2015

Weather Watchers!

This year I had the honor of being chosen to pilot a Project Based Learning cohort in my district.  It was such an amazing experience!  One teacher from each elementary and a few from the secondary campuses were sent to a week long training put together by our technology department, and I learned SO MUCH.  

The training really focused on using technology within PBL, which was awesome, because I got to learn how to use all of the nifty things that Google and Chromebooks have to offer.  I love how easy Google apps are for my kiddos to use!

My favorite project that we did last year involved tracking and reporting the weather.  The purpose of the project was for my students to see how weather differs over a span of time, and to compare the weather in different areas of the world.

For our big kick off event, a local meteorologist, Chikage Windler, came and spoke to my class.  She was so sweet, and my kiddos learned so much from her.  Being able to see a meteorologist in person and learn about how she does her job made the learning so much more meaningful or my students.  I would highly recommend reaching out to your community and looking for local experts to speak to you class if you are using PBL in your room.

After that my littles were chomping at the bit to get started. I gave them recording sheets and they used their Chromebooks to look up the weather in our town and a city far away.  I had them use an app called YoWindow for this, and if you aren't familiar with it, you should check it out!  It is very kid friendly, and allows the kids to see the weather conditions in whatever city they choose.  It was so cool for them to see how the weather (and time of day!) was so different around the world.  Here are a few screen shots from YoWindow:

My kiddos were responsible for recording the weather conditions, and the high and low temperatures for each city over a five day period.  My gifted and talented group decided to take it a bit further and collect data on four cities!

Once they had recorded their data, they worked as a team to create a script for a weather forecast.  This was a great place to differentiate.  My higher groups really ran with this and had a great time.  Some of my *ahem* less enthusiastic writers needed a bit more support, so I gave them a script with sentence starters to help them organize their thoughts.  Once the script was written and approved, they took a few days to rehearse.  

Finally, it was time to record their forecasts!  We used the WeVideo app on the Chromebooks.  The kids got a HUGE kick out of seeing themselves on camera!

Once every group had a chance to record and I had a few days to edit with our tech guru, Kelly, we were ready for our big unveiling!  We invited parents, administrators, and other classes to come and and have a little screening party.  My littles were so proud!  This project was definitely a highlight of our year, and the kids really learned a lot about weather, and working together as a team.  Win, win!

All in all we spent about twenty minutes a day working on our project over the course of four weeks.  There were days when things came up, of course, and days when we squeezed in more time, but flexibility is the name of the game, right?!  That's what they keep telling us, anyway.,,
If this sounds like something you would like to try in your classroom, I gathered all of my recording sheets together and added some step by step directions to help keep you on track.  It's in my TPT store!

Now that PBL is becoming a district wide initiative I will be attending a training this summer with The Buck Institute for Education and I can't wait!  It will be so exciting to learn more about project based learning and plan new projects!

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