Why do anything unless it is going to be great? -Peter Block
We have been learning about the rainforest and my students are excited and engaged in learning all about the animals in the various layers. Recently, the students wanted to write about the rainforest and they seemed to be having trouble narrowing their focus. Someone said, “My brain is all busy with so many animals.”
As adults, it can often be overwhelming as we try to process large chunks of information. I have to make lists or use sticky notes to keep it all straight. We all have different strategies for managing the information and processing it. Young children need to be taught how to organize themselves and their thoughts for writing.
One of the apps we use as a visual organizer is Popplet Lite. It is a free mapping app that allows you to brainstorm and capture your thoughts quickly. The full version of Popplet is $4.99 and offers many other options, including online collaboration, however, the lite version is just fine for our uses. The popplet above, was created by a student to help her organize her thoughts on writing about the rainforest. She saved that to her camera roll and then imported it into Pages to write.
This is her first page of writing. She wants to add a new page for each of the animals shown in her Popplet. By adding the Popplet to her Pages document, she now has a visual reminder of what she wants to write about. She can just continue to refer back to it.
Each child had a choice in how they wanted to share their knowledge. Some choose Book Creator, some chose Pic Collage and some chose Pages. They all went on Safari and found the images they wanted and saved them to their camera roll. They also had a choice to organize their pre-writing thoughts in Popplet or on paper.
Because they have choice in this activity, they are very engaged and excited to share with each other what they’ve learned. The finished products will be reflective of their creative energies and knowledge gained. It will be far superior work than if I had dictated how and what they would do…after all, when they have choice, they take ownership.
If we are going to ask our students to demonstrate what they know, it should be in meaningful ways so that in the very act of demonstration, they are extending their learning. Getting organized is a great place to start!
Today, we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!