Each year our third graders complete an animal research project. They work all the steps of the expository writing process--choose a topic, research, record research on notecards, draft, revise and edit, publish. My students used KidRex as their search engine. I like this search engine because it is safe and it offers videos and text. It also helps with time management because I know where they found the websites and I don't have to worry as much.
Students kept track of where they were in the process by checking off their status on a class chart. It also helped me stay organized and current!
The end product was a plain, old, boring, handwritten, published report. Yawn! So they could have typed them...or turned them into Power Points...or created posters with pictures printed from the internet.
You need to teach like a pirate! Let your students be awesome! Find a way to spark their imagination and hook them! I used the My Talking Pet app to show my students how to create talking versions of the animals they researched. They created the most amazing creatures.
We had a Wild About Writing publishing party. The principal, assistant principal, school social worker, and Exceptional Needs teacher all stopped by to watch the videos the students created.
No animal research party would be complete without animal crackers and animal print napkins!
The party started when the students shared all of the steps they took to get to the end result.
Each student came up to the Smart Board to activate their video and to stand next to it while it played. The students beamed and were so proud of themselves. One suggestion that helped with the success of this: students can click on their videos, but I sat at the computer to be the behind the scenes clicker in case there were technical issues. One of the students even said, "my video is having a hiccup."
They created the videos on iPads, but I downloaded the finished products into my Gaggle Digital Locker. I experienced some technical difficulties getting them to play from that source, so there is very simple way to export files from Gaggle to your Google Docs. The videos now can be shared with families.
My Talking Pet is well worth the $2.99. You can use this app to make book characters talk and provide a book summary. You could have students create talking versions of historical figures. They could make scientists talk about a discovery or share results of an experiment. Students could make a talking version of themselves explaining how to solve a math problem. You could make a talking version of yourself to deliver a class message. I think the possibilities are endless.