Throughout my teaching career, I have always believed that children need to be engaged to learn, they need to do, to hold onto and we need to tap into their curious natures right from the start of their formal schooling. So often, when we teach our littlies, information is just shared and transmitted to children without real purpose. I want to make children co-creators of their own learning. I want to give them a purpose and reasons for their learning and allow them to become interactively engaged. PBL is the perfect pedagogy to make this a reality.
With this project-based learning unit we really wanted to engage the inquiring minds of our little Grade 0s. So often, when we teach our littlies about our world and the minibeasts which inhabit it, information is just shared and transmitted to children without real purpose. We wanted to make the children co-creators of their own learning. We wanted to give them a purpose and reasons for their learning and allow them to become interactively engaged. By using Project-based Learning, we were able to do just this.
I am a passionate believer in the power of technology integrated into pedagogical teaching to ensure that every child learns, discovers and grows. My passion for learning about how technology can enhance the learning of children and give them vital tools to share their thinking continues to grow too. I believe that it is through this real life project based learning that we can make school relevant to children’s lives and build vital real life skills within them.
So we designed this learning journey which engaged our boys by introducing a scenario where Captain Target, an awful villain, was wanting to rid the world of all insects and we had to convince him this was a very bad idea. They designed and created the world’s most helpful insect to convince Captain Target that minibeasts and insects are vital to our survival and the survival of the world around us.
This learning facilitated the development of the following skills identified in ECD:
THE DRIVING QUESTION
Can you create the most helpful minibeast in the world to convince Captain Target not to kill all the minibeasts?
THE HOOK: The children were introduced to a scenario where Captain Target, an awful villain, was wanting to rid the world of all insects. We engaged in P4C (Philosophy for Children) discussions about a world without insects. This got the children thinking about the necessity of insects in our world.
From this we led the children into investigating and learning about different insects and minibeasts using QR codes and simple books made on Book Creator as well as a Choice Board. The children learnt about different facts about different minibeasts and insects, focusing on how they moved. The culmination of this task was creating an animation of a moving insect using Animatic.
The boys also explored an App which I created using Glideapps.com to explore and learn about different minibeasts which exist in our world. From this point the children moved into learning about helpful insects, we had lots of discussions and watched interesting and informative videos about helpful and unhelpful insects. At the end of this week, the children drew a picture to demonstrate their learning about helpful insects.
This then led us into working out how we could answer the problem posed to us by Captain Target. In pairs, the children discussed and shared their ideas about the most helpful insect they would be able to create using the knowledge they had acquired.
From these discussions, the children designed the most helpful insect in the world, combining facets of different insects and minibeasts. The boys worked in collaborative pairs to draw on all the knowledge they had collected and to create the most helpful insect in the world by merging different properties of different minibeasts. They used annotated drawings and live presentations to their peers to share and assess their creation.
The boys discussed how their minibeast would move based on the minibeasts they had used in their creation. Using Animatic, they create a visual animation of their minibeast moving. This then led into using iMotion to create a stop motion animation and to make the actual minibeast they had created move. What fun and learning this led to!
The final step of this project was for the children to draw all their learning and creating together within an iMovie about how they would convince Captain Target not to get rid of all the bugs. They incorporated their Animatic animations and their iMotion video as well as videos of themselves sharing their learning and ideas. These iMovies were shared with an authentic audience - their parents. Captain Target also came to visit us in class and the boys had the opportunity to convince him all about the reasons their minibeast was so essential to us and the world we live in. Captain Target gave them feedback on the successes of the minibeasts they had created and whether they had managed to convince him.
“I love making my helpful bug with wings and it could move with a stick” - Isa Mia
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“I was making an insect with Ziggy and we got to make an insect and we got to make it move using string and iMotion.” - Mohluli
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“It was good and me and my friend chose to make a Butterstick. I could help all the insect camoflauge on trees and it can also fly like a butterfly.” - Patrick
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“I learnt that we musn’t kill helpful insects and we must only kill bad insects.” - Azande
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“I learnt that some bugs eat other bugs which are bad. I liked worked with Azande to figure out the most helpful bug and we did it together and we didn’t fight” - Evan
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“My bug is helpful because it saves other insects and it kills the bad insects. It is called Spibee”
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“Our insect will convince Captain Target that insects are good and helpful because it is a Butterspi. It can make webs and it can fly and it also slither on the ground to make the soil healthy.” - Mohluli and Ziggy
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“We made a Prayingladyspi. It could fly and walk. It will convince Captain Target by eating all the bad bugs in the world. It will also help the plants grow bigger because the bad bugs won’t eat them.” - Evan and Azande
I believe we have to make learning relevant and exciting for our children. We need to engage them in what we are teaching them and allow them to delve into their curious and inquiring natures. I always thought my Grade 0s were too young to delve into an inquiry with independence and I must say they surprised me with their enthusiasm and responsibility in leading their own learning (with some facilitation from their teachers). WOW is all I have to say! These little boys have surpassed my every expectation in terms of their learning, exploration, curiosity, engagement, and most of all in their ability to collate all the meaningful information they collected into a final presentation to convince Captain Target that minibeasts are vital for our survival and he can’t get rid of them.
I am now more convinced than ever that hands-on learning within Grade 0 is essential for learning and project-based learning ensures this happens to the highest standard with maximum engagement. I just love allowing the children in my class to construct their own learning. They retain and engage so much more.
The next steps for me are to fine-tune my inquiry and the pedagogical thinking behind it. I would like to allow the boys more freedom to guide their own inquiry. I did this project last year with my Grade 0 class and I am now doing it again with my current Grade 0 class. This time round I have incorporated some new technologies like Chatterpix and the use of word webs for the boys to share their learning and thinking.
My biggest takeaways or lessons are:
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