Pic Collage and Videos with Famous American Speeches

Students in Ms. Barger’s fourth grade class just finished a huge unit on Famous Americans.  As part of a STEM activity, students were responsible for writing a speech about a Famous American.  They also had to create a poster to use in their speech with a pop-up and movable part.

As students were given speeches, I filmed them (on their assigned iPad).  Students took notes when other students gave speeches.  Then students watched their own speech and used a self-evaluation sheet to foster self-reflection.  They used their notes and each other’s posters to create a Pic Collage containing three facts they learned from listening to other classmates’ speeches.

Students enjoyed the project, and it really gave ownership to giving speeches and listening to others.  Both these skills are important Fourth Grade English SOLs.

4th Grade Jamestown Geocaching

A few weeks ago, a teacher came to me wanting to do a Jamestown Geocaching Activity with her students.  I had been doing a lot of work on iPads, and had enjoyed some of the quick, 1 minutes video podcasts by History is Fun.org.  I decided to incorporate both the iPads and Geocaching into one activity.  Here’s the activity I created:

1.  Download Podcasts videos to at least 6 iPod Touches/iPads from iTunes.  You can find them here: Historyisfun.org Podcasts.  You’ll need the following videos:

  • The Voyage
  • John Smith
  • Powhatan/Pocahontas
  • Hardships
  • Representative Government
  • Women
  • Slavery (I used this one as a practice example)

2.  Hide 6 Caches with the following labels on each cache: Jamestown Cache Labels.  Mark the locations of the caches with the GPS Units.

3.  Students were broken up into groups, and given a clipboard, a Jamestown Geocaching Answer Sheet, an Order Strip for 6 Caches, and an iPad with the videos (but iPod Touch would work too), a pencil, and a GPS Unit.

4.  Students worked in groups to find and answer the questions using the videos.  I suggest the following jobs for members the group:

  • Navigator (Works GPS Unit)
  • Scribe (Writes the group’s answer)
  • Governor (Keeps folks on track, carries the number strips, reads the cache questions)
  • Historian (Carries the iPad/iPod Touch and plays the appropriate video)
  • Scout (Double checks to make sure the group is at the right cache number, Re-hides the Cache in the exact location, )
  • Judge (Checks the group’s answers with the QR Codes)

5.  When students were finished, they used the app, Scan, and the following Jamestown Geocaching QR Codes to check their work.  A traditional Answer Key is located here if you do not have time for this part of the activity.  Students re-watch the videos for the questions they’ve missed.

So far I’ve had two classes complete this activity, and they loved it!  I liked using the iPads because they were big enough for the entire group to see.  I found it really important to discuss reading the questions BEFORE watching the videos…and practicing with the Slavery video was very helpful.


Image:  Kolk, Melinda. compassrose.jpg. 1-Apr. Pics4Learning. 9 Nov 2012 <http://pics.tech4learning.com>


4th Grade Virginia Studies Projects

I was horrible at history when I was in school, especially if it involved memorizing dates and names. I am a “big picture” learner…I stink at details. I learned information better if I could put dates and people into stories. I remember that my mom used to teach me mnemonics and other techniques to remember facts I had to memorize. I think that’s what’s made me enjoy working with Virginia Studies classes on projects this year: I’ve watched the teachers make history memorable and understandable for students with these projects. If I’d had teachers that allowed us to do projects like these, maybe I’d have had a much easier time learning history back then!
The first project was a podcast about the 4 regions of Virginia. Mrs. Ingram at East lead a group of students as they wrote 5 different segments–one for each region. It turned out great, and they even had a catchy way to remember the regions.

Press on the button below to listen:

The 5 Regions of Virginia

The next Virginia Studies project involved using Timeliner, a program for creating a visual timeline of certain events. Mrs. Barnett and I worked with two of the 4th grade classes at East to help them create broad timelines that included the most important events in Virginia History. Mrs. Barnett wanted students to see the time span between events that happened, especially the large span of time between the American Revolution and the Civil War. This was a way of placing details into a big picture context. Take a look at some of the ways they displayed this information:

The most recent project was a podcast created under the direction of Mrs. Crotts at GWC. The students met with her and wrote their own scripts for this podcast. I was unable to be at the school to help them record, so a couple of students learned to use an MP3 player to record their classmates all by themselves. All that was left for me to do was add music and put it all together. I’m always amazed at the creative ability of students when given independence…the result was incredible. Take a listen:
Ready, Aim, Fire! SOLs! — American Revolution

In the end, the students even wrote thank you notes to both Mrs. Crotts and I for helping them with the podcast, which totally made my day!!!

All three of these projects were wonderful ways to engage student creativity and to help them see the broad picture and stories behind history facts…while using technology!! Thanks, Mrs. Barnett, Mrs. Ingram, and Mrs. Crotts for allowing me to work with you and your students this year. I’ve had a blast! I hope your students did too!