Monday, March 17, 2014

Research with a Shark Expert!

We were so fortunate to have had an opportunity to learn from marine biologist Jillian Morris of Sharks4Kids this afternoon. We had been looking forward to her visit (via Skype) for quite a while. It was fun to learn that Jillian grew up in Maine--not far from us at all. Now, she lives in the Bahamas.

We did a lot of research to get ready for our lesson with Jillian, which many of you know from past posts on this blog. Students are hard at work at documenting their learning through digital artifacts (notes/pictures taken on the iPad, video reflections, and posts on KidBlog). They are also creating a book all about sharks during writing/reading workshop time--we've started to refer to it as "research/inquiry time." These books should be done by the end of the week. 

Our study of sharks has introduced students to many important skills that will serve them well as learners for many years--asking and seeking answers to questions, providing evidence for their thinking, navigating many types of texts (printed and digital), accessing information online in a safe and responsible way, and sharing what they've learned in multiple ways. Included in our study was the use of digital collaboration tools. Students have become quite savvy with Skype and Kidblog this year for sharing and collaboration, but there are so many more great tools out there. Through our study, I introduced the online pinboard and the use of Google Sheets (the spreadsheet app in Google Drive). This time, I was the one to model the use of these tools, documenting students' ideas. Next time around, they will be helping to create content with these tools in "real time." Very exciting!

I shared students' initial wonders about sharks in an earlier blog post. We looked that Lino It board today and moved questions/wonders we'd answered in our research to another board. The board below shows questions we'd already answered about sharks before today's Skype call.

Questions/Wonders we had but we've answered through our research:
View the live link here.

The sticky notes left are the questions we did not feel we answered in our research, and we decided we would try to ask Jillian some of these questions during our Skype, if time allowed. Otherwise, we would find answers another time.

Questions/Wonders we did not answer through our research:
View the live link here.

Students then used Chromebooks and iPads to work alone or with their thinking partner to peruse the Sharks4Kids website. I wanted students to have a better idea of what someone like Jillian does in her job to try to build more background knowledge and curiosity before our call a bit later. 

Students took about 10-15 minutes researching and exploring the website, and then we met together on the carpet. This is the document we created in Google Sheets (well, this time I created it and added the content, but students came up with the questions!). 

View the live link here.

Finally, it was time to Skype! Our lesson/Q&A session with Jillian was amazing! I took many more pictures, but unfortunately I did not save them in a place I have access to at the moment. I promise to post more tomorrow. Be sure to ask your child why protecting sharks is important or about any other interesting information he/she learned today. It turns out we're pretty good with our shark knowledge, but learning about the job of a marine biologist/scuba diver/shark advocate was pretty new! :-)
I will be making a donation on behalf of the class to support this awesome organization. If you'd like to join me, you can do so using the following link: Thanks, Jillian, for a great lesson today!

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