Over my 30 years of teaching I have taught many grades. Right now I am in my second go round in third grade. I also taught it about 20 years ago for 6 years. It has been an adventure to come back to a grade that I previously taught. Somethings have stayed the same and some are drastically different.
Although I am sure that the social studies in grade three has gone through many revisions, I am back to teaching countries which I taught 20 years ago. I have been processessing the different between then and now and have found it very interesting.
Students were required to pick a country and get 3 books from the library on it. All students brought in books. If they didn’t have the books, they couldn’t do the project. We did as teachers, however, go to our town libraries and get all the country books we could. We then took a huge sheet of construction paper and divided it into 6 sections and labeled each section with the topic to study. Then students hand wrote a report. They created a poster with the report, flag, map and cultural doll. We had a big International Celebration completely with food and drinks from their country.
I set up more as project based learning. It started with learning about the Olympics and the Olympic events and the students learning about them. Then students had to choose a country that was in the Olympics. They were required to bring in materials (many did not) to support their learning. It was set up as project based learning. Students needed to research various topics (as determined by the curriculum). This time, in addition to books, students also used travel magazines, internet print outs and the actually internet. I did not go to the library to get extra books.
Computers were an essential part this time. Instead of going to the library, I set up a Symbaloo page (which is an online bookmarking system) which had all appropriate sites that students could go to for information. Because of the internet, students could chose remote countries that may not have had any books on it. I had one student do his report on Eritrea (a small country in Africa that had one person in the Olympics). I have even had students contact the country they were researching.
Traveling abroad was rare 20 years ago. This year alone, three of my students had visited/lived in their country and added that information to their project.
The International Celebration was much different than before. All the projects were unique as students chose the means they wanted; I had google slides, book creator (an online book creator), and presentation boards (where all students had used some word processessing). There was no food or drinks because of allergies. Parents still came and students still presented.
The biggest aha moment for me was when a parent called to face time to hear his son present because he was in California on a business trip. I thought that was just fabulous.
I love technology. I love how it makes learning accessible for all students immediately. I love how students are able to find the method that works for their brain/learning style and go with it. However, as I look back, at what my team used to do 20 years ago (and they were doing the Country Project before I joined the team), they were incrediblely innovative! It was a fabulous project then….and now!
Here are some snapshots of parts of student work who used google slides. Enjoy!