Face It! Fun And Creativity Encouraged by Integrating Technology

With the Common Core and Essential Standards just around the corner, this post is dedicated to showing teachers how to integrate the technology and ELA standards into your instruction design.  I am choosing a Kindergarten Essential Social Studies Standard to showcase just how easy it is to integrate technology into every curriculum area as well as into 21st century instructional practices.  

The Kindergarten Essential social studies standard this lesson will address is:
K.C.1 (from the Culture strand) Explain similarities in self and others.

When planning your instructional design, it's important to plan it based on the technology available in your school environment. At Lake Myra ES, our school environment is highly integrated with technology for most aspects of the day, each classroom has a Smartboard, an LCD projector, a document camera, a teacher laptop, (teacher iPads coming soon) and 4 desktop computers.  Available for check-out from the media center are 10 iPads, 30 iPods, 2 mobile laptop carts, 8 digital cameras, 8 flip cameras and various headphones, microphones and accessories...this is our school's technology environment.  I mention all this because Kindergarten teachers may not feel that Kindergarten students can use technology tools on their own or in pairs...I'd like to show that with modeling, explicit directions, small group settings and the right technology, they CAN.  

The technology integration for teaching the social studies standard above will be having students create an avatar. The URL for this internet based activity is a web 2.0 tool at http://www.planetcreation.co.uk/createpic.  
Although there are many free avatar creation websites out there, I found this one to be most suited for Kindergarten due to the web design, layout and simple face feature choices.  

So by now you're probably saying, so what? Cool activity, but why use an avatar maker, why not just have students draw a picture with crayons or pens or better yet...take a picture of each child, print them and be done.  Let's face it, by the time students get to Kindergarten they've probably spent a lot of time drawing and coloring, and considering the "digital nativeness" of these children, many of them have probably used technology in some form or another.  Teachers taking pictures of students is fine, and teachers have been doing it for years, but is that really very exciting and engaging for the students?...what is their role in that digital creation?  Here is the rationale for students using technology...using technology when designing your lessons should create active engagement and collaboration among students and give them a meaningful and relevant purpose for the activity that promotes self expression (Maloy, Verock-O'Loughlin, Edwards & Woolf, 2011).  This is often called inquiry or problem based learning. The communication and collaboration skills of working through a problem or issue with other students to solve for the unknown, whether it's in math, social studies or science is an essential skill of 21st century learners. Students need to know up front that often in life, and in school, there isn't a right answer, but an emphasis on working together cooperatively, speaking and listening to one another and using our critical thinking and listening skills to share our ideas and opinions (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009).  For this lesson (and all lessons), we want to give Kindergarten students an engaging and relevant reason for doing the lesson in the first place, we want to set up a Problem Statement or as call it in our Foss science lessons, an Engaging Scenario.  Therefore, for this lesson, based on the social studies standard above, we have an objective and a problem based learning activity that we will present to students. (Believe it not, I created this lesson before looking at what our district is providing to teachers on CMAPP as a direction for teaching this objective...ironically, there are many similarities, with mine having a technology integration. If you'd like to peek into what our district has provided to teachers, you may download it here:  WCPSS We Are Alike! We Are Different! K SS Unit)

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Lesson Standard:
 (Essential Standard) Social Studies - Culture strand - K.C.1.1-
Explain similarities in self and others

Lesson Objective: 
After reading a book about faces, What's That Look On Your Face? All About Faces and Feelings by Catherine Snodgrass (and the district suggests others) and talking about facial features, Kindergarten students will create a representation of their own face, then pair up with another student to compare their two faces and discuss and explain how each face in similar and different to the other. 

Problem-Based Learning Activity: 
The Kindergarten Team is creating a Kindergarten blog as a digital space for students to respond to read-alouds and classroom activities.  The K teachers want students to leave comments and respond to other students' comments, so they need to create an avatar and a pseudonym in order to be safe online.  Their avatar and their pseudonym will appear next to their posts.   

Other K standards that are integrated into this social studies lesson are:

CCSS English/Language Arts - Speaking & Listening strand
K.SL.1 - Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics...with peers and adults in small and large group setting.
K.SL.5 - Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
K.SL.6 - Speak audibly and express thoughts feelings, and ideas clearly.

Information & Technology Essential Standard - Technology as a Tool strand
K.TT.1.2 - Use a variety of technology tools to organize data and information (e.g., word processor, graphic organizer, audio and visual recording, online collaboration tools, etc.)

In a two to one format, two students will work on one laptop to each create their avatar. Whole group modeling on the Smartboard should preceed this learning activity. Once students feel "ready to get started" they should be excused in pairs to go and create their avatars using the mobile laptop cart. Once their avatar is complete, they should email it to the teacher using the email feature at the bottom of the screen. 

After reading the book, What's That Look on Your Face, to students, and referring to the vocabulary terms, similar and similarities from other curricular areas like math and science, pairs of students will discuss and explain how their avatars are similar and different with each other. This objective cannot be accomplished without students working in small learning groups (pairs) as they must compare their face with at least one other person to "find similarities in self and others." I believe this lesson will be very motivating and engaging for students and give them a high level of creative expression using technology and skills of 21st century learners.  When students are discussing similarities between their two avatars, they may "explain" (explain is the verb used in this standard) verbally to one another or use a venn like the one below electronically in Powerpoint (download template here) to record similarities into a Venn diagram. 

If you like the font used in the Avatar Venn above, it is my personal creation, Hello Firstie. I created it using the iFontMaker app and is available for download {HERE}. The copyright is set to Creative Commons: Share-Alike, Non-Commercial, Non-Profit. 

Maloy, R., Verock-O'Loughlin, R., Edwards, S., & Woolf, P. (2001). Tranforming learning with new technologies. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. 

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2009). P21 skills white paper. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/route21/images/stories/epapers/skills_foundations_final.pdf

**A special thank you to my 14 year old daughter, Kelsey, who wants to be a Kindergarten teacher when she grows up and who's digital creativity inspired this lesson.**

Happy Reading! -Jen Jones



Mrs. Shepherd said...

Love this lesson you created! I will definitely share with my k colleagues.

Learning with Mrs. Parker said...

Wow! Your students are immersed in 21st century learning. We are very behind the times at my school. One day, I hope to get a smart board...for now a document camera, 1 pc, and netbook is all I have. Any suggestions to use these more effectively?

Anonymous said...

fantastic post thanks for sharing
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Melissa said...

I like the way that you started with the standard you wanted to address and then looked at the technology available to meet the needs of what you wanted to do rather than the other way around. I am also a big fan of connecting literacy and technology with all areas. You make a good point about having the students create avatars instead of teachers taking pictures. Students should be creating!By providing visuals and detailed instructions, this will be very helpful to all teachers. My daughter is finishing K this week but as soon as I saw this post, I knew I was going to share it with the K team at her school! I plan to use this as an example for the Instructional Technology team I work with to hopefully inspire them too! Thanks so much!

Unknown said...

Mrs. Parker,
You could adapt this lesson to your classroom "technology environment" by setting up pairs of students to work at your one PC to create their avatars...they will support each other. Then after they email them to you you can cut them out and arrange them on the document camera for a whole class discussion or two avatars in a center for them to explain the similarities to one another. Before getting a Smartboard, I would suggest an LCD projector or BEN-Q (whichever is cheaper). Also, if you teach in NC (some counties) Wake Electric is offering grants for classroom technology (simple application process) for up to $3000...check it out here. http://www.wemc.com/classawards2.aspx

Miss DeCarbo said...

What great ideas! :)

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Kellie said...

AWESOME!!! Many thanks for sharing :)

Andria said...

What a fun idea to try with the kindergartners! I will do this next school year. I did a project with 2nd graders about alike and different using voicethread. Their voicethread is posted here: http://blogs.wcpss.net/stilllearning/2012/06/05/alike-and-different/

Unknown said...

Awesome! Thanks for replying...I love sharing!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the shout-out...and you're welcome, I love doing it!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the meaningful, explicit and positive comment! I hope the K teachers in the Winston-Salem school district can helps their students get engaged in social studies through hands-on technology immersion!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your Alike/Different voicethread, the kids did a great job, and so creative!...that is a fun tool for kids! Recording their voice has so many benefits! Take care...Jennifer

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