Have you ever read an interesting informational text with a group of first graders, had amazing discussion, then asked them to share something new they learned? If you have, you’ve likely heard this from at least one student: “I already knew all that!” 1st graders can be a tough crowd occasionally.
Fortunately, we utilize the thinking stems from Tanny McGregor’s book Comprehension Connections to help us verbalize what we’ve learned or want to remember. These starter sentences make it easy to dig into informational texts, and give students the words they sometimes need to get them started on sharing their thoughts.
Inspired by our class pet, Slick, the perfect topic for us to test out these thinking stems on was salamanders. We dug into informational text and videos to learn about salamanders and other amphibians. As we researched, students used pictures and words (our 1st grade version of sketchnotes) then we complied pictures of our notes onto a ThingLink – with Slick as the feature.
This engaging style of recording our thinking produced a storm of interesting facts that we wanted to share. Enter the paint, paper and iPads. We painted paper, Eric Carle style, with salamander colors.
The paper was cut out into salamanders, and we glued on googly eyes. Don’t you just love each unique salamander!
Each student chose at least one interesting fact to share from our research. Then, they photographed their own salamanders on “land”, brown paper, or “water”, blue paper. Next, they used ChatterPix Kids to make their salamanders “talk” and share an interesting fact from our research. The goal was to put all the videos together using iMovie, but we had one more part to complete. In order to give credit to our references, we made a video bibliography with Explain Everything to add at the end.
Here’s our completed video. I wonder what you learned about salamanders?
This video was so easy to put together in iMovie, and does a great job of sharing facts we learned. My favorite parts are the incredible salamanders that my students created! I would say that they definitely understood the concept of picking out important information, but they also were able to express their thinking in really fun and creative ways. I would highly encourage to let your students record their thinking through pictures, words and art.
We put all our hard work outside for everyone to see, including a QR code to each student’s individual video, and our collaborative one.