Tag Archives: graphic organizer

5th Grade Students & Ebola Projects

Our fifth grade students were studying cells, viruses and contagious diseases in August when school began.  At that time the Ebola outbreak was just getting going and was in the news constantly.  This seemed a perfect opportunity to link current events, a world-wide issue and what they were studying in science.  Oh, and did I say I thought it would be a great chance to combine research, note-taking skills and technology in the library media center?

Research Begins: Note-taking, Foldables & Reference Sources

I designed a foldable for students to use while reading and taking notes.  I created this foldable with space for different  reference sources, including a dictionary, an atlas, an encyclopedia, a newspaper, a thesaurus and websites.

foldable graphic organizer

Foldable graphic organizer

I wanted the students to utilize all of the sources, which I now realize was too ambitious within our limited library time.  They did research during two library visits (for a total of about 40 minutes) and this wasn’t enough time.  I looked at their notes after these two sessions and chose a small group from each class to work further on the project. I chose the students who had the best or most complete notes on Ebola and worked with these 5 groups. I worked with each small group one more time researching filling in any gaps so that they would have a more complete understanding of the disease.

Concluding Research and Summarizing

I worked with students during their lunch period, so as to protect instructional time in their classroom.  It took forever to complete the projects as I only had about 20 minutes each time to work with the group.  In one week I worked with each group one or two times as I rotated through the classes.

Once they had completed their research, the students decided what information they wanted to include in their presentation.  I wrote their notes on chart paper and then typed it up for each group.   I made sure that we noted where each fact had come from so they could complete a bibliography to include in each project.  They worked with this compiled list.  I cut the notes into individual strips of paper and had each group organize the information for their presentation.  They glued the strips on a  paper and this became their outline.

summary of notes

Summary of students’ notes organized for an outline for the presentation.

Images & Credit to Source

To save time and move the project along, I found about twenty images and copied them into a folder along with the information on the source of each photo.  Again, I stressed to them that we must include this information  in the presentation.  I let them choose as many photos as they wanted that went along their outline of facts.

Enter Technology and a Few Glitches

I had the students choose from a couple of formats, including Prezi, Photostory and Flipsnack.  As I practiced with Flipsnack some more I started having some issues with it, so we eliminated that from the lineup.  Then I had problems with recording in Photostory.  The recording volume in Photostory was so low that you couldn’t hear it.  I switched computers, microphones, and laptops (one using XP and one with Windows 8) and never could figure out why the volumes were so low, so I transferred the photos of the two groups who had chose Photostory into Windows Movie Maker. Whew….this was supposed to be the fun part!

Success, finally!

I finished with the last two groups this past week (in the midst of the Scholastic Book Fair, but that’s a whole other stress-filled event).  The students were happy with their finished products and now have expertise that they can share with their classmates who did not get to work on these projects.  Anything to break out of the PowerPoint mold!  I told the 5th grade students that didn’t want them to move up to middle school only knowing how to use one digital tool.


The students have come away with practice in note-taking, a review of reference courses, increased digital storytelling skills and a heightened interest in the Ebola outbreak.  I figured that when the outbreak was getting started in August that it would be a story that would get larger and involve more countries  as time went on.  Students come up to me all the time now and say they saw something on the news about Ebola.  We even have a location connection with the story here in Albany, GA as the son of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, is a physician at our local hospital.  We saw him on the ABC World News early in the crisis.  Students were very interested in that and wanted to contact him and let him know what we were doing (and I will be emailing him a couple of our presentations).

Here are two of the projects!


Link to one of the Prezis:





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Filed under Students using technology

ChatterPix App and American Revolution Leaders

I recently found out about the app, ChatterPix by Duck, Duck, Goose and looked around to figure out how we could incorporate this into some grade level’s curriculum.  The fourth grade students were preparing to study the American Revolutionary War and they are required to know about seven different historical figures from that time period.

ChatterPix app

Duck Duck Goose ChatterPix

I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for these students to practice their research and note-taking skills.  I wanted to design it so the students would avoid plagiarizing, so I decided they would write their “speeches” in first person.

Graphic Organizer

First I looked at what the students are responsible for knowing about these American Revolutionary figures and designed a graphic organizer to help the students focus their research.


Next, I created a Livebinder to gather internet sources for the students so everything would be in one place.  If you are not familiar with Livebinders, check it out.  It is a neat, graphic way to organize websites and it is called a binder because the organizational design looks like the tabs of folders in a binder.  Here is the link to the one I created for this assignment   http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1249911&backurl=/shelf/my.

Students at computer using Livebinder to find websites.

Students using Livebinder to guide research

Assisting the Research Process

I introduced the project at the first library visit and the students had a short time to conduct research.  I had non-fiction books pulled and put out on tables, so the students could spread out.  They researched during one more library visit and after that I worked with groups who had been assigned the same person at the end of the school day.

Writing First Person Scripts

After the students completed their research, I pulled them during their lunch time to assist them in writing their first person script.  I had books pulled that had portraits of all of the figures (George Washington, Patrick Henry, Benedict Arnold, etc.).

ChatterPix App

The ChatterPix app allows you to let anything “talk” by drawing on a mouth on an image.  The students took a photo of their person, drew the mouth across and then recorded their 29 second script (that is the time limit of the app).

Student recording their ChatterPix from script

Student recording their ChatterPix from script.

They then added a title and I exported them to my YouTube channel.




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Filed under Information Literacy Instruction, Students using technology, Uncategorized

Teaching Note Taking Skill and Animal Adaptations

I just did one of my favorite lessons with 4th grade students.  I turn one of the students into a frog!  Well, not really.  But I do transform a volunteer with adaptations present on a frog’s body.  I combine this activity with students practicing note taking.

Animal Adaptations -Science Standards.

Using a lesson developed by American Zoos & Aquarium in 2008 for the “Year of the Frog” activities, I put different things on a student, each of which represents a different adaptation.  We talk about frogs having a permeable skin, which is portrayed by my running vest, a mesh with holes in it.  The frog’s external ear drums, the tympanum, are shown by having the student wear ear muffs.  By the end of the lesson the student looks, not quite like a frog, but not the same as when we began!

Student dressed as a frog wearing ear muffs (ears), flippers (webbed feet).

Student transformed into a frog by donning items to represent adaptations.

The 4th grade classes are studying adaptations and how these help the animal to survive in their environment.

Note Taking Skills

I designed a graphic organizer for the students to practice taking notes as the adaptations are added to the volunteer “frog”.  There is a column for the student to list the adaptation (ears, eyes, skin, etc.) and a column for the student to write how this adaptation helps the frog survive.

Large photos of frogs, white board listing the frog's adaptations

I post many large, colorful photos of frogs and use a white board to list each adaptation as I introduce it.

We review what it means to take notes, as opposed to writing complete sentences and how it helps prevent plagiarism.  I cover 10 adaptations, but the students choose which 4 to take notes on.

Listening Skills & Common Core Standards

Having students take notes while listening to someone, helps them to develop a different type of skill.  Most of the time in elementary school, we have them take notes when they are reading text.  This is a skill covered in the Common Core English Language Arts standards:   ELACC4SL2: Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

This activity demonstrates how library media specialists can combine teaching information literacy skills and science standards.  And we had a lot of fun doing it!

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Filed under Information Literacy Instruction