Tag Archives: research

Fifth Grade Research Historical Figures

Our fifth grade students are studying the United States around the turn of the 20th century and are required to know about several historical figures.  I made a list of the names and divided them among the three classes.  Each teacher assigned the students groups (about 4 students in each group) and they pulled a name from a hat.



I had the students use either World Book Online (we have a subscription) or Britannica School Encyclopedia (available online in Georgia through the state). They used their Chromebooks to independently read about their person and take notes, each student required to record about 5-8 facts.  I narrowed their focus on the time period around 1900, as several of the historical figures had long lives with many accomplishments.

Besides including the facts, each group had to cite their resources on the poster. I’m trying to repeat this requirement over and over.

Social Skills-Group Work

Each group then had to decide which facts they would include on their large poster (white butcher paper).   I had a copy of a photo of each figure they could use to draw their person from.  I could tell they need more practice working in groups as a lot of time was spent on deciding who would do what. Or one person was telling everyone what they were going to do–and I had to remind them how to decide as a GROUP who would do what.  After observing for a few minutes I also had to tell them that I should NOT see anyone just sitting there, that the paper was sufficiently large to allow ALL group members to be working at the same time.


Repeat Activity?

I’m not sure I will do this activity again; too much time was spent coloring in dresses, etc.  The third grade classes did a similar activity and they were much more effecient in accomplishing the work in much less time.

Finished Products

It was a struggle to get the students to fill the large piece of paper.  Many of them wanted to draw very small portraits of the people.  They also wrote very small for the most part and it was hard to read.  If I do this again I’ll let them use markers as this might make reading the sentences easier (not as easy to correct mistakes, however) and have a model product for them to view.

Extended Activity-Making Connections

I tried something different this week to follow up on the poster research and poster activity.  I had the students make connections with the accomplishments of the historical figures with the world today (or their life). Using a basic graphic organizer they chose one figure and with a partner read the facts on the poster and then decided how the discoveries/accomplishments of that person impacts our lives today.  We then went back into the library and each group shared.  I think it went very well and hopefully they now have a better understanding of why we study these “old” people!



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Third Grade Research, Posters, Native Americans

Our third grade students study Native American groups, Georgia Standards of Excellence-Social Studies: SS3H1 Describe early American Indian cultures and their development in North America.  I wanted the students to practice reading for content, taking notes, working in groups, and citing their sources.


Working individually or in pairs (I did one class one way, the other classes the other) the students used their Chromebooks to access a Livebinder I created to curate some websites.  Since each teacher already had a class Portaportal account I just sent the link to my Livebinder and they added it to their science section…so much easier than having third grade students type in a URL-even an easy one like a Yellkey (which is my favorite URL shortener).img_4274.jpg

After collecting information about the Arapaho’s lifestyle (shelter, food, where they lived, other interesting facts) the students worked together.  They chose an image to use, how facts would be included and they were required to list the online resources they used.IMG_4275

It took us about three library visits to complete the projects.  They really enjoyed the process. I displayed one class’ posters in the hall outside of the library for about two weeks.  I’m keeping one poster up where I have examples of all the work done by all grade levels. The other classes were given their posters.IMG_4282IMG_4283

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Fourth Grade Uses ChatterPix to Explore Space

IMG_3670It’s always fun to see the students’ faces when they hear themselves on an audio recording!

During a unit where the fourth graders are learning about the solar system,  I have them choose a planet or a spacecraft to research.  Their goal is to have 4 or 5 interesting facts that they use to write a first person script.

ChatterPix App

Using the ChatterPix app they take a photo of an image and then record their voices to create the video.  They are limited to 29 seconds so they also have to edit to make sure they don’t run over their time.


Speaking Skills

Our students need opportunities for reading aloud.  This helps them with their writing as they can correct their written word as they realize their mistakes (in word choice, verb tense, etc.) as they are reading aloud.


YouTube Upload-Last Step in Process

After everyone has completed their ChatterPix recording I create folders in my YouTube channel and upload all the videos from each class.  Time consuming but worth it as it creates a wider and authentic audience for the student work.



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Chatterpix about Virus and Bacteria

IMG_1772This year I started off the school year with fifth grade students researching either bacteria or virus, one of their science standards.  I curated websites (mostly our World Book Online, Britannica Student via Galileo) using Livebinders.  Using Livebinders reduces the amount of time students spend searching for information and I try to keep this project to a three week timeline!  One week for research, a second week for writing their script and recording with the third week finishing the recordings.


Chatterpix is an Apple app that lets the user make things talk, by drawing in mouth.  The user then has 29 seconds to record.  I have the students write a script in first person so the bacteria or virus is speaking.

Research and Writing

I asked them to have 4 to 5 interesting facts.  Some students were able to just write their script in first person as they were reading the websites.  Other students took notes and then went back to write their script.

I found about 10 to 15 images of bacteria and virus and let the students choose from this group.  This cuts down on time and as I only have about 25 minutes with them each week and I need to find ways to save on time wherever possible.

Upload to YouTube

After they create their Chatterpix I upload them to YouTube.  This is time consuming for me, but it’s the only way to share their creations.

Check out some of their work:


We are a 1:1 school, however we have Dell tablets.  Fortunately, we have a small cart of old iPads from before the 1:1 initiative, which allows us to use this fun Apple app.


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5th Grade Learns to Use Prezi

By this time of the school year, I have worked with the 5th grade classes on creating a Chatterpix and PowerPoint.  To add an additional tool in their digital tool belt, we worked on making Prezis.

When working with the students, I’m not really going for a perfect product.  Rather, I am hoping that they will be experienced enough with the tool, that they will be able to use it on their own.  I do look the creations over and have them edit for grammar, punctuation, etc.  But, if after the allotted time and the group is not completely finished, the project has to stay that way.

Unfortunately, students have to be 13 years old to sign up for their own account (and I haven’t been successful in getting teachers to sign up for their own accounts), so they have to use my account.  I will change my password after this project is over!


Notice that the students are not using their Dell tablets, but the library computers to create their Prezis.  Way easier!


Coordinated with Social Studies Unit of Inquiry

I designed a graphic organizer that reflected what the students were studying in their current Unit of Inquiry so as to build on the prior knowledge of the topic and to reinforce concepts they are learning in the classroom.  They were learning about the U.S. during the 1920’s and 1930’s.  I looked at the Georgia Performance Standards and based the topics on these standards:

SS5H4 The student will describe U.S. involvement in World War I and post-World War I America.

a. Explain how German attacks on U.S. shipping during the war in Europe (1914- 1917) ultimately led the U.S. to join the fight against Germany; include the sinking of the Lusitania and concerns over safety of U.S. ships, U.S. contributions to the war, and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. b. Describe the cultural developments and individual contributions in the 1920s of the Jazz Age (Louis Armstrong), the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes), baseball (Babe Ruth), the automobile (Henry Ford), and the airplane (Charles Lindbergh).

SS5H5 The student will explain how the Great Depression and New Deal affected the lives of millions of Americans.

a. Discuss the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, the Dust Bowl, and soup kitchens. b. Analyze the main features of the New Deal; include the significance of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. c. Discuss important cultural elements of the 1930s; include Duke Ellington, Margaret Mitchell, and Jesse Owens.


I created a Livebinder to curate the websites for the students to use for their research.  They bookmark the website and it reduces the time needed to complete their research.  The do use their tablets for researching.



Final Product

I did not have the students use their 1:1 devices (Dell ProVenue tablets) to create their Prezi as it is too difficult to see what you are doing on the small screen.  Fortunately I have 8 Dell All-in-One computers with large, touch screens! Check out one of their Prezis:



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5th Grade- Civil Wars and PowerPoint

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After surveying the fifth grade students at the beginning of the school year, I realized that most of the students had minimal experience with creating PowerPoints.  So I decided that one of the first digital tools we would work on would be PowerPoint.  Since they would be studying the U.S. Civil War in the fall, I chose that topic.  The Syrian Civil War was in the news at that time (we completed these projects in late October & November, but I’m just getting around to finishing up this blog post!). As an IB-PYP school, I also wanted them to realize that the U.S. Civil War was NOT the only civil war that had occured and that there were civil wars happening right now.

Graphic Organizer and Curating Web Resources

I used Livebinders to curate websites and online encyclopedias for the students to use.  My emphasis in this project was more on the technical aspect (PowerPoint) rather than in-depth research.  Livebinders was used to curate websites and online encyclopedias for the students to use.


Livebinder is very useful for students as it visually organizes the topics.

Livebinder is very useful for students as it visually organizes the topics.

They only had to have 5 slides and at least 2 images. I also emphasized the citing of resources and giving credit when using images.





Student Tablets

Our school is a 1:1 technology set up, so all students have a Dell ProVenue 11 tablet.  One catch was that Office 365 had to be downloaded before we could do this project and that takes awhile!  But after that, the students caught on pretty quickly and were usually anxious to help each other problem solve.  I think they have a basic understanding of creating a PowerPoint, inserting images, text boxes and are aware of the different slide types (ie. they had to use the Comparison slide for the body of their PowerPoint).

So far this year I have taught the 5th grade classes how to use Chatterpix and PowerPoint.  We are getting ready to start on Prezis in the next week.  My goal is for these students to have several digital storytelling tools in their technonlogy toolbelts by the end of the year.  No more just relying on PowerPoint when they get to middle school!

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4th Grades “Explore” Prezi

prezi1prezi2Our fourth grade students are required to learn six explorers according to the current Georgia Performance Standards in Social Studies: SS4H2 The student will describe European exploration in North America. a. Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish, French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.

I designed a project where the students researched an explorer so that they could create a Prezi which would be an advertisement to persuade viewers to join them on their expedition.

Livebinders Guided Research

I gathered resources for each explorer using Livebinders to expedite and streamline the research process.  The students used a graphic organizer I created to guide their research.  By answering the questions, the students would have sufficient information to write their advertisement.  The students conducted their research independently and then worked with a group to create one Prezi per explorer for the class.livebinders


I reviewed the groups individual graphic organizers to ensure that among all of the group they collectively had sufficient (and correct) information to write their advertisement. Students were not familiar with Prezi, but they were very excited when they saw how it worked.  I modeled it briefly and we discussed writing in the first person, as if they were the explorer.  Some go the hang of that quicker than others, but it was good practice.  Before they could add any images, they had to have written all of their text.  I have found that they get so excited about the pictures, that the text falls to the wayside!

Here are a few of their projects:




Images and Giving Credit

I collected images for each explorer ahead of time, saving the image and renaming the image with the sources’ name.  This saves the students time.  I try to get this project done in about 4 library visits, so anything that saves a bit of time is helpful.  I created a folder for each explorer with sufficient images that they could pick and choose.  They had to give credit to the owner of the image (creating a text box in the frame with the image) and they picked up on that right away.

Citing our Sources

The last frame of each Prezi had to include the website addresses of each website that the group used.  We didn’t do MLA or any official format.  At this point I wanted them just to be aware of citing their resources.

Reflection via Flipgrid

These fourth grade students really enjoyed thinking outside the Power Point box, although most of them had only made one or two Power Points before this year. Reflecting on their learning is a big part of the International Baccalaureate program, so I had the student use Flipgrid to record their written reflection.  They love to see and hear themselves!

Check out some of their reflections: https://flipgrid.com/57a659

Students used Flipgrid to record their reflection on the explorer Prezi project and process.

Students used Flipgrid to record their reflection on the explorer Prezi project and process.


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