Dust from the Book Fairy

A bit of a botched 5th grade lesson

Posted on: 11 February 2008

So I had this great idea for a 5th grade lesson. . .

We’ve been working on nonfiction books, leading up to research skills. Indexes, guide words. (I know, it sounds boring as snot, but we’ve been mostly playing games with it, the idea being that they’ll use it for Science project research later on this year in their classrooms).

I had two thoughts:

    • I wanted to get them to realize that they could post comments on the library page, because it’s through edublogs. First incorrect assumption I made: they knew what a blog was.
    • I wanted to remind them about Kids Infobits, a database we have access to from Gale. Second incorrect assumption: They remembered using this last year & remembered the difference between a random webpage and a database.

      So I posted the assignment on the library blog, and walked them through it during class. They were to use Kids Infobits to read a bit about an author they liked. Any author. Then post a comment on the blog telling us which author they read about, why, and anything they found interesting.

      Problems to think through before next class of 5th graders:

        1. They do NOT know what a blog is or how it works. (WHY did I assume they would!?)
        2. They don’t seem to recall ever using Infobits before.
        3. I’ve got some kind of weird security setting on edublogs (or maybe it’s the default). It kicked out some of their comments.

          Some initial decisions/thoughts:

          • I need to break this down a bit more, since we’ve only got 30 minutes for “lesson,” if I give them a reasonable amount of time for book selection.
          1. I think I’ll take my next class of 5th graders through the blog on the Smartboard, and we’ll practice writing a comment together. Probably on a book review post, or something like that. That should be enough for 1 lesson.
          2. Next lesson, remind them about Kids Infobits, what it is, and have them just play with it. See what sort of information they can find about an author, with a partner. Record their thoughts on paper.
          3. Third lesson, post their findings as a comment on the assignment post.
            • I’ll have to backtrack a bit with my guinea pig class, but I think they’ll be okay with that. I let them know that they were test-driving this activity anyway, so they might not be surprised. Their frustration levels with the concept was a little much.

            Random musings:

            I’d love for all my kids to have their own blogs eventually. Write about books they’re reading. Get their teachers to let them use it for class assignments. We have pretty good technology access in the school. Or maybe a wiki would be better. . . . something interconnected, where they can see what others in the school are writing about. I haven’t brought this idea up with admin yet though. I actually haven’t discussed the posting comments part with my principal either, but since they’re all doing it anonymously, I didn’t think of that as a possible need till just now. But the district did just get blogs unblocked this year, so maybe I should tread a bit more carefully.

            UPDATE: Later classes went much better. I broke the lesson down into 2 class periods. In the 1st one, I just showed them what to do on the TEL part and they took notes on their author, on paper. In the 2nd one, I showed them how to post a comment, they finished up their notes and posted a comment.

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