Since we had a zoo fieldtrip planned for April, my team and I decided to make it an authentic experience by having the students research a specific animal beforehand and then observe that animal at the zoo. We decided on five different animals from which the students could choose, making sure they were ones we would be able to observe at the zoo.
I put up a few kid-friendly research websites on my class website from which my students could choose to search for information. Some of the sites had videos, which were very helpful for the struggling readers. Also, I don’t know if you are all aware of this, but Macs have an option for any text to be read aloud. The students simply highlight text from a website and go to edit > speech > start speaking. They can use it for one word that they’re struggling with or for multiple paragraphs. My kids used it all the time and it made all of our lives so much easier! THIS National Geographic site was by far their favorite because it’s so user-friendly and there are great facts and videos about each animal.
Before we began the project, I did a lot of modeling on how to search for information on each of the sites as well as how to take notes. Since each of my first graders had had their own MacBook the entire year, they had already become very confortable with both typing and navigating different websites to find information. We researched one topic at a time in small increments and the students recorded facts in their spiral notebooks. I tried to get them to write at least one complete sentence to summarize their findings for each topic and circle the sentence they wanted to type into their Keynote presentation. These were our four topics:
- Habitat—Where does the animal live?
- Diet—What does the animal eat?
- Size—How big does the animal get?
- Predators—What animals eat it?
Since this was the first time my students had ever used Keynote, we created each slide together at the same time, with me guiding them on the SMARTboard. Each slide represented one of the four topics, and they also had a title page. In order to get pictures into the presentations, I modeled how to take a screen shot, how to copy and paste, and how to simply drag an image into the Keynote presentation.
The kids LOVED this project and I was so proud of what my little firsties were able to accomplish. It made our zoo field trip all the more exciting and authentic for them. After the students had finished their Keynotes, they presented them to their third grade reading buddies. They were so proud of their hard work and loved having an audience.