Teacher Experience: “Reporter” Task for 1st Grade Students
By Amber Bush, 1st-grade reading, social studies, and technology teacher at Diamond Springs Elementary School in Virginia Beach, Virginia
“By using this project, I have allowed more choice in my station activities and am giving more options for my students to complete their work. I am now working on not only using more of these projects in my classroom but also teaching other teachers to use the program in their own rooms.”
Finding a project-based learning platform that fits students at any level of learning.
I have students with a wide variety of disabilities. With Defined STEM, I can work at their pace and with their own skill set. I can easily break projects apart without losing the student’s engagement or understanding. I can tell it was developed in a way that focused on our district’s 5 C’s (collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical and computational thinking) along with teaching essential 21st-century skills.
Using Defined STEM to support student choice and encourage them to learn from taking risks.
We started by using the Defined STEM project, “Reporter.” To begin this project, I had students read several Little Prairie books to give them a background of life long ago. Then, we did a Think/Pair/Share activity to talk about how adults and children are similar and how they are different.
Students were given the goal of the project, “to talk with an adult to find out how their life growing up was different than yours.” They were then able to select the format of their project: either a hand-drawn poster, a Google Slides presentation, or a Google docs blog. From there, students individually viewed videos on past and present reporters to engage their learning. They were allowed to pick an adult in the school to interview, but each student had to have a different interviewee.
As a group, we generated types of questions to ask interviewees and compiled a list of the best questions. Then, each student scheduled an interview and conducted their research. Students were equipped with a clipboard with questions, pencils, and an iPad to take photographs and record the conversation.
Once the research was done, students split into their different product types, such as a poster, blog/webpage, or a slideshow, and worked with a teacher to complete the product. In addition to me as the teacher, the library specialist and instructional technology specialist assisted with the project. The final product was shared with the class, and students could ask questions and evaluate their peers’ work.
Students had so much fun choosing an interviewee and were excited to have some one-on-one time asking them questions and seeing the photographs and objects their interviewee brought in. The students were exposed to a lot of different experiences, including adults who were born and raised in rural and urban areas and in different countries such as China, Barbados, Germany, and Scotland. They loved it so much they even asked if they could do a follow-up interview!
With this project, children used a variety of skills including technology, art, communication, creativity, and collaboration. The students used their skills at their own level and pace. It taught them to venture out and to try something they were not familiar with. They witnessed firsthand what happens when you take chances. It was great because there was no right or wrong way to present the information. Each student had a different end product that was unique to their skill sets and experiences.