Monday, June 11, 2012

Super Snake Mini-Unit

It's the last week of school and we are wrapping up all those loose ends.  I am so excited that this summer I will be participating as a Fellow in the UCI writing project.  I've already gone to one meeting (orientation) and left spinning with inspiration and ideas.  As a part of the project, each teacher presents a lesson to the other Fellows.  My area of specialty in the classroom is technology (or so I like to think), so I took this week and last to run through my lesson and collect work samples to present this summer.  It was the perfect time to do a lesson because everything I've been throwing at my kids all year is finally coming together.  This lesson was so much fun and I know my kids loved it too.

First, we had to access our prior knowledge.  I gave each student a half sheet of paper.  I asked them to write/draw anything they knew about snakes.  Most kids drew pictures, some wrote words, and one even drew a bubble map!  The creative juices were flowing so much, I had to reset the timer several times to extend their writing/drawing time.  I expected 5 minutes, but we spent more like 15-20!

After the drawings, we came together on the carpet and used a circle map as 2/3 of a KWL (on the SMART board of course).  I used a different color for before and after.

We also wrote any questions we had as we went.  (They came up with some good ones!)

Next, we went to tag galaxy (very cool website that complies pictures based on tags and creates a 3D moving universe to see them!), watched a video I found, and looked at a PowerPoint presentation another Kinder teacher made.  After each exposure, we pair/shared about what we learned and added to our circle map.  We also revisited the questions we wrote to answer any we could.

Then we filled out our a tree map together, while the students wrote on their own.  Theirs had less lines in each column, which I asked them to fill with their favorite facts.

The next day we reviewed the circle map, questions, and tree map.  We looked at the unanswered questions and talked about how we could find the answers.  We decided to use Google (which we have some experience with already).  Once we found the answers, we added information to our maps and were ready to write.

We used a simple formula along with the tree map to create sentences together.  I modeled the first two, then asked for volunteers to write more.  After a few, I sent the kiddos to their seats with a blank sheet of paper.  I told them they could use any kind of thinking map that wanted to, to organize their favorite facts about snakes.  Once they had some ideas down, they could get a lined paper and start writing.

The next step was publishing online.  Students who finished their work (quality work including an illustration), they could go online and create a voki that would narrate their sentences.  They LOVED it.  I later posted the voki avatars on our class website.

(Press Play)

The final step was a quiz with 10 questions about snakes.  The questions were based on vocabulary that we learned throughout the unit.  We used responders to take the quiz (another fun gadget they love) and everyone did very well.  With the instant feedback I get from the program, I was able to address any vocabulary that needed review.

So many things for just a few days!  I love coming up with a lesson from a last minute inspiration, throwing together a bunch of new ideas, and seeing instant results! 


  1. This all sounds wonderful!

    I am happy to be the newest follower of your cute blog!

    I would love for you to come and visit me when you get the chance. =)

    Heather's Heart

  2. That sounds like fun! EXCEPT- there are no poisonous snakes..poison is ingested, not injected! There are venomous snakes though. AND not all snakes are venomous! Some are constrictors. Next time please try to provide more accurate snake info-snakes do make wonderful pets and it does no good to fill their minds with incorrect information. Even if you think it will go over their heads, tell them about it anyway.