Tools for Success

Mia Morgan, Ed.D., M.L.S.

I am highly motivated and ambitious with my lessons. I have found that my lessons are much more successful when I provide students with the tools they need to be successful. For example, in my district third grade students get Google Drive accounts that they will then continue to use until they graduate from high school (or move from the district). My job is to teach students how to access their accounts and use the G Suite tools. This year, my G Suite lessons connected and built off one another so students were using the tools in more advanced ways as we progressed through the year. Drawing on past lessons provides students an opportunity to recall, practice, and perfect skills learned earlier in the year.

The inspiration for the first lesson using Google Slides was a chapter from the book A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold in which Bat describes his favorite place, his bedroom. I asked students to choose a favorite place and write three reasons why that place was their favorite. They then created a one-slide Google Slide presentation about their favorite place. They were highly motivated during this project because they liked talking about their favorite places. In the process they learned how to add background colors, pictures, and how to change fonts.

My next lesson built on that lesson and integrated a small research project. Working with partners, students chose a ‘mystery’ animal, and then used KidsInfoBits to learn about that animal. Third grade students love animals and getting to choose which animal to research helped give them a sense of ownership over this project.

Using Google Slides, students changed the layout for the slide so that it worked with the information, and they added one slide to the presentation for each fact about the animal. The second to last slide included an image of the animal, and the last slide included a citation for the facts and picture. The fun part of this assignment was the presentations. Students presented their work, one slide at a time, sharing the animal facts. Classmates had to guess what the animal was based on the facts, one guess per fact. Making good partner choices was an integral part of the success of this project. I asked the classroom teachers for help partnering students and they were very thoughtful with the pairings. Students worked well together and all students were able to feel successful.

The final part of the lesson was a green screen project, where students took their facts and turned them into a script that introduced the animal, no longer a mystery, to a wider audience. I created a writing frame for students to help them organize their facts and turn the facts into a cohesive piece of writing.

It is challenging to complete projects like this when I only see students once per week for 40 minutes. But when I use tools that help students succeed, such as building on previous lessons, choosing engaging topics, partnering students, and creating writing frames, then students are motivated to come to class and get their work done!