Monday, 5 January 2015

Project Explorer Introduction

On our first day back in the new year, we checked out a new website. I (Shauna) was so happy to see that the Gladiator Snails were as excited and engaged in Project Explorer as I am! Project Explorer is a free website that helps us in a quest for global knowledge! Pretty cool, right? There are videos from interesting countries that teach us about everything from science to culture to art and math!

By learning about the world, through Project Explorer and other tools (books, Skype calls, news articles, etc), we will become more global aware, better citizens, make interesting connections and ask deep, probing questions.

We learned how to navigate the site and check out letters from Jenny (the site's creator) and watch videos that are appropriate for our grade level (Upper Elementary). Together, we selected a video from Malaysia. Many of us didn't know where Malaysia was and we found it in southeast Asia and added a pin to our class map. The video we watched focused on a really amazing kind of tree called a mangrove tree. After we watched the video together, we discussed the many things we learned in four minutes and talked about some things we're still wondering.

We learned:
-normal trees breathe air, mangrove trees are in the water-Gracie
-I didn’t know what mangrove meant -James
-that mangrove trees leaves are salty, they suck in salt water and flush it out by the leaves -Raphie
-that it can live when it’s stuck in the mud-Oyster
-instead of the roots going straight down, they curve. They go in the mud by need air-Liam
-mangroves live on rivers -Ike
-mangrove trees curve and can protect the forest, from tsunamis -Sam
-it can protect an entire forest from tornadoes-Hudson
-they usually live in something wet, like mud and water-Rowan
-there is a tree that has roots going up and that it holds a lot of water-Sophie
-there are monkeys in Malaysia-Indi
-mangroves live in the mud - Katie
-mangroves are very helpful, they protect things from hurricanes and tornadoes -Tom

We wonder:
-was that animal a mudskipper? - Shauna
-how do mangroves flush the salt out? -Alex
-I want to learn more about it, I feel like there is more about it. About mangroves. -Oyster
-how do the mangroves protect the forest?-Katie
-if they can protect themselves from different natural phenomena like sink holes-Hudson
-they should add more about actual Malaysia, because they just talked about mangroves-Tom
-how do they grow in such a wet place?-Rowan

After students finished some Language work, they explored Project Explorer on their own or in pairs. Just a reminder that a set of earbud headphones would be a GREAT thing to send in to school! All of us watching different videos on our Chromebooks gets a little noisy and distracting!

Once we'd taken some time to read and watch videos, students began to fill in a reflection on a collaborative Google Doc. Once again, we reflected on what we learned, what we wonder and gave some feedback about what we'd like to see change about the video or the website. We will finish this document tomorrow.

I am so totally in love with Project Explorer, and we are EPCOT class - a class that is experimental and willing to prototype things - and my plan is to incorporate Project Explorer into ALL subject areas and use it as a learning tool for four straight weeks. If all my planning goes as hoped, we'll be starting this next week! Stay tuned for our Project Explorer explorations!

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