11 Replies Latest reply on Feb 21, 2011 3:55 PM by lmorse

    Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

      Help!  I've just begun taking Thinking with Technology course and I'm trying to decide on a unit plan that will be good for a beginner to writing TWT Units.  I teach kindergarten at an indepenent school who has been working diligently for years towards becoming an IB school authorized in the PYP model. (Primary Years Program).  Since IB model is inquiry based instruction, I am wondering if trying to tie in this TWT Unit to one of my PYP units is a good idea.  Which discipline is the best to start with for unit writing with TWT?

        • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

          First of all, you already have my respect because you are a kindergarten teacher. I have a 4 yr. old grandson who reminds me that even though I was a teacher for 17 years, I can't imagine being very successful in teaching these little guys; give me those snarky 8th graders!


          I do know that several kindergarten and 1st grade teachers have used Visual Ranking successfully and have designed some effective adapatations for this younger group. I definitely think using one of your current PYP units is a good starting place. Is there a unit that you aren't quite happy with or seems a little flat? Integrating a tool like Visual Ranking can elevate the thinking skills of your students while providing a collaborative learning environment.


          That's all I got...I'll leave this thread for the real experts to weigh in

          • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

            I have also seen Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers use Visual Ranking for many activities that were part of larger units. I think VR works really well with Social Studies and Science, but any  unit would benefit from students thinking about their thinking. One of my favorites was when groups of children worked together to rank the different lifeskills (caring, effort, curiosity, patience, responsibility, etc.) needed for different jobs in her community helper unit on "Who Helps Us? I saw her pose a similar question about lifeskills when they were being math and reading detectives and wanted to rank the skills outside of the content areas they need to solve problems. The discussion was lively as the students argued passionately for the trait they thought was most important; it was amazing that even struggling readers were certain that effort and perseverance were important to becoming effective readers.


            I haven't seen any of the other tools used in Kindergarten, but some of the activities I've seen teachers using VR include ranking which playground equipment should be purchased from student council funds, ranking which media to use (pictures, illustrations, clip art, or video) for their presentations, and ranking which of the areas of the zoo they should visit to best learn about animal changes. On this last one, even though many students wanted to see snakes first, they had to think about how much easier it would be to see baby and adult baboons, giraffes, and lions and note the way they change rather than looking at tortoises or snakes. The different groups then got to start their group zoo tour in the area they had ranked first before they all met up for a class presentation.

              • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

                Thank you for your time in replying to my post.  I love your ideas about ranking the traits for a community helper.  That fits perfectly with my PYP model because of the "PYP attitudes" that we constantly model and discuss with our little ones.  Words such as "curiosity, empathy, integrity, tolerance", etc can be used in a VR activity that would flow perfectly with one of my current units.  I already feel that working with one of my current PYP units is the direction I must go.  I appreciate your help.

              • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

                There is a great Kindergarten project in the Appendix of the TwT course entitled, "Here Birdy, Birdy". This project has students monitor what types of birds come to a bird feeder in each season (located outside of the classroom). During "Calendar Time" at the beginning of the day, the students add to a graph re: what birds they have seen at the feeder. http://herebirdy.pbworks.com/w/page/17846540/FrontPage


                Another one is called "Travel Buddies". It is where students send a "buddy" (a stuffed animal) to another classroom, where the "buddy" writes in a journal about their experiences. You can set up a wiki and ask other classrooms to join your project. The Intel Community is a great place to solicit other classrooms to join your project.  It's kind of like the "Flat Stanley Project."

                • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

                  I am also a Kindergarten Techer in North Carolina and a Senior Trainer.  We use Visual Ranking in many ways, for example we brainstorm our list of expectations (rules) and then we invite our principal to rank our list.  We discuss and compare our results and finalize our expectations.  In September, we study Johnny Appleseed and rank ways we like apples.  We are studying Lincoln and Washington this month.  We have discussed the different traits of leadership in the stories we read about these men.  We are planning to rank these qualities of a leader.


                  In thinking about units, animals works well with the TWT unit.  Visual Ranking - rank animals for a zoo the children are planning for your town (or pet show).  Seeing Reason - Pick one of the animals you are going to have in your zoo and use the cause and effect mapping to plan their habitat in the zoo.  For Showing Evidence - we debated the re-release of the red wolf in our area.  This took some research to see what people thought.  I populated all the research and as a class we discussed if it supported the claim or not.  Kindergarten can do all of these as a group activity.  As the year progresses and their reading skills stregthen and depending on the group of children, I feel they could do Visual Ranking in groups or even by themselves.


                  I also participated in Travel Buddies.  This was a great project.  My students kept a journal of the activities our Travel Buddy had with them.  We used pictures and journal entries to put on a wiki to share with other sites that the Travel Buddy visited.

                    • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

                      Wow, Thank you for all of the great ideas.  Most people are responding with great ideas for VR, but I haven't had suggestions for the other tools.  I can definitely see where in kindergarten the other tools pose more of a challenge.  I will definitely investigate your ideas.  I love the one where you suggest having the principal review the ranking of rules and expectations.  With our PYP model, we have to call rules "Essential Agreements".  Everyone participates in creating and even applies signatures as a statement of commitment to adhering to them.


                      What part of Carolina are you in?  Just curious.  I'm in Danville, Virginia.  Southern border.  About 45 minutes from Greensboro and an hour from Raleigh. My husband works in North Carolina for a power company.

                    • Re: Kindergarten Teachers: Any ideas for a good TWT Unit Plan topic for Kindergarten?

                      You could have students brain storm different pieces of equipment to create a playground.  Once you have your list, you can share with them that because of limited funds, they have to place one piece of equipment at a time on the playground. Have students rank the order of the equipment to be placed.