I don’t know how Richard Byrne does it, but he has this ability to suggest technology tools on his blog that fit in perfectly with lessons I am planning for the week. In this case, I had known about the tool, Loopy, but forgotten about it. Richard recently included it in this post, “Three Good Ways to Create Instructional Animations.”
My 3rd graders are learning about Systems Thinking, which is a pretty hard concept to get across to anyone, much less children who are 8 and 9 years old. We just completed the book, Billibonk and the Thorn Patch, about an elephant who learns his actions can have far-reaching consequences. The book portrays some simple feedback loops, so I showed the students the basic ecology loop on Loopy. Then I let the students try to create their own to represent a portion of the story that we read.
A few caveats before you look at their examples:
- Loopy was blocked in our district for students, so I needed to log in for them to use it.
- The Billibonk projects are works in progress at the moment. Time ran out before they finished, and the text and loops definitely need some revision.
- I only have 3 students in that particular gifted and talented class, and this is not an activity I would recommend students in large classes do without a lot of scaffolding.
- These probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you if you haven’t read the Billibonk book mentioned above.
- The site does give you an embed code to use on a website, but it unfortunately does not work on this blog. Therefore, you will have to click on the links below to see the “Loopy” from each student.
The interesting part of this process was listening to my students explain what they were creating, and how eager they were to make complicated loops with many factors. I felt like they understood systems thinking in a way I’ve never had students “get it” before. One of my students was so excited about it that he said he was going to show it to his dad at home and create feedback loops to represent other things. Since my goal is for them to apply this to real life situations, I was happy to hear that.