My 2nd graders have been learning about physical and structural adaptations in nature. To exercise their creativity, I asked them to brainstorm wild animals that would make unusual class pets. Then they were asked to draw our classroom with adaptations for the pet. The twist was that they could not actually draw the animal in the classroom. The rest of us tried to guess the “pets” by using clues in their pictures and the descriptions that they wrote. I was proud of their varied ideas and some of the incredible details they added to the drawings. I’ve included some examples below. (I love how the first student decided the most unusual animal he could think of would be an alien from outer space!) . Usually, my students have a difficult time with the “Adapt” part of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., but this activity proved to be really fun and they couldn’t wait to share their work. I’m definitely putting this in the file, “Do Again Next Year!”
A few weeks ago, a few of the teachers in our district participated in a Twitter Chat. The topic was to S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Education. You can read more about the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. chat here.
After the chat, a few of the GT teachers suggested that it might be fun to try doing the same chat with our students. So, last week, we decided to try it.
I’m not sure how many schools ended up participating in the chat, but I believe there were around 13 classes. Some of us had the students respond to the teacher who then tweeted out the answers, and some of us allowed our students to group up and use various devices. It was not smooth-sailing. Here were some of the glitches:
Twitter and Tweetdeck are blocked under student sign-in in our district.
Tweetdeck kept refreshing and losing columns at the beginning of the chat in my classroom (maybe for other people, too). We surmised that this might be b/c more than one device was using the same account. However, after we refreshed the page on the 6 laptops it seemed fine.
Some of us couldn’t see each other’s tweets because some of our accounts are private. We made sure we were all following each other beforehand, but that still didn’t seem to help everyone. Fortunately, everyone knew the questions ahead of time, so even though they couldn’t all see them, they could guess by the responses which question had been asked.
Overall, it was an eye-opening experience for the teachers and the students. Most of my students (5th graders on that day) had never used Twitter and finally understood the use of hashtags. Many of them saw ideas that were new to them and got different perspectives on the topics.
For example when we went over the questions before the chat, one of my students was adamant that we should eliminate art from the curriculum. I told him that he would probably find that many people would disagree and that he would have to be able to support his viewpoint. Sure enough, others strongly argued that art is vital. This exchange turned out to be an excellent lesson on multiple perspectives as well as social media etiquette.
A student from another school suggested getting rid of free time – which caused a public outcry in my classroom. However, a few minutes later the writer explained that he or she disliked all of the time wasted when students finish work early and are just “told to read a book.” Again, another lesson on how important it is to ask people to explain themselves instead of just immediately condemning their opinions – also a lesson that the brevity used in social media can sometimes distort the message you are trying to communicate.
After all was said and done, I asked my 18 students to complete a reflection about the experience. (Yes, we did old-school handwriting b/c some of their typing can be painfully slow!) When I surveyed them, most of them gave the chat a 2 or 3 (3 was the highest). However, there were a couple of 1’s. Understandably, those students found the whole procedure to be too chaotic and fast.
Would we do it again? Yes, I think seeing different points-of-view is really helpful for my students. I’m still debating the importance of keeping our account private. I also am considering giving students the option of participating or not. Those who opt out can consider the topic in an alternative way.
I need to add more writing to my curriculum and I am going to definitely use it more with these S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities. Usually, I just have the students do an illustration as a fun warm-up activity, but I like her idea to add a little more “depth” to their drawings.
The one I chose to do this week was from my Spring S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Packet, which you can find on my TPT site. I asked my 1st grade GT students to imagine that a mother bird’s eggs has hatched but the last one is a huge surprise. What is it?
There were a couple of Easter Bunnies, but then there were two that were opposite extremes of each other. One student drew a baby hippopotamus, and another student drew a tiny little fly! I asked them to identify what other S.C.A.M.P.E.R. piece they used to come up with these ideas, and they correctly named the “Magnify/Minimize” one. And then there was the very cute, upside-down, walking baby cactus. Talk about imagination!
I’m still trying to digest all that I learned in a 2 day whirlwind at the Texas Computer Education Association Conference in Austin this week. One of my last sessions was presented by the inimitable Leslie Fisher, who never ceases to make me laugh. She started the session with this video, and I thought it would make a good Phun Phriday video for everyone! Of course, my mind never stops thinking about education possibilities. Even though it’s a parody, I thought of using it for a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. lesson for some of upper elementary students. The parody takes the “M” in the acronym (which stands for “Magnify” or “Minimize”) to a new level. What other crazy parodies could your students imagine with the rest of S.C.A.M.P.E.R.?
My students love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities. It gives them the chance to be creative – and a bit silly. I’ve made a couple of S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packets for different themes, and my fourth graders got their first glimpse of the Summer Pool Party packet yesterday. I currently have the Summer Pool Party packet on sale for a $1.00 (.50 discount) at Teachers Pay Teachers. You can also purchase other S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packets at my TPT store. They are a great activity for the last weeks of school!
Last week, I posted about one of my creative thinking packs that I like to use around this time of year. You can download the packet for free by going here. I have been using the first two pages (“Substitute” and “Combine”) with my 1st through 5th graders during the last week, and it’s been a kick to see their unique ideas, particularly for the “Substitute” page. The directions for that one are to design a snowman made out of something other than snow. I have to share some of their results!
I’m dusting off an old post from last December in which I offered a set of PDF’s that you could use to prompt some divergent thinking amongst your students. These sheets are based on the thinking tool, S.C.A.M.P.E.R., which I explain in my post, “S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays“. My 1st through 5th grade Gifted and Talented classes really enjoyed these last year. I’m at a new school this year, so I get to use them again! Also, if you happen to be looking for some other free holiday downloads, you might want to check out my post from last week on “Holiday QR Codes“.
UPDATE: You can see more student examples from S.C.A.M.P.E.R. the Holidays here. Also, you can also download some augmented reality holiday cards for your students here.