Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Digital Tools for Project-Based Learning in Primary

Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss's book Reinventing Project Based Learning is a wealth of information about digital tools, the internet and Web 2.0 and how these tools can be used to meet the essential learning needs of 21st century students.  Here are some ideas taken from Chapter 3 of the book, all of which I've used with primary students and which I have tried to align with the new ICT in the PYP strands.

The need for ubiquity - ICT in the PYP strand:  Investigate, Communicate
Today's students want to be able to learn any time and anywhere.  They access information on mobile devices and want to be connected to the web wherever they are.  Tools that support this learning include using Google Docs and virtual desktops such as NetVibes.

The need for deep learning - ICT in the PYP strands:  Investigate and Organize, 
Students can be encouraged to find primary sources online.  Once they have found the material they need they need to be able to sort and organize it, analyze it and be able to communicate it in order to express their learning.  Great tools for keeping track of sources are Delicious and Diigo.

Making learning visible - ICT in the PYP strands: Create and Communicate
Students want to be able to show their learning in many different ways, for example using mind-maps, photographs, multimedia, graphs, models, animations and digital art.  Good visual tools include Google Earth, Flickr, Thinkmap and Visuwords (graphical dictionaries and thesaurus) and Mindmeister.

Expressing and sharing ideas, building communities - ICT in the PYP strand:  Collaborate and Communicate
Students want learning to be social.  They like being able to use Web 2.0 tools to express their ideas and to connect with others.  Good tools I've used with students for this include Wikispaces, Micromobs and Skype.  Some teachers have successfully used Twitter to connect their class with others.

Teaching and learning with others - ICT in the PYP strand:  Collaborate
Great examples of collaborative tools include Wikispaces, VoiceThread, Google Docs and WeVideo.  Students really like the chat and comments features of Google Docs.  For large videos that we have made in collaboration with other schools we've used Dropbox.

Research - ICT in the PYP strands:  Investigate, Organize and Be Responsible Digital Citizens
Although we don't encourage our students to simply search on Google, we do teach them information literacy and search strategies.  At the same time we teach students how important it is to bookmark and tag their findings using Delicious and to cite their sources.  With our younger students I've found setting up a Google Custom Search to be a great way for students to safely search among a number of pre-selected resources.

Project Management - ICT in the PYP strand:  Organize
It's vital to teach students how to mange their time and their work during projects.  In the PYP these skills are very much in demand during the PYP Exhibition in Grade 5.  In the past we've used Google Calendar and Netvibes to help students organize their time well.  We have set up a Learning Platform for students using Google Sites so that students can quickly access everything they need from a single home page.

Reflection - ICT in the PYP strand:  Communicate
The best projects are those that encourage a variety of opinions and perspectives and that allow students to reflect on their progress.  The best tool I've found for this is blogging - we use both Blogger and Posterous and we teach our students how to write quality comments on each other's posts.

What are your favorite digital tools for project-based learning with primary students?

Photo Credit: Rubik Apps by  C├ęsar Poyatos, 2011 AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike 

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree to your philosophy. But expensive resources are also indispensable for PBL or ICT. In a country like India, it all seems to be like a distant dream.