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June 8, 2012 / Sarah Ludwig

Experiential learning with 3rd grade

One of my favorite projects this year just wrapped up.

This spring, I’d been speaking with our two third grade teachers about doing a local history project with their students. Every year, third grade learns about New Haven and gets a tour of the New Haven Green. This year, they took it a step further and included Fair Haven and Wooster Square, two areas with rich histories. Mrs. Schroeder, who covers social studies, was really interested in incorporating maps into the project in some way. And I have always wanted to do a community podcasting project, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to smoosh them all together.

I was able to go with the classes on the first day of their tour. They brought their own cameras and took about a million pictures of everything, but did not take notes–Mrs. Schroeder really wanted them to just be able to listen and experience the day. I filmed the tour guides with my phone in case the students needed to remember something later. The kids were working in pairs and were assigned certain landmarks to be responsible for.

Once we got back to school, we spent a couple of class periods using Google Earth and Google Maps to locate their landmarks. Many needed to find the exact location of their landmark, since they knew it only as “the purple door house,” etc. Then I asked them to help me located each landmark on our custom Google Map. I placed a marker at each landmark.

Finally, Mrs. Schroeder created and had her students fill out a worksheet that helped them remember the facts about their landmarks. Some students had to do a bit of online research, helped by their teachers, to fill in missing information about their landmarks. This worksheet then became their script, and because they were working in pairs, they divided up the information.

The students visited me one pair at a time over the course of a couple of days to record their scripts. I used a Blue Microphones Snowflake podcasting mic and had the kids record in Audacity. Audacity was great because it allowed me to really edit the sound clips later when necessary–everything from cutting out pauses and “ums” to deleting a student’s last name when he accidentally said it. The sound quality of the Snowflake was terrific.

Finally, I took everything–students’ photos and recordings–and created a page for each landmark on my wiki. I then grabbed the links to these pages and embedded them into the markers on the Google Map. Users can now easily click on any marker on the map to get information about specific landmarks. And the great thing about Wikispaces is that it allows me to embed the Google Map right onto the page…and Google Maps allows me to customize the code for the map, which made it easy to only embed the area with the markers.

To see what I mean, check out the finished product!

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