Over the past few days we have been learning about capacity in math. We've done several hands-on explorations and learned a whole body representation of full, almost full, half full, almost empty, and empty~think head shoulders, knees, and toes with a stop at the hips for half full. The kids loved it and the representations definitely seemed to help them, although half full is still throwing a handful of my kiddos for some reason when having to identify it in real life examples or in their journal. How do I know this you ask, well, for starters, we did an collaborative, real world assessment of these concepts using the app Pic Collage.
Here's how it all shook down (sorry for the not so pretty Smart board resource on the first image)...
When the kiddos came in on Wednesday I had the Smartboard on with the word capacity and an image of the PicCollage app icon displayed. We had a quick discussion of what capacity was and then I told them they were going to work with a partner to take 5-8 pictures of items around the room that had capacity. After taking their pics, they were to work collaboratively to create a Pic Collage to represent their findings and label the items they found. Seeing as we are first graders, we quickly wrote our capacity words so that teams had a resource to refer to. With the exception of that bit of information, teams were sent on their way to begin the task. It was great to see them talk about the items they were finding and discussing if the object truly had capacity.
Once their pics were done, they headed to a cozy spot and began working together to create their collages. Again, the conversations were rich with vocabulary and "tech talk". Students began grouping and arranging their pictures, discussing and labeling their examples and of course, putting their creativity to work in designing their piece.
On a modification side note:
I have one student who is visually impaired and utilized braille as his primary form of writing and reading. Even with his visual limitations, he and his partner were able to complete this activity to the benefit of both. They worked together to find the objects, felt them to check for capacity and when it came time to create on the iPad, my little gal every so gently guided him to move images around using descriptive language such as "Slide it more to the right". Our VI (Visually impaired) specialist also brailled the capacity words which my student used to discuss the items they photographed and when it came time to label on their collage, they took pics of the braille words to use as their labels. It was a great team effort for this group and was a true testament to the fact that kiddos can be supportive of each other no matter their abilities. Both learned from each other in this instance, and learned so much more than just math concepts!
Once we finished our assessment, we got back together as a group and students used Air Server to project their collages onto the SMARTboard. Yes, my students Air Serve independently! (For those not familiar with AirServer, this allows you to mirror whatever is on your iPad through a projector. This has been a fantastic tool for us to share our works with the whole group in a format large enough for all to see. It's also wonderful when introducing apps to students, but more on that another time)
Once their collage was up, groups came up and shared their pics and what they knew about capacity. One of my students even made the connection that iPads have capacity as well. This was an interesting discussion as most first graders need more concrete examples to see how something would be filled and obviously "seeing the iPad fill" is very abstract. To put it lightly, I was simply amazed!! I truly believe that many times we underestimate what our younger learners understand.
Some add'l learning came out of this project as well in regards to presentation as a couple of groups figured out how to add backgrounds from the web and chose Minecraft images to enhance their projects. The kids LOVED them and all wanted to know how to do it, but we found out quickly that the learning was overshadowed by the cool backgrounds. We talked about when a Minecraft background might be more appropriate and what the focus of our collages was. It was a fantastic authentic way to show this without me having to be the bad guy to say, "you can't use ___ or ___ for your backgrounds". The power of this conversation was in the fact that they all experienced it firsthand. Once students know the basic functionality of an app, I try very hard not to micromanage their creativity but rather let the little things like this guide our discussions and learning. Don't get me wrong, students still need to be shown how to use the apps appropriately as "they don't know, what they don't know" but I prefer to be the guide on the side once we have the basics down. It is amazing what I have learned from my students over the years that I wouldn't have learned had I limited them solely to my standards.