If there's one thing I've noticed about second graders over the years, it's their affinity for anything that crawls, slithers, swims, or flies. So it was no surprise that when I introduced our unit researching the Amazon rainforest, eyes lit up all around the room. Now these students are no strangers to learning about or reporting on animals so I knew I wanted to try something unique as we concluded our lessons.
We began with what they are most familiar with, researching their inquiries using the many books and magazines from our classroom and building library. As the students progressed in their knowledge of rainforest animals we read a book together called The Great Kapok Tree. Suddenly, the students realized that the animals they had grown to love through their studies were in danger as their homes were being destroyed. So we decided to take a quick detour to the World Wildlife Federation's website: www.worldwildlife.org/places/amazon
There we learned more about the animals of the Amazon, but also about the people and the threats the rainforest is facing. More importantly, we saw the ways in which organizations like the WWF are helping and what we could do to help too!
My students had worked hard for weeks and it was time for them to share all they had learned. I decided to teach them how to use a new digital tool called Padlet. This incredible and completely free tool allowed my second graders to make dynamic and interactive digital posters with just a few clicks of a button. There were so many options for my students to create and design with, that at times I had to remind them to focus on the content they were trying to share (make no mistake, this was a good problem to have). However, the ease of Padlet's interface is probably what I loved most about using the site. Students were free to create and discover without being bogged down by countless steps or directions. In no time, students were figuring out not only how to add information and pictures to their posters, but also video clips, links to helpful sites, and even screencasts of themselves explaining important information. However, you don't have to take my word for it, you can check out a quick video of how to create on Padlet here.