First, we went onto Scholastic's Water Cycle workshop where students watched a video on the water cycle, read over the vocabulary words and took a 5-question multiple-choice assessment on the phases of the water cycle. The primary purpose of this portion of the activity was not to complete a graded assessment. No. The real purpose of this lesson was to expose students to the online testing that they will soon be undergoing, in a less-threatening environment.
I remember my last school, where 1st thru 5th graders took AR (Accelerated Reader) quizzes based on the books they read. I also remember the quarterly STAR tests that they took during technology class. While I refuse to disclose any type of bias for or against these assessments, one thing that I can say is that I noticed a greater sense of ease and comfort when my current students were taking their online assessments versus when my former students had done so.
It's important in this day and age that we expose our students to online assessments so that, at the very least, they are able to match computerized questions to computerized answers. And, in the case of this particular quiz, students also had to click on 'Next' in order to get to the next question. Anyone who has taken a computerized Praxis exam lately should know exactly what I'm talking about.
The second part of this lesson has been the most exciting. It's hard to tell if it is more exciting for me or for the students. For now, we'll say it's a tie.
On Day Two of this lesson (one week later), I told the students that they'd be making a Word Cloud. Needless to say, there was many a confused face in the room. After showing the students some examples, they became exuberantly excited.
To refresh their memories on the knowledge that they had already acquired from our previous water cycle activity, I distributed a simple worksheet that looked as follows:
Water Cycle Notes
We then, for the last time, viewed the video from the Scholastic website above. The class had 2 minutes after the video ended to take as many notes as they could on the different phases of the water cycle. Next, the fun began :)
I introduced the class to Tagxedo. When introducing students to Tagxedo, it is so important that you direct them to click on the correct 'Submit' option. Otherwise, they'll be sitting and waiting for their screen to change.
By clicking on load, students can type in their own text. I specifically directed students to click on only the triangles, so as to physically see all of the options that they could possibly choose from. Students had to choose a shape that related to the water cycle in order to get a perfect grade. They also had to incorporate the words "condensation", "evaporation" and "precipitation" into the text of the Word Cloud.
Aside from "Shape", the only other options that I allowed students to change were: "Theme" (color), "Font" and "Orientation" of words (any which way, horizontal, vertical, h/v).
Below are just a few of the many creations that came from this particular unit. Things went so well with the 2nd graders that I'm already planning to have the 3rd and 4th graders create a Word Cloud out of their original poems.