Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…

Project-based learning in kindergarten (and year 1): Awesome Aussie Animals

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I’m a first year out primary school teacher. Relatively inexperienced, enthusiastic and perhaps fool-hearted. This year I’ve been lucky enough to have been placed on a composite class of kindy/year one students. I’m really happy to have finally been given the privilege of starting my first year of teaching with my very own class of beautiful students, and all of the challenges which this entails. I’m excited to be learning with them throughout our time together, and as daunting as this whole process seems to be right now, I look forward to looking back later on how much we’re no doubt going to achieve. Whilst, of course, our learning will span across the curriculum, one thing we’re doing at the moment which I’m particularly stoked about is our Awesome Aussie Animals project. You can see the outline below.

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I heart PBL. In addition to working with kids who are choccaz with imagination, inquisitiveness and creativity, helping them learn, project-based learning is up there on the top of my list of ‘reasons I became a teacher.’ This particular project, whilst having a science (living things) focus, and as is naturally the case with PBL, also requires students to master several fundamental aspects of Australian Curriculum and NSW syllabuses. You don’t have to be a genius to figure it out.

Kids must learn about Australian animals, they have to read, critically analyse and respond to texts. The final product requires composition of their own text addressing the DQ. To get there my class must collaborate with their peers, not only from their core class but also with students from other classes. The final product (video) is a predominantly creative activity and whilst most of my kindergarten students aren’t yet capable of writing anything of great volume, they’ll be contributing to the video by producing Australian animal themed artworks. All of this will require a great deal of collaboration, sharing and discussion and I look forward to facilitating and observing these skills develop throughout the course of this project. We plan to share our paper slide videos on YouTube, and also with some year 7 students from Davidson High School.

So far it’s been ticking along nicely. To launch the project we had a cinema arvo in my class where we watched a few videos about Australian animals and discussed which features about each animal we thought were most interesting. Prior to this we also played a ‘Guess the animal’ drama game where some in the class (including me) pretended to be an animal and we all had to guess which animals were being enacted. To finish the lesson kids created artworks of the animals we were learning about. Year one also had to write as much as they could about which animal they thought was coolest, and why.  Fun times!

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This week we had some stage 3 students visit from across the playground and they helped kids in @K1MEPS research some Aussie animals using some books I’d borrowed from Mona Vale Library. I saw this as a cool opportunity for students to work in groups with kids from another class, as well as allowing them some free choice in terms of what they were studying. Each group, with the assistance of their older mentors, chose which animal they were interested in and filled out the proforma below to later present their findings to the class.

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I’ll update this post tomorrow with some of their responses. Some of the animals were quite interesting, and I was honestly quite impressed with how this went. In the next few days I’m hoping to get each group to do some more research and decide on which animal they think is the coolest so that we can start creating some epically freaking killer vidz!

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2 thoughts on “Project-based learning in kindergarten (and year 1): Awesome Aussie Animals

  1. This is so much fun – good on you and your students! It would be great to do a sharing between your kids and our kids at Hilltop Rd PS, if we do the same topic later this year!!

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