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Fifth Graders Learn to Use New Design Platforms

Aminam ProjectsFifth graders in Joe Benedetto’s class are learning that in today’s digitally connected world, there are many creative routes to take that will get you to the same place. 

Students recently worked on projects that combined research, writing, and technology using an array of digital resources. Although the end results were the same – a presentation on animals and one on recipes using the online digital webpage Microsoft Sway – how the students arrived there differed.

“They focused on how to search using the internet and databases,” Benedetto said. “But even though it was a writing project, my focus was on students creating Sways from scratch and leveraging the technology.”

Benedetto said that although students are digital natives, there is no universal understanding of the interface of various programs.  “Students need to be exposed to content containers so they will meet greater success when applying the content to the container and programs.” The lesson was to help students leverage the technology to its fullest extent and spend less time stuck in areas like formatting, that are innate in the design programs.

Padlet screenshot“The goal was to have students better understand how to use various programs to ‘smash’ them together,” Benedetto said. “Students are able to understand that their content will be autoformatted and alleviates the stress of trying to create a PowerPoint.”

Student Daniella Spano said she was excited to learn the Sway platform.  “I learned how to turn a blank Sway template into an amazing project that’s colorful,” she said. “You can even add whatever pictures you want. If you mess up, you can always go back and fix it up. I think Sway is a great app to use.”

The animal project was focused on doing research, using Booleans and backward chaining, and bibliographies. The recipes were to reinforce reading different genres as well as students learning to use Word tools like bold, italics, underlining, titles, headings, pictures, captions and bibliographies. Students learned to use meta tags in Word to assist conversion of their work to a Sway.

Here are the links to some great student projects on Sway: