Every year, our school’s third graders complete a research project. This year, we revamped the project. We decided to integrate subject areas. We started with disciplinary core ideas about life cycles, social interactions/group behavior of animals, adaptations, natural selection, and ecosystem dynamics from the NGSS curriculum. We combined them with language arts standards that focus on nonfiction reading, researching, note taking, writing, and presenting.
In the past, students have worked their way through all the steps of the research process, and have written reports or constructed tri-fold poster boards as their culminating projects. This year, we decided to integrate more technology so that the students could present their findings with Google Slides. About a week into the unit, my colleague Christine Schlitt, suggested that I try using Buncee. I was not familiar with the Buncee platform and was a bit hesitant about adding yet another new component to the unit. However, after a brief orientation session with Christine, I decided to give it a go. I figured, why not? After all, Buncee was an exciting tool to use. The slides were easy and fun to make, and they looked like they were made by professional presenters. I am so glad that I made that call because my students’ reactions to Buncee were awesome and truly inspiring!
The students used books, databases, and approved websites to answer focus questions like: What does the animal look like? In what habitat does the animal live? What is its diet? What physical adaptations has the animal developed in order to survive in its environment? What behavioral adaptations have evolved over time? Once they wrote drafts of their responses, I decided they were ready for some introductory lessons about Buncee.
The minute I opened up my Buncee Dashboard, my students cheered! I did not know that they had already used Buncee with the instructional technologist in our school. She piqued their curiosity and I channeled their enthusiasm right into these beginning lessons. I showed them how to create slides – setting backgrounds and adding text boxes, web images, and Buncee stickers. They instructed me on the how to’s of adding videos and uploading pictures. The exchange of ideas was a two way street. I was teaching them; they were teaching me; and eventually, we were all teaching each other. Their enthusiasm was contagious!
In the weeks that followed, research time became my students’ favorite time of day. They would walk into the classroom each day asking, “When are we doing research? Can we use Buncee? Can I do more research so I can make more slides?” They practically begged me to start working every morning! As I reflect on the experience, I am proud to say that every kid was engaged and completed meaningful work that they valued.
Buncee even motivated some students to go above and beyond the project requirements, while allowing me to differentiate instruction with relative ease. On the whole, class management was a breeze! I am so pleased that Buncee was a hit with my class and have since shared my experiences with my colleagues.
The students were so excited about what they created that I decided to invite their families to school so they could share their presentations. Kids shared their Buncee slideshows with parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, and administrators over a 2-day period. Everybody, regardless of their ability level, had a chance to shine! I couldn’t have been more proud of them, and I have to thank the folks at Buncee who helped make this research experience a memorable one!
Here are a few of John’s Students’ Presentations:
John J. Coyne is a 3rd grade teacher at North Side School, East Williston, NY.