First graders work on interactive map

PLYMOUTH — Creating a multi-media presentation for the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is Washington Elementary first graders’ latest project-based learning endeavor. Monday and Tuesday, the first graders worked with Plymouth High School desktop publishing students to put together an interactive map of the zoo for visitors to the zoo’s website.
“The educators at the zoo had just been trained on project-based learning, so they were very open to (the idea),” said Washington Elementary first grade teacher Lauren Cooper Monday. “We Skyped with the zoo’s website director and she presented the project (to the students).”
The high school students and the first graders went to the zoo together at the end of April, where the first graders took video and pictures of the animals using their iPads. Each student group was assigned a different “continent” at the zoo, and they were in charge of studying those animals. Once back at school, the students did online research and created a voiceover explaining the different types of animals.
Cooper said that one focus of the project was to help the students distinguish between valuable online information and “what is just junk.”
Cooper added that she believes working on a real-life project helps the students put more effort into what they are doing.
“This is something they are actually doing for a purpose,” said Cooper. “Other people are going to see this and use it — it’s not just something that’s going to get stuck on their refrigerator.”
Jennifer Felke, who leads the desktop publishing students, said that the initial presentation was designed by one of her past students and current teacher’s aide, senior Brooke Wojcik.
“I used a web-based program,” said Wojcik. “It’s really easy to use and you can add cool effects. I think (the first graders) will like it because it’s more interesting than just a regular PowerPoint.”
Wojcik decided she wanted to pursue graphic design as a career after taking Felke’s publishing class.
“Lauren (Cooper) and I collaborate on a lot of ideas for project-based learning,” said Felke.
“It’s been great to have the high school kids,” added Cooper. “They are acting as our experts for the technological side of the program.”