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Showing Karen Harrell

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Second Place

3-5 | Social Studies | Other

Station KUHT in Texas

My Classroom Innovation

As the school librarian, I work with classes, small groups and individuals. This lesson is taught to a group of gifted students from several grades and classrooms to enrich their learning experience and guide them to become independent creative learners. Results from the students’ survey indicated the clear direction we would take -a study of inventors and inventions. PBS has wonderful resources for exploring inventors and inventions and we utilized several, we began the lesson viewing segments from the series “Real Scientists”. Students viewed the videos to develop a vocabulary and understanding of inventions and inventors. Following the video series we worked through selected lessons from PBS “George Shrinks” focusing on critical thinking and creative problem solving. The lesson continued to evolve from a Houston Chronicle clip about blue jeans sparking the students’ interest. Following the students lead, I created a video challenge for the students encouraging them to research the history and invention of blue jeans. A wiki site was created ( to guide students through the research model and link the resources. Students collaborated in groups researching and making products to share. Students were given the choice to use MacBooks, iTouches, netbooks, laptops and art materials to explore and create their final product. As our school theme for the year is Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle the last step for the students was to create something new from an old pair of jeans. The innovative uses for a pair of jeans were unbelievable students “popcorned” off of each other. As a result of this lesson, the students are now finding new ways to utilize common utensils. Daily, one of the students shares some unique way to use a simple school supply or kitchen gadget. This lesson has inspired the students to look at every day items in imaginative ways.

How Students were Engaged

From the beginning as students watched videos they were hooked on learning about inventions and inventors. Shouts of “Can you believe this?” or “This is cool!” filled the library as they independently viewed the PBS videos available and shared the information. The students had just been introduced to the biography section of the library and quickly that became their section of choice to investigate the lives of inventors. We then moved to Non-Fiction to analyze the inventions of the various inventors. Collaboration groups explored resources and used the “Big 6” model to organize learned information and shared their newly discovered knowledge with classmates. Implementing various technologies to create products the students shared their excitement of exploring the ways to communicate this information with friends. As a result the students gained confidence in their skills, enticing them to follow their curiosity to explore additional inventions and test out the various technologies available in the library. After sharing their group projects with their homerooms, the students inspired the remainder of their class to attempt research on a topic of their own interest and used the opportunity to share their technology expertise to help students create products such as iMovies, podcasts, and slideshows to share the information they gleamed. The epicenter of enthusiasm at my school started with a small group of students who learned about inventions and inventors-specifically blue jeans. This simple unit of study rippled out to their classmates, then their grade levels and finally out to the school. The students’ innate curiosity about the world around them inspires them to dig deeper to learn and experience all that they can – especially in a library as a gateway to the world full of resources, emerging technologies and a librarian who believes that everything is possible.

PBS Program/Content Used

Real Scientists