Colonial Research and a Graffiti Wall (with some GAFE thrown in)

How is that for a title?  If you have been following my blog the past few months, you know that I am quickly turning into a Google teacher.  I find myself thinking of the standards I want to teach and integrating them with technology tools to enhance the learning experience in an authentic way.  Such was the case as we entered our 13 colonies unit.

In the past, I had the students make these fabulous colony "balloons".  They enjoyed working together to research and create the project.  But this year, I wanted to do something different and with the availability of the chrome books in our school, I decided that we could use the Google Suite to make the research a bit easier for all. (however, ALL of this project can be done without computers.  Books and paper will work JUST as don't stop reading if you don't have access to computers!!)

First, I created one document in Google Sheets for each colony.  I had locked in the "question" area so that the kids could fill out the "answer" portion for their research.  The document was essentially a graphic organizer to help the students find facts about the colonies.  Here is the lo-tech version if you want your kids to just research and write it on paper.  Once the sheet was created, I shared it with the two or three students who would be researching that particular colony.  Then, each of them (and I) had access to the document.  During our first computer lab session, the kids opened their Google Drive and it was there.  They just started researching and filling in the doc.  They also had actual books from our library to add to the research as well, so not everything was done via the internet.

Once that was completed, I went home and used the "Save as Doc" add-on and created a word doc from their research.  This I was able to print out and give to the kids (since we don't have unlimited access to the chrome books and I wanted them to be able to work anytime, we had to have a paper version of the document.)

The mock up before actually painting on the wall.
Our ultimate goal was to then create a "graffiti wall" with all of the information they researched written around a drawn shape of their colony.  Inside the colony, the students were to draw pictures to match the graffiti facts.  Before I let them at the nice black paper on my cupboards, I had them draw a mock-up of what they wanted it all to look like.  The kids worked together to decide what facts were most pertinent and what drawings should be included.

You can see the students drawing the pictures for the colony.
After the mock-up was done, the students drew, then painted the colony shape on the wall.  They then used Liquid Chalk Markers (affiliate link) to write the graffiti facts around the colony.  Then, the students drew pictures on white paper, colored them, and cut them out.  Using Mod Podge CS11302 Original 16-Ounce Glue, Matte Finish (affiliate link) the kids glued the pictures onto the inside of the colony.  *Mod Podge tip:  Make sure the kids paint the back of the picture first, then push it down onto the surface it should stick on, then glue all over the front.  This helps it stick.

Students painted the colony (that they freehand drew) and then wrote facts about the colony graffiti style around it.
Kids then added the pictures using mod podge (you can see it is still wet here)
When all was said and done, the colonies had the facts and pictures on them.  Everything was done without a template and freehand by the students.
Once the wall was done, the students went back together as a group, opened up Google Slides, and created a cohesive "report" using all of the facts they had discovered about the colony to present to the class.  For this, since we have been using Google Slides so much, all I said to them was create a slide presentation that shares all of this information.....and they did!  Not only that, the presentations really were great!  The kids buy into the technology collaboration so much more than the traditional pencil and paper collabs.  I think because it is new and different, they just like it.  Their work is just better.

All in all, this project took about 3 weeks to complete.  This was because we don't have unlimited access to the technology, the painting took a while, and so did the drawing.  The kids really took this entire project very seriously, but it just took a bit to complete.  And now that it is done, I LOVE looking at it!  The kids also love reading about the different colonies.

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  1. Holy cow! This is amazing! I love how you integrated google classroom into it, and the collages on the black paper are so striking!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!

    1. Thank you so much Jen! I love how the colonies came out too. Sometimes I just sit and stare at them during recess ;)

  2. I love this project and I love Google. My kids love it too. They think of making presentations as fun, not work. The only thing I haven't quite figured out is how to let others in our school see their hard work. Do you have any great ideas?

  3. You are so creative with your teaching ideas! I know your students are so engaged in the whole process!

  4. Fabulous stuff! I have loved your blog for many years now and garnered so many ideas from it. Thank you for being so open and sharing your work with all of us wherever we teach. Kate, NSW, Australia.

  5. What an incredible mural!!! Your students will be sure to remember this activity and the things they learned while doing it for years to come!!

  6. I will a resource teacher this coming year. We are also just getting Chromebooks and I'm not too techy. Our 4th graders do a big state project which kills our dyslexic students but some your ideas might help them out. Looking forward to learning more.

  7. This is a great idea! Can you share the link to the Google Drive Sheets you made for your students?

  8. What type of paint did you use to paint the colonies?

  9. I used your colony balloon last year and loved it. I might try this next year.

  10. I would love the Google Sheet doc to be able to use with my kiddos. They would LOVE it!

  11. What did you scholars use to research about their colony?


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