Creating an Interdisciplinary Global Project with PebbleGo
Andy Plemmons

Andy Plemmons

Creating an Interdisciplinary Global Project with PebbleGo

March 3, 2020

Who will win this year’s Barrow Peace Prize? This annual project has become a rite of passage at our elementary school that students, teachers, and families look forward to each year. The project weaves together research, persuasive writing, art, public speaking, and global connections. It’s a project that you can replicate in your own school, and PebbleGo makes the research accessible to our youngest learners. The teachers and I select 4-6 nominees from PebbleGo Biographies and students choose which one of the 4 nominees they want to research.

2020 Barrow Peace Prize

Defining Peace

To kickoff our project, I bring all 2nd grade classes together in a Google Hangout. From my office, I share examples of previous year’s projects and explain the Nobel Peace Prize that the award is based on. This year, we used the book Peace and Me by Ali Winter and Mickael El Fathi to look at the character traits of past Nobel Peace Prize winners. Some years I select individuals from PebbleGo Biographies that have won a peace prize and aren’t a part of the current year’s project like Malala Yousafzai. Then, in classrooms students brainstorm a list of character traits that this year’s peace prize recipient should exhibit and add them to a shared Google doc. These character traits are used during research as well as writing workshop.

PebbleGo as Our Foundation

Kids researching on PebbleGo

In the library, students come for 3 research sessions. PebbleGo is always our starting place to build a foundation of information before moving on to  other online sources and books. Students access a graphic organizer through Google Classroom to gather facts to use in writing. I give students an analogy of walking into a store dragging everything off the shelf into your cart versus only picking the things you need. Research works in the same way. If you gather every fact you read, it’s hard to sift through everything for just the parts you need in your writing. I encourage students as they read in PebbleGo to only gather the bits of information that would be useful to prove to an audience that their person deserves this year’s peace prize.

I love how PebbleGo helps us differentiate in this project. Our English language learners focus on listening to the information and work with their ESOL teacher to write the facts. Students who need to listen to the information multiple times before selecting facts can easily do that without other students noticing. Students who can read the information on their own build a foundation of research and then move on to other resources.

The Art of Persuasion

Teachers print student graphic organizers from Google Classroom to use during writing workshop. Students look through their facts and come up with three opinions about character traits and reasons their person should win the peace prize. They use facts from PebbleGo and other sources to support their opinions. Their writing also includes  a good hook in the beginning and a strong closing. They keep in mind that their audience is people from all over the world.

Artistic Expression

The art teacher prints various images of each of the four nominees as well as displays the articles from PebbleGo. Students use the facts they gather along with the images to create their own watercolor portrait to accompany their writing. A team of students also designs the peace prize medal using Tinkercad and our 3D printer. Every student on the design team as well as all students who research the winning nominee receive one of the peace prize medals.

Amplifying Voice

Each student uses Flipgrid to record their persuasive essay and display a picture of their artwork. I create a topic for each of the four nominees so that all student voices come together in one place. This is where all of the individual work becomes a grade level collaboration where students are working together to persuade an audience to vote for their nominee. 

Kids in class looking at a screen

The Global Vote

Once every part of the project is ready, our goal is to get our students’ voices out to as many people around the world as possible. I pull everything together on a Smore page for easy sharing, including links to each Flipgrid and a Google Form for voting.  Teachers share the link with families through Class Dojo. I share via multiple forms of social media: Twitter, Facebook groups, my blog, and library Facebook page. Voting stays open for about 3 weeks and I set the Google form to stop accepting responses at a specific time. As votes roll in, I keep students and teachers updated with any tweets that people have sent them. I also show them up-to-date maps of where the project has been viewed so they can watch how quickly the project spreads around the world.  

Give It a Try

Voting for the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize is open through March 13, and we invite you to listen to student voices and vote. We also hope that you will give a project like this a try in your own library or classroom. You could develop any type of award for your school based on any of the topics in PebbleGo whether it’s a character trait project based in biographies or an award based in another PebbleGo module and your state standards. A project like this gives students so many opportunities to shine whether their talents are in art, research, writing, speaking, or persuasion. Students yearn to be heard and knowing that their research, art, and writing is reaching a global audience validates their ideas.