Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Lesson About Google or Googol?

Just need to reflect on today's lesson because I still can't believe how well it went and it had absolutely nothing to do with me but everything to do with the students.

Today was a day that I sometimes find difficult because I have first grade gifted students.  I often find myself scratching my head after my time with them and wondering if I am challenging them at all.  My previous experiences have always been with older students and working with younger students can be challenging to say the least.

But today was different. I have been reading a blog called Seeds for Learning written by Kimberly Hurd Horst.  On her blog she shares about Genius Hour with first grade students and how she has made this work.  I was in awe of her as I read about Genius Hour as well as a 1st grade EdCamp.  I had been using Genius Hour with my older students but was intimidated by the thought of allowing my first graders to tackle such an open ended project. I had introduced the idea but was hesitant to jump in.  However, the more I read, the more I realized that it was realistic to believe that my first graders could not only do this but they could do it well.

So today, I had two goals - introduce the Wonderwall to my students and show them the basics of using Google.  I had read about the Wonderwall at Seeds for Learning .  I read about how she allowed students to post wonders and then chose one to research together. And that's exactly what we did.  My students came up with wonders, we wrote them on sticky notes, and stuck them on the board.  I closed by eyes and chose one of the wonders.

The wonder:  When do numbers stop?

Our next step was to use Google to search for our answer.  We talked about the basics of searching and then I let them go for it.  Before long, we had found a website that they thought would be most helpful.  The website was about infinity and introduced another funny word - googol.  If you don't know (like me), a googol is a 1 with 100 zeros behind it.  Don't ask me how we were lucky enough to stumble across this but remember I didn't plan this at all. This was a random wonder written by a student.

We noticed that googol sounded a lot like Google but weren't sure of the connection until we visited a wonder on Wonderopolis and watched the video.  The wonder was titled How Many is a Googol but the video actually explained how Google was created.  It also explained how Google got its name and you guessed it, googol was their inspiration.  We were so excited to learn about how the words were connected.  I was excited that the random wonder that we had chosen tied in beautifully with the lesson and gave me an opportunity to talk about math and technology in a way that was meaningful for the students.

I feel like I am rambling on and this might not make any sense at all but I wanted to share because letting go of the reigns and allowing the students to lead the way, led us to a great learning experience today.  I no longer doubt that my first grade students can handle Genius Hour. We will move slowly and it will require patience but we can do this. I hope to share lots of exciting projects soon!


  1. So happy to see how this worked for you. There are a lot of oooos in Google...their phonemic spelling was sweet with the gul, but the sweetest thing was just that they were tied into their learning. I can't wait to see and hear more!