Inspiration can come from so many places! Sometimes a collaborative project starts with the school librarian and sometimes it begins with the classroom teacher. This project was developed from an idea shared by a classroom teacher. She had listened to Episode 154 from the Cult of Pedagogy called Hexagonal Thinking: A Colorful Tool for Discussion. In the episode, Betsy Potash talks with Jennifer Gonzalez about how to use this strategy with students. Potash worked in a high school, but we were able to adapt this strategy to make it work for students in elementary too. We borrowed an idea from Terri Eichholz on the Engage Their Minds blog post, added a bit of information literacy skills, and a beautiful collaborative project was born!
Grade Level: 3rd Grade
This was a four-part project that was used as a get-to-know-you activity at the start of the school year. The idea was to get kids to see all the different ways they are connected to each other. We wanted to build a classroom community while teaching information literacy and technology skills.
Lesson 1: Six Sentences About You
- Students will share facts about themselves to allow others to get to know them.
- Students will identify the keyword in their written sentences.
- Students will use the keywords to develop search terms to find images to represent their sentences.
- 5 min: Introduce the project and explain how they will develop their sentences. Give them an example about yourself. Ask students to supply some ideas of topics they could share, such as their favorite food, hobby, or subject in school. Example sentence: I used to dance ballet.
- 15 min: Give the students time to create their sentences.
- 10 min: Have students circle the keyword in each sentence. Then explain how to create a search term using that keyword. Share with students how they will use this term to search for an image. Model how to make their term specific enough to find what they are looking for. For example, if their sentence is “I love to play sports.” they may need to choose a specific sport to search for.
- Students will have created their six sentences and identified a search term for each.
Tips & Tricks:
- We found that encouraging students to think broadly about the sentences they created to represent themselves allowed for a richer discussion during the last part of the project. Not just using one theme or topic, such as “I love soccer. I love baseball. I love hockey.” Instead identifying a variety of things they like or do.
Lesson 2: Finding Rights-Cleared Images
- Students will understand that images are copyrighted.
- Students will be able to find rights-cleared images and save them on their devices.
- List of websites/databases of copyright-free images that students can access
- 5 min: Introduce what it means if an image is copyrighted. Explain that most images they find on the internet are copyrighted and why it is important for us to use rights-cleared resources.
- 5 min: Model how to find the sites that include rights-cleared images. We use Canvas so there has been a page created there. Show students how to download their images to their iPad for later use.
- 20 min: Give students time to find and save their images.
- Students will have six saved images to represent each of their sentences.
Tips & Tricks:
- Using a real-life example when explaining copyright allowed students to understand this concept better.
- We ended up having several conversations about how the search terms may change in order to find what they are looking for as they started to search.
Lesson 3: Adding Pictures to Google Slides
- Students will open a link to a Google Slides template and make a copy.
- Students will learn to insert images, create a text box, and adjust the size of each image/text box.
- 5 min: Show students how to access the Google Slides template that includes their hexagon. Show students how to make a copy of this template so that each person can edit their own.
- 5 min: Model how to add a text box and type their name. Then show students how to add their images and resize them.
- 20 min: Students will finish formatting their names as well as adding each of their images. As they finish show students how to print their work.
- Students will have a completed hexagon with six images that represent themselves with their name in the middle.
Lesson 4: Connecting Our Hexagons
- Students will share what their pictures represent
- Students will discuss and find ways to connect their hexagons together
- Printed hexagons from Lesson #3
- Pictures of sample connections
- 5 min: Show students pictures of sample connections to help explain what they are going to do. Explain simple connections like they both like reading and they both used books as their picture. Then explain more creative connections like one person’s favorite meal and that someone else likes to watch YouTube. The connection is that you can watch cooking videos on YouTube.
- 15 min: Put students into groups of four and have them make connections with each other. If they finish quickly see if they can connect in more than one way. If two groups are finished have them combine and make their connection bigger.
- 10 min: Come back together and discuss why we did this project. Have them reflect on what they learned throughout the project and how this will help them for the rest of the year.
- Each group will create connections using their hexagon.
Tips & Tricks:
- Keeping the groups to eight students or fewer is important. They all want to make the biggest combination they can, like connecting the whole class, but with more than eight they are not able to talk to each other or communicate well.
The conversations that students had were nothing sort of amazing! They made connections and thought more creatively than we ever expected. Although this project included several steps we felt it was worth the time spent because it helped teach skills that they will continue to use throughout the year. Each of the classroom teachers have used Hexagonal Thinking again to teach concepts in both reading and math. There are so many possibilities!
Eichholz, Terri. (2022, July 15). Getting to Know You Hexagons for Back to School. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://engagetheirminds.com/2022/07/15/getting-to-know-you-hexagons-for-back-to-school/.
Gonzalez, Jennifer, host. “Hexagonal Thinking: A Colorful Tool for Discussion.” The Cult of Pedagogy, 11 September 2020. https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/hexagonal-thinking/.
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).