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Kindergarteners as Experts

Celebrations of Learning

Students at Anser Charter School in Boise, Idaho demonstrate their learning about birds. At the celebration of learning, these young students engage with their families and professional experts through song, high-quality art work, and thorough research.

This video accompanies the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment.


- [Woman] In Kindergarten, we’ve been learning about birds, and we just recently finished our celebration of learning with our Exhibition night. ♪ They got beaks ♪ ♪ They got feathers ♪ ♪ They got feet ♪

- Our celebration is a great opportunity for families to really get an idea of what their kids can do.

- Climbing helps it stay on to the tree.

- The water drains out, but the food still goes in.

- [Parent] Wow.

- [Anne] To begin our celebration, we took on the role of performer, and then we sang songs for our friends and family. Then we went to the role of scientist, where we presented our research and sang different songs to our audience.

- It eats fish, cray fish, insects, and plants.

- Every student shared their work using a presentation board.

- That’s how I--

- [Anne] The role of the boards for the students, it became a way for them to be cued for their presentation,

- It’s wingspan is--

- [Anne] to show some of their work, and to have an up close and personal--

- The water drains out so that the food--

- [Anne] interactive experience with their audience.

- Still goes down.

- [Woman] Wow.

- Now, who wants to guess what kind of feet it has.

- [Man] Well, I guess it depends. So, if it eats fish, I bet it’s got webbed feet.

- No, you’re not right. It has lobed feet.

- [Anne] And then we work into the role of artist where we’ve got to--

- Concentrating on the tail--

- [Anne] Getting kids ready for a night like this happens all year long. Kindergartners researched an individual bird, and they research that bird with a sixth grade buddy.

- Male and female with a red dot on the head.

- [Anne] They collected information together specifically on one bird. Over the course of the year, we use bird journals, we invite domesticated birds into our classroom that we can handle, we incubate eggs in an incubator, we hatch the chicks, we go into the field visiting places that are working directly with birds. The kids went through four to five drafts of their bird, and we develop a really simple rubric to help them with their scientific drawing. Their research and artwork are all gonna be put together on a note card, and then those are sold to the community, and the money that’s collected from those note cards are put towards Idaho rehabilitation and conservation efforts. As we get closer to the evening, we begin to think about specifics, about what does a presenter and a performer look like? What are the skills that are needed for that? We practice presenting to each other, to small groups, to the whole class, and then sometimes to the other class, kids that we don’t know very well.

- Its wingspan is eight inches. I hadn’t been learning a lot about how much it lays, but Andula, can you check that?

- [Andula] I absolutely can. Five to ten.

- Five to ten eggs.

- [Anne] Celebrations are an opportunity for us to invite our, the people that we’ve worked with all year, the experts we’ve worked with, the people that have come into the classroom, and the people we’ve been out to see.

- A female, what does she do? She’s on the nest with a?

- Egg.

- Egg.

- [Deniz] I got involved with Anser because we helped start a program called Bird by Bird where we provide bird watching equipment and act as citizen scientists, and take real data, and be a part of this global database that tracks birds. We came back to the expedition tonight to support the 34 kids that I’ve been working with all year. For me to walk around and see all this beautiful watercolor artwork and to see all the kids present their birds as real scientists, they did a phenomenal job.

- If it builds its nest on the shore, it builds a ramp up to it with sticks, so it just walks out of the water and goes to its home.

- That sounds like a very smart bird.

- It very is.

- [Anne] It’s real fun to watch those kids that wouldn’t even raise their hand at the beginning of the year. Now, they’re in front of two families that they don’t even know, and they’re sharing everything in a very proud way.

- Length is 24 centimeters. Its song, I can probably imitate it for you.

- [Woman] Okay.

- It’s like

- This evening of celebration really proves and shows that they can do it and how hard they’ve worked in all the things that they’ve learned. I think that’s what that celebration does for them is it really just solidifies that they can do it and that they can do anything.

- The fact that they stand up and present in a manner that I did in college for the first time, it’s pretty amazing, it makes a parent really proud.

- I could tell that they felt good, and they felt proud, and they felt like they knew their stuff. I mean, they were the experts.

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