Monday, June 29, 2009

Dinosaur Madness!

We were doing research for the "Dinosaur in Your Backyard" Magic School Bus experiment when we came across a really cool zip code dinosaur finder Discovery link. I think I was actually more excited about it than Solana: she thought we were going to go outside and start digging for bones and wasn't as interested once she realized that wasn't happening. Another book that has inspired us is Dinosaur Valley by Mitsuhiro Kurokawa. We've read a lot of dinosaur books, but this one has the most gorgeous illustrations as well as the theme of the mother protecting her babies that Solana loves.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Read to a dog!

Solana read Cackle Cook's Monster Stew to a dog named Zach yesterday at the local library. It's a great program that helps students with their reading fluency and confidence. Zach is the best dog ever-- a very mellow Great Dane and a good listener. He puts his head on his paws or lies down during the reading. He only groaned once and was briefly distracted by a buzzing fly. On our way out, Solana was already asking when we could read to Zach again. I couldn't find any online references to Zach, but I did find a website on kids reading to dogs.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ivy and Bean takes first place!

Solana and I have read and enjoyed chapter books and series such as Arthur, Junie B. Jones, and Ready Freddy. As an adult reader, I choose Ivy and Bean as my favorite. Solana says, “They’re new” and “They have a lot of interesting things like Ivy flushing a fossil and Bean sticking her tongue out and going 'Pbbbbt' and wiggling her behind at Nancy.” (You have to read Books 1 and 2 if that intrigues you!)

In Arthur and the other series, there are definitely fun moments. However, I always find myself getting annoyed by the author’s voice interrupting the flow to teach the reader a lesson or show us how cute their main character is. I’m also frequently noticing stereotypical characters. (Why do all of the above series have to have an obnoxious rich girl and a terrible bully? Kids can handle more complex characters!)

Ivy and Bean has an authorial voice, but it feels more like entering and enjoying Kidsworld. It’s about friendship, but it isn’t obvious and doesn’t beat you over the head with moralizing. Look for a future Booktalk podcast with more commentary!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Booktalk #2: The Magic School Bus

I see why it's best to do podcasting as a series. Solana was much more confident the second time around and actually kept on speaking several times when I tried to wrap it up.(She's very passionate about the Magic School Bus!!) Those are key points when doing podcasting with students in Booktalk form: enthusiasm about the book they'd like to recommend and doing a series of Booktalks so that they gain confidence and think more deeply each time. I like doing the Booktalk as an interview, since it helps push thinking further, but I can also see students who prefer to work alone doing one as a monologue. I'd like to work with Solana on adding an intro and ending with music or sound effects.
I'm having issues with the volumes in both podcasts--not sure if it was our mic?

Booktalk #1 Wayside School

Solana and I have decided to start a "Booktalk" podcast. I was a bit annoyed that I couldn't just attach the podcast in blogger as an MP3 file. (I had to use Moviemaker to create a movie first.) But the process was pretty easy and could add dimension to a student podcasting assignment. The teachers and I didn't realize that the saving process isn't self explanatory in Moviemaker, so we needed help with that. (Thanks, Joe S.!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zimmertwins reply

I heard back from Zimmertwins about the suggestion to offer more character options (see May 15). Here's what they said: "In the future more characters may be added, but the site is relatively new and we want to make sure new users understand the movie making process before we start adding more characters and scenarios. The site will always be changing and taking our users suggestions into account."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Made a movie with Moviemaker :)

Some teachers I'm working with are learning how to make videos on Moviemaker for a classroom project from clips of their students on the flip camera. (Thanks Darlene and Andrew!) I had some practice clips of Solana on my flip, so I made one, too. I'm sure IMovie is far superior, but not available in our lab.