Thursday, December 23, 2010

Voki for ESL vocabulary and Elephant and Piggy

I'm trying out voki with an ESL student: posting this voki using a vocabulary word to Moodle for gained exposure. My student and I are big fans of the Elephant and Piggy series by Mo Willems: great for buddy reading, reader's theatre, and laughs! I first saw this series when my friend's daughter was having the best time shouting the lines of the dramatic elephant character. Highly recommend elephant and piggy for early readers, ELLs, and below level readers in the early grades.

Get a Voki now!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Animoto in the Social Studies classroom

I've been playing around with animoto again in preparation for using it with a teacher in a Social Studies class. It's really fun and easy to use: I just took some images that were already saved from my digital story and threw them in to create my animoto in a matter of minutes. It doesn't involve much critical thinking, but could be a good way to get student to use images to introduce a unit topic. Or maybe as a way of looking at images related to a topic at the end of a unit. What might be frustrating is finding the right music. I had a specific song I wanted to use, but it wasn't licensed under Creative Commons or from a free site like jamendo, so my music didn't match my images the way I wanted it to. I'm thinking this would be an issue for students as well. A Year in Morocco

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Solana's glogster

Solana made a glogster on her favorite topic including a funny cat video Aunt Celia showed us! For some reason, one of our pics isn't showing up below. Warning: "Cat Flushing the Toilet" ditty on video is addictive!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Glogster: What does literacy mean to you?

Going to try using this glogster with students as a writing prompt.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More on Prezi

I love this example of using Prezi to show students responses to reading journal prompts from Kevin Hodgson's "Prezi Presentation." (A great resource!)

He also posts another favorite of mine on playing to learn by Maria Anderson, blog author of Teaching College Math.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Trade books in math and science

My challenge to myself this year both as a literacy coach and a parent is to find more interesting books in math and science: there are many out there at all levels. If they match the students' reading level or are read aloud in class, trade books can help students broaden background knowledge, make connections and most importantly, feel excited about the topic! We checked out some recommendations from Science Books and Films that I found in this Edutopia article as well as some of Kathleen Baxter's great "gross out books" recommendations.
Where in Wild-- amazing illustrations that capture the ways both predators and prey use camouflage
What's Eating You? Parasites: the Inside Story-- great use of cartoons and humour to communicate interesting facts about parasites. Solana was fixated on the "Deadly Delivery" malaria page. Another bonus page "The Two-Host Tapeworm Game." Gross but fascinating!
Ouch! How Your Body Makes it Through a Very Bad Day is another winner: up close and personal views of every day body functions, definitely relevant to middle school students.
To be continued!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Trippo Mondo

I'm still on a quest for useful educational apps for my Droid. We had fun with Trippo Mondo-- Solana translated a phrase in Russian and then sent it to me by email. Nice tool for language learning and would be fun in a class with ELLs of different language backgrounds for community building activities, translating, etc.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My First Prezi!

Made my first prezi for "Creating Passionate Readers" talk! Obviously still a novice at Prezi, but see enormous potential for student presentations. Click on the link below to get the full view.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More science!

We tried out Google Sky Map on my Droid this weekend to look at the night sky. It was pretty exciting to identify planets and constellations. We'd need more research to know what some of the other abbreviations and symbols meant. For some reason, it's even exciting to point at the setting sun or the moon and see them identified on the Droid. Solana ended up giving me some instructions on how to freeze the image to examine it more closely. I'm still challenged in looking for safe educational apps for kids on the Droid-- the Iphone is way ahead in this arena.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

science lab

We turned the kitchen into a science lab this morning. Solana created a new color that she proudly named "br-black."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Childrens' books we enjoyed this summer

A friend just gave us Snakes Don't Miss Their Mothers by M.E. Kerr. I haven't had a chance to read it, but Solana couldn't put it down. (Thanks, M!)
Solana also loved The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Dav Pilkey's new book, though I can't say it was my favorite Dav Pilkey oeuvre. I guess it's hard to top Captain Underpants.
We both loved Bella and Bean, a book I saw reviewed in A Year of Reading that had the usual theme of friendship, but also is one of the best picture books I've seen on the craft of writing poetry.
I really enjoyed The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan: a graphic novel about the Dust Bowl (better for grades 4 and up). I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more historical facts and suprised by a fantasy element. However, the story drew me in and at the same time it really captured the feeling of the dust bowl with its illustrations and dialogue. It made me ask a lot of questions about this era. It would be a great accompaniment to a unit on this topic; a good selection for struggling readers or students who are drawn to graphic novels. (published by Candlewick Press which has great titles.)
Lastly, we both loved Ghostopolis, action-packed but not too scary, about a boy's trip to a ghost world where he combats an evil villian and meets his deceased grandfather.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

xtra normal for reading conversations

I've been inspired by seeing colleagues using xtra normal for different purposes to think again about ways of using it in the classroom. It would take more time than your average turn and talk, but what about students creating xtranormal movies to reproduce or create conversations about their independent reading? Here's my example on what I'm currently reading... (The characters had a little trouble pronouncing "dystopic" and "Kafka." :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Teacher modeling with podcasts: reflections

Teacher modeling was a key part of podcasting with fifth and sixth grade students this year. This booktalk, by sixth grade teacher Kim Draganchuk on The Loved Dog by Tamar Gellerow, serves not only as a model of an exemplary booktalk (we created a checklist of what students would need to do to "sell" their book to other students), but is also a great example for students of how adults read nonfiction for specific information. My booktalk on Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, served as a model for fiction. Students were motivated by the idea of their booktalks being done as podcasts, especially when we told them their podcasts would be published on the school web site.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Artisan Cam Rules!

Solana and I tried out Artisan Cam which was recommended in a teacher blog for student book making. She created The Four Penguins with minimal assistance. Lots of fun for elementary age! The characters are a bit limited, but I guess that could be a good thing. She was very interested in writing the blurb for the back page. (This is something her teacher models regularly.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More fun with photobooth

Solana loves it-- can see the possibilities for creative writing with students...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Buddy Reading

My sister recommended this book to me since her son enjoyed reading it with her when he was Solana's age. (Thanks to Joan and Benjamin!) It's nice for partner reading, since each person's lines as well as the lines to read together are highlighted in different colors. This one is the "scary" version, with what they call "short tales" which seem more like poems to me about monsters, zombies, ghouls, etc., always a favorite topic at our house as long as they aren't too scary, which these definitely aren't. Below is a short flip video of us reading the introduction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chimamanda Adichie speaks on culture and writing

A friend sent me the link to this speech on TED. It took me a long time to get to it, but was totally worth watching. Food for thought for writers and teachers, especially on how we see our students (the danger for us as teachers of reducing our students and their families to "single stories") as well as how our students see themselves as writers. I became curious about Adichie's writing and checked out Purple Hibiscus: now I'm eager to read more of her work.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photobooth: another reason why schools should use Macs

I'm lucky to be working with school that has a Mac laptop cart. A technology teacher showed me how he's using Photobooth with students: you basically use your Mac to snap an image of yourself or make a short movie. You can really play around with your photo images using different effects. I liked an image that a student created of himself in a digital story using an effect called "Pop Art," so I decided to make one at the office with Eileen's help: wow! So cool! Looks like an album cover! Eileen also showed me how to make a movie using Photobooth, which I had seen on other blogs:

So easy and versatile-- so many classroom uses!!! This is elementary to Mac users, but as a recent convert I continue to be blown away.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


More talking cats from Solana! She immediately asks to post to the blog after she creates a voki. This makes me think about authentic writing and what that means for today's student.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Real Cool Cat

K-1 students I've worked with are fascinated by the flip cams, but like Solana, often just want to record themselves making silly faces. Since pre-school, Solana has loved using the flip cam to record songs she has learned at school. (See "real cool cat" example below. Still having shaky cam issues!) I'd like to try using the flip cams with students to record them singing songs or reciting poetry.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Issues with Toondoo

Unfortunately, Martine (Spanish teacher) and I realized there are some easily accessible inappropriate images on Toondoo. Toondoo Spaces allows educators to have a private account, but you have to pay for it. We ended up using Comic Creator from the Readwritethink web site. We didn't like it as much because there weren't as many options for characters and you can't save the cartoons online: you only have the option of printing them out when you're finished. However, if you're looking for something safer for younger students, it's completely kid appropriate and really easy to use.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Year in Morocco: Digital Story

Ironically (and pathetically!) it took me a year to create the digital story below: I started out in a Photostory workshop at a conference and added to it and revised little by little. I have yet to use it with students, but have enjoyed showing it to teachers as an example of a digital story.

If I hadn't been so motivated to tell this story, I would have given up because the process took me so long. The idea of publishing it on the blog so that it would be easy to share with teachers and classrooms was also a motivating factor. That's important to think about when creating a digital story: how will it be published or shared with others? How will students decide what story to tell?

In workshops and online templates, I see the recommendation of having students use a storyboard set up to plan for their digital stories. I wrote out my story first in word, thinking about what pictures and music would go with groups of sentences. Is that process best for me because I'm a digital immigrant? What is the best way for students to plan? How do documentary makers create their text? I'm still thinking about this.

I started this story as a memoir piece, but realized that it had a lot of Social Studies content in it. I've seen examples of students using Photostory to report on content information that they had read in Social Studies and one middle school student this spring created a report-like digital story in Imovie about his XBox. However, the most powerful digital stories I've seen have been personal narratives and I like to think of digital stories in the way they're defined on wikipedia (which acknowleges that the term is evolving and debated): "'Digital Storytelling' is an emerging term, one that arises from a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own 'true stories' in a compelling and emotionally engaging form. These stories usually take the form of a relatively short story (less than 8 minutes) and can involve interactivity."

This wiki (Cogdooroo) can be a bit overwhelming, but I found it a great resource for thinking about digital storytelling.

And now, without further ado, "A Year in Morocco." (Thanks, Taaka!!!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Teachers creating digital stories

At one school, I'm working with middle school teachers of special education to create our own short digital stories as a way of modelling for students as well as familiarizing ourselves with this form of communication. Here are a few short examples teachers created their first time using IMovie. The first, "Labrador Retriever" by Sherilynn Saporito, is an example of how you could use Imovie, powerpoint, Moviemaker, photostory or another program to have students write about content in a science or social studies course. The second, "Dallas" by Katrina Hammerl, is one I'm most interested in: telling a personal story using music, words and images.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daniel Boom a.k.a. Loudboy model booktalk with flip camera

This is a booktalk a colleague helped me record as a model in preparation for fifth grade students using the flip cams to record their own booktalks. (Thanks, Gwen!!)It was done in one take, so the teacher and I had the students give me feedback on how I could improve it if I were to record it again. Solana loves Daniel Boom and I thought this series might be appealing to fifth graders. I'm still working with my teacher colleagues on the best way to teach this series of lessons as well as deal with the classroom logistics of making the videos with minimum background noise.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Imovie rules

I'm experimenting with digital stories using Imovie with a group of middle school teachers. I can't even begin to describe how much better Imovie is than Windows Moviemaker: yet another example of how Macs are superior. This is a quick short I created with some flip cam summer footage (mostly filmed by Solana-- more shaky camera action). (Thanks, Eileen!!)

Using flip cams for booktalks

This was the first time I tried using flip cams informally with students in groups. They're a great tool for student engagement as well as critiquing, sharing and reflecting. Students were asked to take turns filming each other sharing a book from their independent reading with a group. I realized that we needed to do more modeling and instruction for both the student speaker and the student using the flip cam. (Note the shaky cameral syndrome.) We had a huge issue with noise in the classroom and will need to problem solve around that next time.

The two book choices below struck me because they reminded me of a great presentation by Kathleen Baxter I recently attended on getting boys interested in reading. She advised an audience made up mostly of school librarians to go with the students passions and not expect students (especially boys) to want to read the kinds of books we like.

When I see "BMX" or "sports" on student interest inventories, I can't say I feel excited by the topics. However, after I heard the students below speak about their book selections, I really did become interested in Mat Hoffman's biography as well as the sports science series. This experience reminded me that we're always working on expanding students as readers, but by allowing them to share their interests, they are helping us grow as readers, too. These two students took the assignment seriously and with some more practice, could create some interesting videos in the future. I liked their technique of filming pages from the book: I hadn't thought of that.

Toondoo for Spanish class

Going to try out toondoo with students in a middle school Spanish class tomorrow: here is my example. (I forgot the shortcuts for the accents-- will have to edit that.)

pizza o sushi?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

¡Toondoo en español!

A middle school Spanish teacher and I were experimenting with Toondoo to try out with her students. We found the international setting on the speech bubbles so we can add the accents. :)

buenos dias

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ricky Ricotta

In the fall, we discovered Ricky Ricotta, also by Dav Pilkey. Highly recommend as a precursor to the Captain Underpants series. I think the image of the giant robot companion to the tiny mouse is comforting to children.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Solana says, "This is a special talking cat."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Captain Underpants Booktalk

Sorry if you're offended by bathroom humour, but we love Captain Underpants. See brief booktalk below!