Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cat on a Rollercoaster: Using iMovie with young children

One way of using iMovie with children is to incorporate their natural imaginative play into a narrative. For this video, I helped Solana think of a beginning and then she became the director and began to add onto the story. We recorded the entire video in Photobooth: I'm still having some issues getting the backgrounds such as the rollercoaster in this video to look natural. I did something similar with my ESL student as a way of working on beginning, middle and ending. At the end of the year, I gave my student a DVD with her iMovie project and a slideshow of images from the year which her family enjoyed watching at home.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cats and Kittens

Hi.My name is Solana.You have met me before in my mom Kathy's writing. I'd like you to hear another of my poems. I'd just like you to know a little about me first. I am six years old at the time and I love cats and kittens. I wish I had a pet one, but my mom's allergic. So here is the poem:

Cats and Kittens
Cat meowing,
Meowing, meowing,
What's wrong kitty?
I will eat first.
Chew, chew,
Where's kitty?
She always comes for dinner
There you are in the shed
Who's with you?

Blogging inspires poets!

Seeing her poems on the blog inspired Solana to write more!

Fox in a den
Fox sniffing,
Sniffing, sniffing
Is there good food here?
No, try again.
Sniffing again
Hide behind a bush,
A rabbit

End of the year animal poems

After having done research on local animals in the school library and written down important facts about animals, the students in Solana's class chose animals and filled out an alphabet chart with words they knew about that animal. After that, they wrote poems about their animal, and were encouraged to use "ing" words to show action. They were allowed to use any kind of punctuation they chose, just like real poets do. Many of the poems ended with an animal running away from a predator to safety: I'm not sure if this was modeled, if they saw other classmates writing this way, or if it was just something that stood out to students from the research. Each student had one poem published in a class book, which they illustrated and read aloud to parents at an end of year celebration. I thought this was a great way to combine a research project with poetry. Here are Solana's poems:

Guinea Pigs Galore

Cavy smelling
guinea pigs running...
For shelter and shade
pink nose twitching,
White teeth chomping
Tasty cucumbers
Chewing, chewing,
Guinea pigs eating
Sipping water,
Chomping carrots,
Tiny pink paws running.
baby guinea pigs
run everywhere
sipping milk
No tail
Tiny claws,
Scribbling, scrabbling, ears listening
Cat coming!
running for shelter,
Hooray! Shade!

From egg to robin
Mother robin
witing for a hatchling
baby robin
Growing feathers
Lots of feathers
Learns to fly...
Flap! Flap
gets a liftoff
Growing, Growing
Building a new nest
Blue, bright eggs
Small babies
yummy! worms!

Running from a fox
Squirrel storing
yummy seeds
having babies soon
Yikes! It's a fox!
run to your den
eight babies at last!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Social Studies Picture Books in Middle School

I’m working with seventh and eighth grade social studies teachers to write several collaborative lessons using picture books for read alouds. Keith Schoch's Teaching with Picture Books blog is a great resource. His Squidoo article "Teaching with Picture Books" was a helpful starting point for our discussion. I also took notes on Lucy Calkins' helpful advice on read alouds from A Guide to the Reading Workshop in preparation for our discussion.

At home, Solana and I have been revisiting Virginia Hamilton’s If the People Could Fly: although there is no traditional history content, the stories are a powerful example of the importance of recording oral history and the notes at the end of each story give information about their historical origins.

I’m finding in general as I read through the picture books that the author’s note at the end, not always easy to understand for younger readers, can provide useful information for older readers on both additional historical context as well as author’s purpose. For example, Michael McCurdy's great-grandfather was a Union soldier and kept a journal during the war: he thought of his grandfather as he created the drawings for the book Gettysburg. Alan Shroeder, after drawing us into the life of the young Harriet Tubman, accompanied by Jerry Pinkney’s beautiful illustrations, lets the reader know what happened in her adult life in his author’s note.

Harvesting Hope: the Story of Cesar Chavez, which is also published in a bilingual edition, stood out among the pile of books I looked through, so I was happy when the teachers chose it as one of the books they’d like to focus on. I’m also really liking Independent Dames, Dolly Madison Saves George Washington, Sybil’s Night Ride and especially They Called Her Molly Pitcher. These are exciting and inspiring stories of girls and women in the colonial period.

Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly by Walter Dean Myers and Leonard Jenkins has a winning combination of artful illustrations, biography and compelling quotes, finishing with a timeline sprinkled with more quotes. Reading this book with students is timely , as there is much discussion currently on the internet of the late Columbia professor Manning Marable’s new biography.

Carol Hurst’s web site is always a great resource for picture books by topic. And I’m lucky to have such a great local children’s librarian.