Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 3)

IMG_2896Today Mrs. Ramseyer’s class came to work on book spine poetry.  The past 2 days, I’ve had a graduate assistant and sometimes a special education teacher or other support teacher along with the teacher and I.  However, today it was just me and Mrs. Ramseyer.  It still worked great, but it was definitely a little more on our plates to manage with 6 groups roaming the library and working in about 5 different locations in the library.  We still had fun, and in the end, the kids still wrote some fantastic poetry.

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Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 2)

IMG_2889After yesterday’s fun time with Tellagami and book spine poetry, I was really hoping that today would be just as great!  We’ve had some troubles with updating our iPads, so I almost thought that today might be a day where we had to change plans.  However, it worked out for us to have 6 iPads to use during Mrs. Wright’s 2nd grade class.

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Once again, students worked in small groups of 3 to put together their poems.  Once again, I was amazed.  There was absolutely no rush to get these poems done.  Students were critically thinking about each book that went into their stack.

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I’m so glad that I added the piece at the end of the lesson for students to tell their story of how they made their poem.  I initially did this just to fill the time while I switched iPads for displaying on the screen.  However, each story revealed the thought process that students went through to craft their poem and revealed new strategies that students might try next time.

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Here’s a look at Mrs. Wright’s class book spine poem gallery:

Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 1)

IMG_2872Poetry month is one of my favorite times of year because I’m always inspired by what kids come up in their writing.  I love that with poetry you can try so many different kinds of writing in a short amount of time.

Each year, we usually have several classes explore book spine poetry.  If you’ve never heard of it, book spine poetry is a type of found poetry where you use the spines of books as the lines in your poem.  In the past, we’ve used digital cameras to take pictures of our stacks of books and Photo Story to put those pictures together and record our voices.

This year, I really wanted to try something new.  I decided to try Tellagami since you can take a picture as your background image, record your voice for up to 30 seconds, and create an avatar to be the narrator of your poem.  I may try some other tools, too, but this one seemed like the best to start with.

Today, Mrs. Brink’s 2nd grade class was my first book spine poetry class of the year.  Right before they came, I walked through the process of making a book spine poem myself and recording a Tellagami.  Here’s how mine turned out.

We started our quick mini-lesson on the carpet by talking about what a found poem is.  Then, we used several Google and twitter images of book spine poem examples.  Some of my favorites are from my friend, Jennifer Reed, librarian in MA.  I love this one.

We spent a little time noticing things about all of the poems.  For example, we noticed how some of them stuck to a particular theme or some started with a main line at the top and then other lines seemed to support the first line.

Then, I told the students the story of how I made my own poem.  I started with Joyce Sidman’s What the Heart Knows.  Then, I walked around and looked at books that were sitting on the tops of the shelves to see if any of them had a title that showed what my heart knows.  I was amazed at how many of them did!  It only took me about 5 minutes to find my stack of books and another 2 minutes or so to make my Tellagami.

The students were ready and eager to get started.  I really try not to give them too many rules, but we did go over a few things to think about:

1.  Spend some time walking and looking without taking books off of the shelves.

2.  Find a book title that speaks to you that might make a good starting place and then start thinking aloud about your poem with your group.

3.  Try your best to use each book you pull from the shelves.  We spent just a few seconds thinking about what would happen if 22 students starting pulling every book that they saw from the shelves.

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I designated different work areas of the library.  Single tables were setup in the middle of the library for students to bring books to and sort them into their poem.

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Another section of tables had iPads ready for creating Tellagami projects and taking pictures.  I did not spend time teaching students every step of how to use Tellagami because I knew they could figure this out.  However, I did have Carol Buller-McGee, a graduate assistant, with me today, and she stayed at the iPad tables to assist students.

My office, equipment room, makerspace room, and storage room were available for students to go to and record their projects.

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Originally I was going to have students make individual poems, but I made a last minute change to small groups.  The teacher had the whole class stand in a circle and find their own groups of 3.  She assisted students who needed help forming a group.  They went right to work.  It looked something like this.

The teacher and I walked around and talked with students about what they were choosing.  Many of them found one book to start with and started adding books from there.  For example, one group found Please Bury Me in the Library.  Then, they started looking for books that might designate where in the library they might be buried.  I loved how their poem turned out.

Other groups went with a theme.  For example, one group found a book called Dreaming Up, so they started looking for books that had something to do with the sky.  They even went to Destiny and searched for sky books to see if there were any interesting titles.

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I must say that this was the first time that I’ve done book spine poetry where I really felt like kids were thinking about the books going into their stacks.  In the past, it has felt like students just throw a bunch of books in a stack and say they’re done.  While this is still a poem, in my opinion, what I saw today was much more thoughtful and purposeful.

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After students went through the whole process, some of them started again and made a second poem.

We finished by putting our poems up on the projector screen.  I played a poem and we celebrated with snaps.  While I prepped the next iPad, the students talked through the steps that they went through to form their poem.  I really loved this step because it showed me that students really were thinking carefully about each line that went into their poems.

 

I have 3 more classes coming this week, so we’ll see how this lesson evolves across the week.  I think I’m going to stick to small groups rather than individuals, but we’ll see.

Take a moment to enjoy their book spine gallery.

 

A Little Augmented Reality and Zombie Math with 1st Grade

IMG_1842A few weeks ago, Em Smith Headley, 1st grade teacher, asked if I could help with their math standards using the iPads.  They have been working on using a variety of strategies to solve basic addition and subtraction problems.

I pulled together just a few iPad apps for our time together that addressed basic addition and subtraction facts.  I decided to use:

  • Fetch Lunch Rush: an augmented reality app that combines basic addition/subtraction, missing addends, racing, and augmented reality!
  • Math Zombies:  a racing app that gives basic addition/subtraction problems along with double digit math to race against the ever-approaching zombies.  Correct answers knock them out of the way.
  • Candy Count:  a sorting app that allows kids to sort candy by color and then asks several math questions about the candy in each bag.
  • iXL: an app with multiple grade levels which gives standard problems and allows kids to type an answer.

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I had student helpers make a 1st grade math folder on the iPads so that students could easily get to the apps.  We looked at the standard and students brainstormed several strategies that they currently use for solving math problems.  Things such as:

  • number lines
  • draw a picture
  • count up or count back
  • manipulatives
  • etc.

I reminded them that these same strategies come into play when we do math digitally and sometimes the app even provides some strategies for you with hints.  I did not tell students how to play every app because they were perfectly capable of figuring that out on their own.  I spent my time helping students think about strategy and encouraging students to help one another figure out the technical details of how the games worked.  Of course, I helped students who had technical questions, too, but that wasn’t my main focus as the teacher.

Students were bursting with energy during this.  Whether we worked for 25 minutes or 40 minutes, they were extremely focused.  They were free to move in and out of the apps as needed.  We were also able to differentiate for students who needed problems that were more challenging or problems with more basic  features.

At the close, students gave some feedback on what they liked about each app.  Math Zombies and Fetch Lunch Rush was by far the favorite, and they begged to get to do this again in their classroom or the library.

 

Exploring Chinese New Year with Kindergarten: Google Voice Search, Pebble Go, colAR Mix, and More

BeghKH6IAAAZUVXMrs. Li’s Kindergarten class has been exploring the Chinese New Year with me in the library.  During our exploration, we’ve tried out several resources for information.  First, we used Capstone’s PebbleGo database to do some pre-reading for background information.  We did this with little discussion about the holiday, but instead just focused on listening to the information to build some shared knowledge.

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Next, we thought of questions that we had about the Chinese New Year that were possibly not answered by PebbleGo.  We asked things like:

  • When is Chinese New Year this year?
  • When is the lantern festival?
  • Where is it celebrated?
  • How is it celebrated?

Before students came, I installed the Google Voice Hotword Search extension in Chrome.  This allowed us to control a Google search with our voice.  For Kindergarten students who aren’t fluent in typing, this lifted a big search barrier for them.  We took our list of questions and took turns saying:

  • “OK Google”
  • When is the Chinese New Year?

Google searched and spoke to us telling us that this year Chinese New Year begins on January 31st.  We continued this process to answer many of our questions.

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Next, we used Grace Lin’s book Bringing in the New Year to continue our exploration.  Many facts that we had already discovered were confirmed in the text, but the book allowed us to learn some of the family structure in China and what different family member roles are.  Mrs. Li was able to help us with this part of the lesson.  Since I wasn’t sure how to pronounce some of the words, she pronounced them for us and also explained the meaning of each family member’s name.  We certainly could have used Google for this, but we had a conversation about choosing resources to answer our questions.  Since Mrs. Li was with us in the room and is an expert in Chinese culture, she was a faster option for us than taking the time to go to Google.  It’s never too early to begin surfacing the thinking process that we go through as learners when we are trying to find the answers to our questions.

During the 2nd lesson, we once again used the Google Voice Hotword Search to explore the Chinese Zodiac.  We learned that 2014 is the “Year of the Horse”.  Students were curious about their own birth years, so we used Google to look for the signs for each of their years too.  From here, we spent some time coloring a colAR mix coloring page for Chinese New Year.  Students used the iPad app to view their carousel creations.  The app uses augmented reality to bring coloring pages to life.  The carousel pops off the page and rotates to music with they year 2014 in front of the carousel.  Students were mesmerized by their coloring page brought to life.

We explored so many skills and tools in just 2 lessons.  I want to continue this transliterate thinking of how our students can experience content across multiple platforms.  In these 2 lessons, we examined print, databases, websites, search engines, crayons/markers/paper, and augmented reality.  I’m curious to ask students later what they remember about Chinese New Year and see what stands out in their minds from these 2 days.

Chatterpix Book Talks with 2nd Grade

A few weeks ago, Okle Miller, a librarian near Tampa FL, shared a great iPad app with me that she had discovered on Richard Byrne’s site iPad Apps for School.   Chatterpix allows you to take a photograph with your iPad, draw a mouth on that photo, and record up to 30 seconds of dialogue for the photo.  The mouth moves in sync with your voice.  This app could have many implications for short classroom projects from historical figures to summarizing strategies to book talks and more.

I recently sent out an email to teachers with some ideas for technology projects that we might do together.  Each of the ideas was based in the subjects and standards that classrooms are working on with some suggestions of technology tools that might support those standards.  Many of the classrooms are currently working on opinion writing about books along with persuasive techniques.  I suggested Chatterpix as an option for students to quickly tell about a book, give an opinion, and try to persuade a reader in less that 30 seconds.

Second grade had already worked with me on writing book reviews for their blogs, so Caitlin Ramseyer, 2nd grade teacher, decided to incorporate Chatterpix into this mix.  Her students each chose a book, read the book, and used an index card to write a script that they could finish reading in less than 30 seconds.

Today, they came to the library so that Caitlin and I could work with them on using the iPads.  Students brought their index cards and books with them.  First, we watched this video.

Then, we looked at my Chatterpix example.

Next, students dispersed throughout the library to use the iPads.  Caitlin and I walked around and helped as needed, but the students were very capable of figuring things out and helping one another.

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One student didn’t have her book, so she pulled up the book in Destiny on the computer and took a picture of the screen.  Other students had very tiny people on their covers, so they put the iPad close to the cover in order to take a closeup picture of the character.  There was a lot of problem solving going on as students tried to figure out how to create the best video.  Many of them quickly figured out the different filters that they could use on their picture, but most chose not to explore the stickers (this time!).

chatterpix (6)Once they were finished, they saved the video to the camera roll on the iPad and brought it to me.  At first, I was trying to login to each iPad and upload to Youtube, but it was taking too long.  Instead, I plugged a cord into my laptop and imported the video straight into Youtube.  Caitlin helped them make sure their video was exported to the camera roll and I uploaded to Youtube.

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Finally, we gathered on the carpet to view our videos.  During this time, we paused a lot and students gave tips for future use of Chatterpix.  They suggested things like:

  • Since Chatterpix reverses words, try to take a picture of a character on the cover and avoid the text
  • Have your script written down
  • If you finish before 30 seconds, don’t forget to press stop
  • Rustling your paper makes the character’s mouth move, so be still
  • If you have trouble drawing the mouth with your finger, use a stylus
  • Hold the iPad in portrait view rather than landscape

We reminded them that they had developed some expertise with this app and that we might call on them sometime to help others.  Even this list of tips is a way for them to pass on their expertise.  Now that we worked out some logistics with how this type of lesson can flow, I think Chatterpix will be an app we will revisit many times.

Here are their book talks:

 

Maker Maniacs Enrichment Cluster Update: 3D Printing and Robotics

blokify (5)We are a little over halfway done with our enrichment clusters this year.  Every Friday, students across the school go to an interest-based cluster of their choosing for one hour.  During this time, students explore a topic and develop products or services related to their topic.  My cluster is called Makerspace Maniacs.  So far this year, we have explored making with duct tape, building with cardboard, lego robotics, and 3D printing.  After lots of explorations, students  are making decisions about where they want to focus.

A small group of students is focused on lego robotics.  Monica and Omarion are both committed to building a robot and programming it.  They both have varying levels of expertise.  Today, I asked another student, Ludwig, to come and work with them.  Ludwig has a lot of experience with Lego Mindstorms.  During clusters today, he worked with them to build a robot and program it.  Although they didn’t get far with the programming, he was able to show the students some tips and tricks to get the robots to work the way they wanted to.  I love using students as experts.  They hold so much knowledge that we don’t even know about.  Ludwig just happened to talk to me one day about Lego Mindstorms because he knew that I bought some.  He used Lego WeDo and Lego Mindstorms in other settings and told me he was willing to help me any way he could with them.  How exciting that a student offered his expertise without even being asked!

Other students in the cluster have decided to work on 3D printing.  Over the past 2 weeks, they have used a new iPad app called Blokify.  This app uses blocks to build a 3D object.  It is very user-friendly to build a 3D object in very little time.  Once built, the object can be ordered or emailed for 3D printing on your own device.  Today, students really focused on coming up with an idea and using the blocks to build.  While they were using the app, I started a Google Doc, which I will share with them, to collect what we love, wonder, and want to change about the app.  One service they will offer as a part of the cluster is to share this info with Blokify.

 

Today, we were also tweeting with Blokify and students were able to respond to their tweets.  Such fun!

Twitter   blokify   plemmonsa What they like most ...

Students prepared several files that they emailed to me.  I have them ready to go for 3D printing next week.  We’ll be printing a pirate ship, a Trojan pig, and a castle among other things.  As we progress, these students will also think about how they see this app fitting into what they are already doing in class.  We’ll come up with some lesson ideas for teachers to consider.

We only have a few weeks to go, but our speed is picking up and our focus is narrowed.  I know incredible things are going to happen with these students.

Book Trailers with 4th Grade

book trailer 4th (2)Today Mrs. Rogers and her 4th grade ELT group came to the library to explore book trailers.  They are currently reading a novel together and had the idea to create book trailers for each chapter of the book.  I guess we should really call these chapter trailers.  For our lesson, we looked at three trailers:

 

 

Our purpose in watching these three trailers was to think about how different each trailer could be.   Students talked about what they noticed about each trailer after watching it.

For Carnivores, students noticed that:

  • 1 actor was used :-)
  • music was used throughout
  • text was used at the beginning to set the scene
  • there were lots of clips put together
  • the funny tone of the book came through in the trailer
  • the trailer didn’t give away all the details of the book

For Boy + Bot, students noticed that:

  • questions were posed for the reader to consider
  • images from the book were used in between the questions
  • music was used throughout
  • the trailer was very short

For Wonder, students noticed that:

  • there were multiple actors
  • there were multiple shots that needed a lot of direction
  • there was text, live action, and music
  • the character’s face was never shown

Students even spent time thinking about the difficulty level of these 3 trailers and what they were each willing to commit to for their own project.  They also thought about why each type of trailer might have been picked for each book.  We talked a lot about purpose.

After this great discussion, students spent time exploring iMovie on the iPads.  This is the tool they will most likely use for their trailers.  Most had no experience with iMovie, so I invited them to spend about 20-25 minutes messing around and figuring out some of the features.  I encouraged them to share what they learned with each other, and it didn’t take long for collaboration to begin.  As soon as students figured something out, they were eager to show and help others.

Ludwig, a 4th grader,  really jumped into the trailer part of imovie.  He began planning out a quick trailer and sprang into action filming it.  He didn’t make it all the way through, but you can see what he figured out here:

Reid, another 4th grader, explored the movie part of iMovie.  He put together a little idea and started filming clips to put a quick sequence together.

We closed our time together by showing these videos and setting the stage for students to begin planning their own trailers. Once again, I was amazed  by what kids could figure out and share when given the space to explore.  I reminded them to continue to share their expertise with one another as they progress through the project.  They will continue work in their classroom, but I will also collaborate with them at various stages of the project.

Hour of Code Days 3-5

Day 5 (3)This week has just been incredible.  It’s hard to believe that just a couple of weeks ago the planning for this week began.

Even with lots of benchmark tests and wrapping up the end of the quarter, our Barrow teachers found time to bring students to the library to participate in Hour of Code.

No matter which class came, I saw similar results:  engaged students, problem solving, collaboration, suspension of time, perseverance.  Exposing students to coding has opened up a new world for them.  I loved having a conversation with students during every session about the importance of coding knowledge in their future.  Who knows what jobs will be out there when these students join the workforce, but coding is very likely going to be a part of it.

During the week, our internet has  been extremely slow, which has given us lots of problems.  It hasn’t stopped us though.  We did have to abandon some of the computer programs like Tynker because they just wouldn’t load on our machines.

Kindergarten and 1st grade continued to explore Kodable.  Second grade started exploring Light-bot on the iPad instead of Tynker.  An interesting thing started to happen with these students because they got up out of their seats and acted out the moves that their robot needed to make in order to visualize the code they needed to put in.  I loved watching the strategies that students developed to figure out the code they needed.

Students have recorded some of their thinking using a Fligrid this week, which was yet another new tool to many students.  They loved making these short videos about their learning.

Day 2 (11)A group of third graders along with the whole 4th and 5th grade explored Scratch to make an interactive holiday card.  The 4th and 5th grade groups were huge because the entire grade level came together.  I kept our whole group time very short.  I stressed the importance of not giving up, messing around to see how things work, using tutorials, and collaborating.  It was amazing to watch a group of 75+ students disperse, find their own work spaces, and get to work.  When they figured things out, they shared.  For the 4th grade group, we did a Google Hangout on Air with Sherry Gick (@LibraryFanatic) and her students who were using Blockly.  During the hangout, we each setup a computer and headset and students were able to talk to one another about what they were doing.  I picked up our laptop and walked around our library to show her students what my students were doing.  Sherry got on the microphone several times and helped some of my students with their questions too.  It was a great experiment that I definitely want to try again because it opened up our walls to student-to-student collaboration across states.  I wanted to try the idea of coders on call, and this was a step toward that for the future.  You can see how the conversations turned out in this video:

Next week, we hope to connect students again with Sherry Gick’s students in Indiana and Shannon Miller’s students in Iowa to share some of their learning and creations.  This week has sparked interest in coding, and I’m sure that coding will make its way into many of the collaborative projects during the year.  Thank you Code.org and Computer Science Education Week for putting together such a great program, inspiring videos, and helpful tutorials.  The word is out that coding is a critical skill needed by our students.

Here’s a glimpse of what happened at Barrow this week:

Hour of Code Day 1 and 2

The entire 5th grade came together to code using Scratch.

The entire 5th grade came together to code using Scratch.

I am so energized by the excitement I saw from Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, and 5th grade students yesterday and today during our Hour of Code.  Here’s what each session looked like:

1.  I asked them how many of them liked to play video games, iPad apps, computer programs, or knew someone who used Facebook.  Pretty much every hand shot up.  Then, I asked them how many of them knew how those programs were made and their hands shot down.  However, when  I asked how many of them would like to explore how computers and games are programmed, pretty much every hand went up again.

2.  We watched 1 or 2 videos like these:

3.  I briefly introduced the tool that students would use and gave them the short link.

4.  I gave some ground rules:

  • Coders don’t give up.  They try, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes.
  • Coders collaborate.  Ask 3 other students for ideas or help before asking me.
  • Have fun!

Kindergarten and 1st grade students worked with Kodable to program a rolling fuzz ball to move through a maze collecting coins.  Our 2nd graders used Tynker to program a puppy dog to perform various commands.  Our 5th graders used Scratch to design an interactive holiday card.

At tables, I watched students leap into coding.  They hit speed bumps right away.  Many began asking one another, but there was still a tendency to ask me.  I helped at times but facilitated students talking to one another most of the time.  Since I had seen all of the tables, I knew which students had figured out some of the coding tricks.  I used this knowledge to nudge students toward one another.  Many of them really stepped up to help their peers and students who weren’t always looked to as an expert suddenly found themselves being the go-to person.  It was empowering!

holiday on ScratchAnother amazing thing was having the entire 5th grade working together in the library.  They were eager to jump in and use Scratch, which most of them had never seen or heard of.  For the most part, they quickly settled in around the library in groups or by themselves and got to work.  As they figured out things, they shared.  Some of them left having a complete card made.  Others left with a start.  All of them left with a better understanding of how to use Scratch and an excitement for coding.  There is great potential in this energy that has been generated.

Day 1 (21)Our days were not without problems.  Our school internet seemed particularly slow.  The Hour of Code sites were also swamped with visitors, so these two combinations made some of the tools impossible to load.  We had to completely change our 2nd grade Tynker lesson on day 1 because it wouldn’t load.  Instead, students used blockly and Kodable.  Kodable was our reliable app of the day.  When students all tried to login to Scratch, they kept getting bumped out.  Also, they had trouble signing in, so several left without a chance to save their work.  All of these glitches didn’t dampen the excitement for coding.

Throughout the days, students added some reflections about what they learned to a Flipgrid.  This grid was also shared on Twitter so that students in other schools could add as well.  We have several more lessons planned across Wednesday-Friday and next week students will participate in a coding smackdown in Google Hangouts.  They will have a chance to share their learning and creations with others around the country.