Kindergarten Narrative Writing Using Chromville Augmented Reality (and a little Skype too)

IMG_2789 IMG_2804Kindergarten is revisiting narrative writing at the close of the year.  This year, they have also worked very hard on the standard

ELACCKW6 Production and distribution of writing: With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

With this standard as our guide, we have explored tools such as Storybird, Padlet, and Flipgrid to publish our writing.  We’ve also used digital tools such as Pebble Go and the Capstone Interactive Library to gather information for our writing.

The Kindergarten teachers wanted to try one more digital tool, so I met with them to brainstorm.  We tossed around a lot of ideas, but we ended up deciding to try a brand new tool called Chromville.  Chromville is an augmented reality app that was just released this year.  It offers 6 different coloring pages.  Five of the coloring pages have a setting and a character and the sixth coloring page is a “create your own” character with no setting.  First you color your page.  Then, you use the Chromville app to select the matching setting and scan the page.  Once the screen turns green and you wait 3 seconds, the character and setting come to life on the iPad and the character begins to move around and interact with the setting.

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From my own experience with Kindergarten students, I’ve seen how visual they are, and I thought that seeing their character and setting in an interactive way might give them enough ideas to begin imagining their own stories.  The teachers and I mapped out what we would do in the library and in class.  It looked something like this:

  • In class, choose a setting and color it.
  • In the library, use the iPads and the Chromville app to see the setting come to life and brainstorm what to write about.
  • In class, begin the writing process by describing the character and setting as well as thinking about 3 events and a reaction that might happen in the story.
  • In the library, use the iPads to look at the Chromville character and setting again for more brainstorming and continue the writing process, including revision and publishing.
  • In class and in the library, share the final stories.
  • In the library, do a gallery walk of the all the stories by scanning the Chromville setting and reading the accompanying story

Four of the Kindergarten classes went through this process and it was very exciting to watch.  I saw some of the longest stories by Kindergarten students that I have ever seen.  Chromville was an exciting and motivating tool for them to use and they were full of energy when using it.

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We did learn a lot about what to do differently next time.  For example, we will probably opt to use crayons or color pencils next time rather than markers.  We will also avoid black as a color since the lines of the coloring page are black.  These black lines are the instructions for the iPad to read in order to generated the augmented reality scene.  Students also need to be careful not to cross over too many of the lines or color so dark that the black lines can no longer be seen.

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Along the way, we shared our success (and our failures) with Chromville, and they were eager to learn with us.  We sent them images of pictures that didn’t scan for us and they started taking a look at them to better improve the app.

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Today, Mrs. Boyle’s class Skyped with them all the way in Spain.  It was so much fun to Skype with someone in another country, but it was even cooler to see the improvements that they are working hard to create for the next update of Chromville.  We even got to see some upcoming Chromville projects as well as other augmented reality projects that the team is working on.  We loved seeing how even a t-shirt could be a part of an augmented reality project.  During the Skype, we also heard them talk about the improvements that they are making to the app.  This was such a great connection to the writing revision that students had just gone through.  It also validated all of the feedback that students have given about the app over the past few weeks.  They heard from the developers that their feedback was making a difference.

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We selected one student from each of the Chromville settings to share their stories with the Chromville team.  Each student showed his/her coloring page first and then read the story.

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Chromville currently has a narrative writing contest going on using the Greenland setting but Kindergarten is not eligible to enter.  This was a way to still honor their work and let the good people at Chromville hear how fantastic a Kindergarten story can be too.

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This is definitely a project we will try again.  I’m thankful for Kindergarten teachers who took a risk with me to try something totally new.  As usual, things didn’t work perfectly along the way, but that’s usually where some of the best learning happens.  Even though there were some tears, it was a great lesson that things aren’t always perfect and we have to push through failure and learn from it in order to be innovative.

 

 

Exploring Civil Rights through Blackout and Magnetic Poetry

IMG_30815th grade has a massive social studies curriculum.  It spans from the civil war all the way up to the present.  One of the things that they have been doing for the past 2 years that I love is using Christopher Paul Curtis’s books to tie in to the curriculum.  They start with Elijah of Buxton, move to Bud Not Buddy, and finish with the Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963.

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The civil rights movement is where they have been spending a lot of time recently, so the teacher emailed me to see what we might do in the library to focus on this time period in her language arts class. The standards they are working on are:

SS5H8 The student will describe the importance of key people, events, and developments between 1950-1975.

b. Explain the key events and people of the Civil Rights movement; include Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and civil rights activities of Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Since it’s poetry month, I wanted to pull poetry into our time together, and I knew that 5th graders would be able to handle some complex text and concepts.

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Just like with 3rd grade, we read Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, but their background information was much deeper than what 3rd graders knew.  They had connections and stories to share about the riots and peaceful marches that took place during the civil rights movement.  It was the perfect opportunity for me to also pull in Revolution by Deborah Wiles.  This book doesn’t publish until May 27th, but I have an advance reader’s copy from the Texas Library Association Conference.  I was able to show them some of the speeches, music, advertisements, etc from the time period to accompany the picture book, Freedom Summer. 

 

For poetry, the 5th graders created 2 kinds of found poetry.  They used the Word Mover app on the iPad to create magnetic poetry.  The app has a word bank that is words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech.  They also used pages from Freedom Summer and a couple of pages from Revolution to create blackout poetry.

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This time for blackout poetry, we used the New York Times interactive site to create blackout poetry together.  The site makes it very easy to select & deselect words from articles to create 15-word blackout poems.  We did an example together on the board.  The teacher also helped demonstrate how to mark words on their own paper by putting boxes around words in the NY Times article on the board.

We found that a good first step for students in making blackout poetry is to read or skim the page and then put boxes around words or phrases that stand out.  Once you are sure of the words you want in your poem, then you blackout the rest of the page.  Modeling this on the board was important today.  We had very few students in 3 classes who needed to start over.

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I randomly gave students pages  from the books and they started the process.  For the most part, it was a very quiet process.  Students methodically chose their words and then quietly shared their work at their tables.  A few students paired up to help each other decide on words and phrases.

As students finished their blackout poems, they grabbed an iPad and created their Word Mover poems.  Just like with 2nd grade, most students arranged their words into solid sentences rather than shaping them up like a poem.  If time allowed, I conference with students and they went back into their poem to shape it into line breaks.

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Almost every poem was a reflective synthesis of student understanding about events of the civil rights movement and freedom summer.  Some students had some humorous twists to their poems, but most were solemn, serious, and reflective.

Take a look at their gallery.  Just like Revolution immerses us in the time period through story, music, advertisements, speeches, and other documentary pieces, the student poetry immersed us in the positive and negative feelings of the civil rights movement and freedom summer through multiple perspectives.

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Using Freedom Summer to Create Blackout Poetry

blackout poetry (14)In third grade, students learn about civil rights through the standard:

SS3H2 The student will discuss the lives of Americans who expanded people’s
rights and freedoms in a democracy.

Students specifically learn about Mary McLeod Bethune, Frederick Douglas, and Thurgood Marshall.  When these students get to 5th grade, they will spend a larger amount of time studying the civil rights movement, but I thought this would be a good time to explore some text that connected with their current understanding of civil rights.

Students spent a small amount of time sharing what they currently understand about segregation and civil rights.  They brought up things like drinking from separate fountains, riding in the back of the bus, and holding boycotts of the transportation system.

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Then, we read Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles.  Students immediately noticed the connections to their own understanding of segregation as the 2 main characters could not do the same things together.  They were shocked when they got to the part in the story where the two boys couldn’t go to the pool because it was closed and filled in with asphalt.  The students used words like unfair, lunatics, and furious when describing their feelings and the idea of closing things rather than follow the law.

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After discussing the book, I showed them how some artists and poets use text that they find in the world and turn it into something new.  Austin Kleon, in Austin Texas, is one of these writers and artists.  We looked at a few of his poems called “blackout poems”.  He takes pages from newspapers or other texts and blacks out all of the words on the page except for the words in the poem.

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I gave the students one of three pages from Freedom Summer.  They spent time looking for words that stood out to them as a possible poem.  When they decided on the words of their poem, they circled them or drew boxes around them with a black marker.  Next, they used that same marker to blackout the rest of the words on the page.

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It was interesting to see how students interpreted the exact same page in a different way.

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We had students share their poems at the end, and it gave us a new understanding of what stood out on the page and in the story for students.  It was as if the poem helped us to look more closely at the meaning that we might all take from the text.  As usual, this was more difficult for some students than others, but we noticed that this kind of poetry did take away the barrier of spelling or deciding what to write.  We could instead focus on the meaning of the words on the page and use those words to interpret the story as a poem.

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Here are a few of the poems that students created.

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Digital Magnetic Poetry with the Word Mover App

IMG_3022We’ve been having a lot of fun with found poetry during poetry month.  We started with book spine poems, and we will try some blackout poems very soon.  Today we explored magnetic poetry.  When students were making book spine poems, there were several times that they really wanted to move one or two words around or there was one word that was missing that they really wanted to add.  Magnetic poetry gave them so much more flexibility in that aspect.

Mrs. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade was the first class to try this poetry this year.  We started by using the nature poetry on the magnetic poetry website.  I liked doing this type of poetry after book spine because students quickly saw that they really had to think about how to put groups of words together that made sense.  Books already had the words put together and students just had to decide which books and what order.  Magnetic poetry requires students to start with a bank of words and somehow make sense out of them.  We played around on the board trying to put groups of words together.  We knew that we could throw words back into the bank if we didn’t need them.  Students had many ideas of what should go together, which meant many disagreements as well.  This was a great type of poetry to do alone.

I showed students the Word Mover app on the iPad, which essentially is like magnetic poetry.  Word Mover has an iPad and android version and comes to us from Read Write Think.  There are a few options.  Students can choose a word bank or choose from several famous speeches and songs that can be remixed into a poem.  There is also an option to make your own words, but I discouraged students from starting with the “my own words” category since that would stray from the idea of found poetry.  What we all loved was that you could add any word no matter which word bank you chose.

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Once students selected their word bank, they started dragging words onto the work space and arranging them.  Any words could go into the trash can to put them back in the bank.  Students could shuffle the words in the word bank or even get a bank of new words.

The teacher and I wandered around the media center chatting with students about what they were thinking.  As with any kind of writing, some students were naturals at this kind of poetry while others had to start over a few times.  Some of the students who chose speeches and songs like America the Beautiful and I Have a Dream had a hard time remixing rather than just copying the original.

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Mrs. Ramseyer and I both noticed that students were writing their poetry as if it was one long sentence or paragraph.  Once students told us “I’m done”, we asked them to read their poem aloud.  As we heard them pause in their reading, we suggested that those pauses might be where their line breaks should go.  Students spent a bit of time rearranging their poem so that it was in lines that naturally flowed for the reader.

If time allowed, students chose a background and added a title to their poem.  Some students even figured out that you could change the color and font of the words.

Once poems were done, students saved them to the camera roll on the iPads so that you could enjoy them here.

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Participating in World Book Night 2014

Last year was the first year that the Barrow Media Center participated in World Book Night.  It was such a fun and rewarding experience, that I knew we had to do it again.  On World Book Night, each “giver” receives 20 copies of a certain book to hand out in the community.  The process is really simple.  A few months before April, applications open.  You submit an simple application explaining how you will hand out the books.  If your application is approved, you select where you will pickup your books.  I always pick mine up at our local independent bookstore, Avid Bookshop.  They hold an event where givers can meet one another and exchange of ideas of how to hand out the books in the community.  Then, on April 23, you hand out your books.

Here’s a little more from the World Book Night website,

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.  Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.

World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. But it is also about more than that: It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.

World Book Night is a nonprofit organization. We exist because of the support of thousands of book givers, booksellers, librarians, and financial supporters who believe in our mission. Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night was first celebrated in the U.S. in 2012.

This year, my book was Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon.  I was so happy that this was the book I was selected to give because it’s a book that I’ve hoped many of our students would pick up.  Rather than randomly hand the book out in our community, I decided to target specific students in our school.  Teachers in 4th and 5th grade helped me select 20 students via a Google doc.  Each student was chosen for various reasons.  There was no set in stone way to choose a student other than we wanted to put the book in the hands of a student who could use a new book in their home library and who would enjoy reading this book.

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At 1:00, all of the students came to the library.  I told them about World Book Night and we visited the World Book Night website.   I told them about being a giver and picking up my books at Avid Bookshop.  Then, I showed them the book.  We visited the Candlewick site where we could watch a trailer for Zora and Me.  I read the back of the book to all of the students.

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Then, I got to say the words I was so excited to say…”I’m giving a copy of Zora and Me to all of you.  Every single student was so excited.  Some of them jumped up to help pass them out to the group.  I loved watching them immediately open the book and start reading it.  I also gave them all a bookmark.

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I told them that my hope is that they would read the entire book, share it with their families, tell me what they thought of, and cherish the book as a part of their home libraries.  I look forward to hearing from them very soon.  One student told me she would probably have it finished by tomorrow!

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World Book Night is an amazing experience.  It seems small when you first sign up, but you are filled with emotion when you put your book in someone’s hand with the wish that they will read it and love it.

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Our Student Book Budget Order from Capstone Has Arrived!

IMG_3014Each year when students participate in the student book budget group, the most exciting day for them is the day that we unpack the boxes when they arrive.  It’s the day that all of their hard work and tough decisions pays off.  After surveying almost the entire school, setting goals, meeting with vendors, creating wish lists, cutting books from the lists to fit the budget, and placing the order, the students finally get to hold books  in their hands.

Today our order from Capstone came.  We love buying books from Capstone each year for many reasons.  One reason is that their books are popular with our students.  We also love their customer service.  Our sales representative, Jim Boon, always comes in and helps students with the book selection process.  We also love how Capstone stretches our budget.  This year’s order from Capstone was $1750, and with Capstone’s current promotion, we earned an additional $525 in books.  When we were unpacking the order today, a student said, “Capstone Rewards sure does help us get a lot of extra books.”  I love that this project really pushes students each year to think about fiscal responsibility and how to stretch a dollar.

Just like every other step of the way, the students are involved in every step of unpacking the books.  We basically form an assembly line.

Some students pull books out of the boxes and inspect them for any damage.  There’s usually not any, but we always check.

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Another student takes these books and highlights each one on the packing slip to make sure they are all accounted for.  Today, I helped with the highlighting process because there were so many books to take through the entire process in only 45 minutes.

These books then go to a student who stamps them with our library stamp.

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From there, a group of students takes pictures of the covers to put into an Animoto to show on our morning broadcast.

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When all pictures are taken, the pictures are uploaded to Animoto by another group of students.

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Then, all of the students work on setting up a display at the front of the library.

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The students all got to check out one of the books before they were really revealed to the rest of the school.

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Then they watched their Animoto and had a little dance party to celebrate new books.

Usually, students start coming in to check out the books before we even get them all setup.  Today was no different.  Some of the DC comics and sports immediately got checked out by 2 eager boys.  I love how one student’s shirt says, “best day ever”.  It sure feels like a great day when we see so many smiling faces for books.

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It was also a little sad to see our project for the year come to an end.  These students have been so dedicated by coming in during their recess time to work.  I smiled when one of them said, “I think I want to grow up to become a library media specialist”.  Other students said, “Please let us do this again next year.”

When I asked them why they like being in the student book budget group, they said things like:

  • who wouldn’t want to buy books for the library
  • we loved making decisions
  • it was fun to spend money for the library
  • people are reading the books that we chose

This process is so empowering for students.  The project has proven again and again that students know how to buy books for other students.  Their books are checked out rapidly and stay among the most popular books in the library.

Thank you Capstone for supporting our project each year.  Your promotions, great selection of high interest books, and book swag gifts, made the students feel like rock stars.

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Book Spine Poetry with Tellagami (Day 4)

IMG_2914Today was my final day working with 2nd graders on Tellagami.  Mrs. Yawn’s class went through the same process as the other classes.  I’m really glad that I decided to do this in groups.  My original plan was to do individual book spine poems, but I think it would have been very hard to manage on the technology side of things.  Getting 7 poems created and recorded in one class period was an ideal number.

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Here’s a look at Mrs. Yawn’s poems.

 

Don’t forget to view the poems from:

Mrs. Brink’s Class

Mrs. Wright’s Class

Mrs. Ramseyer’s Class