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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.