Kindergarten Experts: A Tux Paint Instructional Video

Students gathered around the netbook to plan out what they would share on the screencast.

Students gathered around the netbook to plan out what they would share on the screencast.

I was so impressed by the work that Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten students did on their Tux Paint stories.  You can read more about that adventure here.  We wanted to continue their work in some way so that it might inspire and support other classes in trying Tux Paint.  After some planning, we decided to have the kids make an instructional video.  Mrs. Hocking brought her whole class to the library.  We talked about how instructional videos are a kind of informational text just like they are reading in their classrooms.  We also talked about being a leader and sharing expertise.  I made a screencast to show how to make an Animoto and we watched a part of that.

Along the way, I paused and had students talk about things that they noticed.  They shared things like

  • You clicked on things.
  • You talked about what you were clicking on.
  • You didn’t use a silly voice.  You used a serious voice.

We continued this pattern of watching and sharing for a few minutes.  Mrs. Hocking and I both added our own observations of what to include in an instructional video, too.  I told the students that they had to take themselves all the way back to the beginning and think about what they did first, second, third, etc.  Then they had to think about what they would say and what they would click.

Our Google doc captured what students would talk about on the screencast.

Our Google doc captured what students would talk about on the screencast.

A small group of 5 students stayed behind in the media center while Mrs. Hocking took the rest of the class back to Kindergarten to talk some more.  The small group and I took a netbook and started looking at Tux Paint.  I had them show me things they knew how to do.  As they did that, I started typing their words and expertise into a Google doc.  I also started pushing them to think about order.  What would someone do first? second? third?  I rearranged our doc to have a better sequence and put student names by each piece of tux paint that they would demo.  Then, we practiced.  Each student showed his/her knowledge of a certain aspect of Tux Paint.  Their tendency was to just click without talking.  I had them start again and say what they were doing as they clicked.  They also all wanted to talk while someone was clicking, so we had to discuss one person being allowed to speak without being interrupted.

On a separate day, the small group came back and we recorded their screencast using Screecast-o-matic.  In between each speaker, we paused the screencast and prepared the screen for the next student.  It was a challenge to stay quiet while someone was recording, but they did so much better after our practice in the 1st lesson.  Here’s what they created:

Our next step will be to send this video to Shannon Miller in Van Meter, Iowa so that her students can watch it and learn how to use Tux Paint.  Then, we will Skype with her students for them to ask follow-up questions about using Tux Paint.  The video will also be shared with teachers at our school so that they might consider using Tux Paint with their own classes.

I love the potential of this.  It is empowering for students to be able to share their expertise with the world, become leaders and teachers, and take time to reflect back on what they have actually learned about a particular technology tool.  I want to do more of this in the coming year, especially now that our students have access to Youtube.  Imagine the possibilities of students creating videos about what they have expertise in and sharing that with other students in the school.  The collaboration potential is mind-boggling!

Martin Luther King Jr Lessons: A Different Spin

 

DSCF2368

Every year, I offer lessons to accompany the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.  There are so many inspiring stories about this influential man, but students hear some of the same stories every year.  This year, I wanted to offer a different spin and introduce a recent book called Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Ramsey and Bettye Stroud.  The book is most appropriate for grades 3-5, but it could certainly be used with others.

Prior to reading the story, I build a bit of background knowledge about Gee’s Bend by watching the first few minutes of this video about the Gee’s Bend Quilters.

I wanted students to know the importance of the quilts to the people of Gee’s Bend as well as understand a bit of the culture of Gee’s Bend, so we only watched a bit of the first Bender’s interview.

Next, we used Google Earth to zoom into Gee’s Bend and talk a little about the geography of the area and where the name “bend” came from.

In 4th grade, students are working on common core standard ELACC4RL3:  Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).  As we read the story, I asked students to pay close attention to the characters, setting, and plot so that they could discuss it at the close of the story.

In 5th grade, students are working on common core standard ELACC5RL2:  Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.  To build some background knowledge on theme, we watch the first few minutes of this video:

5th grade reflected on theme throughout the book to inform their conversation at the close of the story.

In both 4th and 5th grade, we read the book and stopped along the way to have impromptu discussions.  Many of our discussions came around the part of the book that is about the right to vote and how Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged all African Americans to vote because it was their right.

last mule today's meet

Student contributions in Today’s Meet

At the close of both lessons, students went to computers and used Today’s Meet to have a silent conversation about their particular standard.  4th grade posted about characters, setting, and plot, and 5th grade posted about theme.  I encouraged students to read what others were writing and write follow-up posts or questions for their classmates.  I wouldn’t say that the conversation was particularly connected at this first attempt, but there were definitely things that I liked.  For example, in 5th grade, every student was able to post a comment about theme whether it was right or not.  I could quickly see who really understood theme and who didn’t without publicly naming what was “right” and “wrong”.  Also, at the very end, I had students read back through the posts and decide which comments stood out to them the most as really identifying theme.  Students could easily name who said what as they were speaking.  For example, “I liked how Aidia said that anyone can be a hero”.  It was a way for students to acknowledge the contributions of their peers and accurately quote their contributions.  Sometimes it’s hard for students to remember exactly what someone said aloud, but this printed text made that easier to remember.

I definitely would like to try Today’s Meet again in other settings, and I’m happy to find a place for this wonderful story to give new life to a topic that students have heard many times.

Stone Soup: A Folktale Follow-up

Ms. Spurgeon, a fabulous third grade teacher, does a Stone Soup folktale study with her students each year.  This is a part of the folktale study that third grade just kicked off.  She has her students study multiple versions of Stone Soup and consider how the characters, setting, and plot change based on where the story is taking place or which country the story comes from.  Students are quickly discovering that the basic themes of Stone Soup stay the same but characters, setting, and the ingredients in the soup change.

DSCF2366Today, we read Jon J. Muth’s version of Stone Soup.  We loved hearing the many different kinds of ingredients that were added to the soup such as pea pods, lily buds, taro root, winter melon, and more.

After we finished the story, we revisited our Google form of folktale elements to see how Stone Soup compared with other folktales we have read.  We noticed that the following elements appeared in all 4 folktales that we have read in 3rd grade:

  • flat characters
  • fantasy time
  • setting briefly described
  • plot full of action
  • repeated phrases

Classes will continue to fill out the form and make comparisons.

To conclude this lesson, we used Tagxedo to make our own digital bowl of Stone Soup.  I asked students to think about what ingredients they might add to a class stone soup if they were to go home right now and get something out of their cabinets, refrigerator, or from a neighbor.  While students were checking out books, they came up to me and told me 2-3 ingredients, which I typed into Tagxedo.  I selected a circle shape to represent the pot of soup, and here is what our soup looked like at the end of our time together.

stone soup

National Day on Writing

Students and teachers began writing blurbs about why they write

Today, October 20th, is NCTE’s National Day on Writing.  Many authors have contributed audio testimonials to their page about why they choose to write.

I created a Wallwisher page for students and teachers to contribute why they choose to write.  A few teachers and students began the conversation today, but because we are in our early release days for parent conferences, there wasn’t a lot of time to participate.  We’re going to continue to contribute to this page and invite you to visit the page and contribute your own reasons for writing.

Young Imagineers Digital Workshop

For the past few months, I’ve been working with 20 second graders on a project using Glogster.  These spectrum students have been studying inventions and have taken existing inventions that could be improved upon or invented their own creations.  As part of their study, they talked about costs, benefits, risks, and more.

None of these students had used Glogster before, so I started them out with a brief overview of what Glogster could do.  Then, as I’ve done in other projects, I let them explore.  As students had questions, they were more comfortable asking one of the adults (myself, Ms. Hicks, and Ms. Saxon).  Over time though, we pushed them to begin asking each other questions and sharing expertise with one another.  Students discovered things such as:

  • how to capture audio with a microphone and embed it on their glogster
  • how to use a webcam at home to video themselves talking about what was on their glogster
  • how to search Schooltube and embed a video
  • how to create a photostory and upload it
  • how to scan images of their invention and upload it or use it in a photostory

Each time a student learned something, the other students immediately wanted to do that too.  It was another great example of the power of students collaborating with one another and taking risks in their learning by diving into the unknown and figuring things out.  These students will now go into 3rd grade with a better understanding of how this tool works.  I just finished collaborating with the 3rd grade team and the art teacher on a project that will call upon these students as the experts who will teach the other students in their grade level how glogster works when this project launches next year.

I invite you to check out their work on the Spectrum Webpage.

Book Trailers: The Next Phase of Sharing Media Center Books

Kate DiCamillo.

Over the past two years, we have explored writing reviews for our media center books in the form of reviews in our card catalog, student blog entries, podcasts, and guest reviews from teachers.  In a few weeks, our 4th grade students will create book trailers using Animoto.  Each year, our 4th grade holds an author fair for our 3rd grade students.  At the fair, 4th grade students share displays of books by various authors and promote those authors and their books to the 3rd graders.  The purpose is to inspire the 3rd grade students to explore some great books over the summer.  We kickoff this projectt in 2 weeks.  Fourth graders will read multiple books by one author.  They will work in small groups to learn about a particular author and his/her writing style.  Then, students will create a book trailer like the one shown above.  I can’t wait to see what happens!