iPad Photography Part 2

Last week half of Mrs. Hunter’s ELT class came to the library to work on iPad photography.  Read about it here.  Over the past 2 days, the other half of her class came for the same exploration.  Once again, students chose their favorite photo to email to me for our blog gallery.  Enjoy many of their Halloween inspired photos below and feel free to leave comments about their work.

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Connecting Students to Primary Sources

Back in December, fourth grade asked me to teach their students about primary resources in the context of their social studies standards.  Primary sources can be tough if students don’t really have a connection to what they are.  I wanted to build some connection for them before we jumped into the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, so I pulled out some artifacts from the cabinets in the BTV studio that are filled with scrapbooks, boxes of photographs, journals, newspaper clippings, class projects, and more from Barrow’s history.  I spread the objects out on the table and had the students start there.  They were immediately connected.  They buzzed with energy and conversation making “noticings” about what had changed with the physical building, how people dressed, how long into the summer we went to school, the “color” of the people in the classrooms, and more.  They could have easily spent the entire class period looking at these artifacts.

Next, we shared some of our noticings and made a guess at what primary sources might be.  Many of the students said that primary sources were “old information”.  I read an excerpt from Primary Sources by Leia Tait, and we talked about the kinds of primary sources that the students are creating today.  On p. 7 of the book, there are 2 paragraphs about Thanksgiving (one primary and one secondary source).  Students were able to verbally say what a primary source was, but they still had trouble distinguishing how to tell if something was a primary source or a secondary source.  We surfaced and discussed this confusion and tried to think of ways to help us remember.  We talked about writing reports or informational writing versus writing to document an event.  This distinction seemed to help the most.

Finally, we moved to the computer lab and students used a pathfinder to explore primary sources at the Library of Congress related to the fourth grade social studies standards.  Students really took their time with this.  Most of them stayed on the first task of examining the pictures of presidents for similarities and differences.  The teacher recognized the level of engagement and said that the students would continue their exploration of primary sources as a reading center in the classroom.

This lesson really pushed my own thinking of how we are documenting the present so that future individuals can learn about the past.  So much of our work now is digital, that I wonder how these digital pieces are preserved and published so that future generations can find them.  What an interesting thought to explore with the students.  I will teach this lesson two more times and hope to ponder that with them.

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Fourth Grade Folktale Collaboration

Each mask was created in art and is accompanied by a student-written story developed in class

As a part of 4th grade’s Native American unit, they studied folktales.  They spent weeks reading a variety of folktales from around the world as well as Native American folktales.  In the media center, they used Google Earth on the iPads to examine the regions of the United States where the Native Americans are found.  They noticed what landforms and water features were in each area.  Then, I told folktales from each tribe and they noticed how the land and regions came into each story.

In class, students continued to read folktales and examine the elements of each kind of folktale.  They began to develop their own story and implement these elements into the stories.

In art, the students designed masks that accompanied their tales.

The process was long and spread out over several months, but we are excited to finally have the finished products on display in our media center.  If you happen to be near Barrow Elementary in the coming weeks, feel free to stop in and read some of these stories and examine the beautiful masks.

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Summarizing with Sock Puppets

Brainstorming for the script

I recently blogged for the Georgia Library Media Association about using the Sock Puppets app on the iPad.  Since that post, I introduced the app at a faculty meeting.  I recorded a quick, light-hearted puppet show to introduce our faculty meeting.  Then, a couple of teachers came up and did an impromptu puppet show to show how easy sock puppets is to use.  We finished by having teachers think about how this app might be used with their students.

During the faculty meeting, Mrs. Freeman emailed me to collaborate on a summarizing lesson using sock puppets.  Her 4th grade class has been working on summarizing skills during reading, and she thought that the 30-second time restraint of this app would encourage students to carefully think about how to summarize a story.

Checking in with Mrs. Freeman

We read Spork by Kyo Maclear.  Students worked with partners to fill out a graphic organizer to help them think about summarizing the story.  The organizer included setting, characters, beginning/middle/end, and conclusion.  On the back of the organizer, partners created a script for their sock puppets.  I encouraged them to be as creative as they wanted to with the script, but that the one thing that had to be in the script was a summary of the story.

Most groups wrote scripts that had the puppets talk back forth in this manner:

Sock puppet 1:  What are you reading?

Sock puppet 2:  Spork.

Sock puppet 1:  What’s it about?

Sock puppet 2:  It’s about….

Other groups had the puppets do a summary but then ended with the sock puppets getting into an argument or singing a song.  Other groups tried to get the sock puppets to become actual characters from the book and act out the events of the story.  Each group had their own take on how to weave in a summary while still being creative with their scripts.

Before each group could get an iPad to begin recording, students showed their script to an adult:  Me (the media specialist), Mrs. Freeman, our instructional coach, and two paraprofessionals.  Finally students recorded and saved their sock puppet stories.  While they were recording, I walked around and gave tips on features of the app that students were forgetting to use.

Recording the script

At the end, we sat in front of the smart board and used an adapter to display the puppet shows.  We had fun and laughed together, but we also pointed out things in the puppet shows that could be improved for next time.  Students noticed how background noise affected the recording and how the pitch of each student’s voice affected the way the sock puppet talked in the end.

All in all, I felt like it was a creative, successful lesson that we learned from for future lessons.  I loved that students were creators of new content and that their work had an immediate audience ready to give feedback.

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