American Symbol Research in Kindergarten

Students in 2 Kindergarten classes have been hard at work researching American symbols as part of their social studies standards. Doing research projects with the youngest learners in our school doesn’t look like it does in the upper grades. We think about what some of the biggest barriers might be for our young creators and put pieces in places to support students in getting over those barriers.

First, students chose one of four American symbols to research: American flag, statue of liberty, liberty bell, and bald eagle.  In the library, we introduced students to a graphic organizer for collecting 3 facts about their chosen symbol. I learned from another Kindergarten teacher a few years ago during research to set an expectation that allows all students to succeed or exceed during the first research session. We asked students to have a goal of writing at least one fact during the first work session, but if they still had time, they should keep going.

research 1

Students used Capstone’s PebbleGo for their research. We love this database for many reasons but mostly because it breaks information down into manageable pieces and reads the text in a human voice for students. I modeled for students how to listen to a portion of the text and then think about what they had learned by listening. Then, we talked about what we would write on our organizer. This modeling was done with a different American symbol than the one students were researching.

At tables, I setup computers for students to use in pairs. We chose pairs because it gave students one more source of support as they worked. Also at each table, we tried to place an adult for support. The teacher, classroom paraprofessional, and me all worked at tables. If a parent volunteer or student teacher was available, they stayed at the 4th table. Otherwise, the adults took turns checking between tables.  We found that we had to continue modeling for students how to listen, ponder, and then write rather than just copying a sentence off the screen. However, some students still chose a sentence to copy.  All students left with at least one fact but many left with 3 or more.

research 2

After this initial work session, students continued their research in centers in the classroom.  Then, they returned to the library for another work session in small groups. Each group came for 15-20 minutes. We did a short tinkering session with Chatterpix Kids to see how you can take a picture of something, draw a mouth on it, and then record that picture talking. Ahead of time, I chose creative commons images of the symbols for kids to use for their pictures. Rather than having every student create their own Chatterpix, each group created one Chatterpix video with the iPads. Each student chose one fact from their research to read.

Before recording, students chose their fact. We decided the order students would read and practiced a few times. Students helped take the picture of the symbol and draw the mouth. Then, we pressed record and passed the iPad to record. If we needed to record a few times, we did. Then, we uploaded our videos to Youtube and created a playlist to share with the class, families, and you.  I hope you will take a moment to listen to their work.

I love building foundations of research in our early grades and seeing where these students end up by the time they are in 5th grade. We have a lot of work to do, but we celebrate the work of these Kindergarten students and what they have created.

Ms. Lauren’s American Symbols:

Ms. Boyle’s American Symbols:

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.

chatterpix (3)

 

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.

chatterpix (1)

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: