Collaborating Globally with Perspectives on Explorers: The Results are In!

Barrow Explorers

Two big library goals for this year are to give students time to dream, tinker, create, and share as well as collaborate globally.  Our fourth grade is wrapping up their explorers perspective project.  They considered six explorers and whether these explorers were in fact heroes or villains.  This project has spanned a few weeks and has involved research on six explorers in the social studies standards, persuasive writing, thinking from alternative perspectives, and creating persuasive Flipgrid videos.

You can read about how the project started here.

You can read about our videos and voting procedure here.

Students recorded their persuasive videos using Flipgrid.  We put all of those videos onto a Google site along with forms for voting whether or not each explorer was a villain or a hero.  Over the past few weeks, I have invited people around the world to interact with the project and vote.  I’ve shared through this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus communities.  It has been amazing to see how many classrooms have viewed the projects and sent us positive tweets and messages about our students’ work.

After sharing their work with the world, the results are in.

Is Christopher Columbus a hero or a villain?

Christopher Columbus   Google Forms


Is John Cabot a hero or a villain?

John Cabot   Google Forms

Is Vasco Nunez de Balboa a hero or a villain?

Vasco Nunez de Balboa   Google Forms

Is Juan Ponce de Leon a hero or a villain?

Juan Ponce de Leon   Google Forms

 

Is Henry Hudson a hero or a villain?

Henry Hudson   Google Forms

 

Is Jacques Cartier a hero or a villain?

Jacques Cartier   Google Forms

It looks like most of us look to the explorers as heroes with a big exception for Christopher Columbus.

In addition, our Flipgrid had some very interesting data.  As of this posting:

  • The Christopher Columbus question was viewed 530 times and had 186 likes
  • The Jacques Cartier question was viewed 148 times and had 65 likes
  • The Henry Hudson question was viewed 99 times and had 52 likes
  • The Juan Ponce de Leon question was viewed 139 times and had 68 likes
  • The Vasco Nunez de Balboa question was viewed 94 times and had 47 likes
  • The John Cabot question was viewed 120 times and had 45 likes

This has been such a special project.  I hope that we can do more work like this where classes are viewing one another’s projects, offering feedback, and considering different views.  We will end this project with a connection with the Flipgrid team very soon.

If you want to view the student projects, you can still visit their site.

 

Our 1st #3dprinting Project of 2014-15: Native American Hopes and Dreams stamps

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Fourth grade has launched into an incredible project for the 1st quarter of the year.  I’m so excited to be a small part of the project in the library.  In social studies, they are studying Native Americans.  Their standards include:

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in
North America.
a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit),
Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee),
and Southeast (Seminole).
b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing,
and shelter.

During this study, they are exploring the folklore of Native Americans through several folktales.  The brought them to the idea of a grade level dream catcher.  The beginning of the school year is a time full of hope.  It’s a time where students, teachers, and families set goals for what they hope to accomplish throughout the year, and many spend time writing about hopes and dreams.  The teachers in collaboration with the art teacher decided to design a project to capture the hopes of dreams of students in the form of meaningful symbols on a dream catcher.

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Working together, students will creative a massive dream catcher.  In art, they are designing symbols that represent their hopes for the year.  They are designing shapes that can be drawn in one continuous line.

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With me, students are using an iPad app called Cubify Draw which is designed by 3D Systems.  The app is very simple to use.  With your finger or a stylus, you draw one continuous line to create pretty much anything you can dream up.  You can adjust the thickness of the line and then touch “make 3d”.  The shape automatically turns 3D and you can adjust the height and thickness.  Once your design is ready, you can email the file to a central location to prep for 3D printing.

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For the lesson in the library, I gave a very brief intro to the app and shared some tips that I discovered through my own tinkering.  Big open swirls seem to print better than lines that are close together.  The shortest height and thickest line tends to print best.

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Mrs. Foretich, our art teacher, passed out the paper designs students made in art and gave students another opportunity to make adjustments to their designs and practice tracing the design with their finger.  I passed out iPads and the tinkering began.  Most students made several designs until they got the design just the way they wanted it.  Mrs. Foretich and I walked around and conferenced with students about adjustments they might need to make to their designs as well as helped troubleshoot problems.  Students emailed their designs to me with their teacher name and first name in the subject line.

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We are doing this lesson with the entire 4th grade, so that makes for roughly 60 designs.  Each design has to be imported into Makerware, reduced in size, and exported as a file for our Makerbot Replicator.  These files are being placed onto SD cards.  To speed up the file prep progress I used multiple computers and multiple SD cards.

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Then, the printing began.  Print after print is now running in the library.  It took about a day and half to print the first class batch.  Now I have 2 more to go.  Each student print is being placed in a ziploc bag with the student and teacher name on the bag for easy distribution.

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The next step will be for students to create a vessel out of clay in art.  They will use their 3d stamp to press designs into their vessel.  All of the vessels will hang from  the grade level dream catcher, including vessels designed by all of the teachers involved in the project.  This will serve as a symbol for the year to represent our connectedness and our common goal of working together to achieve many hopes and dreams this school year.  Our vessels and dream catcher will hold these safe throughout the year.

Thank you Mrs. Foretich and the 4th grade team for an incredible project for our students that allows them to dream, tinker, create, and share.

 

4th Grade Created an Augmented Reality Wax Museum using Layar and Multiple Digital Tools

IMG_3325Each year, our 4th grade creates a wax museum for their colonial period social studies standards.  Students research a person from that time, write and memorize a script, dress as that character, stand throughout the school, and give their speech multiple times to visitors.  This year the 4th grade team and I decided to try something different.  We wanted to create a digital wax museum and expand the standards beyond the colonial period to the entire 4th grade social studies standards. This new project would use the augmented reality app, Layar, to unlock all of the digital projects that students created about their person from history.  It would also be a collaborative project between 4th grade, art, and the media center.

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Updating this project was a big undertaking, but we created a process that I think can grow and expand next year.

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First, students came to the library and learned about the project.  I showed them various digital resources that they might use for their research including Pebble Go and our state Galileo database which includes Encyclopedia Britannica.  I showed them how they could search for websites within Destiny when they are logged in.

Wax Museum Research   Google Docs

Next, I showed them how they could create a double column table in a Google doc.  One side would be a space to copy and paste information from digital resources and the other side would be for putting the information into their own words.  I showed them how to use the Easybib add-on within Google docs to document where their information was coming from.  They loved this feature and so did the teachers.

Barrow Elementary  Wax Museum   4th Grade

Finally, students used a Signup Genius to sign up for their topics.  This made topic selection fast and teachers were able to give a final approval to the person that students signed up for.

After that, students started their research.  Most used their gathered facts to write scripts for various projects.

Wax Museum Project Options   Google Docs

Then, they all returned to the library to learn about their project options.  Students did not have to use technology to create their project, but they did have to use technology to document their project.  For example, if they made a physical poster, they had to use some type of technology tool to record some information about their poster using their script. Many digital tools were suggested to students, but students were welcome to find and try their own tools.  We suggested Chatterpix, Tellagami, and iMovie as main options. Students chose projects and continued working in class.

In art, students researched images of the historical events their person was involved in and created an image to serve as the trigger image for the Layar augmented reality app.  The images were created with water colors, pencils, crayons, markers, and various other tools.

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As images were finished, they came to me in the library so that they could be photographed and uploaded to Layar.  I also printed each photograph so that we had a uniform size picture to scan in the hallway.  This wasn’t necessary, but it was nice to have a smaller image to scan since some were large.

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Students made multiple kinds of projects to attach to their image in Layar.  Some chose to make gamis in Tellagami.  Because this app lets you make 30-second clips, some students chose to make multiple videos to upload to Youtube while others used iMovie to compile their videos.

Some students used Chatterpix to make a picture of their character talk.  Once again, they either created multiple files or compiled them.

Some students chose to do the traditional wax museum project of dressing up as your person, but this time, they filmed themselves and uploaded to Youtube.

 

 

A few students created unique projects that no one else attempted.  One student used Powtoon to make a Common Craft-like video about indentured servants.

Another student wanted to do an interview, so she filmed clips of herself as a news reporter asking questions and made response videos using Chatterpix.  Then, she used WeVideo to put them together.  Because the free version of WeVideo doesn’t upload to Youtbe, we had to do a screencast of her project in order to view on the iPad.

Another student used Songify to record a rap song about Martin Luther King.  We converted his file in Any Video Converter and put it into iMovie so that it could be uploaded to Youtube.

 

Once students had a video or link to their project, they emailed it to me to upload to Layar.  They could have done the uploading to Layar themselves but we wanted to test most of the Layar pages before we put them in the hall.  Many people helped students with the creation and uploading of their projects.  Many thanks to the 4th grade teachers, our grad assistant Carol Buller-McGee, our instructional tech specialist Todd Hollett, gifted teacher Heather Carlson, special ed teacher Haley Beaver, an EIP teacher Lee Rogers for assisting me with getting students videos uploaded and emailed.

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Students worked with me to connect their links in Layar, put them in right spots on the image, and test them out.  I went ahead and published our “campaign” in the Layer creator.  You have to “publish” before the images will work when they are scanned.  You can still add pages and links even after you have published.

Barrow 4th Grade Wax Museum 2014   Smore

We also uploaded all of the content to a Smore page so that families (and the world) could view the projects from home without Layar.

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The 4th grade team and art teacher displayed all of the art in the hallway.  Today, families were invited to stop by and view the gallery.  I rolled the iPads to classrooms and took headphones too.  Students came out with their families and showed off their projects and the projects of their friends. They showed parents how to open the Layar app, point the iPad at the image, tap the screen to let Layar scan the image, and watch the content magically pop up on the iPad screen. Several parents had already downloaded Layar on their phones too.  There was excitement in the air as families experienced augmented reality for the first time.  I overheard some of them saying how they wanted to go home and try it themselves.  Others were amazed by the variety of projects that students made.  I overheard conversations about social studies content but also conversations on how to use all of the tool that were needed to make this project happen.  I loved seeing the students taking a leadership role in sharing with their families how to use the technology that they use at school.

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Next week, classrooms will be invited to tour the gallery.  I think we learned a lot from this project.  One of the things that I loved most was how differentiated it was.  Some students created multiple projects for their person while others focused really hard on one project.  Students were able to showcase their strengths and interests, and I felt that every single student was fully engaged in this project.  I hope that others found value in this project as well so that we can continue and expand upon this type of experience for projects next year.

You can see all of the projects without Layar by visiting our Smore.

Also, take a look at what our augmented reality wax museum looked like in action today.

Transmedia Poetry with Thinglink

Fourth graders have been working on a poetry project for a few weeks now.  The goal was to write poem based in the science standards of light and sound and incorporate figurative language.  The teachers also wanted students to use some kind of technology for the project.  I decided to use a tool called Thinglink because it allows you to take an image and make it interactive.  You can put multiple related links on one image to create a transmedia experience, which means that the poem is experienced across multiple platforms.  We thought students could explore their poem in different ways:  informational text, video, image, and poetry text.  Other options could have included song, online games, and ebooks related to the poem’s topic.

 

The sequence of lessons looked something like this:

  • Lesson 1:  Look at onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, and personification in several mentor poems and then do a poetry dig in poetry books to find more examples of that figurative language.

 

  • Lesson 2:  Look at specific poems that focus on light and sound.  Examine the science standards and the idea of “found poetry” so that students might incorporate language from the standard in their poem.  Begin writing poems.

 

  • Lesson 3:  Finish writing poems in Google doc and begin Thinglink project.  This lesson took longer than we expected because students had to setup a Youtube Channel, create a Thinglink account, search for a creative commons image, and change the privacy setting on their Google Doc.  We did this step by step together.

 

  • Lesson 4:  Create a Thinglink.  The goal was to have an image with links to the Google doc, a video of the student reading the poem, and links to informational sites about the topic of the poem.

This was a fun project, but because there were so many accounts to log in to, it made the progress slow down significantly.  Students had a hard time remembering all of the steps that it took to login to multiple accounts at the same time and navigate back and forth between multiple tabs to get the links that they needed.  I think it really opened our eyes to some skills we need to focus on at the beginning of the year in order to make projects like this successful.

As students finished their work, they submitted their poem in a Google form and I added it to our Smore webpage of interactive poetry images.  Smore was very easy to use and a great way to collect and display a whole grade level’s work.  As students submitted their links, I copied the link and then embedded it on the Smore page with one click.  Then, on the Google spreadsheet, I highlighted the student’s name so that I knew I had already added their work.

I encourage you to take a look at the students’ work on our Smore page.  We could have made this project much more complex, but it was a great first step.  I think a second round of Thinglink would be much smoother.

Google Forms: Choose Your Own Adventure

IMG_1645I had heard about how you could write a Choose Your Own Adventure story using a Google form, but I had not been brave enough to give it a try until this year.  The idea got placed back in front of me at one of our media specialist professional learning meetings by Tanya Hudson.   Then, I went into Google forms and gave it a try.  I made a very short, basic fiction story. I won’t go into detail in this post about how the story is made, but it is all about adding multiple page breaks in a form and then directing answers to go to those pages based on the response of the reader.

Mr. Plemmons’s very rough practice story!

Then, at our school level professional learning day in January, I did a session on using Google forms.  I shared some very basic uses of forms and also included this advanced idea.  Our 4th grade teachers were very interested in how this might be used by their students.  After some brainstorming, we decided on writing historical fiction choose your own adventure using some of the 4th grade standards.  In the library, I have several nonfiction choose your own adventure stories from Capstone Press, so these became mentor texts for the project.IMG_1644

The teachers gave me a small group  of students from each of their classrooms.  The reason we started with a small group was so that I could work with them in a smaller setting to explore the possibilities of creating this kind of story.  Then, these students could pair with other students in the class to show them the steps to making the stories.  The students worked with me during 5 hour-long sessions.

In session 1, we read some excerpts from the informational Capstone Press books.  Then, I walked them through the story I made and how it was created.  They ended this session by “messing around” in Google forms to practice some of the things I modeled.

In session 2, students looked at the standards and chose their topics to begin researching.  They chose from:

  • Describe colonial life in America as experienced by various people, including large landowners, farmers, artisans, women, indentured servants, slaves, and Native Americans.
  • Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit), Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee), and Southeast (Seminole).
  • Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish, French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.
  • Trace the events that shaped the revolutionary movement in America, including the French and Indian War, British Imperial Policy that led to the 1765 Stamp Act, the slogan “no taxation without representation,” the activities of the Sons of Liberty, and the Boston Tea Party.
  • Describe the major events of the American Revolution and explain the factors leading to American victory and British defeat; include the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Saratoga, and Yorktown.
  • Describe key individuals in the American Revolution with emphasis on King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, and John Adams.

IMG_1643In all of the other sessions, students mixed research from books, websites, ebooks, and the research tool in Google Docs with actually creating their form.  Students supported one another as they figured out things, but students also conferenced with me on their stories.  About mid-way through their sessions, I had students go ahead and submit the link to their form to me.  I used a Google form to gather all of their links.  Then, I could easily check-in on students without disturbing their writing.

As I look back at what we’ve done so far, it has been a very messy process with lots of different kinds of learning going on simultaneously.  If I had it to do again, I think it would be easier to start with a fiction story than weaving in history.  Just making the structure of the Google form and getting it to work took a lot of time and students were also trying to research facts.  When they moved to research, their skills at creating their forms were getting a little rusty.  I think if students started with fiction where they could just make everything up, they could spend more time being creative and actually getting the form to work.  We learned a lot about the process, and I definitely think that these students will be able to show others the steps it would take to create their own.

All of their stories are still works in progress, but you can try them out here:

JP’s Boston Massacre

Henry’s Seige of Yorktown

Dmitri’s French and Indian War

Lucy’s Colonial Times

Jake’s Taxes of the British

Will’s Battle of Lexington and Concord

Lilli’s Battle of Lexington and Concord

Hadley’s Boston Tea Party

Graham’s French and Indian War

Anna’s Native American Tribes

Samantha’s Boston Tea Party

Feel free to leave feedback on any of the stories as a comment and I’ll pass it along to the students to celebrate and improve their stories.

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Martin Luther King Jr Lessons: A Different Spin

 

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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.

4th Grade Native American Research

I am so thankful for time to get together with other librarians to learn.  We recently had a professional learning day in our district where many of our school librarians/media specialists shared how they are using Google apps with students.  The amazing Tanya Hudson, librarian at Chase Street Elementary, shared how gadgets could be embedded in Google forms.  She had used this tool with a 1st grade Common Core lesson using the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  Her sharing made my brain wheels start turning about how this gadget might be used with other projects.

Our 4th grade is currently studying Native Americans.  Their standards have them look at how location and environment affect the food, shelter, and clothing of groups of Native Americans in each region of the United States.  Once again, I used a transliteracy model to think about all of the ways that students could experience these 6 groups of Native Americans.  I pulled informational books, folk tales, and stories from each group and put them at tables.  In the computer lab, students used a pathfinder which included Youtube videos, databases, and informational sites on clusters of Native Americans but also group-specific information as well.  Students used a graphic organizer to gather their information.

Filling out the Google form

For the portion inspired by Tanya Hudson’s work, I created a Google form and asked 2 questions:  What is the Native American group you discovered? and What is their location?  I used 2 iPads as a station in the library where students could go and input thisinformation as they discovered locations in their research.  I also embedded a map gadget in the form so that each time a student filled out the form, it pinned a location on a Google map.  This map was displayed on the smart board.  As the map started to populate, students began exploring what other students had posted onto the map, and an interesting thing happened.  Students quickly discovered that students were entering incorrect information.  The coolness of the iPad was causing some students to skip their research or type what they “thought they knew” into the form.  The great thing was that other students started to call them out on this error.  Other students discovered that you had to be specific on the location.  Simply typing “southwest” did not necessarily put a pin in the right place of the map.  Students began looking for specific states or, even better, specific cities.  Our time simply wasn’t long enough, but a logical next step would be to have students begin to weed through the information in the form and decide what is valid and what is not.  The data can be easily erased and disappears from the Google map.  I already have one student who is interested in doing this by himself, but I think a whole class exploration would also be great because it lends itself to authentic conversation about why we do research in the first place.

Google map with pins

Once again in this experience I allowed students to freely move from place to place.  Most migrated and remained at computers, while others stayed at the books for the majority of their time.  Students who went to the books commented on how much information was in one place rather than having to look at multiple places on the computer.  It was interesting to hear this come from them rather than me telling them myself.  So many interesting conversations and teachable moments occurred  and I wished that our time could be extended.  This will be helpful in future planning to schedule multiple sessions or longer sessions with classes.  In all, I think students gathered enough information collectively that they can share their information back in the regular classroom.