Winter Around the World and in Athens, GA: Original Songs and Personal Narratives

song recording (3)

For the past few weeks, 2 classes have been involved in exploring winter right here in Athens, Georgia.  Even though we might associate cold and snow with winter, it isn’t always like that where we live.  Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class and Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class both participated.  You can read about the beginnings of their projects here.  Our work is all coming together with classrooms from around the world on a collaborative Google slide presentation.

Ms. Kelly’s class has been busy in their classroom dividing into groups and building a song about winter.  As a class, they worked on the base beat using beatlab.  Then different groups worked on parts of the song.  Singers created the words and sang them. Clappers used their hands to add rhythm.  Ukuleles strummed chords for another layer.  Instruments such as coffee can drums added even another layer of rhythm.

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Ms. Kelly wrote the words up onto a big chart paper with plenty of visuals for students to follow.  She saved their class beat in beatlab and pulled it up on the library projector.  I used Screencastomatic to record the beat along with our webcam recording the student performers.  Ms. Kelly used dry erase markers to make notes on the beatlab beat for specific groups of students.  She also used a cowbell and her voice to help students know when to come in.

We gave ourselves plenty of time to record multiple times, but we just loved our first take!

Even though we were in love with that version, we decided to try one more time with just an iPad so that we could get some closeup shots of students performing.  We love this version too, but we are including the 1st one in our global winter project with classrooms around the world.

We had some fun shout outs while we were working on our song, including some retweets from Kishi Bashi who was one of our inspirations for our song.

Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class split into groups of 4.  Two students were author and two were illustrators.  After starting their work in the library, they continued to write and draw in class to tell about personal experience with winter in Athens.  They featured things like food, clothing, school, and events in winter.

Each group came to the library with their finished work.  We spread their pages out on tables and took digital pictures of each page.  We then took these and added them to the collaborative Google presentation.

In Youtube, we pulled up the feature where you can record straight into Youtube with your webcam.  We placed each page in front of the webcam and students read their winter personal narratives and facts.  These videos were also embedded on the Google slides.

We look forward to seeing how the rest of the slides turn out as we learn about winter around the world!

 

 

 

Beginning Our Winter Around the World Projects

Winter 002

I’m so excited about a current opportunity we have with classes around the world to think about winter where we live.  Shannon Miller and Cantata Learning recently invited schools to research winter in their areas and for students to work together around the globe to create a collaborative e-book filled with information, personal narratives, poems, illustrations, and songs.

All classes participating in the project started by reading and listening to the Cantata Learning book Winter the Coldest Season of All.

From there, different classes branched off to do different types of projects.  In Ms. Ramseyer’s 2nd grade class, we focused on winter in Athens, GA using notes from her husband Craig, who is studying to be a meteorologist.

Winter 001

He gave us facts about the average temperatures and snowfall in Athens each winter.  I think we all think of snow for winter, but in reality, we really don’t get much snow or even cold here in Georgia.  We were trying to get students to think about that.

After gathering our facts, we had students reflect on their own experience since that is a big part of the research process, especially about your own community.  I had students turn and talk to a partner about a variety of winter topics: clothes, events, food, school, sounds.   Each time they talked, I ran around with the keyboard and typed the ideas into a shared doc that could be used for our project.

Ms. Ramseyer let students group themselves into groups of 4.  Each group needed 2 authors and 2 illustrators. They could decide what kind of text they wanted to write such as personal narrative, poetry, or informational.  They had to make a plan before they could start working.  I spread out materials for them to use such as white paper, pencils, and crayons.  It was a lot of fun to walk around to tables and talk with them about their decisions while they worked.  I often found myself asking the illustrators to check the text that the authors were creating so that their illustrations were matching or extending the text.  There were a few arguments along the way, but each quarrel was an opportunity for a connection back to how books are created.  As usual, there were unexpected moments that were priceless, such as when a student noticed that the illustrators were only drawing boys into the illustrations.  She called him out and said he needed to add some girls. We talked about diversity in illustration and what that might mean and why that might be important.  It was fascinating.  The priceless moment came when the second grader said:

Students will continue working on this project in writing workshop in the classroom before they come back to me to digitize the work and add it to the collaborative Google slide ebook.

Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten class is planning to write a song about winter in Athens. She often uses ukuleles in her class and incorporates song writing.  After listening to the book, students explored a tool called Beatlab to tinker with creating a beat. They will use this tool to establish a beat for their song about winter.

In the library, we also explored the book Hip Hop Speaks to Children collected by Nikki Giovanni.  I selected a few poems from this book that had an established beat such as Things by Eloise Greenfield as well as poems that had actual music with them on the accompanying CD such as Ham N Eggs by A Tribe Called Quest.  For poems without music, we clapped or snapped along with the rhythm of the poem to see that there was in fact a beat there.  For the poems with music, we listened once and then closed our eyes and tried to focus on the various instruments we could hear layered over one another in the background and how they repeated.

beatlab (1)

We even looked at a video by the famous Kishi Bashi, who is also a parent at our school.  He accompanies himself by recording a layer of beats live onstage and looping them with pedals.  He performed at our school last year, and the Clarke Central Odyssey crew filmed this song that we used for inspiration.

After the library visit, Ms. Kelly’s class used a Capstone Library book called Winter: Signs of the Season Around North America.  They gathered various winter words that might inspire their song.  Once the song is written, we will record in the library as well as perform at a school assembly.

I love how student voices from around the world are coming together around a common topic, and I can’t wait to learn about winter through the eyes of students.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Story Seasons: A 1st Grade Collaborative Project

Each student had a chair to put pictures in, a camera, and a cord for downloading

Over the past few weeks, students in 1st grade have been working on a seasons unit around their weather standards in science.  This collaborative project involved the 1st grade teachers, the art teacher, and the media center.  In class, students learned about weather in the various seasons, dressed paper dolls in appropriate clothing based on the seasons, and wrote sentences about each season.  In art, students created background images on construction paper for each season.

In the media center, students came for 2 sessions to create  photo story about their creations.  They took digital photographs of their paper dolls in each season, imported their photographs onto the computer under their own accounts, and used photostory to record their scripts for each season.

The amount of technology that students used in the media center was  a bit overwhelming, but they accomplished so much.  To do this project, students had to figure out:

  • how to turn on a digital camera and take a photograph that included all of the subject in the shot
  • how to login to a computer with their own username and password, which included understanding how to use the mouse and keyboard
  • open multiple programs on the computer and go through program wizards to complete the various tasks
  • save pictures into their picture folder and delete photographs from a camera
  • import pictures into photostory
  • arrange pictures in the correct sequence to go along with the script
  • use a usb microphone to record scripts for each photo in the photostory
  • save and view their final piece
Once I actually listed out all of those skills (and I’m sure there are some that I missed), it really is amazing what we accomplished in 2 days.  I won’t pretend that it was smooth and quiet, because it was very chaotic, messy, and loud.  It took multiple adults supporting the students, but the students were eager, excited, and productive.  I also won’t pretend that every student got their pictures in the right order or that they recorded the right script on the right picture.  I CAN say that every student went through the process and learned something about using technology to create a digital product.  They had permission to explore without endless instruction on what to click on and what to push on.  Instead, they had some freedom to try things and had a lot of adult support individually.
I think that as a result of this project, we’ll see many more uses of technology in our early grades, and we will continue to collaborate across multiple subject areas.
 

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