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:

 

Maker Maniacs Enrichment Cluster Update: 3D Printing and Robotics

blokify (5)We are a little over halfway done with our enrichment clusters this year.  Every Friday, students across the school go to an interest-based cluster of their choosing for one hour.  During this time, students explore a topic and develop products or services related to their topic.  My cluster is called Makerspace Maniacs.  So far this year, we have explored making with duct tape, building with cardboard, lego robotics, and 3D printing.  After lots of explorations, students  are making decisions about where they want to focus.

A small group of students is focused on lego robotics.  Monica and Omarion are both committed to building a robot and programming it.  They both have varying levels of expertise.  Today, I asked another student, Ludwig, to come and work with them.  Ludwig has a lot of experience with Lego Mindstorms.  During clusters today, he worked with them to build a robot and program it.  Although they didn’t get far with the programming, he was able to show the students some tips and tricks to get the robots to work the way they wanted to.  I love using students as experts.  They hold so much knowledge that we don’t even know about.  Ludwig just happened to talk to me one day about Lego Mindstorms because he knew that I bought some.  He used Lego WeDo and Lego Mindstorms in other settings and told me he was willing to help me any way he could with them.  How exciting that a student offered his expertise without even being asked!

Other students in the cluster have decided to work on 3D printing.  Over the past 2 weeks, they have used a new iPad app called Blokify.  This app uses blocks to build a 3D object.  It is very user-friendly to build a 3D object in very little time.  Once built, the object can be ordered or emailed for 3D printing on your own device.  Today, students really focused on coming up with an idea and using the blocks to build.  While they were using the app, I started a Google Doc, which I will share with them, to collect what we love, wonder, and want to change about the app.  One service they will offer as a part of the cluster is to share this info with Blokify.

 

Today, we were also tweeting with Blokify and students were able to respond to their tweets.  Such fun!

Twitter   blokify   plemmonsa What they like most ...

Students prepared several files that they emailed to me.  I have them ready to go for 3D printing next week.  We’ll be printing a pirate ship, a Trojan pig, and a castle among other things.  As we progress, these students will also think about how they see this app fitting into what they are already doing in class.  We’ll come up with some lesson ideas for teachers to consider.

We only have a few weeks to go, but our speed is picking up and our focus is narrowed.  I know incredible things are going to happen with these students.

Kindergarten Tux Paint Consultants

Today Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten students had so much fun Skyping with Shannon Miller’s Kindergarten and 1st Grade students in Van Meter, IA.  Shannon’s students are planning to embark on a similar project as Kelly’s students by making their own stories in Tux Paint and recording them with a screencasting tool.  The purpose of today’s Skype session was for Shannon’s students to ask Kelly’s students about what they did.

Shannon's students watched our videos in Van Meter, IA before our connection

Shannon’s students watched our videos in Van Meter, IA before our connection

Before our connection, Shannon showed her students our Tux Paint videos made in Screencast-o-matic, including the instructional video.  She let me know on Twitter that they were ready.

When we connected, Shannon’s students applauded Kelly’s students’ great work on their stories.  Then she guided them in asking questions about the process.  They asked questions like:

  • How did you decide what to write about?
  • How did you work together?
  • How did you learn to use Tux Paint?
  • What screencasting tool did you use?
  • How long did your story have to be?
  • and more

Each time a question was asked, Mrs. Kelly called on a student to answer, and sometimes she answered the question or added additional insight.  We had a computer ready with Tux Paint in case we needed it to show something.  The students also had their planning paper, which they showed to answer one of the questions.  I had a USB webcam plugged in so that I could move the camera closer to students as they talked.  Although, my camera skills weren’t great, I think the kids enjoyed seeing themselves closeup on the screen.

Now, Shannon’s K and 1st grade students plan to use Tux Paint to make their own stories and use a new screencasting tool to record them.  We ended our time by agreeing to come back together to Skype and share our work with one another before the end of the year.

Shannon, Kelly, and I could have all easily just done the teaching of Tux Paint on our own, but giving the students this ownership of the project and sharing of expertise between schools means so much more.  I think that they now look at themselves as experts with knowledge to share.  Not only do they have the knowledge, they have the support that it is ok to take a leadership role in the classroom and teach alongside the adult teacher.  They also know that they have an authentic audience that their work immediately impacts.  I hope that this idea blossoms into other opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and become leaders in technology and learning for our school and beyond.

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!

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.

IMG_1642