I have used the app Chatterpix with 4th grade and 5th students in previous years, but only with projects where the subjects were people. This seemed alike a good fit as the point of Chatterpix is to make something talk. This year I decided to take a risk and use Chatterpix with 4th grade students early in the year when they are studying the solar system.
Livebinder, World Book Online, Britannica Student (Galileo)
I created a Livebinder with resources on the planet Jupiter and the recently arrived space probe, Juno. Since this was a item that had been in the news recently (Juno having reached Jupiter in July), I thought it would make learning about the planet more relevant. I included a link to our online subscription to World Book and a link to Britannica School Elementary, which we receive through the state of George via Galileo (www. galileo.usg.edu). I added other websites such as NASA and news outlets to bring in the very current events.
Students had a choice to make Jupiter (the planet) or Juno (the spacecraft) their topic. This ties in with one of the current Georgia Performance Standards, “S4E2.d. Demonstrate the relative size and order from the sun of the planets in the solar system” and “S4CS8. Students will understand important features of the process of scientific inquiry. Students will apply the following to inquiry learning practices: c. Scientists use technology to increase their power to observe things and to measure and compare things accurately”.
I modeled this project by creating a Chatterpix of the planet Mars. The students were all intrigued to see a planet talking. They were given two library visits to conduct their research and if they didn’t collect sufficient notes during those two visits, they would not be able to make a Chatterpix. That was incentive enough for about 98% of them! Some were ready to write their script with the info gathered after one sitting.
Scripts: 1st Person Narrative
After gathering notes, the student wrote a first person narrative as Jupiter or Juno. I have begun posting them on YouTube. I just realized after posting LOTS of Chatterpixs on my personal YouTube account it was time to open up an account linked to my school email and create folders for each teacher. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago! I’ve only uploaded four so far, but more will follow.
Using this digital storytelling app showed me how students will surprise you. Two of the students who “got it” immediately were not ones I expected. One was a 5th grader (more about their Chatterpix subject in a soon to be written blog post) who didn’t appear to take any notes, but just wrote her narrative in first person while looking at the online resources. This is a student who might be called a “little turkey” (one of my favorite expressions from a former teacher to describe students who were always pushing your buttons and the limits). Boy, I never expected that script out of her without any prodding or really oversight. She just did it!
The other student who really embraced this project was a 4th grade boy who has almost had to repeat a grade several times and is reading about a full grade level below. He nailed that person narrative right off the bat. Check out our talking planets and spacecraft!