Tag Archives: digital storytelling

Students use variety of digital tools

Our school is part of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and so our 5th grade students participate in a research project that’s called an Exhibition.  This year our Exhibition was scaled way back as our IB coordinator had to take over a 5th grade class when the teacher left in early spring due to medical issues.  The students had chosen the topic, homelessness, and had conducted some research on the topic, but things sort of ground to a halt.

IB PYP Exhibition

After conducting research on a real world topic, students are supposed to take action.  That’s the part we weren’t able to pull off, but I worked with small groups from 3 classes and helped the students figure out ways to present the information they had gathered.   This year I did not have as much time to work with the students in small groups, as I was doing most of it myself.  In past years we had the IB coordinator to help organize and also work with the students, but she was busy being a classroom teacher!  The students used a variety of digital tools and I was finally able to get a new one, Present.me, to work.

Digital Tools: PowerPoint & Windows Movie Maker

One group that I helped did a tried and true format, PowerPoint.  I try and get the students to think beyond PowerPoint as it is important to have more than one tool in your digital tool belt!  Two of the groups used Windows Movie Maker, which they had little or no experience with. Together we put together videos using video clips (filmed using a Flip camera…still love our Flips).

Web-based Tools: Prezi, Flipgrid & Present.me

The other groups used web-based digital tools, two of which were brand new to all of the students.  Two groups used Prezi to present their research, gathering photos from the web and inserting recordings we made.  I taught these students how to create Prezis as 3rd and 4th graders, so most of them had some basic skills with this tool. Prezi is so versatile and the students can fairly easily create a slick presentation.

The two new tools that students used were Flipgrid and Present.me.  I first learned of Flipgrid (http://flipgrid.com/info/) from Andy Plemmon’s blog (http://expectmiraculous.com/) and  I decided it was worth the $65 a year subscription. I used Flipgrid with 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students earlier this school year, so offered it as an option for the 5th grade students.  The only downside to Flipgrid is that viewers can click on any student’s response in any order, so information cannot be presented in a strictly linear manner.  The students had to rewrite some of their information so that it was not dependent on a previous student’s presentation.

Flipgrid created by 5th grade students

Flipgrid created by 5th grade students

https://flipgrid.com/#8ecb5ece

Last year I tried desperately to make Present.me (https://present.me/content/) work.  I could get it to work at home, but something in the school’s web filter was blocking the video from uploading.  But this year, we (teachers and me) got new laptops and EUREKA!  I was able to make Present.me work.  I had used Present.me with two groups of 3rd grade students earlier this year, so I had figured out some things that work when using this tool with groups of students.  Only downside to Present.me is that you are limited to creating 3 presentations a month.

Present.me presentation about homelessness created by 5th grade students

Present.me presentation about homelessness created by 5th grade students

https://present.me/embed/922/400/283548-homelessness-stripling-2

I like sending 5th graders off to middle school with a couple of cool digital tools in their technology tool belts.  So when a teacher next year says they have to make a PowerPoint, I hope they’ll ask, “May we make a Prezi (or a movie or Present.me or a Flipgrid) instead?”

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Filed under Information Literacy Instruction, Students using technology

5th Grade Students & Ebola Projects

Our fifth grade students were studying cells, viruses and contagious diseases in August when school began.  At that time the Ebola outbreak was just getting going and was in the news constantly.  This seemed a perfect opportunity to link current events, a world-wide issue and what they were studying in science.  Oh, and did I say I thought it would be a great chance to combine research, note-taking skills and technology in the library media center?

Research Begins: Note-taking, Foldables & Reference Sources

I designed a foldable for students to use while reading and taking notes.  I created this foldable with space for different  reference sources, including a dictionary, an atlas, an encyclopedia, a newspaper, a thesaurus and websites.

foldable graphic organizer

Foldable graphic organizer

I wanted the students to utilize all of the sources, which I now realize was too ambitious within our limited library time.  They did research during two library visits (for a total of about 40 minutes) and this wasn’t enough time.  I looked at their notes after these two sessions and chose a small group from each class to work further on the project. I chose the students who had the best or most complete notes on Ebola and worked with these 5 groups. I worked with each small group one more time researching filling in any gaps so that they would have a more complete understanding of the disease.

Concluding Research and Summarizing

I worked with students during their lunch period, so as to protect instructional time in their classroom.  It took forever to complete the projects as I only had about 20 minutes each time to work with the group.  In one week I worked with each group one or two times as I rotated through the classes.

Once they had completed their research, the students decided what information they wanted to include in their presentation.  I wrote their notes on chart paper and then typed it up for each group.   I made sure that we noted where each fact had come from so they could complete a bibliography to include in each project.  They worked with this compiled list.  I cut the notes into individual strips of paper and had each group organize the information for their presentation.  They glued the strips on a  paper and this became their outline.

summary of notes

Summary of students’ notes organized for an outline for the presentation.

Images & Credit to Source

To save time and move the project along, I found about twenty images and copied them into a folder along with the information on the source of each photo.  Again, I stressed to them that we must include this information  in the presentation.  I let them choose as many photos as they wanted that went along their outline of facts.

Enter Technology and a Few Glitches

I had the students choose from a couple of formats, including Prezi, Photostory and Flipsnack.  As I practiced with Flipsnack some more I started having some issues with it, so we eliminated that from the lineup.  Then I had problems with recording in Photostory.  The recording volume in Photostory was so low that you couldn’t hear it.  I switched computers, microphones, and laptops (one using XP and one with Windows 8) and never could figure out why the volumes were so low, so I transferred the photos of the two groups who had chose Photostory into Windows Movie Maker. Whew….this was supposed to be the fun part!

Success, finally!

I finished with the last two groups this past week (in the midst of the Scholastic Book Fair, but that’s a whole other stress-filled event).  The students were happy with their finished products and now have expertise that they can share with their classmates who did not get to work on these projects.  Anything to break out of the PowerPoint mold!  I told the 5th grade students that didn’t want them to move up to middle school only knowing how to use one digital tool.

Reflection

The students have come away with practice in note-taking, a review of reference courses, increased digital storytelling skills and a heightened interest in the Ebola outbreak.  I figured that when the outbreak was getting started in August that it would be a story that would get larger and involve more countries  as time went on.  Students come up to me all the time now and say they saw something on the news about Ebola.  We even have a location connection with the story here in Albany, GA as the son of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, is a physician at our local hospital.  We saw him on the ABC World News early in the crisis.  Students were very interested in that and wanted to contact him and let him know what we were doing (and I will be emailing him a couple of our presentations).

Here are two of the projects!

 

Link to one of the Prezis:

http://prezi.com/sqt7llujk2ik/ebola-mrs-powells-group/

 

 

 

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Filed under Students using technology