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3rd Grade and Book Character Poems Celebrating National Poetry Month

While in graduate school working on my Specialist degree, I was introduced to a poem template for a book character.  I used it successfully last year during National Poetry Month and decided it was worth a repeat.  I selected picture books with strong characters and a strong plot that could be read easily by the 3rd grade students. Titles included: Where the Wild Things Are, Harry the Dirty Dog, The Paper Bag Princess, The Gingerbread Boy, The Three Billy Goats Gruff (and a few more).

The small group decided how they would read the book (take turns, have one reader, etc.) and after reading the book, they completed the template.

Movie and YouTube

I recorded all of the groups reading their poem using Windows Movie Maker to put together the clips and then uploaded the movie to YouTube.  I’ve completed 2 movies and have one more to go. Check out the completed ones:

Librarian recording students reading their poem in the studio.

I used one of our Flip cameras to record the students in our morning show studio.

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Read Across America Day 2017

I have organized, planned and executed 12 Read Across America Days at my school.  It’s always the most exhausting but rewarding day (and only 5 more to do before I retire-but who’s counting?).  Lots of walking (to and fro from the office, to classrooms to take photos); excited members of the community coming to read; random parents and volunteer readers showing up unannounced,etc.

Additional Student Involvement: Including Student Readers

This year we involved our students more in RAAD.  I asked some of the 4th grade students who had recently read to fellow students and staff for World Read Aloud Day if they would be interested in reading to Kindergarten and 1st grade classes.  I tried to match up a couple with younger siblings’ classrooms.  I gave them some choices on book titles and we went over how to read aloud to a group.

I will definitely keep this student involvement for next year’s RAAD, but I will spend more time training them and have them practice with me.  They enjoyed reading to the classes and I think it helped build their self-confidence.

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Fourth grade student reading to a kindergarten class.

Further Student Involvement: Official Escorts

At the suggestion of our International Baccalaureate: PYP Coordinator, we added student escorts.  These members of our school’s United Nations Club took the readers to their classroom, guided them to a second classroom if necessary, and escorted them to the front office to sign out of the building.  The students basked in this responsibility and it gave the readers (mostly community members) a chance to further interact with our students. I will definitely continue this next year as well.

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3rd Grade United Nations Club member escort and RAAD reader.

Read Across the World Day: A New Experience

One of our kindergarten teachers came to me a week or so ago with an idea proposed by a parent of one of her students.  The father of the student is in the Army currently stationed in Kuwait.  The mom thought maybe we could Skype and have the dad read a book to the class.  After discussions back and forth, the mom came up with the idea of dad recording himself reading.  She uploaded the video to YouTube and sent me the link so that I could project it on the big screen in the library.  She arranged to come to school and the class came to the library for a “special reader” who was going to share a story.

I had the teacher sitting in a chair with the book as dad (and 3 fellow Army members) read the book from his phone. It took the student a couple of seconds to realize what was going on and then he said, “That’s my dad!”. The teacher turned the pages while the soldiers read the book and the students were very engaged.  As the class was leaving the boy asked his mom if he could call his dad!

The soldiers did a very energetic reading and singing!

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Our long distance reader, a kindergarten student’s father reading from Kuwait via YouTube!

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The kindergarten class after they finished watching the video from the soldiers in Kuwait, with mom and teacher.

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We had 4 news reporters from our local Fox television stations read to the students.  One class of 5th graders asked the young reporter for her autograph!

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Chatterpix, 4th Grade & Jupiter

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.

Chatterpix

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.

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One student recording on the iPad and another student rehearsing their script.

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Surprises

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!

http://bit.ly/2bI1M56

 

 

 

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April-National Poetry Month-5th Grade “I Am” Poems

Earlier this month I celebrated National Poetry Month with fifth grade students.  At the first library visit I read the picture book biography, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton written and illustrated by Dan Tate (Peachtree Publishers, 2015).  This is a moving story about a slave who teaches himself to read and goes on to write poetry, publishing several books in his lifetime.  This is a good book to read to these students as they study the U.S. Civil War and are very familiar with the concepts.  We discuss how his poetry expressed his feelings about himself and his life.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Dan Tate

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Dan Tate

“I Am” Poem Template

I found a template on  the Freeology site (http://freeology.com/graphicorgs/i-am-poem-template/).  I gave copies of the template to the teachers and instructed the students to express themselves as George Moses Horton did in his poetry.  The teachers had their students complete their poems during morning work time or other convenient slot.  Some of the students put a lot of effort and thought into writing their poems.  I chose the best works and asked the students if they wanted me to video them reading them.  Only 2 students out of about 20 declined.

Flip Camera, Windows Movie Maker and YouTube

Working around teachers’ schedules (they were all prepping their students for the upcoming Georgia Milestones, our state tests), I managed to record each class with a Flip camera.  I still love these little cameras.  So convenient and easy to use.  I put the videos together using Windows Movie Maker.  Now, ideally, if it weren’t the week before testing, I would have had the students put the movies together.  However, I knew they didn’t have the time to take away from instructional time.  I usually like to give them hands-on experience with this type of technology, even if it’s only a few students and not the entire class.

After completing the movies, I uploaded them to my YouTube channel and emailed each teacher the link to their class’s video.  Then I did a post on our school’s Facebook page to let parents and community members see our students’ work.

 

Post of our YouTube videos on the school's Facebook page

Post of the YouTube videos on the school’s Facebook page

 

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The Twenties, Jazz Age, Harlem Renaissance and Chatterpix

Our fifth grade students are required to be knowledgeable of 5 figures from the 1920’s United States history: Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford.

Georgia Performance Standards: SS5H4b. Describe the cultural developments and individual contributions in the 1920s of the Jazz Age (Louis Armstrong), the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes), baseball (Babe Ruth), the automobile (Henry Ford), and the airplane (Charles Lindbergh).

Collaborating with the teachers, we decided that the students would use Chatterpix to record a first person narrative in the persona of one of the historical figures.

Graphic Organizer and Livebinders

I designed a graphic organizer for the students to use to collect their notes and write their script.  I created Livebinders for each historical figure to ensure that the students used quality, reliable websites.  Here is a link to one of the Livebinders:

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/1933083?tabid=5b0552b8-b751-7bf9-5303-59cebbc3a483

Livebinder for resources on Charles Lindbergh

Livebinder for resources on Charles Lindbergh

Chatterpix Recordings

I looked over the students’ scripts trying to ensure they were written in first person, contained sufficient details to explain why these people are notable and how they changed the United States in the 1920s, and didn’t contain a sentence about when that person died (looking at the recordings, I see that one of these statements did slip by). We had two iPads in use at one time and students didn’t need much help using Chatterpix as last year as 4th graders they did a Chatterpix.  At this point one class has finished their recordings, a second one has done a few, and we haven’t started recording the third class yet!

Uploading to YouTube

I uploaded the finished Chatterpix to my YouTube channel so that I can share the links easily to each of the teachers and the students.  Our students all have a Dell tablet assigned to them, so they will be able to view their Chatterpix and their classmates easily on YouTube.  I sure wish there was an android version of Chatterpix and then it would be so much easier!  When all 5th students are finished, I will share the link on our school’s new Facebook page.

My YouTube channel link:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrAWZL6jG6kgse7KfsEqs5A/videos?view=0&shelf_id=0&sort=dd

Technology Challenges

Last year, after students finished their American Revolutionary War historical figures’ Chatterpix, I just exported them easily by choosing the email option.  This year, using the same iPad, that didn’t work and neither did using the export to YouTube option.  So, I exported them to “Photos” and then used the USB cord to directly connect the iPad to my laptop and copied them.  Then uploaded them to my YouTube channel!  Oh, and then today I couldn’t get the iPad to connect to our school’s wifi.  Boy, some days technology is so much fun!!!

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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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3rd Graders Learning about Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling

Introducing 3 R’s to 3rd Grade and I Don’t Mean Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rmetic using “10 Things I Can Do to Help My World”

Our 3rd grade students are beginning a new International Baccaulareate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) unit of inquiry which covers the Georgia Perfomance Standards Science  S3L2. “Students will recognize the effects of pollution and humans on the environment”  https://www.georgiastandards.org/Standards/Georgia%20Performance%20Standards/ThirdGradeApproved7-12-2004.pdf . I found a great book to kick off this unit, 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh.  The book has bright, graphic illustrations and simple acts students can do themselves.

cover of Melanie Walsh's book

Melanie Walsh’s 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World

Introducing the 3R’s: Reducing, Reusing, & Recycling with Jack Johnson

I found a wonderful song on YouTube, Jack Johnson’s The 3 R’s.  It is so clever and catchy that the students were singing along right away, “Reduce, reuse, recycle” (even now I can’t get it out of my head).

I showed the video and then wrote the words:  reduce, reuse, and recycle on a white board with the number 1, 2, and 3 next to the words.  I explained that as I read the book the students would indicate by raising their fingers (1 finger for a reduce action, 2 fingers for a reuse action or 3 fingers for a recycle action) what the action was showing.  The students enjoyed it and I think they were getting the concept.  I also showed them one of my reusable shopping bags and a sheet of  copy paper that had been used on both sides.

Students connecting content

I heard from another teacher who worked with this 3rd grade class later in the day that some of the students were able to make the connection between what we discussed in the library media center in the morning and what they saw in a different context.  This teacher had run off the current week’s vocabulary words on copies of last week’s vocabulary lists that weren’t used and the students remarked that she was conserving natural resources by reusing the paper! Somebody got it!!  Let’s hope the continue to make connections in the real world.

Reduce

Reuse

Recycle

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