In our district, most 5th grade GT students read the book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. This amazing piece of dystopian literature spawns endless discussions about topics from the meaning of freedom to the potential consequences of genetic engineering. I have read this book with a group of students every year for 14 years, and I have never heard the same conversations twice.
Lisa Johnson at TechChef4u recently featured some iMovie trailers, and included some that were done about The Giver by Mr. Weinert’s 8th grade class. I hope to use them to get my class excited about the book next year, and perhaps have them create some of their own for one of the sequels to the novel.
Lisa Johnson also included a link to some storyboarding templates for iMovie on the iPad by Timothy Jefferson which you might want to check out as well.
Almost a year ago, I wrote a post in which I reviewed the Flipboard app for mobile devices (available for iDevices, Android, Kindle, and Nook). I recently came across a great listing of feeds on “ToolZeit” that would be good to add to Flipboard for use in an educational setting. Even if you are not a Flipboard user, you might want to take a look at this collection, because they are accessible on the web and would be good resources for any teacher or parent who is searching for new ideas. There were several suggestions on this list, such as Kinooze and Tinkerlab, which were new to me. Many of them are sites with current events written in “kid-friendly” form, or sites that give ideas for projects. On Tinkerlab, I found a great new project that I hope to try with my 1st graders during our Japan unit. I could probably write a separate post on each of the sites recommended, but I will let you explore them on your own!
StoryCorps just posted a new short animated video that is incredibly inspirational and moving. “Eyes on the Stars” tells us about the perseverance and pioneering spirit of Ronald McNair, one of the seven astronauts killed in the Challenger explosion, as told by his brother. There are so many lessons that your students can glean from this less-than-4-minutes video: the importance of reading, standing up against adversity, pursuing your dreams, civil rights, etc…
I had been thinking about writing a post about the StoryCorps animations for awhile, but hadn’t found one, yet, that I was ready to integrate into my classroom. ”Eyes on the Stars” was just published, and I’ve already seen it featured on two of my favorite blogs: ”It’s Okay to Be Smart” and “Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day.” You can view more StoryCorps animations here. As always, I recommend that you view the videos before showing them to your students and/or children.
You can also see more Inspirational Videos for Students on my Pinterest board.
It’s another Fun Friday, and I think you are really going to like today’s resource.
Before I launch into how we used it in class, I will warn you that this app has a 9+ age rating. So far, my daughter and I have played it numerous times, as have my students. We have not seen anything objectionable about this app. If you do try it, and you see a reason for that rating, please let me know.
SpaceTeam must be played using 2-4 iDevices in the same room. You can use iPod Touches or iPads. Once a player opens the app, it will automatically connect with up to 3 other devices. You must “beam” yourselves up to a spaceship. On your screen will appear a dashboard. This dashboard looks different for every player, and has different components, as well. Instructions will appear on your screen above the dashboard, telling you to do things like, “turn off the novacrit,” or other commands. If you don’t have that component on your screen, you must direct the other member(s) to do this. If everyone is successful in conveying and following instructions, then your team goes on to the next level.
This game is particularly fascinating to observe. The kids start talking gibberish, basically, and only the partner with that component can interpret it. Although, sometimes, the directions are silly, like, “Change the litterbox!” Listening to that being called out in desperation can be quite amusing. Also, they encounter asteroids sometimes, and have to shake their devices to avoid them.
Believe it or not, even though this makes a fun party game, it is also educational. I had my 4th grade group evaluate their experiences after playing, and extend their comments about the game to the more general difficulties people often have with communicating: too many people talking at once, not hearing what you expect to hear (if someone pronounced the words in a different way), how yelling at people does not ensure that you will be understood, etc…
One caution I would give you if you have multiple teams playing at the same time is to start off with groups of four, one at a time. Since four is the max, then you will not have to worry about teams mixing with each other. My 5th graders tried playing in pairs with our old iPods, and their teams kept switching. Once we tried the groups of 4, though, it went great. However, it was quite loud!
Yesterday, my students and I, along with classrooms around the world, got the opportunity to view a live interview with J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. If you missed this webcast, there is a recording of the nearly 50 minute presentation available here.
Unsurprisingly, Rowling was delightful and inspirational during the interview. Having no idea what topics would be covered, I knew I would have to “wing” it in our follow-up discussion. I should not have been nervous, however, as the questions and responses gave me plenty of fodder for our classroom dialogue afterwards. For example, Rowling was asked what she considered to be the most admirable quality in a person, and she answered, “Bravery”, which easily connected to our topic of the character traits of heroes.
Along with the webcast, which was sponsored by Scholastic, you might also want to take a look at Scholastic’s resources for a Harry Potter Reading Club.
And, if you want a really immersive reading experience, then you will thoroughly enjoy Pottermore, the website launched by Rowling and friends that allows the user to get involved in the virtual world of Harry Potter, from purchasing school supplies to getting sorted into one of Hogwarts’ four houses, to many adventures beyond. Oh, and if you have children, they would probably enjoy it, too
For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around:
As a teacher, do you ever have a moment when no one needs your help, and you are standing in the middle of your classroom wondering what you should be doing? In my twenty years of teaching, I think that’s happened twice: when I was student teaching and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing anyway, and today. I showed my students Storybird, which allows you to choose sets of art to illustrate a story that you write. I meant for it to be a station on some computers in my classroom, but the students who started at that station didn’t want to leave. So, I started pulling out laptops until everyone was working on their own stories. For over an hour, there was silence in my room, and every child was engaged in creating his or her own story. We had been studying Figurative Language, and the assignment was to create a story with a winter theme that used at least 4 different types of figurative language.
After lunch, I thought the students might be weary of sitting in front of computer screens. I began saying, “Okay, you have a choice. You can either continue working on your Storybirds or – ” I didn’t even get to finish. They unanimously agreed that they wanted to continue.
Storybird is free. Register as a teacher, and you can add a class of students easily. The students do not need e-mail addresses to register or log in. You can view their work at any time, and they can also view the work of other students in the class by clicking on a tab at the top. They can comment, as can the teacher. It’s online, and easy to share, so they can show friends and family. The teacher can post specific assignments or the students can just create. Collaboration on stories is possible, and reading the stories of others is inspiring. The art work is charming and lovely.
Here is a sample from one of my 4th graders: (I apologize if some of the words are cut off – WordPress does not “play well” with embed codes!)
An Awesome Book was recently featured on the blog iLearn Technology, by Kelly Tenkely. This book, written by Dallas Clayton for his son, is about dreaming big and dreaming different. It is about being creative and not restricting yourself to society’s norms. Clayton originally self-published the book, unable to find anyone to take on the project. After making an impact around the world, he was finally contacted by a major publisher. The book is now available for purchase at major retailers. What is fabulous, though, is that Clayton and the publisher also agreed to make the book available for free online. You can go here to view the book and a short video of the author. Kelly Tenkely has a few recommendations for how this resource can be used in the classroom on her blog. This book will inspire you and your students!
Flipboard is a free app for iDevices that enables you to create a personalized magazine. I have used Flipboard for over a year to organize blogs and online magazines that I like to read. It is only recently that I started to investigate how it could be used in the classroom.
Within the Flipboard app, there are suggested blogs to add. You can also add Twitter and Facebook feeds. But, if you just want to provide an easy way for your students to access some engaging resources, you can find lists of online magazines and blogs for kids, like the one here, provided by KB Connected or here. Another idea is to add your own classroom blog, or student blogs.
It’s easy to add a new resource. When you open Flipboard, you will notice that one of the squares says, “More”. Tap on this square, and a search window will come up.
Type in the blog or online site you would like to find. It will generate a list of possibilities. Tap on the one you want, and it will open inside the Flipboard app. You will then have the choice, on the top left, as to whether or not you would like to add this site to your collection.
Once added, users need merely to tap on the square for the site they would like to visit, and it will open within Flipboard. Readers can view updated posts, and “turn the page” to read more. They will also have options to open the site outside of Flipboard.
This is a great way for the students to read each other’s blogs or to catch up on news on various kid magazines, like Sports Illustrated for Kids. This could be a center in your classroom or at a table, or an option for students who behave well.
If you have any other ideas for Flipboard in the classroom, please feel free to comment!
Students Review Books is an interesting concept that combines student book reviews with QR codes. The site accepts reviews from any elementary school student, but has certain parameters for contributing, which are listed here. Parents must give permission for the reviews to be posted, and a form for this is included on the site. It would be fun for your students to access this site to view the book reviews, and to make some of their own (even if they are not officially submitted). Another idea is for librarians to use the QR codes provided to place on library books or posters so that students can hear about the books before checking them out. And, for the advanced students, creating their own book reviews for the site would be a great project.