A couple of years ago when I went searching for sites that would “read aloud” to kids I couldn’t find many. I was always on the look out because there will always be those students thatjust can not read on their own for extended periods of time. Either they don’t have the skills yet or their activity level doesn’t allow it. I would like to plop a student like this at the computer and let them listen to a story and enjoy reading in another way.
This past fall I was very surprised to find many more web sites that had good stories. One of them is Signed Stories. What makes this site unique is that the stories are done in sign language as well as being read aloud allowing hearing and non-hearing students the enjoyment of a good book.
What We’re Doing in 4th Grade Technology
I started a project in December with 4th grade. There is a focus in the late fall on kindness and 4th graders every year have a full day kindness retreat where they talk about bullying, sing, play games and at the end get to apologize to classmates if they want to. This year I decided to focus a big project on the kindness theme. It’s a collaborative project. I used the “name picker” page in Notebook software for the Smartboard and picked groups of 3 that way. some complaints at first of course if there were 2 boys and a girl or the other way around but only one group out of 4 classes has had any real issues with it. In fact since we started this project they haven’t even been working individually on computers during their tech classes. We’re in the process of creating….. from script to finished iMovie. Their scripts are done, they’ve broken them down into recording chunks. Some are telling about the retreat, some are working on a story of their own about bullying, and others are doing kindness tips. They’ve also planned what pictures they need for their movie and are using pictures from the retreat, taking pictures around the school, or acting out a scene and taking posed pictures. Some are drawing pictures in Tux Paint and others are designing pages in Comic Life. They’ve had free reign. During my last 4th grade class half the class was out of the lab with cameras or out sitting in a quiet spot recording their voices with their scripts. It’s been great to see them huddled around one computer, talking, typing and planning. This project has gone much better than I ever expected and I’m anxious to get them started putting it all together. Watch for an update when I’m done and the projects are public!
What We’re Doing in 3rd Grade Technology
I’ve been taking on a lot of larger projects this year with the different grades. For 3rd grade I decided to do book reviews as a major production. Well…we’re coming up to the “put it all together” stage. Again I started with the program Comic Life. If you want one program that can be use multi grades and is great for creating an eye popping page of work this is the program you need. The kids have created 4 pages in Comic Life about a book of their choice. They used the built in camera on the computer and the capture function in Comic Life to take a picture of the book. Then they set to work creating their pages. They had to have a consistent front page and had to have a short summary on one page but after that it was their choice. Some are talking about characters, favorite parts, who they would recommend the book to, funny parts, etc. They’ve drawn pictures in Tux Paint and brought them in as well. We’ve done a mini lesson on creating an interesting eye catching but clean layout for their pages as they tend to go overboard with all the bells and whistles in Comic Life.
This first part is now finished. We are exporting the pages into iPhoto. Then comes iMovie. They brought their pages in and were thrilled to see the beginning of the final result. They’ll be adding their voice to each page so have also had to write a script that has their plan for each page. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a single complaint about creating those in Word, though they could just copy and paste any text from Comic Life.
The final steps are recording voice and importing to iTunes. Then bringing it all together in iMovie with transitions, pictures and voice clips matching, beginning and ending screens, and background music track. And these are 3rd graders! It never really dawned on me how big this would be and how much they would have to do but they’re proving themselves capable of the task. When I realize how much they’re learning, how much they’re doing, and how young they are, I’m in awe! I really love my job!
When I was in the classroom I used to do a couple of paper folding projects with my second graders. Even if they were very simple I would always hear “Is this right?” over and over again. No matter how many times I would demonstrate a fold there would be several kids who just didn’t get it. I just found the perfect web site to help kids with some origami folds. It’s called Origami Now. Your students can watch a movie demonstrating how to make a variety of projects. What’s great is that they can pause the movie to do the fold or even go back and repeat the directions. I’m going to add a link to this on the Art Sites page on my school web site and may even use this site as a one day tech lesson on how to use an online movie or perhaps as an example on how to create a good online how to.
What We’re Doing in 2nd Grade Technology
I’m just starting a new project with 2nd grade. It’s the time of year that they are doing geometry in math so I’m doing a project to tie into that. We have Smartboards in all our classrooms so are able to use Notebook software on all the computers. Notebook has great shape tools and we’re going to use the shape tool and fill options to create shape pictures. The kids will create multiple pictures created with just one kind of shape for each picture. When they are done with their pictures we’ll be using one of my favorite options on the Mac – to take a screen shot. They’ll be moving the shape pictures into my favorite program to use with kids – Comic Life and be adding text to tell about their pictures and to tell about the shape used in each picture. This project’s multiple pages will be turned into a slide show for each student to be shared on our web site or on the district podcast server. 2nd grade teachers are liking this project and we’re all hoping that it will help these little ones remember more of the geometry terms that they need to learn…and it incorporates art into math which works well for our magnet school theme of Arts and Science.