November 6, 2008

Collaborative Book Reviews

Fourth graders at Central and third graders at Alsup created book reviews, posted them on blogs and read book reviews written by other students. They left comments for each other, read comments left to them, and left comments to respond to those left for them.

This was my first collaborative Global Learners project with Kathy Hughes who teaches fourth grade at Central. We kept it relatively simple for our first project. We decided to focus on reading and student blogging.

My students were really excited about blogging! They loved using the laptops, reading book reviews, reading comments, and leaving comments for each other. They also learned a lot about blog etiquette. Students wrote interesting, thoughtful comments to each other and responded well to comments left for them. It was a good project to start with, not being too complex, and incorporating reading and writing skills. It took longer than we planned and because the third graders were not able to leave comments for the fourth graders until the blog was adjusted and it took students a long time when using the computers for the first time for a project like this. Throughout the rest of this school year students will be completing more book reviews to be posted online. The classes can continue to read each other’s book reviews and leave each other comments.

Please visit our blogs and leave us comments, or visit with your students! We'd love to get more comments about our book reviews!

Alsup Third Grade Book Groups

Central Elementary Book Reviews

Lesson Plan

October 29, 2008

Confessions of a Digital Film-Maker

I have been making films with my students for over three years. Last year, six films were submitted to the film fest (check them out on my class website). I've developed a process to use with the students that connects making films with the writing process and draws on their love of film and their background knowledge. I have the students learn how to use Photo Story 3 for windows and Windows Movie Maker. We use the Smart board to make a film with each of the programs before students are given the freedom to plan and make their own films.

Some confessions:

  1. I enjoy making films as much as my students do (or more)
  2. Film making is easy for students to learn how to do (even third graders)
  3. I always have students make a plan for their film first (they don't like that part very much)
  4. I'd like to focus more on digital storytelling (versus film making)
  5. I'd like to know how other teachers are using digital film making and storytelling with their students (I need more ideas)
  6. Sometimes I have technical difficulties (like taping over parts of a student's film before it has been downloaded...oops!)
  7. I haven't started making films with my students yet this year (so there is a small tear in my heart slowly growing larger)

How have you used digital film making with your students? Who is making films for the film fest this year? I'd love to hear your ideas!

September 23, 2008

teachers using technology

~cross-posted at:

I am honored to work not only with fellow Global Learners but many other teachers who make 21st century learning a priority in their classrooms. As teachers in my school get introduced to new forms of technology they are impressed, inspired, and motivated to incorporate it into their classrooms and professional practices.
At Alsup, my team of fellow third grade teachers uses many forms of technology on a regular basis; the laptop carts, Discovery Education Streaming, websites, clickers, and document cameras. They are curious about wikis and blogs and would love their own websites. They find out more about these on their own and even try them out.

Laurie Arnold has created a student blog called Third Grade Bloggers that her students used last year and she plans to use it again this year. Brianna Sealy is always using video clips to support her teaching and she utilizes clickers with ease. Katie Coggin has started using the laptop cart during Writing and utilizes many math web based activities with her class. These are just a few of the many ways these teachers and others at my school have been proactively teaching with techonolgy.

Do teachers you work with utilize technology in their classrooms?

September 2, 2008

a new year!!!

I can't believe a new school year has begun! I've been busy learning how to use new teaching materials, getting to know my students and getting back into the routine. It is challenging being able to balance all of the different tasks for the week. I now feel ready to add using technology into the framework. I have so many ideas:
  • smart board use during writing and math
  • using the document camera instead of the overhead projector
  • using vokis to liven up student writing
  • using the classroom blog for my reading group
  • using voicethread to compel student to think more critically about many topics we're learning about
  • using a classroom wiki to collaborate with others

This is just a start! I hope to start out slowly and keep doing more and more as the students and I are able to integrate technological tools into our everyday learning.

My goals for integrating technology into my teaching this year include working more to master some tools I am already familiar with (like digital storytelling) and challenging myself to be more of a risk-taker and to try some new things (like voicethread).

Well...I better get started!

April 13, 2008

book groups blog

~cross-posted at: ~

My reading group created book reviews after reading a chapter book with a book group. The goal of the assignment was for them to enjoy reading fiction, discuss the book with others, and create a book review after reading so they could synthesize the experience and bring closure to the 10-week long project. In order to make it more meaningful and exciting, they published their book reviews online on a book group blog, and some also created podcasts which I posted on my classroom website. The students loved it! They put a lot of time and effort into their book reviews and enjoyed putting them online. They also enjoyed leaving comments for other students in the class on the blog. Please visit our book groups blog and read some book reviews. There is also a quiz to take. Also you can listen to some podcasts on my classroom website. We'd love for other students to leave us comments on the blog and take the poll also!

March 7, 2008

Poetry Wiki

I've been having some technology blues lately-I start a project and then don't finish it, or encounter some issues that I didn't expect, and spend too much time on something ridiculous. Does this happen to anyone else?

One thing I am excited about is the poetry wiki I created. So far my students have published their acrostic name poems there. Soon they will comment on them on the wiki. Please visit and leave your comments if you are so inclined! I decided to use wet paint, which Kelly S. recommended to me. I like how it looks visually, but discovered it doesn't allow for Voki widgets. Oh well, I guess I will keep searching for my favorite wiki site. Any suggestions?

February 10, 2008

Poetry Unit

This post is cross-posted at the Global Learners Blog.

One subject I love to delve into with my students is poetry. I believe that poetry helps them love language and see more possibilities in what language has the power to do.

My students will become poets through a poetry unit that I have designed. Students will create many poems as they learn different styles of poetry and then they will bring them together by creating a podcast of their poems, or a Photo Story. Also students will post a poem they write on a classroom poetry blog. This blog will provide the structure for students and others to respond to their poems and offer feedback.

I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions or recommendations in regards to this poetry unit. Have you tried anything with your students to teach poetry using 21st century learning strategies or technologies? What worked? What other ideas would you suggest that I incorporate into this unit of study? I would appreciate any suggestions or feedback!

Please take a look at the lesson plan and a film about poetry I made on my website.

January 2, 2008

Classroom Website Uses

I love my classroom website! It has so many uses and helps me plan, instruct and communicate. My website has these main uses:
  • Communicate with parents and community members
  • A tool for instruction in the classroom for all academic areas
  • A way for students to share their work with the world
  • A way for me to plan my instruction and get organized

Do you use a classroom website? What do you use your website for? Do you love it as much as I do?

I see my website as an investment. The more I add to it, the more useful it will be to me now and in the future.

What do you think of my website?