Five Ways Our School Year Started Out Great

The first few days of school are times when you start to learn a lot about the character of your class. Sure, kids are a bit muted as they settle into routines and try to get a sense of their teacher(s). But you can still learn a lot. This Haiku Deck is a way to reflect on our first four days together, and things we have already accomplished. I have a great class of sixth graders!


Five Ways Our Year Started Out Great – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Peace (in the five),
Kevin

Considering Comic Literacies

My latest blog post is up at MiddleWeb and I consider comics in a variety of ways. What drove this piece is realizing that while many of students read graphic novels, they don’t all understand how to “read” graphic stories. Come see what I am talking about.

Read my piece at Middleweb.

This is a project that my class did to create a graphic story rendition of one of our novels.

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

Surveying Students: The High And Lows of the Year

I try to give a final writing prompt for my students, asking them to rate the various projects we have undertaken, and books we have read, and offer them a place to grade me (if they want) and to offer suggestions for improving what I teach and how. This year, I decided to use the Adobe Voice app to make a short digital story of some of the data I collected. I decided not to add my own narration and just let the slides speak for themselves. It seemed more effective that way, like a silent movie.

Peace (in the reflection),
Kevin

How To … Diagrams from Student Writing


It really is by chance that one of my students’ last writing assignments (but not the very last — they are finishing up a short story projerct) was an expository piece, or a How To Do Something paragraph. I say “by chance” because the first Make Cycle of the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about creating a How To Do Something project.

Along with the writing, my students had to diagram out the sequence of the steps of whatever it was that they were showing us how to do. The results were pretty interesting (and came on the heels of doing some fun work with Rube Goldberg Machine drawings).

I grabbed a bunch of diagrams and popped them into Animoto.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

 

What They Will Make: A Media Project

What Will You Make media project
We’re in the last week and a half of the school year, but we’re still making and creating in my classroom. Students are finishing up a short story project (theme: a person from history is stuck inside a game and the narrator has to go into the game and get them out). Part of the project is to make a media component to the story, and what they make is wide open. I offer some suggestions (make a video game, create a story/movie trailer, compose a comic, etc.) but leave it to them to decide what they want to do.

This chart is just another way of representing some options, and my classroom has been abuzz the last few days as students are working on the media projects and their short stories, with time running out on us.

The chart connects nicely to the launch of the Making Learning Connected MOOC, too, as the ethos of the collaboration is all about choice, making things of interest and sharing within a community.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

Mentor Media Text: A Short Story Trailer

Here is an example of a “movie trailer” media project for a short story project my students are working on to end the year. The premise is that someone famous is stuck inside a game (board game, video game, whatever) and the narrator of the story has to get that person out. Students will be creating “media companion” pieces to the short stories, and they have choice on what they want to do.

One option is a “movie trailer” for the story, using digital storytelling. So, I created this one for my own story about rescuing King Arthur, who is stuck inside the game of Risk.

I used a free app called Adobe Voice on my iPad to create a trailer for my story, Risking It All for the King. We don’t have iPads in our classroom, so some may use iMovie, or work on other things.

You can read my story, too, if you are interested.

Peace (in the trailer),
Kevin

A Page from a Student Comic

Homer Figg comic
I’m writing more about a project in which my class constructed a graphic novel version of a novel we are just finishing reading. This page really blew me away with the sense of artwork. So, I am sharing it out, with little context. (More to come later …)

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

PS — Bonus points if you can figure out the book …

When the Woodcarver Came to Town

Elton2014

Respect.

Persistence.

Responsibility.

Creativity.

Focus.

As local woodcarver Elton Braithwaite began working with our sixth graders on what has become an annual woodcarving project, he spends less time at the start talking about carving and more time talking about life itself, and how one needs to carry oneself as an artist at all times. I love this part of Elton’s visit, because has a fine way of connecting the themes we discuss all year into a meaningful art project that requires students to do all of the above.

Of course, safety with sharp tools is in there, too, but Elton, who grew up poor in Jamaica before staking out his name as an artist in this country, has many stories to tell of struggle and opportunity, and I am always grateful that our suburban kids get a chance to hang out for extended time with him, learning about making wood sculptures, yes, and also learning more about themselves and the possibilities of their lives ahead of them.

Plus, they make beautiful art.

Peace (in the carving),
Kevin

Parsing Data at the Museum of Science

link station
We took our students on a field trip to the Boston Museum of Science yesterday (long day!), which is a wonderful space of interactive displays and special exhibits (The Grossology Exhibit, in particular, was a huge hit with a certain kind of kid).

I was particularly interested in a special exhibit around math that had all sorts of interactive engineering technology activities (design a skyscraper, build a song, determine probability of a huge flipping coin, etc.) and something known as the Hall of Human Life.

In the hall, you had the option of collecting a wristband, and as you did a series of activities, it showed you your data in relation to 200 other museum visitors. There were activities around nutrition, calories burned with each step, how light affects your sleep and depth perception, focus and attention, flu symptoms, balance and more. I suspect that many of these “activities” are really research projects for some grad students in the Boston area. The results shown are often broken down into categories, such as age and sex and other factors (which you put into the computer when you pick up your wristband).

hall of human life data

What is cool is that you can come home, and check out your data from the online site, too (anonymous, as we are only a wristband number – no name was ever asked), and the chart above shows one of the data pools from a set of questions around social networks. I found it intriguing that the museum found a way to engage us in a series of interesting activities, probably as a anonymous research subjects, and the spit the data out for us to examine as part of a larger collection.

We had a blast at the Museum of Science, and this was just one small piece of the day that stuck with me as I looked at my own data this morning via the website portal (I am the red dot).

Peace (in science),
Kevin