A new adventure: Summer Camp

My wife and I are trying something new this year — we are working together to offer two week-long Claymation Summer Camps for kids at her vocational high school. This is a new partnership between our Western Massachusetts Writing Project and her high school, and it is exciting. I stole this idea from my good friend, Tonya (she will recognize some of the information on our flier, as it comes from her flier).

 

Right now, I am in the midst of a claymation project with my sixth graders (in collaboration with second graders) and we will start filming any day now.

Here is a little movie I made for my Collaborative ABC Movie Project that shows some of the kids making their little clay creations. Some of them are very interesting and remain works in progress (I mean, clay creatures here, but I suppose I could be talking about my students, too).

I am sharing this via TeacherTube, which now allows for embedding into Edublogs, which is very cool and a great alternative to YouTube and Google Vid.

Download:Letter C – Powered by TeacherTube.com


Peace (with squishy parts),
Kevin

Student Poetry

My sixth graders have just completed a unit around poetry (ending with songwriting) and they had an option to submit a poem to an anthology that I pull together and distribute in our school (and online for parents). The poems were a combination of deep and thoughtful and fun and fanciful.

And here are some audio files of Poems for Two Voices from a few weeks ago:

Listen to the Student Voices:

Peace (in poetry),

Kevin

 

The Quidditch Poetry Podcasts

This time of year is Quidditch Season at our school. About eight years ago, a student worked with the gym teacher to devise a version of the Harry Potter magical game for our sixth graders to play. There are about five different things going on the field at the same time and the sixth graders spend an entire day (this coming Wednesday) playing the other sixth grade classes in a Quidditch Tournament that lasts the entire school day. (My classroom’s team name this year is ARCTIC FROST)

(click on the illustration of the Quidditch field to go to Flickr and learn more about the game)

This week, I had them write poems celebrating the game or their team or some aspect of the game, and we had volunteers read their poems for a podcast.

 

Peace (on broomsticks, with quaffles, bludgers and snitches),
Coach Kevin

 

 

 

EPencil chosen as Techlearning Site of the Week

My classroom weblog site — The Electronic Pencil — was just chosen as the Site of the Week by TechLearning. Cool.

Name: The Electronic Pencil:

Here is what they said:

“This is an excellent example of teachers working together to communicate with students and parents by incorporating the use of technology. In addition to reviewing class work and projects, site visitors can find homework assignments, get an overview of projects for the year, and access the school’s Website. Hodgson reports that the blog has quickly become a place where students engage in authentic publication and learn lessons about digital literacy. Most importantly, these students are developing the sense of being members of a learning community.” — TechLearning

Peace (with pencils),
Kevin

All the news not fit to print

I found my way to a site called Fodey that allows you to create an instant fake newspaper front page. Very fun. So I created this little project, which comes on the heels of a day where I spent most of my time asking the class to be quiet, listen and pay attention (to little avail).

PS — I don’t really want to a silent class.

Peace (in headlines),
Kevin

Digital Math Picture Books

I am preparing a workshop this week for the Pioneer Valley Reading Council and my topic is Digital Mathematical Picture Books, which were a great success with my students last year and are becoming a topic of a chapter for a book I am co-editing about how technology is changing the way we teach writing (although this year, the curriculum focus will be on science).

I prepared this little movie as an introduction to the workshop.

[googlevideo]-4118369182909920449&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (with words and numbers),
Kevin

My Classroom

I was tagged by Maria for a meme about the layout of my working space, meaning my teaching space. So here goes:

My classroom is the old computer lab, before everything but the outlets got ripped out when our technology budget was cut to nil and we needed classroom space. So I got moved one year into the room with the noisy server and air conditioning (the only room in the building that is nice in the hot summer months). The layout is tricky because the server is in a closet that we have to keep out of reach from curious children. I have managed to keep a long desk in the back of the room, which is helpful for laptop work, and in the center of the room is where the student desks are located, in different arrangements at different times of the year. My desk is off to the back corner, and it is a place I only rarely am at. It’s mostly a repository of “stuff” and I am not stuff!

But, hey, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? (I used Gliffy to create this)

Now, who to tag? How about Gail, Eric, Susan and David.

Peace (with teaching space),
Kevin

Student Survey

The image “http://www.unl.edu/casnrde/images/survey_icon2.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.The introduction to our Making Connections Weblog project (through the National Writing Project) involves an entrance survey, just to gather some data about student perceptions and use of technology. My students took the survey the other day (online, through Survey Monkey) and it is quite interesting to see the results.

Some observations:

  • Almost 80 percent of my students say they are on the computer more than two hours every day (that’s a lot of time — too much time, if you ask me — they should be outside, playing football or tag or something)
  • Almost 60 percent say they regularly use Instant Messaging to communicate with friends (and we often see the results of this IM in the morning, with hurt feelings and rumors run amok)
  • 50 percent said they enjoy writing (whoo-hooo) and almost 20 percent said they love to write (double whoo-hooo). Four percent said they don’t like to write at all (boo-hoo)
  • 78 percent said they think they write better on computer than on paper (interesting and not sure how to interpret that, although we talked about it in class)
  • 86 percent that schools SHOULD teach how to appropriately use technology to communicate with others.

All in all, interesting, and it will be even more interesting to compile the data from all six school districts involved in our project. I’ll share that out when it comes together (now I need to learn Excel)

Peace (choose A, B, or C),
Kevin

Inside Someone Else’s Skin

There is no easy way to teach young people how to understand the experiences of others, but writing is at least one avenue for such investigation. This past week, my students studied the Underground Railroad in preparation for reading the book, The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton. We talked about the history of our country and how skin color still seems to create walls between people. It’s difficult because the town where I teach is small, very insular, and mostly white middle-class. My students eyes are barely open to the real world.
Our inquiry into ways that slaves found the courage to escape and the people who helped them along the way led to a project in which we created paper quilts using patterns that represented messages for those making their way to freedom. I then had them write a first-person narrative of someone running away and using patterns from quilts as a guide.

Here are their stories, told in a digital story format:

[googlevideo]-7684783453528948651&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (I mean it),
Kevin

PS — here is just the audio version of their stories.

Student Newspaper/Student Writing

The Student Council, which I helped form a few years ago for fifth and sixth graders, recently published its second edition of a student-centered newspaper at our school. Students do all of the writing and illustrations, and Student Council leaders lay out the newspaper and then deliver it around the school.

But the newspaper is also available online (that’s my only real job with this project).

Click here to view the December 2006 edition of Tigger Talk!