My sixth graders are nearing completion of a book project in which they used MS PowerPoint to create and publish their own fictional Science Journey Stories as a picture book format. Their intended audience (we start sharing our books tomorrow at our school) was other students in grades first through fourth, and I have been presenting mini-lessons on some deeper aspects of PP to give them some ideas on how to use the tech to create a different kind of book.
They are also publishing their books to our Making Connections Science Weblog, which is a much larger project in which my students and other middle school-age students from three other schools in Western Massachusetts have been doing shared science experiments, posting scientific abstracts and now publishing science-based fictional stories.
Meanwhile, I am also planning to write about this science picture book project for as a chapter for a book on technology and the classroom that I am helping to edit with two esteemed college professors. As a result, I have been having my students reflect on how using the computer has been altering their composition process, and how their books will be different once I print them out on paper. I’ll share some of those observations at a later date.
Anyway, here are a few of the books:
Journey into the Cell
Adventure of a Cell
Water, Water Everywhere
The Adventure of Mel the Cell
Inside a Cell
Elmo and Dorothy Explore the Cell
Rudolph the Rappin’ Raindrop
Peace (in pictures),
One morning, I had this line running through my head — “I am inside my guitar” — and fashioned this poem for my OnePoemEveryMonthforaYear Project.
Inside My Guitar
Listen to the Poem
I am going to crawl inside my guitar today
and take refuge with the dust
and broken picks
and whatever gremlins might live inside the house of sounds.
I intend to gaze up at the six strings
as they break the current of air with vibrations
and I’ll marvel at the way they all work together,
seamlessly, it seems, as a rainbow filling my head with wonder.
I’ll twist along with the turning screws,
and come unbound, then rewound,
then brought back into tune by some magnificent ear
that hears only the notes.
This wooden closet will be my home,
a dark place where no one else can go,
just me and me alone,
until I am ready to surf out on a shimmering note
and land in your ear as a whisper that sings to you all day
until your head falls back on the pillow
and I return to this world, once again.
Peace (in poems),
There was an interesting short article in this weekend’s USA Today Magazine about the things that parents and teachers fear most about young people using the Internet. Many assume that it is porn or spam or computer virus infection or some other terrible thing but in fact, what most adults worry about is the bombardment of advertisements into the eyeballs of their kids.
And I agree.
Whenever I consider what sites I might have students going to during and after school, I always first take into consideration what kind of advertisements might be there, and it drives me crazy just how prevalent it is and how hard it is to avoid. I know commercialism has its place in our society but it seems to me that the promise of Web 2.0 is often compromised by marketing tactics. My first reaction whenever I see a cool, free site is: how are they getting money for what they are doing? I wish this weren’t so. I wish I could just find something neat, use it and thank the developers for making my world a better place (and open source folks are doing that, so thank you!).
I know my students and my own kids are not immune to the bombardment of products in the world but when sites offer free games, embedded with advertisements right in the game (never mind pop-ups), I just can’t stand it and silently join the forces of teachers who avoid technology for various reasons. Luckily, I can often bring myself back when I remind myself that my role as a teacher is to teach my students how to critically examine these trends, and how to make good choices about technology, and how to look at mass media through the lens of marketing, etc.
Peace (on a rant),
(thanks to Donna for some information and I updated my movie)
My students are in the midst of creating digital picture books around a scientific theme. We are using Powerpoint in order to move beyond the flat page and include animation, audio and even video. The audience for the books are first through fourth graders and we will publish in a variety of formats. The kids are just loving it and are fully engaged in their projects!
As usual, as they work, so do I, and I have been writing and creating my own picture book story about decomposition (sound familiar? This is also a term that my friend Paul Oh has proposed for digital writing — haha!) As I move along, I have been sharing my process with students so they can see how I work.
Here is a video version of my book and it loses all of its animation in this version:
Download: Posted by dogtrax at TeacherTube.com.
And here is a link to the actual Powerpoint file (click on the picture):
Peace (in pictures),
For the past few months, I have been overseeing (with my friend, Bonnie) a collaborative project designed to bring teachers from around the country together to experiment with digital storytelling through video. The project is nearing (every so slowly) the first phase, in which about a dozen teachers have been working on short movies based around letters of the alphabet. Later, when all 26 movies are finished, we will use an online site called Jumpcut to collaborate on the editing together into one big movie.
The small movies have been amazing to watch. There have been heartfelt tributes to nurses and horses; childhood stories, both humorous and emotional; and evocative videos that create a sense of place. Many of the folks have never done anything like this before, so some of the use of tech has been a struggle and we are learning as we are going. I am urging them all to share their scripts and their reflections with the bigger community. This is the blog that Bonnie and I set up — called Using Tech to Tell Stories — where much of the work is being shared.
This is my intro movie, which is based on the picture book Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom, and I used ToonDoo as a platform for making short comic frames:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=5504345373755011847" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]
If you want to view all the movies submitted so far, you can head to my Wiki site where I am slowly collecting them at one site. Go to the ABC Wiki.
Peace (with partners),
This had me chuckling:
Dave Walker allows you to freely use his cartoon. Awfully nice of him.
Peace (with tech),
As I prepare for moving away from my Manila blog sites (the NWP will be shutting things down later this summer, I believe), I am migrating towards other tools and platforms. I will write more about Edublogs Premium in a few days for our Writing Project site, but for now, I am realizing how much I used various Manila/NWP sites for storage, etc.
Here is one example: My Blink-Blink-Blink Multimedia Poem.
So I went over to Google Web Creator (allows you to make simple web pages and hosts them for you) and recreated my poem. I need to tinker with it some more, but here it is again. It has been some time since I have gone back to it, but I am still fascinated by what I did here.
Peace (from inside the eye),
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),
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),
(This is news that I wrote at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site and figured it should be shared here, too.)
The first-ever Massachusetts Writing Project Conference took place this past weekend in Worcester and featured three rounds of interesting and exciting workshops from Teacher-Consultants from all four MWP sites (Western Mass, Central Mass, Boston and Buzzards Bay).
- ESL instruction
- Technology integration
- Writing across the curriculum
- Family writing nights
There were more than 100 people attending the all-day event and keynote speaker was the wonderful Sonia Nieto, who divided her talk up into the difficulties facing teachers today and some enriching stories of teachers who are making a difference in the classrooms and being reflective of their practice.
(Sonia Nieto with Susan Biggs, director of the Mass Writing Project state network, and Gail Gilman, of the Central Mass Writing Project)
Listen in to parts of Sonia’s inspirational speech as she details the work of some of the teachers that she has worked with on two book projects: