Wow! Two Weeks of Tech with Students

My sixth grade students and I have been totally immersed in technology these past two weeks but it hadn’t really dawned on me how much until I had a moment to reflect. So, here is a quick recap of the past two weeks:

  • We used our class weblog — The Electronic Pencil — to post their short stories that were inspired by the picture book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. We worked on the laptops for a few days, editing stories and using the computer for writing. The blog was our publishing venue and about 20 students sent their stories into a contest being sponsored by Van Allsburg in which students use Harris Burdick for inspiration.
  • We used the comic creating site (thanks, Bonnie) Make Beliefs Comics to create comic strips around the theme of the PeaceBuilder’s Pledge. Our school is part of the PeaceBuilder network, which is built around positive social interaction among students. We then took their comics and created a website (using Google Page Creator and Flickr) that we shared with the rest of our school. Incidentally, I used the Make Beliefs Comic site in a workshop that I gave around technology and writing across the curriculum, and the roomful of teachers were having the time of their lives.
  • We went to our Youth Radio site and tried to listen to some of the programs there, but our wireless network was being a bit funky so only a few students got to post comments. We need a return visit. Soon.
  • We began to create avatars that I hope they will use for a future project. We used two sites — Portrait Illustrator and Lego Mini-Mizer. The Lego site was easier to use but harder to save. The Portrait site was harder to use but easier to save. Go figure.
  • We used a wiki to build a collaborative dictionary of made-up words (we are studying the origins of the English Language) that now has invented words from the past four years. The Crazy Dictionary now has close to 300 words from my sixth graders and they use the wiki to add their own. That blows me away and gives them quite a thrill to know they are contributing to a “living” document in a virtual world. This is the site for just this year’s words.
  • We did podcasting, as they recorded their invented words and definitions. The audio files were then attached to the entries at the wiki, giving a new dimension to the dictionary. A couple of favorites:
    • Toxf – The act of growing a sixth toe on your left foot! Listen
    • Zwig– An orange ostrich, wearing a pink tutu and eating a frozen mash potato TV dinner. Listen
    • Jujuba— A giant piece of bacon used as a weapon. Listen
  • They were also creating their own music loop songs, with my Super Duper Music Looper program, and they loved it!
  • Next week: I want to begin to teach them how to build their own websites and I just need to find the right tool. (Anyone have suggestions?)

Peace (in the classroom),

  1. Kevin, over the past weeks I have been following your blog with great delight. This morning’s post drove me to comment. As a former teacher in the middle grades and now as a teacher educator focusing on meaningful tech integration I couldn’t think of a better site to share with my learners. The tools you shared were brilliant and must drive high levels of motivation and pure joy in your students. The wiki dictionary of made up words coupled with the podcast was one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing your brilliance with the world. Keep those posts coming.
    Have an outstanding weekend.

  2. Thanks Joe
    I am finding that the blog allows me an opportunity to reflect, and in doing so, to share with others. In the same vein, I scour my RSS feeds for ideas that others are doing and seek to emulate ones that make sense for instruction in my classroom. This concept of an ever-expanding community of teachers sharing discoveries is what makes this world so exciting for me.
    Take care

  3. Kevin, I hope you’ll set up student websites in I’m about to embark on a Learnerblogs adventure (the Italian connection I mentioned in this week’s Day in a Sentence) and would love to be able to share strategies and tips and learn from you.

    Thank you for a great post. So many opportunities for students to learn!

  4. Kevin ….WOW ….you must have been using technology a lot in your teaching. Even though I am near to retiring age, I am about to start with a smartboard and hopefully blogging with my grade 6/7 students this year. Maybe we can also get into podcasting and using Flickr and ………

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