Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Innocence

I had a moment today that is just too cute to not share with everyone!  Hope you don't mind!

A group of kindergarten students came into our computer lab for the first time this year.  Our system is set up that each student has an account to use to log into our computers.  So, the teacher had made an index card for each student with their first name, last name and password.  She explained to them that they needed this to log into the computer so they could use them.

They all came tromping into the computer lab this afternoon with glowing faces clutching proudly in their little hands their index cards.  And then I see out of the corner of my eye........

one of the kids inserting his index card into the CD/DVD slot!

I asked him what he was trying to do by putting the card in and his response was "We need to put it in to use the computer".  He looked at me like I was crazy!  We then had a nice chat about how he would need to type the information on the card on the computer  Needless to say, he was a little deflated about how much more work that was going to be rather than just sticking his card in!  If only it could be that easy!

Ahhhh, the innocence of young children!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Digital Storytelling with Kindergarten friends

Earlier in the year I created a post about Kindergarten students learning how to use Pixie through allowing them time to explore and play. Taking that time paid off BIG time recently when I had the chance to work with them again using Pixie to create stories.

As we all know little Kindergarten friends don't quite have the handwriting capabilities yet to write out stories. But...boy, do they have some stories to share! I heard stories about everything from pizza to Indiana Jones to playing tag with friends.

These little friends are just starting to learn about the craft of storytelling. The first session we worked together students were creating a drawing and then their story was something like “This is a picture of a cave.” The teacher and I chatted later that day and we discussed the importance of starting to talk to them about basic elements of a story: characters, setting, beginning, middle and ending. The second session we focused on having a quick class discussion to remind everyone of the elements and then made sure to have each student practice telling their story before recording it. At times it was helpful to guide students storytelling with some simple leading questions like:

Who was there?
Where were you?
What happened next?

Now, these stories are still on the basic level, but we could tell they got the idea of the difference between telling about the picture and telling a small story.

Here are a few examples to listen to and enjoy!

Snowman by Sarah from Mary Brothers on Vimeo.

New Clothes from Mary Brothers on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cheering for Creativity!

Have you ever gotten tired of seeing the same thing over and over and over again? Have you ever thought to yourself, "I can't listen to or watch another presentation today because they are all identical?" I have been there with you!

In years past our second graders have made Keynote presentations on what they have learned about a famous american they have studied. Our state standards require students to learn about certain historical figures, scientists and inventors. Second grade approached this by tying it into non-fiction reading and writing through research on these individuals. Students were then asked to create Keynote presentations on their findings.

Sounds great, right?

Sure, it was at the beginning when it was all fresh and new. We had created a slideshow template for the students to follow. So, all the text was in the same spot. All the pictures were in the same spot. It was the same presentation over and over and over again but just about different people. There was zero creativity in putting together their presentations.

This year I have read and thought about 21st Century Learning Skills and how to bring them to the forefront of what we are doing as teachers. One of these skills is creativity. So, I approached the second grade team with an idea. Why don't we let students have some choice in where the pictures and text go on their slides? Why don't we let them explore different layouts, font styles and font sizes?

At first they were hesitant because there wasn't a comfort in having the template laid out where the students just plugged in their information. Students would have to learn how to select an appropriate slide layout or create their own. I asked them to go on this journey with their students and it would be a learning adventure together.

We just started working on these before "the big snow" hit us so we haven't gotten very far. But...I have been super impressed with how quickly the students picked up on how to select a slide layout, change sizing of text and pictures and changing the size of text. Students that picked up on these skills quickly jumped up and helped others naturally. It was awesome to watch it all get started!

Now I can't wait to get back to work with these students and watch them create their presentations to showcase their knowledge of their famous americans.

Stay tuned for final results!