Archive of ‘Digital Storytelling’ category
The end of school was near and everyone was ready for summer vacation. In other words, it was really important to find something that would challenge the students! I asked the students to produce something that would “teach” something to their peers. I wanted to share one particular project because it certainly showed ingenuity and resilience!
Collin and Tiernan asked if they could use the green screen to teach soccer fundamentals. I mentioned the app, Green Screen by Doink and showed them where the green screen was kept. A bit about our green screen – it was made from a trifold science board (cardboard). No, it wasn’t the sturdiest thing in the world but that didn’t stop these boys! The funniest moment was when the boys brought the green screen back to class in pieces (you can see it split toward the end of the video)!
Is this a “polished” video? No! Would a real green screen have worked better? Yes! What’s important is that the boys worked with what they had on hand to create an informative soccer fundamentals video that will be helpful to other students. Did they learn a lot? You bet! And that is exactly what makes their creation so valuable!
One of our first grade teachers came to me right before the 100th day of school. She wanted to have the students take photos of their 100th day learning stations and “somehow use technology” to share what they learned. She had some wonderful ideas but time seems to always be a factor!
After tossing around some ideas for creating a way to share, we decided on my favorite “go-to” app – Book Creator. I borrowed the first grade iPads and air dropped a template to each so everything was ready to go when the students arrived.
Thumbs up and ready for the next step
The children had taken 5 to 6 photos of their group at each station. They were shown how to add photos, label names, and create a title.
Creating the page
Next, it was time to record, save the book as a video, and air drop to me so I could make the class video.
finding a nook for quiet recording
Here is Mrs. Kee’s finished video – learning about 100!
And, this is Mrs. Crumley’s video:
Recently the fourth grade classes worked in small groups to create a Lego ABC book to share with kindergarteners. (Click here for post about making the book.)
Our sharing took place on a beautiful afternoon so we gathered the iPads, the kinder students chose a “big” kid for a partner, and off we went. The little ones were enthralled with the 4th graders but what surprised me is how well the older students did with their young charges!
While the big kids weren’t too eager to hold hands with the little ones (that was my suggestion that fell flat!), they were great at keeping them entertained with the book, talking to them, asking about their interests.
The only problem we encountered was getting too far away from buildings and then we’d lose Wi-Fi. But, that was an easy fix.
We returned to the lab with a few minutes to spare. That allowed time to finish viewing the Lego Book and share other apps.
It was a really good experience for our oldest Lower School students to interact with our youngest ones! Looking at the smiles on faces makes these kinds of activities worth every minute.
Mrs. Shapard’s second graders have been studying biographies. She wanted to find a way that students could share what they learned with others. We decided to use the Book Creator app because of its user-friendly interface.
Because we didn’t want this project to drag on, I did a couple of tasks to help with the workflow. First, I set up the books for the students. That took no longer that twenty minutes or so. Next, I collected photos from the public domain for the children. Finding copyright-friendly images is very time consuming for students, especially the younger ones. These were posted to my Picasa albums so they could be saved to their iPad. I gave an age-appropriate explanation of copyright so students would understand it’s not okay to use any image they find on the web!
In the classroom, students collected information and drew a picture of the person they were studying. They brought this to the lab so it could be added to their book.
Because we want the students to post the information to their blog, the books were saved as videos. One thing we learned is that the students tend to forget to delete a recording if they decide to re-record. What happens when saved as a video is that ALL recordings are heard! We had to go back and fix a few – a good learning experience . . .
We’re eager for next week when we’ll post videos to our blogs.
Here is one of the videos:
It Could Have Been Worse, by A.H. Benjamin, is the perfect book for making predictions. Through text and illustrations, the reader is able to examine many clues to determine what might happen next to the little mouse. Every time I read the book I find picture clues I’d missed previously!
I asked our first graders to look and listen closely to the story as I read a portion of it. I stopped at a different spot for each class, with instructions NOT to tell friends in other classes what was coming next in the story! We talked about what a prediction is (a good guess) and then I asked the children to predict what would happen next in the story.
iPads were distributed and we opened the Book Creator app. The students found their book (I’d created each child’s book ahead of time) and I went over the drawing tools. We discussed the items needed for a finished page:
- Text saying what they predicted
- Their name
- Recorded narration of their prediction
Once the 4 steps were completed, the children were ready to air drop to my iPad so that all pages could be compiled into a class book.
We encouraged the students to sound out the words and spell the best they could. We assured the children that they would be recording their narration so even if their invented spelling didn’t match conventional spelling, everyone would know what they meant.
I think a peregrine falcon is going to eat the snake then the peregrine falcon is going to eat the mouse.
To airdrop, I taught a couple of people what to do which made the entire process run smoothly!
Here’s look at the process:
Not everyone finished in our 40 minute session so we couldn’t read the rest of the story that day. However, those that didn’t finish were able to quickly complete their page the following week and we finished reading the book. There were lots of happy exclamations of, “Oh, I guessed it!” or “I was close!”
The class books were saved in two formats – as a video and as an ePub book. To download the ePub book, tap on the words “ePub book” next to the teacher’s name while on an iOS device. Be sure to have the iBooks app installed. Choose download then Open in iBooks.
Tips for a Smoother Lesson:
- Set up the book in Book Creator ahead of time. I only have the students for 40 minutes so it was much easier to have as much ready to go as possible!
- Write a word bank on the board. Include some basic words but encourage students to sound out as best they can. Having a few words available seemed to instill confidence in writers reluctant to try to sound out.
- Use the students to help the others! Workflow is much smoother with help!!
And the second graders finally have the chance to share their Heritage projects! (If you want to read more about the children creating a touching look at their family history, click here.)
We had a “dress rehearsal” this week – just to make sure the students knew how to access their video or ePub book created in the Book Creator app.
Finally, the big day arrived! The children led their special visitors into their classrooms, retrieved their iPads, plugged in the headsets, and shared their project. They knew exactly what to do!
Watching the expressions of the grandparents is priceless! Listening to the sweet voices of their grandchildren tell about their family history is such a special moment.
Here’s a very quick look at the children sharing.
Each fall our second graders create a Heritage project to share with grandparents and other relatives. They bring in photos of family members, sometimes from several generations back! Over the years I’ve tried a variety of online applications to make the final product but it’s always been more of a teacher-created project. Parents would email photos or send them on a CD. I would upload them to the student’s home directory. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needed to be done before the child could even begin to record their heritage story!
This year we decided to use the Book Creator app, an easy-to-use ePub book maker that allows the user to import pictures and record narration. Besides saving as an eBook, the finished product can also be exported as a video.
We asked the parents to send actual photos. The students really giggled when I said they were going to take photos of their photos! After a photography lesson, the children scattered around the room in search of the perfect place to take their picture. They watched for glare from the lights, checked for blurriness, learned how to crop.
Next step was to insert the pictures into the Book Creator app.
The following week we worked on the cover of the book. What child can resist taking a selfie?
The students also added page colors and chose a font style and color.
The children are in the process of recording their heritage narrations. Then I’ll be uploading the finished ePub books and videos to the web so that their fantastic, student-created work can be shared with family and friends!
As our fourth graders inched toward the end of their Lower School years. I asked them to reflect on two items:
- Think back over the many activities you’ve participated in over your years in Lower School. Whether you’ve been here since kindergarten or joined the TVS family later, what has meant the most to you?
- Take a look into the future. At this point in time, what do you think you’ll want to do when you graduate from college?
The end product would be an ePub book created in the Book Creator app. In addition, this would be saved as a video. I really like that Book Creator offers this option – extremely helpful to have another format available for families who don’t have iOS devices.
The students would be illustrating both items using Microsoft’s Paint program. There was much discussion as memories of past years flooded back – the Teddy Bear Picnic in Kindergarten, the plays performed in every grade, field trips, worm farms, learning coding, and so much more! And then, the hard decision of what to draw. After all, the Paint canvas is only so big! For some, there really was one event or activity that stood out as a favorite. For others, there were quite a few choices so they drew something for each grade.
Moving on to the “future” picture, we discussed how most people change their minds several times before deciding on a major in college. But, there are those who know exactly what they want to do in life at an early age. Which would they be? I challenged the students to look back at this project when they graduate from high school and see if what they are planning on studying in college is similar to what they illustrated while in fourth grade!
The next step was to write a script. I have to say that this wasn’t a favorite part of the project and there were some that rushed through this step. However, having a script to follow when recording certainly avoids stumbling over what to say!
Each child set up two books in the Book Creator app. They downloaded their illustrations (I’d uploaded them to my Picasa Web Albums site) and added them to their page. Of course, personalizing the page was extremely important – from page color to font style. When recording was completed, the individual books were emailed to me so that I could pull them together into class books.
Cover of a Favorite Activity book
Cover of a Future book
Here are the links to the ePub books:
(Be sure that you tap on the links while on an iOS device that has the iBooks app installed. Choose Download > Open in iBooks)
The next step was to export the books as videos (done straight from Book Creator). This can be a final step before uploading to Vimeo of YouTube because you really don’t have to do anything else to the video. However, I like to do some editing (especially adjusting sound levels) using the iMovie app. I also added a different introduction to the movies.
Below is a visual of the apps used to create the video version of the ePub books.
App notes: For using the Path On app ($1.99), I wanted a blank page for drawing the writing path for one of the books so I used Explain Everything ($2.99), chose a template, then exported image as “Photo to Camera Roll.” Book Creator ($4.99) has a free version but you can only make one book. The paid version is well worth the money!
Since there are 2 videos per class, I won’t embed all of them in this post. You can click here to see them. Below is one of the videos.
Mrs. Malone’s Class: Future Plans from Trinity Valley School on Vimeo.
This is a fun project that does take a while to get everyone finished with drawing and recording but listening to the students talk about their life in Lower School and their plans for the future is worth every minute!
For our Seuss week celebrations, I read part of Oh, The Thinks You Can Think and asked the fourth graders to think creatively like Dr. Seuss.
- What would you invent if you were able to invent anything you wanted?
- Would it be an interesting animal?
- Would it be something that would make life easier?
- What would it look like?
- What would it do?
The students started by illustrating their invention on the computer using Microsoft’s Paint program. This could be done in an app but the students prefer the tools available in Paint. When they finished, I uploaded their pictures to my Picasa site so that they could save to the iPad.
The next step was to create a page in the Book Creator app. The students were asked to include the following on their page:
- their name
- title of their invention
- picture of their invention
- a recorded narration of the purpose of their invention (I had them write a script first! This really helps with the recording process; avoids stumbling over what to say!)
Finally, the students air dropped their books to me and I combined all into one class book. I absolutely LOVE that Book Creator offers options for sharing! I exported it in two different formats: one as an ePub book (to be read in iBooks) and the other as a video (a great option for those who don’t have iOS devices).
Click here to download the ePub book. (Remember you’ll need to be on an iOS device with the iBooks app installed. Choose Download then Open in iBooks.)
Here’s the video:
Since video was one format to be shared and since I’ve been wanting to experiment with some AppSmashing (Thank you Greg Kulowiec for creating this great term and for the awesome workshops I’ve been able to attend), I decided to get creative with the intro to the inventions!
Here’s a chart to show the apps used.
Click to enlarge
In this case, I was the one who created the video clips to be combined with the student work in iMovie. Students could certainly do this part – perhaps have the early finishers work on some type of introduction.
I LOVE the power of AppSmashing!
I’ve been celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2) for more years than I can remember (and I’ve taught for a LONG time!) so I’m always excited when our week-long celebration comes around.
This year I asked our third graders to turn on their imaginations as we discussed on of Dr. Seuss’ books. We read I Wish that I Had Duck Feet, a clever story about a boy who would like to have various animal appendages. He weighs the pros and cons of each part and finally decides that he’s better off just being himself. (Watch a video reading of the book.)
After reading, the students were asked to think of what they wish they had. What could that animal part help them do? What would they look like? What problems might they encounter if they had that part added to their body?
They were to do two things:
- Answer the above questions in a new post on their blog.
- Illustrate a picture in Microsoft’s Paint program and upload to their blog.
What they came up with was very clever! They seemed to have a great time deciding what animals they could morph into and then realizing that there just might be a downside to having those parts!
Here’s a sample post:
The students would love to have you take a look at their posts. And they would be even more thrilled to receive comments!
Mrs. Gramentine’s Blog
Mrs. Prescott’s Blog
Mrs. Weth’s Blog