Kindness Makes a Difference!

The entire Lower School focused on kindness during the month of February. Our first graders brainstormed about ways to be kind to others. We then asked the children to draw a picture showing a kind act using the Book Creator app.

The children then completed the sentence starter, Kindness Is, as they wrote and recorded their thoughts.

As the books were completed, the children air dropped theirs to me so that I could combine them into a class book. These were saved as an ePub book to be read on iOS devices as well as a video that can be seen on any platform.

We hope you enjoy their thoughts on kindness!

Below are links to the videos and the ePub books. To download the books, click on the link while on an iOS device that has the iBooks app. Choose download and open in iBooks.

Mrs. Crumley’s Kindness Book
Mrs. Crumley’s Kindness Video

Mrs. Hutchinson’s Kindness Book
Mrs. Hutchinson’s Kindness Video

Mrs. Kee’s Kindness Book
Mrs. Kee’s Kindness Video

 

Loving Our Heritage!

As our second graders learn about the Thanksgiving story, they read Molly’s Pilgrim, a wonderful story that illustrates a pilgrim is anyone who emigrates from another country. The students even dress paper dolls in the native costume of the country from which they came, whether it be recently or years past.

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In addition, students bring in photos of relatives to create a wonderful Heritage video/ePub book complete with narration of their family history!

We use Book Creator, which is a user-friendly app that allows students to add text, photos, narration, background, and so much more. And, the final product can be saved as an ePub book to be read in iBooks or as a video that can be viewed on any device. This is our second year using Book Creator for this project and I am SO glad we changed! Prior to this, students did a tiny part of the project but the teacher had to do the majority of the work. I’m a firm believer that students need to “own” their work and Book Creator does just that!

The children brought in photos and they used their iPads to take “photos of the photos” (they thought that was quite funny!). In this step, they learned how to make sure there was no glare, the image was in focus, and how to crop.

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The next step was to add the photos to their book. I set up the books in Book Creator prior to this only to save time but students could certainly do this step. We added title and conclusion pages. Selfies were taken for the cover. Background colors were added. Fonts were changed.

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Next step: importing the photos. The students used their scripts and actual photos to help with this process. A huge help was that parents labeled the backs of photos which made it much easier for the children to place their images. Remember, many of these photos are of great-great-great grandparents and students don’t tend to recognize relatives that far back! I love how the two girls in the photo below worked together to make sure each image was on the correct page; one checked the script while the other added the picture!

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We had a wonderful group of parents who volunteered to help students record. Since we were trying to have as little background noise as possible, finding a quiet place in a school can be a challenge! These parents worked tirelessly to accomplish that.

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The students then listened to their project, making sure every aspect was just how they wanted it. The project was saved two ways: as an ePub book to be read in iBooks and as a video.

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I then uploaded everything and linked them on my teaching website, TVS TechnoWizards. Since last names are mentioned, these are behind a password-protected page. Here are a couple of samples pages in the book:

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The students even blogged about what they had learned about their heritage.

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We can’t wait to share our projects this Friday for Grandparents’ Day!

Who Doesn’t Like Legos??

Ever since the fourth graders were “caught” by the first graders working with Legos, the little ones have been asking, “When will it be our turn?”

Well, this week their turn finally came. I wish I could have everyone use the Legos at the same time but I just don’t have an unlimited supply! So, the students were divided into groups of three and were given a baggy stuffed with assorted Lego bricks, wheels, doors, and windows.

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The directions were: Make a stop-motion video of what your group builds.

mycreate appThe children were introduced to the MyCreate app ($4.99). This is an easy-to-use stop-motion app for all ages. The camera is built-in so students can easily take a series of photos to show change over time.

The most challenging aspect of using any app like this is convincing the children that the camera and object being photographed should be stationary. It is SO easy for one or the other (or both) to move and that really does disrupt the flow of the video. Fortunately, the app uses onion-skinning to view the previous image which helps line things up for the next photo.

Helping steady the photographer!

Helping steady the photographer!

My plan was to have students build something from whatever was in the baggie but they were soon begging for more! A quick change in plans resulted and the groups were allowed to send one person to collect additional Legos.

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I was amazed at how well the groups worked together to plan their structure and then to build and photograph each step. Of course, Lego building can never be limited to a 40 minute class session! Next week, we’ll finish creating the stop-animation videos and post to the blogs. I can’t wait to see the finished products!

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Sharing Our Book

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.)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

ABC Lego Book

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Who would have guessed that Legos would be such a hit with students!?! A few weeks ago, I presented the fourth graders with a challenge – Create an ABC book made with Legos (and the fantastic Book Creator app) to share with our Kindergarten students. I was amazed at the excitement this idea generated! (Although I’m thinking the excitement was from getting to create with Legos, not from sharing the book.)

This was a joint project with all three of our fourth grade classes so we had to divide the alphabet letters between everyone. I asked the students to get into groups of two or three and write their top three letter choices.

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After handing out assignments, we discussed what needed to be included on each page.

  1. The alphabet letter (large and obvious!)
  2. Picture of the Lego creation(s) that correspond to the alphabet letter
  3. Text that labels the Lego objects
  4. Recorded voice stating “(Name of letter) is for . . .”
  5. Optional: some type of video to show the making of the object or to highlight the letter

For the video component, I suggested the following apps:

Surprisingly, no one chose Tellagami or ChatterPix! I think most liked the idea of the stop motion animation. What excited me is that several incorporated app-smashing – on their own! They would bring their MyCreate video into iMovie for editing, to add music, etc.

Fortunately we had plenty of Legos – I raided my grown-up son’s stash, bought a few more buckets, and had some very sweet girls donate some of their collection.

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Planning and building

 

Using the MyCreate app

Using the MyCreate app

I have never seen such excitement about a project! Except for a couple minor squabbles, the students worked well together. They all learned the importance of sharing ideas and compromising. The students absolutely loved having the opportunity to create in their own way. And, they did a great job pulling everything together to create their letter page.

The book isn’t perfect and sometimes it’s a stretch to figure out how the Lego structure goes with the letter. As chief editor, I did omit some videos that really had nothing to do with the letter they were trying to represent. We had a few groups who were more interested in making iMovies about themselves. However, when it was pointed out that this is a book for young children, they made some adjustments.

Here is the link to the ebook:  Lego ABC Book

Tips for downloading the ABC Lego Book:

  • Click on the above link while on an iOS device with the iBooks app installed.
  • Download then choose open in iBooks. The file is very large so please be patient!

If you are unable to download the ebook, click here to view the video (same content as the book).

Here’s a look at the process of making the book.

The project took longer than anticipated. What I learned is that a week of 40 minute sessions with each 4th grade class wasn’t long enough! Most groups built and rebuilt till they had the “perfect” structure. They HAD to finish the building part in a week’s time so that the next group could start. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had enough Legos! Putting the book together didn’t take more than a couple of days.

Sharing What We Learn: Biographies

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:

Nouns, Nouns Everywhere!

Thanks to ideas from a fabulous post by Meghan Zigmond called Noun Cards, our first graders went on a search for nouns to review what they had learned about that part of speech.

I started the discussion by asking what a noun is (person, place, or thing). We then brainstormed ideas for each category. The students were told they were to take an iPad photo of a noun, check it to make sure it wasn’t blurry, then return to their seat for the next part of the activity.

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Using Meghan’s idea for a script, the students circled what type of noun they found and wrote what it was called.

Noun Video Script for 1st grade

Next step – add the photo to ChatterPix Kids (free iOS app). I love this app because it is so intuitive for even the youngest students. The children were asked to type the name of their noun and “by ___” (add their name). They were sent off to record in “quiet” places in the room. When you are trying to record an entire class in a short amount of time, there’s never a completely quiet spot and there’s always a bit of background noise. But, isn’t that the sign of an engaged class??

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Recording with Mrs. Kee

 

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Adding text to the video.

All this took about 40 minutes which I thought was not bad considering the students hadn’t used the app before!

Sample video:

The following week, we uploaded the video to our blogs. The first graders have been blogging but we hadn’t done so on the iPad. What’s nice is that KidBlog’s interface is now the same on a computer or on an iPad so it was an easy transition.

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Uploading video to blog

Sample post

Sample post

The students wrote a sentence or two about the process and/or about their noun and uploaded their video. I’m having the 4th graders leave comments for the little ones. (They won’t admit it but it’s obvious they’ve enjoyed seeing what the little ones are doing and then giving them feedback!)

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If you would like to leave comments, visit the following blogs. Thanks!

Mrs. Crumley’s blog

Mrs. Hutchinson’s blog

Mrs. Kee’s blog

Making Predictions!

book cover 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.

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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:

  • Illustration
  • 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.

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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.

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!

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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!!

 

Sharing Our Heritage

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.

IMG_3872IMG_3862Next step was to insert the pictures into the Book Creator app.

IMG_3851The following week we worked on the cover of the book. What child can resist taking a selfie?

IMG_3887The students also added page colors and chose a font style and color.

IMG_3883The 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!

Movin’ On to Middle School

As our fourth graders inched toward the end of their Lower School years. I asked them to reflect on two items:

  1. 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?
  2. 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 Favorite Activity book

Cover of a Favorite Activity book

Cover of Future 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.

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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!