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.

noun hunt

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!)

sample comment

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.

finished

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!

air drop

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!!

 

Responding to Literature Through Drawing

Dark at the Top of the StairsAs a way to demonstrate to teachers how students could use drawing on the iPad to respond to literature, I decided to read The Dark at the Top of the Stairs by Sam Bratney. It’s a fun book about three little mice who want to see what is really at the top of the cellar stairs. And, it’s the perfect book for making predictions!

I introduced the Drawing Pad app ($1.99) to the first graders and let them explore the tools for awhile, drawing anything they chose. We learned how to save to the camera roll too.

Next, I gathered everyone and discussed the title of the book. “What might it be about? What clues do you get from the title?” I told the students that they would be making a prediction when I reached a stopping point in the book. While we read, they were encouraged to draw one or more of the characters. At the point where the mice just reached the top of the stairs, I stopped and asked the children to predict and draw what might be behind the closed door. They worked furiously to create their predictions! Every once in awhile I’d ask if they were ready to find out what the author chose as the “dark at the top of the stairs.” I’d immediately hear a chorus of “No, not yet!!”

Eventually, everyone finished their wonderfully detailed illustrations. We read the rest of the story and discussed their predictions. The students were eager to show off their drawings so we took lots of group photos!

For this activity, the purpose was for students and teachers to become familiar with the app and share an example of how to use it with literature. Next time, we’ll pull the drawing into other apps such as Book Creator or Draw and Tell. Then students can record their voice telling about their prediction.

 

Google Lit Trips

I wanted to share a website that has been around awhile but it’s one that is an invaluable resource.

GLT image

Google Lit Trips, the brainchild of Jerome Burg, combines literature with the power of Google Earth. Imagine being able to “travel” with the character to various settings in the book! As students “stop” in each location, they are able to more deeply discuss the book as they virtually experience the actual locale. They are making connections: text-to-self and text-to-world. Each stop always includes at least one of the following: possible questions to ask, links to related sites, images, video. This is truly a powerful tool to bring literature to life!

The site offers something for every age – from Make Way for Ducklings to Number the Stars to The Grapes of Wrath. Many of the Lit Trips are teacher-made and some have even been created by students.

A few years ago, I worked with Jerome on a lit trip to London. This was based on the book, A Walk in London, by Salvatore Rubbino. Let me just say that Jerome is fantastic to work with – he offers wonderful suggestions and is truly an expert at mapping the trips!

armadilloIn January, I was pleased to hear from Jerome again. This time he was thinking about a Texas-themed book because he would be presenting at the Texas Library Association annual conference. The book he decided on was The Armadillo from Amarillo, by Lynne Cherry. I was excited to again be asked to help with this lit trip! At his session at TxLA, Jerome introduced the latest Google Lit Trip:

The Armadillo from Amarillo

At TxLA, I was able to attend Jerome’s session and then my husband and I had the pleasure of having dinner with Jerome and his wife, Barbara. What a treat to visit and get to know them better! For me, it’s always great fun to meet someone whom I’ve worked with from a distance.

Jerome Burg at TxLA

Please give Google Lit Trips a visit. I guarantee that this will be a fantastic way to engage students!

Amazing Alphabetical Alliterations

“Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of most of the words in a sentence.” (definition from Young Writers’ Free Poetry Glossary)

When I discovered that Mrs. Gramentine’s third graders write alliterations for their spelling words, I asked her if she would like to find a way for the students to share their work. She jumped at the chance and the decision was made to create an ABC book of alliterations.

After brainstorming a variety of apps, we chose Book Creator for this project for two reasons:

  • It is VERY easy to use!
  • The work can be exported as an ePub (for reading in iBooks) and as a video (useful for those that don’t have an iOS device).

The students were assigned a letter (or two) and went to work writing some amazing alliterations! There was quite a bit of research going on in search of words that began with specific letters. Just try coming up with a string of Q words!

alliterationThe next step was to draw a picture that went with their letter. Because the students are very familiar with the Microsoft Paint program and are used to creating incredible illustrations, we chose this over iPad apps. Yes, it would be much easier to use a drawing app because the illustrations are right there on the iPad and therefore, readily available for pulling into Book Creator. But, for us, drawing with a mouse seems to provide much more detail than can be achieved on an iPad. The only extra step involved is gathering the images and uploading to a site students can visit to save their picture. I use Picasa Web Albums.

8Moving on to Book Creator, each student created their “mini” book. Before emailing to me, they were to add their drawing, write their sentence, record the reading of the alliteration, and make their page look “good” (i.e. add a background page color, work with font). If you have an iPad that supports Air Drop, that’s definitely the way to go!

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Editing and recording

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Emailing

Finally, all pages were combined into one class ABC book. The finished product has been uploaded to Google Drive. Below is the link. Be sure to be on an iOS device when you open the link! When prompted, choose Download > Open in iBooks.

ABC Alliterations by Mrs. Gramentine’s Class

If you don’t have an iOS device, the book was also saved as a video.

This was a fun project and the children worked hard to create very clever alliterations. What a great way to learn some new vocabulary too!

Enjoy!

Making Wishes on St. Patrick’s Day

The Leprechaun's GoldThe Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards is an Irish legend about two harpists who have the same wish but go about earning it in different ways. (Watch a video reading of the book.)

Before reading the book to second graders as a St. Patrick’s Day activity, I asked the children to think about selfish vs. unselfish wishes. We discussed a few examples and then I asked the students to open the Book Creator app and illustrate an unselfish wish of their own while I read the story. Talk about quiet workers! They were engaged in their drawings and enjoying the plot of the book!

After the reading, the students scattered to various corners inside and outside of the lab so that they could record their wish. The books were then air dropped to one iPad to allow me to combine all into one class book.

This activity could easily be done in a variety of apps. I chose Book Creator because it is extremely user-friendly! Drawings can be created within the app and recording narration is super easy.

Enjoy the class books!

Mrs. Garcia’s Book of Wishes

Mrs. Shapard’s Book of Wishes

Mrs. Zabriskie’s Book of Wishes

Directions to download books to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

  • You will need the iBooks app (free) installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above (while on your iOS device).
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks on your iOS device.

Workflow and Book Creator: Sharing the Creations!

Recording in the Book Creator app

Recording in the Book Creator app

One of my very favorite apps is Book Creator. This app allows students and teachers to create interactive ePub books that can be shared with others. Hyperlinks, images, audio, and simple drawings can be added to a book. But, the best part is that it is extremely easy for students of any age to use which is why I use it for all kinds of curricular activities!

The app is available in the App Store ($4.99) as well as on Google Play ($2.49). Both offer a free version but that only allows the creation of one book. Try the free app first, but trust me, you will definitely want the paid version! As we have iPads in school, I don’t have experience with the Android version so the rest of this post will refer to sharing the books so they can be read in the iBooks app.

There are three ways to export a book made in Book Creator.

Book Creator saving options Export as Video – This is a good method to use when sharing with people who do NOT have an iOS device. I save in both the ePub and Video formats and share links with parents. Saving to the camera roll is an option with this method. What I do is save the video to Vimeo (YouTube also works) then embed it in a blog post. Students could use this choice, save to the camera roll, and upload to their blog.

Export as PDF – Any recordings will be lost in this format.

Export as ePub – This is the choice for reading in iBooks. However, the problem is that a person can only read this on the iPad on which the book was created.

The question is:  How do you share the book with others so it can be read on different iPads or iOS devices?

final workflow pic

Here’s what has worked for me:

  • While the book is open in Book Creator, tap on the share button and then choose to open in Dropbox or Google Drive (or whatever cloud storage you prefer).
Choose a cloud-based storage app

Choose a cloud-based storage app

  •  If you choose Drive, make sure in “Who has access?” that the Link Sharing is turned ON so anyone with the link can view it. Then tap on Get Link.
Link sharing on then get link

Link sharing on then get link

  •  The next step is to post this link to your blog. This can be done on either the Edublogs app on the iPad OR using a browser on a computer. Below is a sample of adding the link using the app.

    Adding the ePub link using the Edublogs app

    Adding the ePub link using the Edublogs app

  •  If you are working on your blog in a web browser, just select the word you want to hyperlink and add the link.
Adding hyperlink on blog using web browser

Adding hyperlink on blog using web browser

  • Once the link is posted on your blog, anyone can download the ePub book to their iOS device and open the eBook in iBooks by tapping on the download link. Although the look is different depending on which cloud storage you use, the procedure is the same. Remember – you must be on an iOS device to open the ePub book!
Screen shot of what downloading from Dropbox looks like

Screen shot of what downloading ePub book from Dropbox looks like

Screen shot when downloading ePub book from Drive

Screen shot of what downloading ePub book from Drive looks like

  •  Once the book has downloaded, it can be opened in iBooks or other apps including Book Creator (helpful if you are collaborating with others to create books).
Opening ePub book on iOS device

Opening ePub book on iOS device

Opening the book in other apps

Opening the book in other apps

Although there seems to be several steps to get the ePub link onto the blog, once you’ve done this a couple of times it becomes second nature and really doesn’t take very long! Parents absolutely LOVE to read books that their child either makes on their own or has created as a class.

Have fun posting links to your own books! I enjoy seeing what others create in Book Creator. If you have questions, let me know!

TIPS:

When I link to ePub books, I always add the following information so that visitors know how to download the eBook.

Directions to download books to your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, etc):

  • You will need the iBooks app (free) installed on your iOS device.
  • Click on the book link above (while on your iOS device).
  • Tap on the download button.
  • Choose Open in . . . and then choose Open in iBooks
  • The book is now in iBooks on your iOS device.

As mentioned earlier in the post, I also save the Book Creator book as a video then upload it to Vimeo. I then embed the Vimeo video into the blog. That way, parents without iOS devices are still able to “read” the book!

If you chose to export the book created in Book Creator as a PDF, to upload it to Edublogs, you would click on the ADD MEDIA tab at the top of the post’s toolbar. The PDF would be hyperlinked as below:

Workflow for ePub books