Today is the day! Susan Stevens Crummel and Janet Stevens are here for their author and illustrator visit. And, what a fun visit it was!
To prepare for the visit, our students have been learning all about these two wonderful ladies as well as exploring the many books they have authored and illustrated.
To bring in a technology aspect, I checked out the “Crummel/Stevens” cart of books and asked our first graders to choose one for a book talk using the ChatterPix Kids app. This is a fun (and favorite) app where a picture is added then a mouth is drawn and students record.
After tips on taking a great photo of the book cover (fill the screen!), the students went off to read their books and then scattered to find a quiet place to record.
ChatterPix allows only 30 seconds to record which is usually enough time, as long as you know what to say! For younger students, 30 seconds can be a challenge. And, we did talk about this! What I discovered as I listened to the recordings was that few students re-recorded if they were cut off – not sure why they didn’t try again. Oh, well . . .
After students added their name and saved the video, they airdropped to me so that I could compile them on a Thinglink image. Here’s the work from Mrs. Crumley’s class.
Click here for Mrs. Kee’s collection of videos.
This was a fun activity that included lots of reading and thinking. The children did a fabulous job giving book talks about some fantastic books!
As 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.
Did you know that November is Picture Book Month? Mrs. Murphy and Mrs. Hebert, our librarians, issued a challenge to the Lower School to read picture books in an effort to beat last year’s goal of 4,370.
For the past several weeks, we’ve been discussing blogging when the students come to the lab. To correlate with blogging and the library’s challenge, I asked the third graders to bring a picture book to the lab. They were to produce a book talk and upload it to their blog.
We started class by taking a picture of their book cover.
The next step was to read the book.
Writing isn’t always a favored part of a third grader’s life but the students did understand that this step is important to organizing thoughts and really makes the recording go much more smoothly.
The next step was to choose an app. I gave the option of Tellagami (free; available on App Store and Google Play) and ChatterPix Kids (free from App Store). Both have a limit of 30 seconds so students needed to be concise in what they said. Both also allow the user to import photos from the camera roll. With Tellagami, the students created an avatar that “spoke” their recorded message. With ChatterPix, a “mouth” line is drawn and that moves to the narration. The students enjoyed creating a mouth on their book cover.The students recorded, made sure they were satisfied with the sound, saved to photos, then emailed the video to me. Once students completed the process, I put them to work helping others.
Finally, the children uploaded their video to the KidBlog app. Next week their first grade buddies will be listening to the book talks and making comments on their buddies’ posts. I also posted all the book talks on TVS TechnoWizards.
Below is a visual of the apps we used for the project.
An important skill for students to develop as they read is learning how to make predictions. One way I like to practice this is through children’s literature. A perfect book for making predictions is It Could Have Been Worse by A. H. Benjamin. The book is about a mouse on his way home from visiting his town cousin. Mouse runs into all kinds of difficulty as he heads home – slipping, sliding, landing in thorns, . . . After each little episode, Mouse laments that his day isn’t going well at all. However, there is much more going on in the background that Mouse doesn’t know about. As it turns out, several creatures come very close to having Mouse for lunch. Because of Mouse’s “terrible” day, he manages to escape the dangers around him!
I start by reading the first few pages of the book. The students listen as Mouse loses his balance, falls to the ground, and declares, “This isn’t my lucky day.” In the background, the children can see that Cat is just about to pounce on Mouse but misses him as the mouse falls. Cat ends up in a bed of thorns as the narrative reads, “But it could have been worse!” I read the next page but stop before finding out what will happen to Mouse this time.
We talk about what a prediction is and how to use picture clues to help decide what will happen next. Then I tell the students that they will write down their prediction in the Book Creator app and will illustrate that using Drawing Pad. (Book Creator has a drawing feature within the app that is easy to use. For this activity I wanted the teachers to see an app-smashing example that they could use within their own classroom.)
Writing a prediction in the Book Creator app
The prediction activity took about two 40 minute sessions. Part of the time was spent introducing the drawing features in the Drawing Pad app and showing how to develop their page in Book Creator (add illustration, write sentence, record narration) – the next time the teachers (or I) use the apps, the students will be able to work more independently.
Illustrating their predictions using the Drawing Pad app
As students finished recording, they came to me for guidance in emailing their Book Creator page to me. The pages are then compiled into class books for students to read on their iOS devices. In addition, I also exported the book as a video to offer another way to view the books.
Here are the apps we used:
App Smashing with First Graders
Links to the ePub Books and the videos:
- What will happen to Mouse and Snake? Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class ePub Book and Video
- What will happen to Mouse and Fox? Mrs. Kee’s Class ePub Book and Video
- What will happen to Mouse and Fish? Mrs. Orehek’s Class ePub Book and Video
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.