Making Movies in Your Mind

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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1st Grade and Multi 1/2 students have been working the past couple of weeks at a site called, “Into the Book” (at http://reading.ecb.org/). There are eight different reading strategies for students to explore at the site, but we’ve been focusing on the strategy of “Visualizing,” or, “making pictures/movies in your mind when you read. This is an essential strategy for reading comprehension. For some, this strategy comes naturally; for others, it is something they need to practice often. “Into the Book” helps students strengthen this skill by reading text and then creating images and picking music that illustrates what “movies” they have in their mind while reading.

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We start the lesson by first taking a “mind walk” where I have students listen to me as I describe our imaginary walk through the school. I have them stop and center on an image, such as, “Oh look: there’s Ms. Westerberg in the library!” and then add to the description so they can focus on how the images in their minds change. For instance, “Wow, look at Ms. Westerberg dance on top of the desk in that pink tutu.” When students start giggling, you know the images in their minds have just changed!

Next, we head to the “Into the Book” site and watch an introductory video about visualizing. As a class, we work together on coming up with images and music for a nonfiction piece, and then students go off and independently work on a poem, called “Cat Act.”

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Students also learn the skill of how to create a username that they need to write down so they can log back into the site later in order to finish their work.

Things you and your students can do at home:

  • Ask your students about our “mind walk.” Try it with them! You tell a story that takes them on a “visual” walk, and then ask them to tell you one!
  • When reading with your children, model how you “see images” in your mind and discuss how those images change. Ask them what images they see in their mind. Compare images of a certain character in a book. Sketch out your character and compare drawings.
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Grade 2: Research

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Students in Grade 2 have dug deep into research over the past weeks. We are using the site, Facts4me.com (http://facts4me.com/) in order to collect facts about animals. Students have been working in groups to gather the following:

Whether or not the animal is endangered, and if so, why?

  • What is its diet?
  • What is its habitat?
  • Who are its predators?
  • What are its features?
  • Other interesting facts

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Students are learning how to put the facts they find into their own words and decide which facts are most important to share. Once the facts have been collected, students decide who is going to present each fact in the final presentation and then rewrite their facts on notecards. Groups are deciding whether they want to create their own artwork to accompany the final product, or use the “open source” photos from Facts4me.com.

The final product will be a movie made in an application on the iPads called, “Puppet Pals” and will eventually be published on our website. We have Rodeo practice happening throughout this process, so the final project will take a bit of time to finish.

Students have been thoroughly engaged in their research and are really getting to know the facts about their chosen animal as they work on editing and rewriting.

Things you can do at home with your scholar:

  • First off, Facts4me.com is an amazing site, with succinct facts and easy readability. Unfortunately, the school only has an account for use at school from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. However, Facts4me.com offers an amazing Family Deal of 24/7 access to its huge collection of nonfiction books for a yearly price of $20! Check out the site and see if it’s something you’d like at home (for the price of one book, you’ll get hundreds!).
  • Ask your student to tell you the facts she/he remembers about their animal.
  • Explore with your student other websites, books, internet sites related to the animal they are studying.
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CODE.ORG

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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This week, I invite you to look at a site that will be featured for much of the rest of the year in both 3rd and 4th grade classes: code.org.

Some classes have already signed up with me and we are about to start programming. (You might have already had your scholar come home and log into the site to continue to learn how to program).

As you dig deeper into the code.org site (and my lessons), you’ll find that the goal is not to make everyone a programmer, but rather to teach an important “literacy” that is ubiquitous in our lives (i.e., software is all around us). The lessons will help students become critical thinkers, risk takers, problem solvers, and in control of the software that will continue to become more and more abundant in their lives.

Embedded here is the Introductory video that I start the first lesson with, called, “What Most Schools Don’t Teach:”

Things you can do with your scholar at home:

  • Start coding with your student! (Look, if I can do it, anyone can!). Start your own account at code.org and learn along with your student.
  • Talk about areas of life where “computer science” has/has not influenced, infiltrated, or improved. Alternatively, talk about ways that computer science may not benefit society (i.e., “hacking”).
  • You might want to check out an amazing book: The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap by Seymour Papert. Even though it was first published in 1996, it is still, in many ways ahead of its time. In this book, Papert will not only convince you of the importance of learning to code, but also will compel you to start coding with your student!
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Copyright and Plagiarism with 3rd and 4th Graders

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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This week, we’ve been moving into a lesson on Copyright with the 3rd/4th graders that comes from the excellent site, Common Sense Media. You can find the original lesson here: http://bit.ly/1kCoKYU.

3rd and 4th graders have already heard a lot about Copyright during our lessons, but it is not an easy concept to grasp, and certainly needs repeated teaching. In fact, Copyright Law is often difficult to interpret: I’ve been to many workshops on Copyright over the years, and there are always questions that arise from the participants that can’t quite be answered by the presenters… There are a lot of “gray areas” in interpreting the laws, and not always clear answers.

However, we can all agree that “Plagiarism” is wrong. Students have been hearing this for a long time. So why does it still take place all the way up to college levels? (check out THIS interesting article!)

This week, rather than write to you about how I set up the lesson’s “hook” (to engage interest), I thought I would show you (via video) how I started the discussion of Copyright and Plagiarism. In viewing the video, you may notice a few things that I’d like to address:

  • I’m talking really fast. Remember, this is the “hook” part of the lesson and I could only give it the 12 minutes that it took.
  • I’m talking a lot. There are indeed a few lessons (such as this one), where I talk more than I’d like to the students. Usually, I set them up with their lessons and get them on the computers quickly.
  • Students initially fall for the “trick.” When we question “Why?” we must take into account (as I discuss briefly in the video) that part of “falling for the trick” is because I am their teacher who they are used to trusting. It would be interesting to see them view the “hook” from a stranger and see if they agree with that person’s methods of plagiarizing.
  • And finally, I wish that I kept filming because students were very engaged in carrying out the rest of the discussions and activities.

And now, the video:

What Does Plagiarism Look Like? from wells elementary on Vimeo.

Things you can do with your student at home:

  • Note: your scholar may not have had the lesson yet, so try not to give away the “hook” if you can!
  • But, even if your student hasn’t had the lesson yet, you can still talk to him/her about the words plagiarism and copyright and ask what they know about them.
  • You could work on reading a nonfiction article or book with them and then model how you would retell it using your own words—only looking back at the text to check your facts.
  • You could show them Internet sites or articles that show citation or books that include a bibliography.
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Buddy Reading in Kindergarten

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Hopefully you and your K child are still enjoying the many wonderful resources at starfall.com. If not, then hopefully this post will reinspire another look at the site—the Kindergarten students love it!

In the next couple of rounds, we’ll be using “Three Little Plays”(http://www.starfall.com/n/level-c/plays/load.htm?f) for students to “buddy-read” together with.
3 Little Plays
I introduce this lesson with help from my student assistant in order to model how to ask the other person which “player” they would like to be in the play, how to take turns with the mouse, and how to know when it’s time to read your character’s lines. The plays are set up like traditional scripts, so I need to demonstrate that the reader does not read the character’s name (which is in UPPERCASE), and I explain what the colon does (:).

My teacher’s assistant (with help from the rest of the class) and I read the first page and I demonstrate how if I need help in reading a word, I click on it and the computer will read it out loud for me (then I need to repeat the word out loud). I also demonstrate that we only click on the words that we need help with.

After the first page is read (with characters of a “dog” and a “cat,” by the way), I talk to students about how we could make it so much better. If I’m the dog, for instance, then I talk about “getting into the dog’s character” and reread my part with expression. I then ask the students to read their part with expression as well.

After demonstrating, students match up with a buddy and are off reading. I watch to make sure that students are only clicking on the words that they really need help with, as well as repeating the word after the computer says it.

That’s what makes this interactive site so great for young readers: they always can click on a word to get help, so no matter what reading level students are at, everyone has support.

Things you can do at home with your scholar:

  • Read out loud with your student as often as you can! Research shows that readers at all levels benefit from being read to.
  • Have them show you the “Three Little Plays” and “buddy read” with them—or with any book for that matter. With a “normal” book, they’ll have to “click you” for you to help them with the words that are difficult!
  • Encourage your students to actually act out the play or turn another story into a play.
  • Encourage your student to “buddy read” with older and younger siblings.
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4th Grade Update

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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4th graders have learned that creating even a small piece of visual media, can take a long time! Students are still putting the finishing touches on their “Many Ways to tell a Story” projects. They have been rewriting, reworking, and editing their pieces to get them to the very best products they can be.

Undoubtedly, this Unit is taking longer than I had anticipated, but we’re starting to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.” I’ve created a Website where you can start to see the work as it’s published, along with Teacher and Student Interviews explaining the integrated curriculum, as well as what went into the digital reflections that they’ve done with me.

I am still very glad that I was able to offer 3 different choices for students’ final reflection projects (Digital Image Manipulation with Poetry, Book Creator Creations to reflect on their Masks and their Movements, and iMovie Trailers to “zoom-in” on a very discreet aspect of the entire learning process). It has been extremely rewarding for students to start to see their final products take form, and it has been a wonderful opportunity for students to do authentic writing and revision, collaboration with peers, and publishing to a larger audience (all skills that are part of the National Standards that I teach). I will admit that I will take a long, hard look at whether I need to “tweak” the 3 choices in the future, due to their demands on time.

You can start to see the Website come together with the work and interviews at:

www.manyways.weebly.com

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I still need to interview Ms. Brennan for Art and Ms. Westerberg for Library to finish the front page (which explains the Integrated Unit) and I will be constantly updating the student work as it comes in.

Things you can do at home with your scholar:

  • Even if your scholar is not in 4th grade, take him/her to the website and ask what they think of the project. Are they excited to do some of this when they get to 4th grade?
  • Ask as many questions of your 4th grader as you can about the project! They will tell you all about the hard work that went into their creations, how many times Mr. S asked them to go back and “tell more” in their writing, how long it took to come to agreement about topics and approaches in their groups, etc.
  • Ask your fourth grader what their favorite part of the project was.
  • Ask if they liked the prolonged reflection on a performance that happened way back in October. Did this make the experience more memorable, more meaningful?
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Grade 3 and Multi 3/4 Update

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Grade 3 classes have all published their Internet Safety Posters and have returned back to Centers. One Center is based on the “Self-Assessment” piece that I told you they would be doing in a previous post. I’m almost finished conferencing with every student to discuss their self-assessment, and these will be coming home soon.

Another Center is called “TED Talks”. In this Center, students watch a movie from one of the TED Archives that connects to our studies. If you’re not familiar with TED, it is an amazing resource of knowledge. (Note: not all talks are geared towards a “younger audience,” so you definitely want to pre-watch their talks before your students watch them at home.) In the “TED Center,” students watch the film as a group, and then meet on the floor to discuss what they saw. Right now, they are viewing 2 videos that connect with the STEM work they are doing with Mr. I on wind energy. There are two videos that show a young man who discovered how to make a windmill to harness energy for his small village in Africa. When students meet on the floor to discuss, I am listening in, but it is up to them to keep the conversation going. We’ve talked about the importance of making sure that everyone in the group gets a chance to be heard, and discussed prompts that could keep the conversation going (for example, “I liked the part where…” or “I was confused by this part…”). TED groups focus on the following National Standards and skills for students:

  • Social, ethical, and human issues, digital citizenship
    • Students understand the ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology.
  • Critical thinking and problem solving and decision making
    • Students employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.

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One other Center I wanted to draw your attention to is the Router’s Birthday Surprise Adventure. In this Center, students return to netsmartzkids.org to refresh their learning about Internet Safety. It’s a fun and engaging journey while learning important rules of how to behave and act online.

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Seedlings @ Bit By Bit Podcast: Show #135

Seedlings @ Bit by Bit Podcast: Show
February 5, 2014

It’s a SNOW DAY show! Yeah! We’re back!

You can watch our Talking Heads on YouTube below, listen to the podcast, or subscribe to our Podcast Channel.


Links from the show:

“Geek of the Week” Links for 2014-02-05

 

SEEDLINGS on Facebook!

Music:

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