Friday, October 30, 2009

Reading Workshop Goes Digital

With the help of a few friends (not just teachers & colleges), my students, and a variety of technology tools, I now have a digital representation of what Kindergarten Reading Buddies do when they are in their partnerships. I used the video as a mini-lesson to reinforce what the students have already learned and again during the same Reading Workshop time to wrap-it up, evaluate, and share.

Have a look:

You can see the Kindergarten Reading Buddies project page on the COETAIL wiki - just click here. Attached to the project page is the digital storyboard that was used during the planning and creation of the video, along with a list of the tools that were used.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I have just been playing with Jing, which is a tool to create screencasts.

So now the question is: How can screencasts be used for me professionally?

I have been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now, which is why I have waited until the last minute to do this blog post. I think screencasts are great tools to show how-to for older students and adults, but I don't really see using a screencast with my young students, 5 and 6 year olds. Maybe as I start the list of my ideas for use with colleges, parents, and older students, something will come to me?

Screencasts could be made:

- to help teachers and/or students navigate and use PantherNet, ISB's moodle. (I know that I would benefit from one on how to upload - only because I don't use it often enough.)

- to help teachers and/or students share what they know about how to use various educational technology tools that are available with others.

- to take parents and/or students on virtual tours of class or students blogs so that they can make the most of the blogs.

I truly believe in the power of showing and telling how to do something simultaneously and that screencasting is the perfect tool to use that power to show how to get the most from the technology that is available. I also see screencasting as a lasting non-threatening way for people to get help when and where they want it.

So - I love the idea, but I'm still waiting for inspiration to create a screencast for/or with my young students. I when I find the right idea I know I will follow the KISS model: keep it super simple (or something like that).

Any ideas?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Value of Video

So the saying is "A picture is worth a thousand words." So that must mean that a video has to be exponentially more valuable.

I think that web based video has changed teaching because it can bring things alive and into the classroom, it gives classes & teachers a way to share globally, and it allows them to experience a variety of perspectives on single concepts or ideas. For me I feel that it can be especially powerful as a tool to share with my students' parents what is happening at school through a video rather than with just words on a page.

Here is my adventures in web based video last week:

Last week my class was working with the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet". I thought it would be a good idea to find a dramatization of it so we could better understand some of the vocabulary and concepts. So I went to YouTube and searched for "Little Miss Muffet" - instantly the search came back with 455 hits. There were animations, songs, and recitations. Of course there were many that weren't what I was looking for. But, it only took me a minute to find a few that would be good to use. The students were then able to see the actions of "Little Miss Muffet", which added to their understanding.

Showing my students the web based videos was valuable for them but not as valuable as what I discovered while looking for a good video to use. I discovered that I could make a video that would do everything that I wanted it to do instead of trying to find something that would just "do". So after taking still pictures of my students dramatizing "Little Miss Muffet" and recording their adorable, precious voices I created our "Little Miss Muffet":

And here is another one:

Hope you enjoyed watching them as much as I enjoyed making them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another First

Here is a look at my first YouTube upload:

Originally I used the pictures in this video on the SmartBoard to present and review the Roll & Record game to and with my students. So turning it into a video was the next step and it really wasn't that hard. The hardest part was actually convincing my daughter to do the voice directions for me. It did take longer than I anticipated but then again most of my projects do.

I'm not sure my "How To" video counts as a digital story but I used a variety of tools to get it done:

* digital camera for stills & video;
* ipod with a Belkin TuneTalk for the audio;
* iphoto, itunes, and imovie to edit, organize, and create;
* and of course YouTube to upload and embed the video into this blog.

Hopefully by varying the format and delivery of the activity I will reach a few more students.

Digital stories are the perfect medium for me to use with my young students. We all know that seeing is more powerful than hearing. It is also good to vary delivery techniques. My students love to watch videos where they are the stars. So - I can see that it would be highly motivational to use my students in the pictures and their voices to narrate. (A little hint of how my final project will differ from this one.)

Now with the young students it is finding the balance of their part and my part while trying to make the most of student contact time and preserving my own personal time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making a More Powerful Presentation

Two years ago when I started teaching at ISB I used Power Point for the first time to help me get through Back to School Night. (It's not my favorite part of teaching.) In all honesty I did not even create the Power Point. It was given to me by a fellow teacher and I modified to to fit my presentation. I used the format for two years and I was happy with it. Now as I look at it again it has many characteristics of an ineffective presentation. I had lots of words and during the presentation I spent most of the time reading what was on the screen. If I printed out the slides it gave all the information that I covered during my speaking. I did do a couple of things right there were pictures of the kids (although most of them were probably too small) and the color scheme seemed to work.

This year (before the current COETAIL course started) I decided to change my presentation and use only titles and pictures for my presentation. The visual definitely showed what my students do instead of telling what they do. I also changed the program that I used. I used Smart Notebook this year rather than Power Point. I am more familiar with Notebook and it was easier to get the look that I wanted. So this years visual presentation was better than that of the previous years but it still wasn't exactly right. Now after watching the videos and reading the assignments for the COETAIL program there are even more improvements that I can make. I would like to highlight more of the processes that my students go through during the day as we follow a Workshop Model. I think that showing parents the Workshop Model by using images of their children would help many parents understand how their child is being educated.

So I guess now that the presentation is cleaner I need to change the message and content to make it more effective. I can't believe that I'm going to say this but I think I'm actually looking forward to designing and delivering my presentation for Back to School Night next year.