Thursday, December 9, 2010

Course 2 Final Project

Our group for the final project redid the Grade KA-2 Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) at Taipei American School (TAS.) The policy is good and we just made minor changes to it. As a group we liked the International School of Bangkok's (ISB) AUP because it clearly addresses both parent and student. We adopted that approach because the TAS policy looks like it is for students only. We changed some of the language in the document to simplify it for younger students and eliminate some repetition. We liked the parallelism ISB's policy has with "I will..." so we adopted that as well. The focus of the TAS policy seemed to stress the "rules" and we liked that ISB's more positive tone regarding technology as a tool for learning. We felt students could go over the policy at the beginning of the school year and take it home for parents to sign and discuss with their children.

Here are some of the points we discussed when comparing TAS' AUP and ISB's AUP:

For the Terms of Agreement
# 1. (TAS Revised 1 & 2) we combined 1 & 2 and liked the use of the word "responsiby." #1 didn’t seem necessary because students don’t go to the lab on their own. Classes are scheduled. Combined TAS and ISBs.
#2. (Revised 3) we left the same. They are on both schools AUPs
( TAS 4) we dropped because it makes it sound like only the web page created is safe to use. They will use other sites. It is really about safety and that is covered in #9.
#3 &
#4 (Revised 5 & 6.) We liked the wording on ISBs  #10 better
#5 (Revised 7.) Too limiting for just games. Liked ISBs because it's broader.
#6 (Revised 8.) This is a combination of both schools. It includes TAS values but uses the simple language of ISBs
#7 (Revised 9.) Kept this one the same and used the parallelism in sentence structure.
(Dropped 10 & 11) because these are classroom management skills that the teacher can teach.
We liked ISBs #6, I will ask before I share my name and personal information on the computer, because this is about safety.
We also liked #5 I will ask for help when I do not understand what to do, because it reminds students that we are there to help.
We thought ISB's number#2 & #8 were not necessary because they are included in our #6. We felt that 10 items was somewhat  long for grade KA-2.

Here's our policy:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Some Dog

This lesson is like tossing a bone of a different flavor to a dog over and over again.

After three years of trying it every which way, I'm not going to do it anymore. I will continue to do the beginning as a mini-lesson but enough with trying to turn it into a project. I read the book, Some Dog, by Mary Casanova to grade 2 students. The book is a good mentor text with a strong character and a clear beginning, middle, and end to the story. I read the book and we discuss the character traits of George and Zippity. We also talk about how the character changes from the beginning to the end. This part of the lesson goes well every year and ties in with the language arts curriculum.

Then I try projects. And, they never quite work. 

The first year I tried having students make videos. They had a blast with it, but it was too hard and not much learning was going on. They didn't have the technology or small motor skills to run a web cam. I ditched that lesson and tried the next year to integrate with the IT coordinator. That time I tried a summary frame; something taught to our staff by Bob Darnell, a consultant who came to the school for professional development. This was too hard for the students to do and the lesson got dragged out over months. It didn't work well with 10 day rotations and 5-6 classes. The IT teacher had the kids make posters and I made an oversized ABC book that displayed their work (photo above). However, this year the IT teacher is subbing in the classroom and I tried a mini book. The lesson has covered about 2 months and 3 sessions. Again this is too long. One teacher liked the lesson and said he would like me to do it with his class but have his students choose a "just right" book and tie it in with one they've studied and are familiar with. So I guess I haven't completely dumped the lesson idea. If part of the writing is done in the classroom then it might work. After 10 days the students can't remember the story they are writing about. I wonder if I've dumbed down the writing too much. It would be good to work closely with a grade 2 teacher to find out what they think.

Here's the lesson:

Lesson 1: Read the book and go over on white board character traits and how the character changes from the beginning to the end of the story.

Lesson 2: Read the book and write a rough draft. (Drop this and go to lesson 3. Rough draft confused them.)

Lesson 3: Fold a sheet of paper in half that has a box for a picture at the top and lines to write on below. Have students read the book and follow the outline on the sheet below. Have them mark the page number in the book that shows which picture they want. Have them write the story and print off the pictures for them to glue on.

Try to keep your sanity ; )

Monday, November 29, 2010

Neighborhood Book

Grade 1 put together a neighborhood book from pictures that all of the students took while going for a walk around the school. Grade 1 teachers have a unit called, "What's around the corner?" where children learn there is a relationship between humans and their local environment. They need to identify the components of a neighborhood and ways people work cooperatively with others in order to have a successful community. I've been doing this lesson for several years and found it helpful to go back and review the social studies standard and enduring understandings listed in Atlas Rubicon.

This lesson ties in with the social studies standard of ISOC5B3: c. identify examples of institutions and describe the interactions of people with institutions.

Enduring understandings: Communities are places where people live, work, play and help each other. People in the community provide services for that community. That institutions in Tien Mu are here to meet people's needs.

I have done this lesson 4 years in a row and felt like I was going through the motions this time and not really focusing on the enduring understandings. Writing a blog is a good way of snapping out of it. For this lesson I print copies of their pictures and the students choose one picture and write about it. I collect each student's sheet and make a classroom book. The next time they come to library I read them their book and put a barcode and spine label on it. Then students can check it out.

I decided to ask students about what they wrote and videotaped them. Attached is Eduardo. It shows that he's writing about the picture but he really isn't relating it back to the enduring understanding. I should have asked him: What is the temple for in the neighborhood? Who takes care of it? When I looked at most of the writing examples they just describe the picture. Next time I need spend more time on relating the photo to what it means in the community. [youtube][/youtube]

I also tried doing the lesson differently with Scott Middleton's class. I had them make a book versus doing one page. It took took too long for the 30 minutes they are in the library and it was too similar to the brochure they do in computer lab. The students loved that I had printed all the pictures they took. I'll incorporate this into the lesson next year and print off 4 photos from each group. I think if I coordinate this with the IT person or teachers they can use it with their brochure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


[youtube][/youtube]This lesson has evolved over several years and has taken me a long time to come up with a project that works for the limited time that students come to the library; every 10 days for 45 minutes. Our IT director, David Sinclair, sent a link to and I've adapted it to a grade 4 environmental study unit. It would be interesting to see how others have used Animoto in lessons.

Students are put into groups that the teacher has already assigned and they have finished a project on how humans impact the environment. To begin, I have students sign up for an animoto account. In every class - 7 total -  students made mistakes when creating an account. They have to write down the email address they use and I assigned the same password to everyone but they don't type in their email account correctly. It is a time-waster and causes much frustration. Next year, even though it will be time consuming, I'm going to create generic accounts for the 7 to 9 groups in each class and assign an account.  I have done this lesson for 2 years and plan on continuing to use it so the investment will be worthwhile.

The next part of the lesson has students looking for 8 images and downloading them to their network folder. This would be an excellent opportunity to teach students what sights are legal to use and not to use. I would like to talk to Nancy Gorneau, the grade 3-5 IT coordinator, and integrate this lesson with her. I would also like to use some of the useful websites Jeff Utecht presented in our SUNY class. I tried doing it this year but ran out of time because it took too long to sign up for accounts.

After finding 8 images, students then go to the website to create a video. I use the 30 second free animoto video. When I've used the upgraded, or subscription price, the students get too many pictures and it becomes too complicated and takes months to complete. Students can choose 8 images and make 2 text boxes. I tell them it is more like an advertisement where they tell what happens when humans do harmful acts to the environment. Choose create video and choose a style from the home page. Once the style is chosen you can choose free video.

Next choose, upload, then the "T" at the bottom for textbox. Click done and it saves. Choose music and render. When done I click on share and send it to my email account. This year teachers want students to put them on their blog. When I send the email to myself I get the URL for embedding. I have it for backup if there are problems.

I download all the videos and create one video using Corel Videostudio. I then play all of them outside the library on the LCD screen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pete the Cat

Our reading teacher told me about the book, Pete the Cat, by Eric Litwin, and sent this hysterical link that shows a little girl who has memorized the book and is singing it with what looks like an upside down colandar on her head. I decided to make a lesson for kindergarteners after watching the video.

When the book came in the mail, it had a free audio download of the author reading and singing the entire book. I scanned the book and used Corel Video Studio to put the audio with the book. The students then heard the video on the LCD projector and I made shoes for them as props. I was amazed how quickly they picked up the refrain and had it memorized. This is great for repetition and learning words. The students were singing down the hall and in the library as they were checking out books. It made me think of how difficult it is to learn a language and how easy these kids picked it up. I wish there was a song like this in Chinese so I could learn the language ; ) I didn't have time, but you could have students make their own shoes. Go to HarperCollins website for the image.

I had a parent stop by and ask for the video because her daughter loved it so much. Talk about copyright issues. I told her I couldn't because I had made the video for a lesson. I believe I can do this because of the Fair Use law. I am doing it specifically for a lesson, am not distributing it for commercial purposes, and am not making it public by putting it on a blog. Also, I could not find the book with a CD - just the free audio.

I put in a snippet of video so you get an idea of the lesson and afterwards the class is singing the song in the hallway as they go back to class. [youtube][/youtube]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I read a  book called, Be My Neighbor, by Maya Ajmeria & John D. Ivanko to grade 1 students. The book was too long but the pictures were nice so I started making up my own story. Grade 1 is studying neighborhoods and will go on a field trip around the school looking at what makes up a neighborhood. I can't find a book I really like on neighborhoods and would love any recommendations.

After reading the book we used the Epson Brightlink and matched photos to people, places or vehicles. The kids love to use the Brightlink but with 1st graders it takes too long to give everyone a turn. I lost the first class and after half the class was done they were pulling books off the shelves and rolling around on the stage. I talked to Grade 1 Teacher, Scott, and he suggested trying to have half the class (such as the girls) go checkout books while the other half (the boys) play the matching game and then switch. Or choose students who are listening to match the pictures and let them checkout books as they finish matching photos.[youtube][/youtube]

I did try to make a game out of the matching with the next class where they had to tell me what picture went with what person. This kept their attention much better but it still got too long. I think if I combine both of the ideas the lesson would be much better; that is, I can ask how the pictures match and when they get squirmy, which varies with every class and the time of day, I can send them off to find books.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reflection on Final Project

Seems appropriate that we are in the middle of a typhoon and my final project is on weather.

This project is an integrated unit with first grade's weather unit. Last year I read a book that was about clouds and what to do in severe weather. I briefly tied in some library skills by discussing the differences between fiction and nonfiction books. We looked at the call number and I pointed out where nonfiction books are in the library. After the book students played a weather matching game that they loved. It was made by a weather channel and the kids would flip the cards (about 25) and match the photos of in pairs. When a pair was matched it disappeared.

I wanted to improve on this lesson and use the vocabulary words and photos from the Grade 1 FOSS science kit to create my own game. This would be integrated in the curriculum much better and have a stronger impact on student learning. I did a search online for a PowerPoint or Smartboard card game but none of them did quite what I envisioned. I have started the PowerPoint and I can create cards and match them but have yet to figure out how to make them fly off the board once they are matched with the correct pair. If anyone knows of a different program (flash for dummies) or a way to do this, please let me know.

Nancy came through for me again and sent me a memory game. I have finished the game in Smart Notebook and the flash is already done for me so I don't have to learn it. Nancy also showed me the website songs for teaching that has a weather song.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Head, Body, Legs

[youtube][/youtube]This lesson is for kindergarteners and ties in with their social studies unit titled, All About Me, where they gain knowledge of individual development and study basic external body parts. I read the silly book, Head, Body, Legs: A story from Liberia by Won-ldy Paye & Margaret H. Lippert, which is about a disembodied head that can't get cherries or mangoes from the trees unless it cooperates with the rest of the body parts. It finds arms, legs, and body and they work together to get the food they want to eat. I have done this lesson in the past using cutout butcher block paper and magnets and decided to try the Epson Brightlink. The kids loved it. All of the students were able to manipulate the pen pretty smoothly. One boy had a temper tantrum because he didn't want to wait for his turn. When head cooperates in the story he says "This is perfect." One class picked up on that and when they finished their picture they said, "This is perfect." Attached is a video showing the students manipulating the pen.

Standards Accomplished in This Unit

Library Standard 3: The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively.

3.3 Communicates and synthesizes ideas in logical and creative or novel ways.

3.3.2 Presents information that visually conveys the main idea and supporting details about a topic.

ISTE.NETS Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

Social Studies: Individual Development and Identity

ISoc4B3: c. describe the unique features of one's nuclear and extended families

Integrated Unit: All About Me – Students learn how they are special and unique.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reader's Theater

[youtube][/youtube]Grade 3 performed a reader's theater of the book, Chester's Masterpiece, by Melanie Watt. The story involves the author leaving sticky notes to the character in the book which ties in with reading strategies being taught in the classroom. I used the document reader with Avermedia software on my computer to project the book onto the wall using the Epson Brightlink projector. Students read one page of the book using the microphone from a portable speaker. Props of the author, Chester, and Rat were used as they spoke their parts. Only one of the five classes stayed focused until the end. The words were a little too hard and the lesson was a little too long. Next year I will do this lesson in the springtime when students are better readers.

I had problems with the document reader freezing. The document reader is old and the software is new so I think it is just a compatibility issue but I'm not sure. Anyone had this problem?  I attached a video. In the beginning the girl is struggling with holding the script, prop, and microphone. I told her to put the pages on the chair but she forgot. Other students would mix up the pages or drop them. I put the pages in a three-ring binder and set it on the chair and that seemed to correct the problem. I also moved the videotographer by the speaker and the sound is better in the following person on the video. I had the students' who have problems focusing run the video and flip the pages of the book.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kill the Widget

Kill the Wabbit! Elmer Fudd shouts at Bugs Bunny, his archenemy in Looney Tunes cartoons.

After my widget war, I too, have a battlecry:

Kill the Widget!

Let me explain.

I've been working with a grade 5 teacher who wants to create digital portfolios with his students blogs.  The teacher wanted to create a blog page with students titled, My Reads, which launched me on a quest to find a website that students could use to track books they have read and write reviews. 

I didn't want it to be a quest.

It should have been easy. I've used Shelfari and Library Thing. But it wasn't easy and during my quest Elmer Fudd phrases kept popping into my head: Bewieve it or not, I'm hunting a certain wascawwy wabbit /widget.

I tried putting Shelfari's shelf widget on my blog. Pwetty cwafty, eh? Wrong! This is where the wabbit/widget outsmarts me. No matter what I did the Javascript kept deleting when I'd try and post, leaving me only a link. The teacher wanted the visual so students could show parents their digital portfolios during conferences.  Check out Jeff Utecht's great posts on digital portfolios. I  tried the only other social network I know for reading books called, The Library Thing. This too has a widget but the javascript would delete when I embedded the information into my Word Press blog. It acted the same as Shelfari. I worked with the IT department and tried all sorts of ways to get the wily widget to work, but no luck. The quest ended in failure. I was told the widget  wouldn't work.

My alter ego, Elmer Fudd, grabs his hunting rifle and pulls the trigger. Blast! I kill the widget.

Elmer Fudd  was always remorseful after he thinks he killed the wabbit. "Oh what have I done?" he says. "I've killed the wabbit. Poor wittle bunny! Poor wittle bunny." I too, am remorseful. I talk to Nancy Gorneau, grade 3-5 IT Coordinator, who tells me to try Good Reads which is supposed to work with Word Press blogs. It works and looks great! Look at the bottom of my column to the right. The teacher is happy. The IT Department is happy. I am happy. I also wearned my wesson... next time I  have twubble wid widgets I'm finding Nancy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Beware of out-of-control hyperlinks. I have 13 Internet Explorer boxes open from jumping from one link to another.

I have been trying to find an online collaborative project with other librarians. No luck. I found a good website on library curriculum but it was informative not collaborative.

 I would like to do something with books and getting students excited about reading. I found an article on Collaborative Learning Gaining Traction in Classrooms and Libraries by Sarah Amandolare that linked me to the website EPals. From this site I found In2Books which links adults with students' reading books.  The program is for students doing book reviews in grades 3-5. Students choose books from a booklist and write a review.There is a checklist to see if certain story elements are in the review. The students write to another adult about the book they have read. The adult writes back to the student and they discuss the book. The adult has gone through a screening test and the teacher has control of the communication. The review that comes from the adult goes to the teacher who approves it and sends it on to the student. At this point I'm starting to wonder if all these bells and whistles cost money. So I open a few more hyperlinks to add to my collage of cascading open browsers and find that the program is free if you are a Title 1 school in the U.S. and costs $360-$460 US dollars if you are not.

Here's a link to a video explaining the program

I wiped the browser(s) clean and tried a different track looking up online book clubs. I found one I liked called Spaghetti Book Club. It has a wide range of books and the web interface is easy to use. Two of the bottom links didn't work and when I clicked on the About section it said there were membership fees.

I need to mull over this topic. The In2Books collaborates with adults and I want students to collaborate. The Spaghetti Book Club doesn't collaborate so it doesn't really apply. What would be more valuable? Scott has Pen Pals with grade 2 students in the U.S. and I see the value in it. Perhaps linking with another classroom in the world and sharing reading is the way to go such as the ES 1001 Tales. ES 1001 Tales has a great setup and I could get lots of ideas from it. I used a Wiki a couple of years ago with books and it became too unruly with no organization to the books. I also had problems with students accidentally deleting each others reviews. Of course it didn't help that I didn't know what I was doing. I think the blog setup would work better as a collaborative tool because of the easy way to organize using categories.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Follow up to Google Search Stories

I decided to teach Google search stories video creator after learning about it in class from teacher, Jeff Utecht. After teaching Google search stories video creator to two classes, I decided that I needed to spend more time explaining how to tell a story using the search boxes. I also made a greater effort to touch base with each group several times to see how they were proceeding. With some classes I spent too much time with one group. It worked better if I touched base more frequently giving some guidance on how to write the story; otherwise students would summarize or not choose one book to write about. I also spent too much time with two classes problem-solving computer logon/wireless issues which took too much time away from the learning experience. In later classes if there was a computer issue I set the computer aside and got another laptop dealing with the issue after the class left. This seems like such an obvious solution but I'm surprised how often I lose track of time troubleshooting computers. I've been working on improving my time management of classes. I had a sub for one of the days I had to teach this lesson and I put together a video of how to do it using Camtasia Studio. I thought it would be faster than doing screen shots and typing up the lesson. I'm not sure if it was because it took an hour to make the video. When looking at the videos made by the students who had the sub it looked like they understood the objective. Their videos contained elements of a story.

Here's the video I left for the sub:



One teacher said that over lunch the students were talking about videos they made in library and he asked me how I was able to make a video and have students’ checkout books in 45 minutes. He said the students seemed to really like the lesson. I had another boy afterschool stop by and say, “I was trying to show my Dad my video and couldn’t find it. How do I find them on the Internet?” I showed him and he wrote down how to view them. I'll have to followup with him next week.

I did a survey of one of the classes to get feedback on the lesson.  I got the idea from the comment on my blog and from another blog, the tech volley, where the writer conducted a survey. In my survey, I asked 5th grade students what they learned and most said, “How to make a video.” One wrote: “The Internet has a lot of powers and abilities like humans.” Only one related it to elements of a story. I'll have to continue to work on this part of the lesson.  There were 19 positive and 1 negative comment. The positive comments were: It was fun and easy, I liked choosing songs, I liked working in groups and with friends, “I liked the part where we thought of ideas in the book to type.” Overall, it seemed to be a good lesson that got the students excited about learning and reading.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Kindergarteners remind me of bobbleheads.

Watch the 7 second video of a bubbly boy who is so excited for his turn to use the interactive whiteboard. He is third in line which is why the girl next to him says "no."  


I created a lesson around the book, A Picture for Harold’s Room, by Crockett Johnson.  Through a PTA grant, I received the Epson Brightlink Interactive Whiteboard in our library. It is like a Smartboard except it uses any surface to project an image. In addition, the screen size can be adjusted which gives me more flexibility with height. For this lesson I scanned all the pages of the book and put them in a PowerPoint.  I read the pages and the students followed along with what was happening in the story by using the white interactive pen to draw in purple. For instance, one student would draw the purple line, another student would draw a house, etc. Each student received a turn with the "purple crayon."

This lesson aids students with comprehension strategies such as sequencing and story retelling. It addresses different learning styles by hearing the story (auditory), seeing the pages projected on the screen (visual) and using the pen to draw what is happening with the story on each page (kinesthetic). At the end of the lesson, students made up their own “purple crayon” stories.

According to Bloom’s taxonomy for digital citizens the lesson moves students to a higher order of thinking that involves creating. In addition, the lesson reinforces what students are doing in Readers Workshop which is story sequencing and retelling. I put together a short video showing the students retelling the story, making up new stories, and figuring out how to use the interactive pen. [youtube][/youtube]

There's a video on YouTube of the story that is good but when I showed it first in the lesson to students it made the lesson too long. The students got restless.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

To copy or not to copy

The ABCs… of Copyright.

The topic of copyright and intellectual property is nothing like the ABCs - it isn’t that sequential. It is more like tossing your ABCs into a blender and producing a Copyright Smoothie.

Sounds good but the answers are not easy. Or clear. Here’s a taste.

My thoughts on copyright started after making my first blog. I began to wonder what media I can and cannot post on a blog. I have been creating video book trailers the past few weeks. My inspiration came from book trailers I found on Scholastic. Book talks are a great way to get kids excited about reading. I have found that when I mix book talks with video talks I have a more dynamic presentation that incorporates more of the senses. I’ve had 3rd graders hear video book trailers and start jumping up and down like they are at a rock concert. Check out the 39 clues video book trailer – that’s a favorite. (Check out IPad’s eBooks’ – Wow! I jumped up and down, but that’s a separate blog topic.) I thought I would create my own video book trailers and play them on the flat screen monitor outside the library highlighting books every month. Then I thought about putting them on a blog. That made me wonder about copyright issues.

In my video book trailer, I have a section where I show an animated video of a coin flip.  The coin flip is really cool and drives home the point that the main character in the novel is given a special coin that sets off a series of events where he is solving a mystery to save his school. I found the coin flip on YouTube with no reference to its creator. While I know it's okay to hyperlink to the coin flip, is it okay to put it in a newly created video and then post it on a blog? In my video, I also show the covers of three books and illustrations from each of them. I Photoshopped some illustrations and I vaguely remember that being a No No in a library class. I believe it’s illegal to change the original work. So the question is should I or shouldn’t I post my video on a blog?  


We can start with my smoothie picture which is from Microsoft clip art. I went to their website and found in order to use their pictures I have to include the following statement: "Used with permission from Microsoft." (Can I just hyperlink the photo to Microsoft's site or must I have that statement?)

In the Google search engine I typed “blogs legal use of photos site: gov” and found the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. According to it I need the author’s permission to use his or her books. Under the Fair Use Act I can use the book trailers for lessons or educational purposes but it isn’t clear about blogs. This blog is for our COETAIL class so does that make it okay to post my video book trailer? (Or am I using the Fair Use Act as an excuse to not figure out copyright? ) The Fair Use Act says I am not supposed to change the original copy. That’s the No No I couldn’t remember. You can produce a parody. There is a funny copyright video that uses less than 30 second clips from Disney movies to explain Copyright. German director Werner Herzog has a hilarious spoof on the book, Madeline.


Copyright doesn’t always make sense to me. My video book trailers are meant to get kids excited about reading. If they are excited about reading then they will go buy the book or check it out. This favors the author of the book where I am promoting their creation (through my creation). Hence, I don’t think I’d upset any authors. Although I might with my Photoshopping and the anonymous coin flip. So after plodding through all the information it would seem that I need to be careful with blogs because they are public. Sorry reader. I better not post my video book trailer. I did come across an 8th grade class that did book trailers where they drew original pictures and animated them. This could be an alternative if I want to go public with some book trailers.  

What bothers me is how copyright interferes with student learning. And I have had many arguments with fellow librarians who want to make this black and white. But it isn't. Too often the creative side gets stifled because of copyright. I had a student make a great video book trailer using scenes from the animated movie, Coraline. I'm not posting it in any public domain. The student was expressive and used language arts skills being taught in the classroom. It was a great integrated lesson that never would have happened if I had said, "Oh, you can't use those movie clips because it's illegal." What I do need to add to my lessons is a clear understanding to not post those "creations" on any public website and to understand that it isn't legal when put in a public domain. Here's a helpful toolkit for educators from the US patent office. It's important that students understand copyright laws in public domains.

Obviously, students or adults are not going to master copyright laws but as an educator I can teach the concept of digital citizenship where students think about the tech skills they are using and what it means to be responsible when using the World Wide Web.  If you want other musings on this topic check out Alison McAloon’s blog that discusses how she’s used copyright with 5th graders and Wendy Van Bramer who is linked to a “Ted Talk” that discusses  the delicate copyright balance between creators/inventors and publishers/owners. The speaker gives examples of how the trend in laws has been to favor publishers/owners and how this stifles creativity.

It is truly fascinating how the Internet has broken down the old hierarchy of publishing and allows anyone to be an author. I love the creativity that it inspires and the controversy it stirs up in folks. It is very exciting to be a part of the evolution of digital technology.  

Time to digest my Copyright Smoothie.  …Very, Very, very, slowly.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Google Search Stories Video Creator

Hyper. Linked.

Imagine thoughts exploding in all directions.

Like my lunch.

I put an egg in the microwave for one minute. An impressive boom sounded and I ended up with a crater in my egg, (a mess to clean), and a lead for my blog. I love the speed of the microwave and Internet.

I used Google Search Stories Video Creator with two 5th grade classes that came to the library for 45 minutes. I showed them three videos: Toy Story, Monster Cookie, and Zombie Apocalypse. The students had a blast with this lesson and didn’t want to stop. There were a few bumps along the way but we sure had fun!

The lesson involved creating a video based on the books we had discussed in the previous library lesson. Students chose groups of two or three and used one computer per group. A couple of times the students lost their Internet connection and the story disappeared. Not good. Most remembered what they typed so the frustration level remained low. Another glitch in the lesson was that we couldn’t publish the stories to YouTube. I was hoping students could use their Google Apps account but that didn’t work. I tried a generic account on Gmail and that didn’t work either. I had a hunch that the school filter or Norton’s was interfering with the download. I grabbed a video camera and taped their stories. That seemed to satisfy everyone. Luckily I get to teach the same lesson five times so I went home and was able to link a YouTube account to the generic Google Account.  I posted an example on YouTube and showed it to the second 5th grade class. Everything was going well with no Internet connections lost and we posted 3 videos.

Or so I thought.

Google Story Creator said it was successful but when we looked on YouTube they weren’t there. I quickly told students to upload their videos and then leave the computers. I took their videos and used an online converter program saving them to a flash drive from their computers. I imported one of the videos to Corel Video Studio and there was no sound. I copied the file to my hard drive but still no sound. Perhaps it’s the MPEG extension that Corel doesn’t like? I’m starting to think that maybe I don’t want my egg to explode but will go back to cooking it on the stove in a format I know. Next, I went back to the online converter and converted the MPEG to an .avi file. That worked, but the quality was reduced.

Here’s a video of lesson.

With the first class I grabbed a video camera and it looks a little bit like an earthquake is happening but it’s my shaky hands. The second class is a downloaded and converted video. I produced it in an .flv. Is that the best format for a web page? Or is an .mp4 format better?


I really wanted students to tell something about the story. I didn’t always get that. Instead I got a list of characters in the story like on the Pokemon section of the video. I verbally told students that they need to have the title of the book, setting, main character, and tension, but I need to slow down this part of my lesson and write it on the whiteboard.  We did do one together but I must have gone too fast. I'll have to check more for understanding. I'll let you know how it goes.

P.S. I was putting in my hyperlinks and went to YouTube typing in TASlslibrary (the generic email account). Guess what! The videos were there. There must be a delay in the posting. Yeah! No more converting.

Friday, August 27, 2010

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