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.