Poetry Podcast

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.11.27 PMBy Kathy Poe and Shannon Nichols

Mrs. Nichols’ classes developed a poem based on a famous person that has made a difference. She had her students create a poster of their poem with photos. Mrs. Poe extended the project by having the students make a podcast of the poems.

This Written Expression project was twofold. First the students studied the style of Narrative Poetry. We listened to, read, and dissected three infamous narrative poems: Casey at Bat, Harriet Tubman, and Caged Bird. After closely reading each poem, students determined that narrative poetry tells a story, uses repetition as a tool, and often contains symbolism. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the students identified and researched a person that has been a champion of human rights. They applied the knowledge learned about their chosen role model to create a narrative poem for the second piece of this assignment. The poem was presented as a poster with illustrations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.19.53 PMWith the poem written our students turned their poetry into a Podcast. They watched videos of champion poetry readers from Poetry Out Loud to see how other students deliver a poem in a dramatic way. To make them come alive our students practiced recording their poems working on diction, fluency, timing and presentation. They used GarageBand to record their poems and added music that fit the time period. Recording their poems brought them to life beyond the bulletin board. Finally, we created a QR code to listen to each one.

Click here or use the QR code to listen to all our Poetry Podcasts!

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.18.20 PM

The Industrial Revolution and Child Labor

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.11.48 AM There are many events and topics throughout US History that I love to study.  The Industrial Revolution is one of my favorites and child labor during that time is a special interest.  I wanted to create a project gave the students the feeling of being in the factories with the children of the time.  

Then I thought, what if the students could truly be in the factories?  Could I use Lewis W. Hine and Jacob Riis’ pictures to put the students in the factories?

Students were told they were about to become true, child laborers.  Each student created a Google Doc, and once they changed the setting to “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”, students used the Google Research tool find a picture of child labor from the Industrial Revolution.  This was a great opportunity to review the photo citation process.  After finding the picture, students took a screenshot of it and saved it to their desktop.

During one class period students brought in clothes that best matched the children in the picture, they were not required to purchase anything.  Most of the boys brought in a button down shirt, while many girls found dresses in their moms’ closets.  Some students even brought in props.  We then dirtied them up a bit with some potting soil, to give them an authentic look fo the  working conditions in the factories.

After taking their pictures we put them into iMovie in order to change them to black and white, or in some cases, sepia.  Students then took a screenshot of the altered picture and using the cropping tools removed all surrounding background.  

The altered screenshot was then copied and pasted onto the screenshot of the original picture.  That allowed us to size the student to fit in with the original.

The finished products are outstanding.  The students are always amazed at their completed “photographs” and are anxious to see pictures from other classes.  This project is a perfect combination of history and technology.

Digital Literacy and Creative Projects

Blog Post - April (2)Nowadays, we live in a digital world where students spend a large portion of each day utilizing computers as a tool both in and out of the classroom. At the Fletcher School, our goal is to develop Digital Literacy and Citizenship in our students. Using Common Sense Media’s Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum in our computer classes, students discuss and learn how to be responsible and safe while online.

Two of the many aspects of Digital Literacy from Common Sense Media that are taught in 6th Grade are Strategic Searching and A Creator’s Rights. These two components give students an introduction to online researching and the importance of citing sources used to obtain information. Strategic Searching, shows students how to effectively and efficiently conduct research on the internet using a variety of strategies such as using keywords, synonyms, quotations marks around specific words, and different domain types. A five-step method (S. E. A. R. C. H.) is introduced as a tool to assist in planning and carrying out online searches. The 5 letters stand for: select questions, extract keywords and terms, apply search strategies, run your research and chart your search.

A Creator’s Rights teaches students about copyrights, fair use, public domains, licensing, piracy and plagiarism. Through videos and class discussions, students come to understand these terms so they can follow the rules of copyright laws, protect their own creative work and be respectful of how they use others work.

Blog Post - April (1)After studying these two Digital Literacy components, the 6th Graders complete a four part culminating project entitled, “My Birthday in History”. The project incorporates the Digital Literacy curriculum, as well as various technology tools. For the first part, students are required to apply the five-step method and strategies for searching to research events and birthdays that happened on their birth date in history. Students are always amazed at what they discover when doing this research. Many times they have heard of an event or person, but it adds an exciting element when they find out it happened on their birth date. My classroom comes alive with chatter as everyone shares their discoveries. I often have to remind them to save some “surprises” for their actual paper. Once the information is gathered, it is used to write a six paragraph paper Students must include a “Works Cited” list to give credit to the people’s work used as resources. For the second part, pictures are collected that correlate to the events and birthdays chosen. The pictures are utilized three ways, as an attachment to the written paper, incorporated into an iMovie, and to design a poster using one of two websites: Canva www.canva.com or Buncee www.edu.buncee.com.

Blog Post - AprilThe completed posters are put together as a bulletin board. For the third part, an iMovie is produced. Using our green screen room, students record and edit a video depicting one historical event and one birthday from their written work. The video and pictures are assembled to create an iMovie which has to include transitions and music. Lastly, in order to share our completed project with our school community and visitors, students use Blippbuilder to create “blipps.” These “blipps” turn the posters into interactive images that can be used with Blippar, an augmented reality app, to scan them. Anyone who has the app downloaded on a digital device can see the students’ movies “come to life,” just by scanning it. All are welcome to come see our work!

KAPOW! Students Get Creative with Comics in Spanish Class

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.29.44 AMStudents often struggle to find creativity and relevance in their Spanish writing assignments.  Often, the textbook vocabulary can be dry, unrelatable or “boring”. Additional challenges include not knowing enough supplemental vocabulary to truly tell an interesting story in their own words. Which results in students turning to online translations tools to “fill in those blanks” and typically I am left with a lovely essay written by Google Translate. So how does a teacher get students to bring to life their textbook vocabulary while staying true to their own abilities??? A comic!

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.30.01 AM

Teachers often struggle with how to use technology to encourage storytelling. Typically a new app or website can be everything from exciting to terrifying…and time consuming. Many teachers want to find ways to grow their projects using the SAMR model. SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Pixton Comic Maker is an easy to use website that really allows students to design, develop and infuse digital learning. To make an amazing project, teachers and students do not need to access another site (i.e: students do not need to use Quicktime to record voices, Pixton provides all tools needed within its site). There are also many helpful “how-to” videos provided by the website. I was very impressed with how quickly my students learned the website and their final projects were really incredible!

The Pixton Comic Website is both a teacher and student friendly website that not only allows students to write and create their own stories, but allows them to fully bring them to life by providing the technology needed to record student voices directly into the project!

The end result is a narrated slideshow that tells the students story in their own words. I believe that this a a website that can teachers, regardless of content area, can use to create individualized and innovative projects.

Student Example

Pixton Comic

We then used http://www.qrstuff.com/ to link our pixton comic to a QR that allows everyone

We used a simple QR code to allow others to share in our assignments! Try it! 

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.30.14 AM

Teacher Collaboration Impacts Student Learning

QRCode_2ndGradeTeachersWorking together as a team is always a positive experience for teachers who wish to improve the educational experience for their students, learn from each other, and grow professionally.  The Fletcher School’s ongoing professional development programs create opportunities for all teachers to learn and practice new skills, share ideas, and work on common goals to increase teaching efficacy.  Fletcher’s second grade team is now expanding their knowledge by creating their own customized informal workshops for lower school teachers.  

Following the model set by Fletcher’s professional development programs, second grade teacher Christi Kubeck taught teachers how to use QR codes in their classrooms.  QR codes are a great way to engage and motivate students by incorporating added interest and movement into reading, writing, and information processing.  Ms. Kubeck shared her extensive technology knowledge and volunteered her time to assist lower school teachers who signed up for the activities.

The teachers began with a discussion around innovative uses for QR codes to enhance their multisensory lessons.

Some stimulating lesson ideas included:

  • Orton-Gilling rules, including
    • CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant)
    • the “rabbit rule” (when to double middle consonants)
    • Syllable division
  • Math flash cards
  • Subjects and predicates
  • Government: American symbols, eg. The Statue of Liberty

QR Code StudentThrough hands-on, step-by-step instruction, Ms. Kubeck led teachers through the steps of creating, laminating, and cutting out QR codes.  QR Code Generator was used to create the codes, and the i-nigma app was used for QR code scanning.  Multi-colored papers, pictures, videos, and a variety of intriguing content were included to customize the final products.  The teachers had ample time to gain instruction on the process, work to finish their lesson materials, and practice how they would be used in class with students.

Teachers emerged from the experience enthused about the experience and ready to replicate the use of QR codes in the classrooms with additional content.  The teachers also reported feeling energized through their group conversations and appreciated the opportunity for additional camaraderie and creativity.  Kudos to Ms. Christi Kubeck for leading this effort by sharing her time and expertise with colleagues!

Going Green! Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio


Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.38.45 PMOur school’s green screen studio is one of the many gems found in our building, but why do we have one? Chroma Key or “green screening” is a technique by which a block of a particular color (often blue or green) in a video image can be replaced either by another color or image, enabling, for example, a weather forecaster to appear against a background of a computer-generated weather map. Check out this
fun YouTube video for examples.

Our green screen studio has been used in many creative and innovative ways to bring our curriculum to life. Instead of traditional essays, students have used the green screen room to immerse themselves in a story’s setting and plot by replacing the green background with a scene from that story. Students use props, accents, and clothing to portray a character’s point of view to show their understanding of those important characters and how they affect the plot. The ability to superimpose oneself into the storyline of a book or within a different landscape learned about in science, engages and motivates students to learn.

Here are a few example of our past green screen projects created by Fletcher classes:

Exotic Spring Break Destinations (edited in DoInk’s Green Screen app) 

Trouble River (edited in iMovie for Mac)

Trigraphs (edited in Touchcast for iPad)

So, how do our students make the magical green screen effect happen?

IMG_4991Our green screen studio has adapted to our needs over time. We used to have a mobile screen with stands that we carted all around the school. It was cumbersome and no longer practical once the idea of green screening caught on and everyone wanted the kit transported to their room. Our original screen screen lights were extremely low budget. We purchased three tripods from Target and clip-on flood lights from Home Depot. We simply clipped the flood lights to the tripods and situated them in front of a large, felt green screen purchased from a photography store.

We found that the lights weren’t holding onto the tripods well and they were really warming up the rooms we were working in.  Therefore, we spent some money to upgrade the lights to the Impact Soft and Natural Light Kit from B&H. Honestly, these lights would function much better in a larger space, but since we are working in a small office, we can’t situate the lights in the best way possible. However, they are more sturdy and don’t get so hot.

IMG_9819Yes, so we moved out the fabric screen and in it’s place painted a wall green in a small, empty office in our tech center. We used Behr “sparking apple” paint to mimic the green screen that we had used in the past. 

Since the beginning we have filmed with our iOgrapher for iPad and Rode microphone kit. We recently purchased a cheaper Rode microphone for our second iOgrapher, and it works just as well!

 

IMG_9813Finally, the most recent addition to our green screen studio is an iPad Air iOgrapher on a tripod. We use this as our “teleprompter” to offer a confidence boost and to encourage students to look at the camera instead of looking down at their notes. The app we use for the teleprompter is called PromptSmart Pro and offers a cool feature called VoiceTrack, which follows your words during your speech and automatically scrolls the text at your natural pace in real time. We have found that this functionality is hit or miss, however, and we often revert to setting an automatic scrolling speed.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.42.24 PMRecording objects or people in front of a green screen is the first step of chroma keying. The second step is editing the video in an application. Our iPad users edit green screen recordings in DoInk Green Screen app and Touchcast Studio while our Mac users chroma key in iMovie. You can find out more about how this is done on page 18 of my book, “iMovie for Mac in the Classroom.”

There are cheaper ways to make green screening work in your home or in your classroom. You can paint a piece of cardboard green or buy a large green sheet or piece of green fabric from the craft store. The built-in microphone of your device, such as a smartphone or tablet, will work just fine for recording audio. We hope you’ll give it a try!

Teaching Tolerance

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.07.22 AM

Teaching Civil Rights during February is often expected of U.S. History teachers, but it doesn’t have to be the creation of a timeline of key events, or a study of Martin Luther King, Jr. I take a slightly different approach and use technology to drive home a lesson of global tolerance.

I start off by guiding the students to create a class definition of tolerance: the willingness to accept something you do not like, understand or agree with.  Then with the help of Danielle Knight’s lesson from Teachers pay Teachers, students learn the meaning of the lyrics behind U2’s song:  “Pride, In the Name of Love”.  On Youtube, we watch the original video (which always leads to student guffaws over Bono’s hair and dancing) and then a video that sets the same song to a compilation of news footage from the Civil Rights Movement.  It is an engaging way to introduce Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of equality and tolerance.  

We then move onto the technology portion of the lesson.  Using Amy Zschaber’s lesson plan, students create a Tagxedo of who they are and what they want others to tolerate in themselves.  

  1. Using a Google Doc students created a list of 55 words about themselves.  
  2. Open Tagxedo.com  – it seems to work better in Firefox or Safari.  If you are using a Mac, you will need to install Silverlight first.
  3. Students then click on create, which brings them to the creation page. (Image 1)
  4. Click on load on the left side menu, paste the words from the Google Doc into the enter text box and click submit, the image will then “respin”. (Image 2)
  5. Click on Shape in the left side menu, and choose add Image at the bottom of that dialogue box. (Image 3)
  6. Choose a picture of the student.  When  the image loads will it may look like a black blob, so use the threshold and blur options to make the image more clear. (Using a picture with a white background works best.) (Image 4)
  7. Click accept and the image will ”respin” into the student’s photo with the words within the shape. (Image 5)
  8. I then allow students to change the colors by clicking on theme on the left side menu.  (Image 6)
  9. Students can also choose a new font by clicking on font on the left side menu. (Image 7)
  10. To save or print click on save/share on the left side menu and select the option you would like. (Image 8)

I enjoy teaching this lesson each year because the students really enjoy using Tagxedo, and it opens the door to honest conversation about who we are as a society and how far we have truly come in terms of equality.

IMAGE 1

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.02.25 AM

 

 

 

IMAGE 2

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.02.37 AM

 

 

 

 

IMAGE 3

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.06.32 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE 4

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.06.38 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE 5

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.06.44 AM

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE 6

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.06.49 AM

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE 7

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.07.14 AM

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGE 8

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.07.18 AM

Upper School Research Tools

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 3.26.06 PMResearch is a time consuming process, but there are a plethora of online resources and websites that help alleviate the stress of compiling information, annotating sources, and composing a paper.  Many students often feel overwhelmed with the research process, and they don’t necessarily know how to begin.

The early portion of research requires structure and organization.  A tool like Symbaloo allows students to bookmark credible web sources.  Students can now go to one page that houses all of their research content, and each link or resource is represented by an image tile.  Patti Weiss, the Instructional Technology Facilitator at The Fletcher School, discusses the versatility of Symbaloo and asserts, “Symbaloo provides students with both guidance and independence, leading them to take responsibility for their own learning while continuing to benefit from Fletcher’s excellent devices and technology resources”.  Symbaloo’s user-friendly features and simplicity makes research less daunting.  

Citing sources and formatting are two other areas of the research process that involve careful attention.  Schools and universities across the country warn students about the negative consequences of plagiarism.  It is important that every student understands the importance of citing every source.  Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (also commonly known as Purdue OWL) outlines all of the rules of both the MLA and APA Formatting Styles and Guides.  The site provides thorough explanations of the rules as well as samples of citations and formatting requirements.  Furthermore, students who need to review any grammar concept can easily access helpful tips on English grammar, usage, and mechanics on the site.  Purdue OWL also updates their site regularly to include the latest changes on citation rules and requirements.

Students at The Fletcher School are exposed to research-based writing assignments in the ninth grade.  Mr. Gale, a Composition teacher in the Upper School, remarks, “Ninth graders learn how to identify credible sources on the web, extract relevant information, paraphrase the research in their own words, and understand how to cite their sources correctly.”  This exposure prepares Fletcher students for the writing that they will encounter in college.  

History is another course where students conduct research-based projects.  Mr. Jolley, a History teacher at The Fletcher School, claims, “Research is necessary to the understanding of history.  Often students learn from the perspective of the teacher; it is just as important for students to take ownership of their learning, and they should examine documents from the past that show the ideas, feelings, and reasons behind the historical content they are studying in class.  It is imperative that students are given the skills to find and evaluate historical resources; these skills serve them across curriculum and allow them to apply the same skills in the outside world.”

The writing that Fletcher students complete in all of their courses ultimately prepares them for their Senior Exit Project.  Fletcher seniors are required to compose an 8-10 page research paper on the topic of their choice and create a multimedia presentation to be presented in front of the Fletcher community.  Seniors take a two-day field trip to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Atkins Library to explore ideas for their project and collect sources.  They continue the research and writing throughout the fall semester.  Google Slides, Keynote, and/or Prezi  are among the tools that they use to create the multimedia component of their project; they also use Google Docs to compose and revise their papers.  The Senior Exit Project is a wonderful opportunity for the  Fletcher seniors to showcase their writing, critical thinking, and oral presentation skills.

With a methodical plan and the right tools, any student is capable of writing a well-developed, organized, and properly cited paper.  

K-1 Students Create Digital Privacy Book

Keep it Private Online

Click the thumbnail above to download Masarya’s book!

The Fletcher School is committed to developing digital literacy and citizenship skills beginning with our youngest students. Our kindergarten and first grade students begin by learning about online safety and privacy. They are taught to think about going online as a fun field trip. The rules are the same as a real field trip:  always go places with an adult, don’t wander off on your own and talk only with people you know. We practice looking at websites and discuss which ones have topics they enjoy and activities that work well and are fun to play. The site they choose should seem like it’s made for someone their age. The teacher displays a variety of website forms that ask a child to sign up before using the site. Students discuss how to approach a parent about help with deciding if this is a good site for them. Then, using the Book Creator app each kindergarten and first grade student creates a book titled, “Keep it Private Online.” Their book displays words and pictures of the information they know should be kept private when using the internet.

Example by Masarya:

Symbaloo

iPad K-4 SymbalooA key component of The Fletcher School’s Digital Citizenship program includes guiding students to make excellent choices when using their devices.  Our teachers prepare students for their digital worlds by modeling, instructing digital citizenship, and teaching students how to practice navigating and organizing resources from a variety of sources.  Students can now benefit from this continued guidance when using their devices either at school or at home using Symbaloo.

Symbaloo is a personalized learning environment, which offers a shared collection of online bookmarks and web resources.  Fletcher’s Symbaloo webmixes are organized by grade levels and customized by Fletcher’s EdTech team, evolving with continuous student and teacher input.  With Symbaloo, Fletcher students may use technology to access specific activities/games which are safe and appropriate for specific approved school periods (eg. advisory, homeroom, team time), during before/after school programs, and even at home.  Symbaloo provides students with both guidance and independence, leading them to take responsibility for their own learning while continuing to benefit from Fletcher’s excellent devices and technology resources.  

How Does Symbaloo work?

Fletcher students may use the following resources to create, explore, or play games during before and after school programs, or during any assigned free time during the school day:

MacBook 5-12 Symbaloo

Any student/teacher wishing to suggest an item to be added to the Symbaloo may submit their idea using the Symbaloo Request Form, which is also linked on each Symbaloo webmix.