Friday, May 31, 2013

A New Twist On The 3rd Grade Country Research Projects....Collaborating and Creating Something Awesome!


The third graders country project is one of the biggest projects of the year in the elementary.  Over the last six years as the teacher librarian at Van Meter it has been fun to see how this project has evolved and all the changes that it has taken on. 

The first year each student had their own little set of notecards and everything was done on paper.  The teacher wrote what they had to find on each notecard set before she handed them to the students. 

The next few years we added more and more online resources and changed some of the information that they had to locate about the country they were assigned.  We also added print resources to the library and reached out to the AEA (Area Education Agency) to borrow more from them as well.  The project was done on paper and all of them looked very similar in what they were to include.  

Two years ago the teacher was ready to take the project digital.  With my assistance in the classroom and library, she felt comfortable to take this project to the next level.  She used the notecards still but the project part was digital and most of the research was done online too.  
Last year she was ready for the information that they found throughout the research to be stored online in a wiki.  We set up the country wiki together and each student had to find the same information about their country.  They then typed the research into their country page.  We also have them several choices on what they wanted to create.  They could use Animoto, VoiceThread, PicMonkey, ComicLife, Keynote or Powerpoint....and could use them in any combination as well.  

The projects were really nice and they were very proud of what they created.  We put all of these together within the wiki to share with their classmates and others.  

You can read about last years work in the post Our 3rd Grade Country Project...Something A Little Different This Year.  
Then we come to this year.  We talked about how we could put a new twist on the country research project and make it even more collaborative and engaging.  There were several things that we did a little bit different.  

The third graders learn about the countries all year long.  After Christmas I started bringing in our AEA databases, such as specific parts of CultureGrams and Britannica, and several online resources such as NationMaster, Global Closet Calculator, and If It Were My Home. We also reviewed using SweetSearch4Me, netTrekker, and WebPath Express within Van Meter's Destiny. 

I put these resources and a few others in the corner of the Third Grade Symbaloo which the students used all year long to connect with the resources that they needed within the library and classroom.  The students and I did a lot of exploration of these resources and it raised their curiosity even more about the countries they were learning about in class. 
We also decided to make the wiki even more collaborative than the year before.  This year we would pair the students up.  Each pair would have their very own page on the "Let's Compare Our Countries Wiki" where they would keep track of the research they would conduct.  The third graders and I spoke about different ideas for organizing this information on their pages, but ultimately it was up to them how they would make this work.  
On the front page of the wiki we listed the project requirements, learning targets and standards the project would include.  This was very helpful for the students to refer back to if they had questions and also for parents to see what was required as well.  
I just loved watching each pair find the information while comparing and contrasting their two countries.  
Dustin and Aiden are just one awesome example of how well this collaboration worked out.  They compared Poland and Canada for their country research project. 
After the students researched their countries and completed the wiki pages, they took this information and created beautiful Smore's to teach others about their country.  A Smore is an online newsletter that can contain embedded videos, photos, text, titles and more with customized backgrounds, themes, colors and fonts.  

I created a Google Doc titled 3rd Grade Country Smore Project, made it public and placed a link on the Third Grade Symbaloo.  This made it very easy for the students to find the directions whenever they needed them.  
The Smore's were amazing.....Everyone created something unique and special to them.  
As they completed the Smore's, I had a couple of the third graders help me add them to a Padlet I set up to hold the country projects.  Within Padlet (use to be called Wallwisher) you can now choose the Layout.  With Stream, the posts are placed one below the other.  This would be perfect to put all of the Smore's together in one digital place.  
The students took the URL of each Smore and then "added by an url" onto the Padlet wall.  

Not only was it so nice to have all of the Smore's together in one place, it was also such an easy way to share with parents, our school community and others around the world.  

It is always so much fun to look back and see how projects and teaching has evolved.  This project is a perfect example of what is possible.  

The teacher and I talked about the students actually connecting to individuals from their country.  We could use Twitter and other forms of social media.  We could also use the network that I have through my Twitter, Facebook and other places.  We could also use a Google Map to create an interactive map of these connections.  The collaboration would then go outside of the four walls of our library which would definitely enrich this project even more.  

I can't wait to see how this project changes even more next year.....We will let you all know too. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

LOVE These Summer Reading Videos Created By Our 3rd and 4th Graders!

The 3rd and 4th graders created Animoto's to promote Summer Reading!  They are awesome!

The above YouTube playlist are the WINNERS of the Summer Reading video contest.  These are going to be shown at the "End of the Year Assembly" in the morning.

All of the summer reading Animoto's were soooooo great....Thank you everyone for sharing your creativity, collaboration and FUN with all of us.

And don't forget.....Have FUN getting your SUMMER READING ON!

The First Graders Created Digital Stories Using TuxPaint, Google Presentation and Camtasia Relay

Over the last several weeks our first graders have been creating their very own stories in the library. 

After learning how to use TuxPaint from our friends Andy Plemmons, Kelly Hocking and their students in Georgia, we set off to create our very own stories.  

Once the little groups had their illustrated pages created in TuxPaint, we saved each page and added them as slides in a Google Presentation.  They used different laptops to create the illustrations so we had to save them and add them separately to bring the story all together.
They then started Camtasia Relay to screen capture the TuxPaint story playing in Google Presentation.  Within Camtasia Relay they can also capture themselves in a video player and their voice.

Bailey and Hannah, the two first graders who captured their story today, did this by themselves.  And they were so excited to see the final digital story too.

Using these tools together is an extremely easy, effective and fun way for students to create, publish and share their stories with the world.

A Little Advice Video From Our 5th Graders At The End Of The Year

Today when the 5th graders came for their last day of library and technology time with me they were all excited and a tiny bit sentimental too.

They graduated two nights ago from elementary and will go upstairs to the secondary next year.  They are ready and will do an amazing job.

One of my 5th grade friends Colby came up to me and whispered in my ear,

"I have an idea.  Lets use the iPad stand and get a video using the Fuse app giving advice to the younger kids in our school."  

So we grabbed the video equipment and headed outside.  I just love what they produced.

And especially LOVE the message that they are going to leave our younger ones with tomorrow.
Van Meter 5th Graders....

You are awesome young people.....I can't wait to see where you will go from here.  Have a FUN summer and remember to keep on reading, creating, collaborating and being YOU.  

The "5th Grade End of the Year Advice" video can be viewed in Van Meter's EduVision Channel too. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Our Kindergarteners Last Day....but they left their mark with "Our Iowa Animal Research Project" eBook!

Our kindergarteners last day is today.  
What a special year we all had with them...getting to know them, teaching them, laughing with them, reading with them, creating with them and loving them.
One of our favorite things we did with them this year was the Iowa Animal Research Projects.  The project where each of the little ones picked out an Iowa animal they were curious about and found even more than they already might have connected to when they started.

As you have read from several posts over the last 6 weeks, they have learned, collaborated and created several different ways throughout this project.  

They have researched, found information, wrote it down, created a model of their animal, presented to their classmates, drew their animal online using TuxPaint, and now the little ones are taking their knowledge of their Iowa animal to put into one last collaborative eBook using Wordle or ABCya! Word Cloud, TuxPaint, Google Presentation and FlipSnack.  
And if you love these two pages from their flippable eBooks, just wait until you see the rest of the eBook.  It is so adorable....I just love it.  (The window at the top will take you to the entire eBook.) 
In the morning on Monday, the kindergarten teachers helped them use their Iowa Animal Research packets to write down a few things....their name, animal and at least three facts.  One of those facts had to include why their Iowa animal lives where it lives, which is the "Essential Question" we are focusing on through the project. 

In the afternoon, my little kindergarten friends came for library and technology time. Our fourth graders came to the library to buddy up with the kindergartners so they could help them finish the word cloud today.
After they got into partnerships, they went to Wordle or from the Symbaloo which holds all of the library, school and global resources we use in the library.  
The kindergarteners took the notecard with their information and started to type the main words to be included within the word cloud.  They could ask their 4th grade buddy for help if they needed it.
The next day, Miss McClintock's class came back when the third graders were in the library to help them.  They helped the kindergarteners create their illustrations using TuxPaint.  
It was so much fun seeing them work together to create something unique to their animal.  
As you can see this was a WONDERFUL way to wrap up the end of this research project.  By putting the kindergaren students with the third and fourth graders to work, they were able to also share with the older ones what they learned about their Iowa animal.  

We love how the eBook turned out and cannot wait to share it with the students and their families.

They should all be very proud of themselves.  It is quite an accomplishment.  

And it was so much fun learning, sharing, and caring with all of them.  I can't wait to see what they do next year in first grade.  

Below is the FlipSnack eBook with the word clouds created by all of the Van Meter kindergarteners.

Katherine Applegate Visits Our Library....And Gives Us The Gift Of Ivan

Today we were so excited to welcome a very very special author into our library.  

Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan and dozens of other books, Skyped with the second grade at Van Meter on Monday.  When I told them who we were going to meet earlier in the day I had lots of very excited students.  

And not to mention....One very excited teacher librarian too!  I just love Ivan's story....It is one of the most beautiful children's books I have ever read.  To share it with students always makes me happy, so to share a visit with Katherine is very special too.  
Katherine told the 2nd graders how she started writing and all of the books she has written over the years.  I then just had to ask about Ivan being the Newbery Medal Winner this year.  

I listened to the American Library Association awards being announced from Seattle in January and was thrilled to hear that Ivan won!  The Newbery Medal is given to the most distinguished contribution to American literature each year.  

Katherine told us how the Newbery committee sent her several of the special medals that go onto the front cover of The One and Only Ivan to show it was the Newbery Medal Winner.  
She shared several beautiful illustrations created by Patricia Casteleo throughout the book...
 And photographs of the real Ivan too.
Shelley Broderick, one of our elementary art teachers at Van Meter, joined us for the Skype since we brought the two classes together for our related arts time.  She asked Katherine about Ivan being an artist too.  It was fun hearing how Ivan loved to paint.
The second graders had so many questions for Katherine and we all loved hearing her answer all of them.  We learned so much about writing, her books, and of course Ivan.
They loved following along in the book as she spoke of certain parts and illustrations.  
The One and Only Ivan website is full of wonderful resources and surprises.  On the opening page, there is a video that we watched before our Skype with Katherine and that I love to show when I am sharing The One and Only Ivan in the library.

Thank you Katherine for visiting our library today and for giving us the story of Ivan.  It is a gift to all of us and one that we will continue to share for years to come.