Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Look Back At The Film Festival: The Other Stuff

This weekend the fourth and fifth graders are putting on a spectacular performance of Seussical The Musical. It's as talented group of children as I've seen in an Elementary production. I dug up some commercials that weren't featured in the fourth grade film festival series of blogs I wrote in March and April, because I couldn't find a way to fit them in. Partly as a celebration, and partly to talk about some of the tricks that were learned during the unit. All of the commercials here actually feature several members of the cast of Seussical, and Gertrude McFuzz is featured in all three.
The first commercial features an interesting trick. The fourth grade author wrote one of the more unique and quirky commercials I've seen in the years that I've done this. The script required that the protagonist didn't have a head. At first I thought we could do this with an oversized coat in the school's field, but since we were using a green screen, the headless body was achieved by wrapping a green sheet of construction paper around the protagonist's head:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 Great Ways To Integrate Scratch Into an Upper Elementary Curriculum

I've been teaching Scratch programming to 4th and 5th graders for a few years now, and every year I'm slowly moving from teaching programming in isolation of the other subjects to integrating it with what we're learning elsewhere. Here is a list of Scratch projects and ideas that help enhance deeper understanding in other subject areas.

1) Enhance learning about the properties of regular polygons.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Celebrating Students With Tech: Part 2

As with my first post on this topic, this post also relies heavily on the amazing tools created by tackfilm. As far as I can tell, for at least the past three years Radiotjanst has made these individually customizable web videos to thank Swedish citizens for paying their broadcasting fees. But the videos have a much broader reach. They're a great way to celebrate people in general, or in my case, 9 year olds in the classroom. I talked about the music video celebration in my first post.*
In this post I want to feature Radiotjanst's "Hero" movies.
Radiotjanst has developed two customizable hero movies that feature and celebrate... you. They're easy to make, and a lot of fun. They used to have English versions for both types of customized hero movies, but now there is just a English version for the second one. It doesn't really matter too much though. The visuals of the first are powerful and fun anyway. This year, I gave one out to every family for Christmas, and the other one out to close out the year. Here are examples for the two hero films. Depending on your internet connection (mine is quite slow), they could take a few minutes to load.

You can put yourself or anyone else in this hero movie, by clicking on this link. This is the first hero movie that Radiotjanst put together. It no longer has English subtitles, but it's still great fun.

You can watch an example of the second hero movie here.
You can put yourself or anyone else in this hero movie, by clicking on this link. Have fun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Talking! A Listening Experiment Part 2

Today we had a class meeting to discuss applying the idea laid out in the book, No Talking by Andrew Clements, to the classroom.

Monday, May 14, 2012

No Talking! A Listening Experiment

How to teach listening as a skill has occupied part of my thoughts each day since the beginning of the year. My interest with this was spawned before I ran into this TED talk, but this helped solidify what I was thinking:

Book Trailers using iMovie '11

I still do most of my quick editing in iMovie '06, but the templates for trailers in iMovie '11 are just too fun and easy to not use with students. In particular, the movie trailer templates are ideal for book trailers. One fun final project to do is to have book club groups design, film, and edit their own trailers for the books they've read.
The key to doing this is to print out the storyboard that comes with the movie trailer template. They're possible to save as pdf files. That way the children know exactly how many scenes to plan, and what to say in between scenes. We're still working on the book trailers for this year, but here are some samples from last year's grade 4 students.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen

Thursday, May 10, 2012

4 Great Picture Books For Class Choral Readings

In Katie Wood Ray's excellent book Wondrous Words, she talks about how to create choral poems from picture books. The idea is this:
1) Read a picture book with rich language out loud to the class.

2) Provide copies of the text so that each student can follow along.

3) Read it again, and this time have each student highlight words and sentences that are the most striking, the most surprising, that have the most poetry, and that just sound magical.

4) Then the students do the difficult task of choosing the most striking words, no more than 15.

5) I then ask them to quietly practice the words they chose, and ask if anyone has a good beginning.

6) In a circle, one by one, the class recites their words. The resulting poem is always really cool. I record the voices, and transcribe them into poems. The following are 4 great picture books that lend themselves to choral readings, and the class choral poems that we created this year.

My Momma Had A Dancing Heart
Grade 4-R Choral Poem

And afterwards we’d cut snowflakes paper-white delicate, and sip cocoa with marshmallows floating

Carrying me along until the music slows and I feather-float down... down to the ground

Air-daring leap-flying wing-soaring letting the spring rain, summer waves, autumn leaves, winter snow carry me along

The sand stuck between the toes of our up-and-down squish-squashing feet

We’d dance a frog-hopping leaf-growing flower-opening “Hello Spring” ballet

Out we’d go and do a body-flat arms-moving-up-and-down snow-angel “Hello Winter” ballet

We’d dance a frog-hopping leaf-growing flower-opening “Hello Spring” ballet

Eye-blinking blue air with Momma leading in the leaf-kicking, leg-lifting, hand-clapping, “Hello Autumn” ballet

Spring rain, summer waves, autumn leaves, winter snow... carrying me along until the music slows

We’d cut snowflakes paper-white delicate, and sip cocoa with marshmallows floating

Go and do a body-flat arms-moving-up-and-down snow-angel “Hello Winter” ballet

My mama had a dancing heart, and she shared that heart with me

And afterwards we’d cut snowflakes paper-white delicate, and sip cocoa with marshmallows floating

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Big Talk": 4 Voice Choral Poems

Our 4th Grade poetry curriculum has an emphasis on performing poetry. And one of the most interesting, demanding, and cool ways to showcase this is by using poems that require multiple voices. We look at Joyful Noise poems and MathTalk, but the most challenging is Big Talk, by Paul Fleischman.

Earth Day: Our Lunch Garbage Problem

My fourth grade counterpart, Paulita, noticed the paradox of how much food we waste at Lincoln School given that we live in one of the poorest countries in the world. On the weekends I've noticed that some of the neighborhood children will dig through Lincoln's garbage cans placed in the parking lot scavenging for food and drinks. Although we are not yet in the position to be actively helping the poor of our neighborhood, we hope to get there. Right now, we are trying to change the culture of the school through awareness and mindfulness. We made it as one of our goals this year to recognize and try to address the problem.  We talked about it with our fourth grade classes and tried to actively reduce our individual and general food waste at the elementary school.

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