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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Digital Summer Tales - A first writing assignment of the year...

I am a teacher....

Even though I recently retired from teaching in the classroom, I will always be a teacher...

It's not just something you do. It's not just a job. It's who you are. It's part of your soul...

Now I find myself with time...

Time to share. I have projects and ideas that I can't easily discard. I want to share them with you! So now I will blog. Each week I will share one idea, lesson, or project. It is my hope that one or more will be that one great idea you have been looking for to spark motivation and engagement in your classroom! Many involve technology, but not all. Most of the technology I used is quite simple. All can be tied to the standards, but they are not driven by standards. All will be driven by learning, passion, and fun! 

So here we go! Here is that one great idea to start off your year! This one may not be new to many of you. It has been my experience, however, that even though technology is present in schools, there are many teachers who are not yet comfortable using it! If you are one of those teachers, this is a safe place to begin. As a matter of fact, there are standards requiring students to use digital tools to publish their work, and this will meet those standards. Even if you are not comfortable, trust that your students are and give this simple idea a try:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

That seems like an obvious choice for a retired teacher. That idea has been around forever. Combine it with digital storytelling, however, and post it to a class Youtube channel or secret group Facebook page, and you have an old idea revitalized! Have each child post their video to their Google Drive and share it with friends for comments. Feature one a week on your class website and ask for comments from parents. I guarantee your kids will write more and with passion when they realize they will be using their stories to create with technology! I am including some examples from previous students in my second grade classroom. Rule number 1: kids help kids. Find the tech expert in your classroom and put him or her to work teaching the other kids.

How to:
  • Assign the writing, using appropriate standards and targets. This is an easy one!
  • Ask the kids to bring in photos from home, or to send them digitally from their parents' phones where they are most likely captured. An alternative is to have the students draw pictures that go with their story. They will also need to create a title page.
  • Once the stories are written and photos are ready, students will practice reading their story for fluency and expression (another standard!).
  • To create the digital story, students will use a slideshow or movie-maker program. We used iPads and iMovie, but the same can be accomplished using other platforms and apps with voice recording capabilities. Ask the technology people in your building for advice on the tools to use.
  • First, students will take a picture of each photograph or drawing to be included in the digital story. Be sure and take a picture of the title page as well. 
  • Next, they will upload the pictures to the app or program and place them in order. 
  • Students will need to find a quiet spot in the classroom to record themselves reading their story into the device. 
  • Adjust the pictures to match the audio.
  • Add music if desired.
  • The teacher will need a class Youtube channel to upload the finished digital stories for sharing. Simply do an internet search for How to create a Youtube channel for instructions. Leave off any names or identifying information from the videos and you have a safe environment for kids to share.
  • Upload the stories and enjoy! You can share the finished work with family by sending home links, posting the videos to a class webpage, or creating a secret Facebook page for your class families. I found that grandparents at a distance were very grateful to see the work of their kids!
Here are a couple of examples from my incoming second grade students in years past:

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