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Upgrading Traditional Reports to eBooks- Guest Post by Karin Hallett

The following is a wonderful description, step by step, how one librarian upgraded traditional “animal reports” with a first grade class (six year olds).

  • from handing in paper reports  arrow to  sharing eBook/pdf files with the world
  • from consuming information  arrowto creating and remixing their own information
  • from using and printing out photos and illustrations arrow to properly citing digital and analog sources and creating their own illustrations
  • from working in one medium (paper/markers/pencils) arrowto building fluency between media and apps.
  • from “handing” in an animal report to a teacher arrow to uploading and embedding their creation to their blogfolio as an artifact of their learning in this particular moment in time

Upgrades such as the one described below support and promote information, network and media literacy as well as continue to expose and teach basic traditional skills.

Guest Post by Karin Hallett. Originally posted on Liquid Literacy Blog.

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Young readers typically focus on fiction books. Since a couple of my first graders were showing interest in nonfiction books, however, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce the whole class to this genre and take the opportunity to also teach them about nonfiction text features and some basic research steps along the way.

To jump start, I randomly distributed a number of nonfiction books (emergent and fluent reader texts, 0.8 to 4.5 AR book levels) on each of our four group tables and asked students to look through the books, noting any differences to fiction books. I then showed them on the projector screen Big Cats (by DK Publishers) from the wegivebooks.org website. We looked through selected pages and identified various text features, including the table of contents, headings, captions, diagram, and labels, discussing the purpose of each.

Since one of my goals was to introduce very basic research skills to this class, we discussed what research is and established that good research starts with a “Wonder” question. We brainstormed a list of questions students may wonder about an animal.

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Each student chose a book about an animal on their reading level. They then thought of a question they were wondering about their animal and wrote it in the organizer I had created.

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We spent the next two sessions gathering information from the texts to complete the multi-page organizers. Students drew the animal and labeled it. They drew a picture of its habitat and another of its diet. Then they noted at least four facts about their animal. By far the hardest part was for students to compile a five-word glossary. I decided to model this process by reading a section in a book (projected on the screen) and identifying words that provide information about the animal. This process forced students to read their texts closely to not only identify words (or phrases) but also to figure out their meaning.

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I deliberately approached this project step-by-step rather than let each student work at their own speed. So for each section of the organizer, we discussed the type of information to complete and I either modeled or showed examples. Then it was the students’ turn before we moved on to the next part of the organizer. Those students who completed their sections first worked with classmates who benefited from some help or simply encouragement.

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It’s never too early to introduce students to the concept of ethical use of information. So one section of the organizer required the “Source of Information”. We discussed plagiarism and the importance of citing information sources. For our purposes, students noted author names and book titles on their organizers.

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My 1st graders have experience using various iPad apps, including BookCreator, which they’ve used to create fiction books in the Fall. For this project, I wanted students to again use BookCreator to show their learning. Since it is impossible to create drawings in BookCreator, I decided to introduce the class to ExplainEverything, an app my daughter’s been using for her school work. Its a versatile tool for creating and can also be used for screencasting.

In all, each student created four images: An image for their cover page, a diagram of their animal complete with labels and a picture each of the animal’s habitat and diet. Once finished, the drawings were saved as image files to the iPad’s Camera Roll.

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The next step was to import the images into BookCreator app for iPad and transfer the text from the graphic organizer to BookCreator.  We spent several sessions on this. Each time, I emphasized the need to make sure all required elements are included and sentences have proper punctuation and capitalization. Invented spelling was just fine.

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Our last session was a “quality check”: going through the book to check for all required elements (cover page, table of contents, wonder question and answer, diet, habitat, diagram with labels, facts, glossary, source, headings) as well as punctuation and capitalization.

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I was a bit worried that this project would drag on too long for the students to remain engaged, but they displayed an incredible work ethic throughout. They loved to learn about the animals and at all times lots of verbal sharing of information was going on. Also, I do believe that the use of iPads helped to keep them motivated. While I required that students included certain text features and information elements), it also was important for me to allow students to  exhibit their creative sides. So even though I mentioned that dark text on light background is easier on the eyes, some students just “really liked” the very light turquoise colored letters on white background, or the rather swirly fonts. Not easy on my much older eyes, but the products are definitely the students’!  I believe if we want students to take ownership of their learning and products, they must be allowed such simple freedoms.

The outcome of the digital nonfiction books is incredible! I am so impressed with my 1st graders’ skills. I feel very lucky to be working with such a creative group of kids. Each of them worked hard on their projects (a total of 13 45-minute sessions) to produce quality books about their research. Their books speak for themselves!

Responsible Use Guidelines of School E-mails for Elementary Students

Writing appropriate emails is part of being a good digital citizen! Students (even digital natives) are not born with knowing the rules and responsibilities. Just as they need to learn to answer and talk on the phone, they need to learn about e-mail writing in an academic setting (to their teachers, Skype partners, project collaborators, administration or their classmates regarding school business).

Our third graders have been given access to their school email addresses.

My colleague, Andrea Hernandez (@edtechworkshop) was working with students on formulating a Responsible Use Policy.

From their discussion the following guide emerged.

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In the spirit of sharing and calling attention to ongoing,  embedded digital citizenship exposure, opportunities and discussions (rules, rights, privileges and responsibilities), take a moment to review these guidelines as an example and create you own guide with your students for their use of their SCHOOL email addresses.

Download the guide as a pdf file

Amplification of a Transportation Unit & a Survey

In a unit on Transportation, our Kindergarteners read a large picture book “On the Move!” by Donna Latham

Students got so interested into learning about different ways people around the globe got around. They were even ready to take a trip to Venice, Italy to ride in a Vaporetto.

Since our 5 & 6 year olds have gotten pretty good at using PicCollage on the iPads, their teacher Arlene Yegelwel, wanted to personalize another collaborative classroom eBook.

She took the time to find over 20 public domain images of transportation methods they had discussed in class on Wikimedia Commons and sent them in one email to each iPad.

Student’s workflow fluency looked like this:

  • opened the PicCollage app
  • chose one image of the different transportation methods
  • decided how they could best place an image of themselves onto the picture
  • asked a buddy to take an image of them acting out a particular position on the iPad
  • edited the image by clipping the background
  • resized the image to make it fit the ration of the transportation image
  • rotated the image
  • saved the image
  • emailed the image to their teacher

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Mrs. Yegelwel, downloaded the images from the e-mail and then  imported them into the BookCreator App. She sat with each students to document their comment for the image.
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As a class, they also reviewed all the different parts of a book, such as title page, dedication page and credit page. We also had a short, age appropriate discussion about copyright and how we cannot just TAKE (steal) any images we find on the web. We talked to them about some photographers who release their images into public domain, which meant we could use them. So there was a special Thank You crafted to thank these photographers :)

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We could have stopped here, but the global component (transportation AROUND THE WORLD) begged to amplify what had largely taken place in the classroom only.

We decided to involve students in crafting their own survey. Below you will find our collaborative efforts in formulating the title, description, questions and different checkboxes.

Please take a moment to fill out the form for them. We will continue to accept responses until next Friday (May 24, 2013) to then tabulate and interpret the results.

We also discussed how would we let people know about our survey? What if we stood in our school’s parking lot and shouted it out? How many people would hear us? Where would these people be geographically be from?

I showed them my Twitter account and demonstrated how I was going to give a “shout out” for our survey.

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We then sat back and literally watched the first responses to our survey “fall into” the spread sheet.  Please imagine the wows, the oohs and the aahhs for each one, especially when the first ones from Europe started falling in. Mrs. Yegelwel pulled in the globe and showed location. We also explained why most of our responses seemed to come from the US and Canada. We quickly looked up what time it was in Australia and they “shockingly” realized that Australians were deep asleep while they were in school.

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I am asking myself the following questions.

What are students learning BEYOND the reading of the original book in their classroom? How did we amplify skills and literacies, because we took “the extra step” of connecting the students to a global network? What transformative (not possible without the amplification) teaching & learning took place?

  • Geography skills (We are looking up each location  on a globe. We are learning about states, countries, continents, urban, suburban, etc.)
  • Math skills (We are using real authentic data. The results will be counted, sorted, organized and graphed)
  • Thinking skills (Why are most people in the US using a car/van to get to work? Why do most people in Japan use scooters?)
  • Global skills (They realize that we can talk TO the world, not just ABOUT the world)
  • Network skills (What are networks? How does Twitter work?)

 

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Blogging With your Classroom

You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader

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Digital Storytelling

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