Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blackout Poetry - Update





Earlier I wrote about how to do Blackout Poetry using Google Docs. I was dying to try it! A friend, who teaches 4th and 5th grade ELA to gifted and talented students, was all over it and invited me into the classroom. 

We all did a poem together so students got an idea of how the tech worked. Then they were on their own for their poem. 

The fourth graders struggled with what made a poem (many of them just picked words that summarized the article they were using) however the fifth graders did such a good job! The pictures above are a sample of some of the really outstanding poems.

I would definitely do it again! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jazz Appreciation Month - StoryLine Online


StoryLine Online just released a new book just in time Jazz Appreciation Month (April). It is called Rent Party Jazz and is read by Viola Davis (of "How to Getaway with Murder" fame).

Rent Party Jazz tells the story of: "Sonny Comeaux, a young boy living in New Orleans during the 1930’s. Sonny works before school and during the weekends to help his mother make ends meet, but they continuously struggle to make the monthly rent. When Sonny’s mother loses her job, all seems lost – until Sonny encounters and befriends jazz trumpeter Smilin’ Jack. When Jack hears about Sonny’s troubles, the musician offers to help Sonny and his mother put on a party consisting of tasty food, good company and great music in order to raise the rent money."

There is an activity guide for teachers as well. The activity guide is recommended for grades 2/3. 

Enjoy! For an additional jazz tie in type in "jazz for kids" on YouTube for music that you can play in the classroom. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Test Prep Practice - 3rd Grade Math


I have been working as a ClassFlow Ambassador this year which means I have been getting a lot of practice using the site to make lessons!

I have been working with some of the teachers in my district helping with test prep. I just finished putting together a series of five "lessons" that are designed to be test prep practice for our third graders. Each "lesson" has 12 test like questions which gives students practice in subtraction with regrouping, rounding, multiplication, measurement, and fractions. All together there are 60 practice questions.

The reason for this push is that our state will be going to mandatory computerized state testing next year with the option to begin this year. We took that option (as we are a 1:1 district). These "lessons" (I am putting quotes around them because they are more practice then lesson...but the system calls them lessons) are designed to expose students to computerized test questions in math.

ClassFlow is free to use (you have to make an account) and allows you to deliver interactive lessons to students on their devices (so they can respond on their tablets and iPads). If you are a 1:1 district I would definitely check it out.

Here is a link to all 5 math practice sets for anyone wanting to check them out and use them.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blackout Poetry with Google Docs and Drawings


I love the idea of Blackout Poetry. The basic premise is using existing text and finding words within the text to create a poem...then blacking out what you don't need. There are many internet posts, pictures, and videos on creating Blackout Poetry for those interested in looking into this cool genre. Many years ago I tried it with a Girl Scout troop of fourth and fifth graders and they found the concept difficult..and I have to admit that I probably didn't do a good job of explaining it.

I tried a variation of it using magazines where students cut out words and created a poem using their "found" words. That went a little better (maybe because they can tangibly rearrange the words?).

Anyway...I haven't had much of an opportunity to work with students and poetry in several years and then this video came across my Pinterest feed and I got excited about using technology with blackout poetry.



The video was super easy to follow and I created a blackout poem using his instructions and text from DOGO news


I sent the video and my example to a couple of my tech co-workers who work with middle and high schools as a possible push for ELA classes in April. One of them asked if you could put an image behind it and that got me working on it (here is the same poem with an image behind it). 


To add an image I had to do it in Google Drawings.

So the poem was created in Google Docs using the instructions from the video and then I downloaded it as a PDF. I then took a snip of it (using the computers snipping tool...and saving it as a picture on my computer). I then opened up Google Drawings and inserted my poem as a picture and stretched it out to fit the canvas. I searched for a picture of a beach (since my poem was beach themed) and inserted that on top of the poem (please note you will no longer see the poem at this point). I right clicked on the beach picture and selected "image options" and used the transparency bar to make the beach image light so the poem would show through. I downloaded the whole thing as a JPEG.

I made this super short video that walks you through the steps. 

I haven't tried it with students yet but plan to work with a gifted and talented group of fourth and fifth graders after Spring Break to try it out (I will post their results and how it went). 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Black History Month - Video/Story




On my news feed at the beginning of the month StoryLine Online posted that a new book was added to their growing library of videos where celebrities read books online.

This one is called As Fast As Words Could Fly written by Pamela M. Tuck and read by Dule Hill.

The video tells the story of Mason Steel, a young African-American boy living in the south during the civil rights movement, who supports his activist father with the help of a typewriting in the fight for racial equality and ending segregation.

According to the press release the video comes with supplemental activity guides for both home and school, aimed at students in 3rd - 5th grades.

Since February is Black History month it would make an excellent read aloud (that you don't actually have to read aloud) in the classroom.




Tuesday, January 24, 2017

7 Sneaky Ways to Get Students Reading Using Technology - Article


Super excited to find out an educational article I wrote was published today in eschoolnews.com.

The article was inspired by a training class I conducted during our district's summer institute. As a mom of a boy I am well versed in getting my own child to read using sneaky and underhanded ways and this article highlights a few of those I think would work in the classroom.

The article was not a paying article...more of a contribution to the world of educational articles. Even though I write this blog and our district's newsletter (both of which I love to do!) it is nice to be published outside something I somewhat control.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Presidential Inauguration - Word Search




This week, Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our new President. Many teachers across the nation will be showing the event live in their classroom. Unfortunately while teachers are tuning in students may tune out. I developed a "Word Search" strategy that I modified from a teacher on how to engage students while listening to speeches and public addresses.

Prior to the speech ask students what kinds of words they think might come up in the President's speech. Brainstorm 10-20 words and then make a list (i.e. future, working together, hope, jobs). Have them try and think like the President. What might he say to try to motivate Americans from all levels and backgrounds? Have students copy that list on a piece of paper. During the speech have them listen carefully and put a check next to any word that the President uses that is on the list. If he uses it it more then once the word gets checked again. Note any words that seem to come up a lot that you didn't list. After the speech compare your results and discuss why they thought some words were mentioned and others were not. Did the words used help convey his overall message? Could they summarize his speech using words on the list?

I did this with fourth graders during Obama's inauguration and it worked like a charm. All the students were keyed in and checking their word list. The discussion afterward was certainly more engaging then if the event had been strictly passive on the student's end. This is one of those ideas that could be used from elementary to high school.