I recently worked with two teachers helping to put together a research project using www.blabberize.com as the presentation method (the subject was explorers - grade level 4th).
Blabberize is a free website that allows you to manipulate the mouths of pictures to make them "talk" with your recorded voice. Click on the picture to see how the site works and a sample of an "explorer interview" or CLICK HERE)
The first group of children used two pictures - one of them and one of their explorer and recorded their voices. They turned out fine although we had a lot of problems with the microphones.
Based on my experience with the first group I introduced a change to the project for the second group. Students had to conduct an "interview" with an explorer. The program can handle a total of 10 scenes so that meant that five questions could be asked. The teacher and I had to explain and model good interviewing skills. The kids did extremely well and if it wasn't for identifying names I would link copies of the finished interviews :(
Students used an interview sheet (see my google sites HERE for a free copy of it) and used it as a guide when conducting their research. The recording was a bit of a nightmare until we switched to audacity (a free microsoft recording software we have on our computer). Students pre-recorded their ten scenes (saving each one as #1, #2, #3, etc.) and then uploaded it when they got into the Blabberize program. It wasn't that hard and once I showed the students they were recording and saving like pros. I contacted the Blabberize folks and they suggested looking at the flash player we were using or the settings related to the flash player. I never did that since the audacity thing worked very well...but I was happy with how fast they got back to me!
I showed this project to some fifth grade teachers and thought it would work within their standards interviewing key folks during WWI or WWII. If I get samples from them I will post.
Every Monday and Friday I would pull up the weather channel's 10 day forecast for our city. I would have dry erase markers and boards at the table and would ask a series of questions based on the data.
- What day will have the highest temperature?
- What day will have the lowest temperature? Or what day are you going to have to dress the warmest?
- What is the difference between those temperatures? (math!)
- What day(s) has the greatest chance of rain? Or what day are we most likely to have indoor recess?
- What day(s) has the lowest chance of rain?
- What day is going to be the windiest?
- What day is going to have the greatest drop between their day and evening temperature?
I always look at the weather so I figure why not make it a classroom thing! Luckily we studied weather in the fourth grade so it was easy to incorporate it in my lessons but even if I taught a "non-weather grade" I would still do it.
It was amazing to see how difficult it was for the kids to find the information at first and when I asked them to calculate the difference between the highest and lowest number I could hear the class grind to a halt. I'm happy to report that with practice the students got use to the drill and became very proficient at finding the information quickly.
Here were some of the side results of doing this activity:
1. Students started looking for how the weather was going to effect their weekend plans or week day sports practice schedules.
2. They started discussions as to what sites provided better weather forecast (particularly if their parents used different sites).
3. On rain days they wanted to see the radar map.
4. If children were traveling out of town they would ask to pull up those locations for packing purposes (mostly done on Friday).
I loved it because it gave students real life practice reading tables and graphs and then applying that information to their lives outside the classroom.
If you didn't want to do it whole group you could always make a sheet that you printed as morning work on Monday and Friday and leave the forecast on the board and then reviewed the answers.
I started this blog many years ago as a classroom science teacher with the express purpose of sharing notebooking ideas with other educators. I have since moved into a technology coach position within our district so this site has morphed into a general teaching blog. Basically anything that I see or do in schools that I think is pretty cool gets highlighted here. If you are visiting to find notebooking information please look at my earlier posts. I have tried to label all my posts so information is easier to find...so, when in doubt look at the labels. As always, if you have any question please feel free to email me and I will do my best to help!