Sunday, January 29, 2012

Some new blogs to check out...

     Danny Nicholson, author of the wonderful Whiteboard Blog is hosting an "Ed Tech Blog Carnival." There are some great links to blogs that you may have never seen before. I particularly like Janet Abercrombie's idea of having her kids create news videos as an alternative to the often mundane monthly newsletter.
     Using video with kids is so much fun. At the moment, my kids are using IMovie to create Book Recommendation videos in the style of Reading Rainbow. First, I give them a very simple script to guide their recommendations via Google Docs.BookRec Template When they finish writing the script, they are required to read their script out loud at least three times. Always have kids read their writing out loud before activities such as this. Often they read write through mistakes when they are reading to themselves. When they read out loud they are forced to hear all of their little mistakes. Once they feel confident with their script, they sign up to be filmed.
     I have three pre-assigned "directors" who have been trained to be "experts" in using IMovie. Training experts for technology implementation is key to the management of this activity. In fact, whenever I introduce kids to a new tech tool, I always try to pull a couple kids aside, and train them to be "experts" with that tool. That way, when it comes time to start using our new tool, I have three kids that can bounce around the room and help others who have fallen behind or are struggling with a direction.
     My "directors" for this project take turns setting up a single laptop to film. They also create a split screen where the student being filmed can see themselves as well as their script on Google Docs. Then, the director shouts, "Quiet on the set please," the room goes silent, and the filming begins. Each book recommendation is only about one minute long, so we can usually film quite a few in a short amount of time. The last bit of editing is done by myself. I overlay an image of the book cover, upload it to YouTube, and add it to our catalog of book recommendations on our classroom website. Here's an example (Yes, we're working on trying to get Brian to slow down. You should have seen Take One. He also has one of the greatest Maine accents of all time.):




     The kids enjoy this part of our Reading Workshop and we are all trying to get better using the tools that we have to create the short videos, and their summarizing skills have increased greatly since the beginning of this project. The eventual goal will be to have a searchable database of videos that will be linked directly to our school library. So, a child could search for a book, and watch the recommendation that comes with it. What are you doing with video in your classroom? Do you use IMovie? How involved are your students in the process i.e. filming, editing, publishing?

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