Friday, November 25, 2011

5 Reasons for Educators to Join Twitter Today!

Learn With Twitter
     When my husband joined the Twitter world, I have to admit, I just didn't get it at first.  I thought it was just another thing to do and I didn't have the" time to spare".  Over time, as I watched him tweet, I saw he was excited about what he was learning and that he was connecting with teachers all around the world.
     Gradually, it dawned on me that this was more than social networking, this was building connections in an online professional community. I found I was peeking over his shoulder learning through his PLN.  With both of us being teachers, we often discuss pedagogy and share what we are working on with our students.   He was encouraging me and other educators to join Twitter; stating that since you created your own PLN, it catered to your professional interests and needs.   Decisively, I conceded that this Twitter world was something I needed to look into; it was time to build my own PLN.
     The staff at my school are working in a PLC (Professional Learning Community) with teams of teachers across several schools, subject areas and grade levels.  I've found this process amazing in bringing together teachers to help share ideas, curriculum, and continuously raise the bar of excellence in teaching and learning.  Everyone is taking responsibility for every student's learning!   I began to make the connection that a professional Twitter PLN is an extension of my school's PLC.

Here are 5 reasons I've found to join Twitter:
1.  Twitter is like Team Teaching: if there is something you want to learn more about, all you need to do is tweet your question or browse and you will get the most amazing answers- fast!  It allows you to feel connected and have conversations with other educators around the world.  I am thankful to the amazing @cybraryman1 for his generous sharing of all his pages.  I have used his resources and cited him in workshops and newsletters. 

2. Twitter Connects you to Teacher Blogs: I love reading blogs and when I see a tweet of something that a teacher is doing, I will tweet them and ask if they are blogging about it so I can learn more.  I have met many incredible teachers who are doing amazing projects with their students all over the world. Thank you @tashacowdy @hechternacht @klbeasley @jplaman @heza @whatedsaid @Louisephinney @markbrumley @happycampergirl @mscofino @coolcatteacher @jessievaz12 @cfrehlichteach and so many others for the amazing blog posts and for sharing your expertise. Click on their Twitter name and you will find a link to their blog.  I look forward to reading more Twitter Education Blogs from more Twitter Educators!

3.  Twitter Connects you to Professional Reading: I enjoy the professional and global reading put together by a variety of Twitter users from @Scoopit and You can create your own magazines which update daily with Zite and Flipboard on your ipad. It is quick learning at your fingertips to enjoy on a small break or with your morning coffee.

4.  Twitter Connects you to 21st Century Learning and Digital Citizenship: I have to admit, keeping up with changing technology is a fast paced race.  Thanks to Twitter and connecting with similar teachers around the world, I am able to focus my technology learning curve towards relevant and useful projects for students across many grade levels.  Just this past two months, I have learned to blog, tweet, about a variety of different eportfolios and a plethora of digital literacy projects such as Storybird.  I'm enjoying learning something new everyday to share with students, staff and parents!

5.  Twitter Connects you to Conferences: From reading on Twitter, I learn about what Educational Conferences are taking place all around the world.  Recently, I participated in the online Global Education Conference 2011 and I've found a list of eLearning Conferences 2012.

Thanks Twitter, because to teach is not to know it all; it is to keep on learning.  Guess I'll have to take my husband's advice a little more seriously!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Camera, Lights, Action! Stop Motion Productions...

Wow!  I'm wanting to share one of my Grade Six student's independent projects on Stop Motion iMovie Productions.

This student outlined his story on a storyboard and made a background setting and characters.  He recommends writing a storyboard first to help you stick to your ideas.  Then he took photos with a regular camera, moving the characters and items in tiny increments.  He downloaded the photos into iMovie, cropped the photos and edited the speed to 0.1 seconds between frames.  After an amazing amount of work, dedication and adding music, he produced his movies!

His Stop Motion iMovies demonstrate creativity, dedication, digital literacy and reflection as to what music would engage the viewers emotions.  He included tiny details in his story board such as a mouse eating something in the Titanic dining room for the observant viewer.

I have permission from him and his parents to post his productions.  I know you will enjoy viewing them, and I hope your students are motivated to try this form of digital story telling.  Thanks for the inspiration, Hunter!
Happy Stop Motion film making...!

This one is called, Lego Oil Spill (approx. 800 photos):

And this one is called Lego White Star Line,  and is about the Titanic (approx. 1200 photos):

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Games for Writing K-3

To write is to be a risk taker!  And taking risks in writing needs constant encouragement to build confidence.  Teacher Peggy Kaye has written a book, Games for Writing,to help students overcome their hesitations to put pencil to paper.  I like her writing games and activities as they are similar to the book making projects that I enjoy doing with my students.  Games and book making projects put children in the right mood to learn and trigger their interest and alertness.  They switch from dreading to wanting to write!

Children become writers starting from a sheet with a few squiggles; to beginning to form their favorite letters and names of people who are important to them; to writing out their own journals, lists and stories.  As children grow in their ability to rush out words as they write, letter formation and penmanship may take a back seat.  Writing graceful letters is a wonderful thing to do, and getting their thoughts recorded on paper is the first step.  Do the editing later!

The games recommended by Peggy Kaye do not require extensive equipment nor are they time-consuming.  You can do them with a group of students or at home with your family.  The most important thing to remember is to have FUN!  Your young writer will find he or she likes some games more than others, so flip through the book to find a variety of writing activities that is to their liking. Here is a sample of what this book offers:

There are five parts to this book:
1.  Just for Starters:  Try these 11 activities designed to ease Kindergarten and Grade 1 children into writing.  Through games, they learn to control their pencils and produce properly formed letters.  By listening to her story games, they learn to identify well-organized stories from semi-coherent stories.
Examples:  Letter reversals?  No problem, give them more opportunity to explore and practice.  Try the tactile experience of making Popcorn letters (gluing popcorn to a gigantic letter "J").  
Or try using Pretzel dough to make alphabet letters- shape, bake and eat!

2.  Stress Busters: Young writers can be nervous to put pencil to paper.  Try these 16 activities designed to get a child giggling; nothing like laughter to calm a child's fears!  These activities take small amounts of time to limit writing demands on children without limiting their imagination.
Examples: Try Rhyme Time using words to create simple silly poems together in the A-B-A-B-A-B or AA-BB-AA patterns.  Create your lists of rhyming words first together.  Share the writing out of the poem.
Or try Acrostic Poems, which work well using words/people/places that are important to your writer.
A FUN one! Word By Word: Choose a title for a story with a group of students.  Start the story together as a group.  Then have each student contribute by rolling a dice/die and the number rolled is the number of words each child will add to the story!

3.  Bugaboos: Try these 9 playful ways to improve spelling, handwriting and grammar.
Examples: Mixed-up and Missing: For grammar, try covering the student's eyes, writing out a full sentence, cutting it into separate words, mixing up the words and say to your student: "Open your eyes! What do you see?" They see a lot of mixed up words and their job is to sort them out to make sense.  You can give clues to help!
Or try Traveling Words: Turn handwriting practice into a funny sentence.  Normally, you would write it on a straight line, but not in this game!  Draw a winding/ weird road across the paper and your student writes the sentence as neat as he can on the road line.  Traveling words is more rigorous than you may think!

4.  Writing with Style: Ahhh, time for writing more sophisticated stories!  This section of her book includes 8 activities which encourage students to create unusual fictional characters, mature in their notions of story structure and select new vocabulary to express their ideas.
Example: Egg Carton Tales: Use 3 half egg carton sets (6 holes).  In the first "setting" set, write out 6 different story settings (a forest, a pirate ship, a tree fort, a school, a King's castle, an island).  In the second "character" set, write out 6 characters.  In the third "problem" set, write out 6 different story problems.  Have your student shake a coin in each of the cartons.  Where the coin is when you open the carton, that determines the setting, character and problem.  Help your writer tell and make up a story to match their egg carton choices.  Telling stories with these elements will eventually transfer into writing a complete story on paper.

5.  Made with Pride:  When it is time for longer writing projects, 30 minutes or so, try the 8 writing activities in this section.  Some of these will be done over several different writing sessions over many weeks.
Example: Shape Books: Children often perk up when they get to write in a new or unusual shaped book! If your child loves Cats, make a cat shaped book with construction paper covers and lined paper inside.  When it is important to the writer, he or she is motivated to get writing!

To use this book effectively:
-Try a game and see if it motivates your child. 
-Children's tastes change over time; so one activity that did not work in January, may work in May!
-Play an effective game over and over, as many times as your young writer likes!
-Don't worry about mistakes.
-Be generous with your compliments and encouragement.
-Show you are delighted with the Risk-Taking your young writer is doing!