"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Celebrations: The One Where the 2nd Graders Take Over the Library

The second graders owned the library yesterday. They worked, they helped each other, they took on leadership roles.  I loved watching the expert helpers look around for the raised hand of a classmate in need of assistance, or the student walking around with the chimes ready to alert the room that someone was recording. It was nothing short of awesomeness, which is why it is my Saturday Celebration (a meme started by Ruth Ayres, over at Ruth Ayres Writes.)
Discover. Play. Build.

Sometimes the perfect collaboration occurs, the classroom teachers and I meet, we plan, we create, we co-teach, the students learn, the students create. Other times, it falls in our laps - the perfect opportunity to jump in part way through a project and play a role in student learning. 

I am happy to take either experience! 

 The later happened this week. After months of trying to plan out a unit that could never come to fruition due to schedules and timing, the second grade teachers and I threw planing to the wind (forget caution, it was also long gone) and jumped on... what? a motor boat? a sailboat? hmmm...never mind. To use a different idiom, we jumped in with both feet (or feet first - like this dog).

The second graders are in the midst of a mini unit based on the book, Duck on a Bike by David Shannon.  They have then been engaged in writing their own stories involving animal characters on modes of transportation.  This unit also explores ideas touched upon in the previous Lucy Calkins unit on writing strong beginnings.  

Here's where I came in!

"Why don't we have the students draw their animal and mode of transportation using Kid Pix and then they can record part of their story?"

I think Kid Pix is an effective tool for aligning to the common core - the program gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of an idea or concept while also practicing public speaking and oral storytelling.  It's 21st Century learning.

When the students came to the library for this project, I explained which tools they would be using in Kid Pix and then reminded them of the tips and tricks when recording their voices - speak slowly, speak with expression, etc.  Since I have a mixture of laptops and desktops, you will hear discrepancies in the audio quality.  I tried to use my chimes to quiet the room when someone was recording, but with twenty odd students, it's impossible to have silence! I made signs that helpers can hold up as a reminder when we are recording.

I love what these second graders created.

There is always a learning curve with any technology-infused lesson.  You will notice that one of these slide shows is twice as long as the other two.  It turns out that some of these students are quite comfortable speaking into a computer and sharing their stories!  After this first class, the classroom teachers and I explained that the students should only share part of their story - a bit of a story hook, if you will.

Next week, the students will assess their slide while watching the slide show.  Here's the rubric:

Please evaluate your work on your slide. Circle the appropriate response:

I tried to speak clearly.
I sometimes spoke clearly.
I spoke clearly.

I tried to speak slowly so that people could understand me.
I sometimes spoke slowly so that people could understand me.
I spoke slowly so that people could understand me.

I tried to speak with expression so that people could hear my emotions.
I sometimes spoke with expression so that people could hear my emotions.
I spoke with expression so that people could hear my emotions.

***These students actively used Kid Pix throughout last year, so it was possible to complete this part of the project in a one hour visit to the library.  This is another reminder to me as to why finding a technology tool that works for you and staying with it is a best practice.  This project was less about Kid Pix and more about them sharing their understanding of a concept.

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