Final Course Project

Student examples:

UNIT: Non-Fiction Reading Summaries Kathy Sandler and Nancy Gorneau, Grade 4

DESCRIPTION: Grade 4 students read more and more non fiction for academic purposes as the year progresses. In this unit, we will focus on helping students determine importance in non fiction, as well as how to summarize and synthesize newly learned information. Additionally, they will focus on linking new learning to what they already knew and growing new ideas about what they have read. They will also work on stating new learning in their own words.



  1. Language Arts:
    1. Summarize significant events and details
  2. Social Interaction
    1. Speak in a variety of situations including: presenting informational material, describing personal experiences, reciting short poems, delivering oral responses to literature
    2. Use appropriate tone of voice and gestures in social and classroom activities discussions
    3. Speak before a group using appropriate delivery (volume, enunciation, and movement) and language skills (pronunciation, word choice, and usage)
  3. Writing Process Writing Purposes and Resulting Genres
    1. Designs their art work, choosing and evaluating a range of subjects, symbols and ideas for their expressive features, sensory qualities and/or communicative abilities
    2. Designs their art work, choosing and evaluating a range of subjects, symbols and ideas for their expressive features, sensory qualities and/or communicative abilities
    3. Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning
  4. NETS
    1. Creativity and Innovation
    2. Communication and Collaboration
    3. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
    4. Technology Operations and Concepts
    1. Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information technologies


  1. Readers understand that main ideas are supported with relevant evidence and examples.
  2. Readers understand that nonfiction is usually read for a specific purpose: to gather information, learn something new, understand that they are part of a larger world.
  3. Readers understand that reading strategies for nonfiction will be similar to the ones they used in fiction, but they will be used differently.


  1. Why do people read nonfiction?
  2. How does the organizational structure of nonfiction help me understand what I am reading?
  3. How and why is the main ideas supported with evidence and examples?
  4. How do I use reading strategies to make sense of nonfiction?



Goal: Show their Summarizing knowledge using Common Craft style
Role: Become an expert on a topic to teach others
Audience: online, 4th Grade
Situation: creating a movie to present non fiction information
Product: Common Craft video using Corel


Explain: Students will create a video of a summary
Interpret: Students present the main ideas and supporting details from an article they read
Apply: Reading and writing non fiction strategies
Have perspective: How technology tools help present information effectively
Empathize: Students gain an understanding of Common Craft production and copyright laws
Have self-knowledge: People are drawn to non fiction text that is of interest to them



  • Keywords
  • Boxes and Bullets
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarizing
  • Storyboard and Summary Script


  • Fact Fragment Frenzy
  • Google Docs -collaborate with Reading partners, ESL teacher, classroom teacher
    • Screen shot comments
  • Cameras – still and video clips
  • Corel Studio Pro3
  • Common Craft
  • Copyright if using other’s images
  • Credit page
  • Contact Common Craft for permission to post

TIME FRAME: Preteach Take Photos Show example of Common Craft – Wed 9 Select article Google Doc – write summary – Wed 16 StoryBoard Create pieces Capture still and/or video Corel Studio Pro Dec 9 and 12 Tips: 5 inches tall, bold dark lines, simple easy to use pictures, 3 minutes, in length, 10-15 minutes to shot narrator, filmer, piece mover


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The Mount Everest of Interests

Pinterest! A treasure chest of ideas. A virtual gold mine of sharing. A mountain of creativity.

Pinterest inspires me to be more creative and have more fun! I now have a plethora of pins across a variety of boards from cooking dishes I want to try to classroom ideas in all subject areas. Most of all, I am amazed at all the sharing people in the world who are showing imagination and inventiveness.

For the most part I am pinning what others post. However, I’ve begun to try sharing some of my own creations as well, including a play I wrote for my class this year on reading strategies and the genre of fantasy.

If you haven’t checked out Pinterest, I highly recommend it. I found the easiest way to join it is through your existing Facebook account. If you don’t want all your pins to show on Facebook, especially if you become addicted to it like I have, you can change the settings to keep your pins more private.

I now have 32 boards and 626 pins and counting! I know I can go visit these boards for fresh ideas at my fingertips!

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At the final keynote address of EARCOS 2012, Jason Ohler talked about the new age of “BYOD,” also known as “Bring your own device.” And I say, “Bring it on!” because I almost always have my iPad with me.

Here are the apps that I find myself using the most:

Noteshelf allows me to make a notebook for each student. I can color code my notes according to subject area, stamp notes with icons and even import pictures. I’ve been using Noteshelf for two years now and the updates they provide are impressive, such as new notebook covers and improved page finder with a search filter.

Corkulous Pro is another app that I use alongside Noteshelf. I can peel off post-its for those students that I have met with so that I am able to see who I need to meet with next. Plus, Corkulous lets you copy boards as templates so when all the post-its are gone, I can easily recreate a new corkboard.


Confer has become my new favorite app even though it is the priciest! It enables me to see which students I’ve conferenced with and the next steps they need to take. I like how you can keep all notes for each subject separate from one another and how the notes stack on top of each other for a quick access of information. Finding features within the app is not always easy, but step-by-step directions are available.

NamesInAHat allows me to pull student names for answering questions, making groups, etc. My students wait in anticipation to see which name will come up.



Timer by Big Blue Clip is a helpful app because it counts up rather than down. This way I can monitor my students and help them set goals for building more stamina to read silently during Reading Working and write with their minds on fired during Writing Workshop. It also has the ability to keep several timers running simultaneously.


Dropbox is a must have on an iPad. It allows me access to all kinds of files.



Prezi Viewer lets me see all my Prezi presentations right on my iPad.




Pinterest It connects me to my pinterest account. I can even continue pinning to my folders, except that it does not always enable me to see all my boards to do so completely.



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Impressed with Prezi

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Fantastic Photo Find!

Today I had a Dr. Suess moment! A “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” kind of moment. I was reading a blog post at Two Writing Teachers when I clicked on a link in a comment. This brought me to another blog called TeacherDance where I read another post titled “Using Online Tools for Writing.” This is where I found the link to a free photo site for blogs called Photo Pin. Once I visited this site, I new I had found my new home for free images. Both the search and the attribution for photos is so easy!

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Project Projection

Project Projection

For the final course project, Nancy Gorneau and I will work on creating supplemental vodcasts for students and parents using a variety of applications from Camtasia to ScreenChomp to the document camera. The plan will be to use the “vodcasts” in class and online. My ultimate goal will be to have student actively engaged in creating their own vodcasts to present their understandings, processes and reflections on the kind of work they are doing in class.

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Fast Forward

Technology has already changed education today, and I believe it will continue to do so rapidly. I believe that we be incorporating more and more technology tools into the classroom for students to use. It will be less and less teacher-driven and more and more student-centered.

Image by Kathy Shrock

Bloom’s taxonomy changes with the use of technology, which changes the skills we will teach. I already see a greater emphasis on analytical thinking at a younger age. Students need to be to compare and contrast, as well as manage and synthesize information. Furthermore, students need to be flexible thinkers because information changes rapidly.

I think students will create, share and self-assess more and more. Current examples of this are Digital History Textbook and Student Made Math Movies. and MathTrain.TV. The ability to bring real world situations into the classroom will increase as well with global collaboration on projects across schools.

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The Flip is No Flop!

Reverse instruction, also known as the “Flipped Classroom” is where instruction of skills and content are provided for students to view outside of class as homework. The objective of this is to use class time for the application of the skills to solve real-world problems creatively and collaboratively with teach support.

There are many advantages to this instructional approach as students can learn at their own speed as they can pause and rewind and review when needed. It also means that the instruction needs to be visual and interesting and clear to keep students engaged. Teachers could add captions in another language for those students who are second language learners.

While the initial time investment to create vodcasts might be large, they can be reused in the future, which could save time on planning lessons. Teachers can maintain an archive of lessons to provide for students online or on CD for preteaching, extra support and enrichment.

I think that to some degree a reverse classroom could be applied in the fourth grade. There are some students who will take the initiative to watch videos for homework, but many are not yet ready for that responsibility. It would also require some parent education to gain their support and understanding.

Last year I added the classroom PowerPoint presentations from Writers’ Workshop to our class blog. It was helpful for some parents to see the kind of work we were doing in class so they could further support their children at home. Hopefully the slideshows were a helpful reminder to my students of the craft techniques modeled in class as well.

The next step would be to try some vodcasts for instruction. It might not be completely reverse instruction, but I could see where I could use it for math support to students and possibly punctuation, grammar and writing examples to demonstrate to students when conferring.

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My Trek into Tech

Image by Suphakit73/

I have to admit it. Sometimes technology integration makes me uncomfortable. It isn’t just because the devices don’t always work. It is because I feel less confident and have to work harder to use them, and more importantly find ways to get my students to use them. However, I do feel it is highly important that technology integration is happening in my classroom.

I like the following snippets from definitions of technology integration: “Integrating technology with standard curriculum gives students a sense of power, but also allows for more advanced learning among broad topics.” (

“In particular, it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts.”
“When technology is effectively integrated into subject areas, teachers grow into roles of adviser, content expert, and coach. Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun.” (

“Integration is when classroom teachers use technology to introduce, reinforce, extend, enrich, assess, and remediate student mastery of curricular targets.” (

I think integrating technology enables students to construct meaning for themselves and at their own pace. I have enjoyed using technology to make my teaching more student-friendly and engaging because it does allow me to be more creative. However, I have come to realize that it has really been my personal trek into technology, which is not technology integration!

In Jeff Utecht’s blog post “I Don’t Want to Integrate It, I Want to Embed It” he describes how different it would be if we “allowed the curriculum to grow around technology.” I think we are now at the place in education where technology should be at the heart of every unit plan. Technology tools will give students greater interaction with each other and information, as well as develop critical thinking skills with real world applications and grow students independence for learning and perseverance for problem solving.

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Give Me A Road Map

It is imperative that schools implement the NETS today. We live in an increasingly technological world. Currently character education has been gaining momentum in my school. It is every teacher’s job in the school to model and engage students in the core values so it becomes not just procedural but behavioral. Likewise, all teachers should be applying the NETS and AASL standards. After reading the AAL and watching a video of a lesson where fourth graders researched the rules of debating, it has me reflecting on the practices
and use of information literacy in my own classroom.

The website Route 21 defines information literacy as:

  • Accessing information efficiently and effectively
  • Evaluating information critically and competently
  • Using information accurately and creatively

This means that students need to be interacting with text in different ways today. With easier access to a multitude of resources, students need to be able to
think critically about what they read from the validity of the source to
perspective and purpose to synthesizing for new ideas. Furthermore when we give students the opportunity to be engaged in inquiry-based learning, we are
teaching them to be resourceful and collaborative.

I have noticed that there has greater emphasis is being placed on reading nonfiction today. While we have a unit on nonfiction reading in my grade level, I try to drum up more excitement for nonfiction by scheduling every day 10 as “Expedition in Nonfiction.” After watching the video from S.O.S. for Information Literacy of fourth graders who researched the rules of debating, I realize that the next step is to create more inquiry-based activities where students can work collaboratively. For example, I could have them research geographical and historical facts about Taiwan from safe sites. Students could pick a place or landmark of their interest and research it together. In their group, they can compare information from several sources and create travel brochures or a book to teach children about Taiwan.

I think the NETS and AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner provide a framework and common language for educators to use. Standards and benchmarks were once explained to me as being the signposts along the road for student learning. They’ve helped educators to improved curriculum design. Likewise, I think the NETS and AASL Standards will provide teachers with a clear direction for applying technology skills and ethics across the school.

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