Coming Soon!

Super giant apologies to everyone in my group who has to grade my project.  I am just waiting on the kids to finish up their final copies of their iMovies, so I can plug it into my video project.  The goal is this Friday.  I promise it will be up by this weekend.


With the deadline fast approaching I am starting to panic.  It is taking a lot longer to get these projects done.  Only seeing the kids every 4 days with our rotation schedule, then throwing in things like conferences, the book fair and field trips, i am running behind.  The filming went really well. The kids were so creative and made props and brought in costumes.  One group who didn’t want to be in the video created sock puppets and acted their story out that way.  Some are even creating a bloopers real at the end of their movie with their messed up shots.  Some groups are adding in special effects.  They are so excited and no one is scared to try new things.  That is the biggest thing I have noticed.  The lack of fear.  Many times these kids are so scared to try something new because it might effect their grade, but with these projects the fear is gone.  That is and probably will remain the biggest plus.  I can’t wait to post the final projects!  Here is to hoping they are all done by May 5th!  ::crossing fingers::

Mashup Stories: The Rough Draft Edition

Planning sheets have been completed and groups have started to create their rough drafts.  I am so pleased with the level of participation in this project and the creativity I see flowing through these kids.  The issue I am combating at the moment involves making sure each member of the group has a say in the story and no one person is overtaking the project.  I informed students that they would be completing peer evaluations for each of the members in their group.  They would be telling how they felt each member contributed and collaborated on the story.  I also told them I would be taking that into consideration when scoring.  That seemed to solve the problem for now.  The few who were being on lazy side seemed to be really working hard today!

Mashing Causes Mass Hysteria

It was mass hysteria as the students formed groups and discussed ideas for the mash-up story project.  My principal happened to walk through the library during 5th grades time and had a look of confusion and alarm.  My assistant and I assured him it was just excitement, although I think he believes I have lost control of the class ;)

Groups have chosen their base story to work with, and have some pretty creative ideas for mashing things up.  I am getting super excited to see the final projects (especially the Knights of the Round Table & Albert Einstein and the group working the with The Polar Express who would like to mash it up with Zombies).

Next week we will read the sequel to Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle due titled Once Upon a Royal Superbaby and students will begin planning their stories using this planning sheet:

Happy Friday!

Projectors or LED TVs????

Our school is currently building a new elementary school.  Our Technology Director just sent around a survey asking us if we would prefer to have either 65″ LED TV or a 80-100″ screen and projector in our new classrooms.  I have had plenty of experience with the projector and screen, but none with the LED TV.  I have searched a few message boards online and read what people had to say.  The TD says they are about the same price now here in Korea, so cost is not an issue.  Anyone have any pros/cons for either?

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Introducing the Literary Mash-Up Unit

Well after a crazy last 6 weeks (my grandmother passed away, my sister got married and my grandfather passed away) I finally got it together enough to create the first few lessons for my Literary Mash-Up unit.  I began introducing the idea to my 5th graders this week.  They were so excited!  It made me really happy to see them so excited about a project.  They think its going to be a really cool project that will show off their creativity.  I personally don’t think they get enough time to show that side of themselves.  It will also show me their knowledge and understanding of the plot, characters and setting of a story and how that is key to the success of a book and movie.

mash-up novel is a work of fiction, which combines a pre-existing literature text, often a classic work of fiction, with another genre, such as the horror genre, into a single narrative. These often include horror fiction elements like vampires, werewolves or zombies.  Of course not everyone is into guts, blood and gore, so we discussed other ways to mash-up a story.  I showed them some examples from the New York Times and Screen Rant and we watched an example of a movie mash-up.  This is Star Wars mashed with the idea of a silent film.

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The basic outline of the project is that students will take a classic children’s picture book (such as a fairy tale, Dr. Seuss, etc) and mash it up with a different genre to change the story.  Then when the book is completed students will create a script and will act out the book to turn it into a movie (just like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter).  They will film and edit the movie and share the finished product with the other 5th grade students.  Students will work in groups of 3-5.

The Final Course Frontier

The idea of this project is seeming a little daunting.  The fact that I started a new position this year and I am still figuring out what I am supposed to be teaching makes it difficult to revamp an entire unit from the ground up when I have never taught the unit before.  However, being one never to back away from a challenge, here are a few options I think might work.

Option 1: Creating a Mashup Story
In a blog post from Course 4 about Remix Culture, I threw around the idea of having kids create their own mashup books like Pride, Prejudice and Zombies.  I would like to have the kids write mashup stories that can be turned into short films.
Why is it a good possibility?:  I really liked this idea back in October and thought the kids would really enjoy it.  They will really have to understand the stories they mashup and story elements in order to make it work. There will be lots of tasks, so each group member can feel important and work hard.
Concerns: It might be too difficult for some of my ELL to grasp the concept. I will need the support of the technology facilitator.
Shifts in pedagogy required from me: Making sure EVERYTHING is planned before we give it a go, and then be flexible enough to throw that plan out the window when its not working :)
Skills/Attitudes required from students: Creativity, teamwork, compromising, FUN!
Option 2: Digital Storytelling
In another blog post from last course I threw around the idea of digital storytelling with my 5th graders
Why is it a good possibility?: I feel it is something I could do without feeling overwhelmed.  I think the students would enjoy reflecting on their time as a student from K-5.
Concerns: Is not enough of a challenge for me?
Shifts in pedagogy required from me: none
Skills/Attitudes required from students: Reflection and understanding of past learning, how to draw on emotion through visuals and music

Management of Devices

Classroom Management Routines Around the Use of Technology
Being in the library,  my classroom management routines around the use of technology are different than those of a classroom teacher.  Students use computers every single day they come in.   They use them either to: search the catalogue for a book to checkout, to tweet a book recommendation out to their classmates, to research information for a class project, etc.  In library we talk about respecting the computers, just as they respect the library books.  We talk about online safety and protecting your information.  We talk about giving credit to others whose information we use and protecting our own intellectual property.  We talk about trust, and how I trust that they are staying focused and completing their school work during work time on the computer and that during recess if they are playing online games, they are on school approved game sites.  It seems to be working quite well.  Only once or twice have I had to speak to a student about being off task or googling the word “boobs”.  I think the fact that they know they are allowed to play games and have computer downtime once a week during recess time decreases the amount of kids who will try to sneak onto a different website during class time.
Throughout the years as more devices are introduced in the library (iPads for digital ebooks, etc.) I know my policies, expectations and ideas will change.  I will continue to roll with the technological punches.

Take me to your future…classroom.

Will Technology Change Education?
The idea of the classroom changing has been a question for years. Unfortunately I feel like the classroom has changed over the years, but education has not.  Perhaps that is why the state of education in the United States continues to worsen.  Antiquated decision making policies, measurement of student learning (see No Child Left Behind), and ideas about teachers (We are overpaid! and lazy).
The high schools that are taught completely online such as Stanford University Online High School (grades 7-12) and South Bristol High School which recently launched an “Adaptive Learning Program” are two examples showing how computers and the internet have changed learning.  Many kids who can’t deal with the bullying or other social problems at school can continue to learn and receive a diploma.  Fifteen years ago these kids might have dropped out and given up.  Also, being able to Video chat with book authors, classes on the other side of the country or world, specialists in a certain academic area, etc. have opened up a plethora or experiences that children would not have without technology.  Many programs and applications have allowed students to show their creativity, knowledge and understanding in ways they couldn’t with technology.  I know if I could have virtually dissected a rabbit instead of being asked to dissect a real one, I wouldn’t have had to take that F in Biology.  So will technology change education?  I think it already has.