Student Work

Kindergarten Storybird Stories

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After we had sent an email to faculty telling them about how the LTC was going to be celebrating Picture Book Month, Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Potts, wrote back to say that she’d love to work on an ELA project together around picture books. We decided that we would study stories without words (aka wordless picture books) and create a writing project around illustrations. Naturally, we thought of Storybird as the perfect tool to have students look at professional illustrations and write their own stories. We were also very excited when Mrs. Parnell and Mrs. Babajtis wanted to do the project, too!

During LTC classtime, we read The Giant Seed, The Lion & the Mouse, A Ball for Daisy, and The Boy and the Airplane.  While we read, we used the Visual Thinking Strategy of asking, “What is going on in this picture?” and “What do you see that makes you say that?” The students even offered their ideas of what sentences and dialogue could be on the page if it had words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was time to write our own stories. We found three sets of illustrations in Storybird that we thought would be appealing to Kindergarteners and chose five illustrations from each set. We printed them out and made a poster for each set.

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To introduce the students (and the teachers) to Storybird, we read a Storybird story from the gallery called Little Panda’s Rescue. Then students did a gallery walk (museum hands and all!) to look at the three different sets of illustrations. After the class voted for their favorite one, we started brainstorming using the same VTS questions, “What is going on in this picture?” and “What do you see that makes you say that?”

We worked in small groups, each group brainstormed for one illustration in the set. We modeled how to brainstorm with one of the illustrations and then the students were able to work in their own groups (there was an adult at each group doing the writing and recording 🙂

Finally, as a class, we took everyone’s brainstorming ideas and turned them into sentences. Because the ELA learning goal for this project was to teach the writing skill of Beginning, Middle, and End, we focused on sequence and using transitional words, such as, “Then” and “Next.”

The Kindergarten teachers enjoyed this process and asked if we could print out more brainstorming sheets so the students could work on writing their own stories. Absolutely! For little ones, it’s a great idea to do an entire project as a Guided Practice which can then be done again as an Independent Practice.

Here are the stories the Kindergarteners created. We do hope you enjoy them! And keep an eye out for those transition words . . .

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Fifth Grade Genre Project

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11182381634_73b006903c_oWhen new teacher Ms. Lane came to us and said, “I’ve noticed that my students don’t know genres. Can you help me with that?,” we did triple somersaults in our heads while doing the happy dance then calmly responded, “We’d love to help.”

We started with the Standards,

  • RL.9.5–Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics.

  • BPS–Share information about authors and books using various formats.

  • BPS–Read independently from different genres of literature and stories. 

  • BPS–Suggest technology tools to accomplish a particular task.
  • BPS–Use technology devices and applications to create visually pleasing and well-organized presentations.

We put our heads together and decided that we would let the students teach each other about five major genres: Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mysteries, and Adventure/Action.

I showed samples of book trailers from the five genres to help students figure out which genre they wanted to study.

 

I book talked a handful of books from each genre then let the students choose which book they wanted to read.

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We asked the students to find the characteristics of their genre and had a discussion about how characteristics are similar to the ingredients of ethnic foods. For example, the ingredients of Italian food would be pasta, tomatoes, garlic, and cheese. When these ingredients are present we know we are eating Italian food.

We assigned the project using Smore and linked to the Planning Sheet, Citation Worksheet, Rubric, and Reflection Sheet that the students would use for this project. Students used Notability, one of our core iPad apps, to fill in their sheets and keep track of their progress.

Once the books were read and students took notes on the “ingredients” from the story, students worked in genre groups to create a presentation that would teach the rest of the class about their genre. We love giving students choices so they brainstormed which tools they would use to create a presentation.

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We assessed their knowledge of the characteristics of their genre, their level of collaboration, citing their sources (for quick practice of citing print books), and the effectiveness of their presentation regardless of the tools they chose.

Here are just a few of the presentations that were created in iMovie.

Some students also chose to use the Explain Everything app.

To put their new knowledge to the test, I pulled 40 or so books from my fiction collection in the library and asked the students to figure out which genre each one belongs to. Since I will be changing my fiction collection soon from being shelved by author to being shelved by genre this was a real and authentic task for the students.

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The Mysterious Animal Mystery!

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Mrs. Parnell’s Kindergarten class studied animal families for one of their science units. The LTC got involved this year to give students an opportunity to learn about research. Mrs. Parnell wanted her students to be able to identify the different animal families by their characteristics such as mammals have hair and insects have no backbone. The LTC wanted the students to be able to build an argument using evidence from research (Common Core anyone?).

In order for students to apply their understanding of animal families in a new setting, we created a mysterious animal that has many characteristics from different animal families.

After Mrs. Parnell and Mrs. Hoyt spent lots of time teaching the students about the different animal families (over 100 beanie babies!), students were introduced to this challenge by a video plea from Dr. Curious (a.k.a. Mr. Musselman of the Burlington Science Center) asking the students to help him figure out what kind of animal it was.

He let us borrow his scientific journal so we could read all about his observations of this mysterious animal and take notes of all the important facts that we wanted to use as evidence. Keep scrolling through the document to find more of the notes!

The Scientific Journal of Dr. Curious.pdf

Then, we reviewed everything we knew about the characteristics of the animal families and used our notes to make a decision.

We videotaped our arguments and sent them to Dr. Curious and drew a picture of what we thought the animal looked like. Was this animal a bird or a reptile? The students wanted to know!

What a surprise it was to see Dr. Curious show up in the classroom to review the students’ findings, just like real scientists do!

PTO Presentation

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I had the distinct pleasure of being able to present to the Pine Glen Parent Teacher Organization last night about all of the wonderful things we’ve been able to do in the LTC, in part due to resources that they have provided. Thanks to the PTO for having me, and for the $450 that classroom teachers will use to purchase content-area apps for their classrooms.

First Grade eBooks

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Now two years running, one of my favorite projects of the year is creating eBooks with the first graders. These books turn out to be a really great culminating activity for first grade literacy skills, where the students write, draw, type, and record their own complete electronic books. It’s a wonderful way to get an authentic look at the students’ writing skills, artistic abilities, technology skills, and reading fluency.

If you need help viewing these books, please see this post with instructions for both computers and iOS devices like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

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