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Read Write Think: a great timeline app!

I’m always excited to find an app that works really well – without any hiccups! The free timeline app from Read Write Think was one of those gems!

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I worked with Courtney O’Connor and her grade 9 English classes. They had just finished individual novel studies, so I introduced her classes to the timeline app to share their novels. I began by demonstrating how the app worked (adding images, text, saving, and sharing). Next, we had the students outline the narrative elements of their novel, and then work through a paper sketch of the information they planned to put on their timeline. The students were given two classes in the Learning Commons to complete their assignment.

After their timelines were emailed to their teacher, the class returned for a third class to participate in speed booking. This gave them an opportunity to share their novels with each other. We gave them an activity sheet to fill out while participating in the speed booking (this kept them focused and help them track the books that they might be interested in reading next). At the end there was a project rubric you are welcome to use or revamp.

This app worked so well that Courtney used it again with her SS class to do a timeline on the Industrial Revolution.  The Read Write Think timeline app was a fun way to share their books with their teacher and with each other, and it was easy to use! What are your favourite apps for novel study? I would love to hear about them?

 

 

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Web-based Tools and Apps: Who’s Who in the Zoo!

Whether they are web-based tools or apps on our iPads, I am overwhelmed with the amount of amazing applications available. I have to admit, I am probably a bit of an addict when it comes to experimenting with new tools (I do love trying them out), but sometimes I feel like enough already! I’m even starting to fear twitter because I may read about another amazing web tool I just have to play with! So this project was not only to help the staff and students, but also to help me focus on what works and what I like.
Part 1)
I started by making folders on our 30 iPads by dragging the different apps together into the different folders.

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This not only made the ipad screens less cluttered, but it became easier to locate all the great apps the students and teachers wanted to use. Some of our headings include the following: art/design, video/photo, science, socials, storytelling, health, news, presentation, collaboration, language, and research. Unfortunaley, this alone did not help me remember all those little gems hiding in those folders.
To solve this problem I decided to take all the web-based tools and all the apps and organize them on the large white board in our green room.

Part 2)
My lib science students printed the names of the  web tools and apps. They laminated and trimmed them (headings in pink and tools in yellow). Next they cut magnet tape into small squares and stuck it on the back of all the words.

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Finally, small green dots were  placed on all words/tools that we have made tutorials for. My library Science students have been making some amazing tutorials using screencast-o-mastic, and yup – I love that web tool too!

I really enjoy being able to refer students to the wall when they are looking to put together a presentation. The wall has also given way to some inspiring projects evolving from teachers asking about the different tools on display. Eventually, I may transfer all the words to poster format, but for now it’s too fluid.

Of course I have a few favourite web-tools, or at least favourites of the moment. I think those tools would be: snapguide, padlet, edcanvasexplain everything, glogster, and popplet, but I would drop without my dropbox (which I often use for students to share their work from our iPads), and my Library Science students are currently experiencing the wonders of pixlr combined with comic life, and weavly to make mash-ups.

When all the tools were organized we just stood back and said, WOW! Have we ever learned a lot this year – no wonder I’m so tired! We still have some tools that we need to expolore further, but for now my brain is ready to blow! So which are your favourite tools? And do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the options available? I’d love to know that I’m not alone 🙂

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Playing With Poetry

Book Spine Poetry & Blackout Poetry
April is National Poetry Month, but poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea, and not something everyone enjoys reading or writing. So to introduce a new poetry unit I decided to use Book Spine poetry and Blackout poetry as icebreaker activities. Both of these activities are fun, and they are creative enough to encourage students to build freely without being impaired by any insecurities or fear of embarrassment.

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” ― T.S. Eliot

Starting with this quote, we started by talking about what we thought the author meant. What makes a good poem? How many poems have we read lately, and when was the last time we read a poem? Did we have any favourite poems we remembered from elementary school?
Next, I introduced the idea of doing a Book Spine poetry challenge and I showed some examples using keynote and my iPad with Apple TV. We discussed how the book spines would become their prompts and inspiration, but the students would be the creators, or writers. They were instructed to take books and build something that moved them in some way. Notice I said ” them” – I don’t believe you can write great poetry to make others happy. I do believe poetry needs to move you, the writer, and inspire you and make you feel something. If you can do that, then surely your work will impact others.

Book Spine Poetry

Things we discussed:

  • You cannot “fake” good poetry
  • Good poetry comes from the heart
  • Good poetry will have something we can identify with
  • Good poetry will move us and make us feel something

Questions…

1.) How many books can I use?
Answer: No more than 6 and no less than 3
2.) What kind of mood do you want your poem to create?
Answer: Will it be one of sadness, happiness, love, anger, envy, jealousy, empathy, or silliness, etc.
3.) What kinds of words will you use?
Answer: Choose words that interest you, and words you think sound nice together (flow/contrast, rhyme/no rhyme.)
4.) How will you know when your poem works?
Answer: Read your poem out loud, and have a buddy read it out loud to you. The way a poem sounds when its read it extremely important! Some poetry can almost be sung the words flow so well together.
5.) What if its not quite right?
Answer: Edit what you have built. Try rearranging the book spines, and if they still don’t work then remove one book and try a new one in its place. How does that new book spine change the poem’s meaning? Also, try writing your poem out on paper.

   *Students worked in pairs and were directed to use only fiction books

When everyone had enough time to build a poem, then we displayed the book stacks around the room. Every student typed their poem out and printed it off. Each student reported to me and was given a number to put on their poem. They then placed a copy of their poem in front of their stack of books, but they left the poem unsigned (with their names on the back and a number on the front).This way the author remained anonymous. The students were told to keep hush about their number and which poem was theirs until everyone had voted. Each student was given a rubric to write reflective notes. After they finished reading everyone’s poems and completed the rubric, they could mark off their top 2-3 favorite poems on the rubric. At the end of class we did a quick talley and announced the winners, we also spent a few moments discussing why these poems may have moved so many of us?
Blackout poetry was introduced at the same time the Book Spine was introduced. This way, if some students were finished their Book Spine creations earlier than others then they could start working on their blackout poem.

Blackout Poetry

An Intro video of Blackout Poetry and examples were shown to the students. Below you will find examples of the student’s work, and the short video clip I used on blackout poetry. Our students really enjoyed these poetry activities, and their poetry was amazing! I would love to hear how you are celebrating National Poetry Month – let me know 🙂

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