Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Google Collaboration and Developing New Authors

In Mrs. Cramer's fifth-grade class at Glacier Ridge Elementary, a free-writing activity gave birth to four new authors. Acadia, Logan, Aleyah, and Alyssa learned how to collaborate using Google Docs. Google gave students the opportunity to write together... any time, any place, and from any device. Their short story became a 42-page book, part 1 in a series. The authors are now in sixth grade and continue to write together to create additional books in the series.

Read their book here:
Great Scott, The Hidden Power

Check out my interview with the authors! I love hearing these kids talk about their writing and how it changed them.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Student-Created, Centralized, Searchable Book Trailer Library

I recently attended the Dublin Literacy Conference.  Cheryl Angel and Marisa Saelzler talked about student-created book trailers, and how they use them in their buildings. They shared that when students are able to view or read trailers and recommendations from their peers, those books are immediately in high demand.  This is happening in some form or another throughout the district, but in isolation.

With all of the focus on authentic audience and relevance, I had a lightbulb moment.  Why not collect all of the trailers into a centralized library, and allow kids from all over the district to have a bigger audience? The added benefit would be that the number of available trailers and recommendations would be huge.  Sound overwhelming?  Our district uses MediaCore which makes this process very simple.  Let's take a look...

Have kids talk about their books.  They can write with paper and pencil, or with a word processor. They can draw a picture and record themselves talking about the book.  They can make a short commercial.  Any of these items can be digitized for the online library.
Digitize the book recommendation or book trailer.  If a student writes a book review on paper, use an app such as Scanner Pro to turn that book review into a PDF file.

Students using a tool such as Pages, Keynote, Word, or PowerPoint can export their final product as a PDF file.

If a student draws a picture, use a mobile device to take of picture of that drawing.  Students can use that digitized picture in an app like ExplainEverything to add narration, and the final product can be exported as a movie.

Upload the digital object into MediaCore or whatever digital library your district utilizes.  In our case, empower students to upload their work into the student projects area.  These trailers will be reviewed by a teacher, then switched to the book trailer collection.

When uploading an object into MediaCore, we have to agree on the "particulars," such as naming conventions and tags to include.  The tags will allow other students, teachers and parents to search for books by title, author, genre, or reading level.

Share!  With MediaCore as well as other video libraries, the collection can be embedded into any existing website.  MediaCore also allows teachers to copy a link to the collection, and post the link on a website.

Do you have a book you want to feature? Perhaps a book written by an author who will visiting your school? If you have an individual book trailer or recommendation to share, each object has its own embed code and sharable link.  Use Twitter or other means to get the word out about these objects.

Use the link to create a QR code for book trailers.  Copy the link for a particular trailer, paste it into a QR Code Generator such as QRStuff.com, then print the QR code and slip it in the inside cover of a book or on a student-created poster.  QR code readers are free and available on most mobile platforms.

Search for a book.  Go to the video collection and search by title, author, genre, or reading level.  Look through the objects returned in your search, and make a wise selection based on peer reviews.

Thanks for reading these ideas.  I'm excited to get this off the ground and be able to share our collection with the world!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Professional Book Chat using Google Docs, Wikispaces, and Twitter

I'm a Technology Support Teacher.  It is my task to help teachers not just with the nuts & bolts of district productivity tools, but also in classroom technology integration that (hopefully) helps to transform instruction.

Last spring, I was approached by Jennifer Wolf who asked for assistance.  Usually when teachers ask for help, they have a particular tool in mind.  In this particular case, the puzzle was open-ended. When Jen and I put our heads together, the result was amazing!  She had a clear view of her goals, and I had my "techie toolbelt."

The puzzle...
Jennifer wanted to lead a book chat with reading teachers in her building.  The book, The Common Core Reading Book by Gretchen Owaki, was full of big concepts just begging for opportunities for rich, educational conversations.  The challenge... It was to be a summer book chat.  Hmmm.

The solution...
We decided that a Twitter chat would be a good place to start.  Twitter provided the flexibility for folks to join in from anywhere, even from an adirondack chair during a beach vacation! (That actually happened.)

Here's the nitty-gritty...
The more we brainstormed, the more ideas we generated that could make our initial idea even better.  Here's what we did.
  1. We set up a wiki so that Jennifer and I could both act as editors.  We felt that the wiki could act as a one-stop shop for participants.  In the wiki, we included the project rationale, chat questions, Twitter archives, shared Google Docs, and other miscellaneous resources.
  2. We set up a Google Doc that was published and embedded on the wiki.  On this doc, participants could view the questions ahead of the chat as they were doing the reading.
  3. We set up a Google Doc per topic so that teachers could share key ideas.
  4. The participants began with a face-to-face meeting so that we could get everyone set up on Twitter, and practice the basics of a chat.
  5. Each subsequent week, teachers participated in the Twitter chat remotely.  As I said, the questions were posted ahead of time on the Google Doc and embedded in the wiki.
  6. Following our live chat, we archived the chat and embedded it the website.
  7. Throughout the week, teachers were able to put together what they learned from their reading and the chat, and populate a shared Google Doc on the website.  Each Doc had a table that encouraged teachers to think about how the week's reading anchor standard applied to other content areas.
Take a look at our finished product! Feel free to try this process with your own book choice and your own people.  It worked out really well.

Thanks to @jennifertwolf for this puzzle and for seeing it through.  I look forward to seeing what you'll do this summer.  Another chat?