Saturday, April 26, 2014

Silent Photo Story: Digital Storytelling with a Twist

Last week my students created a Silent Photo Story project that was inspired by this pin on Pinterest.  (The two students that made the project, below left, gave me permission to post their project.  You can find it at the end of the post and HERE.)

Before assigning the project to my students, I did a trial run by texting photos of a story, with the sentences written on an app on my ipad, to my daughter that was at her college tennis match.  (See one of the photos from the story below on the right.)  I searched for a way to post the photos on an app that would automatically advance each page of the story instead of having the photos listed vertically as on the Pinterest example.  The easiest user-friendly method I found for students to use is the Educreations app.

The purpose of the project was for my students to write in the past tense, include sentences that describe how someone felt about the actions of another person (the imperfect subjunctive), and for the majority of the creative aspect of the project to be completed outside of class time.

The Silent Photo Story project:

A. Requirements
   - Write a story in the past with a minimum of 10 sentences.
   - A minimum of 2 of the sentences must describe how someone felt about
     the actions of another person or about a situation.
   - Write each sentence on a mini-whiteboard. (I gave each student 2 
     markers, an eraser, and a mini-whiteboard to take home.)
   - Take a photo of you holding the marker board with the sentence. Your
     actions should match the sentence on the board.
   - E-mail the photos to your school g-mail account.

B.  Students had 4 days to complete the assignment.  I offered to proofread their sentences before they took the photos, but none of the students took me up on this offer.  (Next time, I will require the students to have a mini-conference with me before they complete the project.)

C.  The day it was due, I signed out the department i-pads.  The students accessed their photos through their g-mail, copied the photos to the i-pad, and opened the Educreations app.

D.  On the Educreations app, they uploaded one photo per page/slide.  Then they made a silent recording, pausing 3-4 seconds on each page.  (If you save the project before making the silent recording of each page, the app will only save the initial page of the project.)

E.  After the recording, they saved the lesson and followed my detailed instructions on how to post their projects directly on our class Edmodo page.  Those directions can be downloaded HERE.

F.  The following day in class, we sat in a circle (conversation style which means without desks) and read the stories. 

Note:  This project can also be done completely in class if you do not want to send the supplies home with the students.  One of my students completed his project at home, but it was in one location instead of several locations as in the example above.  His expressions perfectly matched the action in his storyIf I he gives me his approval to post it, I'll add it later.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Divergent Thinking

Which is more important in education, creative students or creative teachers?  The simple answer is they're both important.  If we want our students to be creative, then it is crucial that we demand the same creativity from our teachers. Neither can be compromised. 

This topic has increasingly been on my mind, especially on those occasions when I field questions from students such as, "how many sentences do I need to answer this?", or "how long do I need to talk for my presentation?", and other similar questions.  At times, I sense a student is more interested in trying to complete an assignment to match how I might do it, rather than envision their own way of completing it.  I suspect the endless standardized tests play a major role in training our students to conform into a mold and give the same answer as others.    

If you want to be inspired by a student willing to think in a divergent manner and let her creativity set her apart, you absolutely HAVE TO WATCH this video by Sarah Almeda (click HERE). I found this video on a blog post "Students Yearn for Creativity, not Tests" by Eric Sheninger, "A Principal's Reflection"  (The link was shared by @msfrenchteach on Twitter.) I recommend you browse his other inspirational blog posts while you are there.  

A divergent-thinking student (one that the non-stop "testing serum" has little to no effect on the natural curiosity for learning):
- imagines several possibilities for completing a task
- seeks ways to differentiate their work from others
- permits himself to daydream  
- doesn't hesitate when given the task to create an alternate ending to a story
- realizes a powerpoint is only one possibility to create a presentation
...and the list goes on.  Check this post, found on The Second Principle blog, for some well thought-out ideas. 

A divergent-thinking (language) teacher:
- values the students in her class with which she has been entrusted
- searches for individual and class interests to connect students to the material
- paces lessons to the needs of the students, not to the dates on a syllabus
- is open-minded when presented with new ideas from colleagues
- steps out of her comfort zone to try a new approach with technology
- ends a lesson thinking, "next time I teach this, what if I change X and do Y?"
- permits herself to daydream
- realizes the syllabus must be flexible in order to accommodate new resources and new ideas 
- understands that there will be times she will be learning along with the students 
- knows lessons that didn't go well can be a  learning experience and an opportunity to improve
- views last year's lessons as....Last Year's Lessons. (She'll need to teach the lessons geared specifically toward her current class.) 

Those are only a few ideas.  There are many, many more.

Coincidentally, when I wrote this post I didn't realize that World Creativity and Innovation Week is April 15-21 and World Creativity and Innovation Day is April 21.

Monday, April 7, 2014

La Guerra Sucia - 2 graphic organizers

Last week my Spanish 4 students read the last few chapters of La Guerra Sucia. I wanted to make sure they fully understood the plot in chapters 10 and 11, because my plans were for them to read the last chapter completely on their own.  

I experimented with a different technique while reading.  I projected the sketches to the left on the board and then I read the chapter to the students.  When they saw a sketch that matched the action in the text, they raised their hand and told me the letter of the sketch and I placed an X over the sketch.  

To be honest, I won't repeat this in the same manner the next time I read this book with the students.  The next time, I'll have the students read the chapter quietly to themselves and THEN, I'll read the chapter to them and they'll let me know the letter of a sketch that was described as I read it.  Since it was the first time we read the chapter, when the students stopped me to identify the sketches, it was too many interruptions and weakened the flow of reading. This will give an extra repetition of the chapter along with a purpose for reading it a second time.

After we discussed the chapter, I gave the students the paper to the right to match the sketches to the sentences.  The sketches are shown and numbered in the correct order of the events in the chapter.

Finally, I wanted to see if the students could both order the events and retell the story without any support.  To do that, the students formed groups of 3, and I gave them a copy of the paper shown at the beginning of the post. They retold the story alternating turns after describing a sketch.  I asked one member of each group to rotate to the next group and they repeated the activity.  

The students then read chapter 11 in their small groups, and they answered a few comprehension questions while reading.

For the last chapter, I asked them to read the chapter silently and complete the graphic organizer to the right.  I collected their papers and the following day we discussed the last chapter.  

This is the second time I've read this book with a Spanish 4 class, but this time it was part of a unit of Argentina and La Guerra Sucia.
Several people unknowingly helped me to accomplish this through the materials they shared on their blogs. They include:
- Kristy Placido's blog post  she shares ideas for stations to introduce the unit, including songs, short videos, and other materials
- Sharon Birch's blog post and materials on Argentina

and for assessment ideas:
- Carrie Toth's blog post on a culminating project 
- a google doc which I'm fairly certain was created by Kristy Placido. (I didn't include the link since I'm not certain who shared the google doc with me, because I'm not sure if I have permission to make the link public and share it on my blog.)
- Martina Bex's activity for Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo and the lyrics and activity for Mana's song, Desapariciones from TeachersPayTeachers  

In addition, I have many Mary Glasglow magazine articles on Argentina, and that's just from this school year. Since I am a subscriber, I also have access to their videos on Argentina.  FYI - If you have some money in your department budget, I recommend that you look into these magazines.  They're informative, colorful, and are available at three different levels.

A few last notes:
1. If you are interested in downloading any of the above graphic organizers they can be found here 
- Sketches of ch10 - La Guerra Sucia  HERE
- Matching for ch10 - La Guerra Sucia  HERE
- Graphic organizer for ch12 - La Guerra Sucia  HERE
2. The book is fiction but it includes information of events that happened in that time period.  It would have been better to have sketches that were more serious, not cartoon type sketches, but unfortunately, that is beyond my artistic abilities.
3. We also watched the video "Cautiva". The story was captivating and helped emphasize the tragedies that occurred in Argentina during that time period.
4.  Now I want to go to Argentina even more than I did before starting the unit.  Wanderlust  - again....