Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gotta Love Technology

I am pretty technologically literate, however there are a lot of new tools out there I have absolutely no experience with. I was recently given a web cam and finally plugged it in. It was so incredibly easy to use! Just download the disk that came with it and we were off to the races. I recorded a story for the kids to listen to over Spring Break ( I used to use cassettes and walkmans, making take-home literacy bags-much more time-consuming). And I also recorded the kids reading their fluency passages. This way they can hear themselves read, plus I e-mailed the link to several proud parents-showing the work we've been doing in class.

I also discovered a program called Pixie 2. It's a program where the kids can digitally paint illustrations and then type text, finally narrating their stories. The program puts it all together in a Quicktime file like a movie-holding each page as long as the child is speaking on that recording. An ultra-cool way for kids to express themselves and handwriting doesn't matter at all!

I really think it's important as teachers to always be learning about new things we can implement in our classrooms. It can be intimidating at times, but what would we tell our kids if they were afraid to try something new?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Using Photography in the Classroom

I am a big fan of photography as an expression of art. So why not let the kids experience this medium as well. Several times a year the students go out and take photographs with my very old digital camera to use in activities. We took pictures of patterns, something to write a poem about, to sort for the 5 senses and my favorite one is something that inspires them. They take a picture of something and then write about it, paint it, make a collage of that photo and put them all on a poster board for our final project of the year.

Some make really interesting ones, like a door, or a flower coming up out of the sidewalk. We talk a lot about art and different artists and how what inspires them artistically doesn't have to be beautiful. The picture above was one the student thought was ugly-but represented winter and what happened to the plants. The kids really enjoy thinking like a photographer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Creative Thinking

I often talk to my students about "Thinking Outside the Box". Most of them understand what that means. When putting it into practice I want them to use their imaginations to invent, create, visualize. But I also want them to be able to use humor in their writing as well.

I like giving them a prompt-a question that has an answer, but one that's unlikely a 5-year old will already know the answer to. This week's was "Why is a Flamingo Pink?". I encourage them to use their imagination and come up with something creative or funny, not necessarily scientific. For those of you who may not be aware I had to look this answer up once when asked by a student (gotta love GT kids)-they eat a kind of shrimp that turns their feathers pink. If they eat other foods their feathers actually turn back to a translucent color.

Anyway, my little darlings came up with some creative answers. To camoflauge themselves, they ate too much cotton candy or pink cupcakes, they wanted to blend in with the flowers and my all-time favorite-they got a sunburn!

I do what happened to the dinosaurs, why does our hair grow, etc. I love to see the little cogs and gears in their minds turn trying to think of an answer.