January 18, 2013

Exploring the StoryKit app with First Graders

I worked with some students last Tuesday and recorded their descriptions of photos showing them balancing crayfish. They certainly knew how to use the word “counterweights”! I have written out the directions so that a parent who helps out during writing will be able to do the process with students. The parent who watched me this week liked the activity and wants to do it on her own.
(cross posted in a somewhat different form on the private "iPads in Grade One" blog.)

After exploring a number of story writing apps, we determined that our initial goal was to select an app that allowed students to be the ones creating on the iPad. Our favorite app for that at this point is Storykit. It is a free app that is actually an iPhone app that can be enlarged to work on an iPad.

I worked with students to test out this app and we were able to have two groups of 4 students take each other’s pictures, draw a background and record the “About the Author” pieces that they had asked to write to accompany their “How To” books in about an hour. We hadn’t carefully edited their writing so they will need to redo ones that included last names or addresses. We are planning to take pictures of their self-portraits to use as “avatars” instead of photos as needed. Having students assigned to an iPad can help with this as then the images are on the right iPad.

I visited all six classrooms on Friday and all 20 iPads have Storykit and are set up to send email. If you want to email directly to a student blog then you can use the email generated by Posterous when you set up the student spaces. If anyone else is interested in setting up individual spaces for kids I’d be glad to help you. If you give me your passwords I can do some of the setup for you.

January 15, 2013

Listening to Stories

One of the activities that early readers can do at school and at home is listen to stories as they watch the words and the pictures. We have looked at this more closely in our grade 1 & 2 classrooms this past year and we are curious about whether increased listening time will help with reading fluency. One disclaimer I should make early on is that when my young adult children were small I had some songs on tape, but I wasn't a big fan of mechanized story voices--I wanted there to be a human connection when a child was being read to and I refused to purchase the popular toys of the time (like Teddy Ruxpin) that had taped stories embedded inside their fake fur. I still believe in that human connection for reading time, but I value the option of additional time on their own for children to hear great stories and vocabulary that might be beyond their reading level.

Some of the sites that are available online are:
  1. TumbleBooks if you are a Portland Library Card Holder. Phrases are highlighted.
  2. Storyline Online has stories read aloud by actors.
  3. Oxford Owl has many ebooks that can be read aloud.
Some of these are now configured to work around Flash issues on an iPad. If you setup a home button from Safari to go to TumbleBooks it automatically goes to the Mobile Devices page that has books that don't need Flash.

For more sites the students at YES go to our Educational Resources site for instance on the Reading and Writing page for second grade.

January 7, 2013

Volcanoes in Google Earth

We can add layers to Google Earth on our MacBooks by using this information from the Smithsonian Institute.
Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program data for known or inferred Holocene volcanoes are now available as a Google Earth layer, displaying a photo (when available), geographic data, and links to more detailed information from the GVP and international volcano observatories or other websites focusing on regional volcanoes. The Google Earth software must be downloaded and installed to use this placemark file.

Download Holocene Volcanoes Placemark Download Holocene Volcanoes Network Link

Download Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report Network Link Download Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report Network Link

(From http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/globallists.cfm?listpage=googleearth).