Our Visit with Flo
Yesterday we were fortunate enough to have Flo from SET BC come out and visit us at Nanoose Bay Elementary. Kerri Steel from Winchelsea Elementary and Jane Rondow, our SET BC representative, also took the time to come and see what our grade three and four students have been up to at NBES. Colette Vaisius and I were proud to show Flo and the other ladies all of our hard work.
We set up our technology stations as we had them during our work time and Flo sat with the small groups of students and chatted with them as they showed off their projects on each of the four programs. (Clicker 5, Switch-It Maker, Pictello and Kurzweil) It was exciting for all of us that Flo took the time to travel over from Vancouver to see how things had gone, and the kids were very glad to meet you Flo! While they worked together, Flo invited the students to talk about what they liked about the project, as well as to share the bits that were a little challenging.
Of course, being a typical elementary school day, not everything went totally smoothly! Our school has an assembly every Tuesday afternoon, and since Flo was visiting, we were opting out to stay in our room….but….our beloved principal , Steve Halmilton, is retiring this year, so we just had to sneak out to be part of a secret video clip for him! Thanks Flo for being so flexible with your time and “rolling with it”. When it came time for Flo to leave to catch the ferry, the kids didn’t want to let her go! It was truly a pleasure to meet you – we loved our project, in fact we are already cooking up a plan to use SET BC technology for a project next year, and you’ll find our application in the pile for 2012-2013!
Leslie McCallum and Colette Vaisius
On Thursday, April 26, the teachers from the two schools got together and prepared the templates and picture files for Sarah Plain and Tall. It was a good chance for the adults to review the process, and to talk about the most effective way to prepare the project for the students. We spent time looking at the Creative Commons image search and Google Advanced Search features, looking for pictures for the project. We also played around with each of the programs, and demonstrated how the students would be entering the data when they get started next week.
We also took a look at this site, just to make sure that Colette, Leslie, and John, the adults from Nanoose who will be completing this novel with the kids, knew just what to do. It was a great afternoon of sharing!
On Friday, April 13, the Cool Chameleons and the students in Room 3 at Nanoose Elementary had a terrific visit together. We set up stations for all of the Winchelsea Students to demonstrate the work they had done, and to provide an introduction to the project for the class at Nanoose. We shared our video reflections, and showed them the student comments that we’d been writing on the blog. The children had a terrific time sharing together- and the Chameleon’s were pleasantly surprised by the lovely baked treats that Mrs. Vaisius bought for us. (It was bake-sale day at NBES, and they were kind enough to let us go first!)
At the end of our sharing session, we left the laptops and iPads with Room 3, so that they could get ready for their novel, Sarah Plain and Tall, which they are already reading and getting ready!
Below are some of the pictures from this sharing session, as well as the video that was shared between the classes.
At the beginning of this month, the Cool Chameleons undertook their second book project We launched this second novel quite differently from the first one, and it really paid off.
To avoid the scrambling that we experienced the first time around, each machine was clearly labeled with the program, type of summary, and students who would be completing it. We also made sure that we had the template in an easy-to-spot place on the desktop, and the summary files and folder of pictures right beside it.
When we were working on the first novel, students were given the opportunity to take their own pictures, but we soon found that that was very difficult for them to take clear pictures, and the croppy was not always done as carefully as it should have been. The kids also found it difficult to organize the folders, so it worked much better this time around.
It was exciting to see just how versatile they were with the software- in an hour and a half, all of the groups were able to get their text and pictures into the right places, and some had begun to edit their work as well. One of the Kurzweil groups even began to zone edit their work, which was terrific. Our confidence and independence with the technology has really grown, and it’s been wonderful to see some of the kids asking to use it in different contexts- for writing projects, reading response assignments, and even self-evaluations (can we tape ourselves?)
In fact- the desire to record videos of one another led to the creation of a super video for our visit to Nanoose- where we recorded some tips and thoughts for the class at Nanoose that is now ready to begin their project.
We were also given a terrific opportunity to celebrate what we were doing at a School Board meeting, where six students presented our work to the trustees. The kids put together a short powerpoint, and shared the first few pages of The Twits project with the crowd. We brought the house down with the chapter where Mrs. Twit drops her glass eye into Mr. Twit’s mug of beer! We were also lucky enough to be put into the newspaper, which was very exciting indeed.
Today we had our students use the SET BC programs to enter their 4 and 1 sentence summaries for our novel Sarah Plain and Tall. It was a great day! We had lots of help to make the work go off without a hitch. At 7:30 this morning, Kerri Steel and Jane Rondow met Colette and I at Nanoose Bay Elementary and helped us to set up the technology stations for the kids. When the kids arrived at 8:07, we were ready to go. In their small groups, students worked at the technology stations to enter their text into the four different programs. They added pictures to go with the chapters and later they recorded their voices reading the text. Having 6 adults in the room sure made things go smoothly! As we were working, we took photos of the kids at work. We will include a few here for you to see. Because we had such great help with preparation, things went very smoothly. Jane created templates for Switch It Maker and Clicker 5, and Pictello had its own template as did Power Point in Kurzweil. We also had added a folder with the pictures and the writing for each chapter on the desktop for the kids working with Clicker 5 and Powerpoint. The kids working with Switch It and Pictello needed to type in their text using a hard copy.
Well, we’ve been tweaking, re-recording and polishing our first book, The Twits. The Kurzweil and Clicker 5 groups have finished, but because we decided to record student voices for Pictello and Switch-It Maker, it’s been taking a bit more time to get these two ready to go. We’re going to go hard over the next day or two, and they should be finished soon.
The Cool Chameleon’s have an exciting Tuesday this week. Mrs. McCallum, and Mrs. Vaisius, from Nanoose Bay Elementary, are coming to join us as we launch into the projects for Stone Fox. They’re coming to observe how we get things going, as they will be working with the equipment after Easter, for the third novel project.
We’re really organized this time, so it should be much easier to slide right into action. We’ll have both the templates and picture files sitting ready to go on the desktops, and both laptops are now imaged with printers and Microsoft Office, so we won’t be needing to go back and forth with the memory sticks the way we did the first time around. This book also has only 10 chapters, instead of 29, (whew, what were we thinking!), so it will be less time consuming altogether.
The second exciting thing on Tuesday is that six of our classmates will be sharing our project at the School Board meeting. We’re putting together a short Powerpoint, and plan to show bits of the different formats with them. This will be a good week to add some more student comments, so stay tuned!
After an evening of playing a bit more with the programs, and making sure everything was saved on a memory stick and the appropriate desk-tops, we’re back on track this week. One of the things I’ve learned is that the kids get really excited about things and start clicking around in the programs, and can undo work they’ve accomplished really quickly if they’re not reminded to save…often. There have been a couple of other hitches- for example, the machines we have from SET-BC do not have Microsoft Office installed on them, so the kids working in Clicker are not able to copy-paste the sentences they have in Word or PowerPoint formats from other groups. We’ve got a work order into our tech department to sort that out. The Switch-It Maker program has been frustrating too. It’s been re-installed a couple of times, but seems to get “tired” after a few pages and starts to send error messages to the kids and not save their work. I’m going to sit with them and watch carefully to see what they might be doing, but I would be interested to know if anyone else is having challenges with the program. We’ve set a class goal of having the work on “The Twits” finished up in time to share at the District Partner meetings next week…we’ll see how far we get:) Check out the comments entered by students in the Discussion on their wiki page- they’ve offered their first individual reflections about the project.
Over the past couple of weeks, the kids have worked together in their groups to see how far we could get with our Twits Novel projects in the various formats. Jane Rondow, our SET BC Consultant, spent part of a couple of mornings with our class helping us how to learn to use the software programs, and we worked together to find out the best way to manage all of the activity. We’ve discovered that it’s critical to have templates ready for the kids, as well as edited picture files, to help them cut-and-paste the things they need seamlessly. We learned that Switch It! Maker and Pictello can only support one sentence summaries, there isn’t enough space to write more than that. Some of the programs are proving to be a bit challenging- Switch It! maker keeps sending error messages when the kids try to save, and we’ve lost work a couple of times. Pictello doesn’t seem to allow editing if the story isn’t finished, although some of the sample books have this functionality, so we have to learn a bit more about that. The groups working with Kurzweil and Clicker 5 are finding more success. All of the groups are looking forward to recording their voices, which we’re hoping to get to by the end of next week.
We had a challenging day today with files that were hard to find, and programs that weren’t “cooperating.” Instead of having students enter individual reflections about our morning, we brainstormed comments together. These are below:
“Ms. Rondow came and it was awesome. So far, we were better with her than we are by ourselves. We learned that it’s really important to make sure that you save all of your stuff. It’s really hard because you need to make sure you have all of the files and tools that you need. Sometimes it’s kind of difficult to learn what the tools are for. If you are having problems with the tool, it’s sometimes better to just walk away until you can get some help.
One Clicker 5 group has totally finished their story. Another group got a good start, but needs time to add sounds and some more words. The Kurzweil group is working in Powerpoint. They had to start over today, but now it’s going really well. The Pictello group was working well, it was looking good, but we’re having difficulty figuring out how to edit our pages. There is still some finished. Cropping the pictures can be kind of tricky. The Switch-it Maker group only needs a couple of chapters, but the pages also need sorting, and we still have to learn how to do that. We also need to add sound.
Please stand by while we work out our technical difficulties….”
This week, everyone signed up for their first and second choices for the software program they would like to learn for our first book- now that we’ve all had a chance to play around on the iPads and laptops. Students thought a lot about whether they would like to work with a program that allowed them to take photographs, or record their own voices, and which platform they wanted to use. We were fortunate enough to all be able to “get” our first choice.
The “Pictello” crew spent a bit of time taking pictures of the illustrations in the book, but we ran out of time to crop them. Once that’s done, we’ll make a picture file that everyone can share.
We’re very excited because our SET-BC Consultant, Jane Rondow, is joining us this coming Thursday, when we’ll all get into our groups and begin working in earnest on our projects. We’re going to try and find some time to brainstorm what effective group work will look like before she gets here, and make ourselves a rubric for the projects so that we can all be working toward the same goal.
We’ll take lots of pictures this week…stay tuned!
This week, we were very excited about the arrival of our equipment. We have two laptops, and two iPads, and we set them up at the back of our classroom and signed up for turns to explore. I spent about a half hour with samples of files created in each of the applications we’ll be using: Switch It Maker, Kurzweil, Clicker 5 and Pictello- showing the kids the features, how sound worked, which ones we’d be able to use our own pictures and voices with, etc.
We also talked about the Student Comments section of our new blog site, and put a link on our class page so that we’re all ready to add our thoughts when we begin working in earnest.
We’ve also previewed our four-sentence Powerpoint, and re-written our one-sentence summaries, so that the content is ready to go when we start working with the new programs.
While we keep exploring for a few more days so that everyone has had a chance to “touch” the new tools, my “Kurzweil Crew” will be reading the novel for our second book, (we’ve switched from Harriet the Spy to Stone Fox, it fit better with the social studies unit we’re working on), using Kurzweil in the Support Centre. That way, they’ll have the understanding of how Kurzweil can continue to help them with their own learning after the project…the group using this particular tool will benefit from being regular Kurzweil users down the road.
This week, we’ll create the rest of our “teams” and get started on creating our book…we’ll keep you “posted”