Saturday, 27 October 2007

FBA for Reluctant Readers

The Dragon of Doom (Moongobble and Me series). Bruce Coville.

Bruce Coville's Moongobble and Me series is one of my favorites for the second-third grade level. It's filled with Harry Potter-esque magic but at a much more accessible reading level. A loner boy in a small town becomes the apprentice to a fumbling, awkward magician and they go on adventures in the efforts to prove that he is indeed a good magician. The book is fantastic for a read-aloud in second grade (my students begged me to read all books in the series!) and it's a great "hook book" for reluctant readers in grade two. A mom recently came to me and said that her son, who never could find a book that really hooked him, was actually up at 5:30 a.m. devouring this book. That's my favorite part of being a librarian--hooked another one!

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Wacky Web Tales

Wacky Web Tales, part of Houghton Mifflin's Education Place website, is a great activity where students choose random parts of speech to later be turned into a story, much like the beloved MadLibs. I've done MadLibs for years, but usually on a piece of recycled paper and with me reading the final story aloud. I like that this online version is set up so kids can actually see what I'm writing and read the final story together. Make sure to check the Classroom Resource links on the bottom of the home page for various teacher resources available for free.

Monday, 15 October 2007


72 hours ago, I didn't even know what an avatar was (the tech definition is a graphic representation of oneself), and now I have my own custom-made avatar straight from my blog picture to the right! The Voicethread project I'm doing with the Books Go Global! group will be using avatars for students instead of actual photos, which I assume has to do with online safety and privacy. Either way, I readily admit it was a blast to upload my photo, plug in the info and create my alter ego. And if I look a bit familiar, well, that's because I've been "Simpsonized" in this picture. The students are going to LOVE this part of creating their cartoon selves with the Simpsonize Me program before we get started on our book reviews. Try it just for kicks!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Great Smartboard Site

A friend introduced me to Starfall, a great site that teaches reading skills to younger grades but also has lessons designed to be used with an interactive whiteboard. I am pretty new to Smartboards, but I want to learn quickly to give teachers the opportunity to see how Smartboards can be a great tool to use in the library. My plan is to invite a few first grade classes in with their teacher while I demonstrate the Snowman activity and hope that the word spreads and others want to see what it's all about. With the program called Snowman, there are numerous opportunities for young kids to come up and practice using the Smartboard.

Note: In China, the site has stories in both Chinese and English and computers will automatically go to However, recently it will only show a sample (Snowman is one of the samples) if you are not a member. The US site does not require membership.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Digital Storytelling with Voicethread

Wow--I was just turned on to Voicethread via the Learning 2.0 site that was set up for the recent Shanghai conference. In a nutshell, you create a digital story by adding images and adding your own words over the images. At first, I thought it was similar to Photostory, another great and simple way to use photos and audio, but the difference with Voicethread is the conversation that happens AFTER the product has been made. Students can comment on each other's work by adding their own words, and a little icon with their picture pops up on the side. I've joined a group of teachers from around the world in a wiki project called Books Go Global! where we will be using this with 4th graders to create book reviews. Wesley Fryer, of Moving at the Speed of Creativity, has great samples of books reviews done by his own children. The Voicethread site has a large amount of sample projects to give you ideas of how to use them in the classroom. Some ideas bouncing around in my head...

COUNTRY REPORTS--fabulous way to jazz these up AND allow kids to comment on each other's work or their personal experiences in that country

ART CLASSES--create a slideshow of works and have students begin audio conversations commenting on the work, like an audio blog. Sharon, thought this might be great for Tetrablink!

SCHOOL COMMUNITY--our 2nd grade does an "Our Cool School" project where the students interview the workers around campus. Making a Voicethread of that and sharing it with schools around the world would give a wonderful global perspective of how those jobs are the same and different.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Pumpkins and Technology

From reading other blogs, I often find cool website suggestions, like this one at Technospud Projects. Jennifer Wagner, creator of Technospuds Project, is hosting a Pumpkin Seed Count for teachers in grades Pre-K to 3. The idea is for classes around the world to compare estimates and actual amounts of pumpkin seeds found in pumpkins. Having been a classroom teacher for years, this is an activity that many teachers do already, so what a great twist to add your data to the website and then have access to data from all over the globe! An added bonus is that this would be an easy way to get teachers who may be a bit hesitant to use technology involved in a project. Registration opened on September 28, and her website has other great classroom technology activities as well.