Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Making Meaningful Music for Mae

The students in Gill-Ville have been enjoying visualizing and imagining many of the details found in Tuck Everlasting.  We are captivated by music, as are the characters in the story, by Mae Tuck's music box. We spent some time thinking about the kind of music and types of instruments that sound like tunes from a music box.  The students collaborated and brainstormed a list of words that helped them imagine the sound that the music would make.  Here is a screen shot of our ideas.

Once we had a general idea of what the music box might sound like students used Garageband to create their own version of the tune the music box might play.  We used built in musical loops that used appropriate instruments and tones.  The students also used the built in piano keyboard to add their own melody as well.  We kept the songs short because music boxes usually play a short song that gets repeated. Here is an example for you to listen to.  Enjoy!


Friday, September 23, 2011

And This is Just the Beginning!

Our class, known as Gill-Ville (@Gill_Villeans on twitter) is participating in the Global Read Aloud Project for a second time.  We had such an amazing experience last year (read about it here) that there was no question whether we would participate again this year.

We had the common goal this week to read the prologue and up to chapter six. We had two trips this week as well as a PD Day, we are already a little behind, but that’s quite alright! So far we are enjoying the story. Students have joined a special group on Edmodo to talk with other students about the book. We have already answered a few polls on Edmodo that asked us which country we lived in, our predictions for the book, and whether we’ve read it before or not. We are also contributing to the online wiki where classes are posting their work using a variety of web tools. In our class, we started by making predictions using LinoIt . http://blogs.wrdsb.ca/gillk/files/2011/09/Screen-shot-2011-09-22-at-1.39.41-PM.png

We then turned the discussion to whether or not "life everlasting" would be a good thing.  Here is a screen shot of some of the responses that were shared during our discussion.

As we began reading the first chapter, we discovered many new or unusual words in the story. Students worked in partners and used the “Use Your Handwriting” app on the iPad to create personalized word lists from the chapter.

This story is a novel that does not include many pictures or images for the students to look at. This gave us a great opportunity to work on visualizing. This task is very tricky for many of us who struggle with auditory learning so we began working together to describe the setting using the SMARTBoard. Here is our representation of the road to Treegap as described in the first chapter.

The text then goes on the describe the wooded area beyond the road that is very important to the plot of the story. Students listened carefully to find details in the text that they could draw. Here is an example of the wood as visualized by Emilee.

As we moved on to chapter two, we started to meet some of the characters in the story. The first character we meet is Mae Tuck, the mother of two boys and wife to Tuck. The text provides a very detailed description of Mae that we used to help us visualize her appearance. In the computer lab today the students used SumoPaint, an online art program that can be used at home, to create their drawings of Mae Tuck. From this picture below, can you tell us something about her? You can see the students’ drawings and descriptions of Mae Tuck on their blog posts from yesterday!

We can't wait to get back at it next week as we look forward to Skyping and chatting with some classes about the book!  

Friday, September 16, 2011

EPals Meets Global Read Aloud

There is a project called the Global Read Aloud Project. They select a book and during a four-week period they are reading the same chapters, writing in wikis and blogs, connecting through Skype, and posting and sharing student work.  You can read more about their project at www.globalreadaloud.wikispaces.com . You can also follow them on twitter at #GRA11. Grades 1-3 are reading Flat Stanley and Grades 4-7 are reading Tuck Everlasting. Their current project runs from this Monday, Sept 19-Oct 14, 2011.

I’m a 5th grade teacher in VA and I’m working to create a global classroom. Our school district has strict guidelines for technology, but I was given permission to use ePals and I can use Elluminate. I cannot generally make contact through Skype, wikis or blogs. I heard about the Global Read Aloud Project and wanted to find a way to get involved with this program. I spoke with ePals administrators and they were great to create a program that mirrors the program within the GRA blog and wiki. They are going to be monitoring the GRA wiki and blog and update activities and classroom suggestions within ePals.

If you are not familiar with ePals, it is a free service. ePals is the leading provider of safe collaborative technology for schools to connect and learn in a protected, project-based learning network. With classrooms in 200 countries and territories, ePals makes it easy to connect learners locally, nationally or internationally.

As a teacher, it is easy to open an account, setup a school profile, and add students to an account. They do require permission slips for students under 13 years old. Students are able to use student forums and create posts and comments on other students discussion threads in a variety of topics such as Arts and Entertainment, Sports, Current Events, Social Issues, Music, Technology and more. You can post in many languages and it has a translate button that will translate it into other languages. Epals also has partnerships with National Geographic and the Smithsonian, which I am still exploring.

For teachers, there are teacher forums where you can share ideas and post that you are looking for classes to connect with on any topic. There are prearranged projects you can link too. You can post your classes works like videos, pictures, or websites in the student media galleries and search through them by tags.

Once you open your ePals account, you can link to the GRA11 in project forums at:

There you can download the GRA11 calendar for Tuck Everlasting.
I’m hoping to have discussions on things like student predictions, new vocabulary, etc., share student work in the student media gallery, and connect with classrooms within ePals.

Anyway, if you have limited use of open technology with wikis and blogs but still want to participate in the Global Read Aloud, check and see if ePals could work for you.



This Was in the Paper

This was in my local newspaper yesterday , so cool....


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