Friday, November 5, 2010

Connected by a book: Gill-Ville Goes Global

This is a cross post from the Global Read Aloud Project 2010.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to participate in the project and contribute this guest post about the Global Read Aloud. When I stumbled upon the twitter post announcing the concept of connecting classrooms with a story, I thought that it was a brilliant idea that I just had to get involved in! We began reading the story online, projecting it on our SMARTBoard.

Students took turns using the hand-held microphone for our new sound field system while reading aloud. Our special education class had more volunteers anxiously waiting for their next turn than in any other read aloud situation we've encountered. As we became more interested in the story we wanted to see the actual book. This allowed us to take our story mobile and we finished reading the story in our new outdoor classroom. It did bring me a little pleasure to see their desire
to physically hold the story and appreciate the pages (a little balance in our technology-focused school).

The vocabulary in the story was a little out-dated and above some of my students in this congregated setting, however the numerous characters introduced throughout were interesting enough to capture their attention and imagination. We used this project to introduce many web tools that we'll be using this year. It was amazing to share our character vokis, wallwisher and voicethread predictions, animoto videos displaying our illustrations, and tagsxedo word clouds on the Global Read Aloud wiki .

Even more amazing were the connections we were making with other classes beyond our own school building. The relationships developed during conversations about the story and introductions to class/school/town were fabulous. We were able to connect twice through a chat site, twitter numerous times, and skype on two occasions. During these sessions, we had wonderful discussions with a grade 2 class in New Brunswick, another in Pennsylvania, a grade 4 class in Wisconsin, a 5/6 class in Nova Scotia, and a grade 6 class in Iowa! We mapped out the route we would take to travel between schools and posted them to our own class wiki page. Not only did we connect about the characters and plot development of the story, we shared pictures and school website links. I am convinced it is these connections that made the project such a success.

Thank you once again for organizing such an amazing reading network for our students and providing them a place to showcase their ideas and interpretations. I look forward to future involvement with these projects. I am even more excited to maintain some of our Global Read Aloud connections throughout the year ahead.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gill-Ville's Talking Tree of Thanks

This is a cross post from the Live Learning with Livescribe Blog.

I am honored to have been asked by the livescribe TLLP project team to guest blog about using the Livescribe pen with my special education class. We just recently began to use the pen in our classroom, so it was important for students to have a simple activity to experiment with the function of the pen. Motivation was extremely high to record and play back voices using this device. We decided to create a “Talking Tree of Thanks” for our school’s Thanksgiving assembly. Each leaf has a different message that can be heard just by touching the dot we drew on each one. As word spread around the school about our little project, teachers and students from other classes were stopping by to see how the pen works, and to add a message of their own! For the most part, each student was successful with this activity. One issue that students occasionally faced involved touching the dot-paper when they were recording. Some touched too lightly or not at all, which made playback difficult on some leaves. During a parent night held last week, families had an opportunity to try out the pen and add a message of their own. Feedback regarding this tool was extremely positive. Most of our friends think of the livescribe as a “magic pen” and we don’t argue!