How to Survive 4th Grade (Student Project)

In the spirit of Kelly Tenkely’s recent tweet about a ZimmerTwins project on “How to Survive 4th Grade”, my 4th grade students took some time to learn Powerpoint basics using the same topic.  I wanted them to enjoy creating their own content, rather than get hung up on it as a research project like my 5th graders did with their Explorers ppt.

Likes: Fun way to incorporate adding slides, images, bullet points, titles, etc. Excitement about the topic from many students.  Project to share with next year’s 4th grade students.

Dislikes: Didn’t allow for enough time to complete.  Some students struggled with the topic and were unsure what to say.  Little ‘wow’ factor- but since I’m not a fan of ppt to begin with, I shouldn’t be surprised.  I need to find a presentation method to teach that I actually like and enjoy. (Prezi, for example, or Glogster even.)

Comments: A good number of students said something to the effect of “don’t make your teacher mad” or else they won’t like you and the rest of they year will go badly.  Need to think how to address that one in the future, because I think it’s an unfair assessment on their part. Try using Keynote next year.

Simple Mealworm Project

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Grade: 1st

Lab Time: Two 30-minute sessions

Before I delete files off our server, I want to document some of the projects that worked well, as well as the ones that didn’t work so well.  This was a simple KidPix project where students followed a projected model life cycle to draw, color, and label their own cycle.  Very simple, but helped 1st graders understand how text boxes work, how to increase/decrease font size, and how to save on the server.  In the future, I would like to see this be a slide show with audio and music added to the slides.  (I’m showcasing my own children’s work for privacy reasons- although I’m pretty proud of them too!)

Blabberize the Blubber

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Recently, I have been attempting to incorporate the 2nd grade’s study of arctic animals into computer lab time.  The first attempt was helping the students find images of their assigned animal- polar bear, wolverine, lemming, orca, artic fox, etc. and I quickly found myself drowning in the rather deep waters of fair use and copyright law.   A huge part of digital citizenship is learning to use online content appropriately, so we took a detour into the land of fair use- hopefully coming out more educated about appropriate use of images from the web.  (I know I now have a rather nebulous understanding of fair use as it relates to educators and students.)  Our original photo hunt evolved into a Powerpoint presentation with an image, facts, a Blabberize video clip, and a teacher-generated Works Cited slide.  I am thankful for the opportunity to teach and model digital citizenship with these young ones.

The video clip above was created by a 2nd grade student (who also happens to be my son 🙂 ) and embedded into the Powerpoint presentation below.  (I cannot find a way to export the .ppt as a movie in a way that allows the embedded .mpg to play- if you know a work-around, please share!)  The image was created with TuxPaint and then uploaded to Blabberize.  A major shout-out to the creators of Blabberize!  That is one cool web 2.0 tool!!!

This child is a very reluctant writer, but was ecstatic about the idea of recording his own voice and sharing the knowledge he has gained about killer whales, or orcas.  He happily wrote a full page of dialogue, and then confidently recorded it.  I’m very proud of his work, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2nd graders as a whole complete these.  They are embedding these in a Powerpoint slideshow, which creates a pretty impressive product- especially for an 8 year-old. (Granted, I’ll be giving them the 4 slide template… but still cool, nonetheless!)