Category: Spotlight

Varina Library Rap

Varina Elemenatry started a reading incentive program to encourage students to read 40 books or more. Today we recorded a rap video that will be shown to the whole school, explaining the program. Mr. Jones, the PE teacher, and Ms. Jackson, the art teacher demonstrated their rapping skills with raps they wrote themselves! Students also choreographed their own dance routine to accompany the video. My job was to add the green screen effects. Since we didn’t have a green screen, I just hung up some green bulletin board paper. I also hung up some orange bulletin board paper for students who were wearing green (you can use any color, as long as the performers aren’t wearing that color). Then I recorded them using the DoInk Green Screen app on an iPad. Within the app, you can choose the color you want to be transparent and add a background to replace it. I used some generic music video backgrounds that I downloaded. The last step was to add the song files. We shared the finished video on Google drive so all the students could see it. You can watch it here.


Henrico 21 & Student 21

Today we celebrated all the amazing technology projects teachers and students have created this year across the county at our annual Henrico 21 Ceremony and Student 21 Fair. Teachers and students were chosen from every elementary, middle, and high school to showcase projects related to 21st century learning (hence the 21 in the name). During the H21 Ceremony, each teacher’s lesson was summarized in a video as they walked across the stage. You can download all their lessons on the Henrico 21 website. For the Student 21 Fair, each school had a table with a display of the students’ projects. Parents and members of the community could wander from table to table, visiting with the students and listening to them proudly explain what they created. There is an interactive map showing all the projects here, and you can read more about each one on the Student 21 blog. Our hope is that you will be inspired to try similar projects in your own classroom… and maybe you’ll be featured at next year’s ceremony! Let me know if you are interested in participating.

Laburnum Enters Local Video Contest

CaptureStudents at Laburnum Elementary have been working hard on a video for the annual Michael & Son Jingle Contest. Michael and Son is a plumbing/remodeling company that offers cash prizes to area schools that create a video featuring their jingle, “If you can’t we can, Michael and Son.” Ms. Allison, the music teacher at Laburnum, has been working with students after school on a drum line performance of the jingle. Today I filmed them and helped Ms. Alison with the submission process. The students did a great job performing, and they even dressed up in uniforms. You can watch their video here. The contest ends soon, so be sure to vote for Laburnum using the link above. I hope you win, Laburnum and Ms. Allison!


5th Grade Sound Movie

videoMs. Allison, the music teacher at Laburnum Elementary, wanted to make an educational music video with her fifth grade students. She knew they were studying sound (SOL5.2) in science, and she also knew that singing is an excellent way to improve learning and recall information (see also this article). So she wrote a song with lyrics that reviewed the various sound concepts such as wavelength, frequency, and amplitude. Then over a period of several weekly classes, the fifth grade students rehearsed the song, memorized their lines, and practiced playing different instruments. Today I filmed their performance, and they did a great job! You can see their final video here. The students enjoy seeing themselves on film and will watch the video repeatedly, which is a great way to review! If you’d like me to help with a video project in your class just let me know.


Varina Anti-Bullying Video

vimeopicStudents at Varina Elementary, with the help of their tireless guidance counselor, Dina Thibodeau, have been working to create an anti-bullying video set to the tune of “Stand Up” by Sugarland. Each class planned a special part of the video where they used hand motions and signs to convey a message, like “Bullying isn’t cool,” “Diversity Rules,” and “Include Everyone.” The students made their own signs and collaborated on the best way to present their message in a meaningful way. Today I went around to film them, and it was obvious that they had been working hard on this project. Many classes did their part in just one take! I edited them together, added the soundtrack, and this is the result. You might want to show this video to your students and discuss the importance of not bullying. Another resource you could use is this video I created with Alfonso about Internet safety and cyber bullying.


Back To School Rules

At Chamberlayne Elementary we created a “Back To School Rules” video with student volunteers acting out appropriate and inappropriate behaviors for the bus, classroom, hallway, cafeteria, playground, and gym. The inappropriate behaviors are portrayed as negatively as possible (black and white, really bad music) while the appropriate behaviors are shown in color with upbeat music. There is also a place to stop the video after each inappropriate behavior so teachers can hold a discussion with their students. You can check out the video by clicking here. This would be a great idea for you to do in your own class. Students could film themselves using PhotoBooth or the iPad (in K and 1st) showing correct and incorrect behaviors. Let me know if you’d like me to help with something like this.

4th Grade Student-Created Website

One of the great things about teaching your students to use web tools is that they can use them at home… and many students are very motivated to do just that! I recently showed Mr. Stein’s class at Pinchbeck Elementary how to create websites using Weebly. Today, one of his students, Andrew, came to me proudly showing a website he had created on his own time for the school’s Book Bowl. I was really impressed with all the features he included: a poll, a blog with comments, an embedded slideshow and maps, a downloadable file, and more! Click here to take a look at it (be sure to leave a comment 🙂 [Update: He has continued working on it over the summer. I was showing it off at a teachers’ conference in Philadelphia and I noticed that he had added to it on his vacation… now that’s a motivated student!] If you’d like your students to learn how to create their own websites with Weebly, let me know. You can check out other student Weebly sites on this post.

Teacher Spotlight – Ryan Stein

Many teachers are creating websites this year with iWeb, and that is great! One thing you can do to simplify the process of publishing your site is to use the power of embed codes. Ryan Stein is a 4th grade teacher at Pinchbeck, and his website is a great example of this. He has embedded his Google Calendar and Google Docs for homework. That way, whenever he makes a change in Google, it automatically updates on his website without having to open iWeb and republish the site. He has also embedded videos which significantly reduces the size of his site and the upload times. Be sure to check out his Maps link where he has posted his interactive Virginia map project that I described on this post. If you’d like to get more ideas, I’ve created a website that just focuses on cool things you can embed on your own homepage. There are videos, photo slideshows, polls, forms, and even an online puzzle. Please let me know if you need any help creating your website!

Teacher Spotlight – Rachel Whitten

I always enjoy walking down the halls of my schools and seeing technology projects displayed on the walls. One project really caught my eye this week… actually two! Rachel Whitten, fifth grade teacher at Holladay, had a great idea for spicing up algebra (SOL 5.21 & 5.22). Her students created ComicLife word problems with variables. Click here to see them. Use the arrows to look through the examples. You can create your own navigation arrows and buttons like that with any Keynote. Just go to the Inspector, click the Hyperlinks tab and make any shape a link to another slide or even a website! As I was going through the student folders gathering the examples to share with you, I noticed another cool project Rachel had done. They made Function Machines in Keynote. Each student came up with their own rule, edited the template (which you can download here), and got a friend to solve it. You can see an example by clicking here. I added the soundtrack. I thought “Fembot” by Robyn was appropriate “Once you gone tech, you ain’t never goin’ back!

2nd Grade Ancient China Podcast

Today, second graders at Laburnum Elementary made podcasts about ancient China (SOL 2.1) using Pixie. I had actually planned on doing the podcast in GarageBand (and since I already made the template, you can download it and the folder of pictures to use by clicking here), but then I found out that they had already done a GarageBand podcast, so I taught them how to do a podcast in Pixie. First we chose a good font and size for our title, then we searched the Stickers for pictures relating to ancient China. We typed in words like “bronze, silk, compass, fireworks, kite,” and of course, “China.” Then I showed the students how to change the color of the stickers by gluing them down and using the paint bucket. Finally we recorded our voices telling about ancient China, and I exported them as QuickTime movies. You can take a look at a couple of student samples by clicking here and here. One of the great things about podcasting is that it helps improve student fluency, and this is especially important for ESL students. Here’s a sample from an ESL student in the same class.