Posts Tagged ‘book talks’

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I subscribe to the Edutopia newsletter.  When I came across this article, Are we Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?, I had to ask myself if what I am doing in my classroom is true blended learning or is it just the same ole stuff digitized.  

“True blended learning affords students not only the opportunity to gain both content and instruction via online as well as traditional classroom means, but also an element of authority over this process.” Beth Holland

I watched with renewed interest as my students worked on book talks this week.  I started assigning book talks 10 years ago when I taught 4th grade.  I’ve been using the same rubric.  But watching what my students were doing with the addition of technology, I realized I needed to throw out the old rubric.

In my small groups of gifted students, my students rarely stand in front of the class to present their books.  I can take off the element of “engaging the audience with eye contact.”  I also need to remove “reading aloud a portion of the book.”  While this does show the audience the style and voice of the author, this is difficult to accomplish in an online presentation.

“(An online presentation) is about the visual,”  my student Emily said when I asked her how using the internet changed the work of a book talk.  She realizes that her visual elements play an important role in the presentation.  She wants the viewer to be inspired not only by what she says about the book but also by how attractive her video is.  

Blended learning can mean a step toward agency if we teachers create the conditions in which agency can occur.  I look on my role as more like a coach.  I stand by for any trouble shooting.

A student may say, “I don’t know the theme of this book.”  Then we have a conversation about it.  What are the major events?  What does this say about your character?

“My character was brave.”

“Did he need help? Did his family or friends help him?”

Theme: Family and friends can help you feel brave.

This kind of conversation doesn’t only happen when students are creating book talks; it may also happen during a reading conference, or when a student is writing a literary essay.

Again I ask myself and my students, “What is different when you use technology?”

Jacob said, “It makes it so much more interesting.”

Kaiden said the process of interacting with the graphics is more enjoyable.  He contends that it is more interesting to the viewer, too.

Emily responded with a “Yes!  And it’s so much more fun to do!”

I’m still unsure if I have truly switched over to blended learning. I use technology with my gifted students because it is motivating and gives them control over their product.  They look to the chart on the wall to see if every element I require is there.  When their presentations are done, they call out to me, “Mrs. Simon, come see this.”  They are proud producers of digital media.  This pride of accomplishment is enough for me.


If you are joining the DigiLit conversation today, please leave your link.

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Choice is very important in my classroom. By giving gifted students choice, I honor them as learners. When they make their own choices, they are more apt to move through the process willingly and motivated to create a good product.

This week was the final week of our first nine week grading period. Each quarter I require a book talk. My students are avid readers and enjoy the opportunity to share with their classmates about their reading. The rubric includes use of technology as well as basic book talk points, such as plot, characters, setting, and theme. Within the rubric is choice about the technology used.

Powtoon was the favorite this week. It’s not mine, but my students love all the animated characters. They even sing along with the ending, “Created using Powtoon!” I cannot tell you much about how to use Powtoon. My students figure it out, though. It is kid-friendly, especially those kids who spend a lot of time playing computer games.

Tobie’s Powtoon about The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.

Emily presents A Handful of Stars on Powtoon. Notice the hand with blueberries.

Emily presents A Handful of Stars on Powtoon. Notice the hand with blueberries.

Powtoon is free. There is a premium version that I don’t pay for. My students adapt well. When Emily couldn’t find two girl figures for her characters, she used a boy and labeled his head with the character’s name. She also figured out how to layer images to create an image she wanted, a hand full of blueberries. I love how Powtoon allows for creativity of design and makes the students feel like animators. They were all proud of their Powtoons.

If you are writing about Digital Literacy, link up your post below.

Read Full Post »

SOL #8

SOL #8

In addition to joining the Slice of Life Challenge at the Two Writing Teachers blog, I have committed to hosting a DigiLit Sunday round up each week.  If this is your first time here, consider joining us on Sundays.  I love reading about all the new tools available for students and how teachers are using them.  Use the button below on your site.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts


This week was the last of our third nine weeks.  How this year is flying!  My students do a book talk presentation each quarter, so this was the week to get them done.  I love how the room buzzes with computer activity and how talk revolves around books.  I added a new requirement this quarter: found poems.  These were their instructions:

1. Find a section of 50-100 words.  This may be your favorite part or the climax or a part with a good description.

2. Copy words or phrases from the section.

3. Rewrite or type as a poem.  Notice line breaks.  You may change the order or add words only if necessary to add meaning.

4. Check your poem for tone.  Does it reflect the tone of the book?

My students choose the technology they wanted to use for their presentations.  Some used Emaze, Powtoon, Animoto, or PowerPoint.  Some used the technology to guide their talks.  Other used it as a hook or to enhance the presentation.

I want to share some of the found poems, a Powtoon, and an Animoto trailer.

Vannisa used chapter epigraphs from Counting by 7's.  Each phrase connects to the character in some way.

Vannisa used chapter quotes from Counting by 7’s. Each phrase connects to the character in some way.

Tobie wrote this poem from the Halloween chapter in Wonder.  He could relate to the black hole August wanted to go into.

Tobie wrote this poem from the Halloween chapter in Wonder. He could relate to the black hole August wanted to go into.

Matthew’s Animoto book trailer for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.


Mission Impossible is a favorite background.  Tobie used it to create this Powtoon presentation about Wonder.


Digital Learning Day is on March 13th.  My plan is a Crazy Comment Challenge in which my students will try to write as many comments as possible on other SOL posts.  Please consider joining us.  More about Digital Learning Day can be found here.  Use the hashtag #DLDay, #sol15, and #crazycomments in your Tweets.

If you have written a Digital Literacy post, please add your link in the comments.  I will add them to this post.  I am having some trouble with link up apps lately, so I’m just using the old fashioned way.


Cathy Mere struggles with teaching students about copyright when using photos.  Tough lesson for us all.  http://reflectandrefine.blogspot.com/2015/03/digilit-sunday-helping-students-with.html

Julie Johnson writes about using apps with her after school digital writing group.  http://www.raisingreadersandwriters.com/ 

Tara Smith writes about teaching resources for Selma.  https://ateachinglifedotcom.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/sol15-march-8-2015-living-history-commemorating-the-march-on-selma/   “Teaching the events of Selma empowers our students with what the President called, “the imperative of citizenship”, which brave people like John Lewis have been willing to die for ever since we first became our nation.” Tara Smith

Holly wonders about the use of technology versus the way we grew up with limited TV channels and certainly no Internet.  Join the conversation here: http://hollymueller.blogspot.com/2015/03/slice-of-life-story-challenge-what-i_8.html

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

This last week before our Christmas break, my students created book talks. Unfortunately, Powtoon is being blocked by the network, so the choices of digital media were limited to Emaze and Animoto. I am still a big fan of Animoto. I have even purchased a longer time for my students’ videos. The platform does not allow for much text, so I tell them that the bulk of the text needs to be written in their book talk. The Animoto enhances their talk. Another thing I like about Animoto is the videos can be uploaded to YouTube and easily embedded on a blog.

A few weeks ago, Julie Johnson posted this blog about reflecting digitally. While my students do not have tablets, they could still reflect. After each presentation, I asked them a few reflective questions. I was pleasantly surprised that their choices for design were intentional. I will continue to use Animoto and hope the site continues to be free or reasonably priced and easily used.

Andrew, a second grader made this Animoto (his first) about Kate Messner’s Ranger in Time.

Emily chose the music on her video to reflect the idea that each person is an individual. She thoroughly enjoyed Sisters and her excitement over the book showed in her video. She asked me to take pictures of certain pages in the book to make her point clear.

Use of technology is a line on my rubric for book talks. Technology offers a wide range of choices for enriching presentations and motivating students to be intentional about their choices.

Add your own DigiLit Sunday post with Mr. Linky.

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

This week we are nearing the end of the nine weeks grading period. My students are working on their book talks. I require one each quarter. I also require some form of technology. I am pleased that I have discovered new presentation apps to give them multiple choices in technology. The choices range from Powerpoint, Emaze, Prezi, and Animoto. I am excited about the variety of presentations that will be done. These will not only inspire my students to read different books, but they will also want to try different digital platforms.

Today I am posting an example of Prezi, Animoto, and Emaze.

This is Reed’s Emaze on Troublemaker by Andrew Clements.

Nigel did a Prezi about The Whipping Boy.

Erin used Animoto to present The Red Pyramid.

Having choices creates a richer experience in my classroom and allows each student to explore and be themselves. As with most digital media, I simply allow the students to access them. They learn how to use them very quickly with little help from me. The only trouble we had this week was with slow computers. Not all of our computers are new. What other presentation media have you used?

Please link up your digital literacy posts with Mr. Linky.

Read Full Post »