From Sea to Shining Sea!These past few weeks have been filled with lessons that allowed students to engage in collaborative learning, critical thinking, creativity, and communication opportunities.
This month alone we Skyped or video conferenced with experts on Agriculture in California, professional book reviewers in Maryland, New York, and California, a computer programmer in Arizona, a park ranger from National Park Services in Topeka, Kansas on Brown vs Board of Education, a historian from George Bush Library in Texas, an Entomologist student from Maine but studying at UCONN, and Entomologist professor from Texas A & M, and an author from Massachusetts. Next week, we Skype the National Park Service in Denali, Alaska, a nonfiction writer from South Carolina, and another Agriculture session from California! Technology integration is powerful.
I must say this past week was one of those weeks that I probably overbooked my schedule because 4 out of the 5 days, I was scheduled with before school meetings and then every period throughout the day was booked with student groups or full classes. No lunch break figured into the equation, since I was trying to make-up for the loss of time with so many snow days. These are the types of days I am so grateful that I pack protein smoothies in my lunch bag--I can literally "eat on the run." It was a crazy busy and exhausting week. However, the bright eyes, enthusiastic comments, and sheer excitement I witnessed from students, teachers, and parents is beyond rewarding and rejuvenating.
3RD Grade ELT: As I mentioned in previous posts, PES has a fantastic schedule that includes a 25 minute block per grade level on Mondays through Thursdays for extended learning opportunities. Thanks to our principal, Mrs. Theresa Forish (@PomperaugES) for having the insight and courage to create such a schedule.
About 5-6 weeks ago, on a snow day, as I was thinking about a project for 3rd grade, I picked up the book, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor.
The first chapter hooked me immediately and I continued to read throughout the day. I knew this would be a great book club selection for 3rd grade ELT. First, I emailed the three 3rd grade teachers and shared my idea of a book club for 12 students. They all emailed back with affirmation. I then immediately went on to amazon.com to see if I could get my hands on 12 paperback copies (I figured if I ordered at that moment, I would have the books in 2 days--just in time for my first class). Then, I emailed Barbara O'Connor and humbly asked if she would be willing to Skype for free with the book club group at the end of our 5 week session. Not only did she respond within hours, her answer was an enthusiastic "yes".
For the next 4 weeks or so, we gathered twice a week. The students shared observations on the key events in the text, expressed thinking regarding the actions and decisions of the characters, made predictions, and the students tracked the verb choices O'Connor made in writing this text. Vivid verbs are often the secret to making a scene visible to the reader, so I wanted the students to see it in action and chart it over the course of a text.
Then the "big day" came this past Tuesday-- Skyping with Barbara O'Connor. The experience was PRICELESS. Barbara is a first-class human being--generous,talented, encouraging, engaging and just plain nice.
The morning of the event, I passed Ganner in the hallway as he was arriving for the day, and I said, "Skype today with Barbara O'Connor at 1PM." His reply,"Yes!" with a thumbs-up and a winning smile on his face. Seeing his response and the glimmer in his eyes truly set the mood for my whole day--I thought, "It doesn't get any better than this!"
Here is a comment from Lisa (Matthew's mom): "Reading with Mrs. Martellino's ELT book club turned my bright but reluctant reader into an enthusiastic one! He learned not only responsibility for being a part of a group, but how enjoyable it can be to be a part of a truly thoughtful discussion. This program was a true game-changer for Matthew when it comes to his feelings about books and reading!"
The intro to the video is a great segment with Erin and Abby as the interviewers. These two girls are in my 5th grade ELT and are always game for anything--even when it is on a moments notice. They had actually walked into the media center during my 3rd grade ELT book club wrap-up session because they wanted to work on an independent project. However, I had just decided that I should capture this session on video for the students' parents and teachers. On a whim, I asked Erin and Abby if they would grab an iPad and take turns being camera person and interviewer. So, in just a few minutes we captured one fine moment. Later that day, I merged their video clips with clips I had taken during the Skype session. And you see the result!
I tweeted out the final video the next day, emailed the link to the classroom teachers to share with students and parents, and then figured I better send it to Barbara. (@)!
Here is her reply: "Oh my gosh. I adore the video. Can I put it on my blog?"
When I gave her permission, she wrote: "FYI, the video is scheduled on my blog for Things I Love Thursday - next Thursday. Enjoyed looking at your blog. You do so many great things with the students!"
SO MUCH MORE...I have so much more to share but specifics will have to wait. However, here is a sneak peak.
Mrs. Matthews' 4th grade class embraced a project creating a Nutmeg Newspaper which will be a digital newspaper we will share with librarians throughout the state. Our hope is that the articles will inspire reluctant readers to dig into the nominees and READ!
Mrs. Corbin's 4th grade class chose a project on the Iditarod. Working with Mrs. Corbin in curating print and digital resources, choosing learning targets for instruction through readers' and writers' workshop, and planning creative ways for students to demonstrate understanding has been extremely exciting. Collaboration is the best! Lots to share over the next few weeks on that project.
Kindergarten and First Graders became experts in crickets after researching using digital text (@pebblego) to connect with our One School-One Book program on the Cricket in Times Square (Thanks to our amazing PTO for organizing that program).
Take a look at student work samples. Pretty impressive work.
Kindergarten note-taking evidence through modeled instruction during one library class.
First grade note-taking evidence through modeled instruction during one library lesson!
You can see the progression in sophistication from one year to the next. Grade 1, we looked at the facts we learned on life cycle and decided the best way to record that information would be through a timeline. Great work happening throughout PES. I can take the students through this level of research only because of the fine work being done by our extraordinary kindergarten and first grade teachers in the workshop format. Think how much students will add to family discussions as they continue reading aloud the Cricket in Times Square.
Second graders are taking their research reports and choosing digital images to support main ideas while creating a video to share with the greater community using the Shadow Puppet app (@Puppet). Again, my instruction only extends and supports the fantastic instruction our second grade teachers provide to our students on a daily basis.
Here are samples:
Also, 2nd graders are dabbling into creating a digital invitation to read their reports using Tellagami app (@tellagami). Take a look at these samples:
5th grade ELT produced their first TMAT News Show!
Lastly, another production by grade 5 ELT: Why Moving towards Google Accounts for Grades 3/4 is a GOOD thing!
More specifics next time!
Can you see why a career as a media specialist is simply the best!
Follow me on twitter: @janemartellino