Thursday, March 27, 2014

5th grade tech + K-3 picture books = lots of fun for all!

Animoto is a great site that lets users quickly and easily make their own videos using a variety of templates and different musical scores. Recently 5th graders learned all about Creative Commons, why it's important to use images that are licensed for re-use, and how to search for, download and save the URLs for these images.

They worked individually or in pairs, selecting one of the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award nominees, and creating a video book trailer to promote their title. Along the way they also developed a greater appreciation of how trailers work - how to make them tantalizing by including a hook that catches your viewers' attention, and how to reveal enough, but not too much, of the plot.

In classes this week, K-3 students are viewing the trailers before voting. They deliberate seriously over their choices and wait with anticipation for the results to be announced! We will announce our school's winner next Monday but may have to wait a few weeks to find out who won at the state level - typically over 100,000 students vote every year!

All the 5th graders did a wonderful job with their videos. Here are a few for you to enjoy!

Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space by Amy Sklansky - trailer by Zoe

The Monster's Monster by Patrick McDonnell - trailer by Lindsay and Tristan

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio - trailer by Thomas and Adam

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Our 3rd & 4th grade book club: Ramin Ganeshram's Stir It Up!

This year our 3rd & 4th grade book club choice was Stir It Up! by Ramin Ganeshram. I chose this book thinking it would resonate with our students - and it certainly did! Stir It Up! tells the story of Anjali, a Trinidadian American girl of Asian Indian descent growing up in New York City. She is a talented and passionate cook who dreams of becoming a celebrity chef. But she is torn by her love and loyalty to her family who have worked hard starting over in America so that she can get a great education. Becoming a chef seems like a let-down compared to going to the academically exclusive Stuyvesant High School. What happens when Anjali has to choose between taking the Stuyvesant entrance exam and auditioning for a Food Network show? Read the book and find out!
Students role playing a crucial scene between Anjali and her parents.

Take a look at some of these wonderful letters students wrote to Ms. Ganeshram! The original book is sprinkled with mouth-watering recipes from Trinidad, as well as creative ones for success, inspiration, etc.  


Monday, March 10, 2014

Carmen Agra Deedy came to our school!

We were incredibly fortunate last week to welcome renowned storyteller and author, Carmen Agra Deedy, to our school all the way from her home in Georgia! She kept kindergartners, and first and second graders spellbound for a full 45 minutes with a hilarious Juan Bobo noodlehead story! Third and fourth graders got to hear one of her beloved Dill and Corky tales, about her early years in Decatur, not long after her family arrived from Cuba.

Carmen also did a mini workshop with third graders as well as conducting a full-day writing workshop with fourth grade. It was so rewarding for students to have a chance to learn tips for improving their creative writing and better understanding how a compelling narrative structure works.

Carmen's warmth, sense of humor and enthusiasm were contagious. I saw children brimming over with delight and, despite the long and intense day of writing, some couldn't bear to tear themselves away from their notebooks and go outside for a break.
Her visit supported our Spanish program and also gave students in our very diverse, multicultural community access to a successful, bicultural, bilingual adult role model! Teens and adults will enjoy her TED Talk, "Spinning a Story of Mama," and upper elementary through adult listeners shouldn't miss "My Father the Whiz: A Cuban Refugee's Response to Jim Crow."