Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hitting the Sweet Spot - Connecting learning in the Library and the Classroom with technology

It’s nice when you hit a sweet spot. That is when ICT and classroom learning fit so nicely together its seamless, innovative and engaging. That’s what happened during a series of sessions with Year 1 in the Library and the classroom during our unit of inquiry about homes. We were going deeper about the concept of the home rather than the superficial look at types homes around the world.
As part of our initial library session and jumping off point was to read together the book by Colin Thompson “Pictures ofHome”. This is an unusual book where the words are those of 10 and 11 year olds reflecting on what home means to them. Colin Thompson illustrated the text with his rich, colourful and intricate images.
After reading the book we formed the children into groups of 4 to discuss what they had just heard and distributed a sheet where they could share what home meant to them. There was a space to illustrate their ideas and everyone did a quick basic drawing to accompany their statement.
We adjourned to the computers and asked the class to transfer their ideas to a paint program. We used 2simple 2paint apicture (but any decent paint program will do the trick). The children added their sentence and designed really lovely illustrations. Everyone had a different take on the idea.
The designs formed the pages of a collaborative multimedia book. A bit of back end work was then required to transfer each page to a .jpeg and then each was added to a slideshow.
When the class reconvened to complete the book we added a narration. The children read aloud their own contribution and we recorded the narration to Audacity. We chose a suitable (royalty free) soundtrack using and decided together on the arrangement of the pages so that there was a mix of ideas – the literal and the abstract.
What was created was a lovely, reflective, moving set of ideas in words and pictures, which truly extended both the children’s technology skills and their thinking and reflecting skills.
We all enjoyed the activity and the presentation of the book on the big screen for parents who found it particularly impressive and were delighted to read and hear their child’s contribution.
Twenty first century skills were apparent in this activity – creativity, collaboration and critical thinking and we shared our work with the whole school community. This was a great start for collaborative writing for this class, and the first of many class writing projects using technology.
A digital storytelling project such as this can be modified to any grade or skill level. Things to consider when planning a collaborative publishing project include – the software, the media (photography is another alternative to a computer illustration) and the subject matter. Importantly consideration should be given to the form of the collaboration and this needs to be well planned to ensure success. Finding a jumping off point is the first consideration and that will go some way to determining other aspects of the presentation.  Online collaborative tools can be used to allow students to connect during the writing of the text – consider Lino it (for computer) or Corkulous (for ipad) to do this. With older students, consider making an ipad app with other functionality to really extend technology skills, try Creative Book Builder or My Story. Both these ebook creation tools allow text, images and audio.
The possibilities are endless - with a first project it pays to keep it simple and then work on creative ways to further showcase your students' writing.

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