School Week Round-Up: Week Thirty-Seven

This was the last week of school.

Lessons: 
This was the week I gave students the closest thing to “free time” they ever get when using technology: a menu of choices with the ability to ask for more choices that I might have been unaware of or forgotten.

Except there was an element that we had never had before.

Chickens.

Okay, so if you follow me on Twitter, you certainly knew about the chickens already. I think I’ll write about them in more detail in their own post. But to summarize, I had my afterschool science group set up and study an incubator. The program ended the week before the chickens were due to hatch. I kept the incubator in the computer lab so when chicks hatched, we livestreamed it using Periscope so everyone in the building could see without issues. The chicks hung out in my room until the last day of school (today). Another teacher took them to her father, a farmer, who will try to provide us with fertile eggs in the future so we can repeat the activity.

And it did sort of work out, class management-wise.

 


Support:
 One of the more techie things I did this week was DJ the end of year carnival. I’m really glad I solicited requests in advance, firstly because it’s clear I am not very aware of what music the kids are into lately. Secondly, because I was able to find clean versions of some songs that were requested.

Things I Did Well: Everyone I was responsible for made it to the end of the week healthy. Even fourteen chicks.

Things I Will Do Better: Friday Caitlin left Tuesday Caitlin a heck of a lot to do. Friday Caitlin feels some guilt. But not enough to have actually done more.

Cold Prickly: Lots of physical damage this week. I’m talking about folks in the building, not the technology. The person who wore the “I Survived Field Day” shirt on Field Day ended up in the emergency room before noon. This is not a joke, but she did turn out okay so it’s still kind of funny.

 

Warm Fuzzy: Doesn’t get much warmer or fuzzier than this. Happy summertime!
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School Week Round-Up: Week Twenty-Four

February feels difficult. It is cold, lots of people get sick, and it’s still weirdly busy with extracurriculars.

Lessons: I got to play gym teacher this week. Turns out, that’s a pretty hard job! The gym teacher was sick for two days, and one of those days he didn’t have a sub. If this happens to another specialist, he usually doubles up on the classes and has a gym class twice as big. So I did the same for him, combining both our classes in the gym since I only have so many seats in the computer lab. Luckily, I had recently bought a megaphone (because it turns out I really like chanting); without it, I would have lost my voice by the end of the day, surely.

Support: My new favorite thing is to make Google Sites to serve as research hubs for student projects.

Things I Did Well:
 I’m going to give myself credit for not actually getting very sick this week. Felt like I came pretty close, though. 

Things I Will Do Better: I was on an event committee this week and, despite being very passionate about the event, I did not take a lot of initiative to get things done. I followed directions just fine, but a lot of the work of these kinds of things is to actually come up with ideas and solutions, then delegate. I want to do better for the next event committee I’m a part of, I want to take more off of other teachers’ shoulders.

Cold Prickly: Just dragging, physically. Today is Saturday. I slept in. I went to breakfast with my in-laws. And already I want to go back to bed. I’m exhausted.

Warm FuzzyLast night, we had our Parkway Hearts Dance (the event I was on the committee for). I love to dance, and I love dancing with lots of kids. I mostly danced with first graders and students’ younger siblings. I think the second and third graders have started feeling self-conscious, or are just not that into dancing with their overly enthusiastic technology teacher. But gosh, it was fun.

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I really must learn how to juju on a particular beat.

Method to Morning Announcements

einstein-1173990_1280This is how we make our morning announcements at our school.

First, I downloaded free, no-attribution-necessary videos from Pixabay to make into our Intro and Outtro stings, as well as our regular announcements like birthdays and weather. I added free, no-attribution-necessary music from Youtube to them, to make it more fun.

Next, students record clips of themselves doing the daily changing announcements using Quicktime. Usually they use my laptop, since it’s faster than the lab computers. Sometimes they eat lunch in the computer lab and work on them days in advance, since things like the lunch menu can be figured out in advance. They name the clips something like 1027lunch, 1027news, 1027history, so that I can import them into iMovie all at the same time. I also only change the Outtro every couple of weeks, since that script is more permanent. I will have students re-record as we start rotating new kids in this month.

We do have one student records audio and not video, so I download pictures to go with that report, either from Pixabay or Wikimedia Commons. I try to get ones that I don’t need to attribute, but if I do have to attribute, I make sure I copy and paste the necessary attribution into the video description when I upload it. (Thanks Creative Commons!)

Then, I put the clips in the order that I want them. And I make sure visual images sync up with audio where necessary. This is something I’ve turned into a template. I hope that by the end of the year, the students will be doing much of this behind-the-scenes work. But, we’ll see.

Next, I make sure the “titles” are updated. I use titles to identify the students reporters, to credit news sources for current events, and to overlay changing information over videos that stay the same. For example, I just click on the weather title and re-enter the forecast info for each day.

Finally, I share the project to Youtube, altering the date and making sure it’s set to public. I linked my Youtube account to iMovie to do this. I also set up a Youtube playlist that automatically grabs any video I upload with “WPKY News” in the title. I also usually shoot out a reminder email to teachers with a link to the announcements.

I really liked how we did announcements last year on Google Hangouts, because teachers could tune in live if they wanted, and our efforts were automatically uploaded after. But I like this way too. We can do more in advance (like recording Monday’s announcements on a Friday during lunch if I have a meeting in another building). We can re-do individual bits if we have to and change them out (I expect this will happen to the lunch menu sometimes when we have snow days). We can try and try again when kids stumble over pronunciation.

But it is a work in progress. There are days when I thought I updated a clip but I didn’t, and send out a video with yesterday’s birthdays or lunch. Sometimes when I add a new clip, I forget to delete an older one. I tried to get it going on a lab computer so that kids could do more of the editing independently, but the machine was so slow that both the kids and I got really frustrated with it. I want to incorporate regular segments like “Tech Tip Tuesday” but scheduling is a pain.  But some mistakes stay in on purpose. For example, when kids struggle with words but self-correct, I like to leave it in because I think that’s good modeling for younger students still learning to read.

I’m uploaded the pre-produced clips to Google Drive, so you can use them if you want, or get a sense of how to make your own. I really do encourage making your own, or having students make them, to go along with your school culture!

Friday Five Favorites: Songs

12456933691942977095jeronimo_audio-cassette.svg.medSo here are five of my favorite songs right now. They are not my five favorite songs, they are five of my favorite songs. “Favorite songs” is a category simply too much in flux — I swear it changes day to day. Plus, some of them are not appropriate for listening to when kids are around. The following five songs pass the classroom test.

Starting with…

What Makes the Breakfast? by Mike Phirman


This is my favorite song to share out right now. It’s fun, it’s bouncy, it’s frequently hilarious. It’s like coffee for your ears (appropriate for a song about breakfast).

We Are Giants featuring Dia Frampton by Lindsey Sterling


I imagine transforming into a magical Sailor Moon-style super-teacher whenever this song plays.

Wonderful Everyday: Arthur by Chance the Rapper featuring The Social Experiment


You can download it free on Soundcloud here.
Chance the Rapper helped my heart this past weekend when he performed “Sunday Candy” with The Social Project on Saturday Night Live last weekend. It’s a wonderful song, but it’s got some themes that you might not want to bring up with some age groups (unless “tweaking” is one of your spelling words that week). But it did bring their cover of the Arthur  theme song back into my mind. The original rap chorus they bring in towards the end is my favorite part.

Drag Me Down by One Direction

Would you like to launch One Direction to the moon? With proper training and equipment, of course.

“The Schuyler Sisters” from the musical Hamilton


This is the song to hear if you’re looking for a mind at work. Broadway smash Hamilton is will likely be moving into social studies classrooms soon. Though, many of the songs mention war and swears and maybe some other themes we tend to sanitize out of our schoolbooks. (Doesn’t mean they didn’t exist in history, though!) I chose this song because it’s like Destiny’s Child learned how to time travel. “‘We hold these truths to be self-evident/That all men are created equal/And when I meet Thomas Jefferson/I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!'”