One of the best aspects of my job is that I have flexibility in my curriculum. Depending on the group of students, I am able to shorten or extend projects based on student engagement, try new projects depending on what students are learning about or experiment with new digital tools in my Encore Tech class. In previous years I had piggybacked off of the 2nd grade unit and taught more advanced Scratch skills to 4th graders over the course of a month or so. We always moved on without much push back. This year every fourth grader was so engaged and motivated by Scratch programming that each time I mentioned moving on, I heard grumbles and saw looks of disappointment. Because of that, I extended this particular Scratch unit to include a nursery rhyme challenge, which turned out to be a lot of fun but also took significantly more time than I had originally planned for Scratch.
But, a few weeks ago we were finally ready to move on. 4th grade students recently learned about Greek myths and after meeting with the 4th grade team to discuss possible culminating projects, they mentioned that the unit on Greek myths came to an abrupt end without much wrap-up. So, two weeks ago we began a new unit on digital storytelling using Greek myths. This unit will cover the skills that students will need for 5th grade. Students used Google Docs to script a favorite Greek myth that they found in a book or on the Internet. They printed their scripts and pasted them into a storyboard, sketched their drawings and then switched to Tux Paint to begin illustrating. After they are finished with their illustrations, they will record their myth in Garageband, and add their pictures to match their narration. Finally, they will add sound effects or music and then export their projects. In the midst of this unit we will be taking spring photos. As you can see, we are in major crunch time and I’m hoping we will have time to tackle everything!
The 5th grade students have been waiting patiently for a stop motion animation unit and after the hard work they put in for invention convention, they definitely deserved it. Because students were immersed in a poetry unit and just had their poetry slam, I challenged them to create a stop motion animation based on their partner poem or an individual poem that they wrote. We have some very creative stop motion poems cooking in the animation kitchen right now and I’m looking forward to seeing how these turn out. The students did not realize how much math was involved in stop motion but when dealing with a script and trying to calculate how many pictures need to be taken for each scene, it is important to plan! Over the past two weeks, students timed out their poems and using the ration of 10 pictures per second, they multiplied the number 10 by how many seconds their poem took to read. Most students are somewhere in the 30 second range meaning they will be taking 300 pictures so their is enough video to fill the length of their poem.
In 1st grade we are wrapping up the year with an “All About Me” graphic organizer using pictures and text with an application called, Kidspiration. These projects will be shared with the 2nd grade teachers so they can learn a bit about the students prior to the start of the school year. We are also gearing up for the fairy tale musical and 1st grade students will be creating invitations to that evening for their parents using Pages.
We have a busy six weeks ahead of us and time is going to fly. It’s hard to believe that May is right around the corner already and I’m looking forward to wrapping up my 5th year at Avoca West with a bang!