Monthly Archives: April 2014

Folktales in Zooburst

The Common Core State Standards require that students are exposed to fiction and nonfiction texts. I do Interactive Read Alouds with my students in grades K-5 to allow them to not only hear me demonstrate my thinking about text, but to also give them time to turn and talk, stop and jot on Post Its, and to have an opportunity to conduct themselves as reflective readers.  During April, I knew that my school’s third graders were studying folktales and focusing on the following CCSS:

RL 3.2. Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

My school’s fabulous Media Specialist shares Anansi folktales with our second graders each year and other folktales with other grades.  I approached her and asked about the folktales that she had shared with third graders this year.  Currently, she has read aloud to third graders the following folktales books:

The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza by Philemon Sturges

Teeny Weeny Bop by Margaret Read McDonald

Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert

Lon Po Po by Ed Young

The Hunterman and the Crocodile by Baba Wague Diakite

She gave me the idea to read aloud a book that was new to me when my third graders come to the Computer Lab.  It is “Soap!  Soap!  Don’t Forget the Soap!” retold by Tom Birdseye.  It is an Appalachain folktale about a forgetful little boy who was sent on an errand to get soap.  He runs into distractions along the way causing him to forget his original mission.  As he meets new characters along the road, he is orally reciting the sentence that the previous character told him so that he would not forget it.  Unfortunately, the sentence that he is reciting is heard by a new character and misunderstood causing the new character to respond to the boy which causes the reader to see humor and how one thing can lead to another.  After he interacts with the final character along the road, he remembers that his mom sent him on an errand to get some soap.  He returns home with the soap, is scrubbed down by his mom and never forgets anything else again.

I will be reading aloud this book to my third graders after Spring Break.  I plan to have them determine the message of the story while exploring the details of the story.  Students will also analyze the boy’s actions to explore his character traits.

I will have students locate text references using the following prompts about characters:

The writer tells us directly…

The writer tells us the words that the character speaks…

The writer tells us the character’s thoughts and feelings….

The writer tells us the character’s actions (what the character does)…

The writer tells us how others react to the character….

If you could rename the book, what would you call it?  Give examples from the text to support your new title.

How does ______’s actions change what happens in the story?  Give a detail from the text to support your answer.

Describe how ______ changes from the beginning of the story to the end of the story.  Support your answer with a detail from the story.

Describe one of ______’s character traits.  Give a detail from the story to support your answer.

I plan to have them listen to another folktale at called “Knots on a Counting Rope” and analyze it using the same character prompts that I wrote in this post.

After they have analyzed both books’ characters, key details, and themes, I will have them compare and contrast the two books using the Venn Diagram app or web based version at  They will publish their Venn Diagrams on their blogs and comment on each others’ blog postings.

Finally, I plan to have them use Zooburst which is an app and a website at  It allows students to create digital pop up books where the character rises up from the page.  They will add text and characters as they recount on of their favorite folktales that they read in their. Lass, with the a Media Specialist, or in the Computer Lab with me. These Zooburst Books are also known as Augmented Reality books because the images are three dimensional and add interest to text as each page is turned.

Two other folktales that I plan to share are “Fire On the Mountain” and “The Greatest Treasure”. These two books provide readers with rich settings, characters and themes. Some of my students created Zooburst Pop Up Books last year using these two folktales as their sources. Visit the direct links below to see examples of how students recounted events from the books and determined the themes.

Writing Stamina

This is Day 31 of 31 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge sponsored by  I have discovered writing stamina that I didn’t know I had from blogging for 31 straight days.  I thought I would end this month long challenge with writing from five and six year olds that has elevated them to true writers with the super power of stamina!  Many of these children could not recognize letters on a keyboard back in September and now can type on an iPad keyboard.  If you could have seen the level of engagement with each of my Kindergarten classes during the past two weeks, you would also feel my excitement.  Empowering children to communicate with words using digital tools is motivating and not quite the same as composing with paper and pencil.  As they would hand me their iPads when it was time for me to leave their classes, I sensed that they wanted a few more minutes to finish their story.  Their willingness to continue and their sentences written in an app showed me their writing stamina.  Digital Storytelling has been my focus this year in a variety of formats that are documented in my blog for grades Kindergarten through fifth grade.

I have used the Collins Big Cat “It Was A Cold Dark Night” story app with my Kindergarten classes during the last two weeks of March   It is a digital book that has interactive features including a narrator who reads aloud the story, a Story Creator component which provides characters, scenes and objects from the story for children to use to recreate and retell the story, a text feature and a recording feature.  In a blog post that I wrote in November of 2013, I wrote about the Collins Big Cat “Around the World” app that I used with first graders.  They retold the story and developed their own journeys around the world using the scenes, objects, characters and text boxes.  Collins Big Cat Book app has many free apps in the App Store.  I absolutely love that students can be content creators while using their apps, not just content consumers.

I began my lesson with Kindergarteners by having students do a book walk where they discovered the pictures, settings and characters as I flipped through the pages of my iPad.  I reminded them that readers are aware of the setting, characters and events which allow us to understand the story.  Next, the narrator of the story read aloud the story “It Was A Cold Dark Night” to students.  The main character who is a hedgehog named Ned is looking for a home.  He visits many different animals who tell him that he cannot stay in their homes.  He finally settles in a pile of leaves where he sleeps.  Kindergarteners retold the story by using the retelling components of the app after they listened to the story again on their own iPads.

During the next lesson, I demonstrated how to record the speech of the characters on Post It notes and gave students their own Post It notes for them to write their own speech bubbles.  I was impressed with students’ writing of speech bubbles, but even more impressed when they recreated the story scenes on their iPads and typed the word from their Post It notes into the speech bubbles in the app.  In some cases, they had two characters speaking in one scene.  I have included pictures of their screens below to show you how they actively engaged themselves in writing.  These budding writers have opened wide the doors of possibilities for themselves as writers and for me as a teacher of writing with digital tools.  I look forward to discovering more and more tools for students to use as they tell the stories of their lives and as they respond to a variety of genres.
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As I end my post today, I would like to again thank the organizers of the Slice of Life Month Long Writing Challenge and express my gratitude to the bloggers who took the time to read and/or respond to my blog. I had been posting my once a week blog post on Saturdays prior to the Slice of Life Writing Challenge so having a writing community with which to share my blogs daily will be missed.

I hope that you will follow my blog if you haven’t already. It makes sense to me to write blog posts as you feel inspired to do so, but then again, it also makes sense to me to select a day of the week when your readers know that you will post. Quite honestly, I have not decided if I will continue to post my weekly blog entry on Saturday or choose another day. I almost feel like I will experience a small amount of writer withdrawal to not write daily in my blog, but also know that as the warmer weather approaches, I will need time to experience Spring and my family more and more. I really like celebrating with Ruth Ayres at each Saturday and will probably continue with my Saturday routine, but might begin posting on Tuesday with my Weekly Slice of Life post or post on some other day.

I had never even written a weekly Slice of Life blog post  before diving into writing my daily slices during March. Thank you to all who have made me feel comfortable. It is healthy to keep trying new things in life. I am pleased that I have accomplished my month long goal for myself. Blogging my experiences has prompted me to carefully consider each word while also having time to ponder new technology projects, write lesson plans, and carry them out. This has been in many respects like my first year of teaching all over again as I have learned how to teach 1,000 K-5 students in 45 minute blocks every day. It has been a pleasure to share these moments with readers of my blog. I look forward to sharing more in the future on my blog about technology and inspirational topics.

Proverbs 18:20 from The Message:

20 Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.