Tag Archives: Class DOGO

Notable News Sites

WRITE. Every day in March write a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE. Link your post in the comments on each daily call for slice of life stories here at TWT. GIVE. Comment on at least three other slice of life stories/blogs. This is Day 25 of 31 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge by www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.  I decided to focus on news websites for children today.  Have you ever been checking email or online and then your eyes see a compelling news headline?  I find that many times, I seek out other articles about the topic. I like to know what is going on in the world so that I can talk about current events or at least be knowledgeable about the events. There is something about being able to talk to others about a shared topic in the news that makes me feel connected to them.  I watch the CBS Evening News or my local news station a couple of times a week, but sometimes feel that the images shown can be disturbing and cause alarm in children.   There are some kid friendly news websites that present current events in a child friendly way to allow kids to be a part of the global conversation in the news.  It is my hope to be able to expose my students to a variety of reading material to get them involved and invested in real topics that matter to our world.  My Slice of Life Today will share three of my favorite kid news sites.

I have written before about the power of news in the lives of kids by discussing Class DOGO. I typically have my fourth and fifth graders read articles from the Class DOGO website and blog about them.  I love the idea of asking about the central theme of the article and why they thought the author wrote about the event.  They can describe their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing.  Students can acquire new vocabulary words by reading the unfamiliar and challenging words from the Vocabulary list at the end of the article, seeking out the synonyms and antonyms of the vocabulary words and creating new sentences while using the vocabulary.  There is always a picture and sometimes a You Tube Video to accompany each picture so students could select their favorite picture in the article and describe it in their own words.  Some of the articles could prompt students to research other related topics and allow them to dig deeper into a topic.  I have placed a link to the following article at the fifth grade tab at my school website:


This article describes special glowing balls that someone has designed to light up the typhoon affected area of the Phillipines.  Bioluminescent plankton, which is found in the waters off the coast of the Phillipines, is being used to make the balls glow at night, providing light where there is no electricity.  I look forward to sharing it with my fifth graders and having them describe ways that they would want to help others affected by a typhoon.

I have recently discovered a News app for kids called News-o-Matic.  I have included some screenshots below of what this app has to offer.  It is a daily news feed written in kid friendly language that describes current events.  Some kids will love to read nonfiction and devour it as they open each article.  They can even see how far they are on a map between their hometown and the town where the news event is located.  There is a small subscription fee associated with this app, but it is well worth it.  There is a tab that gives suggestions on what to do if the news disturbs you which is a nice feature to help kids process daily events that could possibly be upsetting.  There are five new stories written about every day.  Children can have the articles read aloud to them and draw or write in response to the articles.  The Daily Teacher’s Guide includes Lexile reading levels, Common Core State Standards correlations, assessment questions, and graphic organizers.  In addition, there are discussion prompts and comprehension questions to help reinforce a range of knowledge across academic subjects. imageimage Finally, I wanted to give attention to the Newsela website for kids.  This website rewrites the same article in at least four different Lexile ranges.  I like this because the teacher may want to have the entire class read about a topic but be able to personalize the reading more because she can assign a Lexile Level to each child based on her reading assessments.  Students can open the website then click on the appropriate reading lexile level.  All students can respond to writing prompts and discussion about the article but can read the level that is the best fit for each child.  Take a look at the following link to see an interesting article on the benefits of dark chocolate and click on the various Lexile Levels to experience differences in text that you will see on screen: https://www.newsela.com/articles/chocolate-health/id/3147/

Teachers have to enroll in a free account with Newsela and give their class a code to get into the site to read articles.

I love that kids can access news and be able to explore nonfiction closely through the news websites that I have shared today.  Tapping in to the interests of students is paramount to encouraging them to want to read and comprehend text.  Class Dogo, News-o-Matic and Newsela each provide their own unique way to present current events to children.  I hope you will check them out!

Reflective iMovies

Last December, I decided to introduce how to create an iMovie to my 4th and 5th graders.  As they came to my Computer Classroom, I showed them the following YouTube video which give a nice explanation of how to create an iMovie:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXrIdMVdVNA  I knew that some students already had some prior knowledge of creating iMovies or iMovie trailers from being in my fourth grade class last year or from having their own device.  One fifth grade class had recently even created an iMovie to show area businesses to convince them to support our school as we raise funds to purchase a new playground.  Students were captivated by the video and seemed excited about the possibility of us creating iMovies in the future.

Last week I had my 4th and 5th grade students reflect on the various digital products and projects that they had created in my Computer Class.  After reflecting on the projects that they had done on iPads and on computers, I told them that I wanted them to showcase what they had done by making a Class iMovie.  I showed them the rules for the first K-12 White House Film Festival at http://www.whitehouse.gov/filmfestival which encourages students to make a movie about how they are using technology in schools.  They decided that they wanted to make the iMovie lasting three minutes maximum then have me upload it to my You Tube channel (Maples Channel) and then send the link to the White House.  I divided students into four or five groups per class and had them decide on which digital project that they’d like to talk about and show for around 30-40 seconds on the class iMovie.  Although I had used iMovie trailer templates with last year’s class as they planned their trailers, I decided to have Monday’s classes create their own format for the iMovie.  I asked them to write down their ideas on who would say what about each digital project, but felt that they needed more structure.  After recently reading a new book called  “And Action!  Directing Documentaries in the Social Studies Classroom” by Kathy Swan and Mark Hofer during Winter Break, I knew the importance of having students have a Storyboard to organize their projects and found one I liked at this website:  http://www.packwoman.com/uploads/8/5/0/5/8505687/revised_imovie_unit_plan_pdf.pdf

I printed one Storyboard for each group in each class to use for the rest of the week.  I was thrilled that they embraced the Storyboard sheets which had six boxes with lines under each one to give students an idea of a scene that they wanted to film.  Next, they would sketch out what they wanted the next speaker to say and show.  I was much more pleased with the structure in place to give my elementary students the proper support to plan their iMovies.  I am very excited about the coming week as we will start to film each class as they explain their digital products and projects using Haiku Deck as a presentation tool, Discovery Education’s Board Builder, Hour of Code, Blogging in Gaggle, and apps that they wanted to showcase such as Santa Engineer, Mathamateer, and Science 360.

The White House Film Festival is seeking examples of how students use technology as a creation tool, how students use technology in new ways, and how they use technology to access high quality online content and resources such as the Dreambox, an online  Math program that my school district has purchased.  Some student groups wanted to share how they are using Dreambox and how it motivates them to play a variety of games that adapt to their level.  Other groups wanted to showcase the excellent web resource www.wonderopolis.org and www.ncwiseowl.com which they had used in their research to create their Discover Education Digital Boards.  At my website, bit.ly/elonpark, I had given the following directions at the fifth grade tab during second quarter:  Visit Class DOGO news site below and write a blog post about it in your Gaggle Blog.  Read other students’ blog from your class and write a TAG Comment (Tell something, Ask a Question, Give a Suggestion).

Students are new to blogging but many of them enjoyed reading the Class DOGO article about Batkid in San Francisco, CA then creating a blog entry to describe their response.  They are becoming online communicators and using acronyms like TAG to help them remember how to conduct themselves as responsible members of the digital community.  It will be interesting for me to see how the Gaggle Bloggers group will discuss blogging not just about themselves but also about articles that they’ve read.

When I read “And Action!…” during the Winter Break, I discovered that it is wise to show students three ways to plan an iMovie:  a character driven film, an event driven film or issue driven film.  I introduced the project to students by telling them that the film will be structured as an event narrative so that the viewers can see the series of events or projects that we have done.

I also provided students with an Essential Question to guide their thinking:  The question we want our viewers to consider and explore is this:
“In what ways has technology helped me learn?”

I told them that they would need to introduce the topic in a way that will draw the viewers in. I posed the question, “What image or quotes would you want to use?”  Some students whose natural passions are toward communicating creatively would give great ideas in each class and would arrange themselves to plan their part of the film on the Storyboard sheet.

The White House Film Festival movies are due by January 29 so time is of the essence.  If I had more time, I would allow students to generate a fuller script for each person to say during the movie.  In the future as they research an Essential Question, I will ask them to locate images that support their findings and to create iMovies about these powerful images with developed scripts of narration to read as the images are shown.  The process that I have had them go through has been setting them up to do small group research online then to create an iMovie after careful thought about their presentation by planning it on a Storyboard.  Students need support as they plan presentations and not just be told, “One of your choices is to make an iMovie.”  I think that students who used the Storyboard sheet felt confident as to how they would present their digital product or project and will be able to use this support structure in future iMovie projects.

Giving students the chance to collaborate in small groups to plan their part of the iMovie was a needed scaffold because they were able to frame their piece of the whole movie, so in essence, I used the Jigsaw technique to arrange the class.  Some classes wanted to even bring their own digital devices to my class to show how they are using BYOT during the school day so their part of the iMovie will also contribute to the overall feel of how we use Technology all day at school, not just in the Computer Lab.   Next week, we will put all of the pieces together and film the iMovies!  I will mirror the iPad that filmed the iMovie on the board using our Apple TV, then have students decide how to best edit the video clips of each group, add any voiceovers, add text to screens, and add music.  I will upload their iMovies to my YouTube channel then enter each 4th and 5th grade class into the White House Film Festival by January 29, 2014.   I know that my students will use the 45 minutes that they have in my class to creatively present their group’s digital product and show that they are using technology to communicate, critically think, collaborate and create as 21st Century Learners.  They will be creating documentary, event driven films for the world to see!