Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy (late) Veteran's Day!


This post is a day late, but I did want to take some time to thank our veterans for all that they have done for our country. Both of my grandparents served in the armed forces. My maternal grandfather served in Korea. My paternal grandfather also served overseas. Many of my uncles and cousins are in the National Guard. My father was in the guard for 20 years. He didn't serve in any foreign conflicts, but he did get called up a few times to go help with flood control in neighboring states. I remember when he would go away for Guards on the weekends. I never really understood what that was about until I was in high school. When I was in high school, my uncle was called up to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His daughter, my cousin, is quite close to me in age, so I remember imagining how hard it must have been without her dad around. I could really put myself in her shoes at that point. I remember at our family reunion that summer putting together letters and a large poster board of memories to send to him. Someone even rubbed a little hot dish on the poster board and wrote "scratch & sniff!" Gotta love my family of goofballs! I have to say that I really respect my uncle for his service. I have another uncle that served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. I was two at the time, so I don't remember this, but I am thankful for his service as well. Currently, my brother is signed on with the National Guard as a fuel supply specialist. I also have a cousin who is deployed. I am thankful to all of them and all other veterans for their service.

Left to right: Brian Wensmann, Jim Wensmann (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Daniel Yorek (deployed), Marvin Wensmann (my dad), Andrew Wensmann (my brother)

Yesterday morning,  I woke up to a text from my brother reminding me to thank a veteran. I assured him that I would be working hard to thank a lot of veterans at school that day. Pinewood Elementary had a fantastic Veterans Day program yesterday. It made me proud to be a part of this school. It began with a breakfast for our veteran guests and the students who invited them. I helped by setting up a video playlist to be played continuously throughout the breakfast. I rushed back after 45 minutes to transfer the projector set up to the other gym across the school for our school wide presentation. This presentation included the principal sharing a video and a book, our 5th grade choir singing a few songs (beautifully!), and students sharing essays that they wrote.

video

The local VFW Color Guard presented and retired the flag.

video

The essays that were written by the students brought a tear to my eye. Two students wrote about veterans in general. They wrote that they are our superheroes and they hold our country together. Another 5th grade student shared words beyond her years about her grandfather and his service to our country. Finally, another student shared about her aunt. These essays and the singing of the choir were highlights of the program today.
 
I hope you enjoyed the clips of the program. Thank you to all our service men and women! Happy late Veteran's Day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What Student News Has Taught Me and My Students.

This past month, I have started working on daily video announcements. These video announcements begin as a script typed in Google Docs. The script is printed and two 5th grade students practice for a couple minutes before they are recorded using an iPad Air 2. The video is then edited and additional videos are added in iMovie on the iPad Air. This project has been a learning experience for my students and for me.

I began this project by working with each 5th grade class on how to collect the information for the script. Students learned where to find the weather forecast, school lunch menu, and Monticello sports schedule. The students then got into pairs and practiced by using these tools to create a mock script. The students created these scripts on paper, but the actual scripts are recorded in Google Docs.

After each class created their practice scripts, students were chosen based on their effort to write out the script or record the video. A schedule was also created of when each pair of students would do each job. This was another learning opportunity for students. As pairs they began to learn how to log in to Google Docs and edit the script for the next recording. Some students quickly logged in and got to work. Others had some technical difficulties. Over this process, I have realized that it is important to get the typers set up sooner and with more guidance.

As we began recording the videos, we noticed that some students were a little more enthusiastic and artistic (you know the ones born to be goofy actors/actresses) while others were a little more hesitant.
This is one of the more interesting recordings:

We started out with sound issues. The iPad Air took great video, but some students were really quiet and the sound effects that were later added were almost deafening in comparison. We tried a couple microphones, but have ended up using an iPhone 6 to record the sound and adding it in later. I also learned how to adjust the sound in iMovie so that sound effects aren't as loud. The students also began to realize that they needed to speak more loudly and not read off their scripts by simply watching the way the students before them handled the announcements.

As we continue learning how to create quality student announcements, I am hoping to move into having students do some editing. I would like to see these kiddos take as much ownership of this project as possible. I believe that one of the best parts of a Media Program is empowering children,

Library Catalog 2.0


Many people know that the library catalog is what is used to keep track of books. In the old days, we had card catalogs. I'm not going to tell you how those work because I have no idea. Those are before my time, but Pinterest certainly has some interesting ideas on how to reuse those cabinets. We have been using online catalogs for as long as I can remember. I'm sure you all know that the catalog can be used to look up books, place books on hold, and add books to a list, but were you aware that with Destiny Library Catalog you can review books, recommend books to friends, and add books to "Want to Read", "Now Reading", and "Have Read Shelves." The library catalog has become an interactive reading tool.

This past month I have begun using ChromeBooks in the Media Center. I began with the third graders. My goal was to get them oriented in using the Chromebooks. I thought about different ways I could get them started. I also wanted to show them all the things that they could do on Destiny. It was a perfect time to do both. I created a guide for the students to follow in logging in to the Chromebooks and finding their way around Destiny.

When students first enter Destiny, they see 3 lists. The first list is the most popular books right now. The second is a list of resource guides to different topics. The third list is 15 of our newest books. This gives students some suggestions on what to read.



Once students log in, they see their inbox if they have any personal requests and see their updates if they do not. Their inbox will have the recommendations from friends and invites to be friends. In updates, the students see book reviews their friends have made and which books they have put onto their shelves.




Students are able to search for books and drag them to their shelves. There is a shelf for books you have read and books you want to read.







This was an amazing experience. In other schools, I have seen kids try to send messages to each other about what they were going to do after school, but this group of kids was talking about their books! Students were sharing the books they loved and other students were asking questions about these books. One student moved a Goosebumps book to their "Have Read" shelf. Other students were immediately asking if it was a good book, if it was scary, and questions about the characters. Students were able to get an idea of what books to read next.


My next goal is to create a screencast for the teachers explaining how to use Destiny to interact with their students. I know many of them will not have the time to go into Destiny, but it means a lot to the students when they see what their teachers have read and when the teachers comment on their reviews. If taking 5 minutes of the day to log in and comment will encourage a student to read more, it is worth it.


Author Study: Duncan Tonatiuh






Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. His father was American and his mother was Mexican. He attended art school in New York and began his career as an author and illustrator. Tonatiuh models his art after ancient Mexican art.

The style is called Mixtex.
. His goal in writing children's books is to have picture books that Latino children feel connected to. He has already received the Thomas Rivera Award. I am very excited to now have these books in our Media Center.


Book Reviews of Some of his Books:
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. This book is written as letters between cousins. One cousin lives
in America and one cousin lives in Mexico. Throughout the book various common Spanish words are introduced. This book is a great introduction to the Spanish language and the differences between life here and life in Mexico. It would be the perfect read for a kindergarten or first grade Spanish class.





Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. This short book gives the background on Diego Rivera. It tells about his art education, his artwork, and what he might paint if he were alive today. The book encourages young artists to create their own murals. This book could be useful to discuss culture in a Spanish class or as an introduction to Diego Rivera in an art class. It is best fit for first through third grade students.






Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote. This book tells about the difficulties Mexican workers face in Mexico
and the challenges they face on the journey to the United States for work. The story is told using animals and is easily understandable for elementary students. Because the content can be somewhat scary, I would recommend the book for grades 2 and up. The last two pages of the book give some information about the author and the journey many Mexican migrants face. This would be a great book to share with students, especially in a Spanish class or in a community with many Mexican immigrants.



Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her Family's Fight for Desegregation. The book itself was written at a level that a 2nd or 3rd grade student would understand. I believe this story is an important story to tell. It is relevant to many students as the Hispanic population grows in Minnesota. I like that this is a story about Mexican Americans integrating the school system. We often hear about the African American students in the south, but rarely about the struggles other Americans went through. I like that this book also has more information, sources, and definitions in the back.