Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Commercials

For a second culmination project for our persuasive advertising unit, students had to create a book commercial of a favorite book.

While at the library, students chose their favorite books.  They created storyboards using only key details that would grab a viewer's attention.  They had to decide what pictures they wanted and where they would go.  Once the storyboard was done, students used the computers to access Animoto.

Animoto is an amazing web site to use to make simple videos.  As an educator, you can get their plus account for free which allows you to make videos over 30 seconds long.  Once you apply for the account, you will receive a code.  You can use the code for up to 50 accounts.  Since my students are not old enough to have Google accounts, I made Animoto accounts.  If you have a gmail account, you can use "fake" emails to make the accounts by using your email name then + and a number (

Having over 50 students, I have found that they have always done a great job in sharing the log-ins and not ruining each other's videos.

First students find pictures to use in their videos.  Then students must choose a theme and song to fit their book.  They upload the pictures and add the text.  After previewing the video, they can choose to produce it or fix it.

In the end, I had the students copy the link to their video and share it in Edmodo.  This allowed all the students in the class to view the videos right in Edmodo, give a reaction, and comment to each other.

This is one of my favorites that I'm especially proud of the ELL student who created.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Invention Madness

Years ago, I listened to an amazing speech at a local conference about advertising that always stuck with me.  Slowly I created and tweaked a persuasive unit on advertising.  Last year I read the book, Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom by Frank Baker.  Two of my favorite parts were the analysis of print ads and cereal boxes.  For homework, students had to bring in an empty cereal box.  Since I don't get many magazines at home nor do my students, I put out a mass email to all the staff asking for old magazines.  I spent days combing though finding appropriate ones and pulling them all out.  Now I have more of each than I can ever use.

Many teachers tweet on the #TLAP Twitter chat about doing March Madness contests.  I was always disappointed that I couldn't find a way to incorporate it into one of my units. Finally, I found a way although it is May.

As one part of the culmination of this unit, students had to create their own inventions using two items that you can buy in the store today.  They had to draw what it would look like.  Using all the persuasive techniques they learned, they had to create a print ad along with a testimonial.

I made a cut off day to be in the competition in hopes that it would boost more students to hand it in early or on time.  I needed 64 inventions to fill the entire madness board but with 72 students I came up short.

I still moved on with the contest.  I put them in plastic sleeves so that each sleeve was the "game".  I liked that no one could see others names and not just vote for their friends although I know they told each other about theirs.

The first round was quite lengthly since students rotated around the room to read and analyze all the inventions.  Between each round, students had to wait two days since we were going to the library every other day to work on our next project that I'll be blogging about next.  They would ask me who won and tried to sneak peaks of the score card.

Each round the students found it more and more difficult.  Some of the ones who made it to the final rounds were great ideas.  I was really rooting for the Washa-Drya-Fold Machine that does all the laundry for you.  I also loved the fact that the name has a Rhode Island accent.  Students favorites were the Glamera (glasses that are also a camera), Conti-Color (contact lenses that change with your mood), Hoverstar (a hoverboard for you and two of your friends), and the Pillorder (a pillow that records and plays back your dreams).  Since we didn't have all the slots filled when we came to a "game" without a competitor I gave students a chance to vote for one that had already lost.

Many winning rounds came down to 2 to 3 votes different.  In the end, the Pillorder won by a landslide 44 to 18.  The winner won a $25 gift card to a store of their choice.

The Winner

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Snapshot App in Edmodo - Snapshot not Snapchat

Edmodo just released Snapshot for practice with the Common Core.  I immediately wanted to try it out.  It took only minutes to set up an assignment for the class.

I polled the students to see what they thought of it.  They thought it was easy to use, and they enjoyed it.

I thought it has just enough practice questions for the each standard.  There are more standards ready in math than in English.  To me it is a huge undertaking to have both subjects and all the grades.  Kudos to Edmodo for releasing it while they are still working on it so that we can check it out while we have students in class.

I was most interested in the data that I would receive.  You have your choice to view it by student or standard.  It is color coded to show meets, borderline or below.

I joined a Twitter chat they held about it to give my feedback.  I am hoping that they will make it so you can assign standards by students and not just the class group.  This is would be great so you can move students along at their pace just like the NoRedInk app.