Category Archives: Research

Creating Fictional Origins of Idioms

Idioms and jargons are used everyday in our lives. We know that for our EL Learners and a lot of students in our classes, idioms and jargon can be difficult.  As a literary device, idioms are extremely effective and add to “style” of writing.  Idioms are colourful, personal and vivid.   I could describe our WWP project as an effective or as a well oiled machine.  In order to have students use and understand we need to explore idioms for all our learners.

Exploring the literal  meaning of an idioms is fun and allows students to be creative with pen and pencil, or specifically with an app (Pic Collage, Explain Everything, Drawing Box etc) .fullsizerender

Years ago, students and I watched a funny podcasts from Animal Planet called Animal Crackers.  In this podcast actors portrayed two fictional and one historical story of where specific idioms originated.

Podcast

After watching one podcast an activity would be to challenge the students to create a similar type of media presentation.

  1. They could research meaning and origin of an idiom. 
  2. Create a literal and actual visual representation of idiom (as above)
  3. Create a script for two fictional origins and true origin. (Pages or Doc)
  4. Use another App to illustrate
  • Explain Everything
  • Bookcreator
  • iMovie
  • StopMotion
  • Scratch Junior

Creating Comics on your iPad

Comics are very powerful pieces of writing.  Students enjoy reading and creating comics. Two apps on the iPad,, Comic Life and BookCreator, allow students to create their own comics. ComicLifeSample

One of the best ways to engage your students in a story writing dialogue activity, is to use Comics.   What better way is there to show how writing dialogue needs to appropriate, clear and effective?  If their characters’ dialogue does not drive the plot, then the audience cannot follow their story.

Students can use Comic Life or BookCreator  to display their understanding of any topic in their non-fiction writing:

  1. Autobiographies or Biographies
  2. Speech Plan
  3. Instructional/Procedural Write
  4. Travel Guide
  5. Poster

Comic Life and BookCreator have many unique comic features and the purpose for using these features needs to be explained to students.

  1. Panels and Pages
    • a panel is like a paragraph, with one main idea
    • size of panel shows time and importance
    • we read panels left to right, top to bottom
  2. Pictures
    • Background
      • shows us setting
      • develops mood
    • Foreground
      • Characters and important objects
  3. Text Features
    • Captions
      • carries the narrative of the story
      • tells us about setting
      • explains what happens between panels
    • Speech and Thought Bubble
      • displays characteristic of characters
      • Is often the core text feature, giving the most information
    • Lettering
      • Onomatopeias
      • Title
You can also have students explore App Smashing by:
  1. Adding themselves as characters on a background in PicCollage
  2. In Drawing Box, create their own drawings and add to their comic
  3. Create their own characters in Avatar Creator

Here is student instructions for using Comic Life

ComicLifeiPad

and Comics in BookCreator

BookCreatorComics

The Power of Puzzles

What is the educational value for completing word puzzles?

This is a great question, that has been debated by many educators.

http://bit.ly/WWPpuzzlemaker
http://bit.ly/WWPpuzzlemaker

Working with spelling words and new vocabulary, seems like a justifiable use for using word puzzles.  However; when created by the teacher, the students require no creative thinking and often lack the comprehension and connection to the new vocabulary.   Sort of a worksheet in a different form.  So how do we “up” the value?  This value increases when you have them create their own word puzzles.

On the Discovery Education Site students can create

  • Crosswords

    Fallen Phrase
    Fallen Phrase
  • Word Search with Hidden Message
  • Criss-Cross Puzzle
  • Cryptograms
  • Letter Tiles
  • Fallen Phrase
  • Double Puzzles

All which link vocabulary to meaning.

After students have created their word puzzle, on the iPad hold finger on the image and download into photos.  In Photos share or upload the image into Notability and have students compete.

On macbook, right click on image and save.  Share via email or google drive then download image and add image to a notebook file and use pens to complete.

 

 

 

 

Using Book Creator to Explore Non-Fiction Text Features

Before you have students create a non-fiction book in Book Creator, you must explore the features in a non-fiction piece.

Text features in a non-fiction piece of writing, is like story elements in a fiction piece of writing.  Just like you need to teach students about characters, setting, problem, plot and resolution before writing stories, you must also teach students about specific features of non-fiction writing.

These feature are there to help the reader make sense of what is written.

Features include and are not limited to:

  1. HeadingsText Features 1
    • Helps to know what the text topic is about and help make predictions.

  2. Timeline
    • Helps determine the time an event happens.

  3. Labels
    • Helps identify a picture or photograph, and/or its parts.

  4. Photographs
    • Helps understand exactly what something looks like.

  5. Captions
    • Helps better understand a picture or photograph.

  6. Comparisons
    • Helps understand the size of something by comparing it to the size of something familiar.

  7. Cut Aways/Cross Sections
    • Helps understand something by looking at it from the inside.

  8. MapsText Features 2
    • Helps understand where things are in the world.

  9. Types of Print
    • Helps by signalling, “Look at me! I’m important!”

  10. Close-ups
    • Helps seeing details in something small.

  11. Graphs
    • Helps in a visual way so that it is more easily understood by readers.

  12. Charts or Tables
    • Helps by giving information in a visual way so that it is quicker and easier to read.

  13. Diagrams
    • Helps with a drawing  of the parts of something.

  14. Indexes
    • Helps with an alphabetical list of most everything covered in the text, with page numbers.

  15. Table of Contents
    • Helps identify key topics in the order they are presented.

  16. Glossaries
    • Helps define words found in the text.

Collaborative Writes Benefit all Students

Collaborative Writes Benefit all Studentsstudents-148163_640

  1. Collaboration strengthens writing skills and improves Communication 
  2. Sense of Responsibility to complete a task improves growth in Personal Awareness
  3. Sharing of Ideas with a diversity of opinions and styles promotes Positive Personal and Cultural Identity
  4. Sharing of Expertise with Peer Editing develops Critical Thinking Skills

*Bolded Core Competencies 

Using the iPads, collaborative writing can happen easily in the Google Environment.

Students can use either Google Slide or Google Docs to create and share the writing assignment.


Forms of Writing

Persuasive Writing (debate) using Google Slides or Docs

  • A pair of students choose to debate a topic on the same document.
  • Give Topics such as “Every child should or should not have a tracking device placed on them” or “Curfews”, “Uniforms” etc.
  • One student creates the doc/slide and shares to partner
  • When completed the writing, the students would edit, giving a strong argument for one, or decide to let the reader choose (more of a editorial write)

Research Writing Using Google Slides

  • Students in pairs or triads, research a topic together dividing the topic  into subtopics
  • One Student creates a Google Slide and shares with group
  • Students are each responsible to present the information on their own Google Slide pages, within the original document
  • Remind students that this is an oral presentation, with visual cues
  • Show students how to turn on the speaker’s notes, where they can add script to refer to in presentation

Narrative Writing Using Google Document

  • Give students a genre of a traditional/parody story to rewrite (Fractured Fairy Tale,  Animal  Story, Fable)
  • Divide students into pairs or triads
  • One student creates the doc and shares with the group
  • Put a table on the document, so that each student has a place to write
  • The (2×6) table could include: Introduction, Setting, Protagonist, Antagonist,  Problem, Attempt to Solve 1, Attempt to Solve 2, Attempt to Solve, Solution, Conclusion
  • Students divide the task and write in their chosen cell
  • Completed text can be copied and pasted into another application

Poetry

  • Choose a poetry form with a distinctive form  such as sonnet
  • Discuss the characteristics of the poetry form
  • Sonnet 14 lines, 3 quatrains, 1 couplet,  each line 10 syllables, rhyming scheme of abab, cdcd, efef, gg
  • Divide students into groups
  • One student creates the document and shares
  • Create a table 2×14
  • Label  Column with rhyming scheme
  • Each Student completes their assigned line

 

WWP 2012-2013 Report

I am pleased to share our WWP 2012-2013 Report.

Thank you to our teachers who continue to work hard with our kids and their writing and use of macbooks for learning. Your support around the WWP big ideas helps to keep this program going.

Thank you to the technology services staff who keep working hard to make sure students have devices in their hands. Last but not least thank you to Toni Thompson, our WWP Teacher Mentor, who works so hard to support our teachers and has a done another great job with the cold write data this year.

Creating a Culture of Critical Thinking for Research

On Tuesday and Wednesday WWP Teachers got together to discuss how to develop a critical thinking culture in their classrooms.  When asked about students and researching, our WWP teachers feel that students are often lost when they begin researching online. It can be overwhelming for students, struggling to pick a topic, refining their search using keywords, or choosing valid reliable websites. It is important that teachers give students the tools they need to become critical thinkers as they search the vast web.

Probably the easiest thing to do is explain the terminology.  I am always amazed how many students and teachers, do not understand the difference between a browser and a search engine, or even what is a URL.  Students need to know that domain name in an URL can tell them so much about the owner of a site.

Before students begin research, do a general research on a topic to help students come up with key ideas or key words they could use in their search.  Use general reference sites such as WikipediSimpleWikipedia, Wolframalpha, or Qwiki.

It is important to ask the students to think about: Who created the site? What information is relevant, and reliable? When was the information posted? Why was the information published? Show the students a variety of different sites which are posted for fun.   I definitely like talking to students about tree octopus or flying penguins.  Use Wikipedi to show students that the sites were created for fun.

When students are using search engines, talk to them about using key words, (“”),  (-), or  (*) if they are unsure of a word. Using the term “for kids” also refines the search for students.   If they are looking for a specific file then adding filetype:pdf to their search will limit the results to pdf only.  Substitute doc, ppt for pdf if looking for document or PowerPoint. Searching for pdf’s really is valuable for those students who have no access to internet at home. 

The Google search engine has a variety of ways to narrow the search.  Try limiting search by using a basic reading level, or limiting by date published.

When you send your students off to research, make their initial researches successful by chunking the research for them.  One of our WWP teachers, (thanks Melissa) developed daily learning goals the students had to research.  Over the period of the research they collected these facts, and then were asked to present their research in a product of their choice. Students used Comic Life and Keynote effectively with little teacher persuasion.

The WWP teachers explored using Comic Life, Keynote/PowerPoint/OpenOffice and Notebook to present research.  They laughed as they compared themselves to a Canadian Historical figure or choose several Christmas traditions to research. Each teacher left with a sample of research project, they could complete with their own students. Give the students choice in how to present their research and you will find that students are more willing to complete the research when they feel they have ownership for the project.

The Writing Process

The Writing Process in a WWP class is generally no different than a traditional class except that students are using technology.  Teachers will still be doing activities of Prewriting, Brainstorming, Drafting, Revising, Proofing, Editing, and Publishing. 

1.      Prewriting and Brainstorming is any activity in which writers are determining their topic, and purpose. They should also be keeping their audience in mind.

  • Several teachers use the framework of RAFTS to help students plan their writing.  Not that they are trying to keep afloat in classes.  RAFTS stands for ROLE, AUDIENCE, FORM, TOPIC AND STRONG VERB (explain, persuade).
  • Primary teachers use drawing to help students to access prior knowledge about a potential writing topic.  Use Notebook or iPad apps such as Drawcast, to have students draw their ideas.
  • Use online apps such as Portrait Maker or the iPad app Portrait to create avatars for characters in stories
  • Use Media to help students come up with ideas.  Do an image search, find a sound effect or explore Educational videos through sites such as NeoK12, YouTube, or National Geographic For Kids
  • Using technology, students can quickly research topics using sites such as Simple Wikipedia or QWiki (also iPad app)
  • Using graphic organizers like Inspirations (Application and iPad App) allows students to web ideas and begin the organization of their ideas. They can use text, pictures and even audio to capture their ideas.

2.      Drafting

  • Using a word processing application such as Word, Pages or Open Office, allows the Process pieces for Drafting, Revising, Proofing and Editing to become intertwined.  No longer does the writer need to work through draft, then revise, then proof, etc, a 21st century writer does this simultaneously.
  • have students use the Quick Scales (available on this site) to self assess or have a peer assess their work

3.      Publishing

  • Their are a variety of ways for students to present their final projects

    iPad Apps

    Computer Apps

    Pages
    Comic Life
    Inspirations
    KeyNote
    I Tell a Story, BookCreator

    iMovie

    Notebook

    Let students be creative in choosing a way to present their work! Enjoy!

     

    Word, Open Office
    Comic Life
    Inspirations
    PowerPoint
    Garage Band: Podcast, iPhoto or PowerPoint
    iMovie

    Notebook