Thursday, September 20, 2012

Digital Storytelling with Kerpoof

First grade teachers at one school in my district have been using the KidWorks writing program for years.  This computer program is very child-friendly and helpful in teaching students how to write before they can spell.  Unfortunately, the program developer has not continued to support this product and it's been difficult finding a replacement.  My district moved to Windows 7 over the summer and this KidWorks program could not make the move with us (it IS compatible with Windows 98, if you're wondering!)  For the past year, I've been on the lookout for a tool that works in a similar capacity to KidWorks.  Obviously, I've been looking for something web-based.  If you know of a product or tool, please let me know!

In the meantime, we will be experimenting with various free digital storytelling programs.  The easiest one for the kids to use this early in the year is Disney's Kerpoof.  No log-in is required and kids love creating their story scenes!  The first-graders had minimal trouble resizing and dragging/dropping.  Although the teacher modeled how to type a describing sentence, most of the students were just interested in creating their scenes, and that was okay with us for the first day of independent computer use.  I will say that the text box is not very user-friendly since kids have to delete the "type here" text and it defaults to uppercase.  Also, if the text extends off of the page, it does not wraparound to the next line.  Anyway, I wanted to share one of the scenes that a first-grader created today (see below).  Check out the expression in her sentence!  I can't wait for students to learn about the speech bubbles which automatically appear when you insert a character.  What are other ways that you use Kerpoof in the K-2 classroom?  Also, do you use Storybird, Little Bird Tales or Storyjumper?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's All About the Connections

Yesterday was an amazing day at Edcamp Philly.  It was my third time attending, and despite the fact that I'm neck-deep in work for my School Law course, I find it hard to pass up a free opportunity to learn and connect with other educators.  I am still struggling to multi-task on my iPad, even with the 4-finger swipe, so I used my phone to catch the Twitter chat (although I can't say I was an active tweeter during the day). I benefited most from the conversations I had with those around me - some who I met for the first time, some who I "knew" from Twitter, and some who I "knew" from the annual Edcamp run-in (i.e.  "Nice to see you!  I can't believe we weren't in any sessions together this year!").  The after-party at City Tap House gave me a chance to have one-on-one conversations with others about topics that were touched upon throughout the day.

I spent the latter part of the evening going through Tweets from the day (btw - has anyone archived these?) and exchanging messages with @BrdCmpbll about his session (shout out:  THOR).  I'm involved in too many social networks to count, but there's still something to be said for bringing people together in-person for an event.  By establishing face-to-face connections, I feel like I will be more connected with them through Twitter.  It also makes me thankful that I'm a member of PAECT, for it gives me the opportunity to re-establish these face-to-face connections on a monthly/bi-monthly basis.  I'm already excited for our Tech and Tacos event coming up on 5/31 - maybe we will continue some of the conversations we started at Edcamp?  

For me, Edcamp is an invaluable experience that is hard to put into words.  I always leave inspired and full of ideas (speaking of which, how am I supposed to focus on completing a legal summary of a liability case study today?!)  I look forward to bringing these ideas back to my colleagues and staying connected with the Philly Edcampers through Twitter.  Learning is one thing, but implementing is another, and that is when I rely on the support and expertise of my PLN.  Thank you to the organizers and sponsors for making this day possible - I will see you next year!