Friday, October 19, 2012

Our first Mystery Skype!

This past Wednesday, one class of 5th graders came into the library to find they had a puzzle to solve. With just 10 minutes of planning and prep time, we called a classroom in an unknown location via Skype, with the intention of figuring out where they were. At the same time, that classroom would be trying to locate us!  The students stepped right up to the challenge. We established roles and jobs to make sure we were successful.  Here's what we came up with:
The big picture!
Google Earth and Google Maps provided instant updates
  • Researchers: Students ready to analyze clues on Google maps and Google Earth, along with students manning print atlases and looking at globes and printed out maps.
Note taking in action
  • Note-takers and Clue Trackers: Students took notes on each question and answer asked, with special focus on the clues.
  • Runners: Students literally ran between groups, synthesizing answers to questions, passing these on to the Researchers and sharing ideas with the Questioners. 
  • Questioners: Students presented strategic questions to the mystery classroom to try to narrow down their location and answered the questions that were posed to us.  We took turns - they asked us a question, then we asked one back!
  • Photographer: Documenting the event with photos and perspective. (Evidence here! Pics by Eliza and Olivia)
  • Videographer: Documenting the well-oiled machine we became! Complete with insider interviews :)
  • Greeter: Introduced our class at the beginning of the Skype call (without revealing our location!) and answered follow up questions after each class located the other!

A view into our mystery classroom - see any clues?
Notes were taken via Google Docs and shared with me

Students poured over atlases & maps!
The final question to determine our city!

We had such a great time! I basically stood back and watched the students work together as a TEAM. Everyone had a job, and when we finally figured out their state (Missouri!) and town, there were cheers and fist pumps. The 5th graders totally rocked this! I was so impressed with the questions each group came up with to narrow down the mystery locations. It was definitely an experience I'm hoping to replicate across the upper grade levels! Thanks to Mrs. Venosdale (@ktvee) for guiding us through our first Mystery Skype! It was wonderful to meet and connect with such an enthusiastic group of 5th graders!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We're going on a Word Hunt!

First graders extended their connections with Tad Hill and his Rocket books today by going on a word hunt!  We first brainstormed WHERE we could go (and outside was a popular choice, but it was a little too chilly without sweatshirts), HOW we would find inspiring words (and about what inspiring even means!) and WHAT our word hunt would look like and sound like (so as to not disturb other classes!) The kids grabbed a clipboard, a pencil and some sticky notes and we were on our way!  Some wonderful words were hunted and gathered, and finally shared over a projection of Rocket's word tree! Next up - can we make a story from these words?  Stay tuned!

Writing and walking!

Comparing found words
Walking and sharing!

Some of the word gems we found

Our very own word tree!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stephen McCranie Skype Visit!

On Friday, two 4th grade classes had a special visit from cartoonist Stephen McCranie!  He is the author/illustrator of the graphic novel series Mal and Chad (click on the link to find out more about his books and comics!)  Stephen started out by introducing himself and showing the students the computer he uses to create his art.  
Cartoonist Stephen McCranie!
He then shared his screen with us, so we saw him creating as he talked! Stephen shared drawing tips and story ideas. He took ideas from our classes and created a story starter and a custom drawing!  Zervas 4th graders had many questions for Stephen and he answered them all while drawing away for us. It was an experience the students will remember! I had borrowed some Mal and Chad books from the public library and those went home with eager readers. I already have holds on the books that I've ordered that haven't even come in yet. We were able to video some of the visit (with Stephen's permission!) to share with Mr. West's class who couldn't make it to the presentation. It was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon in the library. Thanks for a great visit Stephen!
The students all wanted to know about the program he used to draw for us!
Our character, Kate, who built a cupcake eating robot to help her win a music competition!