Green Screening it with Explorers

I was lucky to have the experience of working with a very talented teacher at Pinchbeck Elementary, Mrs. Dubs. This third grade class had been learning about the early European Explorers (Columbus, Cartier, Ponce de Leon and Newport). We wanted the students to show their knowledge of the subject but the thought of a worksheet or another test nauseated me. Mrs. Dubs and I came up with the idea of having the students act as if they were the explorers, and they needed to convince people to join their expedition. That’s when the idea hit us, we should have the students act it out in front of a green screen.

We started off the lesson by hanging up green paper from the supply room.

The stage was set. Now the students had to record their skit to convince people to join their expedition. The students had been working on these scripts for a few days before the lesson. We decided to use Photo Booth to record their videos. Under the video option there is a spot where the user can put in their own background.

Once the students had their background they were ready to start recording. Mrs. Dubs then uploaded these videos to Vimeo as a review for the students. Check out one of their awesome videos below.

Cartier – Come Join Us! from Jim Covais on Vimeo.

Making a video like this is fairly easy, takes almost no time to create and your students will love it. Simple little changes will keep your students engaged and ready to learn. Plus let’s be honest, It’s so much more fun as a teacher to create something like this than passing out another worksheet. If you want to do a lesson like this schedule a time with me and let’s get started!

iPad Palooza with JG and the Boys

Thank you Tyler Hart for writing up this awesome blog post!


Today, JG and the Boys (Ryan Stein, Jim Covais, Julie Goode, and myself) took the show on the road to the 3rd graders at Highland Springs Elementary! Our focus was on affixes: prefixes, root words and suffixes.

We kicked off the lesson by rocking out to Flocabulary‘s Prefix Rap.

After a quick review of prefixes, suffixes, and root words, each student chose a word from a list that had both a prefix and suffix. Using an iPad, students clicked on a Stoodle collaboration board link. Stoodle offers real-time collaboration on a virtual whiteboard with as many pages that are needed. Julie set up each class with their own Stoodle Page with 25 pages – one for each student. Our awesome colleague, Sarah Green, had shown some of our team this awesome tool, so we had to use it in this lesson!

Once students were in their Stoodle “classroom”, each child selected their student number at the bottom of the page, previously set up by Julie. Students entered their word and were asked to circle the prefix in green, underline the root word in yellow, box the suffix in red, and use the drawing tool to draw a picture of what they thought their word represented. Once everyone was finished, students were able to click through the other pages to see their peers’ thinking. Check out a few examples from the students:

After the Stoodle fun, students worked in small groups with an ITRT. Each ITRT station had a special project on the ipads:

Jim’s Station – Prefix/Suffix Padlet Game
Students had to write as many words with prefixes or suffixes and place them in their box. When it was their turn, they had to choose a word from any box that was not theirs. They had to figure out if the word has a prefix or suffix. Whoever had the most words left won! Here’s a picture of the game:

Tyler’s StationPopplet Prefix/Suffix Web Making
Students made prefix/suffix word web graphic organizers using the App Popplet. Students made a text box of a prefix or suffix. Then students made a web of text boxes with words that used that prefix or suffix. They also were able to take a picture or draw a picture to show what that word means. T’Kari did an awesome job!

Ryan’s Station: – YakiT Kids and Animoto
Students used YakiT to create animated pictures providing information about prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Student imported their YakiT videos into Animoto to make more dynamic slideshows.

Julie’s Station: Pic and Vid Stitch Poster with Telagami
Students went to a Comemories site Julie made which housed a few pictures that represent affixes. They were asked to choose three to add to their camera roll and would need to be able to talk about their pictures later on. The students then uploaded the pictures into a four section template in the app, Pic and Vid Stitch. The remaining space in our template was for a talking avatar that was created in Telagami and uploaded into the Pic&Vid Stitch template. Students created their avatar in Tellagami and recorded their voices explaining the difference between prefixes, root words and suffixes. They also had to speak a little bit about the pictures they had uploaded from the Comemeories site as well.

To wrap up the lesson, students pulled up a Google Form that served as a reflection. This form asked them two questions: “How would you rate today’s lesson on a scale of 0-5?” and “How could you use the apps you used today in your classroom?”

Watch out Adams Elementary! We’re coming to see you soon!

Water Cycle Animations

I had so much fun at Pinchbeck Elementary in Mrs. Ferguson’s 3rd grade class. Mrs. Ferguson wanted to do a fun activity, but like every teacher in Virginia, she was concerned about time due to the snow. We decided to have the students make short videos to explain the water cycle. These videos were then be placed on her blog where her students can review. (This way if there is another snow day students and review at home as well.) Check out some of their awesome videos below.

Water Cycle Animation from Jim Covais on Vimeo.

To create these videos was fairly easy, we only used Keynote. The students first started off with a blank slide. They then imported a picture and created a blue circle. (The blue circle represents water.)

The students then duplicated the slide and added another dot.

They duplicated the last slide and then added another blue dot. The students repeated the process until they have filled the surface with blue dots.

These steps are the hardest part of the project. Make sure your students are duplicating the last slide and not just any slide.

Now the students just have to record their voice to the slideshow. Click on File > Record Slideshow. This turns the microphone on and allows you to go through the slideshow. While the students are talking have them press the trackpad button to advance the slideshow.

Now for the last part. You just have to export this presentation as a movie file. Click on File > Export. Make sure you click on the QuickTime tab. Check out the picture below to see what settings you should choose.

When you are done you have completed an animation using Keynote. I know it seems like a lot of steps but the kids love it and it was fairly easy to do. What are some other ways you can use animations in your classroom?

Needs and Wants at Adams Elementary

I’m so proud of the students in Mrs. Stump’s kindergarten class at Adams Elementary. Every child in the class created a short movie about needs and wants. Check out one of the awesome videos below.

Needs & Wants from Jim Covais on Vimeo.

Mrs. Stump has been teaching her class about wants and needs, but also wanted to tie in language arts. She didn’t want to just do the same old thing again. We planned together and decided to have the students make movies about wants and needs using Keynote. These kindergarten students added text, imported pictures, recorded their voice and exported the presentations as a movie file.

This class has accomplished so much since the beginning of the year. Think about if we keep building the skills of these kindergarteners where they will be next year or the year after.

How are you pushing your students to the next level?

Using Voki for Writing

Ms. Smith’s second grade class at Pinchbeck Elementary have been working very hard on writing well crafted sentences. Ms. Smith wanted to push her students past simple sentences with no details. We decided to use Voki to take her students’ writing to the next level.

Ms. Smith’s class had been learning about Ancient China and designed dragons. The students were encouraged to give details about their dragon in only one sentence. These sentences were typed in a Pages document.

We had the students design a Voki character to read their sentence. The students then copied and pasted their sentences into Voki and their character began speaking their sentence. The website is so incredibly easy to use and free to sign up.

Ms. Smith and I then displayed some of the Vokis for the students to see. The students who wrote a well crafted sentence with many details had a Voki that played longer than students who wrote a short sentence with no details. One student said “I have to write more next time so my guy talks longer.” This was the best part of the lesson, the connection that was made to their writing.

Check out one of their awesome creations.

This was just one of the many uses for Voki. What are some of the ways you can use Voki in your classroom?

Shipbuilding at Ratcliffe Elementary

I love working with kindergarten students. They are always just so excited to learn. This is especially true for Ms. Rechenbach’s class at Ratcliffe Elementary.

Ms. Rechenbach’s class has been learning about of sink and float in science. After our planning meeting we decided that we wanted to make things interesting for the students. We came up with the idea to have students design boats and then test the boats to whether it will sink or float.

We started off the lesson explaining to the students that we are going to be shipbuilders. (Kindergarteners love having fun jobs!) We divided the students into groups. Each group had access to recycleable materials and had time to make a boat. The students had certain rules they have to follow for their boat.

1. Each group had to use at least 3 different types of materials.
2. The boat couldn’t be longer than a ruler
3. The boat had to float for at least 10 seconds.

The students quickly got to work creating their boat. It was amazing to see the creativity and teamwork these students showed. Check out their awesome creations below.

Ms. Rechenbach and I then created a google form, so kindergarteners from other schools could look at the boats and predict as to whether the boats will float or sink. We gave the other kindergartners a week to make their predictions.

A week later we came back together to look at the predictions. We then tested to boats to see how the predictions compare to the actual result.

The groups then came back together to discuss why their boats either floated on top of the water or sank to the bottom. Each group then picked representatives to record their findings on an iPad. The plan is to put the videos on Ms. Rechenbach’s blog for the kindergarteners that made the earlier predictions.

This lesson was so much fun and the students were engaged the entire time. Do you want to do a lesson similar to this one? Make sure you sign up for a time so we can start planning.

JG and the Boys on Social Media

Let me start off my saying that I absolutely love when I’m able to work with my fellow ITRTs. Yesterday I had the pleasure of working with Julie Goode, Tyler Hart and Ryan Stein. We call our ITRT teacher group…..(pause for dramatic effect)….JG and the Boys.
Yes I’m well aware that the whole thing sounds super dorky, but I’ve accepted it. About once a month we get together as a group and plan a big over the top lesson at one of our schools. So far we have done movie trailers for writing, collaborative Jamestown projects and now social media.

The group went to Arthur Ashe Elementary yesterday, to help the fourth grade students with their African American achievers projects. The lesson started off with a brainstorming activity on what social media is and how it can be used. The students were put into four groups. Each group used a different collaborative tool for their brainstorming: Padlet, Today’s Meet, Google Drawing, and Google Document. Click the links to check out the examples.

We then transitioned into creating the social media pages for our African American achievers. Depending on which achiever the students had they either created a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram page.

Julie Goode – Pinterest

Click Here for the Template

Jim Covais – Facebook

Click Here for the Template

Tyler Hart – Instagram

Click Here for the Template

Ryan Stein – Twitter

Click Here for the Template

The lesson wrapped up with an exit survey for the class. The students told us what was enjoyable about the lesson and what needs to be changed. Our group will use this feedback when we plan out our next lesson.

Want to do something similar? Sign up and let’s plan out a lesson together!

Facebook Fun at Adams Elementary

I was very lucky to co teach with Mrs. Noble-Wilkins today at Adams Elementary. Her students have been researching African Americans that made a difference in our country, both past and present. The class put their weeks of research into a poster to display in the hallway. Mrs. Noble-Wilkins and I decided to take it a step further.

After our planning meeting we decided to put a social media spin on their projects. The students made Facebook pages for the person they were researching. We didn’t make actual Facebook pages, however we used a template that I made in Pages. The students had a blast making status updates as their African American that made a difference. I was very impressed by creativity the students showed. My favorite status update “About to escape from my master TTYL!”

From Blog Pics

Want to try this lesson out? Check out the example I showed the students, and download the template to get started.

Click here for the template.

From Blog Pics

ThingLink for Endangered Animals

I was extremely fortunate to co-teach with Mrs. Ferguson’s 3rd grade class at Pinchbeck Elementary. The students researched with Mrs. Ferguson and the school librarian on how animals and their environments are influenced by human actions. The students were not happy with what they discovered.

The students in the class wanted to tell other children their age what can be done to help endangered animals. Mrs. Ferguson and I then helped the students create a ThingLink to get their message out in the world.

Mrs. Ferguson’s class worked so hard on these projects. It’s wonderful to see students so engaged and excited about their work. Checkout the awesome ThingLink one student group created below.

ThingLink is very user friendly and can be made in almost no time at all. Want to try a similar lesson with your class, or just want to learn how to use it? Make sure you sign up for a time for us to collaborate.

Question Manager in ActivInspire

A video explaining how to make questions in Question Manager. This is great if you are using ActivExpressions or ActivEngage. If you have any questions on how to incorporate this into your classroom, sign up for me. We can plan out an awesome lesson together.

Question Manager in ActivInspire from Jim Covais on Vimeo.