Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Digital Storytelling

     I think that using digital storytelling is a great idea to use in an elementary school classroom.  Digital storytelling provides teachers with a new way to introduce themselves, supplement lessons, and engage in creative writing stories.

     The first example of how you might use digital storytelling is introducing yourself to your students.  I have always introduced myself in every practicum and student teaching placement I've been.  I usually have done this by sharing a Me-Bag, a bag full of 4-5 items that best describe me.  Digital storytelling is a great update to the Me-Bag.  Instead of bringing the bag, you can play your story.  It shouldn't be limited to just teacher use, I also believe that this would  be a great tool to use in the classroom for students to introduce themselves.  Students can create a quick clip that they believe best describes them.  They can take their own photographs and draw pictures, choose from my library of appropriate music, and record their own voice.  I bet that students would love watching each others stories!

     The second example is supplementing lessons with digital storytelling.  I currently teach 5th grade math and I believe that a digital storytelling tool could help struggling students understand the concepts.  Recording the basic steps of a new concept alongside visuals that represent the concept, will definitely help students extend their learning.  Some students may not grasp the concept the first day you teach it.  Students can take home the CD of the digital story and watch the clip that should help them understand!  They would have the power to pause, rewind, and repeat the clip as many times as they want until they better understand.

     The third example of use of digital storytelling is during reading/writing blocks.  Students can work in groups to create a storyline about a given topic.  Students plan and write the story together.  They can then record the story and add media to it.  Students then can share their stories with the class.  This would allow students to get creative with how their story will play out.  They will practice their reading and writing skills as well as their technology skills.

     Now, to some, digital storytelling might look like a difficult task.  However, it's really quite simple!  You need to first figure out what story you want to tell.  Then you add a mixture of medias to record the story.  Finally, you produce it on your computer using a program like iMovie or GoAnimate.  Because digital storytelling allows you to add audio recordings, videos, pictures, and music, it can be pretty easy to violate copyright laws.  You should still to Creative Commons images or your own personal collection.  Besides that, I think that digital storytelling can be used in any grade.  This is a great tool for all teachers!

For more information, check out:

Monday, March 19, 2012



WebQuests are a new concept for me and after exploring many different Quests I found myself wondering how I never knew about them before!  WebQuests are great tools to use in the classroom to help students grasp the key concepts about a certain topic.  Students are responsible for searching the Web to find out more information on a given topic.  The websites with the information needed to complete the activity are pre-determined by the creator.  Students gain computer skills while using this technology and have fun safely exploring the web.

A great example of a WebQuest is Stop The Fall.  This WebQuest asks students to figure out a way to stop the fall of the Aztec Empire before it happens.  Students must research what caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and come up with an idea of how they would have prevented the overtaking by Spain.  Each group has 3 members in it responsible for their own job; cartographer, historian, and interpreter.  They must work together and complete a series of tasks.  The job descriptions are described on the 'Process' page that also includes instructions for completing a paper.

Eventually, students will document their alternate ending to the Fall in a two-page paper.  Teachers can evaluate student progress with the rubric.  By assessing their paper, participation, presentation, and other small activity assignments from the WebQuest, teachers can see if the students grasped the concept.  Students are asked to reflect upon their own work and feel proud for what they accomplished.  I especially like this WebQuest because it has a 'Teacher Page' that lists the Virginia Standards, notes, URLs, rubric, and references.  Very helpful!

By participating in WebQuests, students can gain background knowledge on the idea and hopefully motivate themselves to complete the task.  Of course, WebQuests can influence students to believe that everything they find on the web is valid.  You should always teach your students the in's and out's of the Internet first!

Ms. Lyvers

Here's the link to the WebQuest, enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Once you *Pop, the fun don't stop!

Have you ever had a moment where you gaze around the room and notice that your students’ eyes are completely glazed over in confusion or disengagement?  Suddenly you realize that they’ve all got brain freezes and you wonder, ‘what could I do to help them learn and find their ‘a-ha’ moments’?  As a future educator, I would love to share the top secret website that I use constantly to free my students’ minds (and my own sometimes!) of those brain freezes. 
Although it has become relatively popular over the past year or so, I feel like any elementary educator should be aware of BrainPop.com if they haven’t already.  This website offers teachers the opportunity to show videos, play virtual games, and plan activities on the user-friendly organized content categories. 
This is a pretty popular site among teachers but I’ve found that it is extremely helpful in extending and strengthening my lessons as a student teacher.  For those of you who have never heard of it, I highly suggest paying a visit to the signature ‘pop’ of the site and the lovable Moby.  Moby is the digital robot that travels with the students as they learn new concepts in most all content areas.  Depending on the age level of your students, the friend of Moby the robot changes so it becomes more relatable to the students.
The BrainPop site is adaptable for lower elementary classrooms and called BrainPop Jr.  During my first student teaching placement in 1st grade, I found that my students absolutely LOVED watching the videos and playing the games.  The silly song they play in the beginning of each video clip is the perfect time for the students to jump up and shake it out for 10 seconds.  Once their minds are ready, they become fully engaged in the content of the video (it never failed in my classroom!). 
What’s great about BrainPop is it not only is useful in an elementary classroom, but for any content area in lower middle school.  It works perfectly for my current 5th graders in middle school!  Although they aren’t into the ‘cutesy’ aspect of Moby and his friend, they still would much rather watch the BrainPop video than listen to a lecture.  I only teach math to these students and have found that the BrainPop video tends to clear up some fuzzy areas that students may have.  The visual cues and demonstrations are extremely helpful for the students to see what they are learning.  I use BrainPop as more of a supplemental activity to introduce the upcoming units for my middle schoolers. 
  After the video, students can answer the questions on the activity for the video or the teacher can lead a discussion to assess their understanding.  Students apply their knowledge of what they learned from the video into their class work and it has definitely improved my teaching as well as their learning.  
You can start a free trial of BrainPop on their website or find the subscription that your local school uses.  There is plenty of free stuff for educators to use without a subscription but it’s definitely worth it to subscribe so you can watch the videos!  Parents can also get on BrainPop at home if the teacher provides access (or they use the free subscription).
Hopefully you check it out so we can get more brain ‘pops’ and less brain freezes!


Ms. Lyvers

*Here's the link! http://www.brainpop.com/

Monday, January 30, 2012


As a frequent visitor of EducationWorld.com, I decided to browse the articles for a change instead of their helpful links to teacher worksheets.  I stumbled upon an article that discusses blogging in the elementary classroom.  As I skimmed the article to decide if I was interested or not, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment.  Did you know…the word ‘blog’ comes from weB-LOG!  When I read that I felt like a fool for never knowing that before…
Anyway, as we blog from time to time, I wondered how this concept could be used in an elementary setting.  I found that this article was extremely relevant for technology class.  It was also  as helpful for my future classroom because I hope to use a blogging tool with my students. 
The article explained how blogging has expanded to more than just “Dear Diary.”  Now, they are used for a series of reasons: publishing news, sharing announcements, ideas, rants, etc., and helping students become better writers.  Studies have shown that students who participate in an online work publishing activity increased their interest in writing and quality of writing.  Students have a direct outlet of connecting with other students through their writing on blogging websites.  There are dozens of student-friendly blog sites like Blogmeister and Kidzblog that are available for use.  Think.com was mentioned in this article and sounded the most interesting to me.  Students are only allowed to access e-mails and websites created by peers or other Think.com schools.  This site acts as a digital journal that students can use to publish their work but is only seen by those cleared for permission.  I believe that if this tool is utilized in the classroom, student engagement could increase because students have a lot of fun using the computers and sharing their work.
I explored a related article that discussed a teachers’ real experience on using blogs in the classroom.  Brenda Dyck discussed how she encouraged students to express their opinions on certain topics and write it in their blog.  In order to give students guidelines on what is expected from their blog, Brenda created a rubric that graded each student’s response.  They were given either: excellent, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory based on each criterion.  This rubric would be a great way to make sure students are not abusing their privileges on the blogs and doing what is expected of them.
With any technological tool present in the classroom, privacy and safety are big concerns among teachers, parents, and school districts.  Many cautions must be taken in order to avoid an unfortunate incident involving student publications.  With the blogging sites I mentioned before, individual website security settings are available during use.  Teachers have the options of reviewing students’ posts before publication and can determine if work is published or needs further revisions. 

Tips for elementary blogging safety:
Check out your schools’ Acceptable Use Policy.
Get the ‘o-k’ for use from the administration, school district, and parents.
Use blog sites that require a password to publish student work.
Review student work before publishing.
Avoid identifiable information on students.
Create a blogging rubric to ensure proper blog use.
Encourage creativity and fun!

Logging out,
Ms. Lyvers

Links to these articles


Thursday, January 12, 2012

e-Z Reading: The Perks of e-Readers

       I'm not sure about you all, but I'm not the strongest of ladies.  My lack of back and arm strength limits me to the amount of pounds I can lift at a time.  Therefore, I'm not the biggest fan of lugging around 10 lbs. worth of textbooks and leisurely reads in my backpack to and from school everyday.  Fortunately, the up-and-coming e-Reader devices are here to solve our problems!  The e-Readers can hold your ENTIRE library in one lightweight device.
       The e-Reader devices are great resources that students, parents, and teachers alike can use that will benefit student learning.  As textbook prices continue to rise, schools have found themselves unable to purchase new books or even any books at all.  A new trend among schools is to put money towards electronic devices that can download electronic texts.  E-books range from textbooks to leisurely reads and can be downloaded to the electronic tablets instead of buying dozens of heavy textbooks.  Because the e-books are digital, the newest versions can be updated frequently.  That way, all students are accessing the current version of the book.
       These e-Readers really give students a hands-on experience to learning.  You can not only read books on the electronic readers but there are other multi-media tools such as interactive study guides and quizzes that students can use to extend their learning.  You can also highlight words and pages, write notes, copy and paste, listen to recordings and even share notes with other e-Readers.  Another cool feature that I really like is the audio ability the tablets have; some books can be downloaded as audio books!
       The e-Readers like the Nook or Kindle can also be safer than other electronic tablets.  Because the e-Readers don't provide as much Internet browsing as tablets like the iPad, students can use the e-readers safely.  The e-Readers are delicate and valuable so care must be considered.  If the students are held accountable for their responsibility of their tablet, I think that all should be okay.  The opportunity to access unlimited e-books is just too good to pass up so the investment should be made.
       As these products continue to develop, more software will be adapted that will be more student-friendly and continue to extend student learning.  I feel that students will be more interesting in using a piece of technology to read their texts because it 'seems' more fun (and it is!).  I hope that I will have access to these tools when I have my own classroom because I think my students will love them!

More information about e-Readers can be found at 7 Things You Should Know About E-Readers.
More information about e-Books can be found at 7 Things You Should Know About E-Books.

       Check you later!