Reader's Theater Podcasts Set to Student Illustrations (Garage Band)

We had a blast this week making readers theater podcasts of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas using Garage Band.  I know it’s too late for most of you to do a Christmas podcast, but I thought I’d share the steps we took in case you’d like to try it using any type of reader’s theater or poem.

Once you open up Garage Band, make sure you’re on the New Project tab and select Podcast.  Save it as whatever you’d like to call it and press Create. 

It’s best to record the audio portion first.  Click on either Male or Female Basic at the top left.  (It really doesn’t matter which one you choose.)  To record, press the red record button at the very bottom.  Hit the space bar or stop button to stop your recording. 

To play your recording back, drag the arrow (with the red line attached) to the beginning and press play or hit the space bar.  The space bar is also used to pause and stop.  Since my kids were taking turns reading their parts, I had them stop between each stanza of the poem.  If they made a mistake, they could easily delete their section without messing with the entire recording. 

Once my students were satisfied with the audio, they took pictures of the illustrations they made to go with each scene using Photobooth.  (This could also obviously be done with a camera if you prefer.)

They then dragged each individual picture into Garage Band above the corresponding audio clip.  In the picture below, you can see that the purple bubbles (audio) are lined up with the gray bubbles (pictures). 

The last step is to export it as an AAC encoder as shown below.  I uploaded all the podcasts to my classroom website so the families could enjoy them over break.  We also presented them to our first grade reading buddies today and they loved it!:)  Click HERE to view one of my groups’ podcast. 

Spreading Good Vibes and Love in the Classroom

Like many of you, I began the day with a heavy heart after a long weekend of contemplating Friday’s tragic events.  However, seeing those 28 smiling faces when I picked them up on the playground reminded me why I go to work every day and why I love what I do.  It also reminded me that now more than ever, we need to spread kindness and love amongst our students.

I posted about my compliment box as a Monday Made-it this summer, but wanted to revisit it in case anyone is in need of an easy, low-maintenance way of building character/self-esteem in your classroom.  My students keep a sheet of compliment cards in their binders to fill out when they have downtime and drop them in our compliment box.  When we are lining up for lunch or afternoon dismissal, I will read a couple compliment cards aloud and give them to the students to keep.  This is one of our favorite daily routines and sets a tone that we all care about and appreciate one another.  We are a family.

Take a look at this compliment I read today. 

I will leave you today with this free sheet of compliments as well as a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
Only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
Only love can do that.

Strategies for Figuring Out Unknown Words (Freebies)

Here’s another reading freebie for you, which I used in guided reading this week.  We’ve been practicing using various strategies to figure out unknown words using our Raz Kids leveled books.  Here are my kiddos filling out their graphic organizers with their definition of each unknown word they came across, the strategy they used to figure it out, and whether they were correct or not.  (They looked up their words in the glossary or a dictionary and if they were incorrect, they wrote the actual definition.)

Click either image to grab the graphic organizer and bookmarks for free.:)

Questioning Lesson and FREE Posters and Graphic Organizer

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m trying to incorporate more nonfiction into my reading instruction because of the new Common Core Standards.  I recently started using Raz Kids on the iPads for my guided reading instruction because there’s an amazing selection of leveled nonfiction books and they are of high interest to the kids. 

One of my main goals in reading has been to try to get my students more actively engaged in their reading and get them thinking beyond the text.  This week we focused on the strategy of asking questions before, during, and after reading.  I made these question prompt cards to hang up and then made them into bookmarks for my guided reading groups.  (You can grab the posters and bookmarks for FREE by clicking the image.)
In my guided groups, I had my students fill out this simple graphic organizer while they silently read their instructional level books.  As I watched them recording their thinking, I was really impressed by the deep questions they asked.  I think it really sunk in for many of them how questioning helps us better comprehend the text and keeps us engaged.  

You can grab my questioning graphic organizer for free by clicking the image.

My other post about questioning can be found HERE.

What strategies do you use to get your students to be more active readers?  I would love to hear your ideas.   

Nonfiction Text Features (Freebie)

Because of the new Common Core State Standards, I have been trying to incorporate more nonfiction skills into my reading instruction.  This week we reviewed nonfiction text features and I made this little anchor chart for my students to reference.  

My kids have gotten very good at identifying the different types of text features, but I wanted them to focus more on how each feature actually helps them comprehend the text.  So I made this graphic organizer for them to fill out with their independent level nonfiction books.  (This was not my original idea, but I have seen it so many different places that I have no idea where it originated.  If it’s you, let me know so I can give you proper credit!)

Feel free to grab this for free by clicking the image below.

Student Keynote Presentations Using the Voice Recording Feature

My fourth graders recently went on a fieldtrip to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago as part of our animal unit in science.  The zoo offered three amazing classes, so I split my class into thirds and each student got to attend one class.  Then they worked in groups to present what they learned using a jigsaw method. 

Since they were using Keynote, I made sure to snap a bunch of photos while at the zoo for them to use in their presentations.  After the kids filled out the graphic organizer and packet from their particular class, they began meeting with their groups to discuss their info and come up with a plan for their presentation. 

My favorite feature of Keynote is the “Record Slideshow” button, which lets you record your voice to correlate with each slide.  Did you even know it was there?!  I didn’t until my teammate pointed it out to me!  To get it in your toolbar, you go to VIEW, then CUSTOMIZE TOOLBAR.  When you see the little black and red button that says “Record Slideshow,” drag it into your toolbar.  Your toolbar will look like this (the record button is on the left next to the PLAY button).

My students loved the voice recording because it allowed them to practice what they wanted to say and perfect their presentation before showing it to the class.  The shy students were especially relieved to not have to speak in front of everyone. 

We did our final presentations for our first grade reading buddies.  They were so respectful and loved learning from their fourth grade buddies—we even had a question/answer session for them!      

Here’s a picture of one of my girls getting ready to record into Keynote.

I'm linking this post up with Technology Tailgate's new Techie Tuesday Link Up.  Be sure to link up a new or past post about how you integrate technology in your classroom!