Yesterday I shared Poster My Wall (postermywall.com). I have to give credit for learning about it to Jennifer Gallman, an English teacher at my school. She just called one day and asked me to check and make sure it was an unblocked site for students, as she wanted to use it with a class. As I looked around after ensuring it wasn’t blocked, the wheels began turning. How cool would it be to ask kids who dislike traditional book reports to use something like this? An idea was born.
Welcome new idea!
Other events helped bore the seed of thought out as well. One was library orientation. At the beginning of the school year, the library always conducts orientation for new students through English classes. As a way to separate the “rules” part of orientation with the “come see what the library offers you” part, we made orientation a two-parter. The first part was done in a class visit, and the second part was done in the library. Obviously we wanted to make the part that had negative components (several “do nots” and “not allowed” discussions) separate, so we took that part to the classroom. It was just a way to make them feel warm and fuzzy in the library. I think it worked.
Part One – Classroom Visit / Part Two – Library Visit
Anyhow, so the part two of orientation was held in the library, and we used a walk around tour as well as visuals for that portion. To end part two of the orientation, we decided to introduce/plug our twenty state book award nominees. I suppose you could say it was our first actual booktalk of the year as well. So as I read titles over the summer, I began making slides using various images found and Wordle.net to create my visuals. As I showcased my visuals, one of my English teachers, Donna Mayes asked me to teach her kids to create visuals like the ones I had made. We collaborated on a time frame–her kids needed time to complete their first sustained silent reading book, and made plans to teach the kids (and her) how to do this. The rubric was devised (written about yesterday in the blog) and the library visits were scheduled.
Play Time / Demo Time
Fast forward to Mrs. Gallman asking about PosterMywall.com. As I played around in it I decided it could also be used for the book report project. Mrs. Mayes and I started calling the project the “Visual Book Reports.” I did visit the class a day earlier to walk them through the process of using Wordle, as well as a few basic PowerPoint tips and tricks (arrange, crop, using a blank template instead of the default ppt templates, making images transparent –mainly so the wordles could be see through and pics laid around, over, or under them where appropriate, etc.) While in her class, I created a book report start to finish using PowerPoint and Wordle for example one, and then PosterMyWall as example two. I wanted the kids to see how easy start to finish the project would be. We also spent time reviewing making citations for pictures as well as their book, a component of the project. The kids were ready to go.
See our work!
So if you want to see some of the PosterMyWall projects, go look at yesterday’s post. Here is the flickr set for my SCYABA1112 titles I used in orientation. (Mind you I have completed more, but they are on my school computer and have not been uploaded to the flickr set. I want to say I’ve done 4 more. I have still to read 6 titles, but they stay checked out (which is a good problem) or I am not motivated to read them (a bad problem–YIKES what a confession!!)
SCYABA1112 (created by me.)
Here are a few pics of the kids’ work who chose to use Wordles.
In closing, I guess I just want to thank Mrs. Gallman and Mrs. Mayes for planting the seeds for some projects that have become some really good displays, both printed out and digitally run (screensavers, digital frames, bulletin boards, etc.) in the library. And our kids REALLY are excited and proud to see their work. Also, I want to brag on their work and perhaps inspire someone else looking for a “twist on book reports.”