Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Who Could Ask for Anything More: A Kid Reviewing Kid Books

This Kid Reviews Books is a site maintained by a kid who as the title implies reviews books.

If you're looking for books to recommend to kids, which I hope you are, what better way than to find another kid who recommends them. Plus, this is a site worth having your students, especially if you teach elementary or middle school, check out.

I first found out about the site from some tweets. Here they are.

So naturally, I headed over to the site to start exploring, and encourage you to do the same. Please visit. Just click on the image below, and once you're at the site, scroll through the blog, but also check the pages, "About 'This Kid' -- Erik!" and "Books I Read This Year." This kid is a prolific reader, but also a prolific writer. Think of all the time he spends not only reading the books, but also taking the time to write these reviews.


So now that you've visited Erik's site, let me know what you think. Would you recommend the site to students and to librarians, or use the site yourself? How could  you get your own students blogging about books?

This kid has also written a book and has a Twitter account.


You can find him here on Twitter:

Here is some info about his book:


Would love to find out more about Erik, for instance, how he got motivated to start the blog and what recommendations he has for other kids to get them also interested in reading and discussing books. 

Celebrating the Year

As the school year ending is drawing closer and closer, it's time once again to think of how to celebrate your students' accomplishments. Digital tools are just one of many options. Animoto is an excellent tool for making quick video celebrations. If you're a teacher, be sure to use the Free Animoto Educator account when signing up, so you can make longer videos than the 30- second ones that come with a regular free account. Use this link if you need to create your educator account.

Here are some examples of Animotos.  I created the first three for courses I teach. The last four feature young children and celebrate camp and field trip experiences. You can view these videos full-screen, using that option (see full-screen icon, lower right corner of each video).

As one of my courses comes to a close, I like to create a recap to show at our last class. I have used Animoto in combination with a slide program to create these videos, which showcase the topics students selected for their research study proposals.

Ending a Course

This one is from an 8-week course taught in fall 2013. Interestingly, one of the students in the course also chose Animoto as a way to present her own final project.

Educational Research, Multiple Intelligences Class, Our Topics

 Educational Research

I just finished teaching the same course in an 8-week format and created this one. Although Animoto allows for creating text right within the program, I prefer to use a slide program and (1) insert in each slide an image with accompanying text, (2) screen capture the slides as images, and (3) upload a full set of images into Animoto, which then creates the video mix.

Educational Research, Multiple Intelligences, Our Topics

International Dot Day: Cross-Class Trading Cards

This additional one was created based on a joint cross-class project done between elementary school students in Maryland and graduate students at University of Saint Joseph. The video was created to celebrate the conclusion to a project we did with trading cards in celebration of International Dot Day. We actually exchanged our cards through regular US mail, and I did a Skype with the Maryland students to connect in person. You can read more about the Skype and the trading card project at this blog post. Skype for Dot Day

International Dot Day Trading Card Project

Summer Camp

Each summer my niece is a counselor at summer camp for small children who sign up to attend on a weekly basis. At the end of each week, on Fridays, a performance is held at which the children sing, dance, or do another kind of performance. A video recapping some of the events told through photos is also shown, and Animoto works perfectly for this. Here are some examples.

Summer Camp, 2012

Summer Fun at Hopmeadow

Summer Camp, 2013

Field Trips

I also like these two videos that teachers in the Integrating Technology and Literacy course created to celebrate school field trips, having parental consent to show the children. Although these were not necessarily made at the end of the year, they illustrate ways to use Animoto to celebrate special school events.

Auer Farm

My Animoto Video

Flander's Nature Center

My Animoto Video

You can also upload Animoto videos to other sites such as Facebook and YouTube, which is another way to share with parents and others.

As the month of May draws closer  an end, what are some ideas you have for using Animoto or similar programs to reflect on the year? What videos could you make to celebrate students' accomplishments or events that transpired during the year?