21st Century Read-alouds

Earlier this year, I was presented with a dilemma.  I wanted to read  Diamond Willow  to my students before the Newbery announcement.  But because the story is told in diamond-shaped poems with bold words throughout, I knew my students would need to see the text in order to fully appreciate it.  I couldn’t afford to buy a class set this late in the year- how could I share this great read-aloud while not going broke?

Then it hit me.  This is the 21st century!  I realized I could share the novel by utilizing my classroom document camera! On January 15th, I posted this idea on my blog.

…the students can see the poems as I read them, just like if they had the book in their hands.  It’s the first time I will be combining technology and literacy this way, and I can’t wait to see how it goes!  Will the experience of reading the book on the board, via the camera, be the same as reading the book in your lap?  It should be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to find out!

I was a bit hesitant at first, as my normal read-aloud routine involves all eyes on me, the one with the novel.  I was afraid some of my students would be distracted by the document camera, the projector, or just the opportunity to stare at the book’s projection.  But as we began, all of my fears dissipated.  My students were enthralled!   They loved reading along with me and were mesmerized by the diamond-shaped poems with the embedded bold words.  Thanks to technology, I was able to share a read-aloud with my students that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience together. 
Both classes loved the novel.  I shared some of their reactions back in January:

“More books should do the bold words thing.  It’s so cool!  They tell you what the character is thinking deep down.”

“It must have been really hard to write a whole book using the right diamond shapes and making sure you had all the words for the bold parts.”

“This was my favorite book that we read all year.”

“This was an awesome book!  

 

Thanks to my document camera and a projector, I was able to share an amazing read-aloud with my students!

Wordle in the Classrom

Today I used Wordle in the classroom for the first time.  I loved it!  More importantly, the kids loved it!

We have been working on thinking about our reading in reading workshop and today’s mini-lesson was about using our thinking to write a paragraph explaining our thoughts.  We were reading Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven” (one of my personal favorites) and the kids were going to jot their thoughts while we read.

 However, I decided to Wordle the story first and presented it my class under the document camera.  I explained how Wordle worked and then we talked about the words that seemed most prominent.  My students then used that thinking to make some predictions about the plot of the story and the direction it would take.  It prompted some really great ideas and the visual really kept the kids interested.  I can definitely foresee using this a lot this year!

Monarch Emergence and Document Camera

Wow! This past week both of my classes were witness to one of nature’s miracles- the emergence of a monarch butterfly from its chrysalis. I have never managed to have both classes view this miracle as monarch usually emerge early in the morning, before we arrive at school. This year, I remembered to move their cage into the air-conditioned (and dark) supply closet overnight. When I removed them in the morning, both chrysalids were dark. I assumed that they would both emerge that morning. Well, lucky us- one held off until after lunch!

What made this experience even better was the fact that I hooked up the document camera and placed it only a few inches from the chrysalis. Then, I hooked up the document camera to the TV. Well, watching the monarch emerge, close-up, on the TV was amazing! (And it allowed me to keep the kids away from the cage so they didn’t inadvertently knock into it). Well, you could hear a pin drop as we watched our two boys crawl out of their chrysalis, flip upside-down, and slowly begin pumping their wings.

I love my document camera!!!

Document Camera in Action

Today I used my document camera in front of the class for the first time and it was a huge success!  The kids loved it and were fascinated that I could now show items on the board in color.  It definitely takes some getting used to (I kept moving the paper in the wrong direction) and I need to rearrange my front tables so that I can use the camera easily.  I look forward to using it even more as the weeks go on!

Document Camera

I am so excited!  Today I got to play with our school’s new document camera!  I am thrilled because I am already dreaming up ways to use it in class.  However, I would love to know how you use document cameras in your classes.

 

Do you have a document camera?  Do you rely on it daily or just pull it out every so often?  What are some of your favorite ways to use it?

 

Thanks!

Technology in the Classroom

While looking at all the new products displayed at the NJEA Convention, I decided I really want a document camera (or an ELMO). My overhead projector works well enough, but it drives me crazy that I have to copy anything I want to display onto a transparency and then use it. A document camera would allow me to display everything from our read-alouds to my own writing notebook and work from there. It would be in color and could even use the same screen as my smartboard for the display! Of course, document cameras are not cheap. I know I can not afford to buy one on my own, so that means I have to convince the district that we need one or find a grant. I know I can go through DonorsChoose, but I am wondering if there are any grants out there in cyberspace that are for ELMOs/document cameras in particular. I am googling for every combination I can think of, but no luck yet!

Does anyone out there in the blogosphere use a document camera in their classroom? Specifically, in a language arts classroom? I would love to hear about your experiences and even recommendations!!

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