Monday, May 14, 2018

Readers turned Vloggers

The practice of having students recommend books to their classmates is no new idea, however Kindergarten teacher, Jenny Stokes, recently decided to take this tried and true method and make it more engaging through the use of technology.

On any typical day, visitors can stop by Mrs. Stokes’ class during literacy block and find students actively engaged in a variety of tasks designed to increase fluency and ignite an excitement for reading. One of the most popular activities has quickly become the class book recommendations vlog. During this activity, students are either making book recommendations or browsing through their classmate’s videos in search of a recommendation matching their interests.

When a student is ready to make a recommendation, they use the iPad to record a video explaining why they would recommend the book. With support from their teacher, the video is uploaded to Google Drive and added to the class vlog created in Google Sites. Videos are organized by genre and kept up to date by Mrs. Stokes. Students are anxious to share about books they love! Zanelly said, “I like recommending books so my friends can read them and I like seeing what books my friends like to read so I can read them again.” 

Students acting as consumers of the vlog, have been trained to independently login to a Chromebook using a QR code. Once active on their profile, students are able to access the class vlog easily through a link in Google Classroom. Students spend a few minutes watching their classmate’s videos before settling on a book. The latest featured books are displayed in a center so students can quickly locate them and begin reading. Their sweet grins and excited nature is evidence this practice is working wonders to build a love of literacy. Yahel shared, “I like it because you can see the other people’s books.” 

Mrs. Stokes believes the activity provides students the “opportunity to use something other than tablets and an app.” She feels the process of working with the vlog “ is making them more independent and teaching them to solve problems.” 

While the plan was for students to develop and grow, Mrs. Stokes found that she did too. In the original planning session with her Instructional Technologist, Jenny first hoped to develop and maintain a class blog. Once she saw how easy the platform was, she took it a step further and invited students to be not only consumers of the vlog, but also producers. It wasn’t long before students were taking videos on iPads and using QR codes to login to the Chromebooks independently. In the future, Mrs. Stokes envisions turning the vlog over to her students and allowing them to manage and organize their own videos. 

This lesson is a perfect example of the learning that can unfold when a teacher is willing to take risks and learn alongside their students. The motto at Prairie View Elementary this year is “Move Mountains” and boy are these tiny tots learning what it means to put caution to the wind and tackle even daunting tasks!

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