Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slice of Life Story Challenge and DigiLit Sunday - What I Know For Sure - Professional Learning Network

I'm doubling up again today!
     It's Day 22 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, started by Two Writing Teachers.  I am writing around the theme topic of "What I Know For Sure." (See Day 1 for a full explanation.)
Margaret Simon hosts a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.
     A little over two years ago, I read a blog post by my PLN friend, David Etkin, about his student-made Animoto book trailers.  I loved it so much, I reached out to him in the comments (along with several other people), asking to borrow his ideas.  He didn't hesitate - he sent his storyboard templates and other resources right away.  This, I soon came to realize, is typical of David, and also started an online/Twitter/blogging collaboration that eventually led to #ReadWalkWater (which I'll write about in a future SOLSC post this upcoming week).
     That year, I did the project for the first time, and it was a rousing success.  My fourth graders at the time (I now have them in 6th grade), made book trailers over their civil rights-related historical fiction novels.  The project is chronicled hereAugusta Scattergood even featured the one a pair of students made on Glory Be on her own blog!!  They seriously thought they were famous for a day!
     I decided to do the same project this year with my current 5th graders who just finished small group books over the theme topic, JOURNEY.  They all read fantasy books - I was so excited to introduce a group to Harry Potter for the first time - they had never read the series!!!  Now, one of them has blown through the entire 7 books in less than a month, and the rest are working their way through - my job is done!  Ha.
     We started working on and completing the storyboards right before PARCC testing.  It was a great way to engage them in authentic learning right beforehand!  We start by watching many professional mentor book trailers and making a list of characteristics of what they include - main character's traits, setting, main conflict, maybe a minor conflict, images, music that fits the tone/mood of the book, persuasive techniques that invite the viewer to read the book, no climax or ending, etc.  They choose to work alone or in pairs. 
     This year I also did a lesson on responsible image use.  I had recently read an excellent DigiLit blog post by Cathy Mere that I used in the lesson. She has a website she created for the kids with several safe sites on which to find images that don't infringe on copyright and that are safe for kids. Then they fill out and cut out text panels that fit Animoto's character limitations and design and sketch in image ideas on those panels.  They cut them out, arrange them in the sequence they want them, and glue them down in order on a larger posterboard.  Then I give them their individual passwords (it's easy to set up an educational account for your students) to start the project.  I go over a few of the tips and techniques about Animoto on the Promethean Board, and off they go!

On Friday a few kids finished up and published their trailers:









What I Know For Sure: Because technology is changing and emerging so quickly, our Professional Learning Network is more vital than ever.  Even the fact that technology itself expands our PLN is fascinating! By entering the Twitter, blogging, and Facebook world, you have access to free professional development at your fingertips.  Because of the generosity and knowledge of people like David, Margaret who hosts this DigiLit meme, the folks at Two Writing Teachers who host the SOLSC, and Cathy (and many more), I am a better teacher.  We can not do this profession alone.  Collaboration is key!


  1. Great post! I'm going to bookmark this post to share with my students. They will love seeing your students' videos. Thanks for this! See...collaboration in action. D :)

  2. I agree...this PLN we have here is amazing. I can't wait to watch these trailers. Thank you for sharing these wonderful products. I'm exciting to read the post about digital images too!

  3. Like an ode to PLN and technology. Thank you for sharing the student examples.

  4. great book trailers! so much fun with so much opportunity for learning! I, too, am so grateful for all that I learn from my PLN. :) thanks for sharing!

  5. This is inspiring and exciting! I know my students would love to try this!

  6. As previously said, thanks so much for all your video trailers! Students will love these!

  7. As previously said, thanks so much for all your video trailers! Students will love these!

  8. I love posts that feature student work. The book trailers are wonderful. I like how the children borrow the language of the text (i.e., get sorted out). The still images you posted show how the students are involved with the work they are composing.

    Great job.

  9. Wow...I am fascinated with each one of these. This is when I wish I was back in the classroom. How creative...and think of how much these students learned while making these! They are amazing...and I have enjoyed each one of them. Jackie

  10. We have done book trailers, too, but I love seeing your requirements. Sometimes I feel I don't give enough guidelines so the trailers lack something. Can my students view these book trailers on an Animoto channel? I usually send mine to YouTube. They embed in my site and on kidblogs. I want my kids to see them but we cannot access blogspot. Thanks!

    1. That's a bummer that you can't get to Blogger! I can send a few to YouTube for you. :-) I'll send you the links after I share them there.

  11. Holly, your student work certainly exemplifies that you are doing the right work with and for your students. Their videos are quick bites of just the right amount of information with appropriate speed and intrigue. Great job!

  12. Wow--so much inspiration here. I'm going to show my daughter these. If I can't get teachers on board, I can definitely get my kids! Thank you for all the sharing and the resources, Holly!

  13. Indeed, the infamous "book report" of my youth has been transformed!

  14. I watched a few of the trailers, Holly. Well done, & now I'm interested in The Grimm Legacy for sure. I love the others too, but have read the books. Looks like fun for your students.

  15. Holly,
    There are so many things I love about this post:
    1. You introducing Harry Potter to students who haven't read the series.
    2. The fact you made sure your students were engaged in authentic learning before PARCC (instead of test prep).
    3. The way you shared the students in process and the work they created.
    4. The way our PLN always supports one another.
    5. The amount of information packed into this post!

    We are so lucky to teach in a time where we can so easily collaborate and share information across so many locations. I'm so thankful for these connections. Thank you for the mention. I'm so glad you found the links useful in your work. My Slice of Life group is a school group that meets one time each week. I don't have many opportunities to see or talk with kids each day so I had to come up with a few ways to support them virtually. This seemed like one way to accomplish this.


  16. "We can not do this profession alone. Collaboration is key!" Amen!
    Holly, I love this post. I'm forwarding to my niece and some of my former colleagues. I don't know how you make time to do all that you do, but I'm glad for all that you share here on your blog.