I'm in the middle of a truly awesome, exciting unit right now. I taught my fourth graders how to use Scratch (just the basics) and then set them loose to animate their Greek myths. At least five have come up to me privately and told me excitedly "Mrs. Bery, I signed up for Scratch and I spent the WHOLE WEEKEND playing on it!" which, you know, is a wonderful feeling. And they're using their classmates who know more about Scratch to fancy up their animations, which is even better.
Unfortunately, due to our district being a pilot district for PARCC and library closings for MCAS, our state standardized tests, Scratch is temporarily on hiatus. Which is a shame, but there's nothing to do about it but adapt and move forward. And since I'm in their classrooms for a full 41 minute period, I have to come up with something for them to stay occupied for 41 minutes (doing silent reading could happen, but it feels like a bit of a cop-out).
And then on Sunday night, I had a brainwave. I'd just had a conversation with our fabulous 7th grade social studies teacher about his "create a country" project. But that was too grand a scale for me, and I wanted a project to have a curricular tie-in. His project kept floating around at the edges of my mind (where some of my best ideas seem to come from), and then, I had it! We would do a "create your own state" project, which would incorporate the knowledge and skills students have gained from their study of the United States all year, and their current research project in class. Win win. And the kids LOVED it.
I got not only your basic ideas, but some kids thought about adding a government, writing a constitution, coming up with districts (unsurprisingly inspired by The Hunger Games), and more. When I told them I thought we'd record their state information online with accompanying visuals (VoiceThread), they nearly jumped for joy at the idea. And some asked if they could use Scratch, to which I said "sure!"
I'll write another post about how I'm handling being a librarian on a cart (quite literally), but for now, I'll revel in a spur-of-the-moment brainwave that I think is going to turn into something kind of awesome.
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also (very occasionally) review children's and young adult literature on my book reviews page.
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