Sunday, February 13, 2011

Suggestions for Writing Blog Comments

Many times, when I tell my students to go onto other students' blogs and comment on their posts, they sit and stare at the screen for a while before writing a very short comment that is not very meaningful. When I asked some of my kids why writing comments is such a difficult assignment, they responded that they just don't know what to say.

We've gone over what a good blog comment should look like, the kind of information that it should include, and the kinds of things you should avoid doing when commenting. They seemed to get that. Yet, when it came down to actually WRITING the comments, they were stumped.

So, one class period, we talked about some sentence starters that might help students who get blocked when writing blog comments. Here are 12 of their best ideas:

"I'm confused by what you mean when you say ________ because..."

"I really like what you say about ______ because..."

"I disagree with you when you say ______ because..."

"I think I understand what you are saying, but could you please explain _______?"

"This post was so interesting to read because..."

"I understand how you feel, because..."

"I'm confused by what you mean when you say _______ because..."

"Something that I learned from reading this post is..."

"Something about _______ that you might not know is ..."

"I agree with you when you say _______ because..."

"I really like this post because..."

"When you talk about ___ it makes me think about ____ because..."

Then I took all of their comments and turned them into a class display:

The Commenting Wall!

 Now the students look to the Commenting Wall when they are in need of help when writing blog comments. We are getting one step closer to learning how to write meaningful comments and having blogging become a useful classroom tool!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Are Adjectives?

For those of you who are starting the review about adjectives, here is a fun new project that we are going to start. It involves a YouTube clip, a knowledge of adjectives, and some iMovie skills! The first one you should have done for homework, the second we've covered in class, and the third I can help you with if you are not sure what to do.

Here is an example of the project which I have done by using a clip from the movie "Tangled". Your finished project should look something like this, but with an added introduction, as well.

As you can see, this project involves several steps:

1.) Choose a clip from YouTube about anything, as
     long as it is appropriate for school and save it to
     your computer as an mp4 file.
2.) Import the clip into iMovie (File > Import >
3.) Select about 30 seconds worth of the clip, and
     open a new project called "What Are
     Adjectives?" Then, drag the selected clips into
     the project.
4.) Remove the audio from the clip so that there is
     no sound.
5.) Choose about 7-10 adjectives that describe
     what is going on in the clips (people, places,
     things, ideas), and put them as text into the movie where they belong.
6.) When you are finished and happy with the way your movie looks, choose music/sounds from the
     iLife Sound Effects menu and include in your movie as background music. The entire movie
     should have some kind of music or sounds.

     ****Note: Make sure that the music/sounds that you choose match the MOOD of your scenes.

7.) When you are all finished, record yourself explaining what an adjective IS, and what an adjective
     DOES. Then explain what the movie project is about. This should be about 30 seconds. Include this
     video introduction at the start of your movie. This part should NOT have music in the background!
8.) Share the movie by sending it to iTunes.

Here is a video tutorial that I made to help you with any problems that you might have:

You will then create a new post on your blog with the same title and labels as this post. Upload your finished video from iTunes and publish the post.

Good luck and have fun! I am excited to see what you guys can do!

A Day In My Life, Part 1- Present Tense Verbs

Hello, everyone! We have started the verb portion of our Parts of Speech review, and are focusing on present tense verbs (actions that are happening now or that usually happen). As a practice project for these verbs, we are going to do a photo project that will be called "A Day in My Life- Part 1" (Part 2 will come when we start past tense verbs!).

Here is an example project that I made so that you can see what the final project should look like:

As you can see, this project involves several steps: taking pictures, editing them, using iMovie to string them together, as well as adding text, voice-over and music.

Here are the steps that you should follow in order to complete the project:

1.) Take SIX pictures of scenes that describe a normal day in your
     life. These pictures can include people, places or things.
2.) Upload the pictures to your computer and edit them.
3.) Open a new iMovie project called "A Day in My LIfe- Part 1"
     and drag the six pictures over.
4.) In each picture, add text that shows the VERBS that are being
     used in the scene. You can have as many as you need, but you
     should have at least TWO per picture.
5.) Go through and record yourself describing your day, using the
     verbs that show up in the pictures. Please make sure that your
     speaking matches the text. If you  need to, you can adjust the
     length of each scene to help make this happen.

      ***Note: Verbs should NOT be popping up when you are talking about something else!

6.) Use the iLife Sound Effects to choose background music to put into your project. Please don't
     choose music that is too loud, or that doesn't match the mood of your pictures.
7.) Put in a video introduction that explains what a verb is, as well as what present tense verbs do.Then
     give a short introduction about your project (What is it? How did you make it?). Also, include an
8.) Share by sending to iTunes.

You will then make a new blog post that has the same title and labels as this one, and upload your video.

Good luck, have fun, and ask questions if you need help!