Monday, September 7, 2009

Week 2 - Biopoems and Wordles

Made it through another week! Both the students and I are still working on settling in, and I am still trying to learn all the names. I think I've made good progress, though, thanks in part to my photo seating chart. One thing I am finding is that, no matter how simple I make the lesson plan for the day, there is never enough time to talk to all the students who need help or are behind on something. That's definitely going to be a big challenge, trying to cover enough material and still keeping all the students on track.

Our main activity this week was having students write biopoems, formulaic autobiographical poems that encouraged them to describe themselves and their passions. We talked about using concrete nouns and vivid adjectives. The students completed this assignment and uploaded their poems to Moodle. I am now experimenting with trying to grade them in Moodle. Thank goodness for the long weekend! I am determined to try grading online, but am beginning to wonder if the "old fashioned way," marking on a printout, would actually be easier. Fortunately, I also had the students print out a copy for display in our room, since a number of students saved their files in formats such as .docx and .pages, and I can't easily read all of these formats on my computer. I advised them to select Save As and save their files in .doc format, but it looks like I am going to have to go over that concept more thoroughly, and probably type up some instructions.

Once the biopoems were complete, we had a day with the laptops and I showed the students how to paste their poems into and create cool word images with them. They really enjoyed this activity. Wordle images never repeat the same word twice, but the size of the text is dependent upon how many times the word appeared in the original text. It gave the students a chance to view their biopoem thoughts from a different angle. Here's one example:

The students really enjoyed this activity, and practiced altering the size of words, like their names, by typing them more times. They also enjoyed adjusting the layout, fonts, and colors. I can see using wordles for other activities this year. One other teacher already told me she wants to use them for themes in history her social studies class is studying.

Outside of school, the CSLA Conference Committee is hard at work on all the details of the conference. Please be sure to come. It's going to be terrific, and we need all California school library people there. Also, invite English/Language Arts and Tech Teacher friends. There will be tons of sessions for them, too. Visit our wiki for all the details.