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I haven’t really talked much about my musical production. But, I was making it part of my inquiry. I decided to have my students take more of a leadership role in creating their characters, working on lighting, props, the works. I have to say that in the end, I think they helped to make the production more real, they had more ownership. I also had the other teachers who work with me take more ownership in their roles. Although I found it very stressful to et go, I think we a learned a lot from this exercise! Image

I only have a tiny bit of space on my blog left, so here’s a photo or two that I can fit in.

Well, It has been a fun 9 weeks! I implemented my plan to have students collaborate and create projects about Washington DC digitally. I gave them the ist of possibilities, and they found more! Below are some photos showing different types. Enjoy!

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My new group of students are – shall we say, challenging. When I saw the group I was working with, I thought twice about my planned project. When I did, I decided to approach it in a different way. Instead of saying, “This is what you are going to do,” I said, “I think we should cheat on the social studies project.” Their response was immediate – they were actually paying attention!

Every year the 7th graders have to make and present a project about an assigned memorial or museum in Washington DC. Some of the students don’t get to go on the field trip to DC, so they get very resentful about doing a project on the subject. Often, they fail the 9 weeks because of their refusal to do the exploration project that is to be completed at home. So, I decided that this would be my inquiry project. I would give them the tools, they would research and make the project in collaboration.

I gave them examples of different applications on the iPad, different web tools, and examples of ways to present. They have been going fool tilt ever since. They have found ways to use the tools that I did not know existed, of course, so I am learning from them. Yeah!


iPad – PuppetPals HD comic life, Popplet, Kromath3


Popplet, Moviemaker

I just found a great article with ideas and apps for assessments.

The new 9 weeks is looming ahead and I can’t wait to start with a new group. My goal is to start off on the right foot. Last 9 weeks, my substitute had to get things rolling and it made it difficult to switch them into the student inquiry mode. I’ve decided to take a proactive approach to an age old problem. My social studies classes always have to do presentations on a memorial in Washington DC. Historically, the low students and the students who are shy don’t want to participate. They would rather get a failing grade than research a topic and present it to the class. I’ve decided to take a few days to show them some alternate ways to present (not reading a report or building the Washington Monument). I’m going to ask a few of the kids to show the others their favorite apps. If they don’t know any, they will get a couple of days to try them out. Hopefully they will come up with something that ignites their motivational spirit!


Check out Kathy’s  guide to Everything! I’ve copied the page relating to iPads in the classroom, but she really has everything you could possibly need to get started on anything here.

So, Are They Really Learning?

So, I think they are learning, but how do we evaluate this? I’m really looking for understanding of plot, character, setting, and literary devises. How about comparing Romeo and Juliet to a more modern take off? I decided to have them view West Side Story. While watching, they fill out a comparison analysis sheet. It is very simple, lists of the characters of Romeo and Juliet, the setting, and main plot ideas. All they have to do is put the comparison down next to it. Example – Romeo is now Tony. Verona is now the streets of New York City. Now the Independent learning part – They are heading up the discussion during the movie – they are arguing about who is who and why they should believe them. They are providing the proof from plot ideas, character analysis! Oh, yeah! They even started discussing the slang used in the 60’s like the difficult language of Shakespeare and what it means today. Of course, there are still a couple of stars that don’t want to play with us, but the rest are finally ignoring them and pushing on with what they want to do. Now, to push the independent learning further – what next for these last couple of weeks of the 9 weeks???

Do You See the Light?

Well, I think I do see the light at the end of this very long tunnel! Acting out Romeo and Juliet was pretty traumatic for some of the students. Of course it is difficult to read, especially if you have a hard time reading on grade level. But, we pushed on with my 4 stars refusing to shine. Once we read through it once, and I was sure they understood the plot, we moved on to video. This gave the students who refused to participate so far a chance to actually do something. I offered to let them do the taping. I purchased a new ipad tripod mount and this let more students see what was actually being taped.

As we continued, I added the green screen technology with the Kromath3 app. Now the kids were dying to see how they looked in the camera. I was getting more and more participation.  We would review the “daily’s” and the students would self evaluate – and discuss how things could improve.   More actors were giving it some character and increased volume. They were beginning to come up with ideas for new backgrounds for the green screen! Yeah – they cared about learning!

After reading Jenifer Joyce’s post (about doing the survey, planning a great trip, and having most of the kids back out) I was reminded to post about my survey outcome. I did post the survey results and my plans to do a video family interview style to help the kids do some family roots research. Well, after doing some acting games, some fun interviews with the other kids in the class, I was totally unsuccessfut in getting the kids to interview their family. There was NO WAY they were going to videotape their family members! So, back to the drawing board.  My main problem is that I have 4 students in the class that are interested only in disrupting the class any way possible so that they can spend the rest of the day in in-school-suspension. The other students are really worried about going against them in any way. I have a few kids who will go along, but I hate to put the pressure on them. So, I decided to go with their second survey selection – learning how to act. So, since the PSSA test is around the corner, what better practice than reading Shakespeare so that we can do all of those literary elements?  So far, only one of the 4 superstars has maintained that she is not going to participate. We are moving on without her. My goal is to make it look like so much fun that even she will want to join in. Donna mentioned someone who could teach them some fencing – I’m ready! Any other ideas are greatly appreciated.

Because my son knew I was having problems being motivated since my surgery, he bought me the coolest birthday present! He sent me a Fotodiox collapsible Chromakey green and blue background (listed as such on and a new app called Kromath3.

The green screen unfolds from a small circle out to a 5×7 rectangle with tabs on each side to attach. I hung it on the back wall of the classroom. I bought some cheap utility lights at Lowes because shadows make green screen difficult. then.
In social studies, the students are writing biographies on African Americans they admire. I asked them to think of ways they could present this information without reading it. I gave the iPad2 to the students and turned them loose. Below is the first example of a presentation!

This video, Clarence Thomas Green Screen, can be viewed on the wiki space:

Sorry, for some reason, vimeo has put this up-side down 😦

September 2020

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