Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grinch continued...

As I promised yesterday, I made a slide show from children's Kid Pix pictures that were made to show a scene from the story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I created a slide show from kids pictures that I collected in 2001 and 2002. I figured that would protect me from offending anyone or divulging any information about the students (I cut out any part of a picture that had the first and last name of the student). It also shows that I have done this for quite a few years.

video

I have passed the halfway point in reading the story this year. I only have to read it about 6 more times! I do love the story, but cramming 22 readings into a week wears me out like few other things do. Maybe it is because I try really hard to get into the story using voice inflection, and I attempt to become the characters. Subconsciously, in many ways I copy the Chuck Jones cartoon version. Or maybe it is consciously, now that I have thought about it? In any case, it has been ingrained in me that this is the way the story is supposed to be read, and so every reading is like a recreation of the cartoon (if only in my mind).

I have memorized the entire story. This is not really an accomplishment considering how many times I have read it, but it does lead to some strange things that I have noticed that happen when I share the Grinch.

Sometimes I get lost in the story. It is like when you are driving and suddenly look up and realize you don't know where you are or how you got there, before you snap back to reality. This is very odd when you are in the middle of a story and "reading" with emphasis. And I never miss a beat. How can that happen?

Every once in a while I will mess up one word and know it the second it leaves my mouth. No one else knows, but I still feel like the story is then less than perfect and I have failed my class in some kind of small, but personally significant way.

In nine out of ten classes, some kid will question one if not two words that I read; chimbley and roast-beast. Every time it happens, I want to stop and explain artistic license and the importance of being able to rhyme with the words nimbly and feast.

Well, by Friday at around 11:30am, it will be another year down, and another 460 or so students that I have shared The Grinch with... Ahhhh!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Grinch

Every year, since I became a kindergarten teacher in 1990, I have shared one of my favorite books of all time just before the winter holiday, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This means I have shared this story for possibly 17 years with a couple thousand children or so.

I think that I became struck with the story when I was a child watching the Chuck Jones adaptation of the story. I love the book because it shows that even if you make a mistake in life there is a chance at redemption. It is also a reminder to me that Christmas really is more than shopping, and getting stuff. It is more about the joy of being with people that you love and showing kindness to those you don't even know- just because it is the right thing to do.

Now that I am a computer resource teacher in an elementary school, I share the story with around 22 classes every year (K-2 grade). I have created a lesson around the Grinch, and I would like to share it.

First, I read the story.
video
I read this story to a group of kindergartners today. I thought it was appropriate considering where I began this tradition.

After the story, I explain to the children how they can use tools in the program Kid Pix to create their own picture of the Grinch, or another character from the story.
video
The tools in Kid Pix allow the children a chance to be creative in expressing their own vision of the story with some pretty good graphics tools. I have created slide shows in the past of student's pictures and they generally turn out to be pretty good for pictures made by young people with only 15 minutes or so to make one. I will try to add a slide show tomorrow...

It seems like such a small thing to do, but it is my way of sharing something that I truly love with students that I work with at my school. It is a pretty lame Christmas present to get, but it has a lot of meaning for me when I share the Grinch with children. I hope the web enjoys it, too.

Merry Christmas!
:-)
Al

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a time of opposites. For me it is both the happiest time of the year and the most sad, but I think it is also very confusing for the rest of the country as well.

Black Friday- this is the first shopping day after Thanksgiving. Thursday is Thanksgiving when we share good times with family and friends. Friday is the next day when stores open up at 4 am to angry, out for blood, crowds of serious bargan hunters. I made the mistake of going to Circuit City this year on Black Friday and I was seriously worried about the safety of my son and myself for that brief 20 minutes of chaos. Why is the first official Christmas shopping day more like war than Peace on Earth?

Holiday lights- Hanging holiday lights outside of a house is crazy. Last year I almost fell off the roof. This year I am really into the minimalist approach. A string of lights around the front steps at my house and a blow up Santa and reindeer in the yard. I hope this will be enough. It makes me angry to think that others may believe that I have less holiday spirit because I don't have lights all over the place. I have spirit! Yes, I do! I have spirit, how about you!

Salvation Army bell ringers- Where are they all year long? Every time I pass one going into a store, and coming out of the very same store, I give them money. My kids are trained so that when they see anyone standing outside of a store they beg me fror money to give to them. Half of the time I have to say things like, "No baby. That is the Guy collecting grocery carts." It is a good thing to give to the less fortunate, but where are the bell ringers the rest of the year? Wouldn't they make more money to help others if they were collecting year around?

Giving- I enjoy giving people things that they really want. I think this is the best part of the season, but commericials have warped what I think I need to give to my wife to make her happy. If you watch those commercials, it would seem that I am a very bad husband because I do not give my wife diamonds for Christmas that are big enough to choke your dog, or a new Lexus with a great big red ribbon on it. I am not a rich man. What does an unwealthy husband give his wife for Christmas? A dustbuster (I did this once- not a very popular decision)?

Christmas cards- Every year I try to take a picture of the family and send it out as a Christmas card. I send the digital photo in (online) to Walmart and the next day I have 40 cards ready to go. I also like to make my own stamps at stamps.com. This year we are using our dog Kona as the official Doss Christmas stamp of '07. The part I hate is sending them out. But this year I am going to do my best to get them all out before this weekend.

More later...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Fun with Technology

Last week I had a meeting with other Computer Resource Specialists (CRSs). We each brought cookies to the meeting and then shared our recipes in a digital story telling kind of way- similar to the Cog Dog Roo -50 ways to tell a story.

I tried a new (to me) web tool. Voicethread.com is kind of like a slide show with running narration. Pretty cool, small glitches though-

1) Mysteriously, the sound did not record on one of my computers. Switched computers and it was fine. the mic was on but no sound. Odd.

2) I tried to import pictures from Flicker, like it said I could, but voicethread went into some kind of crazy loop that used all of my voicethreads up at once. You get three of the stories for free- so I deleted the 3 blank threads and up-loaded the pictures from the computer.

3) After I got my 2nd computer going and recorded myself on all the slides, some of the slides got stuck and wouldn't play my recording. I was a bit annoyed after I had made the 4th or 5th recording for a slide.

Here is the Voicethread that I made. To sum up, interesting tool, and you can't complain too much about something that is free. I would use it again, but I also saw something another CRS made using RockYou.com, I want to do something on that site... wish it was able to go full screen though.

I learned a lot about making cookies through the semi-failure of the baking experience. Unfortunately it won't help this poor batch of sugar cookies. That's ok, they still taste the same. I do have a new respect for those who take to time to make some good looking and good tasting food. It is hard work, and there is definitely a learning curve there!