Sunday, 15 September 2013

New Beginnings

It's easy to forget how difficult beginnings and transitions can be. So here's a video to remind us all of how priceless a helping hand may turn out.

Love to all,

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Rounding up the year, part two: Gruffalo's Animaniacs Recipe

One of the things I'm particularly proud of this year is the cartoon my 3rd grade students and I have made. It was an experiment - I'll admit not to really have known what I was up to, but I loved every step of it. So here are some tips, tricks and software support on how to do the same.


  • a story
  • 6 really eager readers, so happy to participate not having a rehearsal was not an option, ever
  • a class of eager voices, willing to repeat a poem indefinitely, even in the middle of a lesson, for no apparent reason, but just to have fun
  • as many little artists as you can summon
  • some music, as described here:


  • The story I've used - The Gruffalo, is a story we did in class for Christmas. It isn't easy to understand so we did the song first and then read the story and watched the cartoon, but only as an extensive reading activity. I do think it's maybe a little bit too difficult to expect a class of 9-year-old to understand everything or read it out loud. 

  • The readers were the ones I've approached first, because I thought the length of the text might scare them off. But they proved me wrong. We met 5 or 6 times, in part because they needed to practice and in part because I had to figure out audacity and in part because finding a quiet place to record isn't easy in a school. They had difficulties pronouncing all the new words at first, but with each new reading they got more and more precise, fluent and confident. They got used to the sound recorder and the fact that if they make a mistake they can take their time and repeat what they feel should be repeated, and by the end of our practice sessions they really were like little professional cartoon voices. Their enthusiasm was unbelievable.  
  • Then I talked to the artists. As they did not participate in the animation process, they were a little bit more difficult to motivate, but the surprise of the final product was the greatest for them. 
  • I had their drawings scanned and imported into Power Point. I made a presentation of each of the parts of the story - and used the presentation effects to animate the drawings. Then I exported the presentation as a movie. As I did everything backwards and first recorded the sound, instead of first doing the animation and then recording the sound with pupils looking at their characters, I had to think about the length of each presentation and the timing of different words and characters.

  • Now I had a set of silent movies which I imported into Microsoft Movie Maker. I added the sound recordings.

  • I played around with opening and ending credits and that was it. 
Now this is just a short overview, but it is time consuming. And your computer needs to be very powerful for exports of presentations into videos and exports in Movie Maker not to be time consuming. 

But it's worth it. Just watch: The Gruffalo by boys and girls of Elementary School Brajda, Rijeka, Croatia. :)

Love to all,

Sunday, 30 June 2013

School's out!

I'll do some more posting, but untill then...
Love to all!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Rounding up the year, part one: On how bottlecaps made my life easier

I've been an inconsistent blogger and I'm sorry for that. I think I'll remain inconsistent, so just stay tuned and don't give up, because as inconsistent as I may be I'm here to stay ;).

It's that time of the year when schools are all about summing up and report writing, so I've decided to draw up one or two of my own. Those who've paid attention will remember this post: On Antennae and Token Economy . It was a short report on something I've found and decided to give it a try - token economy. In short:

Within the notion of token economy, tokens are items (buttons, bottlecaps, stickers...) used as positive reinforcement. They are of no value of their own, but they symbolize praise.

In the classroom, tokens are used to acknowledge a good action as simple as it may be - opening a book, apologizing, writing something down, being patient in a game, waiting for one's turn, etc...

Open the book - get a token...

Raise your hand - get a token...

So I gave it a try, and expected the fad to last for a week, maybe two... Three, if I'm lucky. But my student really grew fond of it - collecting tokens became a kind of a game. The class was curious and supportive about it as well. And a week passed, and then another one, and then another... I decided to make a table, recording the number of tokens collected each lesson and placed it on a visible spot in the classroom. And then it went on for a bit longer than two months - right up until the school finished. And it didn't get boring, nor did it lose its power. It focused us all on the good and helped us set our minds on learning.

I made a little diploma and added the numbers of all of the tokens collected in the two months - it came up to 700 so I wrote:
 This certificate is awarded 
in recognition of
700 good things done during English lessons
from April to June 2013.
Thank you for your cooperation and good will!

I signed it and presented it and confused my little troublemaker, but it really meant a lot to him. 700 good things - sounds pretty great, doesn't it? Especially when all one hears is Don't!!, oh no!, why did you?!, how could you?!, stop it! and the like.

It's just a simple little thing.

And it sounds silly.

But really -
It worked.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Seeking first to understand as opposed to being understood

There are some thing I do not agree with in this talk, I should tell you that right at the beginning. But, nonetheless, it's beautiful to hear. I've read somewhere that Rita Pierson at times sounds more like a preacher than an educator, and at times indeed she does. Whether it's a good thing, or a bad one, or somewhere in between, I leave for you to decide. There's definitely food for thought in what she says.

And remember:

"I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I'll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here. I have things to do, people to impress, and places to go." You say it long enough, it starts to be a part of you. 

Love to all,