Posted in Apps, iLesson, Paperless

Save My Neck! Persuasive Thanksgiving Writing

I’ve found Thanksgiving to be the perfect season for…persuasive writing.  This year’s writing prompt involved point of view and persuasive techniques.  Students wrote from the perspective of the turkey with the task of convincing me not to chop off their head and eat them for Thanksgiving dinner.

Our initial writing used the OREO graphic organizer for persuasive writing.  I found the idea and graphic organizers on Our Cool School.  The premise is simple: each paragraph has an Opinion, Reason, Explanation, Opinion.  We of course Double Stuf or Triple Stuf our Oreos to create multi-paragraph essays!

Talking Head Apps      Talking Heads App

I motivated my students to finish this writing quickly by giving the kids two options for publishing.  They could either publish using the iFunFace app or Mad Lips.  iFunFace creates a talking head using whatever image the user uploads.  Mad Lips asks the user to record their own lips on an image.  Both of the apps allow the student to record themselves reading their work.  Below I’ve uploaded the video we spliced together of each students’ work.  Their persuasive reasoning was hysterical.  From turkeys who stink because they wash gym shorts daily to turkeys who are diseased from running around without shoes, this writing was the best example of voice I’ve gotten from these kids all year.  I loved being able to hear their expression as they read aloud their written work.

Posted in Uncategorized

Top Five Talking Head Apps

Obviously, I took my summer vacation seriously – and did not lesson plan at all.  Okay, at least not on paper.  I did, however, do lots of research on apps.  I write app reviews for a great website called Fun Educational Apps.  Our focus is educational apps for children of all ages.  I got to use a ton of new apps and found some great ones that I’ve already brainstormed some lesson ideas with.  We also do a Top Five series a few times a month.  My most recent blog post for that site featured my Top Five Talking Head Apps.  What is a Talking Head app you ask?  I consider it any app that either records or mimics your voice and as a bonus, you can add your own photo too.  I love creation based apps and these are some that allow my students the freedom to express themselves in any way they want.  I’d like to invite you all to check out the post as it features an iLesson idea with each of the apps.  You can find the post here:

Top Five Talking Head Apps


I hope as school begins for some of you (including me!) and the rest of you enjoy the dregs of summer, you’ll check back to see what we’re up to this year.


Posted in iLesson

iLesson: Talking Book Covers

Have you had the chance to play with the app Mad Lips?  If not, it’s a great product-based app that has the students working on that highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – creation.  Using any photo as the background, students superimpose their own lips over the picture and record up to 60 seconds of narration.  This app has limitless possibilities as far as the types of projects you can create using this as a performance assessment or an alternative to traditional publishing.

We have been studying literature genres in our fourth grade inclusion class.  Students were exposed to a variety of literature genres and had to create clues to help them remember each one.  See my earlier post on our Literature Genres iLesson here. As our performance assessment the end of the lesson, students were asked to create a Talking Book Cover.  There are some great blog posts out there about using talking book covers as book reports, book trailers, and other writing tasks.  I took some of these ideas and developed my own.

Students were asked to make sure they read their library books the night before our project. They were then asked to write a three sentence description of the library book.  Students had to include the title of the book, the genre of the book, one general example of how they identified the genre (usually from the cover), and one specific example of how they identified the genre (from the actual text of the book).  Students edited their short book blurb and practiced whisper reading to themselves three times.  I find it is important when doing a project where the students are recorded reading or speaking that they practice whisper reading to themselves at least three times.  Using the Mad Lips app, we took a picture of the cover of the book.  Students were recorded reading their blurbs using the app.  All that was left was resizing and positioning the students’ lips to make our book covers come alive.

The students did great with this activity.  Attached at the bottom is the rubric I used to grade the performance assessment.  I was really happy to see how many of the students could apply the literature genre knowledge to their own books.  By having the students actually use the skills they’ve acquired to create a product, the students are showing a deeper understanding of the skill.  Additionally, they are having a great time!

Talking Book Cover Rubric