Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why should the older kids have all the fun? Share student-generated book reviews with Chatterpix!

Like countless others out there, I've caught the Pinterest Bug. Creating a Pinterest-inspired "readbox" quickly became one of my first goals upon entering my new role as K-2 library media specialist.

Like other "readbox" set-ups out there, I hoped to have QR codes next to the books, that would play student-created book reviews or book trailers when scanned.  However, being in a K-2 library posed some initial challenges.  How could I have my kindergartners, first graders, and second graders begin creating book reviews in the first weeks of the school year?  I needed a program that was easy to learn for a K-2 student, captivating, and appropriate for this task. This brought me back again to Chatterpix:

See my blog post from 9/12/15 on using Chatterpix for QR code scavenger hunts

ChatterPix adds an animated mouth to still photographs, and lets the user record their voice over the now animated photo for up to 30 seconds.   Using Chatterpix, I began a weekly routine of having one student from each class record a book review in front of their class. The following week, the books that the students choose to share make their way to the "readbox" where students from other classes and grades can watch their reviews with a QR code reader on a class iPad.

To prepare for the recording, I post a graphic/instructions on the SMART Board reminding the students to share the title of the book, if they liked it or not, and an example from the book to explain why. Here are some examples of student book reviews so far:

The students have loved both volunteering to record their review in front of the class, and watching the reviews created by the students in other classes.  Students can view the book reviews on the "readbox" during book check-out time.  I opted for having one student per class create a book review each week, so that I would continually have a fresh batch of book reviews to fill the "readbox". This process also provided the students with an opportunity to simultaneously practice technology skills and public speaking.  Our students have library twice a week for 30 minutes. We have been recording these reviews on their second library day of the week. It takes about 5 minutes of library time, and makes a great initiation activity to begin the class with.

Here's an image of students eagerly watching book reviews during book check-out time:

I have done these weekly book reviews with Chatterpix for the past three weeks now, and hope to continue this for the rest of the school year!  

Some technical notes:
To create the QR Codes, I used qrstuff.com.  I originally hosted the videos in Google Drive, and created QR codes out of links that had privacy settings at "anyone" with the link can view.  For some reason (I'm not sure if it is our school firewall, or an issue with Google Drive hosting these videos formats) I was often getting an error message and the video would not play.  After this occurred a few too many times, I began hosting the videos in Drop Box and making a QR code from the Drop Box share link.  No problems viewing since then!  The free QR code reading app that we have been using on the iPads is I-nigma.  Give yourself about 30-40 minutes to create the QR codes for the 7 or 8 student created videos.  

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