Thursday, August 05, 2010

From Sesame Street to Creating Videos: Your Young Students Can Do This!

Sesame StreetImage via Wikipedia
Browsing through one of my favorite blogs, Mental Floss, I came across something I had actually bookmarked quite awhile ago and forgot about. A few YouTube videos from Sesame Street that have celebrities reciting the alphabet are aggregated here and the start of the school year seems to be a great time to dust this off and share some ways primary teachers can use these in their classrooms.  The videos include  celebrities Lena Horne, Billy Joel, Lou Rawls, Richard Pryor, Judy Collins, Paul Simon and even Jackie Robinson to name a few. Here's just a few:

It's Not Just Rote Learning
So, what you can you do with these? You can just show them to your students then have them all choral chant the alphabet, but that's NOT WHAT I WOULD DO. Here are a few suggestions off the top of my head:
  1. First share them with your students. These videos are playing through the Mental Floss blog. However if the blog is blocked and/or if YouTube is blocked at your school, you'll not be able to stream directly. So here's what you can do and it takes just a few minutes:
    • From home or an unblocked computer, stream the video (when it ends you'll see a share URL/link or go directly to YouTube and find the video. Copy the sharing URL (see screenshot). 
    • Now go to Zamzar. No need to register or log in.
    • Click on URL in Step 1 (see screenshot). (NOTE: Usually an annoying ad pops up at this point. Just close it.)
    • Now enter the URL that you copied from YouTube, choose the video format, enter your email address and click "convert." (See screenshot.)
    • Now put the video on a flashdrive and bring it to school to share withC your students. 
  2. Show a few of these videos and discuss the variety of ways the celebrities recite the alphabet. 
  3. Put students in small groups to choose the "best" one. Bring them back together to share why they felt it was best. 
  4. Have students mimic their favorite.
  5. Challenge students to create their own. I particularly like Bill Cosby's version and think even very young students can come up with their own humorous versions if paired up with a buddy.
  6. Create a CommonCraft-type video similar to this one my 4th grade class did last year on the water cycle. Kindergarten students can cut out the letters of the alphabet and words or images that go along with the letters. With Scotch tape, I taped off a camera area on a table and held a Flip camera above my students while they read their scripts and moved their pieces of paper. Believe me, it was easy!
  7. Students can "research" historical figures or storybook characters and recite the alphabet as that character.
  8. Create a group "rap." Here's one from my class last year on solids, liquids and gas. Ok, so they need a little work on their "Gangsta" image, but in the process of building their rap, they learned a lot. Can kindergarten students create a rap about the alphabet if you assigned a few letters to a few students and then put it all together?
  9. Videotape student versions and post on internal video sharing site, or with parent permission a site like SchoolTube. Parents are more likely to be comfortable with you doing this if you assure them you will not post student names if their faces are also visible in the videos.
  10. Embed student versions on class blog, or just email parents the links to enjoy their children's work.
  11. Share on morning announcements at school.

A transparent classroom is a happy place to be. Students and parents are happy, administrators are happy and lots of learning takes place. There's lots of language development that comes out of collaborative work. If your students learn the alphabet along the way, that's great too!
What are some other ways you can see using these in primary classrooms?
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Unknown said...

Fun ideas, Lee. Thanks so much. Gave me some inspiration. Plus, it's getting me "ready to be ready" for school to start!

Katie Dicesare said...

I like this! I am taking away how to use Zamzar and collect videos at home. I think it will be key to have some mentor videos for young kids and I love the Bill Cosby alphabet piece. Not sure exactly how I am going to use it but I know it will help me intro what kind of work we can do with flip cameras. I know the kids will have ideas for making their own first grade alphabet videos their own during word study...maybe just sharing their favorite letter and why (as we initially review the difference between letters and words).

Essay Papers said...

Thanks a lot Lee for sharing these amazing ideas. It will be fun for sure.

Thesis Papers

Kathy Cassidy said...

These are interesting ideas, and have me thinking about some new things I can do...
My classroom, along with some others, have been "creating a textbook" about letters of the alphabet and their sounds.
We have also used video to show we have learned the outcomes in a math unit, record special happenings and stories.
Thanks for a great post. I have added it to my Point and Shoot wiki.