Integrating Technology Into the Language Arts Curriculum

Prepared for Illinois Computing Educators Conference, February 2011

Creating book trailers with the 8th grade:

  • This is a culminating activity after students have read novels. We use it for our social justice unit.
  • We begin by viewing book and movie trailers. We talk about what makes a compelling story, and how you want to tell enough of the story to entice the viewer to read the book, but not enough to give it away. When we view book trailers (there are a lot on Youtube), we show some with just stills and some with video. You do not need to shoot video to make a powerful book trailer!
  • Students work in groups to create their storyboards.
  • Once the storyboards are done, students will film video or find images to support their story.
  • I do an introductory iMovie lesson, but just enough to show the students how to put their images and video in. I find that it's better if I show 10 minutes of the application to the class and then let them work. I prefer to show a little each session rather than one long demo session.
  • Here's the order we use:
    • Put in images and video
    • Edit video if necessary
    • Add transitions
    • Add titles
    • Add background music and voiceovers

Using a Social Network to Interact with a Book

We use to create private moderated social networks for our 7th grade students to use as they read The Outsiders.
Ning is no longer free, but you can apply to Pearson for sponsorship. You also have to be 13 to create a Ning account. We ask our students' parents to set the account up.
Each student is assigned a character from the book. They then participate in the Ning as if they were that character. They post photos, forum discussions and blogs. The teachers post question on the discussion forums to which the students respond. The kids loved it!

Using Comic Life with Language Arts

I buy very little software these days, but wouldn't think of starting the new year without Comic Life. The students create their work in a word processor and then copy/paste to Comic Life. My favorite is the 6th grade dialogue with an inanimate object. They write a dialog between themselves and an object such as homework, a hairbrush or a basketball. Then they transfer the conversation to Comic Life. They take their own photos and put themselves in the frames, and then find photos of the inanimate object. Last year we had a dialogue with the economy!