Saturday, February 7, 2015

Personalizing Poems

The Animated Step-by-Step Chuga Chuga Song (sung to the tune of Frère Jacques) appears to be a favorite in many preschool and Kindergarten classrooms.

The beauty of this song is that it can be conducted as an echoing refrain:
Here’s the train (sung by the teacher) … Here’s the train(sung by the students)
Let’s get in (teacher) …Let’s get in (students)
Chuga Chuga (pause) toot toot (teacher)…Chuga Chuga (pause) toot toot (students)
Off we go  (teacher) …Off we go (students)

This Animated Step-by-Step is very effective when displayed on the interactive whiteboard, with the clicks to animate being mediated by a remote switch (see upcoming post regarding Establishing Remote Switch Access). It is even more effective, however, when personalized with pictures of students in the class!

I have found the strategy of personalizing songs/poems with student photos to be an excellent way to heighten engagement during a Circle Time routine.

 A. First things first … Create student photo faces

You will need to take photos of each child in your class, preferably against a white background. The white background is crucial because it will allow you to easily make the background transparent in PowerPoint.  As illustrated below, paste the photo face into PowerPoint, then while it is still selected … select Format Picture ... RecolorSet Transparent Color … then tap the wand provided, in the white background that you wish to be made transparent. Your version of PowerPoint may look different than mine but please be assured these functions are probably available in your program.

B. Convert your .pps files into .ppt

As mentioned in earlier posts, the files you download from the Teachers Pay Teachers site are read only PowerPoint Show files. You will need to change the file name from Chuga Chuga Song.pps to Chuga Chuga Song.ppt in order to personalize (edit) the file.

C. Add your new photo faces to the .ppt file

If you are really savvy with PowerPoint animations, you can probably accomplish this conversion easily … but a cautionary note … you will need to pay close attention to where and how animations are being introduced in the animation sequence. Many of the graphics are grouped graphics (e.g., head grouped with generic body). When you ungroup a graphic in the original file or alternately paste another face over the existing graphic then regroup it, the original animation is cancelled.  Technically the original graphic to which the animation was assigned no longer exists. As a result you will need to explore what animation was used and note where it was used in the animation sequence, before you proceed with adding the photo faces.

To serve an effective literacy agenda, a poem should be re-read over a span of time. I have found it fun to use the downloaded version for the first few readings, then introduce your personalized version as a surprise on the third or fourth reading. So … just when their interest may begin to lag, a new twist is introduced that revives their interest! Actually you’ll get tired of reading the poem, long before they do!

Don’t worry if you have more students in your class than slots in the poem. There are more than enough poems using children as the characters to represent everyone over time. Other poems amenable to being personalized are Ordering Pizza and Ten Brave Firefighters.

 ... 'til the next post …

© 2015  Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Using the 'Recipe Check Icon'

When you download an Animated Step-by-Step file, it opens as a read only PowerPoint Show file. This format greatly simplifies the process of getting an Animated Step-by-Step ‘up and running’quickly.

When using a PowerPoint show format, however, it is a bit cumbersome to have to ‘page back’ to the What You Need section (using the left arrow key in the lower left hand corner) to refresh your memory on how much of that ingredient is needed. 

To alleviate this dilemma I have inserted a ‘recipe check’ icon (a multifaceted star) in the upper left corner of the header on each page.

When you click on this icon it takes you to a page at the end of the document where the ingredient amounts are conveniently listed, as well as the time and temperature for baking. After completing your check, click on the ‘recipe check’ icon in the middle of the page and the program will return you to the page last viewed.  

... ’til the next post …

© 2015  Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.