Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Lightning Thief in the Elementary Classroom: Some Ideas and Resources

Last year I read The Lightning Thief with my 5th grade classroom, and they enjoyed the entire experience so much that I am currently about half way done reading it aloud to my 4th graders. Literacy instruction in my building is taught using a guided reading format, with time for read aloud, guided reading, and silent time. My guided reading centers have been based around activities based either on the events of The Lightning Thief or on Greek Mythology.

My class has been enjoying this book immensely, and I have literally seen dozens of students move on to the other books in the series after reading this first one, which is full of monsters, epic quests, and modern twists on Greek myths.

I have thrown in a few items of interest for those of you out there thinking about reading this book. I am having great success reading this to a fairly advanced group of 4th graders, and found it to be a comfortable read aloud for 5th graders. I don't honestly think I would suggest it for 3rd grade, but I'm sure many teachers have read it, I just think some of the more challenging aspects of the book will be lost on that age group. I would recommend it for second semester 4th grade up through maybe 7th or 8th grade, but for read aloud up through 6th.

The links I am specifically including here are a great teacher's guide (this will open as a Word document) that I have pulled from and a link to Rick Riordan's (the author of the series) personal website that includes great teacher resources.

Also, check out this Wordle of The Lightning Thief. This was created using the entire text of the book, which I found on wattpad and pasted into the Wordle site.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Evolution of Storytelling: Spoken, Written, Movies, Video Games?

Sometimes the pages of this blog serve as a repository for ideas that I come across. In all honesty, I know that this next idea is in no way a new one, in fact I've encountered many studies on this very topic, and not even just in academic journals, but in major mass media publications.

I just completed the game Assassin's Creed 2 on Xbox 360 a few minutes ago, and felt compelled to sit down and discuss the finer aspects of a story that drew me in and took up so much of my free time these past few weeks.

This game, from its graphics, accurate architectural and character based history, compelling and original fiction, DaVinci Code style puzzles and intrigue, and a musical score to match that of any big budget movie, was more than a game to me, it was a literary, movie like experience. I just had to play more, and to uncover more of the puzzles and hidden story lines. It wasn't for the sake of gaming, it was for the sake of story telling.

With that in mind, I have to take a compelling look at the evolution of video games to where they are today. I know that calling Assassin's Creed 2 a crowning achievement in video gaming would be hotly debated among those with greater knowledge of such things than myself, but to a casual gamer who occasionally delves into deeper game, I have no other way to describe this game than as a beautiful work of art. When I am online seeking out more of the story, downloading the musical score, and antsy to play the next installment, you know something has been done right.

So for you scholars out there, here's an idea. Let's take a closer look at where video games are today. They're no longer the story of a plumber jumping in pipes looking for princesses. These are stories that are nearly equal to some of the best fiction out there today, their cinematic merits are rivaling those of the best movies, and their music is stunning.

It's just food for thought. Video games, the next frontier of the great story?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Glogster: More Technology Fun

A friend recommended to me, and I have found it to be a neat resource to use in the classroom. The great thing about this is students can create "posters" without having to sign up for an account, or as a teacher you can sign up for a classroom account and add your students to it. Best of all, this is all completely free. Here is a small example of what can be done with Glogster.

Click on the image to be taken to the full poster.