Friday, January 2, 2015

Multimedia Texts and Activities

Over the past two years, I've been working with Frolyc to create activities for student iPads. It has been a wonderful experience to see the Activity Spot app grow and change.

Now, teachers can add text, pictures, web links, and video. Students can respond with drawings, open-ended responses, fill in the blank responses, and drag and drop organizers. Teachers can see student responses in real time.

Over the break, I spent time cataloguing the activities that I have created. Wow--I have created and posted 130 different activities! At first, much of my work focused on learning the affordances of the app--what could I do with it? What could kids do with it? What regular classroom tasks could the app encompass?

In the past few months, I've become much more strategic, trying to put together sets of activities to complement units of study or classroom topics. And all of this has been happening at a time when I have been learning all that I can about digital literacy and multimedia in the classroom.

Activity Spot is the perfect tool to help students transition into critical thinking about multimedia. Texts, videos, pictures, and web links are right there for students to explore.

Here are some of my favorite activities! Some are premium activities, while others are free.

Activities for grades 2-3
The A-10 Thunderbolt:  This informational text describes the A-10 Thunderbolt, and is a favorite with reluctant readers. Students read the text and complete a scaffolded summary. (Also included in paper form in Paraphrasing and Summarizing Lessons for Nonfiction Reading.)

The Flooded City: Venice: This informational text shows the text structure of problem and solution. (Also included in paper form in Problem and Solution Texts for Teaching Text Structure.)

Black Bears and People: This is another problem and solution text. I love looking at the pictures that readers create to go along with the text!

Activities for grades 4-5
The Painted Turtle: This is one of my newest activities and I am so pleased with it. My home beta tester (my fourth grade son!) enjoyed it. With this activity, I really used the capabilities of Activity Spot to create something that cannot be duplicated in a traditional text--students read the cause and effect text, and then compare it to a video on the same topic. (You can find the Painted Turtle text in Cause and Effect Activity and Texts for Teaching Text Structure.)

What is Mass?: This activity is an example of how Activity Spot can be used for science instruction. Students read about the difference between mass and weight, and then think about which tools are used for measuring these properties.

Energy Flow in Ecosystems: Picture the scene--a holiday party with grown-ups, kids dressed in their best clothes, surrounded by breakable Christmas collectibles. How can I amuse 8 and 10 year old cousins? With learning, of course! This picture shows what my son and nephew created after they read about energy flow in ecosystems. They used the camera roll on the iPad, found the awesome praying mantis picture, and labeled it. My proudest moment.

Activities for grades 6-8
Steel: From Swords to Skyscrapers: This chronological order informational text is so appealing to kids who like Minecraft! Multiple choice questions and a sequencing activity challenge students to use the text structure of chronological order. (Also available in paper form in Chronological Texts for Teaching Text Structure)

Emily Dickinson: I really like how this activity uses the capabilities of Activity Spot. Students learn about Emily Dickinson's life, and then view a video that highlights her use of imagery. Finally, they look at a commercial for "Emily Dickinson's Garden" to consider elements of author's purpose.

Endangered Species: The web features some fantastic writing, and with Activity Spot, you don't have to print and copy digital texts. This activity includes a link to an article from the US Fish and Wildlife Service highlighting lesser-known endangered species. After reading the article, students compare the text to a video, making this a great activity to help readers compare different kinds of text.

Looking forward
This is only a small sampling of the texts and activities that are available. Other teachers are creating and sharing as well. In the next few weeks, I hope to add even more informational texts. If there are activities you would like to see, fee free to request them here or on the Frolyc site.

Do you have lesson ideas that you'd like to add? You can create your own free and premium activities on Activity Spot! Visit to learn how.

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