Volunteering in Second Grade

I had a half day because of parent teacher conferences this Thursday. So in the afternoon I went to my son’s second grade class and helped the teacher with a “technology” lesson. My son has weekly time in the computer lab that is usually spent playing games like I Spy or Math Blasters. My goal was to demonstrate to the teacher how she could use some free web-based tools with the students to tie the computer time into their lessons. I had already shared some resources with her and she was willing to try something new with my help.

The class has been studying mountains and islands as part of their social studies unit. So the plan was for students to create a slideshow on Animoto out of pictures of islands and mountains. The first challenge was figuring out what was unblocked in my son’s school district. I have had filters wreck lessons too many times at my school, but it is even more challenging to figure out the filter in another district. I used people in my PLN who worked in that district for advice. Special thanks to @Tee62 and @zmanrdz for helping me out. I found out that Animoto was unblocked, but Google images, Flickr, and Picasa were blocked. We were able to access Google Image swirl and ask.

I had never used Animoto before and my education sign up did not come through. Luckily my son’s teacher’s account went through quickly so we were set (so I thought). I got to the school about a half hour early. His teacher did not realize we needed to set up individual student accounts. So I figured out how to sign up as a student.

It was a little crazy trying to get over twenty second graders to fill out a sign up form. We used the gmail hack to set up multiple accounts on my gmail. I had each student use +”their computer station number” so that it would be easy for them to remember. We ended up with four adults helping us (a special thanks to the principal for coming and helping us). After we got the accounts created the students started finding pictures on the web and put them on their desktops. Then they added them to their Animoto. We ran out of time so the students did not get to add music and render their videos. They will finish them on another day.

I had a great time. The students needed a lot of help as they have probably never filled out a form before, but they were excited about the program and learning. The best part is that their teacher was not discouraged or intimidated even though things did not go as well as planned. She is excited about finishing them and has ideas to use Animoto for other projects. I also plan on helping her class use Skype to connect with another class (probably mine) later this year.

Ultimately my goal was met: I exposed my son’s teacher to how to use the web to allow students to create projects about their learning. I truly believe this one day will help shape her teaching in the future for the better.

How have you influenced your own children’s teachers? Do you complain about them or their methods? Try volunteering to show another way to them. You might be surprised by how open they are to your ideas if you are willing to help them learn and implement them

3 thoughts on “Volunteering in Second Grade

  1. lifewithl

    I am so glad things worked out for you with the educator’s account. Sounds like you had a great experience. I have a feeling your son’s teacher will not be the only one using animoto in her future lessons. Excitement is catchy. Just imagine when the other teachers see the finished products.

  2. pdxMelinda

    Here’s a response I got from a teacher about this article and your solution to setting up multiple student emails under one:

    Has anyone tried this? I think the settings have changed since this article was written and the instructions aren’t working for me. I don’t see anywhere to add an account. Anyone have better luck? It would be really great to figure this out. Thanks, Jan

    Could you help us? I’d appreciate it. It’s a very exciting idea and a manageable concept. Thanks for putting it out there in the first place.

    pdxMelinda @ comcast.net

  3. concretekax

    You do not need to create a new google account if you already have one. Just take your current gmail and sign up students like this.

    If your account was pdxMelinda@gmail.com then you would type


    for each student. Then all of the accounts that you set up in a website will be sent to your gmail. It tricks the site (such as animoto) into thinking that they are all unique email addresses when they are actually all just one gmail.

    Students will have to remember the gmail and their number if the email is required to log back into the site like animoto. Hope this helps.

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