Tag Archives: Marisa Guastaferro

Our new and improved Independent Reading Site is up and running at @The_School thanks to @finlaycm.

Cristina Martinez-Finlay is the Network Manager (and ever so much more) at The School at Columbia University. Last year, she decided to embark on a personal journey to revamp our beloved but kinda ugly Independent Reading Site which had been a labor-of-love Google Site that Marisa Guastaferro Mendez and I launched in 2007. We even won an award for it back in the day.

Marisa wanted an internal space for kids to keep track of their independent reading, post book reviews, and social network about literacy. We examined GoodReads, Shelfari, and other sites before deciding to just have an internal Google Site that anyone in our school community could access and edit. The site was alive and kicking and heavily used for 6 years. Then last year, Cristina showed me her pet project. She used Drupal to build the site (because, lordy, that woman knows Drupal), and she built up a site that is internal, robust, and legitimately way more attractive to use. The kids love it.

Today, Eve Becker (8th grade English) and I reminded the kids how to navigate the site, add books, join groups, post reviews, and comment on other people’s reviews. Cristina was there to answer questions too, and I’m glad the kids had a chance to appreciate her to her face.

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6th graders are uploading/sharing their finished StoryCorps-esque interviews today

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StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

Students interviewed someone at home and used Garageband to extract a 2-3 minutes story. These audio pieces were exported as .m4a files and then converted to either .mp4 or .mov files that were then uploaded to TheTube (our internal video server powered by Drupal). Finally, students gathered links to their audio files, a description of their piece, a direct quote from the story, and an image. These were added to a table on a collaborative GoogleDoc to loosely model how StoryCorps organizes their files.

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iMovie versus Garageband for podcasts

Marisa Guastaferro and I collaborate on a Romeo and Juliet podcast. In previous years, the students have used Garageband to put merge images, audio, and music. However, the finished product is a small video that is really ideal for viewing on an iPod and not a big screen. I used to use Quicktime to export their podcast into a bigger format, but it was still pixelated. This year, we decided to use iMovie to blend our projects. I found the above tutorial for creating a slideshow with soundtrack in iMovie.

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