Snow in California
The Snowflake Bentley January activity on the Winter Wonderland Wiki sparked an idea for me for grades beyond 3rd. As I was researching Wilson Bentley and snow to create lesson plans for Kindergarten through 3rd grade who are participating in the Winter Wonderland project, I ran into a site by Rick Doble. As part of his work, Rich has exhibits of snowflake images which he digitally altered from Wilson Bentley’s snowflake pictures. This became the jumping off point for the projects I did with my 4th & 7th Grade classes.
First, I read the book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin to each class. This is also available in a video format. After reading the book each class created a timeline of Wilson Bentley’s life. 4th Grade used the PowerPoint template available on the Winter Wonderland Wiki and 7th Grade created a timeline in Microsoft Excel.
After the timelines were complete, the students then download one or more of Wilson Bentley’s snowflake pictures from the Snowflake Bentley web site. Using the filters and effects in PhotoFiltre, the snowflake pictures were digitally altered to create something new from Wilson Bentley’s image. This could be done using other programs such as Gimp (Open Source) or Paint.NET (free image & photo editing program) or Photoshop or many others. We have PhotoFiltre installed on all of our computers because of a project I did with it last year so we used this application.
Once the snowflake images were complete, each student created a slide in PowerPoint with their image(s) and then wrote and recorded a poem to go with their images. I then combined all of the slides into a single PowerPoint presentation for each grade which I uploaded to SlideBoom. Here is the finished 7th Grade project:
I feel this was a really successful project overall. Since timelines in PowerPoint and Excel were new concepts, they kept the students engaged and they all enjoyed finding pictures to illustrate their timelines. The students all seemed to enjoy using PhotoFiltre and I didn’t get too many “how do I” questions during their use of it. They were very willing to just try things to see what it did especially since there are multiple levels of undo available. Most of the students also enjoyed creating their poem though a few did struggle with this especially in 4th grade where I required a Cinquain poem. This was also an easy introduction to narrating a PowerPoint presentation since it was a single slide that needed to be narrated. I would love to get better quality microphones for all of the computers so that the sounds levels could be consistent on projects like these.