Patti Harju’s Blog

Patti Harju is a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network


2nd Grade Rainforest Facts and Fun

Posted by Patti Harju

I had a great time working with my 2nd graders on this Rainforest Movie. All images and video clips of the Rainforest are from Discovery Education. The kids enjoyed searching through the Discovery Education website for the images and I was happy knowing they were searching in a safe place. They found many great images and video clips.
When we film, we cover the back wall with Green screen Material, and the students practice reading their parts. When filming begins, they know what to do when we yell “Quiet on the Set!”
The first video is the Movie Trailer we created to tease the parents before our Movie was released at our School’s Academic Night. The Rainforest Facts and Fun Movie is below.


Wikis and Web 2.0

Posted by Patti Harju

Last week I was honored to present “Wikis and Web 2.0 in the Elementary Classroom” at MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning.) The MACUL conference is a highlight of my Tech Year, especially as Steve Dembo and Hall Davidson are often presenters. Much of what I know and have included in my presentation I can trace back to a past Steve or Hall session. Here is the ppt from my session, although I am embarrassed that it is not a Prezi (still getting the hang of that one) or that I did not include transitions (my 2nd graders create amazing ppts with transitions and sound effects.) I love to talk tech and am always happy to answer any questions about my presentation.


Rock Our World = Wow!

Posted by Patti Harju

This fall my 2nd graders participated in Rock Our World, a Global Collaborative Project founded by the DEN’s own Carol Anne McGuire. Since September we have been making music and collaborating with classrooms all over the US and the World. We made music together every week when we added an instrument to another school’s Garageband track. We have Skyped with schools in Peru, Poland, Canada, and New Zealand as well as US schools in Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California. We worked with Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of “The Dot” and “Ish”. He provided us with his Animation-ish software and we worked on Animations around the theme of Peace. This Saturday is our Family Day where we will meet the other classes in real time via Ustream. We will be interviewed by Carol Anne’s students, see the Peace Animations each school created and learn more about the other schools in the project.

I know I am gushing when I talk about this project. It has been incredible! I have learned as much as the students. I cannot believe how often and easily I am scheduling Skype calls with other classes. I love how the students look forward to them and am amazed at how much they learn and remember from each call.   The children and I have enjoyed it and do not want it to end! Carol Anne has created something truly wonderful and I am so thankful that I was a part of it.


Polar Bears and 2nd Graders!

Posted by Patti Harju

Today the 2nd graders and I tuned into the Tundra Connection with Discovery’s own Lance Rougeux. It was amazing! It was 11 am our time, which meant we were supposed to go to lunch in 20 min. When 11:20 arrived the children opted to eat in the classroom and continue watching the Webcast. They were attentive throughout the entire program and loved seeing a live Polar Bear on the ice. They learned a great deal and we will be blogging about it on our classroom blog.

Here are some of the things the 2nd graders learned today during our “working lunch”.

When polar bears get old, their claws turn white.
Some of the older polar bears had scars on their noses from fights with other bears.
Polar bears lose their teeth in fights too. One polar bear had a tooth that fell out, and it got infected and the infection spread to his nose.
Polar bears eat only the skin and fat from a seal. They do not want to eat the protein because it makes them need water and water to drink is hard to get in the Arctic.
The mother bear was 800 pounds when she was expecting her babies.
Polar bears cannot live anywhere else, not even Pennsylvania!
That is why we have to work hard to save the environment and slow Global Warming.
We have to recycle, reuse and reduce.
We need to save energy by turning off TV’s and lights when we do not need them.
We should lower the heat and wear a sweater.

Tomorrow we will take the Polar Bear quiz and see what else we know about Polar Bears.

Thank you DEN, Lance and Polar Bears International. This was amazing!


DEN Summer Institute 2010

Posted by Patti Harju

I attended my first DEN Summer Institute last week at Bentley University in MA. Met many amazing educators (DEN Stars!) and learned a great deal.  Lodge McCammon‘s all day workshop taught me many new (and simple) ways to use video (Flip cameras) with my students. Can’t wait to have them create their first Paper Slide video or act out a math concept. I am working on finding lower elementary songs to use in concept music videos Lodge Style. Had a great time making the video on Plant Cells with the whole group.

Matt Monjan did a great job showing us all the new features of the Discovery Education website, especially the Builder Tools. I look forward to using the Assignment Builder, Quiz Builder, and Writing Prompt Builder with my class this year. I had fun showing these features to some teachers this morning and it was fun to watch their amazement and excitement at using these tools. One of the teachers kept texting another teacher while we were talking to share the site with her.

I enjoyed meeting Peter Reynolds and visiting his Fablevision studio. The Fablevision website has many wonderful resources for educators. There are Flash versions of some stories as well as a free download of Benjamin’s Bowtie in the Fable Library. He was nice enough to autograph a copy of So Few of Me for each of us. He also autographed my copy of The Dot that I brought along. His books are perfect springboards for lessons on creativity and caring and it will be fun to plan lessons around them.

Hall Davidson joined us later in the week and shared Web 2.0 tools and great tips for making movies with Green Screen and DE Streaming. His presentations are always filled with many great tips/ideas/websites.  I enjoyed talking to him about the ways I have used Green Screen with my 2nd graders.

We used Edmodo as a backchannel during the Institute and it was a great way to learn how to use this tool. We had fun putting up polls, questions, links and images. It still is being used by the DEN Summer Institute attendees to share our trips home, reflections, ideas, links.

Loved all the free stuff – Discovery Blanket, Book signed by Peter Reynolds, DE T-shirt and Glogster T-shirt, great note cards from Florida (Thanks Francie), Hyperstudio, etc.

I enjoyed this first DEN Summer Institute and hope to attend again in the future. I know many people put in a great deal of time to make it happen and I am very thankful. I met Lance Rougeux and many of the DEN leaders for the first time and am impressed by their hard work and leadership. Lance and the  DEN crew were there to make sure we had a wonderful and educational experience. They were amazing!

This blog entry is cross posted on


Landforms Mash-Up

Posted by Patti Harju

Last fall I created a video explaining Landforms (and Bodies of Water) with my second graders. I decided to combine this video with Discovery Education clips to create a video that I could use with my in coming second graders. While I could simply show the student video, the inclusion of DE clips allows it to provide more information. I could also show the DE video on its own, however I believe that by combining the two it will be more engaging for the students and if the students are engaged, then chances are they will remember the material and make those important connections.  The in coming group will enjoy watching the group from last year, and will be excited about making their own class video. We will then get to watch the video that we created – thus reinforcing the concepts even more.

Making the video is always fun. What looks like it takes seconds to film usually involves many retakes and giggles.The lines are repeated over and over by the “actors” and heard over and over by the rest of the class. The class usually has something to complete at their seat while we film, but I know their attention is on the group in front of the camera.

Here is a sampling of the video – it is too large to embed the entire video – So I edited it to show just a few segments.


My Media Mash-Up

Posted by Patti Harju

 This blog entry is crossed posted at

In a DEN Blog post by Hall Davidson, he asks for video Mash-ups created by teachers or students. He wants to showcase some of them when he presents at ISTE 2010.
As I am on summer vacation (first week), still in my creative/work mode, and have many video clips still on my laptop, I decided to see what I could come up with.
I started with a recording of my 2nd graders singing
“I Know and Old Lady.”  They sang this in music class and I thank our wonderful music teacher Mr. V for playing the piano and recording this during class. (He used my iPod Nano with a microphone attachment.)

I then searched Discovery Streaming for clips of the animals mentioned in the song and downloaded them. As I am using a Mac and iMovie 09, I next needed to add the videos to my iTunes library and using the Advanced tab, convert the clip to an iPad (or iPhone) version. Now the clips are in a format that iMovie 09 will recognize. I did a Google search for Old Lady pictures and then used Blabberize to animate some of them. (Blabberize lets you download your animation as a video for free.) After the animals, Old Lady pics, and song were added to the timeline, I choose clips of my students that were filmed with Green Screen. We made quite a few videos this year, so I had many clips to choose from. The video might have been better if the student clips showed them actually singing or acting out the scene, and if I did this during the school year I would have had the children decide how to illustrate each section of the song.
This was fun to create! A great start to my summer.


Digital Stories – A Glimpse of …

Posted by Patti Harju

Find more videos like this on MACUL Space

This was my first attempt at this kind of a digital story with my students. The bulk of the work was done in the classroom. The students created two pictures in class. One a self portrait, the other a religion picture. The other two pictures were objects the students brought in or photos they brought in of special objects, places or pets. The students then wrote a script for each picture. They were given a script template to get them started. After the scripts were written and edited, the children practiced reading them aloud to another student. Digital pictures were taken of the artwork and these were put in a folder on the server along with the other pictures. The students then entered the computer lab, and were taught how to find their folder of pictures, import them to iPhoto, and then create an iMovie by recording themselves reading their script as narration for each of their pictures. After the narration was recorded the children were to add a title, music and then export as a Quicktime Video. (You could also use Photostory 3 to create digital stories on a PC.)

I am very pleased with the results. These stories are amazing and the children are also very proud. It did take a bit longer to record each student’s narration as we needed the computer lab somewhat quiet and could not record more than one or two at a time. I did need help the students as they worked, although some of the children that finished first were able to assist the other students as well.

Find more videos like this on MACUL Space


2nd Grade Claymation

Posted by Patti Harju

The second graders love playing with clay! They created characters, put them together and then came up with a story. Usually they have an idea of the story, but it isn’t fully formed until they start acting it out and taking pictures. After the pictures are taken and converted to a video, (We used iMovie 09 on these. We have used FRAMES from tech4learning in the past.) the students added a title and background music. They also worked together to write the story.



Posted by Patti Harju

My second graders enjoyed using Voicethread to publish their stories. Each student wrote and illustrated a Leprechaun story (inspired of course by St. Patrick’s Day) and a Husky Dog story (inspired by a picture they created in art class.) After each child finished writing, editing and then re-writing their story they then created three pictures to illustrate it. They could create the pictures using paper and other art supplies, create the pictures using Skitch or a by a combination of the two. Many children enjoyed combining their art with Skitch. This method was the idea of the children. They held their picture up in front of the Mac’s camera – took a picture with Skitch and then drew on top of the picture with great results. As Voicethread is a collaborative tool, I plan on having the children comment on each other’s story.