Fantastic Fridays

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Last week I started something new with the 4th graders – Fantastic Fridays. On the board, I wrote a list of activities. Some were things they’ve done before but never seemed to get tired of it. Others were completely new.

  • Osmo – a unique way to physically interact with the iPad
  • Ozoblockly – drag and drop programming to use with Ozobots
  • Kodable – programming curriculum for elementary students
  • Know Your States – an excellent interactive game to learn where the states are located.
  • Sugar, Sugar – a fabulous problem-solving activity

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The students were SO engaged! Yes, there is a time when you have to teach skills but choosing your learning is critical! We, as teachers, must make time for that as well. Be sure to walk around and listen in on conversations – the dialog, the problem-solving, the planning is amazing!

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The girl who was using Ozoblockly even returned after school so that she could show her sister what she’d done in class.

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She also wanted me to video her Ozobots dancing in tandem. Here they are:

The last question the students asked as they exited the lab was, “May we please do this again?”

And, yes, we most definitely will!

Making Stop-Motion Videos

IMG_5296After one and a half class sessions of Lego building, the first graders were ready to add the final touches to their MyCreate stop-motion videos. (See Who Doesn’t Like Legos for a description of the project.)

The students air-dropped their videos to my iPad which was hooked up to the projector. And, how they LOVED seeing their work shown on the “big” screen! We only had one issue with the MyCreate app – no matter what we tried, we had one iPad that would not save the movie to the camera roll! I checked every setting, turned the iPad off and on . . . but nothing worked. We went to plan B – we just used another iPad to video the video in the MyCreate app!

To share the videos with parents, I decided the best way would be to combine them in iMovie. Here are the classes’ movies.

Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class

Mrs. Crumley’s Class

Mrs. Kee’s Class

For a first attempt at using the MyCreate app, I thought the students did an amazing job. The hardest part, as you’ll see in the videos, is keeping the iPad in one place as the photos are taken. Doing that helps the video “flow” but it does take practice.

What I enjoyed the most was watching the group dynamics; how the children worked together to plan and build.

Here’s a look at the process:

Who Doesn’t Like Legos??

Ever since the fourth graders were “caught” by the first graders working with Legos, the little ones have been asking, “When will it be our turn?”

Well, this week their turn finally came. I wish I could have everyone use the Legos at the same time but I just don’t have an unlimited supply! So, the students were divided into groups of three and were given a baggy stuffed with assorted Lego bricks, wheels, doors, and windows.

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The directions were: Make a stop-motion video of what your group builds.

mycreate appThe children were introduced to the MyCreate app ($4.99). This is an easy-to-use stop-motion app for all ages. The camera is built-in so students can easily take a series of photos to show change over time.

The most challenging aspect of using any app like this is convincing the children that the camera and object being photographed should be stationary. It is SO easy for one or the other (or both) to move and that really does disrupt the flow of the video. Fortunately, the app uses onion-skinning to view the previous image which helps line things up for the next photo.

Helping steady the photographer!

Helping steady the photographer!

My plan was to have students build something from whatever was in the baggie but they were soon begging for more! A quick change in plans resulted and the groups were allowed to send one person to collect additional Legos.

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I was amazed at how well the groups worked together to plan their structure and then to build and photograph each step. Of course, Lego building can never be limited to a 40 minute class session! Next week, we’ll finish creating the stop-animation videos and post to the blogs. I can’t wait to see the finished products!

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A 100th Day Wrap-up!

One of our first grade teachers came to me right before the 100th day of school. She wanted to have the students take photos of their 100th day learning stations and “somehow use technology” to share what they learned. She had some wonderful ideas but time seems to always be a factor!

After tossing around some ideas for creating a way to share, we decided on my favorite “go-to” app – Book Creator. I borrowed the first grade iPads and air dropped a template to each so everything was ready to go when the students arrived.

Thumbs up and ready for the next step

Thumbs up and ready for the next step

The children had taken 5 to 6 photos of their group at each station. They were shown how to add photos, label names, and create a title.

Creating the page

Creating the page

Next, it was time to record, save the book as a video, and air drop to me so I could make the class video.

finding a nook for quiet recording

finding a nook for quiet recording

Here is Mrs. Kee’s finished video – learning about 100!

And, this is Mrs. Crumley’s video:

Sharing Our Book

Recently the fourth grade classes worked in small groups to create a Lego ABC book to share with kindergarteners. (Click here for post about making the book.)

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Our sharing took place on a beautiful afternoon so we gathered the iPads, the kinder students chose a “big” kid for a partner, and off we went. The little ones were enthralled with the 4th graders but what surprised me is how well the older students did with their young charges!

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While the big kids weren’t too eager to hold hands with the little ones (that was my suggestion that fell flat!), they were great at keeping them entertained with the book, talking to them, asking about their interests.

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The only problem we encountered was getting too far away from buildings and then we’d lose Wi-Fi. But, that was an easy fix.

We returned to the lab with a few minutes to spare. That allowed time to finish viewing the Lego Book and share other apps.

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It was a really good experience for our oldest Lower School students to interact with our youngest ones! Looking at the smiles on faces makes these kinds of activities worth every minute.

 

4th Graders + 1st Graders + Ozobots = Great Learning!

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased 8 Ozobots. Ozobots are small robots that can be “programmed” by using a series of color combinations (OzoCodes) drawn by markers on white paper. These were introduced to a 4th grade class that just happened to have some skilled Ozobot users!

After watching a couple of the students, I decided to ask their teacher if they could share their knowledge with a first grade class who happened to also have some college student observers from TCU.

We got permission and I presented the plan to two students who were absolutely thrilled to be asked! They suggested two others so we ended up with a fabulous group of four! I was a bit concerned that they would be somewhat intimidated by the college students. Didn’t even cross their minds – one boy told me, “No problem! I can teach the college kids.”

The fourth graders arrived before class started. They had spent their weekend drawing Ozobot paths to share with the younger ones!

The first graders were in awe of the older students! One little girl stated, “I just love these 4th graders coming to teach us Ozobots.”

What leaders these older students are! Our four young teachers were amazing! They all walked around providing tips and offering any guidance needed to make sure the little ones (and the college students) were successful at drawing codes for the Ozobots.

At one point, one of the fourth graders pulled me aside to share, “Uh, Mrs. Arrington, that little boy is getting marker on the table. What can I use to clean it up?”

And, as the older students left, I was asked, “Can we come back next week and teach?” We will definitely have to make that happen!

Celebrating Dr. Seuss with Ozobots!

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What is an Ozobot? A tiny robot that can be programmed by drawing “OzoCodes” using colored markers. Various color combinations cause the Ozobot to perform different functions.

To celebrate Seuss Week, the first and second graders were given a couple of hat shapes that were missing parts of lines. The children drew codes in these line breaks to program the Ozobots.

The third graders drew their own hats. (Or, at least these were supposed to look like hats!)

For the younger students, it was easier to concentrate on drawing the color codes rather than create a hat and draw code.

Even with the older students, there was some frustration that the Ozobots didn’t do what they were supposed to. We talked a lot about how everything had to be “just right” – lines not too thin or too thick. A code has to have all the colors about the same size. If you color too hard with the blue marker, the Ozobot thinks the color is black. I told the students that the Ozobot is like Goldilocks who had to have everything “just right” at the Three Bears’ house.

Lots of practice and problem-solving occurs with this activity! It’s loud but, my goodness, it is loads of fun!

ABC Lego Book

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Who would have guessed that Legos would be such a hit with students!?! A few weeks ago, I presented the fourth graders with a challenge – Create an ABC book made with Legos (and the fantastic Book Creator app) to share with our Kindergarten students. I was amazed at the excitement this idea generated! (Although I’m thinking the excitement was from getting to create with Legos, not from sharing the book.)

This was a joint project with all three of our fourth grade classes so we had to divide the alphabet letters between everyone. I asked the students to get into groups of two or three and write their top three letter choices.

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After handing out assignments, we discussed what needed to be included on each page.

  1. The alphabet letter (large and obvious!)
  2. Picture of the Lego creation(s) that correspond to the alphabet letter
  3. Text that labels the Lego objects
  4. Recorded voice stating “(Name of letter) is for . . .”
  5. Optional: some type of video to show the making of the object or to highlight the letter

For the video component, I suggested the following apps:

Surprisingly, no one chose Tellagami or ChatterPix! I think most liked the idea of the stop motion animation. What excited me is that several incorporated app-smashing – on their own! They would bring their MyCreate video into iMovie for editing, to add music, etc.

Fortunately we had plenty of Legos – I raided my grown-up son’s stash, bought a few more buckets, and had some very sweet girls donate some of their collection.

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Planning and building

 

Using the MyCreate app

Using the MyCreate app

I have never seen such excitement about a project! Except for a couple minor squabbles, the students worked well together. They all learned the importance of sharing ideas and compromising. The students absolutely loved having the opportunity to create in their own way. And, they did a great job pulling everything together to create their letter page.

The book isn’t perfect and sometimes it’s a stretch to figure out how the Lego structure goes with the letter. As chief editor, I did omit some videos that really had nothing to do with the letter they were trying to represent. We had a few groups who were more interested in making iMovies about themselves. However, when it was pointed out that this is a book for young children, they made some adjustments.

Here is the link to the ebook:  Lego ABC Book

Tips for downloading the ABC Lego Book:

  • Click on the above link while on an iOS device with the iBooks app installed.
  • Download then choose open in iBooks. The file is very large so please be patient!

If you are unable to download the ebook, click here to view the video (same content as the book).

Here’s a look at the process of making the book.

The project took longer than anticipated. What I learned is that a week of 40 minute sessions with each 4th grade class wasn’t long enough! Most groups built and rebuilt till they had the “perfect” structure. They HAD to finish the building part in a week’s time so that the next group could start. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had enough Legos! Putting the book together didn’t take more than a couple of days.

Sharing What We Learn: Biographies

Mrs. Shapard’s second graders have been studying biographies. She wanted to find a way that students could share what they learned with others. We decided to use the Book Creator app because of its user-friendly interface.

Because we didn’t want this project to drag on, I did a couple of tasks to help with the workflow. First, I set up the books for the students. That took no longer that twenty minutes or so. Next, I collected photos from the public domain for the children. Finding copyright-friendly images is very time consuming for students, especially the younger ones. These were posted to my Picasa albums so they could be saved to their iPad. I gave an age-appropriate explanation of copyright so students would understand it’s not okay to use any image they find on the web!

In the classroom, students collected information and drew a picture of the person they were studying. They brought this to the lab so it could be added to their book.

Because we want the students to post the information to their blog, the books were saved as videos. One thing we learned is that the students tend to forget to delete a recording if they decide to re-record. What happens when saved as a video is that ALL recordings are heard! We had to go back and fix a few – a good learning experience . . .

We’re eager for next week when we’ll post videos to our blogs.

Here is one of the videos:

Celebrating the 100th Day of School!

One hundred days of school! It’s a big celebration at TVS!

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In the technology lab, we’re celebrating too. The first and second graders were asked to think about what they had learned after 100 days in school. We brainstormed some of the things each class had learned throughout the year: from telling time to adding 3 numbers to tasting foods from different countries.

Here are some first grade posts:

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I love the invented spelling of #7 – poetry!

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2nd 100 day blog

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With the third graders, I adapted an art idea of 100s transformations, found on Pinterest. The students are creating pictures from die cuts of 1-0-0. To add a tech twist, each child is using the MyCreate app ($4.99) to build a stop-motion animation video. They take a photo for each step in their drawing process. When finished, the video will be uploaded to the students’ blog.

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3rd 100 dayWhat a fun celebration!