As part of our focus on research techniques, I asked the 4th graders to work in pairs or independently to learn about a past technology. Using icons from The Noun Project, I created a thinglink for the students called “Where is it Now?” In addition to the links on this, students were able to research in other ways – books and other web searches. The children were to research an “old” technology and present their learning. The presentation part I left up to them. It could be a digital presentation of their choice OR a handmade item (poster, collage, etc).
The picture above shows just a few of the “old technology” choices. Some of the other choices included:
Years ago, when we first started blogging with students, I always started with paper blogs and comments to help students focus on what makes a quality blog and a thoughtful, helpful comment. With our fantastic whiteboard table tops, why not blog directly on the tables before we move to Kidblog?
For the second graders, this is a new experience for them. And, although our third and fourth graders have been blogging since second grade, it’s always a good idea to review at the beginning of each year. Before any writing, we brainstormed what makes a quality post:
proper punctuation and capitalization
spelling (won’t be perfect but a good effort should be made)
We talk about T.H.I.N.K. and how important it is to ALWAYS be polite online!
I’ve never started making books so early in the year with our kindergarteners but, as Book Creator was perfect for what I wanted to do with them, I was eager to give it a try. My challenge was: Have our littlest ones illustrate AND record using an app they had never seen before, all in a 30 minute session! Challenges don’t scare me! Although, I have to admit, I did warn the teachers that I had no idea how this would turn out!
I’ll just say, children never cease to amaze me! These young students did a fabulous job in their creations and I am very proud of all that they accomplished! Here’s what we did . . .
I came across the book, I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll. It’s about a child who creates a “comfortable” monster that lived under his bed; one that helps him overcome his fears. One day, the boy discovers a note from his monster saying that he’d gone fishing and would be back in a week. The little boy goes through a series of “substitute” monsters before his returns.
I thought the story would be perfect for a class book about silly monsters and how we wish they might help us. With only 30 minutes with students, it was important to do as much preparation as possible before class. Since we have shared iPads, I created a template and airdropped to each of our iPads, one for each class. Often, I’ll go ahead and add each child’s name to the name of the book but this time I color-coded the books so that each student just had to find the color of the “name” box that matched their class. For example, Mrs. Monroe’s class looked for the green box.
With all the bad stuff that’s on the internet, it’s important to give children tools to help them make wise decisions when they go online.
Commonsense Media has excellent lessons for all ages that cover digital safety and literacy. With our first graders, I used Going Places Safely designed for grades K-2. We talked about going places around town – Do you get permission? When you are shopping with your parents, do they allow you to run off and go wherever you want? Do you talk to strangers? What do you do if a stranger asks your name or where you live? We compared this to being safe while online; that we have to follow similar rules.
Next, I told the children that we were going on digital field trips. That got their attention! We searched for the locations on a globe. One little girl asked, “Are we really going there today?” I chose three websites to share with the students:
Recently, Aaron Reynolds visited our school. What a fantastic presentation from this fun author! I sat in on the kinder/1st grade talk where Aaron shared his hilarious book, Creepy Pair of Underwear.
Based on the book, the first graders had decorated paper underwear to make it a bit creepy and had written advice to Jasper (the book’s character) on how he could get rid of his very strange and creepy underwear! Mrs. Kee asked if we could do something digitally with what the students had created. So, we used the ChatterPix Kids app to upload the picture of their paper underwear and the students recorded their advice.
The children uploaded their video to Seesaw and I pulled all the videos, along with photos of the students working, into iMovie. I loved listening to the suggestions of how to get rid of creepy underwear!
A few years ago, while attending the Building Learning Communities Conference, I listened to Alan November describe the importance of integrating technology within the curriculum rather than teaching it as a stand-alone subject. A participant raised her hand and asked, “What does that do to the computer lab teacher?” Alan chuckled and replied, “They become consultants like me!”
Well, I wasn’t interested in becoming a consultant (working with children is my passion), but I did understand what Alan was saying. If we continue to teach technology as a separate subject, we are truly doing a disservice to our students. In this day and age, with information literally a click or tap away, we should be guiding children to learn how to:
The Adobe Spark family of tools are my new favorites! There is SO much you can do with them! I’ve used Spark Video for awhile and certainly enjoy how quick and easy it is to create great movies. Spark Page, I’ve found, is a fabulous way to create a “newsletter” for teachers and parents since links, images, videos, and more can be added. Recently, though, I’ve had lots of fun creating posters, book covers, and title pages with Spark Post. Here’s an excellent tutorial by Blake Lipthratt.
We create lots of class books with Book Creator and I’ve always used their built-in selection of colors and fonts to make the cover. However, after playing around with Spark Post, I am loving this for book covers! It definitely opens up new options!(more…)
The new Kodable updates are a definite WIN! This week the first graders were introduced to the program. WOW! Were they excited!! Kodable is extremely engaging (it’s the one app kids don’t want to close when it’s time to leave). More than that, though, it is an excellent tool for learning computational thinking.
Using the great lessons offered by Kodable, we began with a vocabulary discussion:
Next, we practiced following commands written as symbols.
After a couple of practices where I pointed to the symbol code as students performed it, I challenged them to follow a string of symbols on their own. They worked at their own pace with eyes glued to the whiteboard. They were EXTREMELY focused and it was really cute to watch.
After that, we went into Kodable and worked through the first puzzle together and then they were off! I loved watching them work through each level, talking it out, helping each other.
When class was over, NO ONE wanted to close Kodable. Thankfully, Kodable now has the ability to link school and home accounts. Click here for instructions.
Thank you, Kodable, for an engaging way to learn computational thinking and the basics of programming!
RED – Stop! Red sites contain information that isn’t right for younger children. It may be inappropriate or it might just be a site geared toward adult or older students with language that’s too advanced for little ones.
YELLOW – Caution! Be sure to ask an adult before going on yellow sites. These sites may ask for personal information and may be more difficult for this age group.
GREEN – “Just right” sites that are perfect for kindergarteners. These sites have appropriate words and fun activities for their age. Green sites don’t ask for personal information.
The sites I used for students to explore were posted on TVS TechnoWizards, my website for our students.
I absolutely LOVE combining literature and technology when students visit the lab! One of my favorite books is, It Could Have Been Worse, by A.H. Benjamin. It is a one of the best books for making predictions! The book is about a little mouse who is on his way home when he encounters some difficulties. Little does he know that he is being followed by other creatures such as a cat, snake, fish, and more. Mouse ends up falling into holes, sliding down hills, getting a few bumps and bruises along the way. What he doesn’t know is what happens to those animals trying to catch him!
I read the book and stopped just as an animal was about to catch the mouse. The goal was to have the first graders illustrate their what they thought would happen next, write a sentence about their prediction, and record their voice telling what their prediction. Then, I would make a class book for the students.
There are many ways to do this but my go-to app is Book Creator. I air-dropped a template to each iPad (I’m loving the new backgrounds and borders Book Creator has added). With only 40 minutes with each class, I do as much as I can before students arrive!
When the students arrived, we set up the book by adding their names. I was amazed at how much the students remembered from using the app last year so set up went quickly.
As I started reading, the children began drawing. When I reached the stopping point (different for each class), the students really got busy!
The directions were:
Air drop to Mrs. Arrington
As students completed the steps, they became helpers – showing classmates what to do. The homeroom teachers were invaluable helpers as well!
I enjoy taking photos of the process which are made into a short video and added to the end of the books. The children (and parents) really enjoy that!