Sketching in Keynote

Tony Vincent, when he visited our school in April, shared how to sketch over a photo in Keynote. Click here for his directions.

Not knowing at all how this would turn out, I decided to have the 2nd graders try sketching their self-portraits. We did discuss that this was just a time to practice and that it would most likely be rather challenging.

The students started out with taking a selfie. They were encouraged to take a fairly tight shot which would make it easier for the drawing. Then we went through the steps in Tony’s excellent “how-to” sheet. The students did a fantastic job following the instructions and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such concentration!

This was HARD! But, NO ONE complained, which made me super proud of these wonderful second graders. They really stuck with it!

What we discovered:

  • It is SO much easier to use a pointed stylus than one of the cheap ones we have in the lab. I have an Apple Pencil and it was perfect for this activity. Sadly, it’s really too expensive to purchase class sets of good styluses.
  • A selfie is probably NOT the best choice for attempting a sketch for the very first time. Perhaps a cup or an apple . . .

One of the teachers told me later that she sat next to a student who talked herself through the drawing, saying, “Come on. You can do it. Yes, it’s hard, but we’re not giving up. It’s looking good. Keep trying!”

Don’t you love that? What a valuable tool to have!

None of the classes finished the drawings. Surprisingly, no one even complained about that. When asked what they thought of the activity, the students reported that it was fun.

“Even if it was hard?” I asked. A resounding YES was the answer! We’ll be doing more sketching in the days to come.

Amazing Author Visits!

Today is the day! Susan Stevens Crummel and Janet Stevens are here for their author and illustrator visit. And, what a fun visit it was!

To prepare for the visit, our students have been learning all about these two wonderful ladies as well as exploring the many books they have authored and illustrated.

To bring in a technology aspect, I checked out the “Crummel/Stevens” cart of books and asked our first graders to choose one for a book talk using the ChatterPix Kids app. This is a fun (and favorite) app where a picture is added then a mouth is drawn and students record.

After tips on taking a great photo of the book cover (fill the screen!), the students went off to read their books and then scattered to find a quiet place to record.

ChatterPix allows only 30 seconds to record which is usually enough time, as long as you know what to say! For younger students, 30 seconds can be a challenge. And, we did talk about this! What I discovered as I listened to the recordings was that few students re-recorded if they were cut off – not sure why they didn’t try again. Oh, well . . .

After students added their name and saved the video, they airdropped to me so that I could compile them on a Thinglink image. Here’s the work from Mrs. Crumley’s class.

Click here for Mrs. Kee’s collection of videos.

This was a fun activity that included lots of reading and thinking. The children did a fabulous job giving book talks about some fantastic books!

Kinder Shares What they Know about Animals

Collaboration with teachers is SO much fun! Our kinder students just started learning about animals and their teachers wanted to have the students share their learning by creating videos.

A few weeks ago, Tony Vincent visited our school and taught a first grade lesson using the website, Unite for Literacy. Although the book choice isn’t huge on this site, there are several animal books. The nice thing is that students can choose to listen to the book as they read so they don’t get bogged down with harder vocabulary.

We decided to split the lesson into two 30 minute parts since there was quite a bit involved. Students needed to read their story. Then, they were to use ChatterPix Kids (free) to tell about their animal.

For the first session, we started with practicing how to take a screen shot since we wanted a photo of a favorite picture from the book to upload to ChatterPix. Next, the students were given an animal card with a QR code that took them directly to the book they were to read. Once scanned, we went on a picture walk through the book – we didn’t take time to read or listen to the story. The goal was to find a favorite image and screen shot it. Then, we asked the children to listen to the story two times. Each child received a piece of paper where they could write the name of their animal and jot down facts they wanted to share. You should have seen the little ones taking notes!

The next day the students returned to the iLab. Armed with their notes and iPads, we walked through the ChatterPix for Kids app, getting everyone to the point where their photo from the previous day was uploaded and ready to record.

For this project, we only allowed students to add their name. Kids can get carried away with the stickers available in ChatterKid. Since those served no purpose, they were off-limits for the day!

After all the videos had been airdropped to me, I pulled them into Thinglink, onto a map where I tried to place the link where the animal lived. Thinglink is a fabulous way to add links, annotations, videos, etc to an image.

Here are links to the Thinglinks for the other two classes:

Our two sessions were super busy but the students were amazing in how they approached the task – listening intently to learn about their animal and then sharing what they learned. I was able to take several photos from Mrs. Rea’s class to show the process of what the children did. 

How Do You Keep Goldilocks out of the Cottage?

To go along with the second grader’s Fairy Tale unit, Mrs. Garcia’s class came to the iLab to design a latch for the three bears. The idea came from a STEM Fairy Tale Unit called, A Latch for the Three Bears, by Sarah Wiggins. Click here to find it on the TeachersPayTeachers site.

The Challenge:

Of course, Goldilocks should NEVER have gone into the Bears’ house without asking. However, shouldn’t the Bears have locked their door?

A latch had to be attached to the cardstock door so that students could demonstrate how it worked.

The Materials:

Cardstock paper folded into 3 sections to create the “door” to the cottage, Bobby pins, straws, q-tips, bottle caps, masking tape, craft sticks, glue

The Process:

The students were introduced to the task as well as the materials available to them.We did have to explain what a latch was – that’s not exactly a common word anymore! Before sending them to their tables, I asked the children to individually think how they might combine the materials to create a latch. The next step was to brainstorm with their partner and start sketching ideas. The students then drew designs on the tables and discussed with their partners which to try.

As the students built, they often revised their plans. A couple groups had enough time to test both designs they had drawn. We did have a few students who focused more on drawing the inside of the bears’ house rather than designing the latch first. Another group felt like the house needed a fence first so they built that which meant that they ran out of time to make the latch.

After completing the task, the students were asked to upload their design to Seesaw where they were to explain how their latch worked.

Here are some samples:

Here’s a look at the students hard at work!

Mrs. Garcia’s Class 

Mrs. Shapard’s Class 

Next time I’ll be sure to tell students the latch is the most important thing to design and build – nothing else! IF there is time, then they can go back to add additional details (drawing the bears inside the house, adding outside elements like fences).

The best part of this (or any) design challenge is listening to the students share ideas as they brainstorm, construct, and make changes to the design. You really learn a LOT! What I’ve found is that the quieter students that might not speak out in a whole-group setting, truly shine with activities like this.

Decorating Eggs

Carrie Kunert, Beaverton School District Innovation Strategist, has compiled a huge selection of Seesaw Activity Links that she has graciously made available to anyone who would like to use them. In looking through the holiday section, I found one by Beth Saunders called Egg Decorating that I thought would be enjoyed by our younger students.

The directions are a bit small to read but the students were to roll a pair of dice that determined how they would decorate the egg.

In searching through my dice collection, I discovered traditional dice with the dots as well as dice with numerals. The students were placed in groups of two and they shared the dice. Then I added some instructions that differed slightly for each grade level.

Kindergarten:

Students took turns rolling. The idea was to have one child roll and both would draw what each person rolled. They started out doing that but ended up having the person who rolled the dice as the one who drew on their own egg. The hardest task was drawing stars – that’s difficult for this age. What was funny is that if stars were rolled, some students would roll again to get something easier to draw!

I had told the students that if they finished early, they could talk about their eggs. Below are a couple:

As one class left the lab, a little boy came to me to say, “I just loved decorating the egg. I LOVE coming to the lab almost more than ANYTHING!” That certainly made my day!

First Grade:

The directions I gave this grade were that they had to roll the dice for their partner; the partner would then draw what the dice indicated. They did a fantastic job working together, taking turns, and even agreeing on rule changes so that they ended up rolling favorite colors and decorating with what they wanted to draw.

It’s funny how something so simple can turn out to be so engaging! Don’t tell the students, but there was also quite a bit of learning going on:

  • listening to and following multi-step directions.
  • working with a partner and working out differences.
  • sharing and taking turns.
  • fine motor skills (drawing in small spaces).
  • communication and collaboration.
  • verbal expression for those that recorded.
  • even working through frustrations if they didn’t get the color they wanted!

 

Sphero SPRK+ Arrives!

We have a fantastic Parents’ Club at our school. Each year we are given the opportunity to apply for Grants for Greatness. My request this year was a class set of the Sphero SPRK+ robots.

Our third graders were the first to experience the Spheros using the Sphero EDU app. The app is block-based programming with all kinds of blocks available to challenge students. There were a few students who had their own Spheros at home so they were eager to provide help to those trying them out for the first time.

To begin, I introduced the app to the students and told them some helpful tips. For example, it’s really important to aim the Sphero. If you don’t, Sphero won’t do what you expect! We went over the tabs at the bottom of the screen. For the first session, I suggested that they focus on movement, lights & sounds, and controls only.

Then, I gave them the challenges:

  • Make Sphero roll in a straight line away from you.
  • Have Sphero roll back to you.
  • Add lights as Sphero rolls.
  • Add sound.
  • Program Sphero to roll around the perimeter of a carpet square. (We had a great discussion about right angles for this one!)

Spreading out, the challenges began. Students experimented with speed and timing as the little balls went speeding past legs. Every once in a while, we’d hear, “Watch out for my Sphero!” Getting the robots to roll back was often figured out as they rolled behind desks and the printer!

 

There were questions such as, “Why didn’t the lights show up as it rolled?” That led to discussions on order of blocks – it does make a difference!

 

 

No one accomplished the last challenge of driving around the carpet square but some came really close!

As we wrapped up the lesson, several of the Sphero owners said they didn’t know about the app we used; there’s another app that just drives the robot – no programming involved. They were eager to go home to download Sphero EDU.

What did we learn?

  • computational thinking
  • debugging (what didn’t work as expected and why)
  • problem solving
  • Math!
  • collaboration

Next time, we may just set up an obstacle course!

2nd Graders Create Homophone Books

To go along with the homophone spelling unit, a second grade teacher asked if there was a digital way that we could make a homophone book. My go-to app is Book Creator and I felt like this would be perfect for the activity.

Prior to class, the students were given a set of homonyms. They were to create one sentence using all of the homonyms. On my part, I made a template in Book Creator and air dropped that to our lab iPads. When the students came in all they had to do was type in their sentence, illustrate the it, and record.

They had so much fun creating fabulous sentences.

And, their illustrations were amazing! This one was funny because her sentence originally had been written as, The four brown horses got some yolk on their yoke. After drawing two and realizing how much room that took, Annie came over to ask, “May I change this to two horses!”

After recording, the students came to me to air drop their book to my iPad so that I could create the class books. I absolutely LOVE working with Book Creator – easy to use and the students can do just about anything they want with all of its features. There are many others apps that we could use but Book Creator worked out perfectly for this project.

The teachers and I were very proud of how the books turned out. The students did such a great job with their illustrations and sentences.

Below are links to the books. These were saved in two formats – as an ePub book to be read in iBooks and as a video. We had so many students absent with the flu that not all children were able to make a page.

Directions to Download to iBooks:

  1. Click on the book link while on an iOS device (iPhone or iPad). It will not work on a Mac or PC.
  2. Choose Download.
  3. Choose Open in iBooks.

Mrs. Garcia’s Book and Video

Mrs. Shapard’s Book and Video

 

Cubetto – the Perfect Robot for Young Learners!

Cubetto, a robot created by Primo Toys, is a cube-shaped robot that is programmed by adding shapes to a control board. This description is from their web site: Meet Cubetto: the friendly wooden robot toy for kids aged 3-7, chosen by 20000 parents & teachers to guide kids on coding adventures without screens.

Having discovered Cubetto from another educator on Twitter, I started researching it and decided this would be an excellent tool for teaching the basics of coding to our younger students. I shared the information with our Chief Technology Officer and our Middle and Upper School programming instructors who were equally excited. Our CTO even found some extra funds to purchase one!

A couple days later, Cubetto was introduced to our Kinder students. As you can see, the mats are small. There is no way you can fit an entire class around one so I asked the teachers to split their class into two groups each. One group worked on the Lego Wall while the other explored Cubetto. We switched after about 15 minutes.

We started by discussing the mat – geographical features, compass rose. It turned out that the students had spent the week learning about maps so this fit perfectly into their curriculum. The blocks were introduced by letting the students try them one a time to see how the robot responded. The function block brought puzzled expressions! By itself, of course, it does nothing. To a young child, the first reaction is that it doesn’t work! Later, they were able to see its benefits.

Then I gave a challenge – “Cubetto wants to travel to the mountains. How do we program it to get there?” As the control board was passed around to each child, we talked through blocks to choose. Then, we pointed to each block as Cubetto followed the commands. Of course, there were some “bugs” to work out which produces great problem-solving. Using the function blocks is necessary because there aren’t enough “go straight” blocks. That’s a hard concept for little ones but it will come with practice. You can see in the picture below that we were using the function blocks to represent 4 go straight blocks.

Everyone worked together quite well. A couple of the students really caught on quickly; you could practically see their analytical minds working! Some children were hesitant to make a decision about the type of block to insert but classmates were eager to offer advice and encouragement.

During the last group, it seemed to be taking longer than any other group to go around the circle so that everyone had a turn to add a block. Turned out, this group was actually larger than the first – one little boy apparently enjoyed Cubetto so much that, instead of going to the Lego wall, he just joined the new group to work with the robot again!

Judging from the reactions of the students, the Cubetto robot was a HUGE hit!

What I Like about Cubetto:

  • A lot of thought went into the making of Cubetto which means all types of learning is going on – directions, map skills, basic coding skills including function, geography, math.
  • Easy to use and perfect for small hands.
  • The hands-on nature of Cubetto provides excellent visual learning for students as they explore computational thinking.

What I Wish:

  • The basic kit comes with only one map and limited coding blocks (directions and 2 function). It would have been nice to have more blocks, including the logic ones.
  • The kits are expensive! You can buy extra mats and blocks, but at $29 each, that adds up.
  • For a classroom you will need at least 2 kits because only 6 or 7 students can comfortably around the mats. Three or four is even better but that gets expensive!
  • Cubetto is a very slow-moving robot compared to others I have. A bit faster would have been nice but we can certainly handle the slowness!

Would I Buy it Again?

YES!! This is an excellent tool for helping young children understand the concepts of coding!

“What is Under the Bed?” Can You Predict?

I love incorporating literacy skills into lab activities and bringing in technology is a fun and effective way to make predictions.

This year, I discovered the book, What’s Under the Bedby Joe Fenton. It’s a quick, rhyming book about a boy named Fred who is trying to go to sleep but hears noises under his bed. He finally decides to check it out:  “One, Two, Three, Four . .  . It’s time to look on the floor!” And, that’s where I stopped!

Before class, I created a template and air dropped it to our shared iPads. When the students arrived, we worked together to add a name to their page and set up the drawing feature. After doing some predicting by discussing the title, I told the children they could illustrate as I read. We read till we reached the page where Fred was about to look under his bed. At that point, the directions were to:

  1. finish illustrating your prediction,
  2. write your prediction, and
  3. record your prediction.

Instead of giving all the instructions at once, the students drew for about ten minutes. As they began to wrap up the drawings, I showed how to record. Soon all were off to various corners of the room, using our “telephone’ mics or the recording cubes.

When everyone had completed their one-page book and air-dropped it to me, we finished reading. What is great about this book is that there are visual clues to what is under the bed. It’s several pages back and you have to watch to catch it. This was a great way to discuss how important it is to look at ALL clues – in the text as well as in the illustrations!

Making Predictions with Second Graders from Trinity Valley School on Vimeo.

The class ebooks can be read on an iOS device (iPad or iPhone) by following the directions below. This eBook will NOT work properly on any other device (i.e. Kindle, Android tablet or phone).  However, the books have also been saved as a video that can be seen on any computer or mobile device.

Instructions for Viewing Books and Videos:

If you are downloading the ePub books, remember that you need to click on the book link while on an iPad or iPhone that has the iBooks app. Choose download and open in iBooks.

Click on the word “book” or “video” to view the projects.