Making Predictions!

drawing-pad-appDrawing apps, literature, and predicting are a fantastic combination! The first graders were introduced to the Drawing Pad app ($1.99 but any drawing app would work) in an earlier meeting so that they had time to experiment with all the tools.

fullsizerenderThis week we added a new component: predicting what will happen in a story using the clues the author/illustrator provides. The book we read is an old one but the children really enjoy it – The Dark at the Top of the Stairs by Sam McBratney. The story is about three young mice, living in a cellar, who want to explore what is at the top of the stairs.

To begin the lesson, I reviewed the tools in the app; including how to save. Then I read the first couple of pages to grab their interest. As I continued to read, the children were asked to open their iPad and start drawing what they predicted the mice would find at the top of the stairs. Just as the we reached the point where the door to the cellar opened, revealing what was at the top, I closed the book and let the students complete their drawings. You could have heard a pin drop!

The children were asked to write their name along with their prediction (most remembered!) and then they saved their work to the camera roll. The first ones finished were shown how to air drop the images to my iPad and then they were to help others. We had quite a workflow going with lots of fabulous helpers!

Here’s a peek at their predictions!

Design Thinking + Dot Day = Thoughtful Creation

After attending a Design Thinking workshop this summer (see previous post), I thought a perfect way to weave this into the curriculum would be an International Dot Day activity.

the dotBased on the book, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, the story tells about a young girl (Vashti) who thinks she can’t draw. Her art teacher tells her to “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Vashti jabs the paper with a dot and then signs her name as requested by her teacher. As the story moves on, Vashti discovered that she really can be creative. And, as a little boy looks at all her paintings, she encourages him just as her teacher encouraged her. International Dot Day, celebrated September 15th-ish, is a day to help children (and adults) focus on how to “make their mark.”

Enter Design Thinking! The empathy part of the process is what grabbed me so here is what we did.

design-thinking-dot-activityEach student received a design-thinking-dot-activity sheet with a large circle drawn on it. The dot is drawn off-center to allow for jotting notes. The children were told to choose a partner who was not their best friend – I wanted them to learn something new about someone they didn’t know quite as well.

final-version-alternateHaving recently read Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring out the Maker in Every Student, by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, I decided to use the posters provided at their website. The authors have taken the design thinking process and made it into an easy-to-understand format for younger children.

I started the lesson by telling students that I’d taken care of the “L” for them.

  • L – Look, Listen, and Learn:  This is looking for a something to create, fix, make better . . . The problem the students had to solve was to create a dot that told about their partner.
  • A – Ask tons of questions: We brainstormed a few questions that students could ask their partner such as, “What are your favorite foods, colors, sports? What places to you like to visit?” Students were given 2 minutes each to ask questions. They were to jot down answers in the space next to their circle. What was funny is that every time the timer went off, you could hear the groans – “That was too fast!” “I’m not finished!” I assured them they would get another chance.

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  • U – Understand the problem or process: This is where students had the chance to ask additional questions of their partner. If they couldn’t think of anymore to ask, they could always say, “What else would you like to tell me?” For this, I gave the students 1 minute each to wrap it up.

  • N – Navigate ideas:  We discussed what navigate means; for example, making connections to a phone’s navigation system. I told the students they had to navigate through all they had learned and then decide how they would decorate the dot in a way that told about their partner. This was the hardest part because it was 1-2 minutes (depending on age) of quiet thinking time! They could sketch ideas outside of the circle but no questions were allowed and they couldn’t start drawing inside the dot! I was amazed at how focused the students were as they just sat there and thought! As I walked around during a 1st grade class, I heard a gasp from a little girl. I leaned over and asked if she had suddenly had an idea. “Yes!” she said, as she grinned and excitedly nodded her head.

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  • C – Create:  Only after going through the above steps were the students ready to draw. I reminded them that they were NOT to draw something they liked; it had to be for and about their partner. No using the designer’s favorite colors! A comment from a first grader confirmed that she “got it” – as I announced it was now time to start creating, I heard a voice call out, “But, I’m still on the U. I’m not ready for C yet!”

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  • H – Highlight and fix: After 10 minutes or so, I asked everyone to stop where they were because we needed to move to the “H” step. This involved checking with the partner to get their opinion. Was the designer drawing what the partner had in mind? Was there anything else the designer needed to add? I absolutely LOVED listening in on these conversations! These were some of the most thoughtful discussions I’ve ever heard from entire groups of students. Not one person said anything negative! I heard conversations like, “Are you going to add the food I like?” “Yes, I was planning to do that next.” The video below shows a 4th grade teacher working with a student. The audio isn’t good but you can still see how they are talking through what changes they can make and what they like.
  • LAUNCH!  Our launch was a simple one; the students shared their dots by describing what their partner liked. Then they were placed on the bulletin board.

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I was amazed at how well this lesson went – for every single age group (1st – 4th)! All I did was guide the process and the students took off! It was great to see the teachers involved. Design thinking is new to them, too, but they eagerly joined in. Some of their comments:

  • “You know, this design thinking can be used in other areas, too. I’m thinking writing for sure and maybe even math.”
  • “Today’s lesson was so therapeutic.”
  • Another teacher told me, “I was a bit stressed about drawing. Who’s going to see this? What if it’s not good enough?”

Sometimes it’s hard for teachers to “let go” but when we do, the work students produce is incredible! I almost decided not to do this with first graders; just wasn’t sure if they could grasp the concept. Wow! Was I ever wrong!! It didn’t matter one bit that they couldn’t spell what their partner told them. These little ones were able to jot down symbols, pictures, whatever it took to remember their partner’s answers.

img_6128I am so excited to continue my journey of learning about implementing design thinking into the curriculum!

 

Going on a Dot Hunt!

To celebrate International Dot Day, Mrs. Crumley’s first graders searched for dots in our courtyard. The students were divided into groups of three and given these instructions:

  • Each person takes a photo of something shaped like a dot.
  • Take a selfie or get someone else to take a photo of the members of the group.

After a couple of photography pointers to avoid blurry images, we headed out to our courtyard.

Within just a few seconds, we heard excited voices getting their team’s attention by calling out such things as:

“Look! A snail! That’s shaped like a dot.” “Look at that pipe. It has round holes that look like dots!”

After all photos were collected, we returned to the lab where the pictures were added to Pic Collage for Kids (love this version because there are no ads). Collages were printed for everyone (you know how important it is for children to take something home!).

Here’s a short video of the activity.

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:

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:

Gifts from the Heart . . .

from the mouths of first graders!

Last week I asked the first graders to think about what gift they would give family members if they were able to give any gift in the world. We talked about presents that they would have to buy and gifts they could give that didn’t cost a thing. Then I asked if they knew what a “gift from the heart” was. These little children get it! They described all kinds of scenarios for a gift from the heart – but it all boiled down to something that they felt would be very special to the recipient.

Here are a few examples:

Tappan_keeSydney_Orehek
Olivia_KeeJonathan_Kee

Haley_Kee

Cole_Orehek
Blake_KeeTo read more, visit the first graders’ class blogs:

Mrs. Kee’s Class Blog

Mrs. Hutchinson’s Class Blog

Mrs. Orehek’s Class Blog

Beginning Coding

Last year we participated in Hour of Code (and we’ll be joining in again this year). But one day of coding is NOT enough. This year we are starting early.

The first graders came to the lab this week and I asked them to raise their hand if they knew some Spanish and Chinese (they take both in Lower School). I then asked if anyone knew other languages. Several raised their hands. Next, I asked if they had ever heard of computer language. By the look on their faces, I could tell they had not! We discussed how computer games, programs, and apps require someone to “program” them or to write computer language so that the computer knows what to do.

I was excited to discover that Code.org has recently launched Code Studio – excellent lessons designed specifically for elementary ages. This is what I chose to introduce coding to our first graders. There are three courses for students along with a “Fun for Everybody” section that includes Play Lab, Flappy Code, and Artist. The free account allows teachers to set up classes and determine log in by use of a secret picture (perfect for younger students) or  word. As students move through the levels, they snap blocks together to run each program.

The students has a blast with this site. They start out by doing some easy moves – dragging images, snapping puzzles together. The second section begins with Angry Birds and of course, that was a huge hit! I demonstrated the first Angry Birds activity so that the children could view the “computer language” or code (JavaScript) that was written.

photo(4)The students are eager to continue working in Code Studio at their own pace!

Besides Code Studio, our younger students will be using the following apps throughout the year: