“There’s No Right or Wrong?”

Are students so conditioned to giving a correct answer that they get “stuck” if there’s not a “right” one?

I read The Dot by Peter Reynolds to our second graders when they came to the lab yesterday. My statement to the children was, “Raise your hand if you are an artist.” I was delighted to see every hand waving in the air; a few were a bit more tentative than others! We talked about being an artist in different areas – music, lego builder, photographer, athlete, etc.

We then brainstormed what you could do with a dot made on Microsoft Paint program. Answers ranged from animals to planets to solar systems to flowers and more.

As the students returned to their computers to get started on their dot picture, I heard a small questioning voice, “There’s no right or wrong?” He seemed as if he was confirming to himself that, yes, it was okay to explore.

“Yes,” I announced, “You are the artist. You decide what to draw and share!”

Dr. Seuss Week eBooks

For our Parents:

In celebration of Seuss week, we have done a variety of activities in the computer lab. First graders read Wacky Wednesday, by Dr. Seuss and created a “wacky” self-portrait in MS Paint. For silly sock day, the 2nd graders illustrated their colorful socks or their sock monkey. After reading My Many Colored Days, the 3rd graders wrote their own color poems and added clip art.

The 1st and 2nd grade pictures have been combined and converted to ePub books which can be opened in iBooks (free app from iTunes store) or Adobe Digital Editions software (free download for PC and MacOS). If you have a Nook reader and Adobe Digital Editions, you can transfer the books to the Nook (the formatting isn’t perfect but it still works). The ePub books will not work on a Kindle.

The 3rd grade poems have been saved in PDF files which should be able to be opened on any computer.

You will need to have either iBooks or Adobe Digital Editions on your iPad (or other iOS device)/computer in order to open and read the ePub books. If you have an iPad or iTouch with the iBook app, you should get a message asking if you want to open in iBooks. If you are on a PC with Adobe Digital Editions, the ePub book will open in that software and you can then plug your Nook into the computer’s USB port and drag the book to the Nook. You can also read the book straight from Adobe Digital Editions software.

Click on the following links to open in iBooks or with Adobe Digital Editions.

Cantrell Wacky Self-Portraits

Kee Wacky Self-Portraits

Orehek Wacky Self-Portraits

Cooper Silly Socks

Garcia Silly Socks

Shapard Silly Socks

The third grade poems are in PDFs and can be opened on any computer. You should also be able to open the files in iBooks or Adobe Digital Editions.

Gramentine Color Poems

Prescott Color Poems

Weth Color Poems

Dr. Seuss Projects

The 1st graders finished their self-portraits this week and I added their faces to the drawings. Here are a few samples:



 Second graders drew their silly sock (or sock monkeys) pictures using MS Paint. Photoscape was used to combine the illustrations into a paper quilt.


One 4th grade class met with me during Seuss week. It was Crazy Hat day and the students certainly enjoyed drawing the very interesting hats that adorned their heads!

It was a fun week!


Playing or Learning?

One of our techno savvy 2nd grade teachers, Mrs. Cooper, offered to host a group of TCU students wanting to observe technology integration in the classroom. She thought about presenting a new lesson but eventually decided to have the students share and teach the college visitors using iPads. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on creating VoiceThreads based on the water cycle (a topic studied by the younger students). Since VoiceThread is a collaborative tool, the students wanted to share their work with the visitors and then invite them to leave comments. It was a fabulous way for the children to “teach” others about how this application worked! The college students were wonderful – leaving comments on as many VoiceThreads as possible. Some left written comments while others recorded theirs.

The next activity was to share Mrs. Cooper’s blog with our visitors. Mrs. Cooper had written a post inviting student comments on an opera we saw this morning. The 2nd graders went right to work – opened the blog, logged in, and entered their comment. Several also shared a biopoem that had been written earlier in the year. Of course, they encouraged the college students to leave comments on their posts!

The only problem we encountered was that a handful of iPads weren’t able to connect to the wifi so we had a few disappointed students. However, with others quickly offering to share an iPad, all turned out well.

It was very exciting to watch the learning that was occurring. There was a busy buzz within the room, lots of talking but not one person was off-task. One of our faculty members happened to walk by and asked, “Are they playing games?” Hence the title of the post! Why do some folks think that iPads + happy interaction = playing games? These students were so focused on sharing, teaching, and learning. They didn’t need games to be actively involved!

Here are a few pictures from today’s events.

2nd Grade Success!

We have ALL of the 2nd graders recorded in VoiceThread. After a rough start a couple of weeks ago, the iPad app worked just as planned when the students created their own VoiceThread. It’s so much fun to watch the students as they quickly grasp the technology (and help their teachers learn how to do it!). We had student photographers taking pictures of the process (they loved that job!) and hopefully this weekend, I’ll create an animoto to share.

Here are a few examples.








How Much Can be Accomplished in 40 Minutes?

Not much if technology doesn’t work as expected!

Our second graders have been involved in some wonderful learning activities in which the students rotated through each classroom to learn about whales, the water cycle, and poetry. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to take what had been learned and use VoiceThread to share their thoughts.

Each student illustrated a picture in MS Paint and I compiled the drawings into class VoiceThreads. That seems to be where my problems began! For whatever reason, the first class was unable to record their comments using the iPads. Since the VoiceThread app had worked perfectly a few days earlier, I wonder if trying to have 5 or 6 students logged onto the same VoiceThread prevents this. Who knows? But, with another class coming into the lab, I had to make some quick adjustments! I went back to what has been working for the 4th graders – individual VoiceThreads. The students created theirs and then we started recording – no problems at all! We didn’t get everyone recorded but we’re off to a good start.

Lessons learned: Try to think of and test every possible situation and ALWAYS have a back up plan!!

Learning About Snow

Since we generally don’t get much snow in Texas (with the exception of the past 2 years!), our students enjoy learning about this topic.

from Microsoft Clip Art gallery

Second graders learn about the water cycle at this time of year so snow is always fun and interesting to discuss (not to mention wishful thinking). The teachers start by reading Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and learn about his amazing work photographing snowflakes. When the students come to the lab we begin the “Snow Quest.” I have them work in pairs as they learn to search for information and write answers to a few questions.

Besides learning about Wilson Bentley, the students explore other winter topics including hibernation, conditions needed for snow, and more. Here are some of the websites we use.

The following site does not contribute to the educational value of the lesson but it’s always a favorite! (It does help develop fine motor and visualization skills!) Make-a-Flake allows viewers to vitually cut a snowflake. Take a look at the gallery to see what other people create.

If our Texas winters don’t always bring snow, at least we have some fun, interactive ways to learn about it!

Second Graders Meet the Webville Outlaws

Second graders met NetSmartz’s Webville Outlaws during computer lab today. NetSmartz Kids has excellent information for students – videos, games, and more. The site is developed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and has age-appropriate resources to help keep children safe online as well as off-line.

Meet the Webville Outlaws:

Look-at-Dis Louie

Look-at-Dis Louie sends pictures that may not be appropriate for children. We NEVER open attachments because we need to get permission and help from adults to make sure it’s okay.


Potty-Mouth Pete

Potty-Mouth Pete says mean and rude things to people. He hurts others’ feelings. It’s important to always tell an adult if you run into a Potty-Mouth Pete and it’s never okay to get mad and act like him!


Meet-Me Mack

Meet-Me Mack tries to convince you that he’s your best friend and wants to meet you someplace. Remember to NEVER meet with someone you don’t know and always tell an adult if a “Meet-Me Mac” contacts you! 

Wanta-Know Wally

Wanta-Know Wally is a snoop. He wants to get your private information such as last name, address, phone number, credit card, and more. Always tell an adult if you are asked for private information when you are on the internet.


After discussing the Webville Outlaws, the students listened to situations where one of the outlaws was making himself known. They had to figure out who the culprit was and tell what should be done to keep safe.

Another excellent site that was used during the lesson was Bad Guy Patrol, from Alberta Children’s Services. I like that the site has two levels (ages 5-7 and ages 8-10) and that the content is read to the viewer. The second graders had worked through the younger level last year so they were excited to move up to the “big kid” section. The site offers a variety of tips as students work through four challenges to capture flags. A certificate is available to be printed upon completion. 

Other internet safety activities are available on my teaching website, TVS TechnoWizards. I welcome suggestions for sites that other educators use with their students.

iPads in the Hands of 2nd Graders

Our school is very excited to have six iPads for Lower School! We started off sharing these with the teachers so that they could explore apps and think of ways to use the devices within their classrooms. Our 2nd grade studies Bats during October and we felt that using the iPads would be an effective way to have the students work in small groups to conduct research.

The teachers introduced the iPad by discussing the importance of treating equipment with care. Then an iPad was given to each group, along with information that they needed to find. The students went to TVS TechnoWizards to the Bat page to begin their research.

As one teacher said, “You could hear a pin drop!” Even though many of the students have iPads at home, using them at school meant a new and different experience.

Next steps – the goal is to move away from being consumers of information to becoming producers. It’s easy to find apps or websites that reinforce what is being learned but we really want students to create! I’m really hopeful that we can start with digital storytelling and move on from there!

2nd Grade Portraits on their Blog

They did it! Our second graders were able to copy and paste their bio-poem into a new post on their class blog. Then they inserted their self-portrait that had been created in MS Paint.

We would love for you to take a look at their posts (and feel free to leave comments!).

I have to admit, after starting the process with the first class, I thought this had to be one of the most ridiculous undertakings I’d ever come up with! However, since the students didn’t look too frustrated, we kept on until everyone had the poem copied, pasted, and the picture on their blog post. I should have taken pictures of their expressions when they finished. They were SO proud of themselves! Here’s a sample:

In creating their post, the students learned numerous skills:

  • moving from one window to another
  • selecting text to copy
  • shortcuts for copying and pasting
  • minimizing a window
  • adding a tag for the post
  • inserting a picture by finding it on their computer
  • choosing the correct picture (had to be jpeg)
  • the importance of saving

As I talked to Mrs. Cooper at the end of her class and mentioned that perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this with the other groups, she commented, “I think the only person that’s worn-out is you. The kids look fine and they’re proud of what they did.” I truly appreciate her encouraging words because it really did get easier as we worked with the other classes. I learned to make the steps even smaller so that each child could easily accomplish them without getting lost. We still encountered some bumps in the road but everyone has their post proudly submitted!