Salvaging a Lesson When Plans Unravel!

You build a great lesson to get students on their Kidblog account for the first time ever and, as soon as kids start logging in, you realize there’s trouble! Weeks ago, I’d uploaded all the students with their passwords and had logged in as each one to get them in their new class. Well, I forgot one major detail – Kidblog now forces every user to change their password when they first log in! Yes, I understand the reasoning behind it. But, really, for second graders?? What happened to the old days not that long ago when the blog administrator could get everyone set up and ready to go for students to log in seamlessly? Sure made life much easier.

So, in a quick switch of plans, I pulled out the QR codes for the class to log into Seesaw. This was as the teacher was saying, “We can just forget lab time today.”

Hey, if a tech teacher isn’t flexible, there are many lessons that would never be taught!

The plan had been to write emoji “About Me” stories in Kidblog. We just moved to a different app to do so. Talk about a quick write! But, the students did a fantastic job and I learned a whole lot more about each student while reading their cute stories.

Despite a rough start where nothing worked as planned, all were engaged and successful with the quick change to plan B!

Celebrating the 100th Day of School!

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

100 sign 2

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:

Simone_100

I love the invented spelling of #7 – poetry!

Saanvi_100Emma_100

2nd 100 day blog

2nd graders blogging

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.

third pic 2

3rd 100 dayWhat a fun celebration!

 

Checking for Comments

First graders were thrilled to check their blog for comments after posting their ChatterPix Kids noun video. (see previous post)

Kee 1

We had some amazing writing going on as the children read what parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even our 4th graders wrote.

blog response

Thanks to thoughtful comments from relatives and other students, these first graders are so excited to be sharing their work with an authentic audience!

Nouns, Nouns Everywhere!

Thanks to ideas from a fabulous post by Meghan Zigmond called Noun Cards, our first graders went on a search for nouns to review what they had learned about that part of speech.

I started the discussion by asking what a noun is (person, place, or thing). We then brainstormed ideas for each category. The students were told they were to take an iPad photo of a noun, check it to make sure it wasn’t blurry, then return to their seat for the next part of the activity.

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Using Meghan’s idea for a script, the students circled what type of noun they found and wrote what it was called.

Noun Video Script for 1st grade

Next step – add the photo to ChatterPix Kids (free iOS app). I love this app because it is so intuitive for even the youngest students. The children were asked to type the name of their noun and “by ___” (add their name). They were sent off to record in “quiet” places in the room. When you are trying to record an entire class in a short amount of time, there’s never a completely quiet spot and there’s always a bit of background noise. But, isn’t that the sign of an engaged class??

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Recording with Mrs. Kee

 

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Adding text to the video.

All this took about 40 minutes which I thought was not bad considering the students hadn’t used the app before!

Sample video:

The following week, we uploaded the video to our blogs. The first graders have been blogging but we hadn’t done so on the iPad. What’s nice is that KidBlog’s interface is now the same on a computer or on an iPad so it was an easy transition.

noun hunt

Uploading video to blog

Sample post

Sample post

The students wrote a sentence or two about the process and/or about their noun and uploaded their video. I’m having the 4th graders leave comments for the little ones. (They won’t admit it but it’s obvious they’ve enjoyed seeing what the little ones are doing and then giving them feedback!)

sample comment

If you would like to leave comments, visit the following blogs. Thanks!

Mrs. Crumley’s blog

Mrs. Hutchinson’s blog

Mrs. Kee’s blog

I Wish That I Had . . .

IWishThatIHadDuckFeetI’ve been celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2) for more years than I can remember (and I’ve taught for a LONG time!) so I’m always excited when our week-long celebration comes around.

This year I asked our third graders to turn on their imaginations as we discussed on of Dr. Seuss’ books. We read I Wish that I Had Duck Feet, a clever story about a boy who would like to have various animal appendages. He weighs the pros and cons of each part and finally decides that he’s better off just being himself. (Watch a video reading of the book.)

After reading, the students were asked to think of what they wish they had. What could that animal part help them do? What would they look like? What problems might they encounter if they had that part added to their body?

They were to do two things:

  • Answer the above questions in a new post on their blog.
  • Illustrate a picture in Microsoft’s Paint program and upload to their blog.

What they came up with was very clever! They seemed to have a great time deciding what animals they could morph into and then realizing that there just might be a downside to having those parts!

Here’s a sample post:

3rd Eli SeussThe students would love to have you take a look at their posts. And they would be even more thrilled to receive comments!

Mrs. Gramentine’s Blog
Mrs. Prescott’s Blog
Mrs. Weth’s Blog

Shapes are Everywhere!

Recently the second graders took their iPads and headed outside for a shape hunt. Lots of photos were taken of all kinds of shapes!

The mail van provided all sorts of interesting shapes!

The mail van provided all sorts of interesting shapes!

After collecting photos, the next step was to bring everything together. We used Book Creator for this. The students made a cover page, a page for plane figures, and one for solid shapes. They were to label and record information about their shapes, then export the book as a video.

Working in Book Creator

Working in Book Creator

By the way, the mustaches were worn in celebration of Dr. Seuss and The Lorax!

Next the videos were uploaded to their blogs. (They would love comments!)

Mrs. Garcia’s Class Blog
Mrs. Shapard’s Class Blog
Mrs. Zabriskie’s Class Blog

Enjoy a peek at the students at work:
Reflections:

We were rushed to do this activity since it was done in the computer lab over two 40 minute sessions. The students really didn’t have adequate time to reflect on their learning. Next time we’ll be sure to allow time for that.

Blogging for Peer Feedback

Mrs. Wright, our fourth grade Language Arts teacher, asked how we could incorporate technology into a writing lesson. (Oh, SO many ideas!!)

The students are beginning their pre-writing for a personal narrative. They were to bring in a photo of a special event in their lives. In the past, the children have worked in table groups to give feedback to each other – hearing from only three other students. To maximize the responses, we decided to have the students blog about their topic and then get feedback in the comments section.

Here’s the process:

Using the iPads, each child took a photo of their photo (much easier and quicker than scanning). The students opened the Kidblog app and uploaded their image to a new post.

Taking photos to upload to blog

Taking photos to upload to blog

Because the students were going to write a lot on the blog, and since we had easy access to computers, we moved to the PCs to finish blogging and commenting. Of course, the entire process could be done on the iPad; it was just more practical for our purposes to move to the computers.

The students added a sentence or two that described their picture that would be the basis of their personal narrative. As these were submitted, I quickly approved them so that the commenting could begin!

Mrs. Wright instructed the children to ask three questions after reading a post. They were to leave comments on the blogs of their table mates’ first, then they could ask questions of their other classmates.

Asking questions

Asking questions

The comments flew in faster than we could keep up with approving them! Very thoughtful questions were asked. These will be used to help write the narratives. Knowing some of the questions a reader might ask will help students be more precise and descriptive with their writing.

Here are the links to the blogs:

Mr. d’Auteuil’s Class Blog

Mrs. Malone’s Class Blog

Mrs. Wright’s Class Blog

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

We Know the Water Cycle!

Mrs. Cooper’s second graders were asked to show their understanding of the water cycle and to do this we decided to have the students add something to their blog. However, a visual is extremely helpful in understanding so we chose to have the children draw a picture in the Drawing Box app, import it into Explain Everything where it would be recorded, save it to the camera roll, then upload it to their post on KidBlog. All of this was accomplished on our iPad minis!

Process from Drawing Box to KidBlog

Process from Drawing Box to KidBlog

A lot to do for second graders but they were up for the challenge!

Water Cycle created in Drawing Box app

Water Cycle created in Drawing Box app

Here are the steps the students went through:

  • Draw in the Drawing Box app > Save to photos
  • Import picture to Explain Everything > set as background
  • Record in Explain Everything > save as movie to photo roll
  • Open KidBlog > create new post > upload video from photo roll
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Checking the recordings

The students would love for you to visit their blog and leave comments!

Mrs. Cooper’s Class Blog

Things I Learned:

  • Plan at least a couple of hour-long sessions to draw, record, and upload to the blog.
  • Don’t forget to explain how to use the “highlighting/arrow” tools for Explain Everything. I did and was really annoyed at myself for doing so! Those are powerful tools when using a screen casting app. We will definitely use these in an upcoming project.
  • I highly recommend the paid version of Drawing Box. It has a better collection of drawing tools. All of our student iPads have this version but Mrs. Cooper had the free app and she was disappointed not to have more options.
  • The students are quick learners and did extremely well with the project. Part of the objective of this was for them to become familiar with the app so that they could easily use it in the future.

The students enjoyed working with Explain Everything and I look forward to see how they use it with other subjects.

Paper Blogging with Students

After enduring “runaway” social blogging last year with students, the goal this year is to guide them to work toward producing quality posts and comments. For the first few weeks of school I could see we were headed in the same direction so I searched for tips on how to teach students to blog effectively to help others grow in their learning.

I discovered all kinds of resources that helped me develop a lesson. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano has created an extremely helpful Guide to Blogging flyer; an excellent tool to share with teachers who wonder about the benefits of blogging with students. That led me to her post about Wall Blogging with Students. She talks about tips for writing quality comments and the importance of preparing students offline before they actually make an online comment. Silvia also worked with third graders at her school to create a video titled Making Quality Comments on Blogs.

We use KidBlog with our students and as I searched that site, I came across a link to 14 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging. The author has shared several extremely helpful techniques to help students in their blogging journey. She also had a link that let to another paper blogging lesson from Notes from McTeach and this is the one I ultimately decided to use. Below are some photos of the 4th graders doing their paper blogging.

I was actually amazed at how engaged the students were in this lesson. Our class is 40 minutes long and they didn’t even get on the computers but there wasn’t a complaint from anyone! On Monday I had told the students that we were changing the focus of our blog from social to one that will help others learn. Groans and moans immediately filled the room. “That’s not fair. How are we going to communicate with our friends. Aren’t you going to let us use something like Facebook?” My answer was that you should communicate face-to-face or by phone call if you have social things to talk about with friends in the area. I certainly don’t want them to think the best way to “talk” is over the internet! At that point, I thought blogging with this group was doomed to failure.

However, we watched the video by Silvia’s third graders on creating quality comments. Then I used Wallwisher and had them write a comment about keeping safe on the internet. They were amazed that they could refresh the page and see their classmates’ comments so the technology got in the way of the lesson at first. We had some inappropriate comments (silly and meaningless); those I just deleted. When they realized that I would take away comments, most decided to come back with an appropriate one. They wanted to be sure theirs showed up on the wall! We talked about the comments – Were they proper sentences (punctuation, capitalization)?, Were they relevant to the topic? The next assignment was to make a comment on a favorite book they had read. Unfortunately, we ran out of time so not all were able to contribute but overall I though the quality increased with the second attempt.

On Tuesday, the students were given a sheet of paper and some sticky notes. The assignment was to write a post about a favorite food – what they like, why, best place to get it (home or restaurant), what makes it so appealing. I gave an example about my favorite food – guacamole. As soon as I said that, someone called out, “Yuck! I HATE guacamole!” That was the perfect opportunity to discuss how to disagree in a polite manner!

Armed with colored pencils and the paper, the students started writing their food post. They drew an illustration and added tags (at least some did). After about 15 minutes, everyone returned to their computer and put the “post” on their keyboard. I then told everyone to go 5 chairs in a clockwise direction. At that point, they had to read the post then write an appropriate comment (with their name) on the sticky note. I don’t think it’s ever been so quiet in the lab! We did this 3 more times and there was so much concentration you could literally hear a pin drop!

We had just a small amount of time to reflect on the activity (we’ll do more tomorrow) but the students were impressed with the comments received and even said they needed to answer some questions that had been asked. They were annoyed at the “anonymous” comments – those that forgot to write their name.

I was really excited about the entire lesson and amazed at how well it worked. Now the question is, will this transfer to online blogging? We’ll find out tomorrow!