Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thank You, Class Dojo

Last week while on spring break I had a great conversation with Kalen from Class Dojo. We talked about features of Class Dojo that I find helpful and features on my "wish list". Someday maybe some of those features will be implemented into the app/website. In any case, I find it refreshing that website and app developers are interested in hearing from the public and often go out of their way to solicit feedback.

In case you aren't familiar with Class Dojo, it's a way to track student behavior by giving students points for positive behavior and taking away points for negative behavior. I love it because I can determine the behaviors I want to monitor instead of monitoring behaviors determined by someone else. It creates a nice graph and chart that I can share with the student or parents. I also love that it works on my iPhone, my iPad, and my laptop and recording behavior is a quick click accessible at all times.

Rural, Urban, Suburban

In a quick activity students had to find "the best" photo that showed an example of a rural, urban, or suburban community. I had a photo album of about 100 photos on the iPad for them to choose from. Some photos were examples of 1 of the above 3 and some photos didn't show any of the 3 (nature and landforms). They imported the photo to Strip Designer and wrote a complete sentence caption naming the correct type of community and something unique about that community.

Using iBooks for Grammar and Connections

This was one of those lessons that seemed very straightforward, and then wasn't! Students were to choose a picture book in iBooks, find a page with text and highlight. The goal was for them to highlight 2 nouns, 2 verbs, and 2 adjectives, all in different colors. Next, they were to open a note and make a connection between that part of the book and themselves or something we had learned about this year.

I had played around withe the highlighting and note feature and it all seemed very straightforward. Problem one occurred because only 1 of the picture books we have in iBooks allows for highlighting and notes.  Apparently I had gotten lucky and tested it out in the only book that worked. So to solve that problem all students had to use the same book. The next problem occurred because this picture book had a lot of words on top of color pictures and the highlighting didn't work in those sections, only in the areas where words were on top of a white background. That limited the students even further. They managed to get all the highlighting done but since there were so few pages to choose from, and since we share iPads, my wonderful parent volunteer had to go in and delete all the highlights between students.

Apparently many students were still on spring break in their minds because they had a very difficult time making a connection. A lot of them seemed to have completely blanked on what that even meant. After much encouragement the task was completed and we had a talk later as a class about how using iPads often provides us (especially me) with daily opportunities for problem solving. So I tried to see this as an opportunity rather than a lesson not to be repeated.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This was a very quick activity, less than 10 min. We had learned 2 syllable rules (double consonant and consonant-le) so I asked students to think of words that followed those syllable rules. I encouraged them to think of words that we had not practiced as a class.  Using Magnetic ABC they showed me how to divide words into the correct syllables.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Story Retell

Students will choose to retell 1 of 2 stories (picture books) they read in the last 2 days. They also have 2 choices of how to produce their retell.

1.  Draw a picture of their favorite scene in Drawing Pad. Import that into SonicPic and retell the whole story with just the 1 picture showing. If they choose this option they can spend up to 10 min on their drawing.

2.  Use Educreations to draw and retell. Remind them that in Educreations they can draw and then start recording their retell or they can draw and retell at the same time. They can also swipe and start a new picture as they retell.

Either way they should email their project.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Finding the Perfect Solution for Keeping Track of Student Progress

I currently use 4 systems for keeping track of student progress (Numbers, Class Dojo app, Infinote app and photos). What I am looking for is 1 app that can do all 4. I am playing around with 2 new apps, Teacher's Wire and Teacher's Assistant.

First, I use a Numbers spreadsheet for grades. I have the standards entered across the top and then grades for each activity that falls within that standard. The app Teacher's Wire is great for this because standards can be customized. However, it currently only accepts photos for demonstration of how a student is doing on a standard, not text. I am hoping this will change so I can not only enter photos but also rubric scores or percentages. Teacher's Assistant isn't really set-up to be a grade book. With a lot of fiddling it could probably be done, but I don't think it would be the easiest way of tracking grades.

Second, I use Class Dojo for behavior. I love the way they have quick buttons to push to note specific behaviors. Within seconds I can note that 3 students were off-task and 8 students participated. One thing I don’t like about Class Dojo is there is no way for me to comment. If a say a student is off-task, sometimes I wish I could add detail, such as “frequent bathroom breaks”.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Teacher's Wire allows me to record comments about student behavior, but it has to be typed in, no quick tabs to push. Teacher's Assistant has a similar section that can be pretty quick or can be expanded to have a comment attached as well as a photo. Like Class Dojo, Teacher's Assistant assigns colors and points to behaviors.

Third, I use Infinote to keep track of the comments I want to make in conjunction with Class Dojo since they don’t allow me the ability to make comments. Each student has a page and I use different colored post it notes for different subjects. For example, blue post it notes are for math and red post it notes are for reading comprehension...This is similar to what I can do in Teacher's Wire but without the color coding. Teacher's Assistant is a great app for this function. It allows for different quick records of positive or negative behavior and the colors and points can be customized.

Finally, I take and store photos of activities I want to remember, such as a student demonstrating a science concept like balance. This is in the photo app with a photo for each student. Teacher's Wire is a great app because it allows for easy upload of photos. Teacher's Assistant also allows for the upload of photos.

In addition I like that I can email parents directly from Teacher's Wire and Teacher's Assistant without having to cut and paste if I want to share comments or grades with them.

I like that Class Dojo and Infinote are both password protected--great for privacy especially on an iPad I share with students. I have not found a way to password protect Teacher's Wire but Teacher's Assistant is password protected.

So I don't think I can get down to 1 app, but I think I can combine Numbers with Teacher's Assistant and limit myself to 2.

Does anyone else have any suggestions for apps to monitor student progress?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Teaching Multiplication and Division

Pairs of students worked together to explain how to do multiplication and division. In addition, they compared multiplication to addition and compared division to subtraction. They used Educreations. We did this activity at the end of the multiplication and division unit.

Look Once! Look Again!

Pairs of students read a Look Once! Look Again! book about an animal part. They chose to show what they had learned in either DrawingPad or SimpleMind+. Unfortunately we had a technical problem and everyone's work was lost. A few groups had a few minutes to re-create, but the originals were much better. It was a fun project.

Fables with Educreations or SonicPic

We finished a week reading and talking about fables. Groups of 3-4 students worked together to create their own fable on paper. They had the choice to "publish" their fable with either Educreations or SonicPic. Each member of the group was either an illustrator or reader but could not have both jobs. Making the decision about which job each person would take on and which app to use ate up a fair amount of time for some groups, but it was great to watch and listen to them wheel and deal. I was really happy with the quality of the stories they wrote, they probably could have benefited from more illustration time. Time, time, time...there never seems to be enough!Educreations fable

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Walk-a-thon Best and Worst

Last weekend my school held the annual walk-a-thon and silent auction. I asked each student to complete 2 drawings in Drawing Pad. First, a drawing of their favorite part of the event and second their least favorite. The icon for savings drawings to the photo library had changed since we last used the app, instead of a yellow flower it is now a stack of photos. I wasn't aware of this so I hadn't mentioned it, it was interesting to see that 1/2 of the first 6 students immediately figured this out while the other 1/2 raised their hands because they weren't sure what to do.

They imported the 2 drawings into Strip Designer and wrote a caption for each.