Sunday, September 30, 2012

Popplet about respect

Second grade students tried out Popplet for the first time. We have talked a lot of about class climate, cooperation and respect. I asked them to create a Popplet showing examples of respect for the environment, property, other people, and themselves.

1st and 2nd grade--sentence editing

Toward the end of last year I discovered an app called Daily Sentence Editing. There is an app for each grade level. Instead of editing sentences on paper as we have done in the past, students now edit sentences on the iPads.  Here are samples from the first and second grade apps.

1st grade--plant parts

We are winding down our plant unit. On 2 different days first grade students created iPad projects showing what they have learned about plant parts. One project was created in StoryBuddy, an app they have now used several times and the other project was created in Educreations, which I just introduced them to. I left both assignments fairly open-ended, asking them simply to think about all the plant topics we had talked about and all the things they had observed as they grew grass and wheat.

StoryBuddy projects were 3-7 pages because they had an extended period of time (half hour) to work on them instead of the usual 15-20 minutes. Students were given 45 minutes for their Educreations projects and I asked them to create a storyboard to show me prior to drawing and recording on the iPad.

Educreations plant parts

1st and 2nd graders--thinking about their senses

Something we talk about a lot when writing is adding detail. Thinking about the senses is always a great place to start because most students are familiar with how things look, feel, smell, taste and sound, as applicable. I asked each student to choose a food photo from the iPad's photo album and write about 4 of the senses (we skipped sound since for some foods this is difficult).

I asked first grade students to use the Popplet app and write the senses in different bubbles. I asked the second grade students to use the StoryBuddy app and write complete sentences.

1st grade--Minerva Louise

Students read A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke. They created a couples pages in the StoryBuddy app (a new favorite of mine this year) to show what other objects Minerva Louise might try to use around the farm to keep warm. Most of them had time for 2 pages. I also asked them to explain why the object(s) didn't solve her problem.

1st grade--Pete the Cat

Here's an activity I modified from Mobile 2012 speakers Linda Dinsdale and Nicole Olson. Students read Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin.  Using StoryBuddy they created a 3 page story. The first page starts with Pete in his white shoes. On the following 2 pages he steps in something and turns his shoes different colors. The students loved the project, they wanted to continue their stories (something we may do in the future) but 3 pages was what they could complete in their 15 minute block of time. They are looking forward to more Pete the Cat projects.

1st grade--short vowel word Families

After reviewing short vowel word families, first grade students used the app Magnetic ABC to show me what they have learned. I asked each of them to write 4 words that had the same short vowel word family for a, e, i, o, u (u family was on a 2nd screen).

Students who finished quickly did the same activity with v-c-e word families.

Busy Year, new accessories!

I am teaching a 1/2 combo this year as well as attending a lot of meetings so it's been a busy 6 weeks. I still love having the iPads in my classroom and enjoy seeing what the students create.

We have been testing out a variety of styluses this year. 75% of the students in my class prefer a stylus to their finger, although this could still be due to the novelty of having one--maybe by June they will have a different answer. Most of them do write and draw more neatly when using a stylus. Unfortunately we have gone through styluses quickly. Pushing too hard and playing with them has caused the rubber tips to fall off most brands we have tried. Although quite a bit pricier than most brands, the Cosmonaut has proven more durable. It is a lot heavier and doesn't have the rubber tip. Instead the stylus is built like a single unit.

We are also using an iPad accessory called GripStand. GripStand fits on the iPad and has a handle that doubles as a stand. It allows the iPad to rotate and stand upright at a variety of angles. The students like it, and the stand provides another means of differentiation--leaning and propping up to suit their needs. It provides a secure way for them to carry it around. I also find it easy to hold as I walk around the room taking anecdotal notes and controlling the computer. The GripStand doesn't have a cover over the iPad screen. This could be a problem if a student dropped the iPad, but most of the time they don't fold the cover over the screen on iPad holders that have a cover.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Predicting with StoryBuddy

My family has been taking care of my sister's king charles cocker spaniel (Max) for several weeks. During that time he has had many adventures and gotten himself into some trouble. I have been sharing Max stories with my students since school started, something they quite enjoy. Since my students have been studying predicting, I had them write a Max stories. I asked them to write 2 pages describing real trouble Max has gotten into and then write a third page predicting what he might do that day while all the people were away. They were lots of fun to read. I shared them with my sister and she was able to Skype my students to thank them.

Posterous For Sharing Work with Parents

This year we are using Posterous to share student work with parents. Each teacher has a Posterous site and within that site each student has a private Space. Spaces are accessible only to the teacher and parents. Students post their work from iPads using a general school email account established for this purpose.

We started posting work 2 weeks ago and so far it has gone well, with only a few glitches. There have been 3 problems. First, impatience. Generally work is posted quickly but sometimes it takes more time. Second, incorrectly entering email addresses, or not setting the school email account as a contributor. Finally, on some iPads the school email was "kicked off" the iPad so no email was being sent at all. Luckily once discovered all the problems were easily corrected.

So far using Posterous to create aprivate  e-portfolio for students is going well.