Saturday, October 27, 2012

1st and 2nd grade--Election Educreation

Second graders read the book Clifford for President by Norman Bridwell, and I read it aloud to the first grade students. We had a conversation just talking about why people voted for Clifford instead of Mac and how this might translate into people voting in real life.

After students clearly understood that it's a good idea to vote for someone you think can solve problems instead of someone who is nice, I asked them to create their own election campaign. I asked them to create a president for our school. Instead of creating a campaign for a real person, however, I asked them to use a make-believe character such as our school mascot or the tooth fairy. I didn't want to use real students and have feelings hurt when we later hold an election between the different choices.

Students quickly sketched a poster for their campaign and a specific problem their character could solve at school. Once I approved it they created an Educreations presentation, under 30 seconds in length as I wanted them to be very focused.

school president

2nd grade, EasyChart HD

To review graphing skills, I gave out 6 different questions related with Halloween, with several answer choices each. On paper students polled each other to create a tally chart of how their classmates responded to each question. On the iPads, they used the app EasyChart HD to create a graph representing their data. Once everyone create a graph we shared as a class and talked about how graphs looked similar and different depending on the formatting choices made.

The app is easy to use and creates several types of graphs including bar and pie charts. Students can set the numbers, labels, and color schemes.

1st and 2nd grade--iDiary

My students are using iDiary for the first time this year. It is a very simple journal app. On shared iPads each student can create their own password protected diary, complete with color preferences and a mascot. I rotate this app so each student has a chance to create a free-response entry 1-3 times a week. I don't read these entries.

In addition, I occasionally assign a specific topic to a diary entry. This week after seeing the play "Harry the Dirty Dog" I asked students to comment on what they liked and didn't like about the performance. They took a screenshot and emailed it.

In the diary entry students have the ability to add stickers, draw, import a photo, write with a pencil and type. It gives them plenty of ways to express themselves.

Tools4Students, I Just Love It

I am not going to keep posting student work and talking about this app every time we use it, because it gets opened by every student 2-4 times a week now. I just love all the graphic organizers included. It seems that no matter what book we are discussing or what reading skill we are talking about, there's a template to practice on.

Without basic typing skills using this app is really slow, but once the students can hunt and peck okay (most of mine are at about 8 wpm according to Type to Learn) and know where the letters are located, it is a go-to.

This week they used it for real/make-believe in an Ayrn ebook, Edsel McFarlan's New Car, compared an ebook version and paper version of an Anansi story with the venn diagram template, sequenced events in the voting process, and found details to support the main idea of a non-fiction reading selection from the Houghton Mifflin textbooks we use.

1st grade--Magnetic ABC, Silent E and Contractions

This week my 1st graders used the Magnetic ABC app for 2 activities. Tuesday they made a list of words with the magic silent e and Wednesday they listed contractions and the words that are pushed together to make the contraction. These are both concepts we had studied last week or even earlier in the year that I wanted to review with them.

The Halloween background and stickers (new in an update, I believe) had them all distracted for awhile so I gave them 5 minutes to create a Halloween scene before we moved into work mode.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

1st Grade--Response to a couple beanstalk books

Students read Jack and the Beanstalk on MeeGenius. They also read "Jasper and the Beanstalk" by Nick Butterworth (paper book).

As a response to the stories they completed a venn diagram comparison using Tools4Students. They also made a single page in StoryBuddy imagining what they would find if they climbed a beanstalk.

"Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes" by James Dean and Eric Litwin

Since students enjoyed the Pete the Cat story so much that they read a few weeks ago, I bought copies of the next book in the series from the Scholastic book order. After reading "Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes" by James Dean and Eric Litwin, groups of 3 students created another school adventure for Pete. They had to follow the same format as the book and choose a location that Pete didn't visit in the story. So on the first page of StoryBuddy they wrote a clue to where Pete was going. On the second page they wrote the answer and drew a picture of that place (we could have also walked around the school and taken photos). The third page showed Pete doing something there, along with a sentence including an action verb.

Response to "Aunt Flossie's..."

Students read "Aunt Flossie's Hat and Crab Cakes Later" by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard and James Ransome. We talked a lot about how detailed each hat description was and how that detail really helped "paint a picture" in our minds, even if we couldn't see the illustrations. The class also discussed the story behind each hat. Students related that to objects that owned that had stories behind them.

For this activity students worked in pairs. One student wrote a hat description on the first page of StoryBuddy. The second student read the description and drew the hat on the second page. Students then talked about how the second student's illustration was the same/different as the way the first student had imagined it.

The pair worked together to write a story behind the hat. They did this on paper, since I wanted longer stories and their typing skills are still slow.

I had hoped to have them choose an object they own, describe it and write a story behind it, but we ran out of time for this part of the activity.

Response to Goldilocks and the Three Bears

In the MeeGenius apps students read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". I asked them to imagine themselves as a newspaper reporting on Goldilocks being hired at a toy company. They illustrated their news report in DrawingPad and imported that into Strip Designer. Text for their news report was written in Strip Designer. Prior to writing they had to outline answers to the 5 W and H questions.

Paint with Time, Tools4Students and Popplet Apps, Seasons

Individually students used the Paint with Time app to make a forest scene in summer, fall, winter, and spring. They took a screenshot of each scene.

The scenes were imported into Popplet and students had to write a sentence about what they liked about that season.

Additionally, they chose 2 seasons and completed a venn diagram using the Tools4Students app. I asked them to give 3 differences and 1 similarity.

1st Grade--Story Buddy Response to Minerva Louise at School by Janet Morgan Stoeke

Students enjoyed the Minerva Louise character so much that we read another one of her stories, "Minerva Louise at School" by Janet Morgan Stoeke.

I asked students to imagine that Minerva Louise visited their kitchen. What sorts of things would she find, and what farm items would she mistake them for?

Each group of 3 students wrote a 3 page StoryBuddy with their ideas.

First Grade--Magnetic ABC Antonyms

Groups of 3 students used the app Magnetic ABC to create antonym pairs, a topic we learned about this week. I set the bar at 5 pairs, most were having so much fun they squeezed 8 or 9 pairs onto the screen. They took a screenshot and emailed that to their Posterous account.

1st and 2nd Graders Demonstrate Feelings

Ahead of time we brainstormed common feelings such as excited, happy, angry and also feelings that might not immediately come to mind, such as jealous and embarrassed.

Using the iPad camera pairs of students photographed each other acting out 4 different emotions. They took just head/shoulder shots so the focus was really on the face. At this point I gave students a choice. The first option was to import photos to a 4 panel Strip Design where a speech bubble was added that explained the feeling and why they were feeling that way. The second option was to import photos into StoryBuddy and create a 4 page book, with text explaining the feeling and the reason behind the feeling. There was a pretty even split between the 2 options. Since we are working on "expanded" or "super" sentences in second grade, part of the assignment for those students was to write a very detailed sentence.

An example of a first grade sentence "I felt tired because I stayed up late."

An example of a second grade sentence "On the playground at recess I felt lonely because all my friends wanted to run quickly on the soccer field instead of sliding on the tunnel slide."

1st & 2nd Graders--Building a Bridge, Explaining with Educreations

Groups of 4 students were given the task to build a bridge from 18 Legos that would support the weight of a stapler. They had to build the bridge over a long blue Lego, the "water", and they had to use all 18 Legos.

Later, each student created an Educreations discussing what was easy and difficult about the project, how their group used teamwork, and how they were Upstanders. We do a Lego project about every other week so I also asked them to explain what they liked or didn't like about the Lego projects.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

iPad2 and patterns

Last week my students used the iPad2 camera for the first time. I was a little nervous about having them move around the room with the iPad without "hugging" it, but the equipment all made it through the afternoon in 1 piece. Groups of students created patterns and took a photo of them. They imported their photos into Skitch, circled the repeating pattern, and imported that into StoryBuddy to create a book of 5-8 patterns each.  Patterns blocks were by far the favorite object to use in creating patterns.

Trying Out Skitch Maps

Recently our class completed a unit about maps. As a way to assess what they remembered about labelling a map, and as a chance to play with Skitch, I created the following project. Each student opened the Skitch app and zoomed in on the provided map. They used the tools to give the map a title, compass rose, map key and label the city where the school is located.

Plant Life Cycle Educreations

Today I asked my students to create their first individual Educreations video. They were asked to explain the steps of a plant life cycle since we are at the end of growing brassica plants.

1st grade--subtraction story problems

Students created a subtraction story problem, either using Drawing Pad or StoryBuddy, their choice. The advantage I gave for Drawing Pad was more detailed art, the advantage I gave for StoryBuddy was better writing ability.

Here's a sample of each, StoryBuddy on top, Drawing Pad on the bottom.

1st grade--"A Hut for Zig Bug"

This week students read A Hut for Zig Bug in our Houghton Mifflin anthology. I asked them to imagine a different bug creating a home and what household objects they might find and turn into an object for themselves.

They drew and wrote their responses with the Drawing Pad app. Students like the stickers and different art tools available in Drawing Pad. The downside is the inability to type within the app, making it difficult to add captions that are legible. With second grade students I usually ask them to import their Drawing Pad art into a different app, such as Strip Design, and then add captions. However, I wanted to keep things simple for the first grade students only 5 weeks into the school year.

The text below reads, "pompom--pillow"

1st grade--"To Be a Kid" response

To Be a Kid by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko was a recent big book read. Students responded by creating their own book using StoryBuddy. Each student created a page, here are a few samples.

1st grade-- Educreation presentation about worms

After examining worms with hand lenses, holding them, and adding them to terrariums, students read books about worms. They worked in groups of 3 to create an Educreations presentation telling me what they had learned.

Monday, October 1, 2012

1st grade--Tools4Students

They aren't as fast at typing yet, but the first grade students can still get ideas conveyed using Tools4students. In this example they read Clifford's Family by Norman Bridwell and then wrote 3 details about the types of communities (city, suburb, farm) that Clifford visited.

Educreations, safety at school

Here's another Educreations lesson, this time about safety rules at school. Different groups of students created a presentation about safety rules in different places such as school, home, the park, and the street.

Safety at school

Educreations, a lesson in kindness

We spent a lot of time the first few weeks talking about interpersonal skills such as cooperation, compromise, and listening. I asked small groups of students to storyboard 3 of these skills and then turn their storyboard into an Educreations lesson.

working together

Number Talk

One of my favorite less than 5 minute math activities on the iPad is to give students a number and ask them to show me 4 ways to get that number. At the beginning of the year it is usually addition, subtraction, a picture, and tally marks. As we progress through the year students get more creative, combining multi-step problems and multiplication or division.

I usually ask them to do a Number Talk once a week. Any drawing app would work for this. I want students to keep it simple, though, and not spend a lot of time on the bells and whistles, so I use a web clip of There's white chalk, pink chalk, an eraser and that's it.


I love the Tools4Students app. It has many graphic organizers that I use regularly, without the use of paper and a trip to the xerox machine. One complaint some students have is that they are not careful, push the wrong button, and lose all their work. Here are 2 samples of story responses we've used so far this year.