Saturday, April 27, 2013

2nd Grade Ask3

My 2nd grade students have used Ask3 for 3 assignments now.

Initially they used the app to answer a question about recess. The goal was for them to familiarize themselves with the app and understand their commenting options and how their feedback could be incorporated into a video or picture I assigned.

The second assignment was to create their own video about balancing acts they could do with a spoon and egg. For example, balance the egg on the spoon while passing the spoon behind their back or under a raised leg. In addition to creating their own video, they commented on the video of at least 1 peer.

This week I had photos of rural, urban, and suburban communities in the app. I asked students to identify the clues in each photo that led them to identify what type of community they were looking at.

1st Grade Counting Coins Skitch and Pic Collage

The first grade students are counting coins. I asked each of them to grab a handful, lay the coins out, and take a photo. They imported the photo into Skitch and labelled the coins, showing how they could count on to determine the total amount of money they had. They repeated this process 2-3 times and created a poster in Pic Collage. Good ah, ha for me...I needed to remind them (which I did after Pic Collage products started arriving in my in box) to start with the larger coins and end with the smaller coins. Somehow I wasn't getting all the poster sent via email, just a portion...gotta love technology.

2nd Grade Explaining Community Types Strip Design

We are nearing the end of our communities unit, soon it will be time to create communities. To show understanding of differences between community types students used Tools4Students as a planning tool. From their they took their favorite 1 or 2 distinctions for each community (rural, suburban, urban) and included it in captions to go with photos imported into Strip Design.

2nd Grade Syllable Rules with Magnetic ABC

We are getting ready for STAR testing next week with a lot of review. This past week students reviewed 4 syllable rules (words ending in -le, words with a double consonant, rule to break after a short vowel, and rule to break after a long vowel).  Pairs of students used the Magnetic ABC to show the syllable division of 2 syllable words. Rather than give them a list of words, I asked them to think of their own, using inspiration from around the classroom and from books.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Front Row Education Fraction App

Fractions are going away in 2nd grade according to the CCS. However, my district is still balancing CCS and state standards. State standards for 2nd grade still include fractions, and students are still tested on them, so we covered fractions back in November and periodically review the concepts.

A few months ago I heard about Front Row Education, I believe from a Teachercast podcast. Their fraction app is in the testing phase and my students are lucky enough to be trying it out. The app provides a progression of fraction skills linked to the CCS, starting in third grade. There are multiple choice questions, fill-in questions, video tutorials, and written explanations for each level of fraction skills. Due to the age/fraction knowledge of my students, most of them only progressed to about level 10 in the app, but there is a lot more learning available for them.

The teacher dashboard is well organized and provides a whole class snapshot as well as the ability to drill down and see exactly what each student understands and struggles with, all tied to CCS.

My students liked it so much (much better than workbook pages and differentiated and self-paced) they are hoping for more math topics at some point in the future.

For more info about Front Row Education you can reach them at and there's a video at

2nd Grade Balance Game and Educreations

2nd grade students continue to put balance concepts and vocabulary to use, this time using the app Balance Game by Uwe Meier. The task here was to play the app and take several screenshots of balanced scales. Next, import the screenshot(s) to Educreations and explain the science/strategy used.

One group chose to type their thinking, the other used the record option--I love how easy the iPad is for differentiation and for students to make the choices that work best for them.

typed response

verbal response

Two other balance apps students used were Fill the Cup and iSolveIt: MathScaled, but I did not have them create any content after playing those games.

2nd Grade Poetry Using WordMover

We are starting our poetry unit, not one of my favorites. I like poetry without rhyming or syllable requirements, so we start there first. Tony Vincent suggested using the Word Mover app as a fun way of starting students with poetry creation.

The first assignment (after reading and discussing some poetry) was simply for students to use the app to create a poem.

Students liked the ease of the click and drag words as well as the ability to add words of their own.

2nd Grade Balancing Game Strategies

During our science balance unit 2nd grade students played 2 games, MagnaForce and Stackrobats. However, I asked students to play the games cooperatively and discuss each move as a team before making it, the goal being to collectively get as far in the game as possible before gravity took over.  Six moves into each game the team took a photograph and imported it to Skitch. They annotated where they would make their next move and gave an explanation why, referring to concepts learned in the unit.

1st and 2nd Grade Learn Tellagami and Splice

From Tony Vincent I learned about 2 apps, Tellagami and Splice and a great way to use them to have students create a dialogue with each other.

We recently had a school walk-a-thon and silent auction day so I asked students to interview each other about their day at this event using Tellagami and Splice. Each student created an avatar in Tellagami. For the 1st round 1 student was the interviewer and 1 student was the interviewee. The interviewer recorded 2 questions in Tellagami and then the interviewee recorded answers to the 2 questions. It was easier to record in a non-sequential order so the students didn't have to re-create their avatar.

They especially liked the different facial expressions available on the avatars and also the way the avatar moved according to the expression in their voices as they recorded.

After recording the 4 clips students imported them to Splice and organized them in the correct sequence.

1st Grade--Solids, Liquids and Gases Using Tellagami and Splice

We are currently on spring break, but before this vacation, my first grade students were experimenting with solids and liquids and thinking back to what they remembered about gases (January/February science unit).

They had their 2nd use of Tellagami and Splice for this project. In groups of 3 each student "became" one of the states of matter. They each created an avatar for their state of matter in Tellagami and recorded themselves making 4 statements about themselves, such as "I am a solid and I do not change shape." They had to work together so that the topics of their 4 statements were all the same (so if solid made the above comment then liquid and gas also had to comment on their ability to change shape). After all the recording was finished students re-arranged their comments in order so that each comment on a given topic were heard sequentially.

This activity took about 45 min but it was well worth hearing the different statements students thought of about their state of matter as well as their ability to work together to organize 12 clips.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

1st Grade Non-Fiction Haiku Deck

My 1st grade students were busy reading non-fiction this week. Each group of 3 students picked 1 of 4 topics that they read about and created a Haiku Deck to present their information to the rest of the class.

I love this app because it to SO easy to use and SO easy to find fantastic photos. It's perfect for students new to presentations. They create something that looks fantastic, can do so in 15 minutes, and aren't overwhelmed by the process.

It was interesting to see the variety in presentations. Some focused on facts, some were really geared toward giving directions (don't litter, here are 5 reasons why), this sample had a lot of great adjectives.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Post Posterous

The last couple months I have been busy testing and searing for a Posterous alternative. I was surprised to learn there really isn't a service that does exactly the same thing--email any digital product to a "storage space" that is private.

I have narrowed down the list to my favorite 4 and put a comparison of them into a chart. I've attached the chart here in case anyone else is trying to solve the same problem. Just be aware these are my observations and may not accurately reflect a service's actual specifications--maybe I missed something or got the details wrong.

In addition to my favorite 4 I have also looked at Google Drive, Wordpress, Ebackpack, Dropbox and Sugar Sync but for various reasons they seem less useful for the job.

In addition, I recently heard about Posthaven, a service being offered by 2 of the original Posterous creators. I haven't signed-up for an account yet but I hope to try it out as its services are developed further (probably May). A co-worker also recently suggested so that might be another option.

If you find a great solution, I'd love to hear about it!

1st and 2nd Grade--Retell a Story Using Educreatioins or 30Hands or Sonic Pics

Tony Vincent recently introduced me to 30 Hands. Early in the week I gave students a chance to explore the app and compare it to Sonic Pics, which we had been using up to that point. They used Tools4Students compare/contrast for their analysis.

To review the skills of retell and remembering detail from a reading, students used Educreations, 30 Hands, or Sonic Pics to retell a story they had read the previous day. For 1st graders it was Johnny Appleseed and for 2nd graders it was A Pocket for Corduroy.

We also used Edward de Bono's 6 Thinking Hats strategy as a way of looking at the 2 books. Pairs of students were each assigned a hat color and they created 2 pages in Story Buddy to answer 2 questions I asked them about their particular hat color. For example, the 2nd grade green hat pair had to explain an object that could do the same job as a pocket and they also had decide what the girl could make next for Corduroy.  Unfortunately an over-eager helper deleted these books before they could be transferred off the iPads. We'll be doing more with 6 Thinking Hats in the coming weeks.

2nd Grade Creating a Fable Using Educreations

After reading a series of fables and discussing similarities and characteristics of fables, groups of 2 or 3 students wrote their own fable.

After showing me their storyboard they created their final product in Educreations. We have been talking about character voice and these students took that pretty literally and gave each character a different voice, as well as sound effects.

1st Grade--Solids Tower

First grade students are investigating solids. As part of the unit they were given a set of 14 solids exhibiting different properties. Their job was to create as tall a stable tower as possible using all the solids. They photographed it and then created an Educreations video explaining how they chose the materials they used as the base and how they determined what to use as the top materials.