Thursday, October 31, 2013

2nd grade--Labeling parts of a Fable

The last few years my 2nd grade students read fables over 1-2 days, created a fable of their own and that was it for that genre. This year I moved the unit from April (see April 2012 and 2013 posts) to October and expanded it.

Students read fables on iPads using several Aesop Fable apps. They compared/contrasted different electronic illustrations and print illustrations.

Whole class we watched several traditional/modern fable pairs from the website  and discussed similarities and differences. Then each student chose a traditional fable and re-wrote it, setting the tale in the present time at our school but keeping the moral/lesson the same.

Another added activity was taking a picture of a print fable and noting in Skitch 3 things typically found in a fable.

1st and 2nd grade describe pumpkins or zombies

Students used the Make a Zombie and Make a Pumpkin apps this week in a descriptive activity. Half the class was using the iPads for a different assignment, so the pumpkin/zombie activity was completed on iTouches.

Students created a pumpkin or zombie of their choice using the free Parents Magazine app. They took a screenshot and imported to Doodle Buddy. Finally, they added 3 adjectives describing their picture. It would probably have been better with more screen space to write, but overall a fun Halloween activity.

As an added non-electronic activity they paired up and on the fly created a quick oral story about their pumpkin or zombie character, incorporating the description.

1st and 2nd grade--Germs Popplet

In the hopes of decreasing the spread of germs and increasing the covering of mouths and noses with elbows, we spent a couple days learning about bacteria and viruses. I brought out electron microscope photos from my days as a molecular biology and read aloud books including The Magic School Bus: Inside Ralphie, No Measles No Mumps For Me, and Germs Make Me Sick. After some hands-on activities (glitter passes around on hands, making a chain of picking up germs around the room, and "sneezing" confetti) students created a Popplet showing what they learned.

1st graders enjoy Moose Math

I received a free code for the app Moose Math. It's geared for K-1st graders and has activities tied to the Common Core math standards. There are 3 places for students to visit in the town--a juice store, a pet store and lost and found. Math skills include counting, addition, subtraction, shapes and colors. As students progress the levels get increasingly difficult. The initial levels were definitely easy for my 1st graders, but they quickly moved up to math that made them think. Their favorite seemed to be sorting/identifying shapes and colors in the lost and found.

I appreciated the ability to check-in my student's individual progress. Also, the nutritious nature of the juice shop ties in well with the nutrition/food groups unit we are just starting.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1st and 2nd grade--Almost daily uses of iDiary

For the first time since I've been a teacher my students don't have weekly keyboarding practice at school. I'm on the tech committee that helped to make that decision and I do like having an extra 1/2 hour each week of time in the classroom. One concern is that students may not pick-up typing skills as quickly, especially if they are not practicing at home, which we are encouraging them to do.

I am providing students with more times each week to use the iDiary app, giving them individual "real world" practice with keyboarding. Some days they have free choice of the topic to write about and other days I give them a specific question or topic to respond to. Some of the things I've asked them to write about is what they are learning in PE, their favorite activity in music class, what whole class reading book they've enjoyed the most and why, the book they would like me to read aloud to the class next and why, and a description of their favorite breakfast. Not only do these writings help me get to know the students better, they are also expressing themselves in opinion format most of the time (CCS) and practicing keyboarding.  After they type their sentences (minimum 2 for 1st grade and 4 for 2nd grade) they can illustrate or add stickers if they want.

No samples here--the students love the idea that these are PRIVATE (except for me)!

2nd grade--character description

2nd grade students are talking a lot this year about character descriptions. I have a section of the classroom wall devoted to describing characters in books we read. I have copied the book cover and students take turn working together to write a few sentences about character traits of the main character. Not only do they name a few character traits, they also give examples from the story that led them to infer the character trait.

This week my goal was for students to transfer the concept of character traits to our school mascot, Monte. They used Popplet to give 4 examples about Monte and explain their reasoning. The explanation part went well, but most students described feelings rather than character traits. I guess we'll continue to practice.

1st grade--Advice to Hilda Hen

In addition to the Popplet sequence activity we completed last year after reading Hilda Hen's Scary Night, this year students used the My Story app to give Hilda some advice. They each chose a point in the story where Hilda got into trouble and suggested something she could do differently to prevent the problem in the future.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1st and 2nd Graders Code with Daisy the Dinosaur

This week I had a guest, Stuart Rosenberg, visit my class to teach a 1 hour lesson about coding. He's a retired 5th/6th grade teacher from my district who does some consulting and is my #1 go-to for tech questions.

I loved the way he organized the time. First, an introduction to himself and how he and the students could communicate with each other. Then a discussion about verbal and written instructions with some actual practice, including some "bad" directions that could not be followed and a discussion about why some instructions are better than others.

Once the students really understood the importance of step-by-step instructions for moving themselves around the classroom to accomplish a given task (get a water bottle) it was time to open Daisy the Dinosaur on the iPads.

Stuart asked the students to work on the "challenge" section of the app, which gives the user challenges of increasing difficulty while teaching the different commands available. I found it really interesting how several student were stuck on the "make daisy spin 5 times" challenge because they only used the spin command once. However, when reminded of the physical activity they had done with Stuart earlier (he told them specific number of steps to take) they realized they needed to use the spin command 5 times.

Once the challenge section was finished there was about 10 minutes left for students to complete 1 of 2 challenges Stuart provided using the free play mode of the app. The challenges were similar to each other but 2 levels of difficulty.

Later in the day during free choice time many students opted to return to this app.

2nd graders finish fairy tale PBL unit

Friday 2nd graders finished their 12 day PBL fairy tale unit. We completed the entire unit (minus 3 assignments) on iPads.

The unit involved reading a lot of different fairy tales and different versions of the same fairy tales. Students also used many Tools4Students graphic organizers to respond to the books. All the work was done in pairs as we are working a lot of collaboration skills and explaining our thinking. As students completed the graphic organizers each partner had a different job--that of typist or that of questioner. The typist filled in the organizer and the questioner prompted the typist the give reasons for what they were typing.

Students read all the fairy tales, except 2 fractured fairy tales, on iPads.

There were 2 culminating projects for the unit. First, students created a map (to tie in with our social studies unit) of Fairytale Land. They had to place at least 6 fairy tale characters that we had read about on the map and be able to defend where they were placing the characters. Their map also needed to include at least 5 landforms. The landforms provided a natural way for students to separate certain characters (such as the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood). This dovetailed with the discussions we had in social studies about landforms and how they influence where/how people live and interact. Maps were created on paper because I felt that the size of the iPad screen would limit students' ability to fit everything in as they tend to write and draw large with their fingers or stylus. Students did present their maps to the class with time for Q and A.

The other culminating project was taking a fairy tale and re-writing it in a modern setting. These were really fun for me to read. Students wrote on paper. I think if we had more time we would have used Toontastic because I love that app. I just didn't have time at this point for students to learn how to use the app and be comfortable enough with it to get their fairy tale complete. Maybe this is something for next year. However, they did create their main character using Toca Fairy Tale.

Justand is working well

I have gotten rid of my clunky ELMO stand and document camera. I was happy 4 or so years ago to get it, but even back then the cart that I was given was never functional. It took up a lot of space and had very little storage and was not easy to move around. I always felt that the document camera and bolted on projector were wobbly and I can't tell you how many students disregarded/forgot directions, sat under the projector (which stuck out to the side) and then stood up and banged their head.

In its place I have an old (but very functional) rolling cart with 3 levels. The top of the cart is the perfect size for the Justand and my laptop. I have the projector and other miscellaneous supplies (pens, tape, etc) on the middle shelf and the bottom shelf holds all the supplies for the day's activities. With the previous arrangement all these other items had to go on a separate stand.

The Justand has been easy to use. I like the way the arm easily swings up or down and even students can put their iPad into the stand and take it out quickly. The iPad with the cover that we purchased doesn't fit securely, as the iPad would if we didn't have the cover or if we had chosen a thinner cover, but the stand holds it well enough that I don't fear that it will fall.

This arrangement makes it really easy to use the iPad as a document camera. I have been using the CamDraw app to annotate on top of whatever paper I am displaying for the students.

The Justand 2 looks fantastic as well, I have been using the original.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Morning Work So Much Faster on an iPad

I have transitioned all of our morning work (first 1/2 hour or so) to iPads.

When students arrive they use Socrative to let me know they're present and whether they're buying lunch or not. Next they move to an iPad activity that was formally completed on paper.

Monday--Showbie activity to review 2nd grade concepts (I'm working on transferring 1st grade material to Showbie as well)
Tuesday--math fact test and daily sentence edit
Wednesday--Socrative math and grammar questions
Thursday--math fact test and daily sentence edit
Friday--spelling test and Showbie logic/problems solving activity

After 2 weeks my students know the routine, understand the work flow, and I find they are completing the activities so much faster than when they were doing the same thing on paper. I also love the way it frees up my time to meet individually or in small groups to quickly review topics from the previous day or check in with students who were absent.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Our first week with 2:1 iPads

My students spent a lot of time this week familiarizing themselves with some apps/websites that they will access frequently throughout the year. They were so engaged this week and always ready for the next activity. The hardest part is remembering different logins. I have a "set" username and password for each student for websites/apps that allow for customized usernames and passwords. However, some sites/apps provide a username and/or password that I can't change to the "set" format. I know this is probably a great life lesson in the long run (create different usernames and passwords for each private website used), but it's a real challenge for 6 and 7 year olds. Yes, they all have small papers with their login info written down and a place to keep them, but it is so easy for those papers get lost despite best intentions...

The first is the website Biblionasium. (it works on iPads). It's free and allows students to rate books they've read and to add books to their shelf that they would like to read. It also gives students the opportunity to suggest books to each other. It's similar to the adult website Goodreads. In the past I've used Biblionasium as the reading log portion of their homework. I'm not doing that this year because I am using the paid version of Scoopad for online homework. Students complete all parts of their homework--reading log, math, ELA, and spelling--on this online site. However, students are still engaged with Biblionasium. It is helpful for me to see what they are reading and what they want to read because it helps when choosing books to add to the class library. I can also add books we are reading in class to their shelves.

My school has a Raz Kids subscription and students all had a chance this week to do some reading in class from those leveled books. We also have the leveled library apps that correspond with Raz Kids and I use those apps for pair reading.

For math we are using 2 websites/apps, both tied to the Common Core standards, Ten Marks and Front Row. Ten Marks is a website and Front Row is an app. I did not use Ten Marks last year and my students used Front Row last year just for the fraction portion of CC, because that was the only part of the math curriculum that was available. Front Row has done a huge amount of work over the summer and now has math curriculum for all the math CC standards for K-5.

Finally, my school's foundation paid for me to have the paid version of Showbie. I tried the free version of Showbie last year and really liked the concept. However, for 6 and 7 year olds it was too many steps to transfer an assignment to a different app, annotate, save it back, see comments from me and repeat the process for areas of work that needed to be completed or corrected. With Showbie Pro my students can annotate (and so can I) right in the app. Since writing on the iPad can be tricky I plan to use this in place of worksheets that don't require many sentences. Here are math and logic assignments 2nd grade students completed Thursday and yesterday.

Over the summer I attended a Buck Institute PBL training in Napa. I love the PBL format and one unit I've created for 2nd grade revolves around "What is a fairy tale?" We started that unit today. All of the fairy tales (about 15 for the 12 day unit) are read on the iPad. During the unit students will use various Tools4Students templates to respond to the reading. In addition this week they asked and answered comprehension questions in pairs using questions I created in a flashcard app. Rather than writing their answers they responded with the Tellagami app. This was their first experience with that app and I had several students tell me how much they liked it compared to writing on paper (I wasn't surprised).

Use of the Justand has been put on hold. I think I'm going to love it, but it doesn't fit on the current ELMO stand I have, so I need a new furniture configuration.

First grade students did an inference activity using Popplet. Each pair of students had a backpack with 7 items. For example, 2 mystery books, a set of Halloween stickers, a hair decoration, watercolor paint set, art project kit, and a piece of 2nd grade homework. Students grouped objects (or left them as a single object) and took pictures using the iPad camera within the Popplet app. They used the typing tool to add a caption to each Popple explaining what they could infer from that/those objects. For example, one pair took a picture of the Halloween stickers and wrote "it's fall".