Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2nd Graders Use Strip Design to Write Instructions

We talked about writing directions this week, which tied in with reading Jalepeno Bagels and directions in Daisy the Dinosaur. To bring in some math, pairs of students used Strip Design to give directions on a choice of topics. They could give directions on creating a growing pattern, naming a fraction, or using a number line to add.

2nd Grade--Healthy Snacks Using Popplet and iDiary

As part of our nutrition project based learning unit students focused on healthy snacks last week.

Each student took photos of 10-15 healthy snacks that they would be willing to have at recess. I had a large stack of pictures for them to choose from that came from the Dairy Council of California. While I could have put the photos in iPhoto or Dropbox and have students select from there, I wanted them to practice with the camera by taking their own pictures. They imported the photos into Popplet and then added a caption naming the food and its food group. Students also had the option of drawing the food rather than using a photo.

Later they chose 1 of their snacks and wrote an iDiary entry about why they liked it. They were encouraged to include details about their 5 senses as well as nutrition information, but, pressed for time (no school this week so we had a deadline), I was asking for an opinion topic sentence and 3 supporting details.

1st and 2nd Graders--Showing What We Know About Pilgrims

Last week students watched and took brief notes on the Scholastic Pilgrim/Native American videos. The videos are 15-20 minutes each and are informative while entertaining enough to hold the attention of everyone. I appreciate the points at which the narrator stops the video and summarizes a few key points. At these points I also paused the video and asked students to write 1 or 2 things they remembered--focusing either on something that surprised or particularly interested them.

In pairs students looked through the Sarah Morton and Samuel Eaton books for additional facts. Given the reading level and time constraints students didn't read the books completely.

Students then had an opportunity for various quick pair-share groupings to tell each other what they noted.  All the chores and very little space were common themes!

Finally, groups of 3 students created a Puppet Pals video using Puppet Pals HD with the Thanksgiving themed characters and background. Each student stated 3 facts and they needed to plan ahead so that no facts were repeated.

Puppet Pal Pilgrim video

1st and 2nd Graders--Counting Lego Bumps

This week one of the collaborative activities we did was to work in Lego groups. Each group had to create a structure using all 19 of their Legos with exactly 100 of the "bumps" visible from above.

After taking a photo of their creation group members interviewed each other (no samples shown because they have student faces) to explain the strategy(ies) they used to reach exactly 100. They also explained how they used Project Cornerstone skills to work together and gave their opinion about the most difficult part of the assignment.

My favorite part of the activity was watching & listening the different math strategies. Most groups eventually came up with grouping bumps into 10 groups of 10 and then covering up everything else, but other groups counted by 2s and 5s.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

1st and 2nd Grade Motion Math: Match

Last week my 1st and 2nd grade students had an opportunity to use Motion Math: Match, which I learned about at EdSurge Silicon Valley.

Initially students played in pairs with a partner of similar math ability. For this activity they created a "test" user. The reason I started them with a partner is because I wanted them to play the game without me telling them what to do. I have some students who are really savvy with the tech and others who are very hesitate to tap anything they haven't been specifically directed to touch. I took this into consideration when making the pairs as well. They worked on addition and after 3 games switched to subtraction.

The following day each student created their own user and had time to play several games. I let them choose their own level and addition or subtraction.

Comments from students--"I like that the app has matching numbers some of the time but other times I have to add or subtract to make a match." "I like that some cards disappear to give fewer choices." "I really want to get to the next level and win a goal tile that I picked. I was mad when Mrs. Auten told me I had to stop."

As a teacher I appreciate the differentiation--operation, difficulty, number of choices, and item earned. I also like the quietness of the game. Some of my students don't like wearing headphones and I appreciate that when they mute the app that there really is no sound. It's easy to use so it doesn't take a lot of time explaining to students what to do. Not only does that save time in class, it also empowers students to figure out the app for themselves.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1st grade Weather Opinion

1st grade students wrote a diary entry giving their opinion about their favorite weather. I asked for a topic sentence and 3 reasons to support their opinion.  Due to time limits they did not write a conclusion sentence.

2nd grade Ox Cart Man family responsibilities

AS with past years my students read Oxcart Man and did a season Popplet and a vocabulary dictionary just like last year (see Nov 2012 posts). This year they also completed a Popplet naming 2 different responsibilities for each member of the family. They also created a bubble for themselves and wrote 2 responsibilities they have at home. This led to a rich discussion about how responsibilities might change from long ago to present while some responsibilities remain the same.


I had an opportunity to attend EdSurge Silicon Valley on November 2. There were about 30 education companies showing their software and apps. I learned so much and heard about some fantastic companies that can really benefit the learning of my students.

A few highlights...

I was able to meet employees from Classdojo, TenMarks, and eSpark. I love all these companies and my students have benefited from their products. I really enjoyed putting a face to names. I also met someone from Motion Math and was able to try out some of their apps that we don't own. Their new play pack has a set of 5 of their fun games. I got a free code for this pack and also for Motion Math Match. I love the idea that Match offers solo and pair play as well as differentiated levels. My students tried it this week and had a great time.

I heard about Ponder for the 1st time. Alex from Ponder has helped me set-up a class for my 1st/2nd graders. We'll be trying it out next week. I like the concept of offering students a menu of word choices to help them pinpoint their thinking as they read. It will be interesting to implement this reading software along with paper reading comprehension and Actively Learn. I forsee myself using the 2 for different purposes...I'll let you know once I have a chance to try Ponder.

Speaking of Actively Learn, I met some reps from Gobstopper, a company with a product similar to Actively Learn. I've never tried Gobstopper, but I'm interested to see what books they will offer in the near future for early elementary students.

Zaption and Knowmia were 2 other highlights for me. Both involve teaching with video. Both seems easy to use, but I haven't had a chance to sit down and explore either of them.

After all this learning I am ready for Thanksgiving break and several free days to explore. In addition to the products above I also want to explore braingenie..CK12 learning for the younger grades.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

1st grade Move and Match app

First grade students used the Move and Match app twice this week. I created an activity similar to a venn diagram sort about apples and pumpkins and another activity matching map vocabulary and pictures. Creating activities in Move and Match was easy for me (scan activities students previously completed on paper and save in the stickies) and figuring out how to complete the assignment was simple for the students. They took a screenshot when they had finished so they could share their work.

1st and 2nd grade--Bedtime Math and Skitch

I introduced my class to the Bedtime Math app last week. Once a week, possibly more, students will take a screenshot of the day's math problem and import it to Skitch. They will have a choice of the "wee ones" or "little dids" problem, depending on which they feel better suits their abilities on a given day. In Skitch they will show their solution and answer.

I really like the levels offered by this app, the plethora of problems, and the real world situations they're tied to.

2nd graders--Tellagami response to 2 family heritage books

Following a read aloud of 2 books for our family heritage unit I asked students to create a Tellagami response. The 2 books were The Memory Cupboard by Charlotte Herman and How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina Friedman.

The prompts I asked students to respond to were how does The Memory Cupboard relate to our family heritage unit (heirlooms are important and their memories explained) and what are 3 comparisons made in How My Parents Learned to Eat between American and Japanese culture.


1st and 2nd graders--Lego sort

As a quick and fun activity (and to practice communication, collaboration and sorting) groups of 3 students worked together to sort Legos based on 4 properties of their choice. After each sort they took a photo with the iPad. When they were finished with their 4 sorts they imported the photos to PicCollage and created a poster with captions explaining their sort criteria.

A skill to discuss--poster appeal--can your audience read the captions?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

2nd grade--I'm Not Scared unit

In honor of Halloween 2nd grade students spent last week on a literacy unit focused on being scared.  There were 3 days of reading with day 1 focused on monster books, day 2 characters being afraid of different things and day 3 characters being afraid of different things with a very explicit part of the story about how to overcome that fear. Generally each day students read 2 books and they were leveled for reading difficulty.

In addition, students read I'm Not Scared and Mico on the iPads or iTouches.

Students completed 3 iPad activities for the unit. After the 2nd day of reading they each created a Popplet about things they were afraid of and how they thought they could overcome that particular fear. This was a lead-in to the books on day 3 when the characters really explained how they overcame their fears (day 2 books either were not very explicit or overcoming the fear wasn't part of the story).
After day 3 groups of 3 students created a PSA (public service announcement) about how to overcome a specific fear. They used PuppetPals HD to complete this task, the first time they've used the app.  They had a lot of fun with the puppets, choosing their characters and making them move around the screen. At the same time, they all spoke very clearly and produced a product that gave advice.

Finally students wrote an iDiary entry sharing the answer to 3 questions--what was your favorite part of the unit and why, what was your least favorite part of the unit and why, and what did you learn from the unit.

1st grade--An Egg is an Egg response

1st grade students read An Egg is an Egg by Nicki Weiss. Each student used the My Story app to create 2 pages of their own following the format "A _____ is a ____ until _____." Students typed the sentence and illustrated.

Unfortunately the My Story app did not correctly download/save the stories because when I go to any of the links I get a message that the epub is not available, so I can't share samples. However, they were really cute.

Some examples were "An ice cube is an ice cube until it melts" and "Denim is denim until it gets turned into jeans." Some of their examples tied in with our solids and liquids science unit as well as discussions we've had about animals.

1st grade--how to writing transferred to Educreations

My 1st grade students have done several pieces of "how to" writing since the beginning of the year including "how to... (different classroom rules)", "how to...(buddy activity with 5th grade about using playground equipment), and "how to carve a pumpkin".

Today I asked students to books at different reading difficulties that include "how to" directions. We discussed the similarities and differences in formats for writing "how to" directions. Then students wrote their own "how to" directions. I gave them 4 topic choices and asked them to each select the one that they could teach the best. They wrote their directions on paper first and then read them into the Educreations app after illustrating the different steps.

This was one of the 1st Educreations projects we've shared whole class and the big take-away message for 80% of the students is that they need to speak louder while recording.


Saturday, November 2, 2013


Despite a number of challenges and set-backs, my school (grades K-3) is now using Posthaven as an ePortfolio. Posthaven is created by a couple of the creators of Posterous, which no longer exists. My school used Posterous as an ePortfolio platform last year.

Posthaven is similar, although not exactly the same, as Posterous.

Each teacher has a Posthaven account. Within that account we created a Site for each student. Whenever a student creates work on the iPad they email it it their Site. Each Site has a specific email address associated with it. Posthaven looks like a blog--each piece of work shows up in chronological order.

Posthaven can accept anything that can be emailed--links, text, photos, PDF, video, etc. This is a big advantage of Posthaven compared to some of the other options we looked at. As a teacher I can comment on student work with either a grade or text.

Parents have access to their child's Site, but otherwise the ePortfolio is private. The work in the ePortfolio can be transferred to next year's teacher so the ePortfolio will grow and "travel" with the student.