Classroom teachers are my heroes. I can’t think of anyone else who is more dedicated to the overall well-being of 23+ children on a daily basis. They wear every hat in the book and I am in awe of how … Continue reading
The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes … Continue reading
I just recently finished the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George RR Martin on my iPad. There was NO WAY I could have possibly kept all of the thousands of characters straight in my head (not to mention funerals) if … Continue reading
It’s poetry month! To celebrate this annual event, Sara Romine, librarian at Woodstone Elementary, is facilitating a Skype session between 4th graders from San Antonio, TX and 2nd graders from South Burlington, VT. She found them via Twitter and the Poem in Your Pocket … Continue reading
Last year I stumbled upon an interesting site called HSTRY. Over the past few months, there have been several blog posts published about this fabulous tool. You can read some of them below as they give excellent information about the … Continue reading
The biggest obstacle teachers face when trying to integrate technology is time. There aren’t very many opportunities during the day to explore new tools, think of ways to use them with the curriculum, or actually sit down to write a comprehensive lesson plan. Plus, the implementation of Standard V just adds to the already existing high levels of stress. Fortunately, higher levels of technology integration promote student choice, which means less planning on the part of the teacher. Over the summer, I worked on some computer lab posters that will help guide students in choosing the right tool for their project, and support teachers in their efforts for easier ways to integrate. I chose the theme of a graphic novel (created using Comic Life) to bring a little adventure into the computer lab. The first poster is attached to the door of the lab and asks, “What will you create today?” This represents the cover of the graphic novel. When they enter, each page of the novel gives them ideas and tools to use to accomplish their task. I encourage all teachers to bring their mobile devices to the lab each week, as adding the component of a camera adds to the diversity of projects students have as options.
Many teachers may find this amount of freedom somewhat daunting, especially if they are unfamiliar with how to use the software, web tool or app. This provides the perfect opportunity to bring collaboration into your lessons. Allow students to work together to figure out how the tools work, and then let them teach the rest of the class. You can also utilize a QR code tutorial section where students can view videos for quick instructions. I’ve included a link below to the PDF version of the posters. There are some that are very NEISD specific, but hopefully they will inspire you to create more personalized versions for your own students. I’ve also included directions for printing them poster size.
The Discovery Education Network has long been a favorite source for interactive content to support classroom instruction. Most teachers are familiar with their vast collection of streaming videos, but they also offer additional services designed to accelerate student achievement. One of the most recent additions is Board Builder, a fun and easy way for students to create digital content for all subject areas. This tool is very similar to other web based poster creators such as Glogster or Smore, but differs in that students can add content directly from the Discovery Education media library. They can also upload content they have created such as audio, images, video and attachments from their computer.
NEISD has purchased a subscription to Discovery Education for all students and teachers. Susan Reeves, Educational Specialist, Digital Age Learning for the Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio, has created 2 videos to help get you started:
- Discovery Education Teacher Board Builder Directions
- Discovery Education Board Builder Student Information
DEN Team member Jeanette Edelstein created this list of 50 Ways to Use Board Builder that includes links to actual boards. These are great examples that can help you visualize using this tool. Click here for a complete list of resources to help you navigate through the Discovery Education site.
Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, NEISD teachers will be required to submit 1 student product that was created using technology. This initiative supports the Standard V requirements as outlined by SBEC.
My El Dorado peeps have been very busy planning with me and wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the projects they will be doing with their students. Many of these app/web tools are cross-curricular and can be applied to different TEKS or units of study. Please contact me if you have an idea for a lesson and need a similar task card to use with your students.
- Kinder Language Arts K.6A identify elements of a story including setting, character and key events: Facetalk Retelling
- 1st Grade Math 1.3 The student applies mathematical process standards to develop and use strategies for whole number addition and subtraction computations in order to solve problems: Farmyard Math
- 1st Grade Language Arts 1.9 A Describe the plot (problem and solution) and retell a story’s beginning, middle, and end with attention to the sequence of events: BME Summaries
- 2nd Grade Science 2.5D Combine materials that when put together can do things that they cannot do by themselves such as building a tower or a bridge and justify the selection of those materials based on their physical properties: Videolicious Structures Project
- 2nd Grade Science 2.5B The student knows that matter has physical properties and those properties determine how it is described, classified, changed, and used. Matter and Energy Digital Story
- 3rd Grade Science 3.8B Describe and illustrate the Sun as a star composed of gases that provides light and heat energy for the water cycle: Thinglink Water Cycle Project-PDF, Thinglink Water Cycle Project-Word 2013
- 3rd Grade Reading SE 3.16 Students use comprehension skills to analyze how words, images, graphics, and sounds work together in various forms to impact meaning. Students will continue to apply earlier standards with greater depth in increasingly more complex texts: Big 6 Research Project-PDF, Big 6 Research Project-Word 2013
- 3rd Grade Math 3.11B: The student directly compares the attributes of length, area, weight/mass, and capacity, and uses comparative language to solve problems and answer questions. Perimeter Party
- 4th Grade History 4.3 The student understands the importance of the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas, and the annexation of Texas to the United States: Google Tour Builder
- 5th Grade Science 5.8 Students will understand that weather represents the short term conditions of the atmosphere by producing a video that explains weather patterns of a specific region over a 3 week period: Videolicious Weather Project
- 5th Grade Math 5.6: Patterns, Relationships, & Algebraic Thinking – Words to Symbols : Glogster Word Problem Videos by Lisa Johnson
- 5th Grade Reading 5.6 (B) explain the roles and functions of characters in various plots, including their relationships and conflicts: Read Write Think Character Analysis
One of my favorite apps for the iPad is Book Creator. It costs $4.99 but they also have a free version that lets you create one free book. There isn’t a limit (as far as I can tell) as to how many pages your one free book can have, so it is possible to use your free book for several different projects. I stumbled upon a wonderful blog post from Tech With Jen where she describes how she uses graphic organizers as the background for student interactive reading journals. This one particular quote really stood out and made me think:
“When students have to write they spend a lot of cognitive energy on composing the message. Because of this, many students tend to choose to write what is easy rather than going deeper. Therefore, why not allow students to record their thinking using video, audio recording, and finding evidence by highlighting text.”
This is the perfect example of how technology can be used to enhance the learning process in a meaningful way. Using graphic organizers is a great way to bridge the gap between what is comfortable and trying something new. Below is a screenshot of one of Jen’s graphic organizers that includes video, audio and text. Notice that she used other video creation apps to summarize and retell events in a story.
There are many free sources where you can find digital versions of graphic organizers:
- Education Place
- Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers
- National Geographic
- Student Handouts
- Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
- Mrs. Hughes’ Place
The easiest way to get the graphic organizer into Book Creator would be to simply take a picture of the printed copy and upload as the background. If you really want to get creative, you could make your own graphic organizers in Pages or PowerPoint and then save as a jpeg. Dropbox or some other cloud storage utility will allow you to import to your camera roll. For more information on using Book Creator, visit their support page or view the video tutorial below.
As part of my “Anchor Activities” series, here are a few digital vocabulary ideas that students can complete during SSR time or in Math/Literacy stations. Have students generate a list of vocabulary words they are unfamiliar with (or assign them specific words from your Math or Science word walls) and allow them to choose from the following activities:
- Flashcard Maker from Scholastic
- Bio Cube Creator from ReadWriteThink
- Doodle Splash from ReadWriteThink
- Trading Card Creator from ReadWriteThink
- Inspiration Vocabulary Template
- Popplet Lite app for the iPad
- Flashcardlet app for the iPad
- PowerPoint Vocabulary Flipbook
There are a variety of online vocabulary resources for support in defining and explaining concepts:
What is LearnZillion? (Taken from FAQs)
LearnZillion is a web-based application that helps teachers and parents meet the educational needs of every student. They offer 2000 lessons that were built from the Common Core standards and were created by some of the top public and private school teachers from around the country. Each lesson includes a short video, downloadable lesson guide and resources, and coach’s commentary to help with teacher development. They are also a vibrant and growing community of educators working to improve our teaching practice through collaboration.
There are many ways to use LearnZillion. You can use their resources to help you plan everything from an individual lesson to your entire year. Watch the videos for ideas on how to teach a specific topic. Download the lesson slides and present them as part of your direct instruction or adapt them as part of a new lesson plan. Watch videos as a class or in small-groups. Assign videos directly to students or groups to pre-teach or review material or as a way to differentiate instruction in class.
Creating an account is super simple! Just click on “Teachers” in the upper-right corner of any page where it says “Sign Up,” then enter in your name, email and password. If you have a Google Account you can also sign in using that so that you have one less password to remember. Easy and free!
For more information about using the site and creating class assignments, click here.
Here is an example of a 4th grade lesson on locating benchmark numbers on a number line:
- Give your students a quick code to watch this lesson ( see what your students will see! ) and have your students take notes to reinforce the concepts.
- Send home this letter introducing parents to LearnZillion and telling them how to support their student’s learning at home.
- Download the lesson slides and use them to plan your instruction.
- Do a deep dive of a Common Core standard with colleagues using this protocol for discussion.
Mrs. Williams’ 4th Grade students at Windcrest Elementary used 3 digital devices to create their own stories based on the book Dog in Boots, by Greg Gormley. Here is a brief description of the book:
Inspired by his favorite story about a cat with fantastic boots, Dog heads to the local shoe store and emerges with some splendid footwear. But Dog soon discovers that his fancy shoes won t let him do doggy things. He tries flippers, high heels, even skis, but can t find anything that is just right. Could the perfect solution be right under his nose?
The students wondered what would happen if Dog tried on a variety of hats. Would he take on the personality of the hat? What if the hat were occupationally related? Would he still act like a dog or take on more human characteristics? After writing a rough draft in the classroom, students were taken to the library and each given a Neo AlphaSmart unit to publish their story. These word processing units have a built in spell check and Thesaurus tools to assist in the editing and revising stage of the writing process. Once their final draft was complete, student sent their text via a USB cable to QRstuff.com, a free website that generates a QR code from many different data types. Instructions for using this site can be found at the bottom of the post. The QR codes were put on display in the library for students and teachers to scan using a QR code scanner app on their iPads.
Here are some links to more ideas for using QR codes in the classroom:
One of my goals this year is to create authentic and productive uses for student desktop computers in all classrooms. I got the idea of Digital SSR from the Teaching the iGeneration workshop taught by Bill Ferriter and combined it with one of my new favorite tools, Symbaloo. It’s not exactly intuitive, so I’ve created a little tutorial for guidance:
Interested in making a webmix of your own? Here are directions. Symbaloo-user-guide
Over the past 6 weeks I have had the pleasure of working with a group of 4th grade students at East Terrell Hills Elementary, San Antonio. We spent 3 days exploring the different types of figurative language poets use as well as the elements of poetry. The students worked very hard to create this “poetry palooza” project using various iPad apps:
- Inspiration Lite graphic organizer template helped us explain the elements of poetry
- Sock Puppets was used to create a video of onomatopoeia examples identified in various poems
- iCard Sort allowed us to categorize similes and metaphors
- Corkulous helped to showcase different ways authors use the 5 senses in their poems
- Songify produced a “Personification Rap”