Wednesday, January 14, 2015


We have been working on comparing 2 digit numbers less than 100 in math this past week. We've been building the numbers using base 10 blocks, using both traditional blocks as well as virtual base 10 blocks on our iPads. We've been noticing and discussing how the 10s place is what helps us to know if the number is larger (as long as the 10s place numbers are not the same- we talked about what to do with that debacle as well). As a quick assessment this week, I gave each child 2 different numbers to build using the app, Number Pieces Basic. This is a great app for students to build, compare, add and subtract numbers with and best yet, it's free! Click the link above to check it out for yourself.

After building their numbers on the app, each student took a screenshot of their page and then imported that picture into the app, Doodlecast Pro. Doodlescast Pro is an app which allows us to write on our pictures, as well as record our thoughts. This is not a free app, but there is a similar one called Screen Chomp that is free. Students then had to tell what their numbers were, which was larger and explain the thinking that they used to know which number was larger. When we were done, I had my students email their videos to me. I listened to each one and then forwarded it to their parents along with a note about how they were doing with the concepts we were working on. I had a dad email today with the following comment, 
"This is awesome! Get to see his learning and development of concepts in action."
Yes! That madde my day as a big part of why I think the iPads are such a great tool is that our classroom learning can be transparent to parents and the world!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We've been learning about the reading strategy- Determining Importance. This strategy is used when good readers need to decide between what is simply interesting in a text and what's important in order to understand what they are reading.We did an experiment today in which we had a bowl of water with noodles in it which represented our books and stories and a colander which represented our brains. We used the colander (our brain) to strain out the noodles (the important information, the main ideas, and key topics) and left the water (the interesting stuff with little detail) behind. To help solidify the concept, I had my first graders take  a picture of our experiment and import that picture into the PicCollage app. They then labeled the pieces of our experiment (interesting, important and brain) and sent it to their parents. Their homework this evening is to explain the experiment and their PicCollage to their parents. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ho, Ho, Ho...shhhh... it's parent Christmas gifts

We made these adorable little reindeer ornaments for our parents today. They were so easy and inexpensive. This is the 2nd year that I've made them with a few new modifications this year.


To start, I bought a sheet of white hexagon shaped floor tiles from Home Depot. I think the whole sheet cost all of $3.00 if I remember correctly (I bought this sheet last year and had enough left over for this year's class) There were 36 little hexagon tiles on a sheet. I started by cutting apart the sheet and then separated the hexagons and the squares. I'm not sure what I'll do with the squares, but they were too cute to throw away... maybe good for sorting/counting activities?? They'll likely see the garbage during spring cleaning if they're still in the cupboard without a use this year.


After separating, I used a scissors to quickly cut off the excess adhesive that originally held them together. Next, I had my kiddos come up 1 at a time to do their thumbprint. I had them write their names on the back of the tile along with the year with a Sharpie before we started. I wanted the kiddos to do it so moms and dads have a handwriting remembrance. I then used a foam brush to quickly paint an even layer of paint on their thumb and then they pressed it onto the tile.  We used acrylic paint that I picked up from Wal-mart. The color was Burnt Umber and cost a whopping 89 cents. This little bottle will last you umpteen years! I did all of my class in about 10 minutes (fingerprints only at this time) We let them dry over the lunch hour, but to be honest, they are dry enough within 15-30 minutes for the next step if you don't make the prints too thick. You can see the difference between a one which is a bit thick and one that I consider just right to the left. I like it when you can see the swirls of the fingerprint a bit so parent know it's a print.


A 15 point buck!
After letting the paint dry, I call kiddos to my kidney table 3 at a time for the next step. This step turns the ordinary fingerprint into an adorable reindeer ornament with a Sharpie marker, some white paint and a little bit of puffy paint.  As the kids come back they use a brown Sharpie marker (I bought 3 last year at Home Depot at Christmas time when you could buy individual colors.I think they were about $1.50 each) to draw on the antlers. We do this first so they won't smudge the paint we are about to put on. Once their antlers are done I have them dip the end of a different Sharpie marker into some white acrylic paint (yup, another bottle from Wal-mart) and dab it onto their print where they want their eyes to be. I model this for them so they don't over dip and they do a fantastic job. Next, they use black puffy paint to squirt 2 dots on the white for the pupils and then squeeze some red puffy paint onto the bottom of their print for a Rudolph nose. I honestly can't tell you how much the black and red puffy paint costs as I bought it for other projects many years ago... but that being said, once you buy, you won't likely need to buy more again for MANY years with just a dob here and a dob there.
We then let them sit overnight to completely dry and set up. 
The next day I hot glue on a loop of cute sparkly silver ribbon that they can hang their ornament from the tree from. I always buy my ribbon after the holiday to get it 50% or more off. Each spool usually lasts me 2-3 years depending on how many kiddos I have and I big I make the loops. (I usually have about 18 kiddos in my class) and viola- you have a cute, inexpensive ornament that is a personalized remembrance for parents. I use to do the handprint snowmen ornaments but they started to get expensive and messy to do. THese are so much easier and more durable as well.




Monday, December 22, 2014

Double Digit Numbers and Pic Collage

Our new math program has little lessons called Investigations built into the curriculum. Today we did an investigation having to do with double digit numbers. We spent a few minutes discussing what a double digit number is and giving some examples. We then brainstormed some places that we thought we might find these kinds of numbers. After our discussion, students were paired up and spent 10-15 minutes walking around our classroom and school looking for double digit numbers and taking pictures of them with their iPads.
It was amazing to see some of the places that students found double digit numbers, everything from clocks and calendars to classroom door numbers and  even entrance numbers to our building. I absolutely LOVE this picture of one of my students getting this picture.


After we got back to the room students were asked to import the pictures they took into the app, PicCollage to show their learning. The only stipulations were: 1) you have to work collaboratively and creatively with your partner 2) You must have your names on your collage
3) You need a title for your PicCollage

We've used PicCollage several other times and my students are getting quite adept at maneuvering their way around the app. I did introduce them to a new feature today- cropping their photos, which came in very useful for some of the pics they had taken. They really enjoyed trying this out and it definitely made their learning come more to the forefront of their creations. 

Last time we used PicCollage kiddos figured out how to import photos from the web as their backgrounds. We had Minecraft and Halo backgrounds which really distracted from the learning we were trying to showcase which lead to a fantastic discussion of what would be a better choice. Today,  I again reminded them of that conversation and asked that they find backgrounds that complimented their collage versus taking away from their learning. At that point I let them create as I didn't want to micromanage what may come out of their brains. I was quite impressed to say the least with the choices they made for their backgrounds and their ability to work together so collaboratively from start to finish!!! 



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Simplistic app smash

Looking for an easy and engaging way for your students to practice their spelling words or high frequency words? 
In our class, kiddos use the Magnetic Alphabet app to place virtual magnetic letters onto a variety of backgrounds to create their weekly words. Students love using the different backgrounds to give each of their pics a little extra pizzazz. Once students have finished creating one of their words, they save their image to the camera roll. After they have all 5 of their weekly words created and saved, they import their 5 images into PicCollage where they can creatively put all of their words together onto one page, change the background and then send to their parents.