Sunday, January 31, 2016

Collaborative Book Discussions- You Bet!

Click to access the Feb Google doc
Do you want to connect your class to others in a collaborative project that you can manage in whatever way works best for your class with no time zone issues? If so, you'll want to read on to see how easy it is and how you can be a part of this wonderful experience!

Last month LekaDeGroot (@lekadegroot), Terry Stoufer (@firstatbat) and I started a collaborative book project to help meet the needs of our above grade level readers after a conversation we had on Twitter. It started with Leka choosing several books off of the wonderful and free Epic Books site/app that each of our classes were already using. (If you've not heard of or used this wonderful resource I highly encourage you to link over and check it out!) 

A Google doc, like the one you see to the right, was then created with each of the books for the month along with a link and QR code that took our students to a Padlet board for each book. 

Each teacher decided how to best implement this project in their own class. I started out by using this in my guided reading group so I could introduce kids to the format as it was our first time using Padlet independently this year. Leka and Terry both had their kids read the books and use the Padlet fairly independently.

Here's an example of one of the Padlet walls for the story Snow Party

This was a wonderful way for kiddos to share their knowledge about books. My class really enjoyed reading what others had to say about the books and were just as exited to share their thoughts with the other classes. 

As Leka said in her post, and I couldn't agree more, "I am so thankful to have great teachers in my PLN who are willing to connect their students with the world..."
You can read Leka's reflection on the project on her blog, Growing Apples

If you'd like to join us this month, please do! We'd love for you to give it a try. You can download the GoogleDoc with our book selections here. All of the books are available on Epic although you're welcome to read the paper version if you have it as well. 

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me either here or on twitter @smalchow

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Student taking a pic of our alphabet. Can you see the pattern?
As I mentioned awhile back, my class took part in a global iBook project, TWIMA3 (The World Is My Audience) which revolved around the topic of patterns. As part of this project each global classroom created their own pages for a chapter in the book based on their interpretation of patterns, whether that be through poetry, music, science, math, etc. My class chose to find patterns within our classroom as well as create and label our own patterns as it integrated nicely with our math curriculum and 1st grade standards. 
Putting our learning into the app our choice.

Each of my students had choice in how they chose to represent their patterns as well as which app they felt would best show their learning. Most students chose to use PicCollage for Kids or Explain Everything for their final submission. Explain Everything was a popular choice once kiddos realized that they could use the light pointer to tell about their patterns. Many students also used apps such as Geoboard and Pattern Blocks to create their digital patterns. 

One of the completed pages for our chapter
Once our pages were complete we sent our submissions to Mr. Jon Smith in Ohio (you can follow him on Twitter @theipodteacher). He, along with Leah Lacrosse (@LLaacrosse), compiled all the submissions into an iBook which you can find in the iBooks store. You can access and download the book for free using the link below. Our class' chapter begins on page 94, Chapter 10
We hope you'll take some time to take a peek at it. It was neat to see how each classroom, from all different grade levels. tackled this project.

This was a fantastic opportunity for my students to showcase their learning in an authentic way. We will definitely be taking part in future projects. Speaking of future projects, TWIMA4 is due to be announced sometime in February. If you're interested in participating, be sure to follow Jon Smith @theipodteacher on Twitter to catch the announcement.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

100th Day Collaboration

It's just around the corner, the 2nd biggest holiday celebration in February (or maybe in January for your school)... 

This year my class is hoping to collaborate with classrooms around the world in our celebration and we hope you'll join us! Each year we talk about what we would do if we had $100 or what we wish we had 100 of. My guess is many of you use some of these same prompts during your celebrations. 

This year we're hoping we can find out how other students answer these questions too. In fact, our goal is to get

We've created a 100th day Padlet board and hope that you and your students will take some time to add your thoughts as well. 

Feel free answer as a class or have your students post individually. Pick a prompt from any of the ones listed above or if you have others that you use feel free to share those with us too. Add a picture or just write your idea. We'd love it if you'd leave your name and state/country in the title box. Make it your own and join in the fun! 
Click here to access the Padlet board

Here is a poster you can print off or project with the Padlet board QR code. I also have this QR embedded right on the board. 
I usually project our Padlets on my Smartboard and then have the kiddos come up and scan the QR code right from the board. Works great, easy to use and no printing necessary. 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with me!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Patterns, Patterns, everywhere!

We've been prepping for weeks now to get to get ready to work on our chapter for the global iBook project, TWIMA3, which will be all about patterns. The outcome of this book will be stunning I'm sure as it is being put together by one of my fellow Apple Distinguished Educators, Mr. Jon Smith (@theipodteacher) from Ohio. You can check out his blog here. When the book is done it will be available free on iTunes. I know my students will be ecstatic to see all of their hard work come together in a book that they will be able to share with others and enjoy for years to come!

So, back to the project- Over the course of the past few months we've talked about patterns, found patterns, and analyzed patterns in all sorts of places around our school. We've found them even when we haven't been looking for them!  Currently we've mainly focused on repeating patterns but as we work into our unit on patterns in math in the coming weeks, we'll also learn about growing patterns. Unfortunately the deadline for submission is prior to that so our submissions will just focus on repeating patterns.

Today each students were given the task of:
  1. Finding something in our room that had a pattern and take a picture of it
  2. Using hands-on materials of their choice from around the room to build their own pattern
  3. If they had time- they were also able to create a pattern on the iPad using an app of their choice. Kiddos chose apps such as Magnetic Alphabet,  Pattern Blocks, and Drawing Pad to create their masterpieces.
I was pleasantly surprised by their choice of apps as I wouldn't have thought to use some of the ones that they chose. NEVER underestimate the power of a first grader and their thought process! The collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills that were used as we worked through the tasks was phenomenal! Many students began with basic color or shape patterns but as they worked through each task, their ideas and creations became more and more elaborate. As I conferenced with students I encouraged them to think differently to dig deep and to stretch their imaginations.

As we continue on with this project we analyze the patterns we found and created and work to explain and describe them to others by either writing about them or recording information about them. We will again be using a variety of apps depending on their personal preferences. Apps may include PicCollage or Explain Everything. We'll see what others they feel will work the job. I'm excited to watch and learn from this great group of kiddos. They never cease to amaze me!
I'll be sure to update this site as we complete our submissions and also add a link to the book once it is published in the iTunes store.

On a side note, I apologize for not posting here as regularly as I have in the past. I am a member of a new 12 person team in my district that is working to help our district teachers embed technology into their teaching. This, along with full-time teaching and family life has really eaten into my blogging time. I encourage you to also follow our classroom blog, The Dog Blog to see what we are doing on a more regular basis. You will get an overview of projects that we are doing to enhance our learning just not with as much detail.