Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mystery Walker Techified

With the beginning of the school year literally right around the corner, I've been combing through my Pinterest boards for a little beginning of the year inspiration. As I was scrolling through my PBIS board, I came across a pin about using a Mystery Walker. Ironically, one of my colleagues had mentioned this idea at our beginning of the year meeting as well and I thought about trying the idea again. If you're not familiar with Mystery Walker you can read about it here on What Happens in First Grade's blog.  I've had varied success with the idea but my biggest issues are:
  • remembering to pulling a chip, 
  • remembering where I set it down, 
  • or worse... leaving it in my pocket only to find it in the lint trap of my dryer on the weekend and then having to remember to bring it back to school. Ugh! 
I like the idea, but the management for me is just one more thing to keep track of. 

Then it dawned on me... I have an app that would work perfectly- Decide Now I downloaded this a couple of years ago just for fun but had since deleted it off my phone but VIOLA it's the perfect fit for this idea so I re-downloaded it. The app is basically a large Wheel of Fortune wheel complete with sound effects. 

All I had to do was give my newly created wheel a title and insert my students' names. To pick a student I just need to touch or spin the wheel. You can also share your wheel via email or Twitter. I thought this would be a great motivator for my students as well. If they are the Mystery Walker and earn the bragging rights of having done a great job, they can tweet out the wheel with a message to their parents!

You could easily use this to randomly pick students for other things as well or program it with rewards or bonus points if you use Class DoJo. The ideas or limitless. Best part though... I don't usually make it a habit to put my iPhone through the wash, so no more chips in the lint trap!!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Technology for Standards-Based Literacy

Utilizing technology during the literacy block can be a very rewarding venture. I have been and continue to work to find ways to bring technology into our reading and writing while still maintaining good pedagogical practices. I don't believe that technology should be used for the sake of using technology. There needs to be a purpose and it needs to in some way enhance traditional practice. 

The presentation above is one that I am giving at SITA15 on using technology to enhance standards-based literacy instruction. Tools discussed will be Padlet, PicCollage and use of interactive whiteboard apps such as Explain Everything and DoodlecastPro. As with any presentation, the face to face presentation gives participants much more information so please don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions after viewing the slides. My contact info is on the last slide of the presentation.
You can also find more examples of many of the tools discussed right here on my blog. Check the "Oodles of Topics" area for links.

If you have any wonderful ways in which you've used technology to enhance your literacy instruction, I'd love for you to share it in the comments area below. In our connected world, it is wonderful when we can all share and learn from each other!

Social Media in the Elementary Classroom

Click on image to access the presentation slides

Above is the presentation that I  am giving on using Twitter in the Elementary Classroom. The session description was as follows:
This session will help you explore ways in which you and your class can utilize Twitter to share your learning and become globally connected.  Time will be spent discussing Twitter lingo and management for newbies. Multiple resources will be shared for connecting and collaborating and time will be given to begin putting together your class' PLN in addition to exploring the various resources. You'll leave ready to try Twitter with your class this fall!
If you are looking to start using or increasing your Twitter usage with your class there are many great projects listed with coordinating hashtags and links (when available) for more information. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. 
Of course, I'd love to have you come and join the learning happening on Twitter with us too! Our classroom account is @Malchow1stgrade

Monday, July 27, 2015

Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter has opened the door of possibilities for my 1st grade classroom over the past year and a half. My students have had the chance to learn from students all over the United States and Canada. We have shared our passion for learning by tweeting and sharing pictures about what we are doing in our classroom. Others have commented on our tweets and asked deeper questions which has given my students the opportunity to share even more. Having an authentic audience has inspired my students to work harder and to continually ask if they can share out what they are learning and creating. The possibilities for using Twitter in the classroom are only limited by your imagination. This year, my class took part in International Dot Day, a collaborative book chat (#1bc15), weekly math challenges (#1mtgr), a Lucky Charms graphing project (read about it here), and even a pumpkin seed counting activity via Twitter with a class in Oshawa, Canada. You can read about that experience in this post

Although Twitter was the starting point for all of these collaborations so much more came out of these experiences. In many cases, my class also met the other classes face to face through Skype or a Google Hangout. We even participated in a collaborative Kahoot quiz at the end of the year with 3 other classes all from different states. 

As technology brings the world closer together, we as teachers also need to get on board and bring our classes together. We have so much to learn from each other! I work in a small, somewhat rural area with very little diversity. Many of my students are not fortunate enough to travel and realize the diversity that lies outside of our area. By giving my students these opportunities they are are beginning to realize that the world is a much bigger place and that kids around the world are really not any different than they are. They are learning similar things in school, they love to play on the playground, they have brothers, sisters, and pets, and they all seem to love eating pizza.  I feel that by providing my students these opportunities, I am also in some small way helping to break down stereotypes and fears and helping them to become accepting of all people no matter their background, location, etc.

We live in a time that if you're not connected, you're missing out on so much the world has to offer you. If you haven't used Twitter with your class, I highly encourage you to take the leap of faith and give it a try this year with your students. 

If you're ready to take the leap, please add your class Twitter information to this shared document,  The document is broken down by grade level so you can better find classes to collaborate with.

If you're still on the fence and want some more information, feel free to reach out to me via Twitter, @smalchow, or send me an email (my contact info is in the sidebar)-  I'd be happy to chat with you.  I'm also doing a presentation on Twitter in the Classroom next week and will be posting my presentation here if you're interested.