Monday, December 17, 2012

Tis the season to be journaling

iDiary app icon
I'm not sure if I've ever written about this particular app, but it is one of my all time favorites for 1st graders (or 2nd and 3rd graders), it is called, iDiary. It's a $1.99 in the app store but in my opinion, so worth the cost. If you are in a 4-5 iPad classroom, the app will allow you to put up to 6 students on the app. 
From iTunes: " iDiary for kids is a daily journal at its core- kids can express themselves periodically: writing, drawing, decorating entries with stickers. They can easily navigate to their old entries and explore their past musings or post entries for future events through an intuitive calendar navigation system"

I use this app mainly in our Daily 5 Work on Writing time, but on occasion we will use it during our Writer's Workshop time as well.  Today one of my students used the app to tell about Timmy our classroom elf (gosh there's another positive for Timmy- I'm telling you, if you don't have an elf, you definitely want to consider adopting one for next year). The best part was, she was also able to upload (easily I might add) a picture that she took of Timmy to go along with her writing. Once she was done with her entry, she was then able to share it with me via email. Email has been a fabulous tool to give students an authentic audience. After Christmas break, students will also be able to share their writing and projects with their parents via email- talk about motivating, they can't wait!!!

It's the little things like this girls writing and iPad usage that make me smile everyday! I am constantly amazed at what 1st graders really CAN do independently and how technology engages them gets them to work on things that otherwise are considered mundane or hard at times. Writing is not an easy thing for most first graders and is something that requires much practice to be good at, but with the help of apps like iDiary, Bamboo Paper, email, and others, students are excited and sometimes begging for writing time. Technology may not be the end all cure all to learning, but the engagement and time on task that it  brings is a definitely a positive... as the saying goes, Practice makes progress and if kids are willing to practice then progress is right behind!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Timmy, our classroom elf

It's amazing what an elf on the shelf can do for a rambunctious group of first graders who are eagerly awaiting Christmas break! Our elf, Timmy, has been at the forefront of our learning for the past two weeks. Timmy has helped us to become better picture takers, better email readers, and has helped us learn how to attach pictures to our emails.

2 weeks ago a package arrived straight from the North Pole with a book called, The Elf on the Shelf and a small, cute elf who we have now affectionately named Timmy. As we read the story we found out that our elf will be reporting back to Santa each and every night and that the next day he will be in a different location in our room. We also found out that once Christmas arrives, that our elf will return to the North Pole until next year. For that reason, we decided that we'd better document Timmy's adventures while we had the chance so... each morning when the kiddos come in, they immediately begin to scour the room for Timmy. Once they find him they get their iPad out and take a picture of him. 

Now that we have our email accounts sync'd to our iPads I usually write my kiddos a morning message similar to the one below. Each morning there is some sort of technology task to do such as replying to a question, taking a picture, or attaching a picture to an email. This has been a great way for my kids to practice their technology skills in an authentic way while also improving their reading and writing abilities.

Looking ahead at the big picture, my rationale for having them take a picture each day is that at the end of this "elfie" journey, we will document Timmy's adventures in our classroom by each uploading our pics into the app iMovie. It's my hope to then share our projects on our classroom blog and/or have each child send their project via email to their parents. I had thought about using PicCollage again but opted against it with the number of pictures that we will have and thought that the slideshow format would be better suited.

On a techy, but not really side note, we made these adorable techy Santas today. Being a 1:1 iPad room, these were just too cute to pass up. The kids got quite a kick out of his big black glasses. You can find the project here if you're interested.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No words....

As a mother of two young boys and a teacher of 6 and 7 year olds, I have been absolutely stunned, horrified, and haunted by the events unfolding out east. I tell my students on a daily basis that my #1 job is to keep them safe. I have reflected over and over again on that statement and how important it is for my students to know that. The teachers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep their students safe are heroes in every sense of the word. I can't even begin to imagine what was going through their minds and their students' minds as everything was unfolding. 

Despite the craziness that each new day brings, I am blessed to be able to work with 15 smiling, exuberant children each day. You can bet that each of them will be getting an extra hug and a lot of extra TLC on Monday. As for my own children, they are getting lots of extra hugs, "I love you's" and mommy time today. Life is just too short!

God Bless the families of those that have lost loved ones in this tragedy!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Read the room the QR code way

I finally got the chance to kid test my QR code sight word activity that I created this summer. You can read my previous post here.  I wanted to wait until I had introduced all or nearly all of our words so that it would be more of a sight word review and my students would be more successful with the technology aspect of the activity. 
This week I began hanging all 45 of the QR codes up around the room. Slowly, the kids began to notice them and started asking questions about what they were. Today, as I began to introduce the project, the excitement built as students started to point out the various places that they had seen them around the room. I didn't "hide" them as I don't want them to take forever finding them, but they are scattered around the room- some high, some low. 
i_nigma app icon
After introducing the recording sheet, I showed the kiddos how to scan the codes using our iPads. If the excitement wasn't high before, it went through the roof when they found out they would get to use their iPads too! I ended up chosing the QR reader called, I-nigma. After testing several different QR code readers, I found this one to be the easiest and most user friendly for a 1st grader to use not to mention the size of the text when it displays what is on the code is the largest that I have found (I'd say probably around 16 pt). I also like the fact that I had the option to turn off the decoding sound. With 15 kiddos scanning we certainly don't need to be hearing the blips and beeps the whole time.
I'm excited, maybe more so than the kids right now, to see how well they do over the course of the next couple of weeks. We'll get a good idea Monday morning as we have 12 visitors from another school district coming to observe our technology at work.
I also found it funny today that they noticed the QR code outside of our classroom door for the 1st time today (it's been there since the first day of school) LOL

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sight Words Tech'd Out

Last week we started using our iPads to practice our weekly sight words. During our Daily 5 word work time each child is practicing their sight words by using an app called Magnetic Alphabet. The sheet you see to the left is what each child uses to help them navigate through the app and to save their work. Before conferences we will take each of the sight words we saved and create a sight word album in our phot area and then add them to that folder. At conferences, students will then share their sight words with their parents by utilizing the slideshow format so in essence we will have a digital picture frame of our words. My kiddos are doing a fantastic job independently changing their backgrounds, writing their words, and saving them!  I introduced the app and the guide sheet in about 5-10 minutes and away they went. I have the kiddos turn in their sheet when they are done so I know they have completed the weeks' words. At the end of the week I send the sheets home for parents to utilize if they wish.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

...and more PicCollage

The more I use PicCollage, the more I like it and the more ways I can think of integrating it. After our first attempt at PicCollage this year (see below for the  disaster... well maybe not disaster, but not quite how I expected the project to fall apart come together) we tried it again during Spanish and lo and behold, they did FANTASTICALLY! 

Students worked with a partner to explore a website that Senora gave us. To make it easily accessible, we added the link to our class blog. We use our blog as a portal for many sites as it gives kiddos independence as well as providing access to our various sites from home so they can again be independent and/or share with their parents. 

After clicking on the site,students were shown how to navigate the site and how to take a screenshot. They then found 3-5 pictures of animals from CostaRica (1 mammal, 1 bird, and 1-3 others) Student then worked with their partner to PicCollage their 3-5 pictures. This ended up being a 2 day lesson (3o minutes each)- Day 1 we learned how to get to the site from our blog, navigate the sit and find the animals, pinch and zoom in as well as screenshot. Day 2 we finished finding our animals and then did our Pic Collage. Having the background knowledge of using the app once before, my kiddos were literally able to put their collages together in 5-10 minutes including adding their names and title to the collage.

Today I found another use for this app. I put together a picture board for a student to use at home showing the steps for getting ready for school (get up, get dressed, teeth brushed, jacket on). This student and I talked about the picture board and came up with a little ditty to help remember it as well. Then I had the idea of having him pic collage the pics to help him take ownership of what he needed to do. This is what he came up with. 

The uses are endless, and in my opinion, a very valuable option for students to reinforce concepts and showcase their learning.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's raining cats and dogs!

Oh my.... for those of you that know me and my classroom, you already know that I am a dog lover and my room is dog-themed. Well, I couldn't have been more thrilled when I came across my new favorite app, Weather Puppy

We had been using a free weather app as part of our calendar time but I had found that the one we were using had more information than we really needed and the interface was set up in such a way that for 1st graders, it was a bit overwhelming. That being said, the hunt was on to try and find something more 1st grade friendly that was free (big factor) and had all the information that we wanted for our calendar. I currently also use the app, iDress, to check the temperature and then relate that information into what we should be wearing. You can see a previous post here about how we've used this app in our learning.

Weather puppy has been the perfect fit on so many levels (never mind the fact that it's dog themed and it's FREE!!!) I love how the interface is simple and easy to read, the weather symbols match those that we use on our graph, and we get the high/low temps for the day.  My kiddos also love the fact that they can customize their app to have an outdoorsy dog theme or a glamour dog theme. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween and Pic Collage

I think my standard beginning post this year is going to be.... "Sorry I haven't posted in awhile" Gosh, I'm just not sure where time is going? I know it couldn't possibly be working full time, being a mom to 2 active little boys, being on several committees, reviewing apps, and doing staff presentations. I promise to try my best to be better at getting our projects, successful and not, up here for the world to see. Sometimes the worst projects can lead to the best brainstorms!

So here it goes...
This year as part of our Halloween celebration, we did The Candy Corn Bandit project from Abby's The Inspired Apple blog. If you've never checked out her blog, it's a definite "must do" on your ever growing To-do list! The kids had a blast inferring and predicting while following the clues that had been left around our building in hopes of retrieving our stolen jar of candy corn.

To put a tech twist on it, we learned how to use the cameras on our iPads. We discussed many of the basics such as holding still while taking the picture (something that is difficult for many of my munchkins), as well as how to zoom in to get a closer picture. Then as we went in search of our missing candy corn, we took pictures along the way to document the various clues we found. 

Later that day, we learned how to use the app PicCollage. This is a free app that allows the user to import pictures and then crop and rotate them however they'd like to create a collage. I've used this app before with 1st graders with great success so was excited to try it again. So here's where it all falls apart... some of my kiddos did a fantastic job but other's really struggled. In hind sight, I think it was because we had taken so many pictures as many had become shutter happy that the sheer number of pics and the fact that many of them looked so similar became a hindrance. In hindsight, I think next time I'd have them look at their pics first and delete the doubles and ones that didn't turn out and then begin our project. 
I'm a firm believer in trial and error so I'm not saying this project didn't have merit, just needs some fine tuning.
Looking forward to the next time we use PicCollage as I'm sure it will go much better seeing as they now have background information to guide them as well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Free Apps

For those of you that use Everyday Math or are looking for some math apps, McGraw Hill has many of their Everyday Math apps for free right now in the AppStore. Not sure for how much longer as they have been free for a couple of days already so don't wait, check it out now.
My kiddos really love Monster Squeeze! Check out the video below to get an idea of what the app is like.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Keeping it all straight

Where does time go? This time of year is always SOOOO crazy! Although I've been immersed in technology, I just haven't had the time to sit down and share things that we've been doing in my class. Hoping that over the next couple of weeks, things will slow down a bit (excluding parent-teacher conferences) and I can start blogging more about the adventures we are having this year with our 1:1 iPad classroom

A little teaser in the meantime though...
I have been pondering a way to better show the kids the apps that I would like them to use during math workshop or Daily 5 time. Many of my kiddos are good at remembering or simply have their favorites that they always seem to go to, but I also have those kiddos that need a visual. 
The chart below is my solution (not kid tested, but will be after tomorrow). 
This was simple and very inexpensive to make. I simply found pics of the various apps we are/will be using this year and then sized them (approx 3x3), printed them off and laminated them. I then purchased a piece of black poster board, foam squares (from the $1 store) and used some velcro dots that I got for cheap off of eBay. I used a white and gray crayon to add the iPad details, glued on the foam squares (cut to 4x4), and then added velcro dots to the foam squares and the backs of the app icons.  I left the home row area empty as I plan to use bright colored, precut letters  for a catchy title. Any great ideas???? 

My plan is to add the apps as I introduce them so students can see which apps they are able to use that particular day. This won't include the ones we use daily as a class (weather, calendar, etc), just the ones that they will be using during their independent work time. I'm hoping that this anchor chart will help to keep everyone working independently during Daily 5 time while providing the visual cues that some of my autistic children and focus issue kids need.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pets In The Classroom

Have you heard of Pets In The Classroom?

This is a wonderful organization that helps Pre-K through 8th grade teachers support pets in the classroom through direct, no-hassle educational grants. You can obtain a grant for the purchase of new pets, pet environments or pet food and supplies for existing classroom pets. I applied for and received a grant last year which provided me with the funds to get a 10 gallon aquarium for my classroom. It was a totally simple and quick application to complete and I found out within a few weeks that I had been one of the recipients. Within a couple of weeks of being notified, I received a packet in the mail with coupons to go to the pet store I had chosen to purchase the items I needed. 
This year I applied for and was ecstatic to have received a sustaining grant. These grants are intended to support pets or aquariums in the classroom for the purposes of teaching children to bond with and care for their pets responsibly. The sustaining grants are in the amount of $50 which allowed me to purchase new filter pads, a decorative rock and background to improve the habitat of our fish, fish food, supplies to clean the tank and some new fish.

Again, I can't say enough about this organization and the joy it has brought to my class over the past year. My kiddos have become very responsible in helping to feed our fish and check the temperature of the water and have acquired a love for our pets. On a daily basis you will find kiddos over by the tank checking on the fish, reading to the fish and even writing to them! 

If you are interested in a classroom pet, I encourage you to check out the Pets in the Classroom site for more details. Pets are not limited to fish. you can also apply for grants to purchase small animals, birds, and reptiles.

Monday, August 27, 2012

One your mark... get set...

The beginning of the new school year begins tomorrow for me (without kids) and our Open House is Wednesday evening. Today has brought a mad dash to finish up some Pinterest-inspired projects for Open House and the beginning of the year.

My room decor is dog-themed and I've incorporated quite a bit of bright, almost neon colors, around the room. (I forgot to take pics when I was at school yesterday. I'll have to try and remember tomorrow)  That being said, these great little "flower sticks" will add the perfect touch for Open House. I found the idea on Ginger Snaps. She has quite a few other fantastic neon printables as well. Needless to say, I was in heaven going through her blog! I'm going to place one of these at each of my students' spots along with the "Me Bag" below and a raffle ticket.

Here is the "Me Bag"  I found on Mrs. Heeren's Happenings. I have these printed and stapled to lunch bags. I'm going to tell students that this is their homework for the 1st day of school. I'm excited to see what they will bring to share with the rest of the class. I think  this will be a fantastic way for all of us to get to know each other a bit better and break the ice on the 1st day. You can find the printable here.

Last, I put together a little raffle gift. I've never done this before but thought it would be a fun incentive for the families that come. I found the Chinese-style box at The Dollar Store and then filled it with Dollar Store items. I filled it with glitter glue, silly string, grape scented erasers, playdough, and a pack of telling time flashcards. Each kiddo will have a raffle ticket at their table spot along with the other items above. The raffle tickets are also from Mrs. Heeren's blog. They are part of her Open House Activities pack which you can find here.

This is by far one of my favorites though. I simply put my kiddos names into Wordle and then played with the font, color, and layout until I found one that I liked that matched my classroom colors for the year. I'm going to frame this and display it somewhere in my classroom or outside of our door. 

Whew! Needless to say even though it was the last day of summer vacation, when I wasn't taking the dog to the vet or getting ice cream with my kiddos, I was working on school stuff or scouring the dollar store for those last minute odds n' ends for my classroom. Ahhhhh... I now need to stay off of Pinterest until school starts for fear of finding another idea that I'll want to implement prior to the kids coming. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

QR Fun!

Sight words are a big part of learning to read and write in a first grade classroom, but often times are one of the most mundane of tasks. In an effort to try and make this task a bit more fun and interactive with a technology twist, I made QR codes for all of my sight words. My plan is to post these around my room for students to find and scan with a QR reader on their iPads. 

I'm also going to create a checklist with all of the words so students can check them off as they find them. In this way, I figure they are reading it on the checklist as well as reading it from the QR reader. Along side of each word on the checklist, I am also going to have a line for them to write the word as well. My hope is that this will make sight word practice a bit more engaging while also getting my kiddos up and moving. Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt, right?
QR Scavenger Hunt

To make the QR codes, I used a sight called Kaywa QR Code. You can access it by clicking on the link or scanning the QR code to the left.  You can create a code for a website, text, phone number or a text message. Creating a QR code takes only seconds and once your code is created, you just need to copy and paste it to your document or use the embed code to add it to your website or blog.
click image to access iTunes

So you say you can't scan it because you don't have a scanner, well if you have a smartphone, iPad or iTouch, you can download an app called QR Reader for free. There are lots of readers out there and some have some extra features, but I've found that this one serves my purposes just fine. 

Another great site that I recently heard about and have played with just a little is QR Voice. This site allows you to input up to 100 characters of text. It will then create a QR code for you to copy and when scanned your text will be read by a synthesized voice. What a great tool for students who may have trouble reading directions. I was thinking I could use this in my Work on Words area during Daily 5. I'll just make a QR code for the directions and tape it into the drawer that the supplies are in. If students don't remember what to do, they could easily scan the code and have the directions read to them instead of coming to me and interrupting reading conferences. Check it out for yourself by scanning the code below.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pinterest, oh my!!

How many of you are in love with Pinterest like I am? Oh my!!! I had a summer FULL of pinning; now I need a make-and-take day  week, well in all actuality,probably a couple of weeks to make everything I pinned.

I love coming up with new ideas for my classroom, but honestly, sometimes I just lose my creative juices when I'm thinking so much about technology and which app might help to hit home a particular concept or showcase my students' learning. So seeing everyone else's ideas is always refreshing.

Here are just a few things that I've made that I'm excited to use in my classroom this year.

Love this idea! When students need to use the bathroom, they will place this at their table spot so I know who is gone. When they come back they will take a squirt of hand sanitizer before putting the "pass" back on the counter. I'm hoping this will help to ensure clean hands and less germs in our room and on our iPads too. 

Here's another one... I've been using Daily 5 for a number of years and have dabbled with CAFE as well. I love them both and love how students have more independence as well as a better sense of what their goals are. I've always wanted to do something similar for writing. Well... thanks to Pinterest, wish #535 has come true.

Next, I  made "theme journals" for the kids to use at the writing center during Work on Writing time. I six all together: sports, ouch, dinosaurs, vacations, pets, and family. I really think this will be a hit with the kids. I don't plan to pull them out right away, but rather use them as a motivational tool when things start to get a bit mundane.  One of my colleagues used this idea last year  and had great success with them. Most of the clip art I used is from the DJ Inkers, Critter Craze collection if you're interested. 
I also found this fantastic resource that I plan to use with my kiddos when we begin to edit our writing. Click the link under the image if you'd like to check it out for yourself.

Ok, off to work on my next Pinterest-inspired project... seeing as I only have a few days left before school starts I better get going on my "make and take" days since they days are dwindling fast.

Daily 5 Check-in management

Last year I tried many different ways of having my kiddos check-in for Daily 5. Although many of the ways worked, none of them helped with the management issue nightmare of having only 2 iPads in the room and who got them. After many tweaks I finally found a system that worked for my class. 
Below you will see the SMARTboard document that I created.

I really like the way this document worked and how it gave my kiddoss more ownership of their choices versus me calling their name and them telling me what they were going to do. I also found that having the visual made it easier for them and me, especially when they had multiple options within an area. For example, when they would say they wanted to do Listen to Reading, I would then have to ask them if they planned to use the tape player, CD players or the computer... now, I don't have to waste precious time asking and they can just sign up for their choice. 
Each of the * that you see is for one name. I don't have a limit on the number of kiddos that can choose read to self at any one break-out time so that's why there are no asterisks there.
We do 3 rounds each day. To make our sign up time more efficient, the kids only sign up for round 2 when they come in in the morning. When we come back from recess, they sign up for round 3 as they come into the room and before we head down for lunch. Round 1 is always Read to Self for all as I find many of my highly distracted kiddos need at least 1 round that does not have 5 million different things going on around them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

21st Century Learning - PCSD New Teacher Inservice 2012

21st century learning skills & technology
 enhances teaching and learning
for even the youngest learners!!

   Engaging!            Motivating!        Problem Solving!

 Creativity!         Risk Taking!

So... where do you start? 
Here are just a few of the tools I have had success with in my own classroom.

Our classroom blog

SMARTboards are wonderful tools!

Students are:
- Engaged
- Independent
- Collaborative
-Problem solving
-Critical thinking

The sky's the limit...
Photo from Jessica Meacham's website

* Math lessons
* Word Sorts/ spelling activities
* Attendance/lunch
* Daily 5 check-in
* Calendar Activities
* Handwriting practice
* Student-led conferences 

Great for substitute teachers- lessons can be preplanned

Click here for more SMARTboard files from Jessica Meacham

There are TONS of wonderful, 
free tools and apps to use

To find out more about how to connect with a class click go to
 or the Skype in Schools wiki.

Pic Collage App
Click image for iTunes link

click image to see more about this project
Educreations App
Click image for iTunes link

Remember- you have a lot on your plates for this year... choose one thing to start with~ explore and have fun with what you choose!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Daily 5 Pensieve App- COOL!!!

Have you heard the good news? "The Sisters" are releasing an electronic pensieve! They are scheduled to release it early August... considering it's the 11th already, I'm hoping that means SOON! 

I'm totally pumped about the possibility of doing my conferences on my iPad. I have been toying with the idea of using Evernote for this purpose but have been waiting to see what this app will be like 1st seeing as it is set up for the purpose I'm intending it for. 

If you want to take a peek for yourself at some of the information and/or screenshots, check out the following links.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let's Get to the Point!

I LOVE technology and with a class set of 1:1 iPads, a SMARTboard, and 7 netbooks what more could one ask for? 

Believe it or not... I would kill for a good fantastic pencil sharpener. Pencils can be a 1st grade teacher's nightmare... missing, broken, shavings everywhere, and the #1 biggest frustration... pencil sharpeners that eat an entire brand new pencil because the lead continues to break as you sharpen. Uuuggghh!! I'm sure I'm not the only one that has experienced that frustration. It got to the point (no pun intended) that I bought all of my students mechanical pencils, however, that came with a new set of frustrations. Yes, despite all the technology we use in our room we still use pencils- but how do we keep them sharp and ready to go?

Well, I have the answer... and I promise you'll love it! 

This is the BEST pencil sharpener I have ever owned and after 15 years of teaching and probably as many sharpeners, I guess I could consider myself an expert of sorts. Yes, this even beats the coveted electric sharpeners.

I'll admit that I was extremely skeptical as I saw others raving about this sharpener- I mean, what manual sharpener could possibly be better than an electric sharpener? and furthermore, who would pay $25 for one? Out of curiosity and continued frustration with the issues listed above, I caved and finally ordered one.

When it arrived, I grabbed a pencil and put it to the test. To my amazement it worked, and even better than I had imagined. I was so excited that I showed my husband who also grabbed a pencil and tried it out. Needless to say, every pencil in the house was sharpened that night as we could hardly contain our excitement and fascination. I have never seen the point of a pencil as sharp as this.  Take a look for yourself.

The next morning I brought my sharpener to school and showed my 1st graders how to use it and their reactions were the same as mine. You should have heard all the ooohhs and ahhhhs  that filled the room when they saw how sharp the pencils were. I have never had so many volunteers to stay in for recess to sharpen pencils- not even to play Angry Birds!  The excitement was definitely contagious- anytime someone would stop by our room, we had to show them as well and the reaction was always the same... ooohhhh....ahhhh... where did you get that?

After school I was like a kid in a candy store! I went around to anybody I could find and asked them if they wanted to see the coolest pencil sharpener ever. Like me, many were skeptical, but once they tried it for themselves they got the point (pun intended). Who would have thought a pencil sharpener would bring so much happiness?!

Needless to say, I now have 2 in my classroom and 1 at home and we haven't had a dull pencil in the house since.  Oh and by the way, they are so awesome that I ordered one for each of my son's teachers too. 

I know that we are all gearing up for the school year and September is right around the corner but if you truly want to have a great start to the school year, click here and order one of these super duper awesome pencil sharpeners for your room. I promise you will NOT be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SITA 2012

Thank you to all who attended my sessions at EWSITA this week. I hope that you walked away with a few new ideas and/or apps to use in your classrooms. If you have others that you can't live without, please feel free to let others know about them by leaving a comment.
As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.
Have a great school year!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Internet Safety

In my quest to become better about teaching my firsties about internet safety, I came across the following article, How to Teach Internet Safety to Younger Elementary Students. The author has a nice lesson plan included and also references a BrainPop video on internet safety

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Skype projects-part 2

Who says collaboration can't happen across states? As I've mentioned before, my class had several wonderful Skype partners this year, but Mrs. Christian and I definitely found a special relationship (are you blushing yet my friend??) From all of our collaborations came an opportunity for Mrs. C to present at a technology conference for her district on the topic of Skype. Needless to say, I will be joining her on this adventure to talk about our collaborations. Unfortunately, I do not have a plane ticket to Texas (can't say I didn't try) and so I will be joining her via Skype tomorrow morning. I am very excited to share our very special adventure with those that attend and hope that it will spark the imaginations of others to venture out and find a global connection.

I blogged last time about a Skype project that I recently did with our high school pre-calc class. Today I'd like to tell you a bit about the project... warning... this will likely turn into a novel. Skype Money Match is what we called our project and this is how it worked. The objective of this project was to give my students additional practice creating money amounts using coins.

First, each of my 1st grade students received a money bag with the following coins... 1 quarter, 4 nickels, 2 dimes, and 4 pennies. Prior to our Skype call I wrote down several amounts that could be made with the coins that we had. 

The rules of the game were simple...  both groups were told the amount of money they needed to make. My students used their coins to create the amount in any way they could. A correct answer earned them a small Starburst candy. The high school math students also had to create the amount, however, they did not have coins to use nor did they know which coins or how many of each coin we had.  After my students were done creating the amount, one of the high school students share with us how they chose to create the amount. For each 1st grader that made it the same way, the high school student earned a small Starburst candy. I have 15 children in my class so the high school students had the potential of earning 15 pieces. My kiddos caught on quickly and soon realized that when making 25cents, a quarter would be too easy for our buddies to figure out and so they began to get more and more creative with how they built their amounts. This was a great way to get my students to challenge themselves. Our buddies also began to rise to the challenge and after several amounts began to realize that they needed to be more creative with the way they were putting their amounts together as well. As an added incentive, our buddy teacher, Mr. J, showed us his large bucket of Starburst candies and told us that whatever his students didn't win, he would send over to us. In the end we outsmarted our buddies and ended up getting a large bowl of additional candies which we then used as part of our fraction lesson for the day. 
Overall it was a wonderful experience that totally met the objective that I had for my kiddos and created a wonderful global learning experience for both groups of students. 
Want to know more? Feel free to contact me for specifics.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Skype Projects

What a great year of Skype'ing (not sure if that's a word, but for the purpose of this post it's going to be)  My class has been very fortunate this year to have made several contacts throughout the year. Our main contact was with Mrs. Christian's 1st grade class in Texas. I still giggle at the way our meeting came to be through a connection from this blog (Mrs. C- I'm so glad that you sent that original email!) From that initial contact a friendship grew and a Skype opportunity arose. Our classes Skype'd on the average once every week or every other week. We shared what we were learning, read our writing to each other and even attempted to hatch chicks via Skype. We even sent a couple of projects via Snail Mail. It was a wonderful experience and one which my kiddos and I thoroughly enjoyed. It was amazing how fast my kiddos could move if they heard the Skype tones ringing!

Another opportunity arose from a student in my class whose dad is a math teacher at our high school. She wanted to Skype with her dad but I wanted to be sure we had a purpose to our contact. Her dad contacted me about a problem-based learning unit he was doing with his pre-calc class and asked if we would like to be a part of it. Our job was to measure the length, width, and height the box in centimeters and then to report our information via Skype to his class. It was a great way for us to practice our measuring skills and to make the initial contact. Notice I said initial, from here, everything spiraled into a 4th quarter friendship. My student wrote a thank you to her dad's class, in turn a few of his kids wrote back to her which then turned into his whole class wanting to write to my class. Needless to say our one-time only Skype session turned into so much more. Our classes were writing letters back and forth to each other, we got to meet each other in person and do math together, and Mr. J and I were working to figure out new ways to connect our classes via Skype. Two of the projects we came up with were: Skype Money Match and Polygon Pictionary. The Money Match game was thought up after his students walked down to meet us in person (our schools are just a few blocks away from each other) and on their way back they (all juniors and seniors) were discussing what their buddies were good at and what they felt they needed more help with. 
Seeing as it's getting late, I will write about the projects and how they worked in my next post tomorrow night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Word Clouds

We celebrated Bubble Day last week as part of our ABC countdown. As part of this day, we wrote bubble poems using a template which included adjectives and action words that described bubbles. After writing and editing our poems "the old fashioned way" (aka: paper and pencil) we then "wordlized" our poems using the word cloud portion of the website that you can find here On the note of "the old fashioned way" one thing that I try very hard to do is keep a balance of technology vs traditional learning. I truly feel at this point and at this level, that there are many valuable learning experiences that still need to happen with a book or with paper and pencil. Off the soap box and back to the project... The kids did a great job typing up their poems and then enjoyed being able to change their backgrounds, colors and fonts. This site is much more simplified than in addition to giving you the option to be able to save your creations and/or print them. Watch our video below to see how our creations turned out. One change for next year, I will definitely have my kiddos add their name to their word clouds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In celebration of Earth Day we read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Then the entire 1st grade divided up into different groups to complete 1 piece of the bulletin board you see above. Each group represented 1 of the animals in the story.They also created a speech bubble to tell how we could help to keep our planet clean or how we could help preserve the habitats of their specific character.
My kiddos also worked on the app, The Lorax Garden, which was free for Earth Day but is now 99 cents. In this app, students help the Lorax regrow the Truffula Tree forest. This was a great tie-in with our current science unit on Organisms as we had recently planted seeds in our classroom. Students are checking on their virtual gardens first thing every morning and before recess to continue to water them and watch them grow.