Monday, March 31, 2014

Using Padlet in Science

Today we began a new science unit all about the study of organisms. We started by brainstorming a list of living and nonliving things. In an effort to make this more interactive and engaging for all students I set up a Padlet wall for the class to write their ideas on. For those not familiar with Padlet, it is the old WallWisher. It is a virtual bulletin board that allows people to post their thoughts on a common topic. You can add images, video, or text anywhere on the page from any device. 

By providing a virtual bulletin board, everyone had the opportunity to share their ideas without having to wait while one person shares and the teacher writes it on chart paper. In addition, students will now be able to share our Padlet wall with their parents as well as our Twitter followers. We are hoping that some of our Twitter followers will tweet us some additional items for our list.

Using Padlet was extremely easy (both the setup and the using) To access the wall I simply copied the provided QR code (yup, the site provides one automatically for you to copy) and pasted it onto our smartboard document. My kiddos simply scanned it with their QR readers (we use Inigma) and it took them right there. Once on the site, kids simply need to double tap the screen and then tap in the dialogue box to write their idea. When they're done they  tap anywhere on the screen and viola! their post appears. I pulled up the Padlet wall on the smartboard which the kids thought was beyond cool as they could see all of the new posts appear as they worked.

As I mentioned, this was a great way for all students to be actively involved in our learning today in addition to making the walls of our learning transparent for our parents and others.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thoughts on Professional Development

View image on Twitter
I came across this image as I was surfing for new integration ideas. This has been an ongoing topic of discussion between myself and several of my techie friends. I often hear teachers say that they want (insert device here) in their classroom but in the next breath they ask when the district will offer them the professional development to use it or complain that they haven't gotten enough PD on the device, or worse, they get the devices but don't embed them into students' learning, at least not to the best capabilities of the device. Not long after this you begin to hear how they want the  next latest and greatest gadget. And so the story goes....

I remember getting my first iPod Touch in 2009 and opening the box to read the directions, only, there weren't any directions. I had to turn it on, play with it, experiment, go online to read and then I began to surf YouTube to watch videos- in essence I did my own PD. It took me a couple of days to learn what I needed to be comfortable but the hands-on aspect of that learning was far more beneficial to me than attending a 2-hour workshop. 

This is still how it is. I like to try and stay ahead of the curve so I am constantly venturing out on my own and searching for new integration ideas, technologies, and like-minded individuals. Twitter has been a great resource of ideas and like-minded techies. There are blogs galore dedicated to technology, technology integration and educators at every grade level just looking to embed technology into their teaching and then sharing it. I have learned so much from all of these avenues. PD is not something that should happen twice a year during an inservice but rather should be an ongoing practice. I know not everyone agrees with that statement, but as the other saying goes, 
So... you choose- do you want to wait for someone to offer you your professional development? or do you want to get out there, find it, try it, and share it?  

Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day Tech-ified

Today we participated in the St Patrick's Day Lucky Charms graphing project from Projects By Jen. This is my 2nd year participating in this project. It's a wonderful project that is easy to implement, doesn't take much time but has a lot of bang for the buck (predicting, counting, graphing, and comparing/ contrasting, in addition to a technology integration piece if you feel so inclined) Our goal this year was to prove that there were more green clovers than any other shape.

Our class started by making our own predictions on which marshmallow shape we felt would be represented the most in our box. Each student then tweeted their prediction to our partner class for this project, Mrs DeGroot's class in IA. My kids were so excited to see Mrs. DeGroot's class' predictions come through on our class Twitter feed. What an engaging and simple way for us to connect.
In the afternoon we opened our box, sorted, graphed and ate the results. We had a great discussion about which had the most, the least etc.
Later in the afternoon we made a Skype call to Mrs. DeGroot's class in IA and shared and compared our results with theirs. We recorded their results for more discussion later but as we compared each class had to decide if they had more or less than the other class and then put their hands on their head if they had more or hands on their shoulders if they had less. It was a quick and easy way to have the whole class involved in the comparing and an easy way for kids to see each other.

When we were done Skyping, we spent a bit of time locating our buddy class on the map and discussing their location in relation to ours. Just another great integration piece.

Overall, the project was a great success and I would highly recommend to others to participate in the Projects by Jen activities . Adding the technology component truly was the highlight and really made the project come to life. I will definitely take the time to add that piece again next year as the learning and collaborating that came out of that piece was far more powerful than the graphing alone.

Here are the results from all the classes as of 3/19. We didn't prove our hypothesis at this point, but what a great discussion to have with kiddos on the scientific process and their rational for why things turned out the way they did.

Results as of March 19, 2014
Marshmallows Counted
Hypothesis Correct
As a GROUP -- we will be trying to prove that there are more GREEN CLOVERS than any other shape

Monday, March 10, 2014

Fact families

I wish there were more hours in the day. I have about 6 different blog posts in draft format right now that I just can't seem to find enough time to do. Hoping that after conferences are done this week, I can eek out a little extra time to catch up on those posts. In the meantime, here's a quick post on using Popplet to show fact families. This went over very well today in my class and most students did 2 or 3 Popples in about 10 minutes time.

We've been working on related facts (fact families) in math for the past few days. Today students used dominoes to help them write their related addition and subtraction facts. We used Popplet to record our results. We have used this app a few times for various things but we haven't used it as much as I had hoped to this year. That being said, the kiddos did great using the app fairly independently and kiddos decided on their own if they wanted to use the text feature or the pen feature. As they finished their popples, they took a screen shot which we then shared via Air Server at the end of our lesson.