Sunday, April 27, 2014

Continent research

During our writer's workshop, we have again been working on informational (research-based) writing. During Spanish, we have been learning the names of the continents and their locations so it seemed only fitting to dig in a bit more to find out some special facts about each one. To do this, each child wrote down their top 3 choices of continents they'd like to learn more about. I then went through their requests and paired students up that had similar requests paying close attention to partnering my lower readers with a classmate that would be able to help them out. 

Students then read a book about their continent and took notes on post-its as they went (My class LOVES post-its!). I asked them to find at least 4 interesting facts about their continent. We used the Rookie Reader: Read About Geography series. The readability of these is great for end of the year 1st graders.

Students then worked with their partner(s) to write a paragraph which included a topic sentence, details (their facts) and a wrap up sentence about their continent using their information. 

We are now working to rewrite our pieces on paper shaped like the continent we researched. When we are done, we plan to hang them up in the hallway in the correct locations to create a gigantic map of the world. 

Update: Here are a few of the finished continents. I really love how they turned out and the kids did a fantastic job working together as a team. 

I have a student who is legally blind and is learning to read and write braille this year. This was a great project for him as well as his partners read the book out loud. He worked to take notes of his own using his brailler as you can see to the right. 
When his group wrote their paragraph, he wrote his sentence in braille and we glued it below the words from his sentence so everyone can experience it in braille as well. This little guy has done a tremendous job this year and it is inspiring to see him participate in all that we do with a few modifications.

Here is our completed project out in the hallway for all the read and enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

100th Day App Smash

I love appsmashing! This year for our 100th day of school we used 2 apps to help us publish our writing, Chatterpix and Aging Booth

We started by writing about what we would do when we are 100 years old. The ideas that the kids came up with were just adorable!! After we finished our writing, we took our pictures with the Aging Booth app which automatically aged us and saved them to the Camera Roll. The kids thought their pictures were hilarious! We had a lot of good laughs about how they turned out.

We then imported our pictures into the Chatterpix app. This app allows you to use any photo, then draw a line to make a mouth and then record your voice. You also have the option to add stickers, text, and frames to your photos as well as adding filtering effects (black and white, sepia, etc). I use the regular version of Chatterpix so that I have the option of sharing our projects via email. They also have a kids version, Chatterpix Kids, that does not have the sharing options. This is a very simple app to use and the kids were able to easily import their picture and record their story.

When we were finished with our project, we emailed them to our parents but also printed out our pictures from the Aging Booth app and displayed them in the hallway along with our writing for our parents and others to also enjoy during parent teacher conferences.

Monday, April 7, 2014

1:1 iPad organization

This is definitely not going to be the most glamorous post (information or pictures), but I often have other educators ask how I organize and store my class set of iPads so I thought I'd put together a quick post.

There are a lot of options out their for storing and charging iPads but many of them are too pricey for school districts/classrooms. I would love to have a cart, but it just wasn't in the budget so we had to get creative and to be honest, what I have works just as well. 

We simply bought a paper organizer (literature organizer). You can get these in a variety of sizes depending on your needs. I think mine is a 72 slot organizer. I only used every 3rd spot however which makes each space a bit larger not to mention I only needed 3 of the 4 vertical rows. I use the fourth row for storage of my styluses, wired keyboard, and any other extras.

Once I got the shelves placed how I wanted them, we drilled holes through the cardboard backing so we could feed the power cords through. You can see that on the picture below if you look carefully (sorry the picture quality isn't very good). We also put self stick cable clips in each spot. As you can see they ended up not being all that useful- maybe it's just first graders. Not sure if I would spend the money to get these again or not- probably leaning towards not. Each of my iPads is numbered so I needed a way for my students to know which slot to put their iPad in. Again, I wanted to find a cost effective solution so I bought black binder clips, put colored electrical tape on the end and then simply used a Sharpie to write my numbers. I then clipped them onto the edge and flipped the handles over. Viola- easy and only cost about $2.00.

Last but not least, I needed to be able to plug the iPads in to charge. Again, we wanted to be as cost-effective as possible but also keep things organized. Our solution to this was the Belkin 12 Outlet Pivot Plug Surge Protector with 8 foot cord. We bought two of these and mounted them to the back of the paper sorter. What I love most is that the outside outlets swivel out flat which meant that I could still get this pretty close to the wall. 

So, that's it. Our economical way around buying an expensive charging cart. I have now had this set up for 2 years and have had no issues with it at all. If you're looking for a cost-effective way to store and charge a class set of iPads I would highly recommend this method.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Global Art Project- Projects by Jen

We are again participating in a Projects by Jen online project. This time we are participating in a World Art Project. This year's project is collaborative project with 23 other classrooms around the world to create a rendition of Vincent Van Gogh's, Starry Night. Our class is responsible for piece number 10. We spent some time before spring break coloring our pieces so we could send them out to the other participating classes. Our group has classes from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade from places such as: North Carolina, California, and New Jersey and as far away as Canada and Australia. 

Each class will also fill out an "All about Us" sheet that will be sent along with their artwork. As our pieces come in we will be placing them on top of the matching section on our World Art Project board in the hall along with the information that each class sends us. We are excited to get our first piece and hope that it arrives soon.

We will also be skyping with a 1st grade class from Connecticut that is also part of the project but from a different group (There are 10 different groups of 24 participating) to compare our art work to theirs. We will also be discussing facts about our classrooms, local weather, and our cities with each other.

If you've never participated in one of these projects, I highly encourage you to look at the various projects that Jen offers. There are many and they span all grade levels. They are very engaging, cover multiple standards and are a great way to embed technology into your curriculum.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

In my opinion, everyone should....

This week during writer's workshop we have continued to work on opinion writing. This is our 2nd time working on opinion writing this year and I have been very pleased with the growth my students have made.

One of our objectives this time around was to branch out and learn several new ways to start our opinions. In the past we used the, "In my opinion..." starter. To the right is the anchor chart that each child added to their writing binders with our new options. Everyone had their own opinion on which was their favorite and they enjoyed experimenting with them all. 

Seeing as it was Friday, I didn't want to start a big piece so instead I created a quick template based on an idea I found on Pinterest. Students had to chose one of the images at the bottom of the page and write an opinion piece based on their choice. 

As students finished they published their pieces using Doodlecast Pro. Students went online to find an image that would portray the choice they made which they then used as their background image. They then recorded themselves reading their opinion pieces. Once they finished their Doodlecast they emailed it to both their parents and myself.

 The first example below has about a 6 second delay before the student begins talking and is from one of my higher writers. The second example is from one of my average kiddos.