Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sock Puppets

Today my kiddos used the Sock Puppets app to practice their spelling words. It was a huge hit minus a few glitches.
I started out by showing the kiddos how to maneuver around the app and showed them a few of the "extras" (showing them how to make their puppets larger and smaller, etc) We also talked about how to use the tack microphones to do the recording since our 2nd gen iPods don't have a built-in mic. I also showed them how to title and save their creation. All in all, everything took us about 10 minutes and then I let them do their own exploring to figure out the app. I was amazed at how well they did and how fluid they were with saving their creations after just walking through it one time. It is obvious that the more we do, the easier the process gets for my kiddos no matter which app we use and how it may differ a little in the process for saving/sending.

We did have quite a few glitches this morning which was frustrating as one of my kiddos dubbed the back table "The glitch table" which had 5-6 kiddos huddled around it, all with glitches that they could not solve, nor could I in a few cases. Still not sure if it was the iPods being older or the app itself as we also ran into a few glitches on the new iPads, however, the iPads were easily solved by double clicking on the home button and then pressing the minus sign to close out the app. When relaunching, all of the iPads were up and running again. Despite that fix, it is still more than I would expect a first grader to do or know so I'm off to do some research on why this is happening in hopes that we can be more successful next time as I am planning several different project that we can use Sock Puppets for.
I am also looking into how I can set up a YouTube channel to upload their pics to the web so we can embed them onto our blog or our KidBlogs for others to also enjoy. We often talk about how it's important and fun to be able to share your work when you've worked so hard to make it. Granted there are times when we don't always want to share, but my kiddos want to more than not and enjoy the feedback that they get when they put their work out there for others.

So... in summary.... I love sock puppets but not the glitches! Fingers crossed for next time.

Anyone else using Sock Puppets? Have you encountered glitches???

Monday, February 27, 2012

iPods in the Classroom Presentation

I had the privilege this week to present to a group of elementary teachers on iPods/iPads in the classroom. I was asked to discuss various apps that would tie into the core curriculum for grades Pre-K through 5. Below is the Prezi I used as part of my presentation.

If you have some apps that you just can't live without, please add them to the comment section. The more the merrier!! 2 hours, which included "play time", is really only enough to scratch the surface.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fact Families

Have I ever said, "1st graders rock?!" Well if not, let me tell you what my class did on Monday that knocked my socks off!
I wasn't sure how this would go, but like so many other things this year, my kiddos continue to raise the bar for themselves!!

Last week we learned about fact families. I used the house format below to introduce the concept. This week as a review, I wanted to see if the kiddos grasped the concept, but I also wanted to embed some of our ITLS Standards so here's what I did...
First, I sent each of my kiddos an email with the picture below.
After reading my email, they had to:
  1. Save the image to their photos
  2. Then they had to open up the Doodle Buddy app.
  3. Once in Doddle Buddy, they needed to retrieve this photo to use as their background image
  4. Fill in the fact family problems
  5. Email me their completed project.

Most of my kiddos completed all of these steps in about 5 minutes. I was absolutely amazed!!
Here is one of my kiddos finished product.

This has been a wonderful way to assess kiddos and have a digital portfolio/record of their learning. I also shared this information and each child's email with parents during our conferences. Many of the parents were beyond amazed at what their child had done.

Thinking about digital portfolios, I think I may have my kiddos take the image they emailed to me and post it to their Kidblogs so that others can also comment on their learning.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Number stories and Educreations

Educreations Interactive
Whiteboard Screen Icon
In math this week we worked on addition and subtraction word problems. After learning about different types of word problems, and exploring various types on IXL, kiddos were given directions to use the iPad app, Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. Students had to work with a partner to draw a quick pic for their word problem and had to include a unit box. They then worked together to record their word problem including the question sentence and number sentence.

Below you will find a sample of how these turned out.(Had to giggle at the "oopsies" - they pressed the record button by accident- twice!)

All of my kiddos did a very nice job not only using all the parts of a word problem, but also with their knowledge of using the app AND working with a partner. I am continually impressed with how far their technology skills have come and how quickly they pick up on new technology usage!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What We Love

Thanks to Laurie from Morning Sun First Grade, I learned about a new website, Imagechef.com and a great way to utilize the word mosaic portion of this site.

During our writing time yesterday we discussed lists and various ways that we use lists. Kiddos then made lists of the people and things that they love. Next, using the SMARTboard, I showed the kiddos how to use their list to create a word mosaic using the imagechef.com site. We then went to the computer lab and kiddos typed their words and changed their fonts to create their unique mosaic. We then saved the image to our folders on the network. We will be learning how to put our mosaics onto our KidBlogs in the coming days. We also printed our mosaics so we could bring a copy home.

Here is my mosaic to give you an idea of what they looked like.
Thanks again Laurie for the fantastic idea!!!

I'm already planning how I can use this site again in the future...
There's a shamrock-shaped mosaic for St. Patrick's Day... hmmm....

I also love that instead of an image, you can use your initials for your shape. I'm thinking that this would be a great tool for us to use when writing descriptive words about ourselves or when interviewing a buddy we could use their initials with their descriptive words. The ideas are endless.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Not what I should have been doing...

This is not what I should have spent my afternoon working on, but I just couldn't resist as this is a project I've been wanting to start for quite some time. No, the Wordle above is not what I shouldn't have been doing, but rather is a representation of what I did. I FINALLY created pages on this blog for the apps and websites I use in my class as well as a page for various resources for iPod/iPad use in the classroom. (see page tabs above)

This is a work in progress and will take quite some time to get to the point of what I want it to look like, but it's a start for now and a place that hopefully others will find helpful as they start their iPod/iPad journey. I wish I would've had something like this to start me out.  As you will see, my hope is to eventually have a description of each site/app as well as how I use it in my classroom; that however is a daunting task and one which I plan to do in baby steps.

In the meantime, I hope you will continue to check back often and find resources that may benefit you and your kiddos. If you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just for fun...

My oh my, funny what a teachable moment can turn into. On the 100th day, one of my students said she would save her $100 to go to college in Mississippi. In the process of writing her idea, we worked together on how to spell Mississippi as all the i's and double letters were throwing her off a bit. To help, I shared with her, and then the rest of the class a little chant we did when I was in 4th or 5th grade that goes like this... well... why am I telling you? Watch the video and hear for yourself! 

The best part of this video is that the kids completely choreographed this little diddy on their own and then performed it for myself, my co-teacher and our teacher's aide.
 By the end of the video, I was laughing so hard that I was crying! What a group! I have a feeling that not a one of these kiddos will ever get the word Mississippi wrong on a spelling test or in their writing! 
I think that so often in today's high stakes environment, we lose a lot of the creativity that goes into learning. The fact that my class worked together as a team to create this really made my day. CREATIVITY is alive and well in our class!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

100th Day

 It's the 100th day... well almost, but I'm gearing up. This year I am going to try and embed a little bit more technology into our day.

One of the activities we will be utilizing is commenting on our classroom blog. After my previous ramblings and networking with a couple of other 1st grade teachers on my PLN (Thanks Laurie, from MorningSunFirstGrade), I am in the process of investigating and setting up a KidBlog but it won't quite be ready by Tuesday, so we're going to leave our responses as comments on our classroom blog, The Dog Blog. My question for them is simply, "What did you like best about the 100th day?" Not very creative, but I want something simple that they can be successful with , especially since I will have 6 kiddos from another class joining us during this time that are not familiar with our blog.

I also plan to use the awesome SMARTboard lesson that I bought last year from Smart Lesson Stop called Hip, Hip, Hooray It's the 100th Day! If you haven't checked out their site, it's worth the trip. Lots of great, well made SMARTboard lessons all for the low price of $2.50. I love making my own files, but sometimes it's nice to find something different to mix it up a bit.

This page of the file has kids highlight 2 numbers on the interactive hundred grid and then find the difference. This ties in well with our math lesson as we just finished learning about differences. I plan to use this page in a little bit different way as well. I bought 100 Pixie Sticks for my kiddos and numbered each one of them. (shhhh... they don't know yet so if you're reading this, don't tell them!) I plan to hide them around the room during lunch on Tuesday and then we'll have a scavenger hunt to find them all. As we find them, the kids will need to bring me the Pixie Stick and flip the number on the hundred grid that they found. This will be great for a couple of my kiddos that still need help locating numbers on the number grid, and for the rest of us, a little bit of fun.

Looking for some other great ideas for your 100th day? Check out this website, Technology Rocks, Seriously.  Always some great sites and ideas to check out here!
Happy 100th Day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

random mumblings and ponders

the following post contains lots of random thoughts and unanswered questions. Read at your risk!!**

On Friday, the model technology classroom team met to discuss various aspects of our journeys. We discussed everything from celebrations to frustrations, created a checklist for staff who come to our room on walk-throughs, discussed how we evaluate the apps we choose and began to create a rubric that district employees will eventually use to purchase apps through the Apple Volume Discount Program for schools. We also started to tackle the daunting task of assessing the validity of using devices in our classrooms and analyzing test scores.  Our district is going to referendum in the fall and part of our task has been to pilot these devices to show how they transform student learning. The goal of having these living, breathing laboratories is to be able to have others in to see technology in action, to experience it first-hand and not just read or hear about the benefits.
 It has been a journey to say the least, one which has brought with it much joy and excitement but one that also leaves me constantly wondering... What next? Which way should I head now? Which device and when? Which app and why? I don't take this task lightly and I don't want to be "doing apps" for the fun of it.
I want my instruction and tech usage to meld together, to be seamless in how they complement each other rather than the devices just being "the stuff" that we have. So often others think it's about "the stuff" and in my mind that's SO far from the truth.  I also often wonder if the goals I have are achievable by first graders developmentally. Do they have the knowledge base or developmental ability to make choices on which tool or app is the best for the job or is that something that I will need to always determine for them due to their ages?? I KNOW first graders are capable, I have from the start, which is why I applied for this task, but to what extent? Are my visions a little overboard or is it ok to set the bar sky high knowing that next year things will be smoother because I will have tried things and will have a better start to what worked, what didn't, and what needs to be tweaked to be better.

So my next adventure on this journey.... blogging/digital publishing/ writing with my 1sties! I have wanted to do this with my kiddos all year but haven't been sure where to start or if I should or could. We do things on our class blog together, but I want them to blog or participate on a blog independently or with minimal guidance. I know they can do it but should they still be doing paper and pencil writing? My feeling is Yes! Technology is great but there's still something to be said about putting your thoughts on paper, I think...  So when is the right time? How often should we do it? Can it be an independent but monitored activity during our Daily 5 time? What is the best site for what I am wanting? Can I /should I have them just respond to blog posts related to our learning that I create or should it be more individualized with them doing their own writing?

So how do these ramblings relate? Well yesterday, during our model tech meeting I happened to be multitasking and saw a tweet from @Grade1 (Aviva Dunsiger) that mentioned a post one of her students had done on their blog so I checked it out and the bug bit me again- Hard! What I saw inspired me to start thinking about this all again. The best part though is that I contacted Aviva through Twitter and she was kind enough to respond back to me with an  offer of Skype'ing with me to answer some of my questions. I can't wait... I don't think she knows what she's in for... good thing for me Skype is free- can't imagine how much a long distance call to Canada would have cost "back in the day"!

Anyone else want to weigh in on this subject? I would love to network with others who are in this boat or wanting to head out on this journey with our littlest learners as well.