Saturday, January 31, 2015

ABC Word Cloud app

If you don't have the ABCya Word Cloud app on your devices yet, I highly encourage you to pick this up while it's free. If you know what Wordle is, you'll love this app for the younger students. f you don't have iPads, you can also access ABCya Word Cloud online. Using the word cloud, students are able to create a graphical representation of word frequency. This could be a wonderful tool for a student written story, adjectives to describe a character, adjectives to describe an animal as part of a research project, and so much more. 

I've written about this app before here and used it last year to make part of our Mother's Day gifts as well. The app itself is very easy to use and only took my kiddos last year about 5 minutes to be able navigate independently.My one suggestion would be to either compose your words in the notes app so you can copy and paste or to copy your words in the app prior to creating your word cloud so if you have to go back, you won't have to retype everything.

Have you used ABCya Word Cloud in the classroom? If so, please leave a comment below to share how you used it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Popplet and Word Study

This week we use a the app, Popplet Lite to help us with our word study. During the week we worked on the short u families of -ug and -ut. On Friday we used what we knew about these sounds/families to sort and write words using the correct word family. We did this on Popplet by creating a box (a popple) for each word family. With each word, children had to decide which word family was needed to make the word and then attach a new popple (box) to the correct family and write the new word themselves. This was a great visual for students to see how the words are "connected".
When thinking about the SAMR model, this is in many ways just a substitution for what we could do on paper. I like to use this as a springboard however for more advanced used of the app as it is a simple way for students to learn how to use the app. Later in the year we will use this app for webbing of ideas and information. We will also use our screenshots to embed into Doodlecast Pro projects, iMovies, etc. So again, this is a wonderful springboard for what is to come.

If you decide to try this app, the link for Popplet Lite is above. With the lite version you are only able to create one Popplet at a time which could be a concern if you are not in a 1:1 or 1:2 environment. Our class is currently 1:1 so when we complete a Popplet, we take a screen shot of our finished creation and then we're able to start a new Popplet. There is also a paid version here for $4.99 which allows you to create multiple Popplet boards at one time. This would be a better option if you have multiple students using one iPad for various projects.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We have been working on comparing 2 digit numbers less than 100 in math this past week. We've been building the numbers using base 10 blocks, using both traditional blocks as well as virtual base 10 blocks on our iPads. We've been noticing and discussing how the 10s place is what helps us to know if the number is larger (as long as the 10s place numbers are not the same- we talked about what to do with that debacle as well). As a quick assessment this week, I gave each child 2 different numbers to build using the app, Number Pieces Basic. This is a great app for students to build, compare, add and subtract numbers with and best yet, it's free! Click the link above to check it out for yourself.

After building their numbers on the app, each student took a screenshot of their page and then imported that picture into the app, Doodlecast Pro. Doodlescast Pro is an app which allows us to write on our pictures, as well as record our thoughts. This is not a free app, but there is a similar one called Screen Chomp that is free. Students then had to tell what their numbers were, which was larger and explain the thinking that they used to know which number was larger. When we were done, I had my students email their videos to me. I listened to each one and then forwarded it to their parents along with a note about how they were doing with the concepts we were working on. I had a dad email today with the following comment, 
"This is awesome! Get to see his learning and development of concepts in action."
Yes! That madde my day as a big part of why I think the iPads are such a great tool is that our classroom learning can be transparent to parents and the world!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We've been learning about the reading strategy- Determining Importance. This strategy is used when good readers need to decide between what is simply interesting in a text and what's important in order to understand what they are reading.We did an experiment today in which we had a bowl of water with noodles in it which represented our books and stories and a colander which represented our brains. We used the colander (our brain) to strain out the noodles (the important information, the main ideas, and key topics) and left the water (the interesting stuff with little detail) behind. To help solidify the concept, I had my first graders take  a picture of our experiment and import that picture into the PicCollage app. They then labeled the pieces of our experiment (interesting, important and brain) and sent it to their parents. Their homework this evening is to explain the experiment and their PicCollage to their parents.