Friday, April 24, 2015

Poetry Month, Bubbles and Word Clouds

April is National 
Poetry Month!

We've been working on learning a little bit more about poetry this month and what better way than to blow bubbles! Well, actually we blew bubbles to experience the different colors, sounds, and feel of bubbles which in turn gave us background knowledge for our poems.
We used a template for our poems which had us thinking about adjectives to describe our bubbles, action words and similes. 
After writing our poems we used ABCya's Word Cloud app to showcase our poems in a different format. We're planning to print our poetry in both "normal" format and word cloud format for all to enjoy at our upcoming Writer's Tea.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

iTunes U- Math Integration

I have been a follower of Karen Lirenman for quite some time. For those of you who don't know, Karen is a K-2 teacher in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator and is a phenomenal advocate of integrating technology into the early primary classroom. You can check out her blog, Learning and Sharing with Ms. Lirenman or follow her on Twitter at @KLirenman

I was BEYOND thrilled a few months back when Karen contacted me to ask if she could include some of my math integration ideas into an iTunes U course that she was creating. Of course I said yes and am happy to report that her course, Using an iPad to Enhance a K-3 Numeracy Program is now available in the iTunes U store. This is a fantastic resource and has many examples that you can easily implement into your own classroom. I highly recommend checking it out. Best of all, it's FREE!
You can access this course via an iPad by clicking on the link above or the image to the right. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Informational Research and Book Creator

We have been working on the genre of informational writing over the past month and just finished up a piece on coyotes. I have a 6 pack and matching big book about coyotes that is at a 1st grade level that works wonderfully for this writing project. 

I started by introducing the big book in whole group. We then read the 1st several pages together and took notes about things that we found interesting or that was new information for us. After modeling this format for a couple of days, I passed out the small book versions and partnered students up to continue reading and taking their own notes. 
After groups finished reading, they took their post-it notes and sorted them based on like topics. From their they created their plan sheet like the one to the right. Students had to have 3 details (yellows) and 3 elaborations to accompany their details along with a topic sentence and conclusion/wrap-up sentence. I've taught my kiddos to just write "blurbs" on their plan sheets or just enough info to remember their main idea. This has really helped to eliminate copying the authors words verbatim. As students finished their plan sheet they then used it to write their informative piece. 

After writing their piece, editing for capitals and periods, reading it to a friend and then checking in with me, they were able to publish their piece using the Book Creator app. This is the 1st time we used this app (last year we used Doodlecast Pro to publish) I created a checklist for students to follow to give them a little more direction while working independently. The checklist was helpful for most and I'll definitely use it again.We had a few small glitches along the way, nothing earth shattering, but we all learned together and I'll make a few tweaks for next year. 
Students had their choice on each page of either creating their own picture or going to Pics4Learning or Photos for Class to chose real life images. Many chose to go onto the sites to get actual images but we still had a good handful of kiddos also create their own pictures. As we have been talking about nonfiction text features over the past months, I added the box on the right of the checklist to challenge my kiddos to add some of these features as appropriate to their book.Obviously photographs and drawings were already embedded. I did have some kiddos add labels to their drawings and also some captions.
For those students who had the extra time, I included a bonus page in which they could do an "About the Author" page and include a selfie. I had a template for them to follow as we have not talked much about this type of page previously. The template basically had them write their name, how old they are, what grade they are in and 2 things they like to do. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Picture It Project 2015

We are once again participating in a Projects by Jen online project. This time we are participating in Jen's Picture It Project. The project is set up to be a collaborative project with 23 other classrooms around the world to create a collaborative piece of artwork. This years' project has us creating a quilt. Each class is responsible for creating a 7" x 7" quilt square in whatever fashion they choose. We will also be filling out an "All about Us" sheet that will be sent along with our artwork. 

I chose to embed some of our "About the Class" info directly into our quilt pattern and then turned our project into a color-by-number to reinforce turn-around facts and symmetry. 

In hindsight, I wish I would have let the kids pick their own 3 colors for their code so that each of the quilt squares would have had their own look and feel. Live and learn. Seeing as each piece will be going to a different school, so will be part of it's own unique quilt, it won't be a big deal. That's what happens when you try to save time during a busy time of year and not let the creative juices fully flow. Our piece will be similar to the one seen here. This is my digital master of our finished square.

As our pieces come in from the other schools we will locate the states/countries on our map using clues such as, "This state is in the northwest corner of the US" or  This state is north of Florida". This has been an authentic and engaging way for my students to practice and reinforce their map skills. Once things get going they always look forward to finding out if we received any mail. After we locate the states we will place each piece in the hall, along with the information that each class sends us, to create our quilt. I'll post an updated picture as our quilt begins to take shape.

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 multiple grade levels. They are very engaging, collaborative, cover multiple standards and are a great way to embed technology into your curriculum.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tracking Reading Groups

I sent this out to my #1st chat group on Twitter awhile ago but totally forgot to throw it out on the blog. I've been using the Popplet Lite app for awhile now but always with my students. Earlier this year as I was revamping my reading groups for the umpteenth time it dawned on my that using Popplet would be SOOOO much easier as I could move kiddos around with the touch of a finger in addition to being able to color code their groups (I'm a visual learner and color makes me happy) 
Popplet Lite only allows you to create one popple at a time which has always been sufficient for my students as we simply take a screenshot when we are done and then clear our popple for the next time. Personally though, I wanted to be able to create, save, and go back to my popples so I invested in the full version. This has been a wonderful way for me to track my reading groups as my groups are very fluid and change as children's needs change. This has also been a handy tool when attending grade level meetings to discuss student needs.
Seem simple? Yup, it was and I highly recommend giving it a try.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mystery number Skype

We had a great time participating in our 1st mystery number Skype with our buddies in Canada. We've been planning this for awhile but have had various technology glitches that have pushed the date back. Yes, technology glitches happen in my room too. You have to learn to roll with the punches and always have a back-up plan.
Mrs. Draper made this wonderful Mystery Number anchor chart to help our students. This proved to be a great visual for us as we practiced playing the game.

Each class then picked their mystery number. We were only able to play one game on this particular day due to our tech glitches eating up half of our time. We let Mrs. Draper's class go first so they worked to try and guess our number. They had some fantastic questions and as they worked to guess our number, my class used a 100 grid on their iPads to x out the numbers that their clues used. 

You can see a small clip of one of the questions below. This is definitely an activity that I will do again as it ties in very nicely with so many of our math skills- place value, odd/even, number grid patterns, etc. in addition to promoting collaboration with an authentic audience!
Thanks Mrs. Draper and class! We love when we are able to get together to learn with each other!