Sunday, January 28, 2018

#EpicPals Love is in the Air...

Our February EpicPals primary and intermediate collections
 are ready and waiting for you. 

This month's primary board again includes a Read To Me Flipgrid selection! Flipgrid, coupled with a Read to Me book, is a great way to give your struggling readers the opportunity to participate in EpicPals independently! Of course, ANYONE can participate on the Flipgrid response and students don't have to use the Read to Me function for the book selection. Personalize the experience for your students how you see fit for their needs!! The Flipgrid videos are fully moderated by me so please give me a 24-48 hour turn around time to approve them. Please also talk to your students about appropriate digital citizenship when creating their videos. Videos that include questionable language, gestures, etc will be not be approved. 

Also new this year is the ability for students to leave likes on other students' posts on the Padlet boards. Encourage your students to read others' posts and if they like their post, have them click on the heart at the bottom of the sticky note. Being reflective and having an authentic reason to like something is a great first step towards leaving meaningful and authentic feedback. 

We encourage you to have conversations with your students on what constitutes a good post and how to be a good digital citizen when working online. You can find several resources to help you with these conversations on this previous blog post. My hope is to add the comment feature to our Padlets later this year as students' reading, writing, and reflective skills improve.

If you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. You can find both of us on Twitter- @smalchow (primary boards) and @bhopteacher (intermediate boards)
New to EpicPals and need some additional information? If so, head on over the the #EpicPals page at the top of the blog for additional information.

Hip, Hip, Hooray~ It's the 100th Day!

Here's hoping your 100th day is full of fun, learning, and 
global connections!
Tech Bytes~ 100th Day Edition

It's the 100th Day!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Peer to Peer Book Recommendations the DoInk Way!

As part of our Core Ready Literacy program, 3rd graders read and create a book recommendation. Last year we used DoInk's Green Screen app and I helped the classes by doing the recording and then students uploaded their finished recommendations to Seesaw for parents to see. It's wonderful to have parents see what their children are doing at school, but I wanted students to have a more authentic audience and more creative ownership of their work so this year, I asked the teachers and their students if they would be willing to take it one step further. 

Here's what we did:

Disregard our rubber banded stand- LOL
It's called ingenuity when your iPad stand
doesn't acomodate a teacher's iPad mini.
First, students read their books and wrote their book reviews. Next, they grabbed a colored piece of 12x18 piece of construction paper (not green) and laid their book off to one side or the other and took a picture. This became the background for their video. Last year, we simply propped the books on a chair, but found that it wasn't as polished looking when we dropped those pics into green screen, plus the kids now get to choose their favorite color (it's a small thing, but sometimes, it's the little things that mean a lot). We had all of the kids take their pictures on the same iPad just to keep things moving along more smoothly for the next step.

Our next step was to record the book recommendations using DoInk. This year I wanted the students to record the videos for each other so I worked with a few students at a time to show them how to import their background image, how to reposition the person speaking to fit on the background, and how to save the recording when they were done. After working with a few students they then became the teachers for the next group. Empowering kids to be the teachers is always a positive in my opinion and the pride they had in being their own videographers was priceless! 

The best part...
Once students uploaded their recommendation to Seesaw, I went onto Seesaw, copied the QR code to their post, and then pasted it onto a Keynote template along with the book's title. These QR codes and their book are now displayed around our library for other students to scan. My hope is that their book recommendations will truly be a recommendation and that it will also encourage other students to want to create a book recommendations throughout the year so we can keep the buzz about books ongoing.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Tech Bytes~ Jan 22nd

Tech Bytes~ Jan 22-26
Super excited this week to be able to share a link to a Google slide deck of Seesaw Activity Templates that I've been working on putting together for teachers in my district. Feel free to grab what may be useful for you. 

Have any great Seesaw Activities that you've put together? Send your activity links to and I'll add them to this resource with credit given back to you. #BetterTogether

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Made With Code

Coding is such an integral part of what we should be teaching letting our students experience! Unfortunately, many of us (myself included) are intimidated by what we don't know. This shouldn't stop us from giving our students the experiences that may open doors to their futures!

As I was digging around looking for additional resources to enhance our coding curriculum, I came across Google's Made With Code website. (You can also follow on Twitter, @madewithcode).

This site offers a variety of projects that give students the opportunity to utilize coding skills by creating things such as a holiday emoji, coding a Yeti to dance, helping a robot to care for his plants, creating a soundtrack, and SO. MUCH. MORE!! 

Here's an example of the holiday emoji project. I love how the block formatting offers plenty of support for early coders, but also allows students the ability to investigate how changes in the code affect their creation. When students finish their creation, they not only have the ability to share it with others, but they also are shown what coding concepts they have utilized.
Holiday emoji project

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Christmas Cards the Green Screen Way

Hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone yet again, so the timeliness of this post may seem out of sorts, but the idea behind these cards will be a great tool to add to your green screen bag of tricks.

It all started on a cold, snowy Wisconsin morning with a Twitter message from my friend Bobbi Hopkins in NewYork wondering how to add multiple students to an image using DoInk's green screen app. Bobbi and I began to message back and forth with how it could be done as neither of us had previously tackled this endeavor. The magic that happened from this collaborative effort was amazing!

From this...

to THIS! 
Ms. K's 1st grade

Here's how to create the magic yourself-

1. Select a background image that you want to use and add it to the bottom tray in the DoInk app.

2. Touch the + sign on the middle tray and choose the camera option to add a picture of student on the image.
  • When you touch the middle tray, you will notice it is bordered in red. When it is red, you can move the student wherever you would like on the image and also increase or decrease their size by pinching or zooming their image on the screen.
3. Switch from Video to Image (see below) and take a picture. Add this picture to your camera roll.

 4. Touch the + button on the bottom tray and choose image. Bring in the picture you just took as your new background image.

5.  Touch the cameras on the middle tray which will activate your camera again. 

6. Have your next student stand in front of the green screen and position them on your picture. Take a picture and add it to your camera roll. 

7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 until you have all students in the picture.

** To have a student be a tree topper or pop out of the chimney~ wrap them in green fabric from the neck down.

** Want a student to appear as though they are flying? Lay green fabric over a chair or table and have the student lay on their belly with their arms out.

Mrs. McMahon's 1st grade
We had a blast creating these cards and the kids had some great ideas like:
licking the lollipop, pretending to build the snowman, and 
welcoming others to the gingerbread house.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Martin Luther King Day Resources~ Tech Bytes Jan 8th

Tech Bytes~ Jan 8th
Next week Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 
How can you make the world a better place? Check out this weeks' Tech Bytes for a variety of resources you can use in your classroom including a collaborative Flipgrid that your students can add to. Responses are moderated to be sure that content is appropriate. I hope that you'll check it out! 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

World Read Aloud Day

Ever had one of those crazy days where you feel you just don't have enough time to get a read aloud in? I'm sure we've all had one of those crazy typical days, but did you know that reading aloud is one of the most basic and most important things you can do with your students?! 

Reading aloud gives students the opportunity to hear fluent and expressive reading, increases vocabulary, and provides crucial phonemic awareness skills. 

Mem Fox, in her 10 Read Aloud Commandments, says, we should "spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud".

February 1st will be here before you know it, so mark World Read Aloud Day on your calendar and then share that your class will be taking part by registering for the event here.

Ready to take it one step further? Share a read aloud with another class using Google HangOut or Skype! 

Here's how to find a class... 
Use this Google spreadsheet to find a partner class, it's just that simple! 

Need help or have any questions, feel free to reach out! I'd love to help you make a connection!!!

Are you on Twitter? If so, share some pictures using the hashtag #WorldReadAloudDay and tag @litworldsays

Monday, January 1, 2018

#OneWord2018 ~ Happy New Year

2018?   Seriously?!

As I sit here reflecting on the past 365 days, I wish I could say that I even had an inkling of where this past year has gone. It's been a year of many ups and downs- the true epitomy of balance I guess.

Last year's word was balance which is something I need to continue to work on.  My family may disagree with me, but I truly feel that I have made progress in this area. Although I spend far too much time on my iPad and computer (it's a major part of what I do, a passion, and a connecting point for friends near and far) I feel that I've spent more time with my family over the past 365 days- not just physically, but truly engaged with what's going on around me. This past summer was by far the best summer I've had in years. Although my brain is always thinking school, I was able to disconnect from work and enjoy mountain biking and kayaking with my family at our cabin. I found that I really enjoy the tranquility of kayaking and although my phone was with me, it was solely for taking pictures!

I also traveled to Houston to take part in the Apple Distinguished Educator Academy where I was able to meet  Twitter friends face to face, people who I now consider some of my closest friends, despite the miles that separate us. This was such a positive experience on so many levels and one which I will cherish for years to come.

Putting a year behind my belt in my new position has given me peace of mind. Switching positions was a positive move and was a major factor in helping me achieve to begin achieving, the balance I was looking for. I was nervous about leaving the classroom and missing the connections I had with students and families, in fact, it was quite an agonizing decision. Although the connections aren't as deep as when you have your own classroom, they are still there and they continue to grow as students and teachers get to know me better.

So... where do I go from here? I'm the first to admit that I need to continue to work on balance, however, I think this is something I will ALWAYS have to work on, so I'm moving on to my 2018 goal while continuing to keep balance on the front burner.

So here it is.... my #oneword2018
Picture taken by me with my iPhone at South Beach, Miami~ ADE2015

This year, I need to work on believing. 

I need to believe in myself. 
I need to believe in my dreams. 
I need to believe that I can achieve balance (see how I worked that in so it's still on the front burner?).
I need to believe in the decisions I make.
I need to believe that I am just as worthy as everyone else.

At ADE Academy we were told.... "You deserve to be here."~  I need to believe that.

So with that said, I BELIEVE! I believe that God has a plan for me and it is all in His time. I believe that I need to put my faith in Him, stop selling myself short, and start putting my health and my family first. Life is too short to sit back and always wonder if you can do it better, faster or if you should have done it different. Live life to its fullest and cherish every day!!