Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Talks with the Tellagami App

I have admitted to being more than a little addicted to finding new Web 2.0 sites and iPad Apps to use with students!  So when I read about the free iPad app Tellagami in Richard Byrne's blog Free Tech for Teachers, I was desperate to try it!!   I invited two of my 5th grade students to try it so I could use their videos as an example for book talks with all of my students.  They did a great job!

It was great getting a chance to try it with students!  I learned that it is better not to hold the mic of the iPad too close, but otherwise it went really well.  Look for more Tellagami's with students in a future blog post!

Monday, November 18, 2013

1st Graders Are Thankful For Our Thanksgiving Books And So Much More!!

Thanksgiving is on the way and our first graders are thankful for so many things.  I shared with students our library's wonderful Thanksgiving books.  We read several including one of my Thanksgiving favorites, Thanksgiving Cats, a whimsical rhyming story about farmer cats preparing for Thanksgiving.  It was written by Jean Marzollo, better known for her I Spy Books of Pictures and Riddles.  Students were thankful for Mrs. Marzollo's wonderful ability to rhyme!

After reading a few more Thanksgiving books, first graders wanted to share what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving season!!

To help them share, I thought of one of my new favorite websites,  I am really thankful I found this one!!  I used this site to share last week's Mixed-Up Class projects.  What I love about Padlet is that every student can write on the same online "wall" simultaneously!  

This week I asked each student to write one or more things that they were thankful for on a Thanksgiving Padlet.  While they were writing, students were able to see and read what their classmates were writing.  They sparked ideas for each other and helped each other with spelling.  This also gave students an opportunity to practice their basic word processing and keyboarding skills - capitalizing (shift key), deleting, spacing and the return key.  Students didn't care so much about that, they just loved being able to share.  Check out our wall of thankfulness from all the 1st grade classes!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Great Graphic Resource For Teachers...

As a relative newcomer to Twitter, I am still discovering some of it's benefits and fun.  This weekend I read this tweet.

I LOVE finding new iPad and Web 2.0 resources to use with my students, so this graphic fed my addiction!!  It sparked ideas for future lessons, and validated others lessons I have already taught.  Thank you Twitter and Mark Garrison.

It reminds me of Kathy Schrock's Bloomin Apps and the Edutopia article by Diane Darrow.  I wrote about it in 2012 - Bloom's Taxonomy and iPad Apps

Friday, November 15, 2013

2nd Graders Learn to Google Search - Not As Easy As It Looks Folks!!

I was really excited to begin this week.  I had planned some really great lessons for students at every grade level and I was ready to get started...or so I thought.  To be fair, all of the lessons did go really well, but my 2nd graders through me for a loop.  I began on Monday with the expectation that I would have 2nd graders search Google images for book covers of the books that they have fond memories of reading.  My plan was, and still is, to have each student create a reading timeline called My Life As A Reader. Sounds great, right?  (Look for 2nd grade timelines in a future blog post!)  I was expecting to cover the topic of copyright and acceptible use of images.  I knew that my second graders would need help with spelling but what I underestimated was that they would run into trouble performing their Google searches.  They didn't know how to get the search engine to do what they wanted it to do.  So I did what most teachers do with they miscalculate how much their students know...I quickly changed the lesson into a Google Search lesson!

Google Searching 101!

We covered...

- search terms and the need to put the word "book" behind each search.

- clicking on "Images" rather than clicking on web links.

- using the return key to perform the search after the search term was typed in.  

- looking for Google's attempt to correct spelling.

- looking for a thumbnail images versus the original.  How to return to the thumbnail search.

In addition, they learned how to create a desktop folder to organize the images that they would be finding.  

All in all it was very successful!  Once they understood how to perform their searches, they did a wonderful job.




Thursday, November 14, 2013

3rd Graders Learn The Power Of Google Documents

This week 3rd grade students began working on writing letters.  This is an activity that I have been doing for many years because it gives me an opportunity to teach so many word processing skills while giving students an opportunity to write a letter to their family, friends and even Santa, if they wish.  I give them the choice to make the letter a holiday themed letter, end of the year letter, or just a simple "hi, how ya doin" letter.  This year, I moved the letter to the cloud, the Google cloud that is.  

Students began by linking to a letter template that I created in my Google Drive account.  They then copied the letter template, renamed it and saved it to their Google Drive account.  At one point during the transfer, students were able to see that they were all connected to the letter in my Google Drive.  They thought that was really cool!

Once the letter was in their own Google Drive, they began personalizing it.  Because the letter was in Google Drive, I had the opportunity to add messages in the margins as reminders to students.

In the coming weeks, students will finish writing and editing their letter.  When they are finished, they will be left with a letter that they will be proud to send!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

4th and 5th Graders Prepare Their "All About Me" Google Sites Pages!

Fourth and fifth grade students have spent the last few weeks setting up their Google websites.  They have named it, picked a color theme and added their image.  This week, students began working on an "About Me" webpage.  They are very proud of their work!  The fact that a potentially larger audience will eventually see their webpages adds to their desire to do a good job.  

We have talked about the importance of remembering that every piece of information they add to the internet (and future social networks) is a reflection of who they are.  They seem to grasp the significance, and it is a joy to watch and listen as they work to make their websites ready for publication!  When we do publish their websites, it will be restricted to "link only" access, for their safety, but they will be able to direct family and friends to see their sites!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

1st Grade is Mixed-Up Just Like Eric Carle's Mixed-Up Chameleon

Our 1st graders love Eric Carle!  He is like an old friend to most of them since they have been reading his books since they were tiny.  So when I introduced The Mixed-Up Chameleon, they applauded even though most of them had never read it.  Here is the story for those of you who don't have the book...

After reading the book, the students shared what they thought the The Mixed-Up Chameleon was trying to teach...the moral of the story.  We discussed several possibilities, but most students liked the fact that in the end, the Mixed Up Chameleon decided to be himself!

We visited the New York Zoo's Go Wild website called Build Your Wild Self.  This website gave students an opportunity to select different animal parts just like the Mixed-Up Chameleon.  Students went wild building their own mixed up avatars!

For a closer look at these mixed-up first graders, I added their images to a Padlet so everyone could see them!  Clicking on each image will give you a closer look!  

Mrs. Heggs's Class is our sample above, but make sure to check out the other 1st grade classes that are also mixed-up!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Some May Wonder...Why Teach Coding???

I just finished a week of introducing coding to 3rd - 5th graders using the new coding game BotLogic. (Check out my post about BotLogic!)

I am certainly not an advanced coder myself.  I am largely self taught and I am married to a "coder" who helps fill in the gaps in my knowledge.  I know a few fundamentals and I seek out programs that teach those fundamentals.  What I do have is a belief that all student benefit from learning the basics of coding.  I recently found this YouTube video that led me to a great website called

All students benefit from learning the logic of coding, whether they are going to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs or not.  I know that years from now many of my students will not choose to make a living from coding, but statistically speaking, there is a high likelihood that some in the group will choose to pursue it.  Teaching them the basics of coding early might help spark their future!!  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oak Hills Students Take Their First Steps Toward Coding With BotLogic!

This week I introduced BotLogic to our students in 3rd through 5th grade.  Boy did the kids love it!!

What is BotLogic you may ask?  The creators of Botlogic describe it best... is an educational puzzle game that challenges kids and adults to tackle complex logic problems while teaching valuable programming concepts. Using simple commands (and eventually code), players program their bots to navigate through progressively challenging mazes.

For years I have introduced the concept of programming to students using the MIT created programming language Scratch.  Scratch is an online programming activity where students can create their own interactive animations.  It continues to be one of my favorites, but it is great to have an additional tool for teaching introductory coding!

BotLogic is great for several reasons.  It provides a great opportunity for differentiation within each class.  It works on any device that has web access, so it bridges the divide from desktop computer to mobile device.  While a student can play the game using the operational buttons provided, there is a place for students to type actual code to make their bot move.  Several students successfully maneuvered their bot this way.  

One of the most exciting things has been seeing how much students enjoy it.  On Monday, I introduced BotLogic to Ava with her 5th grade class.  On Tuesday a introduced it to her sister Emily in her 3rd grade class. As soon as I was done introducing, Emily proudly told me that she had already heard about it the night before from her sister Ava.  It was great to hear that students were going home to tell their families about it.