Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Look What's New At Oak Hills Elementary!!

A big shout out to our FABULOUS PTO for their energy and their fundraising!  Teachers and students will be thrilled to have a full class set of iPads for teaching and learning! 

Students Turn Into Crankenstein! AppSmashing With Make Me Monster & ScribblePress Apps!

Students love Samantha Berger's book Crankenstein!  They can relate to the idea that Crankenstein appears when children are frustrated or angry.  We all, if we're honest, turn into Crankenstein at times! Students had a blast designing their little monster alter ego and sharing what makes their monster appear!  

Students took selfies in the iPad app Make Me Monster and designed themselves as monsters.

After students created themselves as little monsters, they saved their image into the camera roll and then imported into the ScribblePress iPad app.  Once in the ScribblePress app, students wrote about what made their Crankenstein appear!  They had a blast creating their monsters and sharing their frustrating moments!

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Digital Citizenship Week! 5th Graders Learn To Share Their Knowledge With Infographics Using Canva!

Last week was Digital Citizenship Week, so it seemed like the perfect time to get students thinking about what it means to be a good digital citizen.  Students researched using several great online resources, our favorite being - Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship.  After a rich brainstorming session, students distilled the digital citizenship information into a list that they thought gave the most important "take aways" for everyone to remember.  

Along side our study of digital citizenship, I wanted to introduce students to another way of sharing their findings.  With all of the digital tools available today, there are so many fantastic options for students to choose when they want to share their learning.  They can create a video, stop motion animation, digital poster, ebook, trailer/commercial, blog, interactive images, to name just a few. One option is to create an infographic, something many of my students have seen, but not really considered.  An infographic is a visual image such as a chart or diagram used to represent ideas, information or data. I shared examples of infographics from USA Today, one of the first newspapers in the country to popularize infographics by using them in their daily format back in 1982.

Check out this quick explanation by a company called Open Creative Communications!

Using infographics is a great way for students to share their research findings with an audience of classmates or beyond. There are several great infographic tools for students to choose from when creating an infographic.  I suggested we try Canva.  Canva is one of the newer infographic web tools and has recently added an app as an option for access! 


I use Canva for a variety of graphics and thought it would be great to try with students.  It is free and has many great free options, though there are paid features as well.  The free options provide more than enough options for my students.  Students loved Canva, and seemed to really engage with this creative way of sharing their learning!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Curious George! - New Digital Formats For This Dear Favorite!!

Oak Hills students love Curious George!  

They know that the book series was written by Margaret & H.A. Rey, and they know that the original book was published 73 years ago - way, way, way before they were born. But they really care about George, and they LOVE him!!

Curious George is still reaching out to new generations of children in a variety of new formats! In addition to the traditional books, Curious George has been animated in an educational cartoon by PBS Kids TV.  Both PBSkids ( and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ( have excellent Curious George websites, with learning activities and games for teachers and parents!  

Today, OHE kindergarteners got a chance to read Curious George in an eBook format! They used the The Curious Reader iPad App which is free with one book, the original Curious George!  The eBook has full audio so students can hear the book read aloud and turn the pages as they are ready. The were completely mesmerized! 

Way to go Curious George! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Look What Came In The Mail! Connecting With Author Bob Staake!

Last week, kindergarteners had a great time reading Bob Staake's new book, My Pet Book! To read more about the fun they had creating their own pet books, check out my blog post - Kindergarteners Pick Out Their Own Pet Books!  After blogging about our lesson, I tweeted about it too!

Yesterday I went to my teacher mailbox and found a wonderful surprise!  Bob Staake saw my tweet and blog post about our pet books and wrote the boys and girls a note, complete with artwork and a book plate for our library copy of his book!  My kindergarteners will be so excited to find out that Mr. Staake liked our pet books. It is such a thrill for students (and librarians) to connect with the authors that write our cherished book friends!  Thank you Mr. Staake!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Student's Create New Blogs To Share Their Voices & Their Reading Reviews!

Oak Hills 5th graders are excited to introduce their voice to the world with their brand new blogs! They are using Google's Blogger to create their blogs.  Blogger is easy to use and students get the opportunity to choose their own design theme to personalize the look of their blog! 

In preparation for this lesson, I've been thinking about more than just the "how to" steps for my students to create their blogs.  I've been thinking about why I believe in student blogging, and there are quite a few great reasons!
- Blogging gives students an audience to write for!  They become more invested in their writing because they have an audience beyond that of their teacher and parents.  
- Blogging gives students a voice! Students have an opportunity to share their thoughts with their classmates, families and the world! 
- Blogging establishes an internet identity for students in a safe manner.  It provides an opportunity to talk about being safe online and not sharing personal details.  
- Blogging helps students to realize they are global citizens and collaborators.  Their words are part of a conversation that connects them virtually to other people interested in the same topic!
- Blogging helps transport student learning beyond the four walls of our building!  It lets interested people know what we are working on.
- Blogging helps students become aware of their own writing, and take ownership for it! As they become more aware of their writing, they can self assess and make changes to improve!

So we are beginning our blogs and these will be featured on this blog in the OHE Student Blog section in the near future!  Also, their reading reviews will create the basis for student review QR codes for the books in our library.  Students will be able to scan any library book with a QR code on the cover and read a student review!  

 Look for some very insightful student blog posts in the near future!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

1st Graders Try Out Chalk! - The Fantasy Book By Bill Thomson And The Hello Chalk iPad App!

1st graders loved reading the beautifully illustrated book by Bill Thomson entitled Chalk. This book marks the beginning of our look at wordless books and how well a story can be told with pictures alone!  Chalk sparks the imagination as each of the chalk figures drawn by the children in the story come to life!! It can stand tall beside other great drawing fantasy books like Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson and Journey by Aaron Becker. 

Students enjoyed the story's make believe elements, so it seemed like the perfect time to discuss the meaning of fantasy fiction too!  We will discuss more fiction genres as the year progresses.  This seemed like the perfect starting place!

For a quick look through the pages of the book, check out this video!

1st graders were anxious to see if their chalk work would come to life like they did in the book! They used the Hello Chalk iPad App for their chalk drawings! Students drew what they would want to see come alive if they were in the book! It was interesting to see what they chose to draw!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kindergarteners Pick Out Their Own Pet Books!

This week my kindergarten friends and I are reading Bob Staake's newest book, My Pet Book! Mr. Staake uses his familiar rhyming style and distinctive illustrations to tell the tale of a boy who believes the perfect pet is a pet book! As he describes his love for his pet, he lists all the reasons that books are better than all other pets! 

The little boy picks out a frisky red hardcover for his new pet!  They do everything together!

After reading the book, students posed with their own pet books!  Kindergarteners, just like the boy in the story, love their books too!  They had a blast pretending to hold the leash for their pet book! With my help, students drew their leashes in the Pixlr iPad app and identified their pet's name. Super fun!!  Thanks to Bob Staake for the inspiring tale of a boy and his pet book!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Leaf Man's Got To Go Where The Wind Blows!!

Today 2nd Graders began a project inspired by fall and the wonderful book by Lois Ehlert, Leaf Man! I don't often repeat lessons, but last year we had so much fun with this lesson that I decided I had to try it again with this year's 2nd graders!  It turned out to be a good call as students LOVED the book and creating their own leaf animals!

If you haven't read Leaf Man, you should, but more importantly, if you haven't SEEN it you must! Like most of Lois Ehlert's books, she uses shapes and everyday items, in this case vibrant fall leaves, to create animal shapes and a character named Leaf Man!!  The pages of book are so beautiful!

2nd Graders loved the book!  They were immediately inspired to try it themselves! They used the iPad cameras to photograph their leaf animal arrangements for our upcoming ebook!  (I gave them leaves that I purchased at the dollar store!)  Look for our ebook Leaf Animals coming in a few weeks!