Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just For Fun - Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

2nd Graders Publish 24 Days of Winter Slideshow With Help From Buncee!

It was a long journey, but 2nd graders have finally completed their slideshow/wBoo, The 24 Days of Winter in Lakeville!

Our project began with the reading of a fun book by Minnesota author, Constance Van Hoven, The 12 Days of Christmas in Minnesota.

After reading the book, my students and I began to discuss some of the things in the book that we could really related to and a few that we really didn't know much about here in Minnesota. As we discussed, we began to talk about our experiences living in Minnesota. Most of our experiences are similar and occur right in our home town of Lakeville! That is what inspired our project! What are the special experiences that we share here in Lakeville? The discussion was a loud, boisterous brainstorming session of all of our favorite things about Lakeville, many of which turned out to be places we have in common. I didn't edit my student's list, I was their scribe as they shared. It's a bit messy, but here is a look at the results of our brainstorm - 

After we had a list, we began a script for our book - 24 Days of Winter in Lakeville using the 12 Days of Christmas as our guide.  Students began by finding images of our popular Lakeville spots around town.  My students were surprised to see the city of Lakeville in pictures on the internet. These are places that my students go to all the time...how exciting to find them on the internet!

The next step in our process was figuring out the best web tool for our collection of pictures. I often let students choose which digital tool that they feel will fit the project, but this time I wanted us to work together to make our project. I recently began playing around with a presentation web tool called Buncee that was on the AASL Best App for Learning list for 2015.  I liked the application. It worked in the browsers on our computers as well as an app for our iPads. It has fun slide backgrounds, ready to go clipart and animations, voice recording, drawing tools, embeddable links, sound files and an option to upload our own files! What really set the tool apart was the animations. My students went crazy for these! So we started using Buncee for this project.

Only after I started did I realize that Buncee doesn't allow students to collaborate on the same project simultaneously. As much as I really love the Buncee interface and ease of use, having students collaborate on group projects is a "must have" feature for me. I am told that Buncee staff are working to add this and I am excited for this option!  Until then, I had to have students come to the computer to assemble their projects one at a time.  This really contributed to the length of time it took to finish the project.  

Once students assembled their Lakeville images, chose a background, added text and an animation, they seemed really happy with the final project! They got a chance to try a new digital tool. Also, the tie to their community was fun and gave us the opportunity to bring a little of their life outside of school into our project. 


Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th & 5th Graders Create & Share Their Digital Seasonal Stories Using The Storybird Website!

(mouse over the cover to turn the pages on computers/thumb through pages on mobile devices)

My 4th and 5th graders are excited to share their latest creations with the world! Students used the free web app, Storybird, for their creative writing, and the results were amazing. Some students were so motivated that they logged in from home to continue writing.


Storybird gives students a huge library of original digital art to select for their stories.  This artwork not only serves as illustrations for their work, but also the spark for their creativity! One of my favorite features in Storybird is the teacher management. It allows me (teacher) to create, manage and assess student writing as well as create assignments for classes. I can make comments to students and moderate the comments from their classmates. Storybird recently added a feature where stories can be made into hard cover books for parents who might wish to keep their child's story as a keepsake. I plan to have all of my students cut and paste the embed code from their Storybird to their reading blogs. This way they can look back on their 5th grade work and read their wonderful stories.

Holiday Letters - Using Google Docs To Help Jumpstart Student Writing!

This week students are finishing up letters that we started several weeks ago.  

Third graders added their own writing to an outline of a holiday letter that I shared with them in Google Drive. It was a great opportunity to teach them how to make a copy of an original and then edit using the word processing tools in Google Docs! Students were able to practice their word processing skills while writing their loved ones. Some students wrote Santa, while others wrote their parents, grandparents and other extended family members.  Students who did not want a holiday letter wrote letters to reflect their family traditions. In the end, they all had beautiful letters that they were proud of!  We rarely print the projects from media class, but students were excited to take home these letters in hard copy!

Students began by logging into their Google accounts and linking to a letter template that I created in my Google Drive account. I added /copy to the end of the URL for the letter in Google Drive. This prompted students to make a copy of the letter and not start editing the original. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HInWdWyeFuDF1w850vyxUg1asFMl-Jqij_WkyD17rYc/copy
Once they copied the letter template, they renamed it and saved it to their Google Drive. 

In the letter that students copied, I was able to leave them notes to help with their writing. Once their letter was in their own Google Drive, they began personalizing it to make it their own. I loved reading student letters and I know their families will enjoy them too!

It's Time For Our Gingerbread Hunt With Help From Jan Brett, QR Code Reader App & Tellagami Apps!!

Gingerbread QR Code Hunt by Slidely Slideshow

This week, Oak Hills 1st Graders have been reading our beloved Jan Brett books!

Along with Jan's books, 1st Graders searched around the media center for gingerbread friends with QR codes. Students could see and compare many of her books by scanning the QR code which took them to a Tellagami video that I created about each book.  Students used the app QR Code Reader to access the videos and had a blast hunting for each gingerbread! I took lots of photos and popped them into a Slide.ly slideshow so everyone could join in our fun Gingerbread QR Code Hunt!

Below is one example of a Tellagami videos that I created to review some of our favorite Jan Brett books with students!

Friday, December 18, 2015

TIES Conference 2015 In Pictures!

This year's TIES conference was packed full of practical ideas and inspiration! A highlight for me was hearing from George Couros and Shannon Miller.  Both of these educators inspire us to give students voice and choice over their learning.  I also came away with new tools to help give students the options they need to share. I find new ideas energizing and I know my students love it when they get to try new things! All in all it was a successful TIES Conference!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

3rd Graders Use MyOn eBooks & Google Earth To Be Thankful For Where They Live!

Over the last few weeks, 3rd Graders have been looking at where they live! They began by researching with the great mapping eBooks from MyOn! MyOn has been a great resource for students to learn about maps because it gives students the most up-to-date information on the topic. We read about the history of maps to current day satellite generated maps.   

With a little bit of background information under their belts, students used Google Earth to look at their earth, continent, country, state, city and school. 

Students were amazed at the close up views of their world, all the way down to their houses! Once they looked at each of these views, they created a Google slideshow with the images from Google Earth. The lesson took an interesting turn as students began to create their Google slideshow.  As we were approaching Thanksgiving, my students decided to add a Thanksgiving theme to our mapping/Google Earth lesson. They were inspired by the views of their home in the universe, and their slideshows were a great demonstration of their learning!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Personalized Learning Spaces With The Brain in Mind - November 14 & 15 Conference, #PLS15

It was the last warm weekend in November. Sixty degrees and sunny! I can't deny I was a little reluctant to dedicate this weekend to be inside learning about personalized learning spaces. Boy am I glad I did!  This conference, Personalized Learning Spaces with the Brain in Mind was time well spent with great practical ideas and plenty of inspiration.  We examined how learning environments can help our students to engage, collaborate and personalize their learning.  By giving students voice and choice over their environments and learning, they are freed to be more creative and engaged. We had sessions on personalizing spaces on a budget, mobile makerspaces, personalized learning and genius hour. Erin Klein, Naomi Harm and Brad Gustafson were just a few of the guest speakers.  My Lakeville colleagues and I were immersed in ideas about ways to give students more control over how they learn. I thought this video, 2015 SchoolPower Fund-A-Need gave great insight into the topic of personalized learning spaces.

I found myself pondering back to my own days in school and wishing that my teachers had taken a weekend to consider these ideas too! Don't get me wrong, I had great teachers, but we didn't have many opportunities to collaborate or create.

When I arrived home from the conference, I was inspired.  How could I make my space more personalized for my students.  I used one of the tools shared at the conference to create a plan for the OHE library!  Classroom Architect - http://classroom.4teachers.org/  I would love to add some collaborative arrangements, a few soft surfaces (all of mine are hard surfaces), high top surfaces for students to stand if they wish and mobile maker carts to share with the entire building.  It was fun to dream!

The #PLS15 was a buzz all weekend as conference participants shared their learning!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

1st Graders Publish A New eBook - Dinosaurs in the Library!

This week 1st graders turned our library into Jurassic Park...kinda!?! We began our adventure with a delightful rhyming book by Timothy Knapman entitled Dinosaurs in the Supermarket. Students snickered and giggled as I read about the dinosaurs being naughty in the supermarket! Spilling, hiding, and smashing, the dinosaurs made a huge mess, thrilling my students along the way!

So my students used this great example to make a book entitled, Dinosaurs in the Library! Students began by taking a photo of an area in the library. They took photos of the book checkout computer, book shelves, tables, door and computers.  Their photos became the backdrop for their page in our upcoming publication!

Once the students had their photos in the camera roll, they imported them into the free iPad app called Paint Sparkle.  

Then all that was left was to create dinosaurs in the library using sparkling paint! Students were creative in imagining what their dinosaur was doing while in the library.  It was fun hearing their imaginations run wild with tales of naughty dinosaurs.

Students used the PicCollage iPad app to add text to their dinosaur page. From Paint Sparkle, they saved their dino picture to the camera roll and then imported it into PicCollage to add a sentence explaining what their dinosaur was doing! I have only added a few of their pages so far, but once we added all of their pages together, they will have created a fun new ebook!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Fantastic 1st Graders Learn Coding Logic Using Code.org!

This week 1st graders are learning the logic of coding using the fantastic tools on Code.org! The Course 1 skills that are addressed are specifically designed to help step young learners into coding. These early lessons are teaching students about sequencing, commands, and repeat loops. I really like the thoughtful lesson design of Code.org lessons because it allows student to move at their own pace, as well as a logical sequence that build student skills. It is also designed to maximize student engagement! Fun and educational!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Following The Birds From Froodle, 2nd Graders Share Their Uniqueness Using PicCollage!

Oak Hills 2nd graders loved reading the book, Froodle, by Antoinette Portis! They really loved the silly words that pepper this story of birds who learn to be themselves. I am always looking for ways for students to share their own voice by combining digital tools and books!  Froodle was a great example of a book with a message that my students could embrace!


After reading the book, I asked students to think of characteristic or preferences that made them unique! I used myself as an example to get them started! I am a teacher and a mom. I am honest and diligent. I love digital tools at school and at home. I love reading and I get a special thrill browsing book stores!  I then asked my 2nd graders to think of a characteristics or preferences that made them unique. Students had great fun sharing their characteristics and preferences! Like the birds in Froodle, students are learning to appreciate themselves!

Students used our "go to" app, PicCollage, to create themselves as a bird and share something about themselves. They added a "silly" word like the birds in Froodle! In a few cases students created a rhyme! We uploaded their Froodle picture to their Google Drive. Later, when we create their portfolio website in 4th grade, we will add this picture to show off our 2nd grade selves!

60 Years Later, Kindergarteners Still Love Harold And The Purple Crayon!

It is always fun sharing the 1955 book Harold and the Purple Crayon with a new class of kindergarteners! There are lots of new books with the same theme. The 2013 Caldecott Honor book Journey, by Aaron Becker, is a more colorful updated version of the classic Harold book that I am excited to share with kindergartener too! Even with newer fantastic options, I still love returning to this classic on occasion. Crockett Johnson's book still comes alive for my students.

Today, kindergarteners read the classic book and then using the free iPad app PaintSparkle, students tried to follow Harold's example! They did a wonderful job of creating art work that they would like to jump into!

Kindergarteners also wanted to share the words and numbers they were learning in their classroom this week. Once they shared their imaginary picture, I let them share their words for the week! (look, see, in, like, to were just a few!) They were so excited to share!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Using Schoology To Personalize Instruction For 5th Grade Bloggers!

I am always striving to find ways for students to share their writing in authentic ways, and blogging seems to provide that opportunity.  For the last several years I have helped students create their own reading blogs. This is a painstaking process as I teach each step and wait for all students to accomplish each step through the creation stage. More recently I started trying to find ways to give students more control over the "how" of their learning. Giving students control gives them the opportunity to work at their own pace, hear instructions more than once and seek their own understanding. Though I have "flipped" the tech instruction for the Oak Hills staff, I hadn't ever tried it for students. This week, I created screencasts for the steps required for blog creation for my students. I used the learning management system that our district has adopted called Schoology (pronounced Skool'uhjee) to deliver the instruction for students.  

In a series of three videos, I delivered instruction for my students with great success! By delivering the instruction via video, I was free to walk around and help students who were struggling. It was eerily quiet in the room with students focusing so intently on their lessons, but engagement was 100%.  You really can't beat that! I think they enjoyed the level of independence this teaching method provided them! I can't wait to share their blogs very soon!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Storytime Online - Such A Fantastic Resource For Teachers and Students!

Last month, I was at a district media specialist meeting when fellow media specialist, Randy Schlede, shared a fantastic resource with our group! The website was Storyline Online. When I browsed the site, I found some excellent read alouds by well known actors and actresses. I noticed the book entitled, I Need My Monster, written by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam and read by Rita Moreno. I mentally tucked it away thinking it would be perfect for my students this week! Little did I know what a treat we had in store!

I came back to it this week and finally listened to Ms. Moreno read the book! I was alone after school in the media center, but that didn't stop me. I laughed out loud in my big empty library. This book is so well illustrated, and the idea of "needing" a monster is such a clever turn on the familiar theme of scary monsters under the bed. The illustrations and clever plot, together with Rita Moreno reading it with the most hilarious accents, it was the perfect blend of fabulousness! My first graders were glued to this video read aloud! When each new monster appeared in the story, they grew still with nervous anticipation.

After it was all done, we brainstormed what characteristics we would choose if we could pick a monster under our beds. My students were surprisingly detailed!  Along with claws, a single eye and horns, some of my students thought their monsters should be humorous, smell like flowers and be able to grant wishes! All in all it was fun hearing them share their imaginative ideas.

We took a few minutes to create monsters using a fun web based Monster Creator by the British Council. To make their monsters, students added monster arms, legs, eyes, mouths, ears and noses. Once their monsters were created, students could make them dance, sing, sneeze, shout and blowup! The monsters and 1st graders had a great day in media!