Summer Must Reads

Are you looking for some great literature to read this summer.  I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite books.  The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is one of my all time favorite books.  I read this book to my class every April around Earth Day.

There are many activities you can do with this book.  After reading the story, have your kids research one of the animals in the story on a tablet.  National Geographic Kids is a great place to start.  Check out San Diego Zoo for kids for some fascinating and easy to read information about jaguars.  For a higher reading level try Animal Fact Guide.  Go to Ranger Rick and find out how to make rain music.  Go to YouTube and search for RAINFOREST sounds for kids.  Your kids can hear what the rain forest must have sounded like when the story begins.

You can let your kids make animal masks or puppets.  They can act out the story.  You can research what is happening in rain forests around the world.  You can take a walk around your neighborhood and pick up trash.  There are endless activities you can do with this book.

I hope you love The Great Kapok Tree as much as I do.

Why Technology?

The purpose of technology in the classroom is to enhance instruction.  Simple explanation, but what does it mean?  The word enhance means to magnify, intensify, raise to a higher degree.  That is the purpose of technology in today’s classrooms, to raise instruction to a higher degree.

A prime example of raising instruction to a higher degree can be found in a recent Reading and Social Studies unit 2nd graders at my school completed.  We combined Reading and Social Studies TEKS in a biography unit on famous Americans.  Our students checked out library books on the famous American of their choice.  Our 2nd graders love to go to the library and get new books.  They enjoy reading a variety of genres, including biographies.  We read lots of fun stories about famous Americans to our students.  We also use technology to raise our instruction to a higher degree.

We created YouTube playlists of famous Americans to supplement the reading material our students found in the library.  We visited websites to discover more about our famous Americans.

A study of George Washington included a virtual tour of Mt. Vernon.  NASA was a great place to discover photos and information about John Glenn.   Some of our friends discovered a new passion for all things Laura Ingalls Wilder.

How did watching videos on YouTube and visiting websites magnify our instruction?  Seeing the places we were reading and learning about and how they look in real life enhanced (raised to a higher level) our students interest in all that we were learning.

The payoff?  Our students are still searching and exploring people they find fascinating.  Jean Michel Basquiat, the subject of the 2017 Caldecott Medal winner, just a few pages in and my kiddos were chomping at the bit to go find his artwork.

The bigger payoff?  These 2nd graders have unlocked a whole new world of learning and discovery.  They know that NASA is a great place to find all sorts of information about space.  National Geographic Kids is a favorite site to learn about the animal kingdom.  DOGO News is the place to go for news lovers.  Science Bob is captivating for my scientists.

Learning to use technology in the classroom is teaching our students how to be in charge of their own learning.  Learning to use technology in the classroom teaches our 2nd graders how to delve into new worlds in a safe and responsible way.

We owe our students an education that opens new horizons in this global world.  We can provide our students with an education that enables them to navigate this global world to raise their learning and awareness to the highest degree imaginable.

Field Trip E-Readers

Every year after we finish learning about pioneers and early Texans, we take our 2nd graders to Dallas Heritage Village.  If you are from the Dallas area, this living museum use to be called Old City Park.  Teachers, students, and families love this trip.  We always have as many family members attending our field trips as students.  This support makes a wonderful day even better!  We usually go in the spring when the weather is at its best and let students and their families roam the park at their leisure.   The park provides information, but this year we decided to do a Photo Scavenger Hunt.

DHV Photo Hunt

Students and their family members sought out the suggested locations and took pictures.  Most people used their cell phones.  Some of the kids took the pictures themselves, but remember they are 2nd graders, so they mostly wanted to be in the photos.

After the field trip, family members sent the photos to teachers in an email.  Teachers uploaded the photos to a file in our Google Drive.  We shared the file with our students.  Next we taught our students how to make a Google Slide Presentation.  Students chose the photos they wanted to use and wrote about each picture.  We gave them parameters, such as how many slides needed to be in each presentation.  We wanted them to use correct capitalization, punctuating, and syntax.  They knew we were going to make these presentations into E-Readers they would share with their families.  Students shared their presentations with teachers, and we made some editing suggestions.  In the end though, we accepted the work they presented.  The kids loved making these E-Readers!  They had no difficulty in working with Google Slides.  Some of them did have a hard time deciding which photos to use.  When they completed their presentations, we saved them as a PDF.  We sent the PDF E-Reader to families in an email.  We chose to do PDF E-Readers because they can be opened on any device.

The students learned so much about creating a slide presentation.  They learned how to use the photos and write about them.   We also made End of the Year Memory Book E-Readers, as well as, Life Cycle of Butterfly E-Readers.

Click on the links below to view a couple of sample E-Readers from this field trip.

If you have done something similar with your students please click on the comments and share your ideas!

Dallas Heritage Village Aden

Dallas Heritage Village Shelby

Reading, Science, and Technology

I am always looking for ways to enhance my instruction so that my students will get the most out of whatever we happen to be learning.  This past spring, I combined a Reading and Science lesson and paired it with a technology concept.  My students thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the lessons.  I was impressed and pleased to see that they were indeed internalizing prior knowledge.  I use Common Sense Media’s K-2 Scope and Sequence for many of my technology lessons.  Here is a link.  If you haven’t used this material, you might want to check it out.  As an extension of learning to search the web, and learning about copyright, we discovered NASA’s public domain site for images.  We were also learning about the sun, moon, and stars in Science.  There was a non-fiction space story in our basal reader (which I don’t use very often) that the kids always enjoy reading.  This was an evolving lesson.  I had planned for the kids to find images on the NASA site, download the images, and write a caption for each image.  We did this, but I intended the project to be in google.  The kids wanted to print their images so each student ended up making a paper book.  After downloading and printing images, we visited NASA’s student page.  Almost all of my students found their image.  They were able to find information about the image to use in writing the caption.  This whole process took a bit longer than I had planned, but my students learned how to download and print an image.  They remembered previous lessons on copyright.  They also learned about non-fiction text features and how to write a caption for an image.  And of course they learned many new and interesting facts about the space, a highly engaging and motivating topic for 2nd graders.

 

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