Making Friends with Teligami

The beginning of every school year brings new adventures, new opportunities, new beginnings, and new friends.  Elementary school teachers spend much time helping students renew old relationships and develop new ones.  We always read stories about friendship and search for new activities to create bonding experiences for our new students.

I love random pairing.  I also prefer to put my students into groups of 2 for partner activities.  I like 2 kids to a group for the simple reason that participation tends to be higher in smaller groups.  With groups of 3 or more it seems like someone is always sitting and observing instead of actively participating.

This week, our first week back in school, we spent a lot of time doing partner activities.  I use a random drawing process to partner my students.  There is always some shock at first.  There is usually some trepidation when someone ends up paired with someone they don’t really know.  Girls and boys who end up paired together usually give each other some strange looks.  By Friday, the kids understood how the process works and for the most part just grinned at their new partners.  I truly believe this random pairing goes a long way in forging new friendships within my classroom.

We undertook all of the usual first week activities for early elementary grade levels.  We read a series of Kevin Henkes books.  Chester’s Way, Wemberly Worried, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and of course, Chrysanthemum are just a few of the books we used this week.  He is my favorite author and the perfect author for a Back to School unit.  We played Getting to Know You games.  We prepared activity after activity for partners to come together, work together, and in the process, get to know each other.

On Friday, we had another random partner drawing.  This time we were drawing for friends to interview.  Each student had a brief interview sheet with some basic questions such as age, favorite food, favorite subject, etc.  The two partners then set about interviewing each other.  After the interview process was completed, we watched a YouTube video on how to create a Teligami.  We also watched a 33 second Teligami video that had been uploaded to YouTube.  All of this preparation took about 10 minutes.   A few of my students had used Teligami before, but most had not.

Their task was to create a Teligami introducing their new friend.  They could create an animated character for the introduction.  They could use a Teligami background or they could take a photo of our classroom for the background.  I didn’t let them download from the internet for background images.  We haven’t had that lesson yet.  They could record their voices introducing their friend or they could type the text and let the Teligami app generate a computer voice.  Everyone chose to make their own voice recording of course.

Teli 1

The kids had a great time interviewing friends and creating  Teligami characters.  I got to know my kiddos a little better by observing their tech skills and their creativity.

Teli 2

How do you use Teligami in your classroom?  Please comment to share your ideas.  If you like my blog please click on the follow button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.










Guided Reading – It’s an “EDpuzzle”

I love Guided Reading time.  I teach reading in the morning, and I love this time to be with my students in small groups or even one on one.  I love the conversations we have.  I enjoy listening to my kiddos share what’s on their minds and what’s going on in their lives.  We alway spend a few precious moments in conversation.  This skill is as necessary as reading.

I love diving into a new book.  I’m always anxious to see how the students will react.  Have they read this book?  Are they familiar with this topic?  Are they interested in this topic?  What do they already know?  Oftentimes, my kids have quite a bit of background knowledge (schema) about one of the books we are reading.  Other times, they have none.  This past spring I discovered a tool to help build background and understanding before my 2nd graders ever come to the reading table – EDpuzzle.

EDpuzzle is a site that allows teachers to choose from hundreds of videos to engage student learning.  These videos come from the EDpuzzle site, YouTube, Khan Academy, and many more.

EDpuzzle videos resize

I love this site because I can cut or trim the video and only use certain parts or I can use the whole video.  I can insert questions that must be answered before students continue viewing the video.

Teachers can login using a Google account or an Edmodo account.  Students can be added easily from both Google Classroom and Edmodo.  I just login with my Google account.  I added my students from Google Classroom.  That was it, very simple to get started.  There is a great tour at the beginning to show you how to use the site.

Edp login new


EDpuzzle teach page

I like to add videos for the whole class as well as small groups.  Sometimes if my groups are reading similar books or books on the same topic I add videos for the whole class to view.  I can have my kids view the video at the Reading table before we begin.  I can also have them view the videos independently or in a small group while I’m meeting with others.

GR EDpuz

GR EDpuz 2

Adding this piece to my guided reading repertoire has increased student engagement and success at the reading table.  My students have grown in knowledge as the videos support the learning that is taking place in the reading group.  They can’t wait to see the new book that will go along with the videos they’ve watched.   I get excited when my kiddos get excited!

How do you use technology in your Guided Reading groups?  Please share in the comments section.

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What Floats Your Boat? The Components of an Elementary STEAM Lesson


Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics!  Adding Art to STEM allows for the creativity side of the brain that is so needed in design.

If you’re an elementary school teacher you probably spend some time thinking about STEM/STEAM lessons.  You probably scour Pinterest for ideas.  Search TPT for more ideas.  Seek the advise and ideas of the professionals you know and those you may not know.  Finding a STEM/STEAM lesson that will truly be a STEM/STEAM lesson can be serious business.  You’ve probably found more than a few lessons that purported to be STEM/STEAM which really weren’t.

What does a STEM/STEAM (from here on, I will just use the STEAM acronym.) lesson need to be authentic. Here are the components my teammate, Leighann, and I used in a STEAM lesson on boat building and buoyancy.  We teach in Texas so we just have to make sure our lessons connect to our TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) and standards.  There are several 2nd Grade Science and Math TEKS this lesson addressed.

Before we began our lesson we took some time to build BACKGROUND for our students.  We used children’s literature.  We watched some videos of sail boats.  We let the kids share their experiences with boats.  The experiences of some our students ranged from fishing on a jon boat to sailing on luxury cruise liner.  Two of our favorite books for this lesson are The Raft by Jim La Marche and Maggie and the Pirate by Ezra Jack Keats.

boat the raft

boat Maggie pirate

Building Background is necessary as so many children today have varied experiences.  Not every child will have the experience of sailing or riding on a boat.  Not every child will have the experience of playing with boats in the water.  Building Background gives them a point of reference for the lesson.

EXPLORATION comes after building Background.  This is also where we talk about the problem or challenge to the STEAM lesson.  In this lesson, students had to build a boat that would float across a pool with weight and without weight.  In the Exploration phase, we show the materials available to use during boat building (the ENGINEERING phase).  We experiment with the materials and a tub of water to see which materials float and which do not float.  This phase is fun for both students and teachers.  I enjoy hearing them “talk” about what will happen to each item placed in the tub of water.  Some of them are very accurate and some are way off on what they think will happen.

After exploring what the materials will do in water, we begin the BRAINSTORMING phase of the lesson.  Brainstorming can be done as a whole group or in small groups.  In this phase students discussed ways to build a boat that would float.  They discussed which materials they thought would be best for floating and carrying weight.  They also shared some of their ideas on how they wanted to construct their boats.

Build Boat Brainstorm withblur

When Brainstorming is completed, we split the kids up into small groups for the PLANNING phase.  Groups of 2-4 work best.  I also like to use random pairing to group my students.  When the small groups are formed, the kids begin to plan with their team how they will design their boat.  They will discuss together.  Every team member gets to voice ideas.  They sketch their ideas and list the materials they will use in constructing their boats.  They “write” out their plan, including measurements.

boat planning 1 with blur

Finally, we are to the ENGINEERING phase of the lesson.  This is where the teams actually build their boats using the materials designated for the challenge.  They have explored the materials, brainstormed for ideas, and created a plan for constructing their boat.

boat 1   boat 2

They are very proud of their engineering skills!

Thus begins the TESTING phase.  Real engineers test their inventions in some way.  Whether it be a prototype or the actual invention, or both.  The work is tested to see if the problem or challenge has been solved.  Our students had to float their boat across a pool with and without weight.  We used a fan as a source of wind to help the boats sail.  I will never forget the cheering and encouragement as the students tested their boats.  They wanted the boats of every team to float all the way across the pool!

boat test 2  boat test 3

The final phase of the lesson is the REFLECTION phase.  In this phase we visit with teams, either whole group or small group.  We discuss the success or failure of their boat.  We also discuss what they would do differently next time.  We have the students talk and write about what they learned.  This is an important phase!  Don’t skip it; this is where we make sure learning has taken place and that students understand exactly what they have learned.

These 7 phases (BACKGROUND, EXPLORATION, BRAINSTORMING, PLANNING, ENGINEERING, TESTING, and REFLECTION) of a STEAM lesson are my version of the components of a successful STEAM lesson for elementary students.  There are many great resources available.  Find a resource that works for your classroom and enjoy creating and teaching STEAM lessons that will enhance your students math, science, problem solving, and collaboration skills for years to come.

Here are some links to some great resources.

Link 1                                          Link 2                                   Link 3

If you have a successful STEAM lesson, please share in the comments!

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