App Alert: Shadow Puppet Edu

 

 

I have a new favorite app, Shadow puppets edu.  My teammate, Danielle, has been using this app and telling our team about it all year.  I finally gave it a try in my classroom this past week.  I love it!  I can’t believe I waited so long to give it a try.

This app allows students to take photos or choose photos from the photo album and record a description or narration about the photo.   My students loved it.  I love it because my students can share their work directly to our class blog on Seesaw.

Like most apps it comes with tutorials.  I encourage my students to watch the tutorials.  It helps those friends who aren’t as confident about their tech skills.  When they are ready to begin, they simple click the Create New button.  They can access the camera to take photos or they can access the photo album to choose a photo.  My students have become quite adept at knowing when to allow photo access and microphone access.  I have enjoyed watching their tech skills grow this year.

Students can choose to record using one or more photos.  It is very simple to use.  Here are a few projects completed by my 2nd graders.

They are easy to share and short enough that you don’t always have to upload to YouTube to view them.

Check it out.  This app is a wonderful tool for all students!

Padlet: Organize Your Student Work

How do you organize the work your students complete online?  There are some features within Google Classroom to help organize the work you’ve assigned to your students.  Learning management systems also have built in features to allow you to organize the work you’ve assigned to your classes.

How do you organize work your students have completed on iPads? Perhaps you’ve assigned a project requiring your students to use PicCollage or ThingLink.  Perhaps you’ve given your students some choice and they’ve chosen the app they prefer to complete the project.  How do you collect and organize their finished products?

My favorite way to collect and organize iPad projects is Padlet.  Padlet allows me to put all of my students finished work, regardless of the app used, into one workspace.  I can airdrop student files to my desktop and load them into the Padlet myself.  I can provide students with a link and let them send their completed work to the Padlet as they finish projects.

Once our workspace is complete there are several options for sharing the workspace.

You have to make your Padlet public in order to share with others.  Then click the Share/Export/Embed button in the top right corner.

You can share on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog.  I usually copy the QR Code and share with my student’s families.  I add this QR Code to my Smore Newsletter.  I update these newsletters weekly.  I always let families know when I’ve added work, videos, or QR Codes for Padlet.  Adding new projects my students have completed and letting families know about it when I send the update reminder increases the views of my newsletter significantly.  Families seem to enjoy the opportunity to see what their kiddos are doing in the classroom.  This allows them to feel connected throughout their busy work days.

We have several Padlets we are currently working on in my classroom.  Some of the Padlets show work everyone completed in the same app.  Others show a variety of apps as students choice comes into play.

Here is a QR Code for a recent Padlet my students completed on The Water Cycle.

Have you tried Padlet?  Please share how you’ve used Padlet or other organizational tools in the comments.

APP Alert! Comics Head Lite

My students love the Comics Head Lite App.

We used this app as a response to a Mo Willems Author Study.  All kids, including 2nd graders love Mo Willems and his outrageous sense of humor.  The kids enjoyed using Comics Head Lite to create dialogue between pig and elephant, two favorite Mo Willems characters.

Comics Head Lite is the free version of this app.  It has some fun features for kids.  I always show my students the tutorials available when we learn a new app.  Comics Head Lite offers a simple tutorial that was easy for my kids to view.

After viewing the tutorials, students are ready to begin creating.  We had already completed a lesson on dialogue including a paper version of a comic sketch.  Comics Head Lite allows users to choose from panels and templates.  This lets the user decide how many scenes to include and what layout works best.

You can see there are a wide variety of choices available.  I let my students decide for themselves how they wanted to accomplish the task of creating a comic.  Guidelines were available for those who needed them.

Students can take photos or draw the characters for their comic strip.  The tool bar is easy to navigate.  The students learned a new way to creatively express themselves while learning about dialogue.  Check out our creations.

 

 

Teaching Students to Blog

I’ve been teaching my 2nd graders to blog.  Although, we didn’t actually start blogging until the second semester, I started the process of teaching my students to blog the first week of school.  There are some basic internet and online safety concepts I want my students to have an understanding of before we begin to blog.

My favorite site for teaching Digital Citizenship is Common Sense Media.  I use their phenomenal K-2 Scope and Sequence to begin lessons on digital citizenship.  Brainpopjr.com also has some great video lessons that support teaching students to blog.

We spend some time learning about online safety and what we should and shouldn’t share online.  The kids developed some Blog Safety Rules based on what we have learned about internet safety.

The most important lesson I hope to convey to my students is that they must not share personal information online.  We spend quite a bit of time learning what personal information is and why we shouldn’t share that information.  We spend some time developing concepts that teach once something has been shared online it is no longer in the blogger’s control.

We also begin to learn what a blog is and what we can blog about.  Most of my students had a rudimentary understanding of blogs.  I have some digital savvy students, many of whom spend time online daily.  They were thrilled with the concept of having a class blog.   We came up with some basic topics we would enjoy blogging about.

There are many formats and websites available to blog with students.  Many learning management systems allow for class blogs.  Kidblog, Edublogs, and Seesaw are my favorite sites for blogging with students.  I chose Seesaw for my class blog this year.

Seesaw allows me to add students to our class blog.  I can also add parents so that they can view their child’s blog posts.  Parents must request to join and login with a password.  I control what gets posted.  Students submit posts and I approve them and post them to the blog.  Seesaw also allows me to approve parent and student comments to the blog.  I also receive weekly updates informing me of our blog activity.

My 2nd graders are absolutely loving the opportunity to blog.  It has changed how they view journal writing as blogging is just another way to journal.  They have several options for how they want to blog.

Most of my kids love the ability to post video.  We are currently obsessed with How To video.  They love to post (with the help of a friend) a video showing how to make paper airplanes and various origami art work.  Some of them love to draw, and a few even love the “old-fashioned” type/text feature.

Blogging has become the most engaging response to learning my students have experienced this year.  They love to share what they are learning and how they are accomplishing that learning.  I’m not going to share our login information, but scroll down to see some images of our class blog.

I am proud of my students and the connections they are making to the world through blogging.  Do you blog with your students?  Please share your success stories in the comments.

 

iPad Animal Research

Research is a great way to combine goals and objectives across curriculum.  In Texas our goals and objectives are called TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).  For several years we have combined several Reading and Science TEKS in one animal research project.  There are several Reading TEKS we address by this method including informational text features and research gathering.  We are also able to teach our Science TEKS on animals at the same time.  This is always a favorite unit for our 2nd graders.

We begin by giving the students a chance to choose the animal they would like to research.  Then we head to the school library to check out books about the chosen animal.  We find as many books as we can on each child’s reading level.  The students read their informational text.  I make it a point to teach informational text features in Guided Reading groups before we begin our research.  This helps the kids know how to navigate the book as they begin searching for specific information.

After the students have had a chance to read their book.  I introduce research with the iPads.  There are several wonderful sources available for animal research.

National Geographic Kids is a favorite of my students.  This site requires login and password information, but it is free.  Your school can obtain a site license as well.  My kids love this site.  They can choose to read books, magazines, or watch video about animals.

Facts4me.com is another favorite source.  This is a paid site as well, but is worth every penny for younger students.  Research is easy and information is presented in a user friendly manner.  Here is a small sample of some of the topics available to research on this site.

Enchanted Learning is another great resource.  This one has some free items.  The paid version allows more access.  It is inexpensive and affordable.  This site not only has information for kids, but also for teachers.  They have an excellent picture dictionary (Little Explorers) that can be used in a variety of ways.

There are several ways you can make this information available to your students.  I like to make Google slides for each site and post them on Google Classroom and in Canvas, my district’s Learning Management site.  My schools website has a link to some of these sites on our Library page.  My 2nd graders have no difficulty following multiple steps to find these sites.  I also post login and password information around the room.  Even the least tech savvy of my students can find what they are looking for with a few simple reminders.

After students have completed their research, they choose a format to present what they have learned.  We have several options available to students including iPad Pages, iPad iMovie, PicCollage, Poplet, and Shadow Puppets Edu.  We also allow the students to make an old-fashioned poster if they so choose.  Most of them choose an iPad response.  All of my students chose to complete their projects with iPad Pages, and PicCollage.  I must say this surprised me.  I have several that love iMovie and I expected to see some movies.

I taught them how to use iPad Pages before the Christmas break.  They are truly loving this.  It has increased the desire to write for many of my friends.  They love to add photos and then write about the photos.  I have some re-teaching to do as several figured out how to copy and paste information.  Some of them didn’t use their own words.  We will be reviewing digital citizenship and copyright for the next little while.

When the projects are complete we upload them to Padlet to share with our student’s families.  You have a few options for sharing the Padlet.  You can download a QR Code or embed the link into a website or blog.  I shared the QR Code on my Smore Newsletter.  The code to embed is cumbersome so the QR Code is a bit more reliable.

QR Code for my 2nd Graders Animal Research Projects

Scan the QR code above to view my student’s completed animal research projects.

Do you have your own tips, tricks, and websites for teaching your students research?  Please share in the comments.

On This Day in Tech History

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On December 3, 1992 the first text message was sent.  You hear a lot of older people complaining about the younger generation doing nothing but texting on their phones.  They just haven’t yet figured out how convenient texting really is.

You don’t actually have to speak to someone who may at any given moment be getting on your last nerve.  This could be your boss, your mom, your spouse, your best friend, your 15 year old son (ok, your 15 year old might actually be getting on your nerves by the second).

Then there are the hilariously funny “mom texts”.  Everybody loves to make fun of their mom for some reason.

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Texting gives the handy and “acceptable” excuse of being out of tower range when you miss something important.

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He really was in the Big Bend. My brothers never forget my birthday, but I always forget theirs.

Where would be without texting?

Happy Birthday Text Message!

Election Day Madness

We spent the last week or two teaching our 2nd graders about elections.  We began by reading some presidential books featuring favorite characters.

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Grace For President, Duck for President, My Teacher for President

The kids were highly motivated by all of the election hype in the media.  They loved reading these books and learning about the election process.

We learned about the qualifications and job descriptions of president.  We hosted a grade level election where the kids voted for president.  The candidates were Grace, Duck, and Teacher.

The kids made flyers promoting their candidate.  We made the flyers on Smore.com.  I have an educator account and added my students for free temporarily.  We created accounts and each student made a presidential flyer.  I placed a template into each student account.  The kids learned how to use the pre-made template to add text and photos.  They also got to experiment with writing persuasive statements.   I shared a link to the flyers in parent emails.

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Smore.com Presidential Flyers

Every 2nd grader voted for Grace, Duck, or Teacher for president.  We made a voting booth, voter registration cards, and ballots.  Our 2nd graders took this very seriously.

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Voting Booth and Ballot Box
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Voting for President

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Casting our Ballots

The grade level gathered together in the afternoon to count, tally, and graph the votes.  Grace was the winner!  Duck came in 2nd and Teacher was a close 3rd place.

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Cheers for Grace

On Tuesday, National Election Day, the whole school voted for the “real” president.  At the end of the day we received election results.  The results were the same as the “real” election.  Donald Trump won on our campus too.

The kids had so much fun learning about the importance of voting and elections.  I hope they find a passion for civics and continue to vote for the rest of their lives.

Blendspace-An Amazing Resource

I’ve been using Blendspace for a couple of years now.  Blendspace is a wonderful resource offered through TES.com.  TES is for teachers.  There are a variety of lessons and resources available and membership is free.

Blendspace is one of my favorite resources.  I can quickly and easily create a lesson to add to my Google classroom using Blendspace.   You can drop and add as many media resources as you like into your Blendspace.

You can search Youtube, Flickr and Google for resources.  You can add from your Google Drive, or Dropbox.  You can add a webpage.  You can even add your own video and media.

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I usually research Youtube beforehand so I will know exactly which videos I want to use in my Blendspace.  I often make a Google slide beforehand so that it is also ready to go.  Then you drop and add to each slide in the Blendspace.

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When you are finished creating your Blendspace, there are several options available for sharing or publishing your lesson.

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My favorite way to share Blendspace lessons with my students is to create a Google Slide with the link to the Blendspace lesson.  I load the slide into my Google Classroom for students to access.  This is the method I have had the most success with in my classroom.  My students can access the Blendspace with iPads, desktops, laptops, and in our Computer Lab.

Editing is easily accomplished, even within and already shared lesson.

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Just click the pencil in the bottom right corner and begin editing.  You also have the option to delete a slide altogether.  This is sometimes necessary when media from other sources changes after you’ve created your lesson.

My students love learning by video.  Blendspace gives me the ability to create lessons for my whole class, small groups, and even individuals.  It is truly one of my favorite teaching resources.

Here are a few of my Blendspace lessons.  Feel free to use them with your students.

Election 2016

Texas