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.

Math Makers: Fraction Flags

A few weeks ago we were learning about fractions in my 2nd grade classroom.  We don’t do worksheets or workbook pages very often, but this unit offered a worksheet that allowed my students to create a flag.  They were offered various boxes divided into halves, thirds, and fourths.  I knew my little artists would enjoy creating flags so I gave them the worksheets and let them design colorful flags.  I was right.  My 2nd graders thoroughly enjoyed this activity!  They enjoyed it so much that they requested (over and over again) to make the flags they designed.

Fridays at my school are devoted to enrichment.  We have Genius Hour.  We don’t do RTI on Friday.  We try to allow our students to chase their passions and discover new talents.  On a recent Friday, I handed back their flag designs and provided various types of colorful paper for my 2nd graders to create their Fraction Flags.

After they were finished creating their Fraction Flags, we headed for the iPads.  We used Educreations to take photos of our flags.  They used the pen tool to write the fractions portrayed on each flag.  My students were then able to record themselves explaining the fractions they created in their flags.  Explaining their reasoning addresses 2nd Grade Texas Math TEK 1.D.  We do this often in a variety of ways.  Second graders love to use the iPad and record themselves explaining their math thinking and reasoning.  They solidify their own learning and help others learn at the same time.

Some of my friends chose to use Seesaw and our class blog to showcase their Fraction Flag.  Others chose to use Shadow Puppets Edu.

Check out our Fraction Flags.  They are as diverse as the learners in my classroom.  That’s what makes being a teacher fresh and exciting every day.

Scan the QR Code to view some of our finished products on Padlet.

Are your students Makers?  Share your ideas in the comments section.

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.

 

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

DIY Book Trailers in iMovie

My second graders love making Book Trailers with iMovie.  This is a favorite reading response in my classroom.  Here is a tutorial on how to use iMovie to make a book trailer.

Here is the Nana in the City (Lauren Castillo) Book Trailer I made for the tutorial.

My students have made book trailers for Fairy Tales, author studies, Reading Responses, and Caldecott books.

Here are some of the Book Trailers made by my 2nd graders.  Click on the link to view the trailers.

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Fly Guy

Goldilocks

Falling For Rapunzel

Have your students create their own book trailers. They will love them!