Thursday, January 30, 2014

When Is Necessity The Mother Of Invention???

Answer?  Necessity is the mother of invention when you need to turn an ordinary av cart into the brand new charging cart for 20 new Chromebooks!!  The cord management is a bit of a disaster, but it works!!

3rd Graders Research Snowflakes Using A Variety Of Digital Tools!!

Snow.  Is there a more fitting research topic for those of us living in Minnesota?  This week, 3rd graders have been researching snowflakes!  Students have been taking their inspiration from the subject of the Caldecott Award winning book, Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Snowflake Bentley is the true story of Wilson Bentley, the first man to photograph a snowflake. Much of what we know today about the formation of snowflakes was first discovered by Wilson Bentley before 1931!!

After reading Snowflake Bentley, we did further fact finding using a variety of resources.  Students read the MyOn eBook Flakes and Flurries:  A Book About Snow. 

We watched the formation of snowflakes under the microscope.

And we discovered even more from the BrainPOP video Snowflakes.

After gathering background from all of our sources, 3rd graders brainstormed a list of all the facts they had gathered on a Padlet wall. 

Using the Snow Creator app, students were able to create six sided unique snowflakes.  

Once hearing that no two snowflakes are alike, these two students wanted to see if they could challenge that assertion!  Verrrrrrrrry close!!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New eBooks Coming Soon To An Oak Hills Student Near You! Capstone's MyOn, MackinVia and Follett Shelf!!

I am really excited to introduce new eBook libraries to Oak Hills students and teachers in the coming weeks!! (Really, we are reintroducing MyOn.)   Each of these resources, MyOn, MackinVia and Follett Shelf, brings us some wonderful learning opportunities for our students and teachers!  They can be accessed via the web or a mobile app!


MyOn was a pilot for our district last year and is now back as a more permanent feature.  Students who were here last year are still able to use their usernames and passwords, as these have not changed.  For those who may have forgotten their username and password, we will be sending letters home with this information very soon.  Additionally parents can look in the parent portal for their child's username and password.

MyOn is a bit more than a simple eBook library.  It assesses each child's reading level and helps them find books that are appropriate for their reading level and interests.

Students, parents and teachers can easily find out a variety of educationally relevant facts about each book - Lexile, Guided Reading Level, Page Count, just to name a few.


MackinVia is an eResource Library (books, video and databases) and is the newest addition to Oak Hills Elementary.  I only recently found MackinVia and I was impressed from the beginning.  We currently only have the free "starter" set of 37 books and they are engaging, beautiful and very well written!  I am hoping to introduce MackinVia to our students and staff over the next few weeks! Because these ebooks are beautifully visual, they will be perfect for providing support materials for teacher lessons.  Good job to MackinVia for providing enough of a starter set to really get us hooked so we want to purchase more for our students!  They're great!!

Follett Shelf

I have been ordering books for our library from Follett for years.  When they began to offer eBooks, I was excited!!  So I surveyed our Oak Hills teaching staff to ask what lesson support they might find beneficial in an eBook format.  I was able to purchase 42 books that teachers can use with their lessons and students can read for fun!  Once students are given their own usernames and passwords, they will be able to take notes and highlight text!  These books will be perfect for research!

I hope to have all of these new resources rolled out to staff and students in the near future!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Chromebooks!!! Why Not Use Our 5th "Polar Vortex" Day To Learn How To Use Them!!

On Friday, while I was attending a district media specialist meeting, we received a special delivery!!! Nineteen new Chromebooks were delivered to my office.  This is such a special gift from our wonderful PTO!!!!  Our students will be able to do so many wonderful things with these devices.  It is great for them to learn how to use a variety of mobile devices!!

When I realized we had another "polar vortex" day without students today, I quickly decided to offer our teachers a lesson to launch our Chromebooks.  Chromebooks are super easy to use, so once I gave teachers a little background, they were off and running!!  Our OHE teachers are quick, enthusiastic learners.  They are so happy to have this new resource!

And The Winner Is...ALA Announces Youth Media Awards and OHE Announces The Mock Caldecott Award!!!

Yesterday, while my students were hunkered down in their homes for our second polar vortex this winter, I was at home anxiously awaiting the big announcement!  The Caldecott and Newbery Awards, along with several others, were announced yesterday morning!   I was especially interested because my students had a clear preference for which book they wanted to win the Caldecott award this year.  I had prepared them that we might not have narrowed it down to the potential winner and we were much less likely to choose the actual winner, but we had such a great time evaluating and voting for our choice.

The winner of the 2014 Caldecott Medal is... Locomotive by Brian Floca.   Caldecott Honor Medals were given to Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, Journey by Aaron Becker and Mr. Wuffles by David Wiesner (This is Mr. Wiesner's fourth Caldecott!!).

Oak Hills students loved these books!  But they chose a different book in our Mock Caldecott.  During the week leading up to the Caldecott announcement, when it finally warmed up enough for us to attend school, my students and I looked at 18 different books (including Locomotive, Journey, Mr. Wuffles and Flora and the Flamingo) and then voted on which books we felt should win based on the Caldecott Criteria.  (See my blog post about our vote...Oak Hills Student Vote In Our Own 2014 Mock Caldecott)   It was such a tough choice!  Students considered their choices very carefully.

The overwhelming winner of the prestigious 2014 Oak Hills Elementary Mock Caldecott is....  The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.