Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kahoot Is A Hoot!! Gamification Of A Media Lesson!

This week students are beginning a unit on children's book genres.  It is one of my favorite units each year because I think students can really relate to finding their own favorite book genres.  We began the lesson by identifying the genres of some of our favorite books. What are the common elements found in the each of the genres? Not surprisingly, many students already knew about the elements found is many genres from their own reading. 

To have a little fun with the topic and solidify our learning, I followed up with a quiz game that I created using the web tool Kahoot!  Students went NUTS - in a good way!  If they liked the topic before, turning the lesson content into a game really amped up their interest!! Complete with game show style music and game scores being reported, students were able to play the game and answer the questions from their iPad. They begged me for more!  I will definitely be using Kahoot for future media lessons!

Friday, March 21, 2014

So Thrilling! - Watching 2nd Graders Turn Into Broadcasters, Reporting On Great Books!!!

Second graders have been busy writing their scripts for their book talk! To read more about the beginning of this project, checkout my earlier blog - 2nd Grade Book Talk Video Project - Let The Writing Begin! 

This week students began video recording each other and the results were fantastic!!! The media center was buzzing with everyone talking at the same time, filled with the productive sound of students sharing their favorite books! With a little bit is editing, they should be ready to share very soon!! I think you will like them as much as I do!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First Graders Begin Working On An Oak Hills Alphabet Book!!

For many years, I have been purchasing alphabet books published by Sleeping Bear Press for our library. This series does wonderful things with the traditional ABC book! Each book provides readers with pictures and words around a single topic - national parks, states and the holidays. First graders were captivated by V is for Viking - A Minnesota Alphabet! B is for Bundt Pan and Boundry Waters, D is for Duluth, and L is for Lakes, to name just a few.

After reading several of the books from the series, first graders were excited to begin planning a new eBook entitled O is for Oak Hills Elementary, A First Grade Alphabet! We gathered pictures from around our school, one for each letter of the alphabet. We took a few of the pictures together and the rest I took before and after school and shared with students! 

For next week's lesson, I will compile the images into a Google document and published the document to the web ("publishing to the web" an option found under the File drop down menu of Google docs). Once I have the link, I can chirp the link to my students.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the Chirp App, it is a fabulous iPod app for sharing links and images using sound!  It is especially great for sharing with young iPad users!  Once students have saved the images to their cameral roll, they will be adding photos to the Haiku Deck app and adding their text! Look for a future post about our 1st grade Alphabet eBook!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

SMASH! BOOM! KAPOW! 3rd Graders Are Researching and Planning Their Super Alter Egos!!

This week 3rd graders are doing a little research before creating their own alter egos! We began browsing through a variety of our library's well loved superhero books! Together, we noticed several things! Anyone can be a superhero - Lunch Ladies, Legos, little boys and little girls! Even pets and amoebas can be superheros! Superhero books can be picture books, eBooks and graphic novels! One thing is sure, with their speech bubbles, capes, and super powers, these books and characters are all loved!

Two student favorites that made GREAT read alouds were John Rocco's Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom and Michael Chabon's The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man!

I was only able to find a book trailer for Super Hair-O for those who might be curious! Both books are SUPER FUN and great examples of kid super heros!

Students were thrilled to find MyOn eBook super heros! They found the traditional super heros, as well as super pets and Jimmy Sniffles The Super-Powered Sneeze!

After reading a variety of super hero books and gathering a little bit of the history of super heros dating back to the early 1900s, students began creating their own super heros! Stay tuned for future blog posts for more of their creative alter egos! SMASH! BOOM!

March Madness Tournament Of Books! Let The Games Begin!

Today, and all this week, students will be completing their March Madness Tournament of Books brackets and then voting for the Elite Eight using a Google Form! (Click to read our first tournament blog post!) If you are familiar with a few of the books, you are invited to vote too!! (Filling out a bracket and choosing subsequent student winners will be reserved to our Oak Hills students, but we would love your help in determining the winning books for each bracket! Vote below for the first 8!)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

3rd Graders Publish Their Class Cookbooks Using Their Favorite Family Recipes!

To read a larger version of each cookbook, click to read in a larger screen!

3rd Graders completed their work on their favorite recipes! (Read the beginning of this project in a former blog post!) Student brought in their favoritie family recipes from home to share. They did a great job entering their recipes into the Simply Cookin' App.  Once they entered their recipe, they shared it to a Google collaborative document, so I could download as a pdf and upload to Flipsnack.com. These young chefs did a great job!

Friday, March 14, 2014

4th Graders Publish Their I Spy eBooks!!

 This week student's completed their I Spy books! It was a long project but students learned so many new skills!  Photo composition, designing a rhyme, and collaborating on a single Google presentation!! I downloaded their Google presentation into a pdf and then uploaded to Flipsnack. I am thrilled with how they turned out!! Thanks to Jane Marzollo for her inspiration! Next will be to add our new eBooks to our electronic catalog, Destiny Quest!

March Madness With Books! Coming Soon To Oak Hills Elementary Library!!

So exciting!!  Our library will be hosting...
Tournament of Books!

Several of the initial sixteen books aren't included in the photos because they were checked out to students - Hugo Cabret, Dork Diaries, I Survived - Titanic, and Wonder.  To select the original list of sixteen, I surveyed my classes for an initial list of their favorites. Then I cross referenced their list with our checkout records in Destiny Quest to find the books that have been checked out the most. Students will be filling out their brackets next week! Students with the highest point total will win a copy of the winning book!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

1st Graders Have Been Busy Creating Caldecott iMovies!

First graders have just finished iMovies about this year's Caldecott books. We read each book and students loved them! This year's selections had something for everyone - nonfiction and fiction, girls and boys, wordless and not!

Once we read them, each student imported the images of the books into iMovie. (I chirped the images to their iPads! They loved that too!) They added theme music, made voice recordings for each book, and finally recorded a video of themselves. Students learned about the Ken Burns effect (scrolling images) and changing the transitions between images. Students will be saving their movies into their Google Drive for their future website portfolio.

Students Complete Their Interactive Stories Using Inklewriter!

This week, many of our students finished their creative interactive stories using the Inklewriter  website.  (Read my original blog post about Inklewriter.) Students wrote under a pen name, so last names are made up. After reading their introductions below, click the link beneath each introduction to open their story in Inklewriter and read their entire story. If you want to read more than one path in a story, click thebutton at the top right of each story. I really loved the opportunity to see how creative my students could be.  Enjoy reading! 

Featuring Student Reading Blogs! So Great To Read Their Reviews!

This week, 5th grade students began their new reading blogs.  As an ongoing Technology Is Loose In The Library blog feature, I added the featured blog posts listed below to ScoopIt Curation Topic that can be seen scrolling on the side panel of this blog. Check it out!!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Learning On The Go! Oak Hills Classrooms Integrating Chromebooks Into Their Lessons!!

Our school has had our new chromebooks for a over a month and students and teachers are loving them!!  Our classroom teachers are beginning to build their lessons around this new (to us) mobile technology! Mr. Larson's class is researching the British colonies to create huge maps that represent life during the time period.  Mrs. Rude's class is researching and reporting on major historical events in U.S. history. Students are reporting their findings in Google Docs and sharing their documents with Ms. Rude. These are just two of many projects around the building! All in all, a great beginning!

So Excited Oak Hills Elementary Has Now Joined Twitter!!! Follow Our School @oakhills194

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Students Read And Share Kid Friendly Current Events With Newsela

At a recent District 194 Media Specialist meeting, each of us took a few minutes to share what we were working on with our students.  We shared our tech successes (and a few failures), so we could learn from each other. I came away with some great new ideas and tools. One of the tools, which I shared in an earlier blog post was Blendspace. I used Blendspace again for this lesson, along with the second tool I learned about - a free current events website called Newsela.

Newsela provides kid friendly news articles, with the added ability of customizing the reading level for each student. Teachers can use the quiz feature which provides comprehension questions following each article.

What do I  like about Newela? - even if it didn't have the great lexile customization and quizzes.
- I like giving students an opportunity to read about their world without worrying that the content is too mature!
- I like the fact that the articles are engaging - providing students with the "hook" to keep them interested.
- I like being able to suggest another option for quality nonfiction reading!
- And I really like the fact that it is digital!!

I introduced Newsela to my first class today. I asked students to select and read an article that interested them. Students became reporters! After reading their article, they reported their findings on a Padlet Wall. What they wrote made me want to read more!  Our next class together, we will revisit our Padlet Wall and discuss the articles they reported on.  I am really looking forward to it!

2nd Grade Book Talk Video Project...Let The Writing Begin!!

This week, second graders are beginning a 'book talk' video project!  I should take a moment to give a shout out to my media specialist colleagues, Paula Hansen and Dick Hicks, who shared this lesson idea with me! After seeing how excited my students were to share their favorite book, I can't wait to see how their finished projects turn out!!

This is a project that will take them a few weeks of media class to complete.  To begin, I asked each of them to select a book that they would like to share, preferably one that they have read recently so that the details are still fresh in their minds!  Once each student had selected a book, they were asked to write a brief summary of the plot and why they would recommend the book!  There was some commotion as students scrambled to find a recently read book to share, but once they settled down to write, it got very very quiet!! Toward the end of class, we had a little time for a few students to share! Next time we will practice reading with expression!

Look for some great 'book talks' in the near future!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

World Read Aloud Day 2014 At Oak Hills Elementary!

Today was World Read Aloud Day 2014!  You may ask, what is World Read Aloud Day?  I thought Ron Charles did a great job of summing it up in this morning's Washington Post article entitled, "Why World Read Aloud Day Is My Favorite Holiday".  
To raise awareness of the educational challenges that many children face, a non-profit organization called LitWorld has designated the first Wednesday of every March “World Read Aloud Day.”It’s hard to imagine a more delightful holiday: “to celebrate the power of words and create a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people.”   

Read aloud is not an unusual event at Oak Hills Elementary.  In fact, World Read Aloud Day is just like every other day at our school.  Our students are blessed to have teachers (and parents!!) who read aloud to them almost everyday! So today was a perfect opportunity to celebrate the wonderful reading that is happening all over our building, and to recognize that it is not that way in many places in the world! 

I created a poster to mention just a few titles that students heard today. There were many more titles that aren't mentioned here!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Every So Often We Really Get It Right! Thanks To Inklewriter, AASL And My Fabulous Students!

All teachers know that there is a bit of risk involved in trying new things with students.  Every time we introduce a new concept, and especially every time we try out a new tech tool, we risk the lesson not going according to plan. It is a calculated risk, but a risk all the same.  We can almost always count on technology to surprise us and even at times completely fail. But when it works, when we manage to pair the right tool with the right learning concept, it is the most gratifying thrill that maximizes learning for our students! Today I had the opportunity to really get it right.

I introduced my 5th graders to Inklewriter, a website that I found on the AASL's Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2013.  This is an annual list of vetted websites that I anxiously await each year!  In years past, this list has introduced me to new tools that have provided great support for my teaching.

Inklewriter is a website for creating interactive stories...what we librarians often generically label "Choose Your Own Adventures" because of the well known series by that name.

Before introducing the website, I practiced using Inklewriter by writing my own story. I could tell that the web tool was a bit advanced but within reach for my older students. I gave students the opportunity to write collaboratively or independently. After introducing the basic functions of the website, and giving them a few days to ponder their story plot, I let them go.  I gave them the freedom to write!! (...another calculated risk because some students do better with a bit of structure)

Students didn't finish their stories today, so I only have their introductions, but it was a FANTASTIC success!! They were super excited by Inklewriter and this in turn motivated them to dive in with enthusiasm.  It was great watching them create!! Many of them asked if they could log in and continue at home!

Here are just a few of their introductions!! I will share more, with their permission, once they complete their stories!

1st Graders Use Blendspace And Padlet To Read And Respond To The Book - The Hueys in It Wasn't Me!

Recently I have been sharing books by Oliver Jeffers with my students. Last week we read This Moose Belongs To Me. (See the blog post about our fun with this book!)

This week, we read his funny book, The Hueys in It Wasn't Me. In this book, Oliver Jeffers uses simple illustrations to display fairly complex human nature! In fact, I wondered if my first graders had enough life experience to "get" it. Would they understand what it was like to argue and loose track of what the original argument was about? Would they understand that the book is poking fun at the fact that everyone argues on occasion, and not think it was an endorsement of arguing!!

Well...I am wondering no longer. My first graders are so smart and very funny! Yes, they laughed at the silly argument and they enjoyed it when the Hueys were distracted by a fly!  It was a bit like a comedy routine!

After reading the book to my students, I used Blendspace to organize and present the lesson to my students. I haven't ever used Blendspace before.  Our Digital Learning Coach, Chris Myers, recently used it in one of our district media meetings. It is easy to use, it acts as a digital facilitator, and is a wonderful tool for file sharing!

I shared the link to our Huey Blendspace and we moved to the second step of our lesson, trying out Oliver Jeffers Argument Predictor!  It was the perfect prompt for a writing activity! I love giving our young readers an opportunity to write, and even better if they are responding to literature.

In the third step of the lesson, I shared the link to a Padlet Wall for students to write about their argument (from the predictor) an it's resolution. Once they had finished writing, I sat reading their responses. I felt a little like I was having a flash back to a very very old Monty Python skit entitled Argument Clinic...a ridiculously funny, and because of the course language -  not appropriate for children, skit about paying a fee for a good argument. My 1st graders didn't seem to need further explanation to create their own comedic arguments and resolve them!!   

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hello World!! 5th Graders Create Their Own Blogs To Share Their Viewpoints and Ideas!

This week, 5th graders are sharing their thoughts with the world! Truthfully, their first blog post is pretty simple - "Hello World", but that is only the beginning!!  Students created their blogs in their Google account using Blogger.  They had a great time picking their decorative theme and customizing the settings.  I am excited for them to have a place where they can share their ideas. Having the opportunity for them to write for an audience beyond the classroom is very motivating.  Stay tuned to read more from them in the near future!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

We Discovered New Library Mischievians With The Help Of The Paper App!

The book The Mischievians by William Joyce was a huge hit with Oak Hills students! It does a wonderful job attempting to explain the mysteries in our daily lives. Why does the remote control disappear? Where do the missing single socks go? Why is the toilet paper roll always empty? Where does lost homework go? These mysteries are solved in this very creative and humorous book about tiny creatures called mischievians! No surprise, students especially love the gross elements - the mischievians who cause bad smells and boogers to dangle! William Joyce did such a great job in writing for his audience!

Check out William Joyce's great book trailer!

In the end of the book, the character Dr. Zooper invites his readers to discover new mischievians, so students took on the challenge of identifying new mischievians! Once each student had imagined their new mischievian, they created an image of it. Our iPads have quite a few drawing apps, all of which create slightly different looks. The Paper App (free version) is excellent at creating beautiful lines with a virtual calligraphy pen. Even squiggles look beautiful with this drawing app! Once students created their new mischievian, they wrote about the mischief and mayhem caused by their mischievian. They were very creative!