Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just For Fun - Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

2nd Graders Publish 24 Days of Winter Slideshow With Help From Buncee!

It was a long journey, but 2nd graders have finally completed their slideshow/wBoo, The 24 Days of Winter in Lakeville!

Our project began with the reading of a fun book by Minnesota author, Constance Van Hoven, The 12 Days of Christmas in Minnesota.

After reading the book, my students and I began to discuss some of the things in the book that we could really related to and a few that we really didn't know much about here in Minnesota. As we discussed, we began to talk about our experiences living in Minnesota. Most of our experiences are similar and occur right in our home town of Lakeville! That is what inspired our project! What are the special experiences that we share here in Lakeville? The discussion was a loud, boisterous brainstorming session of all of our favorite things about Lakeville, many of which turned out to be places we have in common. I didn't edit my student's list, I was their scribe as they shared. It's a bit messy, but here is a look at the results of our brainstorm - 

After we had a list, we began a script for our book - 24 Days of Winter in Lakeville using the 12 Days of Christmas as our guide.  Students began by finding images of our popular Lakeville spots around town.  My students were surprised to see the city of Lakeville in pictures on the internet. These are places that my students go to all the time...how exciting to find them on the internet!

The next step in our process was figuring out the best web tool for our collection of pictures. I often let students choose which digital tool that they feel will fit the project, but this time I wanted us to work together to make our project. I recently began playing around with a presentation web tool called Buncee that was on the AASL Best App for Learning list for 2015.  I liked the application. It worked in the browsers on our computers as well as an app for our iPads. It has fun slide backgrounds, ready to go clipart and animations, voice recording, drawing tools, embeddable links, sound files and an option to upload our own files! What really set the tool apart was the animations. My students went crazy for these! So we started using Buncee for this project.

Only after I started did I realize that Buncee doesn't allow students to collaborate on the same project simultaneously. As much as I really love the Buncee interface and ease of use, having students collaborate on group projects is a "must have" feature for me. I am told that Buncee staff are working to add this and I am excited for this option!  Until then, I had to have students come to the computer to assemble their projects one at a time.  This really contributed to the length of time it took to finish the project.  

Once students assembled their Lakeville images, chose a background, added text and an animation, they seemed really happy with the final project! They got a chance to try a new digital tool. Also, the tie to their community was fun and gave us the opportunity to bring a little of their life outside of school into our project. 


Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th & 5th Graders Create & Share Their Digital Seasonal Stories Using The Storybird Website!

(mouse over the cover to turn the pages on computers/thumb through pages on mobile devices)

My 4th and 5th graders are excited to share their latest creations with the world! Students used the free web app, Storybird, for their creative writing, and the results were amazing. Some students were so motivated that they logged in from home to continue writing.


Storybird gives students a huge library of original digital art to select for their stories.  This artwork not only serves as illustrations for their work, but also the spark for their creativity! One of my favorite features in Storybird is the teacher management. It allows me (teacher) to create, manage and assess student writing as well as create assignments for classes. I can make comments to students and moderate the comments from their classmates. Storybird recently added a feature where stories can be made into hard cover books for parents who might wish to keep their child's story as a keepsake. I plan to have all of my students cut and paste the embed code from their Storybird to their reading blogs. This way they can look back on their 5th grade work and read their wonderful stories.

Holiday Letters - Using Google Docs To Help Jumpstart Student Writing!

This week students are finishing up letters that we started several weeks ago.  

Third graders added their own writing to an outline of a holiday letter that I shared with them in Google Drive. It was a great opportunity to teach them how to make a copy of an original and then edit using the word processing tools in Google Docs! Students were able to practice their word processing skills while writing their loved ones. Some students wrote Santa, while others wrote their parents, grandparents and other extended family members.  Students who did not want a holiday letter wrote letters to reflect their family traditions. In the end, they all had beautiful letters that they were proud of!  We rarely print the projects from media class, but students were excited to take home these letters in hard copy!

Students began by logging into their Google accounts and linking to a letter template that I created in my Google Drive account. I added /copy to the end of the URL for the letter in Google Drive. This prompted students to make a copy of the letter and not start editing the original. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HInWdWyeFuDF1w850vyxUg1asFMl-Jqij_WkyD17rYc/copy
Once they copied the letter template, they renamed it and saved it to their Google Drive. 

In the letter that students copied, I was able to leave them notes to help with their writing. Once their letter was in their own Google Drive, they began personalizing it to make it their own. I loved reading student letters and I know their families will enjoy them too!

It's Time For Our Gingerbread Hunt With Help From Jan Brett, QR Code Reader App & Tellagami Apps!!

Gingerbread QR Code Hunt by Slidely Slideshow

This week, Oak Hills 1st Graders have been reading our beloved Jan Brett books!

Along with Jan's books, 1st Graders searched around the media center for gingerbread friends with QR codes. Students could see and compare many of her books by scanning the QR code which took them to a Tellagami video that I created about each book.  Students used the app QR Code Reader to access the videos and had a blast hunting for each gingerbread! I took lots of photos and popped them into a Slide.ly slideshow so everyone could join in our fun Gingerbread QR Code Hunt!

Below is one example of a Tellagami videos that I created to review some of our favorite Jan Brett books with students!

Friday, December 18, 2015

TIES Conference 2015 In Pictures!

This year's TIES conference was packed full of practical ideas and inspiration! A highlight for me was hearing from George Couros and Shannon Miller.  Both of these educators inspire us to give students voice and choice over their learning.  I also came away with new tools to help give students the options they need to share. I find new ideas energizing and I know my students love it when they get to try new things! All in all it was a successful TIES Conference!