Friday, December 9, 2016

Mrs. Hegg's 1st Grade Videographers Read Imogene's Antlers & Share Their Own Imaginings Using SeeSaw

This week Mrs. Hegg's 1st Grade Class read a classic favorite book by David Small,  Imogene's Antlers. This book is fabulous because, among other things, it gets students thinking creatively about the question - What if? 

For those who haven't read the book, here is a reading of the book.

After reading the book, Mrs. Hegg asked her students to imagine what they would do if they had antlers. They finished the sentence - If I had antlers I would use them...  Once they had written their ideas, they used their class SeeSaw account to record their answer and draw antlers on their photo! The SeeSaw app is fabulous for giving students the opportunity to independently share their voice! After students are done with their work, they submit it to the teacher.  Once Mrs. Hegg approves each submission, they go into the class feed so students can see and "like" each other's submission! It is fabulous to see these six year old students seamlessly fitting this digital app into their classroom with such ease. Way to go Mrs. Hegg & her students!

Here are just a few examples of their writing, drawings and shared video, all completed independently by students!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgivings - Digital Style!

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a great opportunity to have students write with purpose and for an audience. So across our school, like most schools across the country, students are writing to and about the people they love. This year, with a fresh infusion of devices in our building, teachers took the opportunity to have student write their thanks in a digital format. Throughout the school, students used Padlet & Seesaw to record their thanksgivings and share with their classmates and parents. Here are just a few examples!

Monday, November 21, 2016

1st Graders Demonstrate Their Learning With Help From The SeeSaw App!

This week I was privileged to be a part of 1st grade digital math lessons. Mrs. Johnson's class was working on math stories. Students were asked to make up subtraction story problems.  Students selected two number cards and imagined their math stories. Once they were ready with their stories, they logged into SeeSaw using the class QR code.  

Students used the SeeSaw app to video tape their math stories and submit via SeeSaw.  Once Mrs. Johnson approved their videos, students could view and comment on each other's math stories! What a great way to share their math and learn how to make appropriate comments to encourage each other. Seesaw really helped to streamline this lesson for maximum efficiency for student learning and teacher assessment.

Mrs. Hegg's class was working on sorting.  Students were given groups of picture cards and asked to sort.  This was fun to watch. There was no one way to sort the cards, so students were able to find common elements between the pictures on their cards.  Once they had their cards sorted, student logged into SeeSaw using the class QR code.  They took a picture with their cards and then used the voice recorder to describe their work. Mrs. Hegg was able to approve each submission to the class feed and students could see each other and comment.  This feature is one of my favorites within the SeeSaw app.

I am continually amazed at how many ways the camera can be used in digitally infused classrooms. There are so many fantastic education apps & web tools, including the SeeSaw App, but it is the built in camera that seems to offer an endless array of options for our students to learn and grow.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Students Create Character Webs About Grace Using The Doodle Buddy & Popplet Lite Apps!

Today, Mrs. McCollough's 3rd Graders demonstrated their learning about the main characters of two beautiful books by Mary Hoffman, Amazing Grace and Boundless Grace. Students were practicing Minnesota Benchmark ELA - Write routinely for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes and audiences. 

Mrs. McCollough read both books to her class.  They discussed the stories and analyzed the main character, Grace.  After their discussion, students used Doodle Buddy to draw a picture of Grace.  They exported their picture to Photos.  Students then opened the Popplet Lite App and created a character web putting their newly drawn picture in the middle.  

After creating the character web, students will be tying in their supporting evidence. What textual evidence do they have that supports the assertions about Grace? This is where we really see students digging deep!  Finally, students share their character webs and evidence with each other.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Student Voice - 4th Graders Share What They Would Do If They Were President

Election Day 2016.  What better day is there to ask our students the question, What Would You Do If You Were President?

Fourth Grade Teacher, Mrs. Warfield, invited me into her class to help her students with a writing assignment in Schoology. She wanted her students to share their thoughts on the presidency.  The learning objective was Minnesota Benchmark LA.4.W.4.6 - Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer's purpose.

Students did a great job of writing their thoughtful answers and along the way, they clearly demonstrated that they have been paying attention this election season. They may be young, but they have been listening and forming their own opinions. They were eager to share their voice!  I couldn't be more excited to share their thoughtful responses!

Monday, November 7, 2016

3rd Graders Debate Using Social Media Style Discussion In Schoology!

Third graders have opinions! Third graders like to share! Third graders are curious about social media! What a perfect time to schedule a debate using the discussion feature in Schoology!

Last week, 3rd grade teacher Mrs. McCollough invited me to team teach with her and she had several standards that she wanted her students to practice.
Minnesota Benchmark EL - Use technology to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
Minnesota Benchmark EL - Write an opinion on a topic and give reasons to support it.  
Mrs. McCollough thought of a topic that she knew would hook her students.  Should we be able to wear costumes to school on October 31st?  (Students don't wear their costumes at OHE on Halloween.) She knew that this was something that mattered to her students. Once we had a topic, students logged into Schoology and wrote their opinions.  The room grew silent as student took this opportunity to share their voice very seriously!

Schoology discussion settings allow the teacher to have students see only their response until they "Post". After students posted, they could see each other's posts and make comments.  We encouraged students to make comments to their fellow classmates.  Students were thrilled with this option! They felt like they were on social media. It was the perfect teachable moment. We discussed the need to validate each other even if we disagreed.  Student shared their examples of appropriate commenting. One student asked if it was okay to "like" their own comment. It was a great opportunity to discuss what it would feel like to other people if you like your own post. We wanted them to think about it in terms of having a discussion face to face with a friend and complimenting yourself. This seemed to resonate with students. 

A sampling of student comments:

You made a good point but I dont agree all the way because everyone can just take of there costume when they get hot. 

That's a good idea because it can rip, break, or you may not pay attenchon, and other stuff

You are right. Some people don't celebrate Halloween.

As much as believe that this opportunity gave student a chance to write for a purpose and share their voice, I loved that students got to try commenting in a forum. Several years from now, when students begin using social media, they will have had an chance to practice their commenting skills and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Students Propose "Invent For Good" Projects - SharkTank Style!

This week students in our 5th grade LittleBits Choice Unit took on a new Invent For Good Challenge  for their final project. Their teacher, Susie Wilson, gave students the time to research and think about the possibilities. She requested that students identify what they would need to complete their project and create a materials list. Of course, as the title implies, the ultimate objective was that their invention serve to make a difference in someone's life. Students used their chromebooks to look through the projects in the Invent For Good Challenge on the LittleBits website.  These completed challenges ignited student creativity as they decided on their own inventions!  Students came up with some really exciting projects - Bumper Bot, Dog Food Refiller, Pet Scratcher, Robo Servant & Temperature Sensing Fan.  

Once students created their plan, Mrs. Wilson and I became a panel of two teacher sharks! The students LOVED having us pretend to be sharks as we listened to their proposals and ask them questions to help them navigate the possible hiccups in their game plan. By the time we were finished, students had polished their ideas and were ready to get started on their inventions.  Stay tuned for our Invent for Good finished projects!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Best App & Website Is Truly EPIC!

Every July, AASL releases their list of the year's best websites and apps. This list is rigorously vetted and is where I find some of my all time favorite apps! Often the digital tools are free, which makes it even more likely that I can find a place for them here at Oak Hills Elementary!

This year, among the apps was one stand out offering.  EPIC! eBooks is free for educators. Given the high price of eBooks, this is a tremendous gift to our students!

Once a teacher creates their free account, they can add students. EPIC! works with a laptop, chromebook and iPad (with the free app).  There are thousands of high quality fiction and nonfiction books. Teachers have the option to assign books for students to read and have them take teacher made quizzes. There are read aloud books and books that students can read to themselves. EPIC! even has lots of educational and "how to" videos!

I can't wait for our teachers to try out this fabulous tool!

Just a few examples!

And this eBook entitled Dog Selfies is my favorite!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Whew! Co-Chairing The ITEM 2016 Conference - Innovate, Integrate, Motivate!

On October 13 - 15, the state's school librarians and tech integrators gathered at the Marriott Northwest for our annual conference. We connected and shared ideas centered around a theme of Innovate, Integrate and Motivate.  ITEM, an ISTE & ALA affiliate, stands for Information and Technology Educators of Minnesota. 

This year, I decided to go all in and volunteer to be a conference co-chair along with my great friends Sally Kimmes, a library media specialist for the Osseo School District and ITEM manager, Deanna Style. I'm not gonna lie. There were a tremendous number of details to organize and oversee. I am happy to say that it was a resounding success!  The hotel, food, breakout sessions, vendor fair, keynote speakers, author book signing, book store, unconference and poster sessions all came together to create an opportunity for our members to connect, be inspired and learn. 

We discussed eBooks, Makerspaces, Personalization, Collection Genrefication, Instagram for the Libraries, Project Based Learning, Innovative Library Spaces, Digital Storytelling & Tech Integration to name just a few!  I felt like my brain was exploding with new ideas, and a fresh dose of inspiration to bring back to my school and my students! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kindergarteners Learn to Make Words With the Talking Alphabet From the Word Wizard App!

This week, our kindergarten teachers invited me in to team teach a literacy lesson with them.  They read the delightful ABC book by David Kirk, Miss Spider's ABC.  

We followed up the ABC book with the iPad app Word Wizard. Word Wizard is an app that has been around for awhile and is perfect for giving students an opportunity to spell words and hear them pronounced.  Unfortunately it is not free, but if I were to create a short list of apps that I believe are worth the money, Word Wizard would be on the list!

Each time a student touches a letter they get to hear the individual letter sounds.  When students put letters together and touch the new word, they get to hear their newly created word. Even in cases where the word is incorrectly spelled, students can hear it pronounced and try to correct their errors. The app has other spelling games as well.  Students can choose from a list of spelling games and practice that support them as they learn to read, write and spell. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Smartboard Teacher Training - Fantastic Digital Options For Our Classrooms!

Thanks to Katie Kelsey from Tierney Brothers for spending her day at our school teaching our staff the wonderful features available in the Smartboard software, Notebook!  I sat in on training with our 5th grade teachers and learned so many new things!  Smart has incorporated interactive features that help teachers engage students! Digital gaming and assessment options that allow students to interact from their devices are easy to use and help make learning FUN!  I am excited to see teachers begin to build these options into their lessons!

Book Fair Fun!! Celebrating New Books And Generating Excitement About Reading!

Every Fall our library turns into a book store for a week. Students love browsing the newest books from a huge variety of authors! New nonfiction and fiction books of every genre are at their fingertips!

I love the book fair, not only because it gives us an opportunity to buy so many new books for our library, but also because it immerses our student body in reading possibilities. There is something for everyone, and ultimately it generates excitement for reading! Students know that I will try to buy their favorites for the library so whether they choose to buy it for their own collection or not, they will have access to it in our well stocked library!

A big huge shout out to my fantastic book fair co-chairs, Kathy Postlewaite and Jeanne Storlie. Together they are a super organized dynamic duo!