Friday, January 27, 2017

Third Graders Research Chinese New Year With GALE Kids Infobits

Chinese New Year 2017, the year of the Rooster, begins on January 28th and Mrs. McCollough's third graders wanted to know more about it! With our new Chromebooks, it is easier for student to research the holiday and share their findings! Mrs. McCollough saw this as an excellent chance for her students to conduct a short research project - ELA and gather information from a digital source and take notes - ELA 

Rather than have students simply "Google" the topic, I recommended that we begin our research with an outstanding resource, Gale Kids Infobits.

Kids Infobits is a fantastic digital resource that the state of Minnesota funds so it is free for educational institutions! (On behalf of our students, thank you so much Minnesota!) It is perfect for our elementary students! Each topic has articles written in a variety of lengths and complexity levels to address student reading levels.  Students are given access to book articles, pictures, magazine and new articles for each topic.

Once students have successfully navigated to an article on the topic that is a good fit for their reading level, there are additional tools to help them with their research.  In Mrs. McCollough's class, some students used the "Listen" feature allowing them to hear the article read to them. We also had a student who translated the article into another language and then listened to it, combining these two features and making this task more accessible! 

Once students had gathered their facts about Chinese New Year, they combined them into a paragraph using our LMS, Schoology.  This gave students an easy way to share their new knowledge with their teacher and each other!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lakeville Elementary Unconference! A Great Day of Collaboration and Learning!

This year, our elementary teachers got together for our second ever unconference.  For those who may not know what an unconference is - It is a conference organized and led by the people attending it. Instead of passive listening, all of the teachers are participants in choosing what they want to learn and sharing their expertise! It is the best in personalized learning for teachers.

I created a video to celebrate the day, and a digital newsletter to share during a session. It was an energizing day of collaboration and learning!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

4th Graders Go On A Virtual Field Trip With Google Tour Builder!

Mrs. McKinley's 4th grade class is studying the Southwest. Students have been focused on the elements for each region of the United States - Land & Water, Climate, Products & Natural Resources, Culture and Landmarks.  This year they are tying it all together with the help of Google Tour Builder. Tour Builder gives students the opportunity to gather the digital information that they are discovering and put it together to build a tour.  As students add placemarks along their journey, that can also add text, photos, videos and hyperlinks to supporting websites. 

If students use pegman in the map view, they can zoom into street view to get an up close 360 degree view of the area. 

Students loved traveling to the Grand Canyon and even seeing inside the Carlsbad Canyons!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Excited For The January 16th Lakeville Elementary Unconference!

When my principal, Mr. Labatte, asked for volunteers to join a group planning our upcoming elementary unconference on January 16th, I jumped at the chance! I really love the unconference design, or should I say undesign! I wanted to help so that all of our elementary staff could have a day of learning where they were in the proverbial drivers seat!  I find that giving students and staff choice over their learning is the best way to maximize engagement and growth for everyone involved. It is also great to learn with friends!

Our committee gathered some colleagues who were willing to be videotaped and created a little promotional video to build enthusiasm and get everyone thinking about what they want to learn! Thanks to everyone who helped in front or behind the camera!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Exploring Science & Math with PhET Interactive Simulations!

This week fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Wilson, asked if I would introduce PhET Interactive Simulations to her class. They were just finishing their study of cells and before they began their next topic, she wanted her students to have an opportunity to explore the many science and math simulations available on the PhET website. These simulations would be perfect for students doing independent research and for future units with the whole class! She wanted her students to "play" by choosing what interested them, explore and experiment.

PhET is a free website, with simulations built in Java, HTML 5 & Flash.  The simulations built in Java didn't work on our chromebooks because they have to be downloaded, though we were able to get them to work on our laptops by control clicking to get around the security warnings. Our students chose the simulations built in HTML 5 & Flash, which happily the PhET creators indicate on each simulation.

After a quick introduction, Mrs. Wilson's student took off exploring with great enthusiasm! The room erupted with chatter as students clustered together to share their discoveries. It was a fabulous day of learning and PhET is officially my favorite digital science and math tool for students! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017