Friday, April 7, 2017

First Graders Research Animals With Help From MyOn, Kids Infobits, National Geographic Kids and Our Own OHE Library!

First Grade teachers recently asked for my help with finding digital tools for their students to do research. They wanted their students to answer questions about their chosen animal. We used our "go to" tools for digital research, MyOn, Kids Infobits and National Geographic for Kids! When added with our age appropriate nonfiction library books on animals, students had many options for finding their animal facts. Both MyOn and Infobits gives students the opportunity to listen to text if they are not able to read it themselves. This is perfect as first graders are still learning to read.

The first day I was scheduled to help, I walked into a chaotic but clearly self directed research project. Mrs. Johnson had her students brainstorm a list of animals that they would like to find out about. Students were on fire reading these books!

Then, using QR codes that we projected in the front of the room, students used their iPad QR code reader app to open Kids Infobits and National Geographic Kids and search for more information about their chosen animals. 


Once students were done finding out information about their animals, their teacher gathered students in a circle to share with each other their findings. This was the best part.  Having students teach each other seemed to elevate their research and make it seem more important to them.  Plus, it was really fun to listen in on their learning!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Students Use Cooperative Learning and Glogster to Teach Each Other About Ancient Egypt!

Recently, Mrs. Pettis came to me and asked if I had a suggestion for a digital tool that students could use to share their learning about Ancient Egypt with each other.  She planned to use the jigsaw cooperative learning strategy that gives students the opportunity to help each other to learn and comprehend. Each student was researching a different aspect of Ancient Egypt, and when they were done they had the responsibility of teaching the rest of the class. Students were familiar with slideshows and iMovie, so Mrs. Pettis wanted them to learn a new digital presentation tool that would be easy and quick. I decided the perfect fit would be Glogster. I have a class subscription for one class to use Glogster at a time, but that has served us well.  

Students found that Glogster was an intuitive digital tool. Unlike other similar tools, it allows users to create a digital posters with embedded video, images and text.  It is kind of like a slideshow where the contents are all on one page! Students began by adding their choice of background. They could choose from Glogster options or choose an image of their choice.

Once students had chosen their background, they began to add text, images and videos. This provided the perfect moment to discuss responsible use of our technology. We had a great discussion about the privileges and responsibilities that come with having access to digital devices!

Their final projects were fabulous, leaving them with a dynamic visual for their lesson for the class!  Here are just a few screenshot examples!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How To Catch A Leprechan? Third Graders Design A Rube Goldberg Trap!

I'm a little behind on my blogging, so I apologize for the delay in posting about a recent third grade lesson from St. Patrick's Day!  Third grade teachers wanted to take a few minutes for a fun St. Patrick's Day activity, so they asked for my help to provide a digital option. I began the lesson with a class read-aloud of the fabulous new picture book, How to Catch a Leprechaun written by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton.

This book, with it's rhyming plot and delightfully naughty little leprechaun is a perfect class read-aloud!  But my favorite part of this picture book is the ending.  Readers are invited to design their own leprechaun trap for next year!

This created the perfect segue for students to design their own leprechaun trap using the design elements from Rube Goldberg's machines! You may be wondering, What is a Rube Goldberg machine?  Rube Goldberg was a a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who was trained as an engineer. He create many cartoons and became most famous for his zany cartoons of complex machines with chain reactions designed to do simple tasks!   

Here is a prime example and one of his most famous machines was the Self Operating Napkin...

Once I shared the story of Rube Goldberg, I shared my favorite example of a Rube Goldberg machine in action! This is a great example because it demonstrates an elementary child (someone our students can relate to) enthusiastically testing his Rube Goldberg machine.

Once students had an idea of what a Rube Goldberg machine was, I gave them the task of designing their own Rube Goldberg Leprechaun Trap with at least 5 chain reactions!  Side Note: Our fabulous STEAM teacher, Mrs. Yoemans, will be having students build a Rube Goldberg Machine in 5th Grade, so this lesson should create a nice stepping stone from the design phase to building one of their own!  I created an example Leprechaun Trap! It was a blast and really required some design I knew students would need to have some "think time" to plan their chain reactions. I discussed the fact that I "worked backward". A concept that required some explanation, but did seem to help students as they were designing.

We used YouDoodle, our "go to" free drawing iPad app as the drawing tool for designing. It has helpful grid line that help the user manage the drawing space.  I also gave students a stylus to help them control their lines. Their products demonstrated their creative planning! Students shared their leprechaun traps, explaining their chain reactions and thoughtful designs. All of us throughly enjoyed seeing the results! Maybe next year, one of our students will catch a leprechaun!

Monday, April 3, 2017

OHE Students Prepare To Teach Bloxels!

This year I have been gathering maker tools for our school's makerspace. As each new tool has arrived, I have tried them out to prepare for student use! The robots, Ozobots, Makey Makeys and LittleBits have been no trouble for me learn. The one tool that I have struggled to teach myself was Bloxels. I knew roughly how it worked, but I found that I was struggling a bit because I have no gaming experience myself...unless PacMan counts...which reveals a little too much about my age! Happily I knew that I did have experts in gaming! Most of our 3rd - 5th graders are avid gamers, so I called upon a few 5th graders who volunteered to figure out how Bloxels works, teach me and more importantly, teach their fellow students! 

Once these students took on the task of learning how to use Bloxels, they LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it! (And frankly they continue to beg me to come back and continue their work/play!) Their background with video games did help them intuitively figure out how to use Bloxels.  They learned it quickly and confidently. The best part is that they were creating and designing their own game!  I am happy to say that I followed their lead and have now designed my own video game in Bloxels!

We determined after beginning that students would be able to design a game with the free iPad app even if they didn't have the cubes and board. They did, however, like having the cube and board to build their own game avatar/character. I am really excited for these students to share with other students so that gamers and non-gamers alike can share in this experience!