Join Your Voices for Confidence Week Leading Up to #WRAD16

Each week leading up to World Read Aloud Day (February 24th) we want to join our voices around the world to celebrate one of the strengths of reading aloud.  Many students have already contributed their voices to talk about Belonging, Curiosity, Friendship, and Kindness.

LitWorld 7 Strengths

During the week of January 31-February 6, we celebrate how reading helps us be confident and proud to be who we are. Reading the world empowers us to own our strengths.

We have created a Flipgrid for you to share your responses to the following question:

What stories make you confident and proud to be you?

FireShot Capture 10 - Flipgrid. Relax and discuss. - http___flipgrid.com_#d6716a6b

We hope you will share this Flipgrid with other educators, students, and families around the world and record your responses which can last up to 90 seconds.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to practice some informational writing in classrooms?  Wouldn’t you love to hear stories from the families that you serve?  Aren’t you curious about the perspectives on this question from around the world?  Let’s join our voices and contribute responses all week long.  By sharing our stories of confidence, we are supporting one another’s confidence in the power to read aloud.

http://flipgrid.com/#d6716a6b

In addition, you might also consider coming up with your own posts in response to this week’s theme on your own blog or site.  You might write or record about a book or character that feels personal to you.  You might strike a confident pose with a book that gives you strength and post that picture to social media. You might read in a place that you normally wouldn’t and take a picture to share.  You could dare others to do the same.  Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Confidence Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #confidenceweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

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At our school, we’ll be sharing many stories that demonstrate confidence. A few of our picks will be One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, Ish by Peter Reynolds, Star of the Week by Barney Saltzberg, Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen, Firebird by Misty Copeland, and Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld.

It’s not too late to share your schedule for World Read Aloud Week on our shared Google Doc and find someone to connect with around the world.

Let’s empower one another’s confidence this week throughout our global community.

Connecting Voices through Robotics: An EdCamp Global Event

This year, our library is fortunate to have a robotics loan from Birdbrain Technologies. We have 12 Finch robots that we are using throughout the year for coding experiences for our students. Currently, a group of 2nd-5th graders are meeting every Friday for one hour to learn to code these robots and create projects with them.

Donna MacDonald (Vermont) and Jenny Lussier (Connecticut) are two wonderful friends who inspire me through my professional learning network, and they also have these robots on loan.  Jenny and Donna wrote their robotics loan application with plans to collaborate with one another, and they have invited my students to jump in to their learning. We recently started talking on Twitter about how our kids could collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously, and we were looped in to a conversation about EdCamp Global.

I wish I had clued in to EdCamp Global sooner because it was an amazing opportunity.  Across 24 hours over 51 countries and more than 800 classrooms empowered students’ and teachers’ voices in multiple online formats. Not only did voices from around the globe come together but there was also a true global audience to watch the work happen. I definitely want to do more with this the next time around.

Thanks to Donna and Jenny’s enthusiastic energy, we pulled together a session on the EdCamp Global schedule to allow our students to share.  Jenny got the application in, setup the Google Hangout, and got everything up and running for us. Donna created a Google doc of resources for the session and started advertising our session on social media.

On the morning of the hangout, I was able to pull a couple of my Friday students from their classrooms to join the hangout and Jenny & Donna both had classes of students rotate through their libraries.  Across the 1-hour session, we talked about the Finch loan program and how we got started. We also talked about other robotics tools that we are using in our schools such as Sphero, BB-8, Dash and Dot, and Ollie.

My favorite part was when students took turns sharing their experience with robotics.  My two students showed programs that they were working on within Level 1 of Snap!  Donna and Jenny’s students also told stories of challenges they had faced with the robots, things they had figured out, and plans for what they hoped to do over the next few weeks.

 

Tweets during:

Toward the end of our time, Jenny had her students start experimenting with Scratch and Finch. They had just enough time to come over and demonstrate what they figured out during the hangout.  I can’t wait to share what we learned with the rest of our 2nd-5th graders so we can continue to explore programming the Finch.

Donna created a Padlet where we can post challenges to one another.

Jenny created a Flipgrid where students can share video challenges or tips about the Finch robots.

I think it is just incredible how students in multiple locations can come together to collaborate in real time when our schedule allows, and that we can continue to collaborate even when we aren’t meeting together at the same time.  My group is just getting started, so I can’t wait to see what we learn from Jenny and Donna’s students and what we are able to contribute along the way too!

Add Your Voice to the Kindness Week Flipgrid

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Each week leading up to World Read Aloud Day (February 24th) we want to join our voices around the world to celebrate one of the strengths of reading aloud.  During the week of January 24-31, we celebrate how reading shows us examples of kindness in the world.

LitWorld 7 Strengths

We have created a Flipgrid for you to share your responses to the following question:

What kindness role models have you met through reading?

We hope you will share this Flipgrid with other educators, students, and families around the world and record your responses which can last up to 90 seconds.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to practice some informational writing in classrooms?  Wouldn’t you love to hear stories from the families that you serve?  Aren’t you curious about the perspectives on this question from around the world?  Let’s join our voices and contribute responses all week long.  Can we show our own kindness by contributing our voice?

http://flipgrid.com/#527147e0

In addition, you might also consider coming up with your own posts in response to this week’s theme on your own blog or site.  You might write a post about a fictional character who has been a model of kindness and post on your blog or other social media. Better yet, have your students write these reflections and share them with you.  You and your students might perform random acts of kindness during the week and take photographs to post to Instagram or other social media. You might create a special display of kindness related books in your classroom or library.. Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Kindness Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #kindnessweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

I know two of the stories we will read during Friendship Week are If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson and Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, but we will read many other kindness stories during the week as well.

It’s not too late to share your schedule for World Read Aloud Week on our shared Google Doc and find someone to connect with around the world.

Let’s share how we show kindness as well as find kindness in our global community.

WRAD16

Taking Over Georgia Department of Education Instagram: A Lesson in Trust

A few months ago I was alerted to an opportunity by one of my favorite collaborative partners, Gretchen Thomas. The Georgia State Department of Education was inviting educators to apply to takeover their Instagram account for one week. I filled out the quick application, and within a few weeks, I was notified that I was selected for the week of January 18-22, 2016.

When I applied, I really didn’t give a lot of thought to what the state DOE was actually doing, but as the week neared, I was really struck by this opportunity. Social media accounts have a lot of power. They allow organizations or individuals to really show the day to day realities of what we all face. Those accounts have influence and help create the brand of an organization. Handing over an account to someone who is for the most part a complete stranger is a big exercise in trust. How many organizations will just hand over their account and allow people to freely post?

This honor, of course, came with rules to follow.

  • Always use the hashtag #gadoeteachertakeover
  • Reply to comments, but indicate who is replying
  • Post photos that are representative of the profession
  • Anything deemed inappropriate could be deleted by the DOE
  • Post 2-5 photos per day
  • Follow any local policies on posting to social media

I took the responsibility very seriously, and I’m sure that every educator who was chosen is doing the same. In fact, if you scroll through the #gadoeteachertakover tag you’ll see the amazing opportunities our students in GA are receiving every day. Since I was allowed 5 photos per day, I thought very carefully about what to post because I wanted to show a variety of opportunities our students have in our library program.  It isn’t just about technology or just about books. I hope that the photos I chose show that it’s about giving students a voice and giving them opportunities to explore a variety of topics, interests, and passions and share those with the world.

Now that I am at the close of the week, I can back up and collectively look at my week in 25 pictures. It’s very easy for me to get lost in the day to day bustling library and focus on all of the things in my head that I’m not able to get to. When I take time to look back at blog posts, tweets, or pictures, I’m reminded of what is actually happening. This was honestly my first time doing this with Instagram, and I loved seeing a visual of images that showcased one week. In  my head I know what’s missing, what problems we faced, what moments of frustrations I had, but the images remind me that there were miraculous things happening all around us.

I would like to thank the Georgia State Department of Education for this opportunity. Thank you for trusting the educators of Georgia to show their work. Thank you for empowering the voices of educators and students to define what education looks like in our state. I hope that other professional organizations will consider how this type of campaign empowers the voices of its members and amplifies the work that is happening on the front lines of the organization.

 

Beginning the Barrow Peace Prize: A Flipgrid Project

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Each year, our 2nd grade takes on a big research project that has evolved into a project called the Barrow Peace Prize. Students research one of six people from black history, write a persuasive piece convincing people to vote for their person to win, and record their writing using Flipgrid. These videos are shared with the world along with a Google forms voting ballot. We celebrate the winner with the Flipgrid team via Skype.

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This year’s project is off to a great start, and I’m amazed by what these 2nd graders are doing with their technology, especially since they aren’t 1:1 in their classes.  With fewer devices to practice on, it takes these students a bit longer to navigate tools on the computer.

peace prize research (8)

To start, each student chose one of six people: Langston Hughes, Wilma Rudolph, Bessie Coleman, Jesse Owens, Charles Drew, and Ruby Bridges. Using Google Classroom, each teacher shared a Google doc graphic organizer with students. In the library, students brought class computers and I provided additional computers so each student had one. We did a review of how to login to Google and navigate to Classroom to get the doc. I also showed students how to click between tabs in Chrome, how to copy and paste facts, and where to look for information.

peace prize research (7)

Students started in 2 resources: PebbleGo and Encyclopedia Britannica. I love these sites because they have great information and both will read the content to students who need that extra support. I debated about teaching students how to copy and paste because I don’t want to set students up for just copying. However, we wanted students to have access to a collection of the best facts when they prepared to do their writing without having to weed through all of the articles. The writing workshop time would be the time to focus on taking those copied facts and put them into students’ own words.

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We did 3 hour-long sessions of research. Each session we saw students get more proficient at navigating the technology, and even in the frustration we faced, I reminded myself and the teachers to step back and really look at what 7-year olds were doing. Students were logging into email, accessing Google Classroom, finding a Google doc, visiting multiple resources, using ctrl C and ctrl V, keeping track of where facts came from, and leaning to use the research tool in a Google Doc. This list could definitely be added to because there was a lot more.

Once facts were gathered, teachers began writing workshops in their classrooms for students to start writing scripts for their videos. Prior to this, we held a Google Hangout where all classes tuned in from classrooms. The purpose of this was to establish a list of character traits that someone who is deserving of the Barrow Peace Prize might represent. We read about Alfred Nobel and looked at Malala and why she represented peace. Then, classes added to a Google Doc to create a list of these character traits. This list was displayed during writing times for all students to consider in their writing.

Now, students are continuing to fine tune their writing before recording takes place.  We can’t wait to share the videos with our school, families, and classrooms around the world.  Be on the lookout for a post in the next couple of weeks inviting you to view and vote for the 2016 Barrow Peace Prize.

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Using Makerspace to Extend Curriculum: A Geology Project

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Third grade studies rocks and minerals as a part of their science standards. In Ms. Hicks class, they have been extending their research of rocks and minerals to create their own Blendspace lessons to teach others facts about rocks and minerals. They are even including pre-tests and post-tests in their lessons. As a part of this Blendspace project, students started thinking about how they might design their own climbing wall for our school based on their research.

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Ms. Hicks asked me what tool we might use to design and prototype of a climbing wall, and I immediately thought of Tinkercad. We have used Tinkercad for other projects and have found it to be one of the better tools for 3d design at the elementary level. Students came to the library to learn a bit about how Tinkercad works.

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I gave them a very quick tutorial which basically showed them things like adding a work plane, dragging over geometric shapes, resizing shapes, and building up.

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I created two generic accounts that students share rather than creating an account for every student. Half of them logged in with one account and half with the other. Their goal was to tinker during the first lesson to see what they could figure out, but their tinkering was a bit more focused than usual. Ms. Hicks really wanted them to already start envisioning their climbing wall as they were tinkering. Some of them latched onto the tool and really got a jumpstart on designing, while others tried something and started over several times.

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One student thought we was being a bit silly by trying to design a chicken instead of a climbing wall, but we turned this into a learning opportunity. I thought about the climbing wall that is at our own Omni Club here in Athens. It is shaped like a giant bulldog, so I pulled it up on the screen to show that he could in fact design his rock all to look like a chicken if he really thought about how people would climb a giant chicken. Instead of shutting him down, his wheels were turning about what he might try, and he is in fact now designing a penguin rock wall.

Other students started thinking about which rocks and minerals would be the best choices for the climbing wall based on their strength and also their color. They referenced their research and the Mohs hardness scale to choose rocks and minerals that would hold up a climber. As they did this, they changed the colors and shapes of the climbing pieces on their walls to represent their different choices. Not all students were ready for this level of thinking, but when we found students who were thinking in this way, we encouraged them to share what they were doing in the hopes of giving other students ideas.

 

One student even let me record a snippet of his thinking about his own rock wall choices.

The students have worked on these designs for 3 work sessions. As they finish, they are taking screen shots of their designs and adding them to Blendspace with an explanation of their design. In the future, we plan to export their designs as .stl files so that we can actually 3d print their prototypes when they are ready to present.

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I loved this real world application of rocks and minerals because it showed students that there are actually careers where you might consider some of the facts that they are learning in science. There was so much higher order thinking built into this project, especially this design piece. I had some great conversation with students as they referenced their research to find the specific rocks and minerals they wanted to use. One conversation involved a student specifically wanting a rock that was yellow. He kept Googling different rocks he knew to see if they came in yellow. When he finally found one of the feldspar family that was yellow, he noticed that the website description referenced Bob’s Rock Shop. We had a great conversation about the importance of digging into the website to really see where the information was coming from, and he found that the information actually did come from a reliable source within that site.

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I hope that we can find ways to share the work that this class is doing in the hopes of inspiring students at all levels to apply what they are doing to really world experiences. It would be fascinating to actually see this climbing wall come to life and have o

Add Your Voice to the Friendship Week Flipgrid for World Read Aloud

LitWorld 7 Strengths

Each week leading up to World Read Aloud Day (February 24th) we want to join our voices around the world to celebrate one of the strengths of reading aloud.  During the week of January 17-24, we celebrate how reading connects us and makes the world a friendlier place

WRAD16

We have created a Flipgrid for you to share your responses to the following question:

How does reading help us connect and make the world friendlier?

We hope you will share this Flipgrid with other educators, students, and families around the world and record your responses which can last up to 90 seconds.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to practice some informational writing in classrooms?  Wouldn’t you love to hear stories from the families that you serve?  Aren’t you curious about the perspectives on this question from around the world?  Let’s join our voices and contribute responses all week long.  Can we find a new friend by contributing our voice?

http://flipgrid.com/#25c255a6

In addition, you might also consider coming up with your own posts in response to this week’s theme on your own blog or site.  You might read aloud a book with a friend and post about it on your blog or other social media. You might post a book of your best book friends which might be actual people or covers of books. Whatever additional ways you choose to celebrate “Friendship Week”, please tag your posts with #wrad16 and #friendshipweek as well as mention @litworldsays (Twitter) and @litworld (Instagram, Facebook).

I know one of the stories we will read during Friendship Week is Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, but we will read many other friendship stories during the week as well.

It’s not too late to share your schedule for World Read Aloud Week on our shared Google Doc and find someone to connect with around the world.

Let’s share how we are all friends who are part of a global community.