First Grade Wizard of Oz Meteorologists

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Our amazing 1st grade team and students have been working on their Wizard of Oz unit.  I love this unit because they weave in so many content standards with Wizard of Oz as their guiding text. A part of this unit is the weather standards from science.  Students have to know various kinds of weather as well as how to dress in that weather.  Since this is a part of what meteorologists do, we decided to try something new this year by looking closely at the role of meteorologists.  The goal was for students to write a weather report for the Wizard of Oz regarding the cyclone and to record the forecast in front of our green screen.

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Students came to the library and we looked at a few videos of meteorologists reporting on severe weather. As we watched, students noticed things about the posture and speech of the meteorologist.  They also pointed out many of the weather words he/she used.

As weather words were noticed, we added them to a shared Google doc.

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This doc was shared with all classroom teachers to continue to add to and use in class.  We also looked at another student-made video and noticed how the student introduced himself in his weather forecast and pretended to be outside in the story.

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In the library, we also spent some time beginning the writing process of creating a weather report.  Students continued working on this in class during writer’s workshop.  The list of weather words continued to be used and added to. They also did a bit of rehearsing.

Finally, students returned to he library and one by one recorded themselves in front of the green screen with a tornado or other weather behind them.  As students were recording, the rest of the class practiced, looked at weather books, and searched for the current weather in our area using apps on the iPad.

They loved seeing the weather magically appear on our iPad using the DoInk app on the iPad.  We took all of the videos from the iPad and uploaded them to class playlists to share back with the class.

You can enjoy the variety of videos in each of these lists.

One of my favorite parts of this short project was how it tied to a real career and gave students experience with a real-world job related to the standards they were studying in science.  They were each able to be a bit creative in their forecasting, and each student had a chance to use a cool technology to make their voice heard at such an early age.

Inspiring Digital Leaders During Personal Learning Device (PLD) Rollout

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Our 3rd-5th graders all have their own personal learning device assigned to them at the beginning of the year.  This device gets checked out to them just like a textbook and remains with them throughout the school year.  Students also take this device home.  Currently, our 3rd graders each receive an ASUS netbook and our 4th & 5th graders receive an HP laptop.

There are so many rules that you want to talk to students about when it comes to their computers in order to keep the computer and the students safe.  However, I want students to get their device with more than just a set of rules.  I want students to realize the power of the device they hold in their hands.  I want them to realize that their device connects them to the information that answers just about any question they could dream up.  It connects them to people and cultures they may never experience on their own.  It connects them with authors, developers, and experts on any topic of interest.  It allows them to collaborate with students and classrooms around the world.

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I really wrestled with exactly what I wanted to do as students come to get their device from the library.  Should I just check it out and do digital citizenship lessons later?  Should I go over the list of rules from the student handbook?  Should I focus on the kinds of projects we would do with the devices during the year?

As I was pondering, I turned to a few resources to spark my thoughts.  One resource was Be a Changemaker by Laurie Ann Thompson.  This text features students who have all done something to create change in their schools or communities.  Each chapter takes a different aspect of being a changemaker and profiles a student who did something amazing.  They don’t all necessarily feature something digital, but the idea of using our technology to foster change was intriguing to me.

From the foreword:

“Don’t wait.  Don’t wait to be powerful, to change the lives and communities around you significantly.  There is nothing like it.  Once you discover that you can visualize the next step society should take, and then you discover that you can lead others to turn your vision into reality, you can do anything.”

I also turned to the blog of George Couros.  I often find inspiration from this transformational principal’s blog.  He has written several times about digital leadership.  He defines digital leadership as “using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.  His post about digital leadership vs. cyberbullying really made me think about what I wanted to emphasize with the students.  Rather than focus on every bad thing that could happen with devices, I wanted the main focus to be on the good that we could do.

So…what did I do?  First, I’ll say that I finally just had to try something and see where it went.  I don’t think that what I did was special, but it was a start to a conversation and something I will keep revisiting.

As students entered, they each came to an iPad on the carpet and I had this video playing.

We used this video to talk about how doing good deeds can spread.  We also used the video to talk about how technology isn’t always visible.  The awesome projects that we create using technology hide on our computers unless we share them.  On the same note, the bad things that happen like cyberbullying may go unnoticed unless students take leadership and speak up to people who can support them.  This is a conversation that evolved as the classes continued to come and something I didn’t really plan initially for this video.

Next, I introduced the idea of digital leadership and being a changemaker using Laurie Ann Thompson’s book foreward and student profile on page. 137.  I also used this video.

I also shared myself by showing how I use this blog to highlight the incredible work of our students.  I showed our map of visitors since April.  Students saw every place in the world where people were reading about the work going on in our library.

With all of these pieces, I asked students to think about what it means to be a digital leader.  A digital leader is a person who _____________.  Then, using Poll Everywher, students submitted their thoughts using the iPads.  I setup the poll to populate as a word cloud.  As students submitted answers the words grew in size as they were repeated.  I deactivated the poll and we used the word cloud to talk about how the words connected with “digital leader”.

Most of the time, something about being responsible came up in the digital leadership word clouds, so the next thing we did was create a second word cloud about the things we needed to do this year to be responsible with our devices.  Again, students submitted via the iPads.  This cloud mostly focused on being careful with devices, keeping them charged, not losing them, etc.

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Really with both of these questions, students hit most of the topics that I would have covered on my own.  I had a set of slides that was shared between the other librarians in the district that included lots of rules for the devices, so I used those slides to fill in the holes from the word clouds.  We covered a few missing pieces such as keeping your password secure and having a plan for where to keep your computer outside of school.

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I hope that in going over a few “rules” that I didn’t lose the concept of being a digital leader.  I’m not sure.  However, I felt like kids were leaving excited about getting their device and being in general agreement about the potential of the device they held in their hands.

I look forward to this year and seeing what we create with these devices, what change we foster in our school and community, and how our students use technology for good.

 

Happy World Read Aloud Day 2015: Connecting Through Stories Part 3

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The official World Read Aloud Day 2015 is in the books.  We still have 2 days of connections, but it was fun to have a full day for the actual calendar date.

We started our day with enrichment clusters.  I have a group of 2nd-5th graders who are exploring coding and making in a variety of formates.  We connected with Okle Miller and her Kindergarten students in Tampa.  We read Rosie Revere Engineer and then my students had a chance to share some of the inventions that they are creating.  It was fun to see the messages of the book come through in their sharing.  Most students did not have a complete product and most had plenty of failures during the process.

Eli showed a lego mindstorm robot that he put together right before the Skype.  He has designed several robots, and this one was his version of a dog that you could walk since “everyone wants to be able to walk a dog and might not have one”.

Francisco showed his alarm that he made with littleBits that would go off when the sun came up.

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Ludwig and Malachi showed off their video game made of cardboard, Scratch, and MaKey MaKey.

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Louisa and Ansley showed off their blogs about how to use Tinkercad to 3d design.

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Taylor showed off his Barrow Peace Prize medal that he designed and 3d printed.

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Next, Ms. Ramseyer’s class connected with Crystal Hendrix and her students in Asheville, NC.  We read I’m Bored and once again had fun taking turns being the girl and the potato.  We also had the students talk about what they would write for a second book, and they were very interested in having the potato get eaten.

 

Ms. Wright’s 2nd grade connected with Jennifer Reed’s students in Newton, MA.  It was very special to get to share Beekle with one another.  We had some great discussions about the little girl in the book as well as dreaming the unimaginable and having courage.  We even continued our conversation after we said goodbye.

Donna MacDonald’s 4th grade students were such great role models for Ms. Heather’s PreK students today.  It was our PreK’s 1st Skype experience, and it was so special.  We read Wolfie the Bunny.  My students read the part of Dot, and Donna’s students were all of the other characters.

Getting to connect with authors is another really amazing part of the World Read Aloud experience.  Barbara O’Connor was our 1st author of the day, and she connected with Mr. Coleman’s 4th grade class and a few of Ms. Tesler’s students.  She read from How to Steal A Dog.

After the story, she took lots of questions from the audience.  We learned the story of the poster that inspired the book and the story of calling Willie’s real owners to give them a copy of the book.  We also heard about the revision process and how a book that is coming out next year is already heavily into this process with the editor.

Barbara even walked us through her house to show us the manuscript with all of its pages and markings.  Our visit wouldn’t be complete without seeing the 2 famous dogs in Barbara’s house.

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Ms. Mullins brought several 5th graders to connect with Margo Jantzi in Virginia.  We read Crankee Doodle.  Margo was hilarious with her pony voice, and I played the roll of Crankee.

Ms. Clarke’s students had a unique opportunity to connect with Mrs. P from Mrs. P.’s storytime.   Mrs. P. (AKA actress Kathy Kinney) is an advocate for reading and writing.  She is a master storyteller and encouraged all of our young learners to read and create as much as possible.

She told the students a couple of stories, but also gave them some thoughts to ponder.  We had great fun hearing poems and songs about her cat and even heard the very first thing she wrote when she came out of the womb in the delivery room!

We closed out our official World Read Aloud Day with Laurel Snyder.  She read to Mr. Coleman’s 4th grade from Free to Be You and Me, a favorite childhood book.  It brought up some interesting things to think about in regards to “boy books” and “girl books”.  We loved Laurel’s voices for the babies in the selection from this book.

Another thing that I love about World Read Aloud week is that the books that we share aloud and the books that are by the authors that we connect with are immediately checked out of the library.  I love seeing readers get so excited about finding a book that they have a connection with.

I closed out World Read Aloud Day at my house by reading aloud Some Bugs, Toys Galore, and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons with my son, Anderson.

We have 2 more days of connectionthis week, and we can’t wait to see what happens!

Crafting Opinion Writing with Puppet Pals in First Grade

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Almost every class in our school is doing some form of opinion writing at the moment.  Last week, 1st grade spent some time tinkering with the Puppet Pals app on the iPad to see how it worked.  We have also been reading books that feature some type of opinion such as The Sandwich Swap and Sylvia’s Spinach.

In class, the 1st graders have been writing an opinion piece, so they brought that piece of writing to the library to use the Puppet Pals app to record their script.  We started on the floor in front of the projector.  I projected an iPad and opened the puppet pal app.  I quickly went through the various screens and made sure everything still looked familiar to students from their tinkering sessions.

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Then, I showed the students a few extra steps they would need to do in order to save their video.  They would need to give their story a title and export the story to the camera roll on the iPad.  I also used this time to explain what my role for the day would be.  Since each class has about 20 students, twenty videos needed to be uploaded to Youtube and put into a playlist for the teacher to share in class and with families.  I really wanted this step to be done while the students were in the library, so I told the students that uploading videos was my only role during our work time.  The teacher was available to walk around and monitor and assist students who were recording, but more importantly, the whole class had expertise in Puppet Pals because of our tinkering and could help one another.  I encouraged them to ask one another for help if they got stuck so that I could focus on getting their videos uploaded.

During the work time, there was not a single student who came to ask me for help to use Puppet Pals.  There were certainly students who got stuck, but they relied on one another to figure things out.  I really saw the benefit of giving them time to tinker in the previous lesson.  They also were empowered to support one another rather than rely on an adult to help.

When they finished recording, they did their additional steps to export their videos and then formed a line in the middle of the library at my table.  I opened the video on the camera roll and selected to upload the video to Youtube.  I signed into my channel on each iPad.  The students helped me name the video and stayed until the video was uploaded.  Then, they went back to their work space and continued using Puppet Pals to tinker and try out a story of their own choice.

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Once all of the videos were uploaded, I selected them all in my account and added them to a playlist.

We worked for a full 45 minutes to record, upload, and continue tinkering.  There was little to no behavior problems.  Every student who had an opinion writing finished was able to film and upload a video.

Now the classes are thinking about a next step for Puppet Pals.  The students are very curious about creating a story with the characters in Puppet Pals, so I have a feeling that we will be crafting some narrative stories very soon.

The Power of Tinkering Before Assigning a Project

Educreations Day 2 (2)One of my library goals this year is to give students, teachers, and families opportunities to dream, tinker, create, and share.  That has meant many things during the course of this year, but one of the things that so many of our teachers are embracing with me is intentionally planning time for students to tinker with a new tool before we ask them to create a project with it.

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During collaborative meetings and virtual planning with teachers, I often ask if we can build in time for students to explore a technology tool with no limits, rules, or assignments.  The only assignment is to push as many buttons as you can and see what you can figure out about that tool.  In addition, there is an expectation that students will pass on their expertise to others as they figure something out through tinkering.

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There have been several instances of this type of tinkering happening this year.  Ms. Hocking gave her Kindergarten students time to tinker with storykit.  All of third grade tinkered with Puppet Pals before a folktale project.

This week, first grade is also taking time to tinker with the Puppet Pals app as they prepare for an opinion writing assignment in English Language Arts.

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Finally, 2nd grade is about to start creating math screencast tutorials using the Educreations app for iPad.

As I’ve facilitated these tinkering sessions, I’ve started to adjust how the sessions run.  We start on the floor to talk about tinkering.  Students share some knowledge about what they already know about tinkering.  Some of the responses I’ve heard are:  a time to explore, a time to be busy, and figuring things out.  I follow this with my own understanding of tinkering.  I establish two big ground rules: 1. Push every button you see in an app and see what it does.  2. Share what you learn.

In most classes, I breeze through the app with very little explanation of what I’m doing just so that students get a quick preview of what they will be looking at and what they might end up with.  In Educreations, I wrote 2+2=____ and then drew out a picture of how I solved that math problem.  I didn’t talk about clicking on colors, the microphone, or really anything.  I just wanted them to get a quick view of the end result.

Then, students had a large chunk of time to explore on the iPads.  For 2nd grade, we did this in pairs, but some classes have been individuals.  My role was to walk around and observe.  A few students were tempted to ask me how to do something, but I responded with a “give it a try”.  Very rarely did I do something for a student.  The only time I intervened was when students needed help getting the app up and running or if the iPad had a technical problem.

As I observed, I would stop and ask students questions like “What did you figure out?” or “Why did you choose to do that in that way?” or “Now that you’ve seen how that works, would you do it a different way next time?”.  These were common questions that I used again and again and they certainly were not ones that I started with.  I was very tempted at first to just jump in and show students something, but I learned to step back and ask questions that allowed students to show what they know.

I saw students naturally leaning over and helping other students, but during my observations, I sometimes saw an opportunity for 2 students to partner and share their learning.  This was another role for me to serve as a connector between students.

The energy level was high, and there was some frustration.  However, I did not see any student give up, get completely off task, or leave without learning something about  how the app worked.

At the closing of each lesson, we gathered back on the floor.  I connected an iPad to the projector and had students come and demo their learning for the rest to see.  We tried to move as quickly as possible to share as many tips as we could.  A big observation for me during this time was how attentive students were.  I’ve never seen students watch a peer presenter with such focus.  Usually, they are having side conversations or tuning out to think about other things.  This time they were watching, listening, and giving connection signals if they had also figured out that part of the app.  If time allowed, I had students turn to one another on the carpet and share even more that they had discovered.  During the closing, I tried to connect what students had discovered with the actual project that we would be implementing next.  For example, a student did a demo of how you can erase while you are recording and I added that this might be a tool you would use while modeling subtraction in a video.

Now that this time of tinkering has happened, our next step is to do the work.  First grade will use Puppet Pals to create opinion puppet shows and 2nd grade will create math tutorials to share.  I’m eager to see how productive students are now that they have had time to get familiar with the app before a curriculum standard expectation was placed on them.  My want to continue to explore the power of tinkering and how it can support the work that we are trying to achieve with students.

 

 

Kindergarten Authors, Illustrators, and Storytellers using the StoryKit App

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Ms. Hocking is a Kindergarten teacher at our school who is always discovering new tools that she wants to try with her students.  She recently showed me the StoryKit app for iPhone.  This app uses some of the texts from the International Digital Children’s Library .  Readers can read the books as they are, but they can also edit them.

Ms. Hocking’s class has been reading multiple versions of the same folktales and stories this year, so this type of app was a great fit to extend their curiosities and noticings in reading into something that they could create.

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In class, she continued to have students read multiple versions of the same type of story such as The Gingerbread Boy and The Three Little Pigs.  In the library, students came for a whole hour of tinkering with the app.  Students started on the carpet, and I projected an iPad onto the screen.  I showed them the app and we started exploring the tools and menus together.  Then, students used an iPad to explore on their own.

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Through our modeling and tinkering, students discovered:

  • how to take a picture and add it to the story
  • how to draw on illustrations
  • how to delete text
  • how to add their own text
  • how to resize images inserted into the story
  • how to delete pages
  • how to find and add images already on the iPad camera roll

This tinkering was very important because it allowed students to figure out the workings of the app before they had to produce something.  In class, Ms. Hocking had them select one of the stories from the app and work in a collaborative group to brainstorm changes to the story.  These changes were written by Ms. Hocking or Ms. Rockholt, the parapro, onto a notecard.  Students also went in and deleted all of the text from the story in their classroom.

In the library, the groups came back for a work session.  Each adult worked with 2 groups.  Students took turns modifying the images in the story to match their plans for the story.  Then, some students wrote out new text for the story while other groups told their text to the adult in the group.  We tried to put as much control and creation into the hands of the students.

Back in class, Ms. Hocking is looking over their stories and they will continue to work before finalizing and sharing their work.

I loved seeing what Kindergartners could create.  I also loved the tinkering and creativity built into this project.

 

Honoring Our Veterans with The Poppy Lady, Padlet, and Flipgrid

Last year, we were honored to have Barbara Walsh, author of The Poppy Lady, visit our school and share her book about Moina Michael’s vision for honoring veterans with the poppy.  Now, last year’s fourth graders that attended that visit are in the 5th grade.   They are about to host several veterans at our school for Veteran’s Day on Tuesday.

British use poppies to commemorate WWI

To prepare for our luncheon, the 5th grade classes each came to the library.  We read The Poppy Lady again.  We also watched a video from CBS news.  The video gave the students some great context on why the poppy is so important and what it really symbolizes.  This paired nicely with the advocacy story of Moina Michael.

We also had a great discussion about the importance of honoring veterans and what students might ask when they sit at a table with a veteran.  They brainstormed questions/statements like: “Tell me more about your time of service”, “What division of the military did you serve in”, “What were some of your biggest challenges in the military”, etc.

Then, students took time to visit 2 centers in the library.  I setup multiple iPads as a Flipgrid recording station.  With Flipgrid, students reflected on how we could continue to honor veterans just like the poppy lady did.

Flipgrid. Relax and discuss.

 

The 2nd station was a padlet where students could send messages to author Barbara Walsh about their appreciation for honoring the work of Moina Michael.  I pulled the site up on both projection screens and three other computers in the library for students to visit.

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Now the 5th graders will continue to work on poems, artwork, letters, and speeches for Tuesday’s luncheon.  During the luncheon, they will sit with veterans and have meaningful conversations.  I hope that they will take time to bring up the Poppy Lady while they talk.