Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New (to me) Tech

I'm always patrolling the web for new tech. Usually I'm looking for new ideas for the classroom but sometimes I come across things that just entertain me.  Here are a few new ones, at least to me.  I'm sorry if I'm late to the scene. Picture Book Maker

This is the best picture book maker for the younger students I have found so far. With a cover, back cover, and 6 pages, the students writes and design their own story.  This website has premade images
and backgrounds for the students to choose from for their pages.  There are 8 backgrounds, 4 different characters that can be scaled and switched to look like it performing a different action, and 20 extras such as fences, trees, clouds, skateboards, soccer balls, and more. With the pencil tool students type in their words and can scale those as well. While I do not love the typing part, the illustrations are fun and in the end you can email a link to the final book.

Take a look at my sample book:

This is a free website that allows you, the user, to record up to 30 seconds of audio.  This user interface is one of the easiest on the web.  Click the large croak button on the page, record 30 seconds or less of audio, and select Proceed.  Name it, Tag it, and tou can share via a link, directly share it to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, OR you can get an embed code to put it on your website.  They even have a mobile version for iPhones and Androids.
Coming soon: the ability to mix to croaks.

For the classroom this could be fun to download on the iPads and have students work on quick facts to add my website.  Or book recommendations to add to the website.  As I mentioned before I LOVE using QR codes and so do the students so I can have students record information/recommendations about books, link the croak with a QR code and add it to the cover a book.  As a classroom teacher students could record answers in groups and record quick answers for me to check later.

This is fun and great for getting students more interested in Information Text.  Wonderoplois is a website where the answers to things you are naturally curious about are answered.  There are short passages of non-ficiton text as well as video and interesting topic to keep any students interest.
This would be fun for a quick research project in between the large projects. 


The last few large meetings and conferences I have attended have had Today's Meet up and running. It is a great tool for backchannel talking in large groups.  Once a room is created people with the link go in, and with no registration need, can post ideas and questions.  The entire conversation can be saved.  This is a great way for students to interact with each other in the classroom as well with students in other classes nearby, in another state, or anywhere around the world!

a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery - See more at:
a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery - See more at:
a place where natural curiosity and imagination lead to exploration and discovery - See more at:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Author of the Month

This year I've done an Author of the Month on the display table most months. (Some months I've done a display related a holiday or something going on in school.)

Sadly I did not get a picture of every month.
Below is Laura Numeroff and Valentines Day.

iBooks Author- fourth grade

The Common Core Standards are trying to make students creators and thinkers.  To end the year I usually teach my fourth graders how to create animations but with the new technology and the push of iPads in my district, I have decided to teach my students how to create an iBook.

While working with the fourth grade classroom teachers we decided the students would research and write about an element of geometry.  Each of the following elements will be a chapter in a class ibook: circles, measuring angles, classifying triangles, quadrilaterals and other polygons, and points lines and line segments.

We started with defining 'multimedia' and looking at an ibook created by students. "Creatures, Plants, and More"  a free iBook for the iPad created by middle school students.  It is full of text, pictures, and video.

Once students had an idea they used their math book and websites to learn about Geometry.  Geometry turned out to be more of an interesting topic than the students and I expected because the websites were often interactive.  The students used:

Math is Fun:
Geometry for Elementary School:
Kids Math:

I read the story "Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland" by Cindy Neuschwander to show students they could write a non-textbook style book.

 The students have taken pictures and recorded video and have started putting their written content into iBook Author.  I hope we finish before the school year ends.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5 Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Genre Stop Motion- third grade

Beginning with a review of genres students were grouped by the genre they were most interested in.

We started with research using:

Children's Genres
Science Fiction

Students went into iMovie and created multiple title clips to explain to their viewer information about their literature genre.

Finally the FUN part.  We watched some stop-motion animation movies online.  Mostly we saw amatuer ones created by students but I showed one quality stopmotion animation to show them what it could like it: Lego Fairy Tale

StopMotion allows the students to collaborate and create in a unique medium.

Next students created a storyboard for a movie that includes all the elements of their genre.  This was hard for students creating a video about Biographies and fun for those creating Fantasy.  Students used construction and paper Legos to build a set.

In the computer lab the students and I use a program called iStopMotion.  It is for the Mac and costs money.  If you are looking for a free program program, that works on both Mac and PC, check out, SAM,  SAM was created at TUFTs University and is now owned by iCreate.

Once they have taken their pictures, students will add voices to either their characters or as a narrator, another touch on Common Core.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Word Mover and Spine Poems- first grade

A couple of my classes finished their poetry projects before the others due to schedule changes.  Instead of moving ahead, I decided to continue with poetry.

First the students used Word Move on the iPads to create poems.  We talked about how their poems should make the reader feel something, anything.  It could make us laugh, for feel sad, or silly.  At first grade most of them went with silly.

Word Mover is a free app that allows the user to create poems.  Users can create accounts within the app which is great if more than one person is going to use Word Mover.  The app gives you a word bank to drag words from or select a blank one and write your own words.  Words can be moved around, enlarged, and rotated, and colored. The app also allows you  add a background as you can see in my students examples below.

After they walked through the Easy Fiction section and selected books to make spine poems.  This was much harder but what turned out to be a fun challenge.  I debated on pre-selecting books for the students to choose from and I'm not happy or sad that I did not.  The spine poems turned out pretty good considering they had already made a poem on WordMover so they had limited time a vast selection of books.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Poetry- first grade

To start I explained it was National Poetry month.  Everyone all over the country, young and old is enjoying poetry this month!  I read a couple of poems off of every page from Jack Prelutsky's book "Read A Rhyme, Write A Rhyme".  With some poems on the SMART Board students saw that the rhyming words were always at the end of a line.

In pairs, students finished the Food Poem, Dog Poem, and created their own Animal Poem.

After the students typed up their written lines in MS Word.  This is the first time they have had to use their mouse and move their cursor to where they wanted to type.

This is also the first time students learned how to add ClipArt.  They added the clipart and formatted it to be in front of the text so they could resize and move it to where they wanted.

I decided to add the skill of Save vs Save As... to this lesson.  Students picked up very quickly.

When completed students shared their printed poems with each other on the carpet.

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.4 Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.10 With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Digital Photography- Kindergarten

The Kindergartners have practiced their mouse skills, listened and interacted with a storybook, learned to draw on the computer,  recorded their voices, and will now become photographers.  Taken from a friend, Kevin Jarrett, this lesson is always a huge hit.

Armed with two point and shoot digital cameras, I head down to the Kindergarten classes this week.  I start by teaching the students about the wrist strap (they are 5 and 6 years old) and move onto the shutter, and view screen, and who a photographer is.

Students work in groups to take pictures of objects they are given.   The child behind the camera must direct the other group members where to stand so he/she can see every group member as well as the object required.  Classroom teachers and I work with the groups and the students have loads of fun.

Earth Day and Poetry Month- second grade

April is always fun with the second graders.  We read "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss and discuss as many ways we can think of to help protect the Earth.  In pairs students are each assigned one way they can help the Earth and they brainstorm ideas.

The next week I read variety of poems by Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, and "In the Wild" by David Elliot. 
Students took their brainstorming ideas and wrote couplets to match poetry month.

Each pair worked together to record their voice a class podcast and draw a picture to go with their piece of the podcast.

Playing the Object

If you cannot see this, your computer doesn't support the format

Common Core
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2–3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.