Thursday, March 6, 2014

New (to me) Technology

This year I am trying a modified version of Genius Hour with my four 4th Grade classes.  Each class has 23 or 24 students and I see them once a week for 45 minutes pending any schedule changes, meetings, or workshops.  Genius Hour is when you give your students time to become a "genius" about anything they are interested in and allow them to share their new knowledge with their classmates.  While I plan to post more about my modified version in the future, if you want to know more about Genius Hour, check out, My students will be required to present using some sort of technology.  I want to be able to give them as many options as possible so I've learned a lot while researching options for them.

1. Brainybox-
This tool is a cube creator. The user can take any content, text, images, a slideshow, or video, and add it to one side of the cube.  The user and viewer and choose to view any side of the at any time. It is easily edited and is shared simply through a link.  This would be great for book reports, social studies reports, science reports, in fact any presentation.  Students could grab videos from YouTube or TeacherTube or create them on their own.

The problems I see with a student using BrainyBox are that is will need to be created in a single sitting.  It does not look it can be saved and then continued in the future.  If students choose BrainyBox as tool for presenting they should plan out all six of their sides in a word processor first and then create their cube.

2. Tellagami- 

Tellagami lets your create short animated videos called Gamis.  The app is free and tons of fun.

First you start by creating your own avatar. Students will enjoy creating themselves. Then you choose a background from their choices or your own camera roll.  After you can have your character speak by recording your own voice of using their text to speech option.   The text to speech has a variety of accents for both male and female voices.

The students can use this to pre-record presentations on any topic.  It would be great for biographies, book reports, poems, famous speeches, and science concepts.   If your students are adventurous they can set it up to have a conversation with someone while they are presenting.

Animating instead of getting in front of a video camera will be a great opportunity for some students.  Being in front of your peers is hard but if your an animated avatar you are freed from many of your nerves.

As a teacher this is great as an introduction to a topic or way for students to listen to something you already taught again.  Using QR Codes or Augmented Reality, this can be used to give directions to different stations around the room.  The possibilities go on and on.

(Since the Gami's are short, my students will also use iMovie to piece them together. You can too.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Newesla- Techie Tuesday Link-up

That last few years, with Common Core  and PARCC*, I feel I am always looking for ways to have my students read more non-fiction and read more on digital devices. This great new website combines my two needs in one. Newsela,, describes themselves as "an innovative way for students to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news."  They offer news article under a variety of different categories for you and your students to read.  Each article comes with different Lexile levels so every student in your class can be reading the same article but on their own reading level.  After reading the article there is a quiz to accompany the article.

Go and create a free account on Newsela.  Then add your students so they can also access the website and news artciles.  Students do not need an email address.  Once on the website your students can access articles of their choosing or you can assign an article to your class at a certain Lexile level. 

The quizzes have multiple choice questions as select the paragraph to show your answer type questions.  This is great as it matches the PARCC sample questions.

*PARCC-The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.  It is a consortium of 17 states and D.C. that are working together to develop a common assessment for math and language arts.  New Jersey, where I live and work is one of the 17 states.  

This test is taken online which means my students have needed to develop a new set of technological skills.  While they already use a computer to complete many tasks, there are many things they will need to do for the PARCC test that they do not regularly do on the computer: type out math facts, fill in arrays, use digital rulers or protractors, highlight text to show evidence, type without a pre-write, and so more.  Newsela will be an excellent for students to continue adjusting to computer based reading assessments

Monday, March 3, 2014

Must Read Monday- "The Other Side of the Story" Series

Must-Read Monday Linky

A few months ago when purchasing books I came across this great series of fractured fairy tales, "The Other Side of the Story" by a three different of authors, Trisha Speed Shaskanm, Nancy Loewen, and Eric Braun.  The titles include:

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!
Seriously, Cinderella Is So Annoying!
Really, Rapunzel Needed A Haircut!
Seriously, Snow White Was Really Forgetful!
No Lie, I Acted Like A Beast!
Trust Me, Jack's Beanstalk Stinks!
Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!
Truly, We Both Loved Beauty Dearly!
The Story of the Frog Prince as Told by the Frog
No Kidding, Mermaids Are A Joke!

Each story is told from the point of view of another character in the story.  For example, "Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten" is told from the wolf's point of view.  The story starts out:

"Chomp! Chomp! Oh, I'm sorry.  I was just finishing my lunch.  my name's Wold- Big Bad Wolf.  You may have heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood. About a girl and her granny? Seems everyone has.  My tail is different. Did i say tail? I meant tale."

As you continue to read you learn the the wolf is a vegetarian and starving waiting for the apple harvest.  In her beautiful red cape, what did Little Red Riding Hood look like... an apple.  To make matters worse for this starving wolf Granny's house smelled like apple air freshener and she herself looked like a Granny Smith Apple.  The Wolf does end up eating both Granny and Red Riding Hood but he finds she tastes a bit rotten, hence the title of the book.

At the end of each story is a Think About It section to further think about this story and a glossary.  You can also find a Read More section to find related books, Internet Sites to learn more, and more books in the series.

My students love the books so far.