Monday, March 6, 2017

"My Father's Dragon" Book Club 2017

It's our fourth annual book club on "My Father's Dragon" for first grade students! Are you new to the book club? Please read my blog posts from precious years HERE & HERE
So... here is how it works.
1. Get the book "My Father's Dragon."
2. Sign up HERE.
3. Starting on Monday, March 27,  read one chapter a day.
4. Share students' thinking & voice via Twitter at #1bc17  (You can Tweet as a class or have individual students Tweet. It is up to you.)
5. Read other classes' Tweets to learn together. Don't forget to leave comments and ask questions to other classes!

**Check out Jen Olson's fantastic packet she shared last year HERE.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Connect with Coding

Do you want to connect your students with the coders around the world? Don't worry, you don't have to be an expert to join the fun!
 I use the curriculum to teach basics of computer science. 
I love their curriculum since they have many great unplugged (no technology) lessons to introduce computer science vocabulary and concepts. The following activities can be used as a follow up for the unplugged lessons. 
Unplugged Lesson: Getting Loopy (p. 61)
After the lesson, have your students create their own dance moves and loop sequence. Share the loop dance on Twitter at #LoopDanceParty as well as other coding communities such as #csk8 #elemcode #kidskodex. The kids will have a blast dancing to the algorithm that other classes create! Here are some examples.

If possible, record your students dancing and share! This is a clip from last year when we exchanged the loop dance with Michelle Flicek's class (@mflicek1 ). We met over Google Hangout to perform the dance:)

The Big Event
Unplugged Lesson: The Big Event (p.72)
After the lesson, the students will create their own event controller & events. Share the creation at #codebigevent as well as other coding communities such as #csk8 #elemcode #kidskodex. It would be fun to connect with other classes via Google Hangout or Skype to do this activity.

Are you a big fan of Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot? 
If you own Dash, we could play #MysteryDash --- Where in the world is Dash located? 
A fabulous teacher Jake Lee (@TeachingJake) came up with a great idea! Read his post here.
To do this, you will need an alphabet mat such as this. (each square is 7 by 7 inches. Don't forget the start and the letter Z) 

Once you have the mat, your students will code Dash to spell the name of your state. Take a screenshot of the code and post it on Twitter using #MysteryDash hashtag. 
You can guess other classes' location by programming their codes & figuring out what Dash would spell! Your students can locate the state on the map, generate some questions to Tweet or even meet the class via Google Hangout or Skype! 

Coding Tip: Last year my students were playing a mystery word game on the grid. They decided to have Dash stop at the letter they wanted & change the light color to red . Watch this video as a reference.  Their word was "bow." 

If you have any other ideas to connect our students, please let me know! Do you need more ideas to integrate coding into your curriculum? Here is my post about curriculum integration. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

#mtgr1 is back!

I'm very excited to start Twitter math talk (#mtgr1 = math talk grade 1) again this year! This is going to be my 4th year hosting this slow chat for grade one students. If you have participated before, welcome back! If you are new to #mtgr1, I'm looking forward to connecting my students with mathematicians around the world!

Here is how #mtgr1 works:
  1. Every Sunday night starting on September 11, I will Tweet an open-ended math problem of the week. Please follow me at @lekadegroot
  2. Please retweet to share the question with your PLN.
  3. Your students will share their thinking during the following week from Monday through Friday. Make sure their Tweets include the hashtag #mtgr1 so that everyone in the #mtgr1 community can view your students' responses.
  4. I encourage you to visit Tweets from other classes to discuss different ways to solve a problem or view math.
  5. Respond or leave a comment to other classes' ideas. 
  6. Follow classes that are participating to build your students' learning community.
You can read my post from last year HERE to see more details.

My focus for #mtgr1 this year is "math around us." I want my students to see the connections between math and their world. I want them to start seeing their surroundings through different set of eyes. But before start talking about math around us, I am curious to find out what our students think about math? Many students have told me their favorite subject was math in the past. What does math mean to them?  So, here is our first question of the year.

I believe this discussion will open our mathematicians' minds up for up-coming #mtgr1 math talks. I can't wait to read your students' ideas & thinking!

If you are planning on participating this year, please let me know a little bit about yourself by filling out this form.

You don't teach first grade? Don't worry! Follow @mcarlson110 for #mtgr2, and @firstatbat for #mtgr3.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Best App of the School Year Award

As I reflect on the school year 2015-16, I can think of many great things that happened in my classroom. My students and I had so much fun learning and grew together tremendously. And the best part was that my students were able to document their growth on their blog. Easyblog app allowed my 6 & 7 year old students to blog, create an ePortfolio, and share their voice with the world. The parents were seeing their child's learning at real time. So, I am giving this app a best app of the school year award!! 

Easyblog is truly the easiest blogging tool. When I first tried it out last summer, I couldn't be happier to find an app that young students could use independently. Do your students blog? Are you looking for an easy and FREE way to share your students' work with their parents? Well, Easyblog is your solution!

Check out the presentation slide that I created with Terry Stoufer, a second grade (soon to be a third grade teacher) teacher from Florida to learn more about blogging and see some examples of students' posts. Click HERE to visit their website.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Integrating Coding in Curriculum Areas

My students have been enjoying learning to code using curriculum and apps such as Kodable, the Foos and Scratch Jr. However, my ultimate goals are to integrate coding into curriculum areas to enhance students' learning as well as developing students' computational skills. Here are some plugged and unplugged (no device required) activities we have tried so far.

Math Connections
  • Ten Frame Subitizing (unplugged) --- Earlier this year when I first introduced ten frames, students worked on subitizing. They worked with a partner. One looked at a ten frame number and guided the partner to the corresponding number on a chart using body gesture. K-5 Computer Science Fundamentals

  • Bee-Bot Addition --- Students rolled two dice to add numbers. They programmed the Bee-Bot to land on the answer. Once they were successful they got to take the same number of connecting cubes. The team with most number of cubes won. The students figured out grouping cubes by 5s or 10s made it easy for them to keep track of points. This game can be adapted to practice subtractions or 3 number addition. It can also be done unplugged. Just use stuffed animals and arrows to program.

  • Making 10 Game (unplugged)

  • Dash Math --- For the 120th Day of school, these boys were driving Dash bot and adding all the numbers that Dash passed to get to 120. Clever!

Science Connection
After studying the water cycle in science, we tried coding the cycle using Scratch Jr. (We should have used "loop" for this!)

Language Arts Connections
  • Spelling with Dash --- The students programmed Dash to stop & change color on the letters to spell a mystery word. (ex. bow) 

Connecting with Coding
  • Loop Dance --- During the Hour of Code 2015, we created loop dances and exchanged with Michelle Flicek's (@mflicek1) class. We met via Google Hangout to try out each other's dance:)


  • Mystery location coding with Dash --- Read Jake Lee's (@TeachingJake) blog post HERE.

Creating & Teaching Coding Games

My students created unplugged & plugged games for a kindergarten class. They taught the kinder students how to play the game. Wow! What a great way to incorporate coding & collaboration! My first grade students worked hard to guide the kindergartners. The kindergarten students were very engaged!

Unplugged sight words game --- program a robot using arrows to a given word 
Bee-Bot 3D shape game --- Draw a card, program Bee-Bot to a matching shape
Unplugged Sight Words Matching Game --- Identify a sight word. Program a robot using arrows to the matching word.
Unplugged Beginning Sound Game --- Listen to a given word & identify its beginning letter. Program a robot using arrows to the corresponding letter.

I really enjoy incorporating coding into curriculum areas! Just like many people out there, I'm always trying to think of ways to fit it all in! Coding is not one more thing we teach! We can integrate it into other subject areas throughout the year.

Are you ready to get started? Here are some resources that you may find helpful.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Where is the Dragon? Coding Fun!

We are in the middle of Twitter book club on "My Father's Dragon." It's great to see many children & teachers enjoying this book. Read about the book club HERE.
One of the amazing teachers in my PLN, Michelle Flicek (@mflicek1) and I started brainstorming about connecting with coding this week. She had an great idea about combining "My Father's Dragon" and coding. She was wondering if we could use the Wild Island map and Dash robot. After a few minutes of conversation, here is what we have come up with.

"Where is the Dragon? Help Elmer find the Dragon!"

Our idea is to pick a location for the dragon to hide on the map, then program Dash = Elmer to get to the Dragon. Students will exchange the codes with another class via Twitter to find out where the dragon is hiding! When you receive the code, place Elmer on "Start" and program the code that was given. It should take him to the dragon. When you figure out the place, you can Tweet the class and ask... "Is the dragon hiding with Rhino?"
Here is how to create the grid & map of Wild Island.
It is a 5x5 grid + starting square. Each square is 7x7 inches
(Thanks Jake Lee @TeachingJake for this idea!)
Once you have the grid, copy this map so that we can place the animals in the same square.
Our plan is to have our students draw the animals as we read the story this week. So coding fun will begin after we finish the first book.

If you don't have Dash, don't worry! Try unplugged programming! You can use arrow cards such as below to navigate Elmer to the dragon! 
Click HERE to print out arrows. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"My Father's Dragon" Book Club 2016

Who is ready for the third annual "My Father's Dragon" book club? I sure am! We started this book club two years ago (read the original blog post HERE) and continued last year. We had about 30 classes joining last year to share incredible learning from reading this book. Here are some examples of Tweets.

Pretty incredible, right? So here is how it works this year.

1. Get the book "My Father's Dragon"  **You can find a free e-book at Epic.
2. Sign up HERE.
3. Starting on Monday, March 7,  read one chapter a day.
4. Share students' thinking & voice via Twitter at #1bc16  (You can Tweet as a class or have individual students Tweet. It is up to you.)
5. Read other classes' Tweets to learn together.

There are some resources and ideas posted in my last year's post.

Also check out Jen Olson's fantastic packet HERE.

If you choose to read two other books in the series, here is the schedule.

Book 2 "Elmer and the Dragon" --- Monday, April 4
Book3 "The Dragons of Blueland" --- Monday, April 25

I'm looking forward to learning with you all!

2016 Participating Classes

View My Father's Dragon Book Club 2016 in a full screen map