Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kidblog Avatar

I wanted to set up my students' avatar for their Kidblog account.  Since I love my first graders' art work, I decided to let them design their own avatar.  I gave my students choices of either drawing their avatar on iPad or on paper.

Those who chose to draw on iPad used the Doodle Buddy app.  They saved their work on the album.

 The students who drew a picture on paper took a picture of their work with the iPad so that their picture was saved on the album.

I showed them how to get into their profile on Kidblog to upload their avatar.

Now... this is where I encountered a problem.  Once they uploaded the avatar, they needed to crop their picture or adjust a cropping frame by clicking on little squares on a crop box.  HOWEVER, it did not work on iPad!!!  There was no way to click and drag the box...  When I was trying this out ahead of time, I was using my laptop so I was able to crop the avatar.

I had to think quick!  They ended up putting their avatar in a Dropbox file to send it to my laptop.  Then the students came to my laptop one by one to upload and crop their avatar.

It took longer than I planned, but I was impressed with how flexible my students were and able to upload their work on my Dropbox when things didn't go as I planned.  Now our Kidblog page look so much better!

By the way, I contacted Kidblog via Twitter regarding this problem.  LOVE Twitter!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Students Recording their Thinking on Padlet

We are currently studying rocks in my first grade classroom.  My students are to know three types of rocks and how they are formed by the end of this unit.  Past years I always read a book that explained three types of rocks to teach them what they were.  Since I have been enjoying listening to my students' thinking and learning this year, I decided to do something different to introduce three types of rocks.

I set up three stations.  Each station had a picture of rocks and a QR code.  My students looked at the picture and discussed what they saw and what kind of questions they had.  Then they scanned the QR code with the iPad, which led them to a Padlet wall.  The students recorded what they observed at each station on the wall.

And here are the Padlet walls with the students' thinking.

After completing the walls, we viewed a short video explaining three types of rocks.  My students were able to identify igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and label the stations with correct rock type.

Padlet was a fun way of gathering students' input.  I had three iPads going at each station.  They were able to write on the wall simultaneously without any problems.  It was a little tricky to get a text box to pop up.  They had to double tap on the screen, which they were not used to doing...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sharing Learning

I have been doing a lot of thinking about what I want my students to do with all the learning that they do every day.  Ever since we received 10 iPads in my classroom last fall, I have noticed a huge shift in one area of my teaching. I have realized that iPads can help my students' learning and thinking be more visible to EVERYONE.  Now EVERY student is showing their learning and sharing with parents and family at real time.  Not just with me, and not just those students who are willing to share.

So... why not have them share more of their learning? Here is what I am envisioning:

  • students talking about their learning with their peers
  • students taking ownership for their learning
  • students creating presentations to show their learning
  • students sharing their learning with the WORLD
How can we accomplish this?  I have decided to start small.  I am taking 30-40 minutes of a day twice a week for this sharing session.  Since I only have 10 iPads,  I will have half of the class work on creating sharing on one day, and the other half on next day.  I will give my students free choice of topic (math, science, social studies, literacy, etc.) and choice of app.

Today was my first day of sharing day.  I am happy with what I saw today.  My students didn't have any trouble picking a topic (phew! That means they are filled with learning, right?).  Here are some topics that they chose:
  1. Dillen chose to share what he wrote in his reading journal yesterday.  He made a "text-to-self" connection after listening to "Franklin and the Tooth Fairy"  He used a Tellagami app.

     2.  Ava and Madison worked together to explain the water cycle using Educreations. 
          They recorded a water cycle song. Love it!

    3.  Fran decided to make a web about air.  She used an app called Popplet.

What a great time we had!  I am very proud of my first graders!  
I just want a clever name for this sharing session, though... Do you have any good ideas?  I would appreciate it if you could leave an idea!

Friday, March 1, 2013

American Symbol Inquiry

Every Sunday night I enjoy chatting with #1stchat teachers on Twitter.  I always learn so much from them and get inspired to try something new.  A couple of weekends ago, our topic was inquiry.  I knew very little about inquiry, but when I heard all the amazing things that were happening in the #1stchat teachers' classrooms I knew it was time for me to jump in.  I visited Mrs. Wideen's blog and got an idea of how inquiry process flows.  Also this post showed each step in action.  I also ordered a book called "Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action." 

I knew that American symbol study was coming up, so I decided to give it a try.

First, I modeled how to list my schema about the American flag.  Each student wrote their schema on a Post-it note.

Then, I modeled how to come up with questions/wonders.  My students tried turn & talk with several partners to brainstorm some questions.

After these steps, I introduced four more American symbols:
1.  Statue of Liberty
2.  Liberty Bell
3.  Bald Eagle
4.  Great Seal
The students chose one symbol to research.
They did the first two steps of inquiry in their small group.  I was happy with the questions that they came up.

Next day, we watched a video about American Symbols on BrainPop Jr.  I read a book about the American symbols.  Finally I read a book about the American Flag.  I modeled how to use a table of contents to locate a section that may have information to answer our questions.  We found answers to the questions and recorded them on the chart.

In the afternoon, the groups researched their symbol by reading books, watching the BrainPop video again, and searching on internet.

The following day, we all went back to my American Flag research again to create a lesson using an iPad app Educreations.  I gave my students choices of app to publish their research, but all of them decided to use Educreations.

We viewed all groups' lessons to learn about the American symbols.  Everyone was so proud to share their production.  I love how some students sat up a little taller when it was their group's turn:)

Over all, my first inquiry circle went well.  What I was excited most about was seeing my students so motivated to research, collaborating to find information, and talking and helping each other to record their findings.

What I learned about inquiry is that I have to be prepared to provide a lot of resources, such as books, videos, and websites.  I feel that one of the challenges is to find enough books that are not too difficult for my first graders.

Well, will I try inquiry again?  Most definitely!!  Do you use inquiry in your classroom?  It would be great if you could share your ides!