Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Publishing Animal Research

Our animal inquiry unit has been bringing a lot of wondering, reading, researching on iPad, talking, discussing, writing and more talking in my classroom!

After going through an inquiry process as a whole group once, I let my students go!! They have been mostly working in a small group or in a pair to research.

This week we are onto the third animal of their choice!  This time, I asked them to publish what they researched on the iPad.  

First, the students searched the images to use in their book on Google.  I showed them how to do advanced search to find the images that are categorized as "free to use share or modify." They saved the images in the photo album on their iPads.  

They used Skitch app to label the body parts.

I suggested two apps for creating book pages. 

Pic Collage --- The pages have more traditional book look. The students enjoyed changing the background. 

Haiku Deck --- This was our first time using this app.  I love it! You can actually search images within the app. I think the pages look stunning! 

After completing all the pages, they saved the pages to the photo album/camera roll (They took a screen shot of Haiku Deck pages). uploaded them to 30hands app to record their voices.



They all posted the book on their blog.  We had a little viewing session and learned from each other.

Here is a link to our class blog.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Skype! Skype! Skype! Twitter!

My class has been having a blast learning math with Karen Lirenman's  (@KLirenman) class via Skype and Twitter.  A few weeks ago when we were studying 3D shapes, our students exchanged shape riddles through Skype calls.  Last week, we started asking and answering math story problems to each other on Skype.

Ms. Lirenman's class was also Tweeting math story problems.  My class thought it was great to be able to Tweet back the answers.  But then, one student asked me why we couldn't Tweet a problem also.  Well, that was an excellent question!  Of course!!

So...what's so great about Skype and Twitter?  In my class (and Ms. Lirenman's class), Skype and Twitter are one of the choices for practicing their math skills.  Therefore, the students who participate in these activities are intrinsically motivated to work on math and are willing to share the journey with others.  Also, as I stated above, my class was inspired by another first grade class to do more than I expected.  It was my students who WANTED to write a story problem to share with the world! I also think that by connecting through Skype and Twitter, my students' world is so much broader than my world when I was 7 years old.  When I talk about sharing, in their mind it's not just within our classroom but they are thinking about the world!  

Speaking of broadening the students' world, one of my students and my son had a great opportunity last week.  It all started with this Twitter post.
I was so impressed with this sixth grader's creation on Google Earth and asked Avia if I could have Jason teach us how he created his story. Jason's Google Earth Story
Thanks to Aviva for her open mind and flexibility, two first graders in Iowa and Jason who lives in Canada were connected via Skype the following week. 

Look at their proud faces:)  I decided to choose these boys since they both love to write, but they are somewhat stuck in the Spongebob and Minecraft world:) What a perfect opportunity it was for them to learn a new tool and idea for writing!  Jason was very patient with the boys throughout the process even though it took them a while to complete a sample project.  He was a rock star!  I also have to thank our school technology integrationist, Mrs. Sievert (@valsievert) for being there to support the boys. They are working on their new writing project right now.  I hope to post their stories here when they complete them.

This Skype thing has got me and my students hooked!  Today we even tried Skype math sessions with another first grade class in our school (two doors down:)!  We tried a new app called Whiteboard Lite.

We connected two iPads through this app so that the students were able to see what each other was writing and how they were solving the problems.  It added one more fun aspect to the Skype math:)

Also another wonderful teacher I have got to know through Twitter, Amy Rudd (@aruddteacher100) had a brilliant idea to play "I have... Who has...?" on Twitter.  Now, how clever is that?  I introduced it to my students today, and they were all over it! Can't wait to see what comes next:)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Record Learning & Stay Connected with Today's Meet

Record Learning!

I absolutely love my Twitter #1stchat PLN friends. They introduced me to Today's Meet a few weeks ago.  I have used Padlet and Lino to record their schema and wonders before, and they worked great.  The first idea to incorporate Today's Meet to my lesson was to do the same.  So I decided to give it a try.

We started an animal unit in science.  My students are expected to research and write reports on various animals.  This week I modeled how the research process goes.  The research subject was camels!

Another exciting thing that I learned this year form #1stchat PLN is an inquiry approach.  So I first had my students record their schema and wonders on camels.  Since my students are used to recording their thoughts on Padlet, I posted the QR codes for a schema and wonder page on the wall in the morning.  The students were asked to record what they know and want to know about camels during the Daily 5 or math free choice time.

I was impressed with how efficiently my students recorded their thoughts. When we started our science time, all the recording was done! I remember not liking filling out a KWL chart because it took a long time going through students one by one, and it was a lot of just sitting and listening for young students.

After this process, we read books and watched short video clips on camels.  Then my students recorded what they learned on Today's Meet.  

 We kept revisiting the Padlet walls and Today's Meet when we filled out a web to organize our learning.  I felt that it was easier for us to read what they wrote on Today's Meet. 

Stay Connected!
On Friday, I had to be away from my classroom.  When I work on a sub plan, I try to make things as simple yet meaningful as possible.  I decided to show a DVD on animal adaptations and have them record their learning on Today's Meet.  I left the QR code for an easy access to the Meet.  I had to smile when I read what they said while I was away.  I could just see my students talking with partners and typing their learning.

I felt pretty connected with my class even though I was not in my classroom:)  Now, I could have joined their conversation if I could join them real time, right?  We will revisit their learning on Monday to discuss more about animal adaptations.

Your Ideas?
So far I have only tried using Today's Meet with my class.  I know it's possible to collaborate with another class on Today's Meet.  That would be fantastic!  Do you have a good idea for collaboration?  We will be learning a lot about animals.  If your class want to post wonders of a certain animal, my students could try answering questions.  Leve me a comment if you are interested meeting us on Today's Meet!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fractions Web on Popplet

I have to confess that fractions are not my favorite math concept to teach to first graders. To get myself excited about fractions, I had to bring in... FOOD!!  After my students explored equal parts with play dough, paper shapes, and white board drawing, I decided that they were ready for real sharing!

The students were to show me whole, half and quarter or fourth of the food items.  We had:

  • sliced cheese
  • cheese sticks
  • cookies
  • vanilla wafers                                 ** They used frosting to "cut" the cookies and wafers.

The students worked with a partner.  They had a choice of app to record their learning.  

Today, they ALL chose Popplet.  (They never all choose the same app!!)

One challenge that some students encountered was to cut a wafer into 4 equal parts.  Some struggle to know how many times they need to cut to get 4 pieces. They worked together and eventually figured it out:)