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Drawing to a Close

Hello Families!

As the school year winds to a close there were just a few things I wanted to share with you.

  1. Mrs. Luna shared with the staff of DGE a local tech camp opportunity for grades 3-9 at Cal State San Bernardino called TechXploration. I plan on enrolling my son for it and it sounds like a great, inexpensive and local opportunity to enhance 21st Century Skills in our students.
  2. Our last class book order will be placed today. If you would still like to order something for your child, please order online as soon as possible.
  3. Our last week of school is May 25-28, 2015
    1. Monday, May 25th is Memorial Day and there is no school
    2. Tuesday, May 26th is Semester Awards & 3rd Grade Game Day. Letters with more information about the Semester Awards will be sent home next week.
    3. Wednesday, May 27th is our class party and whole class reward lunch. Students are welcome to bring treats to share, but please keep our healthy foods policy in mind.
    4. Thursday, May 28th is our last day of school and also Tech Day. Students are allowed to bring tech to school with parent permission, wear pajamas, bring blankets and stuffed animals.

I will be sending a more detailed letter home about our final week of school very soon. If you have any questions, please email me at ruizmy@fusd.net or send me a message on ClassDojo. Thank you for a wonderful year!

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A Visit from President Obama


Barack Obama

Today we had a webinar with the President of the United States, Barack Obama. After the Jane Goodall experience, the class was very excited to have another well known visitor in our classroom. President Obama spoke on the importance of literacy and technology in classrooms across the country. While we watched the live stream, educators and students all over the world were talking on Twitter and you can see that conversation by searching #ofthepeople on Twitter.

I once again asked my students for their thoughts on the experience:

“I like how the President wanted everyone to have a library card.” – Nathan

“I learned that you can not get distracted from your school work because it takes time away from your learning.” – Elena C

“I liked that our President told us about his life.” – Therese

“I learned that President Obama likes Dr. Seuss books, science books and dinosaur books.” – Audrey

“I felt like the President was actually in our class with us.” – Clarissa

“I learned that some people don’t have library cards and President Obama will give them one for free.” – Madelyn

“I liked the part where the boy hurried the President up when he was answering a question.” – Andrew

“My cousins live in Washington D.C., just like the President.” – Xiomara

“I can’t believe we got to see the President live! It was such a cool opportunity.” – Amanda

“I like President Obama because he is trying to help everyone.” – Brandon

“I wonder what Barack Obama will do when he is done being President.” – Wyatt

“I learned that people didn’t always have the technology we have today.” – Xander

“I learned that President Obama wrote two books about his childhood.” – Denise

“I think President Obama is a good person and a good President.” – Daniel

“I liked how honest and kind the President was.” – Koral

“I enjoyed the webinar today because I got to meet a famous person and didn’t have to leave my classroom.” – Jorge

“It was amazing that kids like us got to talk to the President of the United States.” – Dalia

“I learned that reading is good for you.” – Jacob

“I liked how the President asked kids how they do things.” – Chijioke

You can view the recorded webinar on Discovery Education. We only have another month of school and I hope to bring in a few more virtual field trips and virtual visitors before school is out for the summer.

In addition to the webinar, I asked the class to explore an app I had shown them earlier in the week that I am considering for more use in the next school year, Paper 53. They created the following drawings to go along with their Presidential webinar experience:

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Webinar with Dr. Jane Goodall

 

Jane Goodall

My class had a special treat today…a webinar with Dr. Goodall offered by TIME for Kids. I didn’t tell them until very close to the time of the webinar out of concern that our technology might not hold up and even warned them that may be a possibility to lessen any possible disappointment. I am happy to report that our technology did hold up and they got to experience their first webinar. They were completely thrilled and fascinated. One of my students had done her project for Women’s History Month on Dr. Goodall and was completely surprised she would actually get to “meet” the subject of her project.

my class at the webinar

My class learned a lot of amazing things. Here is a bit of what they wrote for me as they reflected on the experience:

“…Jane Goodall was amazing! Who doesn’t love watching a famous person? I never knew chimpanzees used tools or acted like people do.” – Angel

“I think the webinar with Jane Goodall was interesting because it was my first time experiencing that. It was cool because I learned things I didn’t know like it is legal to stay in the jungle and hang out with animals.” – Amanda

“I liked that we could watch Jane Goodall from our classroom and not get on a bus.” – Jesse

“Jane Goodall’s advice for us was to always follow the rules and never give up. I liked seeing the photos of her with the chimpanzees.” – Audrey

“I am a fan of Jane Goodall and it was really cool to be able to see her! I was so happy to see her I thought I might explode!” – Freedom

“Jane Goodall wants to help chimanzees and people all over the world.” -Bella

“I think Jane Goodall is very smart. I liked that she never gave up on her dreams even though she was laughed at.” -Wyatt

“I think the Jane Goodall interview was awesome. I felt that she was giving advice that made me feel experienced.” – Therese

“The webinar was very interesting and amazing. It was like Jane Goodall was right in our classroom with us.” -Xiomara

“I thought it was cool that we got to learn about Ms. Goodall and that she answered questions from kids across the country.” – Denise

“Jane Goodall and I have something in common – we both love animals.” Clarissa

“I thought Jane Goodall was very nice and kind. I think living in the wild would be scary, but seeing chimpanzees would be cool.” – Elena D.

“The webinar with Jane Goodall was pretty amazing…like her life with the chimpanzees…and how many people were online for her talk.” -Koral

I got to watch the conversation during the webinar on Twitter and I invite you to read the posts under #janegoodall and #edwebchat. You can also see my favorite tweets from that hour by following me @dgeruiz.

The entire experience was amazing not only for my students but for me as their teacher and seeing the power of educational technology at work and being able to connect with such a monumental public figure. I hope we can do many more of these webinars to bring the world and its people to my students.

Related Links:

TIME for Kids – Tanzania

The Jane Goodall Institute

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots

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Reflections on Technology

TechnologyInEducation

If you know me well at all, you know how passionate I am about Educational Technology. If you are a colleague of mine, then you have likely heard me go on and on about how much more technology my students need. I love watching my students work with technology, on their own and in groups. The room just feels “right” when they are in that mode, not listening to me go on and on about any given subject, but rather using what I have shared with them to interact hands on and collaborate with their peers. That is what learning should be.

We have been working on pictographs (or picture graphs as our new Common Core text refers to them) with my 3rd graders. Typically this is not a hard concept for 3rd graders to learn, but I saw an opportunity to easily infuse some technology so I did. I thought it would be more meaningful for my students if they made their pictographs on the computer rather than drawing them out by hand. Now that our school finally has a second computer lab, we can go to the lab once a week again. So I taught the pictograph lesson and worked through the related workbook pages with the class and told them they would demonstrate their understanding of the concept in the computer lab. They were very excited.

I have gotten more comfortable with creating screencasts (tutorials) and thought I would give it a go. I created two for them…one on how to make a table in MS Word and another on how to save to a flash drive. I reviewed both with them in class, and made them available via Discovery Education’s Board Builder as students do not have access to YouTube in my district. The steps were outlined in the Board Builder I prepared along with the videos, so students could watch the tutorials as often as they liked. It was amazing to watch them in the lab. I had several students that were right on the mark, watching videos, trying it themselves, and helping others who were confused. I have never been a teacher to demand silence when students work (apart from silent reading) as I know communication is a must when collaborating, and the noise in the lab was all relevant and on task. Students were engaged and working hard at making their pictographs.

After we returned to class I asked them how they felt about things, because I feel reflection and feedback are important. I braced myself for them saying they hated it, but it was quite the contrary. They enjoyed it, some found it easy, others found it hard and challenging, but one of my students made a comment the class didn’t understand, especially my “gamers.” She said she felt making her own pictograph in MS Word was more fun than playing a video game. Many students expressed their surprise at this statement, but I had her explain. The gist of her meaning was that she got to create something on the computer, instead of just play a game. I found this not only deeply meaningful, but it supports my long held belief of why technology in the classroom is so important and so much more than “drill and kill” software programs. Students need to create, they WANT to create and we need to provide them the technology to be able to do so. Allowing them to create to demonstrate their understanding of the material they have been taught is so important to their lifelong learning and retention of information.

My class did so well with Word and pictographs that next week in the lab they will be learning how to make bar graphs in Excel!

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Music in the Classroom

SKETCHY I love music

I came across an interesting infographic in response to whether or not music played in the classroom (not music instruction, but music as background to work) has any affect on student achievement. There have been many reports on this over the years, and to be honest I have let my own experience as an elementary educator dictate my position on the subject. I have played music in my classroom for years and the students love it. I play all kinds of music while my students work ranging from classical to acoustic, from smooth jazz to blues, and music based on the calendar, like winter and St. Patrick’s Day. I enjoy sharing different genres of music with my students and they enjoy it as well. It sets a tone in my classroom that I feel makes it less sterile and more like home. I have never had a student complain and have even had a parent comment that her son studies better at home now that he plays classical music while he works. As far as I am concerned, music in the classroom most certainly has a place and benefits students not only in terms of academic achievement, but in terms of mood and state of mind. Of course the type of music plays a factor, I tend to play music without lyrics and not too loudly. Lately I have been playing modern music that has been remade with classical instruments and no lyrics. The students enjoy listening and recognizing the tune. On the whole music in my classroom adds to the fun and enjoyment of school.

MUSIC & LEARNING Infographic

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Spring Break Gamis

The class was excited to get their Spring Break Gamis done today. They used the writing I had them do earlier in the week about their Spring Break, and then the new app I showed them called Tellegami (see previous post for more about Tellegami). They had a lot of fun customizing their Gamis and typing in their stories. It was interesting to observe them taking a closer look at their writing as they typed it into the app. They were correcting previously unnoticed mistakes (their writing had already been peer edited), and noticing when their typing wasn’t right as they listened to their Gamis read their work. We talked about the importance of punctuation and spacing when we are typing as we listened to Gamis that spoke too quickly (poor punctuation) and Gamis that whose pacing was nearly perfect (correct use of punctuation and spacing in their typing). Some of the students had drawn their own backgrounds and were excited to have their Gamis stand in front of their work. Unfortunately we did not get everyone to finish today due to limited technology and time, but those who did not have a chance today are encouraged to finish at home and email me (ruizmy@fusd.net) their Gami. I will also be giving time on Monday to those who could not finish today. The Gamis are shareable for parents that wish to share them with family as no private student information is revealed apart from their first names.

SPRING BREAK GAMI PLAYLIST

Enjoy!