Posted in Educational Technology

Coding for All!

Computer science, robotics, and coding are very much the hot topic in education these days, so why not make coding accessible for all?? I just know my dogs Fiona, Dot, and Ryker would LOVE to learn to code. Ryker just completed his very first obedience class, so I am sure he is ready for coding! Thank you Wonder Workshop! #dogscancode

Happy April Fools Day!

Posted in Educational Technology

The First Several Weeks

It has been some time since I posted on my site. I have wanted to post, but have been uncertain as to what I wanted to post and what direction I wanted my site to go in now that I am out of the classroom.

Adjusting to leaving 16 years in the elementary classroom was an experience I could really not prepare for. I have gone from a highly structured day to one that is much more free form and full of meetings and collaboration. I also left a classroom environment. My classroom was my home way from home, my rather large office, and something that was mine. I had a great deal of control over my classroom. Presently I am in a space that is nothing like a classroom, and while nice, it doesn’t feel the same. I think in making this transition that was something I worried about the most. The space I live and work in is very important and has a good deal to do with my mental well being.

One view of my new work space
One view of my new work space
Another view of my new workspace
Another view of my new work space

I will have to share more images of what my work space looks like now. It is certainly less sterile and more organized looking. It is a communal space shared with two other Linked Learning TOAs. It is a temporary location and I am looking forward to seeing where we really end up and what it will be like when two more TOAs are brought on to complete our team.

Logistics aside, I have done a fair amount of learning. I hope to get some additional posts up soon focused on the trainings I have attended and how the information learned might work into the elementary classroom. My plan for my site as this point is to post my reflections and learnings and hope it might entertain and/or educate those who care to read.

Posted in Apple Applications, Class News, DGE Events, Educational Technology

Computer Science Week

The class is eager to begin coding!

This week is Computer Science Week and to celebrate, Dorothy Grant Elementary is participating in the Hour of Code. Yesterday my class had a special lab time to explore programming and they had a blast!

Matthew G & Jaythan work together on a bit of Minecraft coding.
Matthew G & Jaythan work together on a bit of Minecraft coding.
Madelyn explains how to do some coding to Samantha.
Madelyn & Samantha work together.
Dalia and Malachi explore coding together.
Dalia and Malachi explore coding together.
Brandon is excited to have completed his Hour of Code.
Brandon is excited to have completed his Hour of Code.

I shared the Code.org website with them and there they got to choose from three tutorials: Star Wars, Minecraft, or Frozen. I had them share their selection with the class via an Edmodo poll and after the hour in the lab, they were to return to my post in Edmodo to share their experiences.

edmodo poll snapshot

edmodo post 1

edmodo post 2

The Hour of Code website has been added to the class website on the “After School Links” page. I also wanted to take a moment to share Tynker, one of the more widely known coding apps for tablets. I know it is available in the App Store (for Apple devices) for free and it may be in the Google Play store as well. I will be installing it on the classroom tablets this weekend for the class to continue exploring coding. I recommend it for any personal tablets for students who particularly enjoyed the coding experience.

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Posted in Class News, Educational Technology

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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Posted in Class News, Educational Technology

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

Posted in Educational Technology, My Opinion

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!

Posted in Educational Technology

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!

Posted in Educational Technology

New Apps!

Just before Spring Break I went to the CUE conference (CUE = Computer Using Educators). I have been to this conference before, but had taken some time off. I was so glad to be back. At CUE you learn a lot about what other teachers and schools are doing with technology in their classrooms.

Part of my time at CUE experience was spent in an iPad Academy, where we learned about some great apps to use with students. I introduced the class to two of those today.

TellegamiOne of the apps I shared was Tellegami. It has free and paid ($4.99) versions. The paid version gets you the full app with a few more backgrounds to choose from. Tellegami is a fun way to share stories and messages. Essentially the user customizes an avatar, selects a background (or uses one of their own) and can record their own voice or use one of the voices included in the app. I am having the class share their Spring Break stories this way and will share some of them when they are done. I encouraged the class to try this app at home if they have a tablet. Tellegami works on both Apple and Android tablets.

Word CloudsThe other app I shared was Word Clouds (Apple only, though if you search “Word Cloud” in the Google Play store, the first app that comes up is very much like Word Clouds). With Word Clouds, students can make word art out of their writing. I will be having students type their stories into Word Cloud and creating word art to display in the classroom. I will share some of their work here as well as soon as they are done. Word Cloud is a free app.

The class was VERY excited to try these new apps and I did encourage them to try them at home if possible, as well as to email me what they create. As a reminder my email is ruizmy@fusd.net.

Enjoy!

Posted in Apple Applications, Class News, Classroom Ideas, Educational Technology

Our Avatars!

The class has been so excited to create their avatars, so of course I have to share them all! Each one of these was created by the individual student one of 3 of my own iPads that I bring to school to share with them, because I believe in the power of technology to engage and inspire.

Posted in Apple Applications, Classroom Ideas, Educational Technology

Avatars!

In an effort to make the class website and online activities more fun, I have decided to have the class make avatars of themselves that I can use when sharing their work publicly while protecting their identities. We are using the free iOS app called “Avatar Creator” in the Apple App Store. I did look in the Google Play store for it for those students who may have an Android tablet at home and was unable to find it. Students are welcome to use the app at home on their Apple devices and email me (ruizmy@fusd.net) their avatars. Students are taking turns on my iPads making them in class, but not all will get to make them today and some students may want to play more with this at home. Stay tuned for our collection of creative avatars!

Avatar Creator iOS

Avatars

Mrs. Ruiz
Mrs. Ruiz