As the school year winds to a close there were just a few things I wanted to share with you.
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.
Monday, May 25th is Memorial Day and there is no school
Tuesday, May 26th is Semester Awards & 3rd Grade Game Day. Letters with more information about the Semester Awards will be sent home next week.
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.
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 email@example.com or send me a message on ClassDojo. Thank you for a wonderful year!
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!
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Please make sure your child is at school and on time, have had a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast. There are practice tests online which we will be using in class and in the lab. You are welcome to use them with your child at home. You do not need to input any information, you can use the practice tests with “GUEST” in the fields. All you will need is to select your child’s grade level.
My class has recently begun to investigate women for women’s history month. As a teacher, much of what I do is based on my own experiences as a student as well as my professional training and work experience. One topic of importance to me is choice. As a student the ability to choose was huge for me. A teacher being interested in my thoughts was important. I did my best in those sort of student centered classrooms. As a result I often ask my students for their opinions and their thoughts on what we study, and take those into consideration when planning. I have always preferred democracy in my room, but it certainly isn’t a pure democracy. I am the teacher and I have to decide on what is best for my students even if it goes against the popular opinion of the class. It would be foolish of me to do whatever they want to do, as clearly not ALL ideas from 9 year olds are the best ones.
So here we are on the subject of women’s history, and like I typically do, I allow my students to choose, after a class discussion on the topic and a couple of Brain Pop videos to give them ideas. I was immediately bombarded with requests for Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Zendaya, Becky G, Jessie J…and I was immediately concerned. My knee jerk reaction was to not allow those and I did reject only one (Nicki Minaj) because I felt she would pose content that may be inappropriate for children. On the whole I was conflicted about it considering contemporary entertainers. It is false to think that only women from the past who have made social change in some way are the only ones worth studying. Entertainers have done many great things and I did not want to rule them out. At the same time I wanted to be sure my students had a subject who would have published material about her life and her accomplishments. I ruled out a few others who, while I did not recognize their names (and I am pretty hip for an old lady) a brief search did not provide much detail on them.
The theme of Women’s History Month 2015 is “Weaving the Story of Women’s Lives.” Students need to recognize a woman’s contributions to the past or present. That is pretty broad. We are in the beginning research phases of this project and I have already had some students change their subject, mainly because they could not locate enough information on the person to complete the planner I had given them.
At the moment we still have a rather interesting combination of women, that include Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Helen Keller, Hillary Clinton, Danica Patrick, Judy Blume, and Eva Peron. I enjoy supporting the choice of my students and I am looking forward to their writing and projects.
This month I worked with the class on our social studies project for Black History Month, which was a contest hosted by the Fontana Teachers Association. (Unfortunately I was unable to attend the awards ceremony so I do not have complete results. As soon as I do I will update this post to reflect them.) There were 4 categories and I entered the following students:
Tied for 1st: Denise and Brandon
2nd Place: Bella
VISUAL ARTS (POSTER)
Third Place in Visual Arts: Wyatt
VIDEOS(PaperSlides – Links to the videos are private and can be provided to parents if they contact me.)
The Fontana Teacher’s Association has announced their next contest and it is Women’s History Month (March 2015). I have spoken with the class about this and have begun to get them thinking on who they would like to become an expert on. I am providing you the information I have received from the FTA so that you can better support your child as they investigate who they would like to select for this social studies project. I have instructed the class that I will not be asking them who they have selected until Monday, March 2nd. No two students will investigate the same person, so we have a variety of women studied. This project will be completed by Thursday, March 19th.
I came across an excellent article on Scholastic regarding Women’s History Month that I will be using to aid in guiding the class on their selections. This article directed me to The Makers website, which is an incredible resource for information and inspiration.
I am requiring that each student write an essay on the woman they have selected to research. Then the students will work on either a PaperSlide video, Board Builder, or poster to coincide with their writing. This IS NOT a homework assignment. This is classwork we will be doing in the area of Language Arts, Social Studies and Technology. I am asking for as much support as possible in aiding your child at home as they research and build their projects.
The woman your child selects to report on need not be from the United States. The theme for this work is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives” and is not specific to the US.
On a related note, we had quite the showing at the Black History Month awards held this week, with many of our students placing! Regretfully I was not able to attend, but I have requested a list of who placed in each category and will be posting that here as soon as I know. If your child’s digital work was submitted (PaperSlide video or Board Builder) and you would like to see it, please contact me. Essays and posters are presently not in my possession, but as soon as they are returned to me I will send them home with your child.
Please do not hesitate in contacting me via Class Dojo, email or in the comments below. Thank you in advance for your assistance and support!
I just wanted to share an app I found to use with the class for our work with fractions (it will also work with decimals and percents, so it will certainly come in handy for more than one use.)
The app is simply called “Virtual Manipulatives” and is absolutely free.
I found the app very intuitive and easy to use. I demonstrated it with the class today as we compared fractions. I will have them using it on my Apple tablets as I am able. (I wish I had 31 tablets so they could each use it during a lesson!) I did look for this app in the Google Play store on my Android tablet, and unfortunately it was not available. There was one called “Equivalence Tiles” (also free) but it is not as nice as “Virtual Manipulatives.” It does get the job done though if you need manipulatives to help your child with their fraction work.
The interface and usability was perfect and made the app very fun to use. The kids were excited to see it and definitely made the fraction lesson a whole lot more fun.
Please don’t hesitate to message me on Class Dojo, send me an email, or make a comment below if you have any questions.