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.
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!
There once was a puppy named Melissa. Melissa had an owner named Ashlyn. They were perfect for each other. On Ashlyn’s birthday she and the puppy would blow out the candles together. When Ashyln would come home from school and her Mom opened the door handle the puppy would jump into her arms. When Ashyln tangled her hair Melissa would untangle it with her claws. Ashlyn taught the puppy to play marbles, bubbles, and waddle on her hind legs. The puppy never misbehaved. One day there was a fire at Ashlyn’s house. Ashlyn’s mom had gotten out of the house but Ashlyn was sleeping in the house. The puppy ran in the house and pulled Ashlyn out and started barking with excitement. Ashlyn’s mom and the puppy were happy Ashlyn was ok. From that day on the family was always careful with each other.
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.
School is back in session and we are back at school learning and working on our Common Core standards for 3rd grade. I know how excited the kids are after a long break and I wanted to give them a couple of opportunities to share in fun ways.
First I told the class they would get to be reporters and interview one another. I gave them some time to brainstorm questions then split them into A/B partners. Rather than just have them talk about their own breaks, I had them ask probing questions of their partner. After about 10 minutes of interviewing, they shared what they learned about the other person in pair presentations to the class. The students could then take one question each from the class about their own breaks. It went very smoothly and they students really enjoyed the experience. I was amused by some of the questions, though many of them were largely the same.
Being the new year I thought it was a good time for some thought on what my students wanted out of their 2015. I saw some cute ideas on Pinterest for posters kids made that had their hand and foot prints and things about them…a keepsake essentially. I thought I would make it more like resolutions/goals. I discussed the concept of resolutions and goals with the class and had them brainstorm on what things they wanted out of their 2015. I had several confused and simply stating things they wanted and I had to remind them that they were not making a gift list for next Christmas. I also had several not maximizing the poster I had given them and I had to explain the importance of visual appeal and readability. I have included my instructions as well as some of the best posters in the class.
I thought the posters turned out well despite confusions. I will display the posters in the class for a time then give them to the students so they can see how their 2015 turned out in the end and if they achieved some of the things they wanted from their 2015.