Thursday, October 30, 2014

1st 9 Weeks in the Books!

Normally when I blog,  I enjoy showing off student work, projects or other awesomeness that we are doing on our campus. However, this blog is a little different. I want to brag on the team that I get to work with everyday. They are simply awesome. Today was the first day that we got to work together as a team on accomplishing a task. I am always in their classes working with them individually, however, today was the first day that we got to sit down and catch up on some thing as a group. One of them told me today, "Andres, you are one of the most patient people that I know!" That made me feel really good because everyone that I work with is on a different skill level technology wise. I cannot say enough good things about my team. I am truly blessed to work with them!

Short Stories with Popplet and Explain Everything

My second graders and their teacher are rocking things in class! The past two days the teacher and his students had been using Popplet and Explain Everything to create and record graphic organizers with a short story. The first day students were to collect their thoughts via Popplet. On day 2 students had to import their picture into Explain Everything and record themselves telling the story. It's funny how students get so shy when they are recording something but can be ever so loud when talking in the lunchroom!! :) I also found that this group of students that I work with are perfectionists!! Time after time they will go back and re-record things to make sure they are properly done which I think is great as long as they stay in the boundaries of the time given.

Here is a sample of one that was created:


Thursday, October 23, 2014

There's a FIRST time for everything!

As you might have already known from previous posts- I have a tendency to come up with ideas at the last minute and share them with the teacher on a last minute notice. I have been getting better with that, but there are sometimes that I cannot help it! Yesterday was one of those times! I had come by my 1st grade teacher's classroom to see if I could work in stations with them. This teacher said yes so I went to go get my things. We had been working in an app called "Sound-O-Scope" in which the app lets you record your voice. Once the voice is recorded the student could then email their sound clip to the teacher. Once the file was emailed to the teacher, I would then go and then forward it to myself, download the file and then take pix of the pages of the book. Sounds time consuming right? It WAS! As I was walking into this teacher's class I decided that I was going to mix it up a little and use iMovie. iMovie with a first grade class you might say?? It wasnt as difficult as I thought it would be! The teacher wanted them to talk about the plot and solution of a story, so sure enough they found pictures in book they had read and snapped them in iMovie. From there, they recorded their voice over it using the microphone tool. Once they were comfortable and confident in what they were saying, we exported it out to the teacher's Google Apps YouTube channel. This was a first for this class and lets just say that myself, the teacher and the students were really excited about it! I am still working on removing the Ken Burns effects from iMovie (where it automatically zooms into a photo) but I think this will be my choice of app when it comes to re-telling anything!! Check out the clip that our first graders made!

3-2-1 ACTION!

All this week I had been prepping my 5th grade students to use iMovie with an experiment that they had coming up today. For me, I had shown them just a few tools such as how to insert and remove a picture, along with shortening the time of a picture. Long story short I wanted to show them the essentials to what they would need to make a movie. Today was the day that we actually used the iPads with the group. I emphasized to the student that this particular lesson wasnt necessarily all about the iPad but it would be a tool in their overall completion of the project. Students were learning about conductors and insulators of electricity in which they would have a size D battery, electrical wire, a light bulb and other items such as a marshmallow or ping pong ball to test. When students got to the stage of trying to complete the circuit, students took the iPad and used iMovie to a)record the student explaining what they were doing and if the item they were testing was an insulator or conductor. When they were done explaining, the student then took a picture of the item either with the light-bulb lit up or not lit. It sounded like an easy concept but students really wanted to be perfect in their videos! It was so good to hear and see conversations directed at learning! To make things even better, all of these conversations were student lead!  To help the teacher, I created a rubric (with the help of another awesome co-worker) to show the students what they would need to achieve a certain grade. Feel free to use it! Once the students were done we uploaded it directly to the teacher's Google Apps YouTube account (set to private view or else I'd show one!) All in all, I think both the teacher and the students really enjoyed integrating iMovie into their lesson today!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 Frame in Explain Everything

I have been really eager to work with my 1st grade teachers lately! They are starting 10-Frame word problems (adding as or now) in which they use counters to figure out a word problem. For example, a word problem might read: "John had 10 marbles, his mom gave him 3 more. How many does he have now?" Rather than using another page in an anchor chart, I wanted to spice up this lesson using technology. As mentioned many times before, my "go-to" app is Explain Everything, and for this lesson it was no different. Using the "line tool" I created my 10 frame box. Actually, scratch that-- one of my teachers was really interested in creating a template with math problems so I let HER do the work. Anyways, after she was done creating the 10 frame she then came up with 5 word problems. She then created the proper amount of markers (dots) per problem. Once she was done, we logged into our Google Account in which we saved the template. Today was the day that the students logged in as the teacher (we gave the student the email address and we put the password in.) They then download the template onto their iPad and the teacher could then begin the lesson. Once they students were done working out the problems we then showed them how to export them back into the teacher's Google Drive so that they could grade later on. It was so awesome to see our kids and teachers work on this together! To kick it up a notch, next time, we plan to use the video feature so that they can say their number sentence. I am so proud of my First Grade teachers and students!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Peer Feedback- Students CRAVE it!

So today I was scheduled to roll out to two 5th grade classes. I had went through the checklist, verified everything with the teacher and was set to go. (Keep in mind, this was the first time I had worked with this teacher or her kids with technology this year.) Anyways, they had been reading this book called "Wonder"  in their ELA class. I am honestly not too sure what it is about but from what I have heard, it is really good and can connect with the students. Anyways, as the students were responding to the blog, I had noticed a few things: First, they were completely silent while working! I usually encourage casual conversation but they were really focused on writing a quality response. The other thing that I noticed is that they had finished much quicker than a previous class had. At first, I thought they might had been possibly bluffing their way through their response, but once I started reading them, most of them were of really good quality! As the students were finishing up, they kept asking, "What do I do now??" To myself I was like, "Uh... I don't know? The other classes never had a chance to finish!" However, I wanted to try something with this group. I told them that once they had submitted their work back to the teacher they were allowed to leave a constructive comment on another student's response. I quickly told them how a response should look, sound feel. It wasn't long before that, students were really taking the time to actually read other student's responses and leave comments on their posts! I think this drove the teacher a bit nuts because she had to keep mass-approving comments on top of her trying to leave teacher feedback on student work as well! She didn't mind at all though! There were honestly a couple of times where both myself and the other teacher had to hold back tears because of the fact that one of the characters of the book related to the student. This student was pretty detailed in how close of a relationship they had with a family member in which they lost not too long ago. They way the person passed away was very similar to the way a member in the book had died. When this person posted that, other students started encouraging her and saying really nice things to her! The classroom teacher and I were at a loss for words. Literally speechless! We kept telling each other that "This would never have happened if a student was to just write it in a standard ELA journal!"  We had other similar instances just like this today, but this one seemed really special to me. I think students crave peer to peer feedback. Besides the fact of students encouraging each other, they really voiced their opinions on whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the other students in a civilized way! It was a proud day for us all!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kidblog Rollout Advice

To ensure roll-outs are a success once I am in the classroom, here are a few things I do before introducing it to a class:

-Power on all laptops.
-Log in with generic sign-ins
-Launch Firefox or Chrome (I use Firefox with Kidblog) on each laptop.
-Refuse imports from any other browser (only happens when Firefox is launched for the first time) on each laptop.
-Set the default webpage to:  on each laptop. A symbaloo page is basically a tiled page where you can insert various sites.
-Close the browser, then launch Firefox again to make sure it goes to my Symbaloo page. You’d be surprised how many do not “stick” the first time.

Kidblog Wise I:
-Ask for a student roster of AM and PM classes from the teacher.
- Create actual kidblog account for the teacher. I create their usernames and passwords.
-To upload kids, I use the .CSV file to batch them, meaning that I type all usernames and passwords in an Excel spreadsheet and let the site process them. I personally use their first names only. I set the passwords as: “password1” “password2” etc. This also helps me keep track of which laptop is assigned to which student.
-I also create a dummy student account (Joe Cool) so that I can show a class what it looks like from a student’s end.
-I try to get the writing prompt ahead of time from the teacher-I will do the first one for them, after that it is up to them to add content.

On the day of the rollout I:
(For 4th and 5th) I turn it into a mini challenge. I tell them “Your task is to figure out how to log in to the computer and launch Firefox” I give them about 5 minutes to do so- it usually takes a while for the laptops to start up.
-I explain what a blog is- I’ll show them my ME one. I go over things like why I blur out their faces, etc.
-Logged in as Joe Cool, I read the teacher’s question and respond in complete sentences, etc.
-I also show them the spell check feature in FF. I tell them that they need to try their best with spelling the word and to use spell check as needed.
-I submit my work as Joe Cool, then switch over and log in as the teacher and show students how I have to approve each comment. I stress privacy as well!
- I then show the teacher how to “mass approve” comment/responses instead of going one by one.
-Finally I leave comments on student work. They really enjoy reading responses made by their teachers and classmates.

Mini Challenges that turned out HUGE!

Yesterday was the first time that I had an opportunity to meet with my Digital Learning Team for an entire day. It was so good to bounce ideas off of each other and to see the progress we had made in only a month. For the past couple of weeks, one of my teachers had been focused on doing mini-challenges in her classroom. A mini-challenge is basically a task you give a student in which they have to figure out how to do on their own. This makes an excellent time for students to "press buttons" in apps and see what various tools do. Anyways, the goal for today was for students to pair up with partners and create a voice recording in which they talked about a weather instrument. From there, they would have to figure out how to make this happen. For about the first 3 minutes students kept coming up to ask us how to do certain things, but our responses were pretty much, "Figure it out on your own!" As some might see this as rejection, I personally see it where students have opportunities to use higher level thinking, problem solving skills and rational thinking. Once students started figuring out how to add their pictures and voice to it, they started helping each other! People wanted to see their peers succeed! How awesome is that!? The end result looked a little like this:

I am so proud of the teacher as well as the students that made this happen! To some people this might just seem like a picture with a voice to it, but to me, I saw it as students taking pride in creating a finished product!