Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Oak Hills Students Kick Off Their Digital Learning With Padlet!

We are ending our first fabulous week of school. This week can often be exhausting for students and teachers as everyone adjusts to their new school family, getting to know one another and setting expectations for the year. Whew!

This year at Oak Hills Elementary we have decided to focus on building relationships with each other and with our students. With this in mind, our teachers employ "Back to School" activities to create a "responsive classroom" designed to help their students come together, validate each student and prepare a positive learning environment. Though these are traditional "first week of school" activities that provide a vital springboard for student success, there is no reason that they have to be delivered in a traditional way! That is where I come in :)

Again this year, many of our teachers invited me in to help guide their first digital activity. We used my favorite digital tool, Padlet to give students their first digital experience of the school year, share the details of their summer, jump start student writing skills and have some fun! Padlet presents a wonderful opportunity to talk about writing for an audience! Students spend extra time to do their very best because they realize that it will be shared outside the classroom as well. 

Digitizing back to school activities can also provide students with an opportunity to revisit principles of digital citizenship, establish device expectations, practice logging in with new passwords and help student get acquainted and share their voice.

It is getting a chance to read what students have on their minds, their best memories of the summer that I really enjoy! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

3rd Graders Create Cause & Effect Comic Strips With

Recently 3rd grade teachers asked for my help as their students were focusing on identifying cause and effect relationships. Along with cause and effect, teachers wanted students to make the subsequent inferences about these cause and effect relationships. Third graders need to be able to recognize these relationships in their reading and in life! My challenge was to give students an opportunity to digitize this valuable lesson!

I found a solution in the web app! Once teachers had introduced the topic, I introduced Students were asked to create their own cause and effect relationship and identify the inference in the form of a comic strip! 

Students learned how to add a backgrounds, add characters, speech bubbles and text boxes to their cause/effect comic strip! They were really quick at figuring out the "how tos" which made the lesson fun! StoryboardThat was the perfect web app to demonstrate cause and effect in pictures! 

Friday, June 2, 2017

4th Graders Use Glogster To Present Answers To Their Own Guiding Questions...

In April, our 4th grade teachers wanted to give students the opportunity to do research. Rather than decide for their students what they would research, traditionally it has been state reports, this year our 4th grade teachers wanted students to choose their own answer a guiding question based on their individual interests and passions. I applaud our 4th grade teachers, Mr. Hemann, Mrs. Osborn and Ms. Warfield for challenging themselves and their students to personalize their research. Having every student choose their own guiding question and research based on their own interest adds a level of complexity to their job as teachers. They wanted to encourage students to be curious and to learn that research isn't only something they do for school reports, but something they do for life! So our 4th grade teachers took a deep breath and plunged in. They asked for my help with selecting a digital tool for students to create a presentation. (They weren't quite ready to let each student choose their own digital tool. One step at a time 😉 ) Together we decided to try Glogster.

The first task was helping students turn their interests and passions into a guiding question. Many students knew what they wanted to research, but struggled to frame a question that would help them get to the answers they were seeking! I was amazed by the variety of their interests and depth of their curiosity!

Once students selected a topic and wrote a guiding question, they researched the answer. I was invited to show students how to use Glogster and support them as they created their Glogster to present their research findings. This gave me a chance to discuss online safety and copyright with students along the way. Students learned how to use Glogster by adding text features, speech bubbles, images and even embedding videos! These digital posters were visually engaging and gave students polished projects that they were proud to present to their class and families! Most importantly, students found answers to their own questions!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Students Share Their Learning & Their Voice With The iMovie App!

I always LOVE finding new digital tools. Finding a new tool is like finding a shiny new pebble on the beach. These gems keep us, students and educators alike, energized with new ways of creating, collaborating and sharing our learning! They're fun! Recently, however, I was reminded that even with the constant pursuit for new and better digital tools, an old favorite (5 years :) has never stopped shining. The iMovie app gives students the opportunity to share their voice and their learning with an intuitive interface and polished final product. (I only wish Apple would update the background music options!! PLEASE! 😏 )

1st Grade Mealworm Life Cycle

Our first graders just completed several projects using iMovie. In Mrs. Johnson's class, students took pictures to document their mealworm over a period of days as it transitioned from a larvae to a beetle. They studied their mealworms and learned about it's life cycle. Once their mealworm transitioned through it's phases, they created iMovies to share what they had learned! They learned how to create their iMovies by adding their mealworm photos, background music, text and voice recordings. Students uploaded their iMovies to SeeSaw so their parents could see their learning!

1st Grade "Me On The Map" iMovies

1st graders also used iMovie to share their "Me On The Map" projects. Students shared their house, city, state, country, continent and world using pictures of maps!

Mrs. Khanhkeo shared her student's iMovies with families using a Padlet!

Fifth Grade Famous Hero Projects

Like our first graders, fifth graders used iMovie to demonstrate and share their learning in greater depth. The project goal was the share their learning about their choice of famous American.

Following their research, students created their iMovie by adding images, text, music, and voice recordings about their famous person. They learned about pacing, how to rearrange images and match their voice recordings to the images by editing the length of each image. They learned how to edit the display of each image using the "Ken Burns Effect". They personalized their iMovies with interesting facts that would keep their audience interested! Their final movies were uploaded to Google Drive, shared with their teacher and viewed by the entire class.

Can You Spot the Giant Loon? 3rd Graders Share Their Loon Research Using Google Slides!

Nothing creates more buzz around a 3rd grade loon research project than a giant loon, complete with a "Lunch To Go" bag full of fish! Mr. Labatte, our OHE principal, stole the show for our 3rd graders who were studying loons, our Minnesota State Bird! 

Our 3rd grade teachers, Mrs. Lorenson, Mrs. McCollough, and Mrs. Ryan, pulled out all the stops to help students learn about loons! They invited a guest speaker from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to share insights, and they gave students a chance to create their own paper mache loons!

Finally, our teachers asked students to create and share their learning digitally using Google Slides. This was the first time our 3rd graders created a digital slideshow, so we had to begin with the a few basics. As part of their research, students gathered facts about the loon habitat, food, appearance, calls and fun facts. Once they had their facts, they began their slides. I shared with students a few "how to" tips along the way, like adding a theme, images and text, along with formatting "dos & don'ts".

Once students created their Google Slides, they digitally shared their finished slideshow with their teacher via Google's sharing options. They also had a special day to share their slideshows with our OHE 1st Graders! This project wove together so many elements (creative, digital, & research) for students, and their finished projects were wonderful reflections of their learning!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A First Grade Maker Fair! Check Out These Student Makers!

A few weeks ago, our 1st grade teachers ask me to plan a 1st Grade Maker Fair. They wanted a day dedicated to student making! This would be a trial run for the new MakerSpace tools I have been gathering in the media center. It would also give teachers an idea of how it would look if they began to integrate maker opportunities more frequently into their year of academics! I need to give a huge shout out to our 1st grade teachers who are always challenging their students and themselves! 

So what were the goals of our Maker Fair? We wanted students to have an opportunity to try multiple maker tools. We wanted students to collaborate with each other to build, design, engineer and code. We wanted our students to figure things out for themselves, so for the most part we gave them tools and let them go! (Except Ozobots & Robot Mouse which did require some explanation before students began!) We did suggest challenges to make sure each maker activity provided deeper thinking for our students.  

We learned some things along the way.  
1. Maker Fairs, like MakerSpaces, require lots of space!
2. We need more of certain maker tools. We need more Gears, which turned out to be a great engineering tool! 
3. We provided 25 minutes for each maker tool...not nearly enough time for students! 
4. Finally, we learned what may seem obvious, first graders (and teachers) began to wear out after their first few maker challenges. This is another reason that maker activities should be an ongoing challenge for students rather than a one day marathon.  

Despite our lessons learned, it was a huge success! Students were engaged and seemed to be having a blast! For me the greatest take away is that maker opportunities give our students the much needed chance to problem solve things for themselves. It was a blast to listen in on their conversations as they reasoned through their challenges! I can't wait to do it again! 

New Books For Our Library! Better Late Than Never!

Friday, April 7, 2017

First Graders Research Animals With Help From MyOn, Kids Infobits, National Geographic Kids and Our Own OHE Library!

First Grade teachers recently asked for my help with finding digital tools for their students to do research. They wanted their students to answer questions about their chosen animal. We used our "go to" tools for digital research, MyOn, Kids Infobits and National Geographic for Kids! When added with our age appropriate nonfiction library books on animals, students had many options for finding their animal facts. Both MyOn and Infobits gives students the opportunity to listen to text if they are not able to read it themselves. This is perfect as first graders are still learning to read.

The first day I was scheduled to help, I walked into a chaotic but clearly self directed research project. Mrs. Johnson had her students brainstorm a list of animals that they would like to find out about. Students were on fire reading these books!

Then, using QR codes that we projected in the front of the room, students used their iPad QR code reader app to open Kids Infobits and National Geographic Kids and search for more information about their chosen animals. 


Once students were done finding out information about their animals, their teacher gathered students in a circle to share with each other their findings. This was the best part.  Having students teach each other seemed to elevate their research and make it seem more important to them.  Plus, it was really fun to listen in on their learning!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Students Use Cooperative Learning and Glogster to Teach Each Other About Ancient Egypt!

Recently, Mrs. Pettis came to me and asked if I had a suggestion for a digital tool that students could use to share their learning about Ancient Egypt with each other.  She planned to use the jigsaw cooperative learning strategy that gives students the opportunity to help each other to learn and comprehend. Each student was researching a different aspect of Ancient Egypt, and when they were done they had the responsibility of teaching the rest of the class. Students were familiar with slideshows and iMovie, so Mrs. Pettis wanted them to learn a new digital presentation tool that would be easy and quick. I decided the perfect fit would be Glogster. I have a class subscription for one class to use Glogster at a time, but that has served us well.  

Students found that Glogster was an intuitive digital tool. Unlike other similar tools, it allows users to create a digital posters with embedded video, images and text.  It is kind of like a slideshow where the contents are all on one page! Students began by adding their choice of background. They could choose from Glogster options or choose an image of their choice.

Once students had chosen their background, they began to add text, images and videos. This provided the perfect moment to discuss responsible use of our technology. We had a great discussion about the privileges and responsibilities that come with having access to digital devices!

Their final projects were fabulous, leaving them with a dynamic visual for their lesson for the class!  Here are just a few screenshot examples!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How To Catch A Leprechan? Third Graders Design A Rube Goldberg Trap!

I'm a little behind on my blogging, so I apologize for the delay in posting about a recent third grade lesson from St. Patrick's Day!  Third grade teachers wanted to take a few minutes for a fun St. Patrick's Day activity, so they asked for my help to provide a digital option. I began the lesson with a class read-aloud of the fabulous new picture book, How to Catch a Leprechaun written by Adam Wallace and illustrated by Andy Elkerton.

This book, with it's rhyming plot and delightfully naughty little leprechaun is a perfect class read-aloud!  But my favorite part of this picture book is the ending.  Readers are invited to design their own leprechaun trap for next year!

This created the perfect segue for students to design their own leprechaun trap using the design elements from Rube Goldberg's machines! You may be wondering, What is a Rube Goldberg machine?  Rube Goldberg was a a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who was trained as an engineer. He create many cartoons and became most famous for his zany cartoons of complex machines with chain reactions designed to do simple tasks!   

Here is a prime example and one of his most famous machines was the Self Operating Napkin...


Once I shared the story of Rube Goldberg, I shared my favorite example of a Rube Goldberg machine in action! This is a great example because it demonstrates an elementary child (someone our students can relate to) enthusiastically testing his Rube Goldberg machine.

Once students had an idea of what a Rube Goldberg machine was, I gave them the task of designing their own Rube Goldberg Leprechaun Trap with at least 5 chain reactions!  Side Note: Our fabulous STEAM teacher, Mrs. Yoemans, will be having students build a Rube Goldberg Machine in 5th Grade, so this lesson should create a nice stepping stone from the design phase to building one of their own!  I created an example Leprechaun Trap! It was a blast and really required some design I knew students would need to have some "think time" to plan their chain reactions. I discussed the fact that I "worked backward". A concept that required some explanation, but did seem to help students as they were designing.

We used YouDoodle, our "go to" free drawing iPad app as the drawing tool for designing. It has helpful grid line that help the user manage the drawing space.  I also gave students a stylus to help them control their lines. Their products demonstrated their creative planning! Students shared their leprechaun traps, explaining their chain reactions and thoughtful designs. All of us throughly enjoyed seeing the results! Maybe next year, one of our students will catch a leprechaun!

Monday, April 3, 2017

OHE Students Prepare To Teach Bloxels!

This year I have been gathering maker tools for our school's makerspace. As each new tool has arrived, I have tried them out to prepare for student use! The robots, Ozobots, Makey Makeys and LittleBits have been no trouble for me learn. The one tool that I have struggled to teach myself was Bloxels. I knew roughly how it worked, but I found that I was struggling a bit because I have no gaming experience myself...unless PacMan counts...which reveals a little too much about my age! Happily I knew that I did have experts in gaming! Most of our 3rd - 5th graders are avid gamers, so I called upon a few 5th graders who volunteered to figure out how Bloxels works, teach me and more importantly, teach their fellow students! 

Once these students took on the task of learning how to use Bloxels, they LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it! (And frankly they continue to beg me to come back and continue their work/play!) Their background with video games did help them intuitively figure out how to use Bloxels.  They learned it quickly and confidently. The best part is that they were creating and designing their own game!  I am happy to say that I followed their lead and have now designed my own video game in Bloxels!

We determined after beginning that students would be able to design a game with the free iPad app even if they didn't have the cubes and board. They did, however, like having the cube and board to build their own game avatar/character. I am really excited for these students to share with other students so that gamers and non-gamers alike can share in this experience!