EdTechTeacher iPad Summit Boston

Join me in Boston at EdTechTeacher's iPad Summit from Nov. 16-18.

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Connect, Collaborate and Create with Twitter in the Classroom

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of ETFO Voice.

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Course Description

In this grade two 3-D Geometry iTunes U Course, students will explore attributes of 3-D objects using concrete materials and drawings. Students will also build and construct 3-D objects and models as well as develop language to describe geometric concepts.

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One Best Thing

Discover how to keep parents informed, connect globally and link to your curriculum. This One Best Thing leads your primary classroom students through the creation of a learning network on Twitter.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

iPads, Worms and Non Standard Measurement

This past week, I was asked to model a lesson in a grade 2 classroom using technology.  They were just beginning non standard  measurement so I decided to use the book, "Inch by Inch" by Leo Lionni.  If you have not read this book, it is a wonderful story about a vulnerable inch worm that is about to be eaten but shows his predators that he is valuable by measuring them.

I read the story to the class and then I told them that we were going to do some measuring with worms. (No, not real worms, I bought rubber worms at the dollar store).   We then talked about how to accurately measure an object.  We specifically talked about how to line the worms up correctly making sure that they were not overlapping and making sure that we lined up the worms with the edge of the object we were measuring.

I then had volunteers come up and measure items with the worms.  I wanted the students to have to do a bit of additional thinking so I posed this task for them to do:

Find 5 items that are between 1 and 2 worms in length.

I was surprised that many of the students had a difficult time finding items that fit the task.  I then had them choose partners and had them use the free app Pic Collage to take pictures of the items they found that were between 1 and 2 worms in length.  I also provided them a task card with the directions and provided an example of what a finished project might look like.

It was amazing to see the collaboration between the partners and the  extra thought that went into the task because of the simple question that I asked.  
Download Task Card Here
Thank you to Mona Paulin we now have the french version of the task card here.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Purposeful iPad Applications to Show Mathematical Thinking in the Primary Classroom

I get many questions from colleagues on how to use iPads in purposeful and authentic ways rather than using drill and kill apps for their little ones.  One way to incorporate iPads is to explore open ended math applications in conjunction with a content creation app that will capture student work and be able to record their thinking as well as record their voice.  When young children are problem solving you can gain a lot of information about what the child can do by allowing the student to defend their answer.  Here are a few new iPad task cards that I have created that are open ended.  I would suggest that after your students save the image to photos that they open up an app like Explain Everything, upload their picture and explain their thinking.  Here is an example of one of my students explaining her thinking.


Here is the task card that goes along with it:

Download Here


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Download Here

Download Here








Thursday, December 3, 2015

6 Ways to Effectively Use Pic Collage

I have been in many classrooms since October that are fairly new to using iPads in their classrooms.  After the first initial lesson on "iPad Norms"  A great app to start with is Pic Collage.  I really like this app because there are so many uses, very simple to use and it is free!  Here are a few ideas on how to effectively use Pic Collage in your classroom.

Use Pic Collage in Math:

Download Here

Download Here
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Use Pic Collage in Literacy:


Use Pic Collage in Health

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Fun Lesson to Teach Addition using a Read Aloud, iPads and the Book Creator App

Last week I was in a grade 1 Classroom that was at the beginning stages of adding.  This made me think of a great lesson Karen Lirenman had done with the book One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab (counting by feet book).  I immediately told her about the lesson and we planned to co - teach it the following day.  While I read the story, Mrs. Dadd created an anchor chart of
all of the characters in the story and the children told us how many feet each character had.  We then modeled how to add different combinations of characters feet to get a sum.  Students then were asked to select a sum that was a "just right" challenge for them and to create a drawing of the two characters and their number sentence that went with their picture using the Book Creator App.  Children that were ready were challenged to add 3 characters' feet in their number sentence.  Students then recorded their voice explaining their number sentence
with a phone that plugs into the headphone jack in the iPad to reduce background noise.  (I purchased them at the dollar store.)  We then airdropped all of the pages to one iPad, combined the pages in Book Creator and exported it as a movie so the class could watch and listen to their class book on         the big screen!  



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Using a Drawing App To Show Thinking

As we are still in the first month of school, I have many primary teachers ask me, "What app should I begin with first or where do I begin to implement my new iPads?"  I like to start with a drawing app.  The reason for this is that it is an app that does not require previous iPad use.  All ability levels will enjoy using a drawing app and you can build onto this app by exporting your students' pictures into other apps to label, record their voice or use the work to create a class book.  A drawing app also goes perfectly with teaching children the strategy of reading and responding with a digital tool.  If you have a class set of iPads then while you are doing your read aloud all of your students can participate.  If you have 2-1 iPads, have your students work in partners.  If you have less, model the strategy, then leave the read aloud book in a literacy center with your 2 or 3 iPads and have students practice the strategy that way.  Even if your students can't read yet, they can still look through the book and retell it in their own words.  Make sure you choose a book full of beautiful pictures, labels and charts.  This way your students can complete this task while you are working with a small group elsewhere.  In the lesson below, I used a National Geographic Reader on Bats.  I chose this book because it is easy to read, has great pictures and I knew it was a book that my students would love to reread at silent reading time.
Download Lesson Here

Friday, August 21, 2015

Primary Blogging Community Registration is OPEN

The Primary Blogging Community is currently accepting classes that blog for the October rotation.  The last rotation was a huge success with over 80 classes participating from all over the world. Here is a brief description of what the blogging community is:

What is the Primary Blogging Community?

The PBC is a community of primary teachers (K-4th grade) that want to share their students' learning via their classroom blog and their students' personal blogs.  Classrooms will be grouped with 3 or 4 other classrooms from around the globe.  The program is 5 weeks long.  The first week will concentrate on the classroom blogs only.  During this week, you will visit the other classes' class blog.  This is a chance for the other classes to see what is happening in your school and class, to discover where in the world you are located and to learn about how to write a good blog post and to watch how you model and work together to write a good comment.  After the first  week, we switch the focus from your classroom blog and concentrate on student blogs.  The second week, one class will be the focus class with the other 3 classes commenting on the first class' individual blogs.  The cycle continues for 3 more weeks.   The focus is solely on your student's individual blogs. 

Why join the Primary Blogging Community?

1.  You will be collaborating with other like minded educators on this project and in return will build your PLN.
2.  PBC creates enthusiasm in reading and writing.
3.  It gives your students a voice and lets them be the teacher to their peers.
4.  Your students will have a built in audience that will provide authentic feedback to what they are writing about on their blogs.
5.  On some days in the last rotation, my students had over 100 comments on their blogs!  The excitement and engagement piece to this blogging community is huge!  

What do I need to have to begin?

You need to have a classroom blog (could be a blog that is part of Kidblogs, just to give the rest of the participants some information about your school and community) and your students need their own personal blogs. We also communicate frequently on twitter, use #PrimaryBC on twitter and follow me on twitter for news and updates @mrswideen.

Where do I sign up?
Please fill in the google doc here.

When do we begin?

I will be closing registration September 21st and we will begin October 5th.

A few resources to get you on and your students ready:

Student Authored Portfolios: Archiving Learning With iPad  free iBook By Kathy Cassidy
Download Kidblog Here.
Download Edublogs Here.
Mrs. Wideen’s Class blogs Here
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Download poster here


Monday, July 20, 2015

Teaching and Assessing Reading Comprehension with Explain Everything

This past year, I really focused on explicitly teaching comprehension strategies to my students.  I taught how to reread a text, annotate a text, leaving tracks of thinking while reading, questioning techniques and most importantly, instilling in my students that reading is thinking.

We used Padlet walls to show our thinking, we drew pictures and wrote information digitally as I read aloud, we used today’s meet to make our thinking visible.  Using these different strategies kept my students engaged and allowed their thinking to be seen by their peers and myself.

Near the end of this past year we began an inquiry on Africa.  I find one of the most challenging things about student inquiry is to find resources that are interesting and at my students reading level.  One resource I use often is readinga-z.  Reading a-z is a website that has more than 2,500 downloadable books (including English, Spanish, and French versions) and thousands of teaching and learning materials.

I use to search for specific topics and then match my students reading levels to the text.  I would then print the various books out for my students.  This took a lot of time to print and a lot of paper!  I can usually find 2 or 3 different texts on the same topic in varying difficulty.


While I was searching for different books on Africa, I noticed that the books could be downloaded in a PDF.  This was a game changer.  Having 32 iPads in my room, I was able to save the book as a PDF and save it to Dropbox.  My classroom iPads all have the Dropbox app, which means:
  • Students open the Explain Everything app
  • Choose open file and download the PDF to Explain Everything
  • The PDF opens in Explain Everything and now students can annotate, draw, highlight and record their voice right on the document.
  • They can also save their work and go back to it for research purposes and it is a great way for me to assess their comprehension strategies.

You could also use this same format to have your students show non fiction text features like the example below: