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Available for Purchase Now!

In “Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom” primary teachers Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen provide a complete selection of clearly laid out engaging open-ended lessons to change the way you use iPad in the classroom.

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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.

Friday, December 7, 2012

My Top Picks For Content Creation iPad Apps

I recently saw a picture that was posted on twitter by George Couros.  I sent it to my principal because it sums up what we have been talking about for weeks about Apps that we are using with the iPads.  Here is the picture:

This slide is the inspiration for this blog post.  I personally, have been on a crusade to let my students create rather than spoon feed them content.  I want them to play with the information I give them, I went them to feel a sense of ownership of the knowledge and I want them to create something using the knowledge I have given them.
William Glasser is famous for the following information about how we learn:

How We Learn
10% of what we READ
20% of what we HEAR
30% of what we SEE
50% of what we SEE and HEAR
70% of what is DISCUSSED with OTHERS
95% of what we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE
~William Glasser

An ongoing theme in my classroom is to make your learning visible.  My students are in grade 1 and 2, and they already know that they have a huge audience on their personal blogs.  We talk about who and why they are creating videos about the content we are learning in class.  My students want to teach other students and peers about what they are learning about.  It is also a great assessment piece for me, however, they don't see me as their audience anymore.  My students now feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose for what they are doing.  I'm sure they always did, however not to this magnitude.  

Here is a screen shot of the most popular content creation apps we are currently using in my classroom.

I was going to write a brief summary of each app, but then I realized that you can easily read a summary on the internet.  Instead, I will try to link a student created piece from my grade 1/2 classroom to the top 10 most used content creation apps we use.  

1.  Puppet Pals - Here is a link to one of my student's blogs using puppet pals to show adding and subtracting. Chloe's Blog (My students love comments, by the way...)

2. iMovie - Here is our "Traditions and Cultures Project" Video

3. Educreations - Here is a video of a math assessment my students did on time.  They were given a cue card with different times written on it and had to create a video on Educreations showing their learning of time. 
4.  Draw and Tell -  Here is a link to one of my student's blogs using Draw and Tell to show the words she has created from the "at" family. Destinee's Blog

5. Explain Everything - This is a video using the Explain Everything app from our Procedural Writing Unit.

6.  ShowMe - In this video a student is teaching others about patterning.

7.  Popplet - This is a screen shot of one of my grade 1's popplets.  He was showing his learning about spiders.

9.  Book Creator - We love using this app, however there is no embed option, so we can see the pictures on a blog but you can't hear the audio.  We are hoping for an update to make this app even more wonderful!  Here is a picture from one of our Non Fiction Insect Books .

8.  LittleBirdTales - We just completed our Personal Narratives on the LittleBirdTales App.  We will definitely be using this app again in the near future.  Here is a link to one of my students personal narratives on their blogs.

9.  Kidblog - My students are avid bloggers.  This app has opened up their world to blogging.  They are able to add pictures and videos easily and independently even at the age of six! Please visit our blogs and leave us a comment here

10. ScribblePress - Here is a book written by a couple of my students about school Scribble Press.

These are only a sample of things that we have done with these apps.  I hope that this post has ignited your creative juices and you are thinking of how you could use some of these content creation apps in your classroom.  I would love to hear what kind of things you are creating in your classroom!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Procedural Writing Unit with iPad Integration

Last week we began our Procedural Writing Unit.  We began the unit immersing the students with different procedural books.  Students went on a hunt in our room for procedural texts and they found them in many of the books they had in their book boxes.  We also brainstormed procedural writing topics.  The students came up with so many things to write about!

We have done many activities in the past two weeks about procedural writing.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Using The Explain Everything App To Produce a Procedural Video

One of the activities Mrs. Pelletier and I did with the students to show the purpose and how to model how to write a procedural text was a science experiment.  We performed the experiment in front of the class and then the students and I wrote out the materials and steps we performed.  Students took pictures of the steps and then imported the pictures into Explain Everything.  Students then recorded their voices explaining the experiment.  Here is the finished product.

2.  Bubble Gum Fun!

The second Procedural writing activity was to have the students blow a bubble and then write the steps to blowing a bubble.  If you are interested in doing this activity, you can download it for free here.  Students were given a piece of Hubba Bubba to chew and then were asked to blow a bubble, thinking of the steps they performed while blowing the bubble.  Students then wrote their procedure down, created a face that looked like them and blew a pink balloon up to insert where the mouth should be.  The kids loved the lesson and the overall project turned out really cute!

3. Gingerbread Fun Using Explain Everything

In our third project, we read the Gingerbread Baby.  Students were then given gingerbread cookies and a picture of a gingerbread man.  Students were instructed to eat the gingerbread cookie and to take notes on the picture of the gingerbread man  according to the order they ate the gingerbread man.  Students then wrote their procedure for "How To Eat A Gingerbread Cookie"  Tomorrow, the students who have completed the writing assignment will be given another gingerbread cookie to take pictures of it for their video.  Then, the students will import the pictures into explain everything, explain their procedure using their writing assignment and post their final product on their blogs. (Using the Science Experiment video as a guide)  I have taken a screenshot of the success criteria checklist I created for this particular project.  
*As I am writing this post student's are still working on this project.  I will update when they have completed their videos and have uploaded them to their blogs.

Here is a student's finished product:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

All About Mo Willems!

This past week we have been learning all about "Mo".  Mo Willems' books have quickly become a favourite choice for my students.  Therefore, I thought the students would love doing an Author Study on Mo.  We began our author study by getting our hands on as many Mo Willems' books as we could.  Luckily, our school library and I had a lot of Mo Willems' books.  

Day 1

I began the unit with a review lesson on making text to self connections.  I read Don't Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late.  I modeled a few connections and then students were given a front and back sheet.  The front of the sheet the students had to finish the sentence starter, "When I heard the part about...."  On the back of the sheet, students had to finish the sentence starter, "It reminded me of...."  Here is one of my first grader's completed sheets:

Students were pleasantly surprised when they went to their literacy stations that morning to find many of their stations changed to Mo Stations!  At the writing station their was a procedural text on how to draw the pigeon.  Students were asked to draw the pigeon according to the directions and to brainstorm a list of possible book titles that they could create about the pigeon.

At the library station, students were able to read from the many Mo Willems' books we had collected and then fill out a response sheet on one of the books they had chosen to read.

At one of the iPad stations, we downloaded The Pigeon App.  Students are loving this app!  Here is the description of the app from the Apple Store, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!” lets you create your own Pigeon stories with your pal, Mo Willems. Just follow as the Bus Driver asks you for your ideas—then shake the Pigeon. Your story is ready! Sit back and enjoy the show. Once you’re finished, try it again…and again. You can make as many silly stories as you want."  
The app also has the option to draw the pigeon.  One of my grade 1 students drew the pigeon, saved a picture of it to the camera roll and put it on his blog 

Day 2

The second day of the unit, students learned about speech bubbles and how they add to a story.  Students made their own Pigeon and Duckling and made speech bubbles to go along with their picture.

Day 3

The third day, students learned about plot.  We read, "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus." We made an anchor chart about Plot and we talked about the beginning, middle and end of the story. Students then completed their own sheet.

Day 4 and 5

On the last 2 days of the week, we read all 3 "Knuffle Bunny" books.  We decided as a class that we wanted to create a video about Knuffle Bunny getting lost. (If you have not read these books, this is the underlining plot in all 3 of the stories).  We decided where we wanted Knuffle Bunny to be spotted and researched an interesting fact for each place.  Our classroom volunteer, Mr. McMullan took photos of the students using a green background and iPhoto to make the pictures.  Here is the finished product:

It was such a fun week learning about Mo Willems!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Does Technology = A Great Teacher?

What makes a teacher great? 

 Is using technology ever been in the definition of a great teacher? Obviously no.  My definition of a great teacher, is a person who inspires their students.  That knows their students' interests and their learning needs.  A great teacher establishes accountably and continually makes sure their students are gaining the knowledge needed.  A great teacher fosters a rich learning climate in their classroom that celebrates successes and mistakes.  I strive to be a great teacher everyday.

Has technology helped me to be a better teacher?  

I think so. No. I know so.  Social media like Twitter has connected me with great teachers from all over the world.  They have pushed my teaching boundaries.  The way I teach is constantly evolving and I am learning new ways to embrace technology and use it to my advantage for my students.  The Internet, computers and the iPads in my room have flattened my classroom walls.  Student's are not only learning from me.  They are learning from other teachers and peers on different continents.  They are also teaching others what they know by tweeting and making their learning visible on their Kidblogs.

Does technology = A great teacher?

Can you give a teacher technology and they will instantly improve reading and math scores in their classroom?  Obviously not.  Teachers need to understand how students learn and to use technology as a tool.  I recently had a visit from Chris Knight (a consultant with GECDB)  into my classroom for a visit and he wrote the following in a blog post that you can find here.

 I noted some of the conditions that needed to exist for technology to be used effectively in this classroom:
1. The technology allowed the students to create things that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
2. The technology gave the students a voice beyond the classroom.
3. The technology was used with very precise and intentional aims.
4. The technology allowed for student collaboration and conversation.
5. Many tasks were open and involved student exploration, investigation and decision-making.
Technology has changed the way I teach.  I still aim to inspire my students and to know my students' interests and needs, the same things I did when I didn't have all of this technology at my fingertips.  However, I am a better teacher now that I am utilizing technology in my classroom.  I also think it has become evident and will become more and more evident that using technology in an effective way in your classroom will be something a great teacher will have to do. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stop The Excuses, Your Students Could Be Blogging!

I had to share what happened in my class the other day.  I have been really encouraging my students to use the Kidblog App on the iPads for making their learning visible and for increasing the type of content that is on their blogs.  (My students are using their blogs as digital portfolios this year.)  This past week, I had kids wanting to take pictures of the books they wanted at the school book fair and wrote about why they wanted that book.  I had other students ask if they could take pictures of their completed Math Station because they were proud of their work.

I have one student that takes a picture of what she is eating at dinner and puts it on her blog. Others wanted to use the ShowMe App to explain what they were doing in literacy or math.  The Kidblog App has made it so easy to add pictures and video to their blogs that I have student's embedding their work without any help from me. (YEAH!)
I had a student add a video from the ShowMe App the other day.  That night I was going through my student's blogs and watched the video he had put on his blog about patterning.  I had to watch it twice because it was so cute!  He was teaching his audience about patterning and asking his audience what came next in his pattern.  The best part however, was the feedback he gave after he asked the question.  Take a look:

I talked to my student the next day about the video and told him how great I thought it was.  We talked about his audience and it ignited an excitement in writing that I had not seen before.  He came to me later that day and told me how excited he was for writing that day to continue what he was working on because he thought it would be a good blog post.  I asked him if he wanted to use the iPad during writing and he acted like it was Christmas!  He was so excited to write on his blog and "teach all the other students that look at his blog about his writing."  I put his ShowMe on Twitter that evening and a team member from ShowMe commented on his blog.  I can't wait to show him tomorrow at school.  If that isn't a reason to write and to encourage a reluctant writer to write, I don't know what is.  I STRONGLY encourage you to start blogging with your students!  There is no excuse, my students are in grade 1 and 2 so they are young.  All you need is one laptop, or iPad, or smartphone to start.   The excuse that you don't have any tech is not going to work anymore.  I brought an old personal laptop from home last year and it was "The Blogging Computer."  Students could go and log onto their Kidblog account at any point of the day if they had something they wanted to share or write about on their blog.  Start out small, no one says that you must have all of your students blogging at the same time.  Start out with a couple of students that have showed interest in it and who you know are ready for it.  I taught my students during my guided reading time.  It doesn't need to be hard and overwhelming.  First start with baby steps and soon your class will be running!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More iPad Math Stations

Due to the overwhelming response to an earlier post on iPad Math Stations.  I have decided to share a couple more stations the students are currently working on.

1. Candy Math Station

Do you have left over Halloween candy in your house that you want to get rid of?  Are you tired of sneaking the good treats for yourself, when your children are in bed?  If so, this is the Math Station for you!  I am Canadian, so we had an abundance of Smarties (like M&M's for my American Friends).  I decided to do a sorting and graphing activity as one of the Math Stations.  Each child will get their own box of Smarties and will predict how many of each colour there are.  They will then record their predictions and find out the actual amounts.  When the students have completed this task, they will then fill in the graph according to their results.  I created the sheets, then uploaded them to their dropbox folders so they could open the PDF documents in the Remarks app, annotate, then save it into their dropbox folder.  Feel free to download the "I can" instructions for the Station and the 2 worksheets that go along with the Station here.

2. Telling Time Assessment Using Educreations

One of our grade 2 Learning Goals for our current unit is "Telling Time To The Quarter Hour."  I wanted to create a station that: 
1.   Assessed my students learning goal.
2.   Use an app that my students could use that they could easily embed the completed assessment onto         their blogs.
I decided to use the Educreations App.  I chose this app because you can create more than one page and I felt my grade 2 students would be able to embed their videos onto their blogs without teacher assistance.
Students were given a white sheet of paper with 4 times that I had written on it.    I had placed a picture of a clock in their dropbox folders to insert into the Educreations App.  Many students took a screen shot of the clock and inserted the picture from the camera roll.  Students then drew the hands on the clock and wrote the digital time in the corner.  They also recorded their voice saying the time.  Finally, students embedded the video they created onto their blogs.  Here are a couple of examples:

I love that my students' blogs are snapshots of what they are doing everyday.  Parents can easily access their child's blogs to see what we are doing in class and to see how they are progressing.  My students' blogs are not only written posts anymore.  There are videos, pictures,  and stories they have created that reflect what we are doing in class.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cultures and Traditions

Today we started talking about traditions, cultures and celebrations.  We would like YOU to connect with us in the month of December!

If you would like to participate in this project please sign up here, leave a comment or contact us on Twitter @mrswideen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Using iPads During Math Stations

I am continually trying to think of ways to use the iPads in a producing or student creation way, rather than a "lets play a game" kind of way.  I am also trying to be as paperless as possible this year, so using the iPads is a win, win situation.  I share the 20 iPads with another teacher so in all honesty, I only have 10 during math and I usually use 4 with my guided math groups, which leaves me 6 for math stations.  My students are partnered up and do 2 stations a day.  I have 10 stations that I change every 2 weeks.  I try to link my math stations to what we are currently learning about and a review of things we have already learned.  Here are a couple of math stations we are using this week and links for you to download the instructions if you wish.

iPad Domino Measuring Math Station

Students will be given dominoes, the "I Can Card" and 2 iPads (one for each student) in their Math Station bucket.  Students will be asked to measure three different books in the classroom with their dominoes.  The second task is to open the "Explain Everything" app, take a picture of their measurements and explain their thinking using at least three words from the word box in their video.  If you are interested in downloading the task card that I created, please download it here.

iPad Problem Solving Station

Students will be given the "I Can Card" and 2 iPads (one for each student) in their Math Station bucket. Students will be directed to click on the "Youtube" icon on their iPads.  Students will be directed to a reading of "The Napping House".  Here is the link.  Students will then open the "Explain Everything" app and will answer a math problem using pictures, numbers and words.  If you are interested in downloading the task card that I created, please download it here.
An organization tip:  I have created a folder on the iPads labelled, "Math Stations"  that way students know exactly where they find the apps they need.  Here is a screenshot for this particular math station:

Guided Math Groups With The Teacher

During guided math, students are working on telling time to the hour in grade 1 and to the quarter hour in grade 2.  I have uploaded  a picture of a clock face to their dropbox accounts so I we can work on this with them.  I will have students draw the hands on the face of a certain time and record the time, while recording themselves with either the "ShowMe "app or the "Explain Everything" app.  While students are doing this I am taking notes in Evernote for assessment reasons on my iPad or computer.

I have another iPad station involving my children's left over Halloween candy and tying in google forms and graphs.  I am still working out the details. (New Math Stations start on Thursday of this week.)  I will post pictures and this last station next week.  I am happy to say that all my other math stations this round do not involve paper except for the laminated directions and the laminated activities I have created.  No paper to send home!  Students will be taking pictures or videos of their work and uploading their work to their blogs to share with friends and family.
Are you doing math stations this year or do you have an iPad math station?  I would love to hear what you are doing in your classroom!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Blog With 6 And 7 Year Olds?

I wanted to share some great things my students are doing on their kidblogs this year and why I feel so strongly about incorporating blogging into your classrooms.   Blogging is not a new thing in my classroom, I show my students my own blog quite regularly, we look at other grade 1 and 2 blogs, and the students in my class have learned how to leave a quality comment on other blogs.  Here is our anchor chart, "How To Leave A Good Blog Comment." (Thank you to Kathy Cassidy for the inspiration.)

People have asked me, "Why do you have your students blogging at such a young age?"  I have a very long winded answer to this question but I will try to keep it to a minimum....

Global Audience

When students blog there is a global audience. The engagement piece has skyrocketed for my students.  Boys that didn't want to write in my class are writing posts from home now.   I show my students the cluster map on my blog and they are amazed how many people from all over the world have come to our classroom blog.  We all like getting hits or comments on our blogs.  It is the same for our students.  Their faces beam when they see someone has commented on their blog.  I make sure all students receive comments on their blogs.  I will post a comment, classmates post comments, parents, other teachers and I have asked my PLN on Twitter on occasion to post on my students' blogs.  Students' are not writing solely for their teacher or their class to read, they are writing for the world to see!
Currently, my students are writing personal narratives on their blogs.  They have added page numbers and I have corrected mistakes by putting "Editor" underneath their sentences and written the sentence correctly while conferencing with them.  Mrs. Soltauheller's grade 2 class from British Columbia is doing the same thing.  Our students have been buddied up and are commenting on each others' stories.  We are working on asking questions to add details.  One of my 6 year old student's in my class screamed the other day because she had 8 comments on one of her posts.  If that isn't incentive to write, I don't know what is.

Digital Portfolios

This year, we have 20 iPads in my room so we are trying to use the least amount of paper as possible in my room.  Therefor, I am teaching my students how to upload their work to their blogs.  My students can easily insert pictures and upload video from different apps to their blogs with the new Kidblog app. For example,  we are currently working on time in math.  I uploaded an activity to their dropbox folder.  The task was to draw pictures of 3 activities they thought would take one minute. Any task that involves drawing with no explanation in grade 1 or 2 is very hard to decipher.  I had the students upload the activity into the app "Explain Everything", complete the activity, record themselves explaining their pictures and post the video onto their blogs.  Here is an example:
I encourage you to leave a comment on Annalyse's blog here.   I can't wait to be able to look back at their blogs in June and see all the progress they have made this year!

Teaching Internet Safety

In a society where the Internet and social media is anywhere and everywhere, children need to learn how to protect their identity, know what is acceptable and not acceptable to post online and to be a responsible global citizen.  I feel that teaching them at an early age will help them to make smart and safe choices when they are presented with them.

Being Connected

My students are building relationships with students all over the world.  The world doesn't seem to be as big as it did before.  As well as learning from each other, we are learning from other students and teachers in different cities, provinces and countries.  We had a lesson this week taught on Google Hangout by our "blogging buddies'" teacher,  Mrs. Soltauheller in British Columbia about perspective.  We have also talked with authors about books they we are currently reading in class.  When the hurricane hit New York this past week, my students wanted to send out a tweet to their Twitter friends in New York to make sure they were okay.  We are able to look at and post comments on class and student blogs all over the world.  

Primary Blogging Community

This past September, I started a blogging community with other primary teachers.  We use Twitter and Edmodo to communicate with each other.  We have been visiting each others' class blogs and will soon begin posting on student blogs.  It has been a fantastic way to model the skills you need to post on blogs and create quality comments.  If you are interested in participating in our next round.  It begins in February.  Please sign up here.  

If you have not jumped into the blogging world with your students, I whole heartedly encourage you to try it.  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Using Wallwisher to Show New Learning

We have been sharing our learning using Instead of using sticky notes and sticking them to a chart I have made.  I put a wallwisher icon on my student's iPads so they can easily get to the site.  You need to create an account first before you begin.  Last week I had students share their learning about spiders using wallwisher. This is how it turned out.

Another way we are using Wallwisher is we participated in the Global Read Aloud this year.  Every Thursday 3 classes from British Columbia and my class read one chapter from Charlotte's Web on Google Hangout.  Therefore, each week a different teacher read to all 4 classes at the same time.  We finished reading the book last week and we wanted to do something together to finish the unit.  I created a wallwisher and sent the 3 other classes the link and the embed code so they could put it on their class website.  Therefore, all 4 classes can add to the wall.  We will be meeting this Thursday to discuss the wall and to do a culminating activity.  Please keep checking back to see how the wall changes throughout the week!

If you have used Wallwisher, I would love to hear how you have used it, or ideas you have to use it in a different way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Using iPads For Our Spider Inquiry

Yesterday we began our spider inquiry.  We have been reading Charlotte's Web for the Global Read Aloud and the students were fascinated about how Charlotte sucks the blood from her victims.... So, our inquiry about spiders was born.  This was a perfect time for this inquiry because we have been talking about how to link reading to non-fiction writing in our school and this project practically fell into our laps!

Step 1 - The Wondering Stage

We started with a schema chart to find out what the students already knew about spiders. Each student was given a sticky note and they had to draw or write one fact they knew about spiders and add it to our chart.

We generated questions about spiders that the students were curious about and that would drive the inquiry process.

Step 2 - The Planning Stage

I have some new students in my class this year and some students that may need some reminding, so I wanted to model the planning stage.  We talked about the questions that were generated and I told them I wanted to pick a question that really interested me.  I chose a question that was not on our list to model because I did not want to take away the possibility of someone being disappointed because I chose the question they wanted to research.  I then gave each child another sticky note and I chose a book from our "spider library" to read to them.  Students wrote down new learnings on their stickies while I read, "National Geographic Readers: Spiders."

Tomorrow, students will begin mapping out ideas from the wondering stage and begin to focus on which question they want to learn about and answer.  I will then group the students according to what question they chose.  Students will use books, the internet and our very own school yard to come up with the answers to their questions.  

I will post step 3 of our inquiry process as soon as we complete it. 
How does your students' interests drive your instruction?

Update: November 6, 2012

Step 3 - The Gathering Stage

I did some learning and reflecting during this stage.  Students chose their question by putting a sticky note on the chart according to the number that corresponded with the question.  We had a few very popular questions and a few that the students were not interested in at all.  Here is a picture of how the students selected the question they wanted to research.

We had spider books, I showed the students how to search for answers on the internet and we watched videos about spiders.  I thought this was going to be a breeze.....However, I was wrong.  I didn't take into consideration that some of my students had never done a search on the internet before.  They couldn't decipher all the information they were receiving.  I also did not take into consideration that I have 8 grade 1's that were not in my class last year.  Needless to say, our first "gathering day" was a flop.  I had to regroup and try a different approach the next day.
I decided to do more of a whole class approach and model, model, model.  Instead of having each group focus on one question we all focused on all the questions that interested them.
The following day, I put a shortcut on the iPads for Wallwisher.  I had students share what they had learned by watching videos, reading, listening to their peers share facts and listening to me do non fiction read a loads.  This is what they came up with:

The students were so excited about the topic, we had students bringing in spiders they had caught around the house.  Of course, we had to get the document camera out and get a closer look at them!  Here is Mrs. Belanger showing the class our first furry friend under the document camera.

While watching the spider under the document camera, students were wondering if this particular spider would bite.  We had our fearless principal come in to test our hypothesis.  The spider did not bite him.  However, we did have another student bring in a wolf spider a few days later.  The first question the students wanted answered was, "Will the wolf spider bite Mr. Cowper?"  Again, Mr. Cowper came in and gave up his hand in the name of science.  Thankfully it did not bite him.  (He said it was because of his large principal hands.)

I learned from this that even though things did not go as planned, the students still were engaged, learned a lot and we had fun doing it.  I had students bringing in books that they created at home about spiders, many students brought in books that they found at home or went to the library to find spider books, I even had students bring in spider books that they read to the rest of the class.

Step 4 -  The Creating Stage

This is where students created something meaningful to them using the facts and information they learned about spiders.  We had been practicing with the iPad app Popplet.  Therefore it was unanimous that this was what the students wanted to use to share their learning.  Here is one of my grade one students' Popplets:

Step 5 - The Sharing Stage

We decided to share our Popplets by putting them on our blogs.  Students were excited to use the new Kidblog app on their iPads.  They also wanted to generate some interest and comments for their blogs.  We just did this step today, so I have put a request on twitter and have asked my principal to add some feedback to their blogs.  I am also going to ask one of junior classes to leave some comments because I know that they have just started blogging with their students.  I was thinking my students could share what they know about writing a good blog comment and then they can try it out on my students' blogs.  We would love for you to leave a comment or two here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Community Read

Last Thursday my class participated in our first Community Read.  I was talking to my good friend Karen Lirenman on google hangout a couple of weeks ago and she was sharing pictures of her first Community Read.  I loved the idea and I asked her if it would be okay if I tried it out in my room.  She said, "of corse."  I immediately wrote up a letter inviting the parents into my classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the morning bell to read with their children for 15 minutes at the beginning of the day.    After the 15 minutes, parents, grandparents, or whoever came to read with the children would leave and we would get on with our day.  Our first Community Read was a huge success.  Many families came in and read with their children in our Learning Commons.  The student's that did not have family available to come, read with volunteers, other teachers and myself.  It was great having the parents in and seeing the children reading to them!  I can't wait for Tuesday!                                        


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Collaborative Personal Narrative Writing Unit

Today we began our Personal Narrative Writing Unit.  I say "we" because our class (from Windsor, Ontario) and Mrs. Soltauheller's class (from British Columbia) are doing the unit together. Mrs. Soltauheller and I worked on the unit and all the details using Google Hangout from our homes after school last week.  We decided that I would teach the first lesson to introduce what a Personal Narrative is and to tell the students that they would be writing their own books during this unit.  I chose to read the book "BigMamama's" by Donald Crews.  Mrs. Soltauheller and I thought the students would enjoy the story if I took pictures of the story and created a movie using iMovie with myself reading the story.  

Here is the story the student's watched before the lesson:

After the video was shown, Mrs. Soltauheller called us using Skype so her class could watch and participate in the lesson.
We first created an anchor chart together and we talked about how the mentor text, "BigMamam's" was a personal narrative.

We then talked about personal stories we could share.  I gave each student a sticky note and had them write or draw a personal story they would like to share with the class. (the students had many ideas!)  While my students were doing this I was talking to Mrs. Soltauheller's class about ideas they had that could be turned into a story.  
Here is what our sticky note chart looked like:

I then modeled what my first page in my story would look like.  
The last part of the lesson was the most exciting because I got to share with my students that they would be writing their stories on their blogs.  Mrs. Soltauheller and I decided this because we are partnering one student from her class with one student with my class to comment on their partners' writing, make suggestions, ask questions and offer feedback.  We thought if the students did their stories on their blogs it would be easy for others to comment and it would be a great way to see the progress from start to finish.  When the stories are complete, the students will use Little Bird Tales to create an online book that we will embed into their blog post.  We are hoping to share our rough copy blog stories with each other the week of October 24th.  Mrs. Soltauheller is also going to teach a lesson to my class on how to illustrate their books.
Instead of booking out the laptop cart at my school, I put a Kidblog icon on the home screen on our iPads.  That way all the students had to do was to log into their Kidblog account and we were ready to go.  Here are a few of my students hard at work on their first page of their personal narratives. 

If you would like to see the beginnings of some of our stories,  check them out here.  The students used the title "My Story" for the post title so it would be easy to find until we finish our stories and give them an original title.  Please feel free to ask questions on the post.  It helps my students add details from the questions you ask about their writing.  I can't wait to collaborate with our British Columbia writing buddies and to see the final product!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Paperless Classroom Part 2 (How to use the Automator App)

If you did not read my first post on "How To Set Up A Primary Paperless Classroom on iPads" here is the Link

This post is to show you how to create an automated action that takes one file, creates multiple copies itself and places in multiple folders of your choice. This can only be done on a Mac computer.

1. Create a new folder to sync files from.  This folder will allow the file(s) placed into it to sync to multiple folder at once.

I have named the sync folder “Assignment Folder Sync.”

2. Create a folder for each student in your Dropbox folder.

3. Start the Automator App. This app will be found in the Applications folder.

4. Choose  “Folder Action” from the dialogue box, then click on “Choose.”

5. Click on “Files and Folders.”

6. Then “Copy Finder Items.”

7. Click on the “Choose folder” tab next to Folder Action receives files and folders added to

8. Choose the new Sync Folder you created during the first step.

9. Drag and drop “Copy Finder Items” from the left to the right where it states “Drag actions for files here to build your workflow.”

10. Choose a student’s folder from your Dropbox folder that is next to the To: option.  You may have to click on “other…” to find your student’s folder that is inside your Dropbox folder.

11. Choose your first student’s folder.

12. Continue to drag and drop “Copy Finder Items” from the Actions menu on the left to the right.

Repeat steps 9 through 12 to add each of your student’s folders found in your Dropbox folder.

*Be sure to click File and Save… before exiting the Automator App.*

Now syncing the same file to multiple folders, even within Dropbox is a one step process of dragging and dropping the file to your automated folder that is synced.