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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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Collaborative Project In Writing

Last year, a few teachers decided to try to teach a Procedural Writing Unit at the same time.  The special thing about this project was that the teachers were not all in the same building, or city, or town, or province, or country!  Mrs. Soltauheller teaches in Northern Vancouver Island, Mrs. Kolb teaches in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Ms. Lirenman teaches in Surrey, British Columbia and I teach in Windsor, Ontario.
We began planning at night,(well with the time difference, at night for Mrs. Kolb and I and after school for Mrs. Soltauheller and Ms. Lirenman) through Google Hangout.  We planned lessons together and talked about what we were doing in our classrooms.  Mrs. Kolb even taught our classes a procedural writing lesson on Google Hangout.

Our students' shared their writing and received feedback from the other classes via Skype and Google Hangout.
It was so successful, we want to try it again. So......

This October we will be collaborating on a Personal Narrative Unit.  We will be starting the second week of October.  If you are writing about this genre in October and want to connect let me know.  I will be teaching a lesson or two on Google Hangout if you want your class to listen in.   We will also be sharing our writing and would love some positive feedback via Skype or Google Hangout.

Global Read Aloud 2012

October 1st marks the first day of the Global Read Aloud Project.  The Global Read Aloud project is meant to make the world a little smaller for our students and to look at all of our shared experiences.  Students from around the globe will be reading the same book and sharing their thoughts, predictions and ideas with each other.  My class is beginning to share predictions on Monday with Mrs. Lirenman's class from Surrey, British Columbia via Skype.  We will be making our predictions about the book Charlotte's Web.  

Here is an Animoto on the Global Read Aloud History created by Mrs. Ripp

All classes participating will be following the same reading schedule:
Week 1: chapters 1 through 6
Week 2: chapters 7 through 11
Week 3: chapters 12 through 17
Week 4: chapters 18 through 22

We would love to do a Google Hangout with 2 or 3 different classes that are participating at the same time.  I would love to read a chapter or 2 to your classes sometime in October and my class would love to hear you read a chapter to them via Skype or Google Hangout.  Let me know if you are interested.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Primary Blogging Community

With the Primary Blogging Community starting this Monday, I wanted to do a little explaining on how this little project has become a bigger project.... At the end of August, I was partaking in my usual Sunday night ritual (participating in #1st chat on Twitter) when the conversation went to blogging.  Many teachers wanted to connect their classrooms with other classrooms from our 1st chat community. I volunteered to do some thinking about it and to start something.  I put out a Google Doc and asked for interested primary teachers to sign up.  The response was fantastic!  There were over 20 primary classrooms that wanted to participate.
I created an Edmodo teacher group for us where we could collaborate on ideas and I could start putting a schedule together.  We decided on the following dates and activities:

Teachers were group with 3 or 4 other classes.


Each week one class' blog will be the centre of attention. The other 3 or 4 classrooms will be exploring and commenting on that one particular blog.  The following week, class 2 will be the centre of attention where the other classes will comment and explore on class 2's blog and so on.


We are going to do some Skype and Google Hangout sessions with our blogging buddies.  This will create a "face" to the classroom blogs and will enrich the experience.


We will do a "snail mail" exchange that we are going to call "Winter Greetings".  Classes will send Winter Greetings to their blogging buddies.  It can be a letter, a card, a picture, or anything that can be sent in the mail. I am hopping that this will be an exciting time for our students and we will see some of their thoughts on their own personal blogs.


We will do the same rotation schedule and the same blogging buddies as we did in October, however, this time we will be focusing on our students' personal blogs instead of the class blog.  This will create more comments, more traffic and more enthusiasm for our students' blogs.

I am hoping if all goes well, that we will do the whole process again with different blogging buddies in February.  If you are interested in signing up for the next session, you can sign up here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Math Stations

We officially started our math stations this week.  The past couple of weeks we have been going over procedures and have been exploring all the math manipulatives in our classroom.  We have created our Math Norms together and I am happy to say that most of the children know them by heart!

Math Norms

1. Be kind and share.
2. Use quiet voices
3. Use math talk (patterns, shapes, problems).
4. Take turns.
5. Put materials away neatly.

Math Workshop Schedule

Mini lesson (Whole group guided practice) 15 minutes
Math station rotation #1 (I meet with 1 or 2  small groups) 15 minutes
Math station rotation #2 (I meet with 1 or 2  small groups) 15 minutes
Reflect and sharing time (Whole group) 5 minutes

Math Management Board

There are 10 math stations.  I have paired the students and they travel together to each station.  This is what our math station board looks like:
I do have 7 other students that are on a different math board.  This is the grade 2 math board.  The grade 1 board is in Mrs. Wakeman's room.  My grade 1's take the bucket from Mrs. Wakeman's room and bring into my room. (We are an open concept school and she is right beside me.)

Stations We Are Currently Working On

Students are fishing with a metre stick with a magnet attached.
Each fish has an addition question on it that they record on the recording sheet.

The girls are working at the puzzle station.

An addition and subtraction game involving chocolate chip cookies!

iPad Station

Smartboard Station (using

2 boys playing domino war.

Lastly, we have a problem solving station.  Last year we had notebooks that the students would put a pre made label in their book and use pictures, numbers and words to figure out the problem.  This year because we are trying to go as paperless as possible, we are trying this on the iPads using the ShowMe app.  The students take a picture of the problem and then solve it.  Here is an example:

How do you run your math program?  I would love for you to share.  I am always looking for new ideas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Creating Videos With the ShowMe App On the iPads

Today we read "Splat The Cat Back to School, Splat!" This book is great for introducing or doing a quick review of rhyming, since cat and Splat are in the title. I  did a review of the word family "at" with my students.  Students were then partnered up and were asked to pick a word family and create a video to teach  younger students what a word family is.  Each pair of students were given an iPad and I gave them a quick tutorial on how to use the ShowMe app because I have 8 new students that were not in my class last year.  Students went to work and did a really good job for it being their first time with the ShowMe app this year.  Here is one of the videos that was created:
My next step is to upload the students' videos onto their Kidblogs because I want to use their blogs as digital portfolios this year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School!

We had a very fun and exciting first day back to school today!  We started the day with a cute clip from the movie "Finding Nemo".

We talked about how many of us were very excited about school and couldn't sleep very well last night (me included).  We also talked about how a lot of us were feeling a little bit nervous about our first day back.  This discussion led us into our next activity.  We talked about the "First Day Jitters" and what other things gave us the jitters.  We then read the book:

We read a cute poem about Jitter Juice. (If you drink jitter juice, it will take the butterflies in your tummy away).  We then made Jitter Juice together and drank our jitters away!  We also wrote down the ingredients to our jitter juice and drew a picture so we could remember the secret recipe if we needed to make it at home.

Another activity we did today, was we talked about one thing that we wanted to share with the class about our summer vacation.  We shared our stories with a partner and then were given an index card to write and or draw that one experience we had in the summer.  The students were then given an iPad to tweet their experience on Twitter.  Our class Twitter account is @Mrswideensclass if you are interested in following us.  Here are some of our tweets from today.

In the afternoon we began talking about Math Stations and we had some exploration time with the math manipulatives. While the students were at the stations I asked them to brainstorm ways they could use the manipulatives during math and write or draw their ideas on the chart paper at their station. The students came up with some great ideas!

 As you can see, we had a very busy day! I can't wait to see you all tomorrow!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How To Set Up A Primary Paperless Classroom Using iPads

As I said in my previous post, my husband @mrwideen and I have figured out a way to send assignments, worksheets and activities to my grade 1 and 2 students using the iPads without having to sign my students up for email addresses or by using an exterior community website like Edmodo.  The following is a step by step tutorial of how we set up my classroom:

1.  Sign up for a classroom Dropbox account.  After signing up for Dropbox, create a folder for each one of your students.  Download the Dropbox app onto each student iPad.  Log onto the classroom account on each student iPad.

Screen shot of dropbox with my students' files.
2.  Download the iPad app Remarks on all of your student iPads. Remarks is a PDF annotating application.  The app allows users to highlight, underline, strikeout and draw upon documents.  This means your students can write on any PDF that you send them via Dropbox.

3. Open Remarks app, click on network on the bottom of the screen.

4. After clicking on Network, add your Dropbox account.

5.  Once you have added your dropbox account to the Remarks app, click on your Dropbox account that was just created.  For example, I've used my first and last name for my account.

6.  After clicking on your Dropbox account, all of your student folders that you created will pop up.

7. To place assignments into your students' folders, you need to save the assignment as a PDF.   Save a copy of the PDF in each of the students' folders in Dropbox.   For example, I have clicked on the Mrs. Wideen folder.  As you can see the PDF (Jitter Juice Poem) was saved in the folder.

8.  Click on the PDF/assignment.  The note will download and appear on your screen as shown.

9.  Students can use their finger, stylist or use the built in iPad keyboard to annotate.

10.  When students complete their assignment, have students first click on the share icon.  A box will appear with different choices.  Have your students choose the "Upload Note" option.

11.  Have your students' choose the classroom Dropbox account.

12.  After choosing the classroom Dropbox account, have students choose their own name.

13.  Click upload.

14.  Click replace, so the finished assignment is replacing the original document in the folder.

15.  You are done!  The completed work is in each of your students' folders for you to assess.  You also have a ready made portfolio for you, documenting all of your students' work!

If you are thinking that it would take too long to save the original PDF in each child's folder (#7).   I do have a solution for that, if you use a Mac computer.  However, you will have to wait for my next blog post to find out.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Primary Paperless Classroom

A new school year brings new aspirations, my hope this year is to become a paperless classroom.  Well, not completely paperless.  Let's face it, in a primary classroom, children need manipulatives and they need tactile stimulation.  However, I want to use less paper in my room.  Students can record their learning in many different ways other than pencil and paper.  Last year, my students showed me many different ways they could record their learning.  A few of my favorites were: as a substitute for sticky notes.  It's a great tool for brainstorming or for showing learning.  Another favourite  is the Show Me app where students can draw and record themselves explaining their learning.  One of my new favourites for recording student learning is Creating movies with the iMovie app.
These are all great tools, but I wanted to try something new, I wanted to take it one step farther and have my students use the iPads like notebooks.  I wanted to be able to share worksheets, documents and assignments with my students through the iPads.
Many classrooms are paperless classrooms, however when I searched for primary paperless classrooms, mainly grade one and two classrooms, I couldn't find any.  It is difficult to find primary paperless classrooms because for the most part, many or all of these children do not have email addresses to share documents.
I searched and searched for a way to make this a reality.  I asked my PLN for help, unfortunately I came up empty handed.  Until, I put my husband @MrWideen on the case.  It didn't take him long to figure out a way to send out documents to my grade 1/2 students' iPads without them having email addresses and it being easy enough for 20 six and seven years to accomplish with a little practice.  Stay tuned for my next blog post to see how we did it.