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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.

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!