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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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2nd Grade Math, My Way

This year, I am teaching a grade 2/3 split.  I have had some of these munchkins since Kindergarten (with a year mat leave in-between).  Needless to say, we didn't need much time to go over procedures and classroom norms because I have had many of these children for 3 years.  I am team teaching math with 2 other teachers, so for math I teach all of the second graders.

My school board uses the math program, "Math Makes Sense" and for the most part I really like the program except for all of the worksheets to photocopy.  Now, if you know me at all, I try to use the iPads A LOT during math.  Why photocopy a worksheet when you can use manipulatives and the camera on the iPad?  Not to mention the ability to annotate and capture students talking about their thinking.  

So, I took the first unit of the year which was sorting and patterning, looked at the overall expectations and tweaked the lessons to incorporate the iPads.  Here is what we did:

Learning Goal -  to be able to create a pattern and explain the core

To introduce patterning, I first showed the pattern video on brainpopjr.com.  I then modeled different patterns and we talked about what the core or unit was.  I then invited the children to use any type of manipulatives they wanted to create a pattern.  Students were instructed to take a picture of their pattern then use an app to draw a circle around the core of the pattern and upload it to their blog.  Here are a couple of examples:



The second learning goal was to be able represent a pattern in different ways.  After the lesson.  I again instructed the students to get out the iPads, manipulatives, paper, markers and whatever else they wanted that would help them to answer the problem prompt.

Create a pattern using three colours of snap cubes.  Find another way you can represent your pattern.


I also had 2 students create videos and use sound (clapping, snapping and stomping)  I would love to show you, however the video is at school on the iPads, so you will have to take my word for it until I can upload the video to my blog.

The final learning goal for this unit was to Use "look for a pattern" to solve a problem.    After the mini lesson (different problem solving strategies and how to make a plan to solve a problem), I put children into groups of three and gave them the problem prompt.
There are 9 red beads, 3 green beads, and 6 blue beads.  Make a pattern using all the beads.  

I had students use any type of manipulative they wanted and they got right to work.  Some drew pictures but most got manipulatives.  I was pleasantly surprised how many groups got it without much prompting.  I did have one group that I worked through the problem with.  The following day we did a similar problem with different amounts of beads and only one munchkin was still having trouble.

I did not use one single photocopy or worksheet for this unit.  My students choose how to demonstrate their learning and I have evidence of all of their work on their blogs for assessment.  Best of all, all of my students were successful with this unit.
Is it because I gave them choice? 
Is it because they weren't sitting at their seats doing worksheet after worksheet?
Is it because I am able to give small group instruction while the other children are busy showing their learning on the iPads or any other way they choose?
I think the answer is yes to all of the above questions.  I still covered the curriculum, I still delivered math mini lessons and I still have a group of students that are excited when I say that it is math time!



Sunday, September 8, 2013

6 Ready To Go iPad Centers

A few of the following iPad Centers/Stations I have posted before, however I thought it might be useful to post them again, at the beginning of the year so you know they are here if you want to try something new during your literacy or math block.  All of the centers can be done using one or two iPads at the center and are actual centers that my students used last year.  I hope you find them useful or they spark new ideas to try with your students.

Writing Center:

App Needed - Write About This



Fluency Center

App Needed - Audioboo, iPhone version


Research Center

App Needed - Pocket Zoo




Math Center

App Needed - Draw & Tell

This one might be a bit confusing at first.  Here is a video of one of my students completing this math station:





Math Center

App Needed - Explain Everything


Math Center

App Needed - Explain Everything





Saturday, September 7, 2013

I Created A Class Twitter Account, Now What?


Each morning as we start our day together, I draw attention to things that my students may have missed or mentions from our Twitter feed.  This short time together each morning discussing our Twitter feed has resulted in rich discussions that prompt thinking, cause us to wonder and lead us to seek out further information.  
There are many opportunities during the school day to incorporate the use of twitter.  A good place to start is to read the tweets from the other classes you follow, ask questions or provide comments as a whole class.  The following examples will give you some ideas on how to involve Twitter in literacy, math and science.  All of the Twitter activities explained can be done as a whole group, small group or by individual students. 


Wonder Questions
I encourage students to continuously ask questions and be curious about their surroundings.  Students are always encouraged to pose questions they are wondering about on Twitter.  It has been fascinating how many people have responded to my students’ questions.  This activity has shown my students that Twitter can be a place to acquire information from others.


Fairy Tale Riddles

During our Fairy Tale unit my students discovered by reading the class Twitter feed that a class in Maine was also learning about fairytales.  They connected through Twitter and started tweeting a fairytale riddle to each other each day.  You can see some of their riddles on the right.

Once Upon A Tweet

Erin Mastin, a grade 1 teacher in Michigan created the hashtag #1uponatweet.  The idea is that one class begins a story with a single tweet adding the hashtag, #1uponatweet. Then a different class will continue the story adding to the previous tweet.  At the end of the week, day or however long you want to wait, have students read how the story has changed from when they added to it.  One idea to extend this activity is to type the story out for your students, have your students choose a tweet to illustrate either on paper or the iPad, then tweet out the finished product! Another idea to extend this activity is to discuss if the story has a beginning, middle and end or a main idea.  You could also discuss voice and or audience.  There are endless possibilities for this activity.  

Post A Daily Word 

Challenge your students to unscramble an anagram, contribute antonyms or synonyms, or tweet a definition to the word of the day.  This could also be done with their weekly spelling words or words of the week.

Creating Math Stories
Another great hashtag to participate in is Karen Lirenman’s creation #MathStory.  Students create math stories or problems for other students to answer. 
This is a great activity for any child because they can select the most appropriate leveled question for themselves.  Another great thing about Twitter is that your shy or more reluctant students will be more willing to participate in these activities because they choose what to answer or comment on.  The first time we did this activity, I connected with a colleague on Twitter and we set a time where our students would ask math questions back and forth.  I had all of my students on the carpet with the Twitter feed displayed on our white screen.  At the same time, my students all had their iPads and were on the Twitter app.  We read the questions together as they appeared on our Twitter stream and then students volunteered to answer the question they wanted to answer. We then took a turn creating and asking math questions. Not only were my students responsible for creating and asking the questions, they were also responsible for responding to the child that answered their question by telling them if they answered the question correctly or not.  We then had a Skype session to debrief the students on the activity and they ended up continuing with the math questions by way of Skype because they were having so much fun.  This example really illustrates how an authentic audience motivates and encourages students to participate and extend their learning. 

Many of my students enjoy sharing their art creations, a quick snap of the camera roll and an explanation of the art project is all that is needed to tweet it to the world.  Other students use twitter for research.  They may ask questions that need to be answered by experts in a particular field.  Students also like to respond to questions or comments from other Twitter feeds that we follow.  A great way to begin tweeting is to simply have students write about what they are up to at school that day, or start with the “Tweeter of the day”.  Where one student is responsible for tweeting the news of the day.  All the above examples incorporate, thinking, reading and writing for an authentic audience and best of all, my students are excited by it!  Bring a little excitement into your class this year and create a class Twitter feed!