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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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How To Create QR Codes To Use In Your Classroom

What are QR Codes and How Can I Use them in my Classroom? 

A QR Code is a type of barcode that is readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera telephones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text you want students to read, websites, or video.

Ideas For The Classroom

A very quick way to incorporate QR codes in your classroom is to simply create a QR code so students can get to a website quickly and efficiently.  How many times have you written a website on the board for your students to go to and you get 10 students saying that they can’t get to the website because they have typed it incorrectly?  

I love creating bookmarks for my students with QR codes so that it takes them to todaysmeet or maybe a padlet wall that I have created for students to share their thinking. 
All I do is create a bookmark in Word or Pages with the information I want the students to have and insert the QR code into the document.  Then I print it for my students to use. 

Along the same lines, I have used QR codes for a KWL chart, where students scan the code, it takes them to a Padlet wall where they can add their knowledge, their 
wonders and their learning to 3 separate walls with 3 
separate QR codes.  

How about using QR codes in your classroom library books?  Little learners love to open a favourite book and see a QR code to scan that takes them to a Youtube video that sings their favourite book. Or better yet, older students could create book trailers so other students could watch their book trailer to get a glimpse of what the book is about.  I also use the audio boo app to have children record themselves reading a story and create a QR code of the audio so others can listen to the book by their fellow classmates.

Do your students do literacy or math stations?  Their are infinite possibilities to use them in this way.  Here are a few that I have pinned from Pinterest

How The Heck Do I Create A QR Code?

First, you can use an app or a website to create your QR code.

I personally use QR Stuff to create my QR codes.  It is free and easy to use, but there are many free sites you can use.

You have many choices on what to link your QR code to.  I mainly connect my QR codes to either a URL (website) or plain text (words or phrases). 

If you are connecting to a website, all you do is copy the URL you want to use and paste in the designated area and the site generates a URL.  You can download the QR code or I take a screenshot of the code and insert it into the document I am creating.  Or I will use the print option that I LOVE because there are so many print options right from the site. 

Now that you have your QR codes created, all you have to do is download a QR reader onto your devices.  I personally use Qrafter on all of the iPads in my classroom.  It works well and it’s Free!

All you have to do is start creating!  Let me know if you have anymore questions or leave a link to a QR code activity you have created.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Creation of My Classroom Learning Space

When you think of a learning space in a school, do you automatically think of desks, blackboards and textbooks?  As the world changes and the way we deliver and receive content changes, why do so many of our schools continue to look the same?

My classroom is a collaborative environment, where problem solving, questioning and feedback is encouraged.  Gone are the days where you could hear a pin drop in a classroom.  My classroom is noisy, full of energy and always changing.  My students choose where they want to sit, choose who they want to              work with and what tools they want to use.  I needed my learning space to reflect that.

Last year I spoke to my teaching partner about changing our classroom.  She was all for it, so the first thing we changed were the desks.  We were able to swap out our desks for tables.  We used furniture that wasn’t being used in other buildings in our district and traded them for our desks.
The second thing I wanted to change was our meeting area.  We had a large carpet for the students to gather on. (We have 40 students.)  I made a few milk crate stools, my mom donated a large ottoman and we had two high bar stools that sat at our observation window to view our bird feeders.

The students chose the non traditional seating over their tables every time.  They loved working together seated on the ottoman or around it.  They loved reading and collaborating on the high stools.  I don’t think the furniture increases learning directly.  However, I believe your mood does.  When you are comfortable and happy it contributes to your productivity.

As a result of this, last August I tweeted to our local furniture companies asking them to donate furniture to my classroom.  A couple of the companies responded asking me to email them.  I did and one local company was eager to hear my story.

A meeting was set with Noah Tepperman.  He is the Director of Social Media and a Partner of Tepperman’s Furniture store.

When we met, I told him about our space and that my students did most of their learning on an iPad.  I explained that we were looking for a more comfortable space for not only my students but their parents as well.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first half hour of the day the families of my students are invited to come in and read with them.  This has evolved since we received the iPads.  Students now read or show their families work they have done on the iPads.  Our guests always had to go into our library because we didn’t have enough seating to accommodate our families.

After meeting with Noah, he came and visited my learning space and spoke to my students.  We then met one last time to look at furniture for the space.

This past June, 2 large sectionals, an ottoman and a 50 inch flat screen were donated to our learning space.

The new learning area provided by Mr. Tepperman  can accommodate around 20 children comfortably and we can now use our Apple TV to share the students’ work on our new TV.

The students love our new space, reading time is a lot quieter, work time is a lot more comfortable and parents feel welcome to join our classroom.

Why can’t our classrooms look closer to our homes?  I know that when I’m reading a book or doing something on my iPad, I don’t sit at my kitchen table.  I sit on my couch in my living room. 

When you start getting ready to go back to school next month, think about your learning space.  Do you have different areas in your room that are meant for different tasks?   Do you have quiet areas to get away with a book or to do something independently?  Do you have other areas where seating can easily be rearranged to meet the need for collaboration?  Do you have any non-traditional seating, if not, can you get some? 

Hopefully you can find someone as generous and genuine as Noah Tepperman to make that a reality.  Thank you Noah for the amazing donation and for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit my class, and to comment on their blogs.  My students and I couldn’t be more happy with our learning space!

A student's blog post and the response from Mr. Tepperman

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Using Social Media as a Teaching Tool

Teaching Social Media as a tool is imperative in todays day and age.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube are all applications that many of our students frequent everyday.  We also hear horrible stories of mistakes teens and adults have made that they can't take back on social media.  A snap of a picture that is sent via text could be detrimental.  Saying something inappropriate on Twitter or Facebook can put you in a lot of hot water or worse....jail.

This is why I teach social media norms and etiquette in my classroom. Do kids make mistakes?  Of course!  I encourage mistakes, because we learn from them.  I want my students to make those mistakes while they are in my class.  An inappropriate comment on someone's blog is a lesson learned in my class and hopefully not repeated.  The mistakes that are made in grade 2 are a lot less harmful than when that student is in high school.

My students see Social Media as a teaching tool.  Twitter is embedded into the daily instruction in my classroom.  As well as posting their learning on their personal blogs or uploading their work to our Youtube Channel.  Our classroom Twitter norms were created with my students to ensure ownership of our norms.

A few weeks ago we were working on writing a persuasive letter.  I wanted to make this an authentic task so as a class, we brainstormed a list of things that we could persuade our principal to buy or let us do.  My students agreed that they wanted to persuade our principal into buying us a bird feeder to put outside our observation window.  My students came up with the idea to post the letters on their blogs and then tweet them directly to our principal on Twitter.  Students tweeted their letters and got responses from not only the principal.  We received a bird feeder and birdseed on behalf of our Director of Education, a bird house that one of our students made and a humming bird feeder from my mom.

One of my student's letters on their blog.  (Check out the response).

I think the above tweet says it all.  The connections being made in my classroom that day was amazing.  Students were discussing how powerful social media can be.  They spoke about how quickly the message got around and how if they would have delivered the letter to the principal's office we would have not received all of this support from other people.  This also sparked a conversation about if you were to post something that was harmful or inappropriate on Twitter, how many people could potentially see it very quickly and how you can't take something back even if you delete the tweet after it has been tweeted.  These conversations help mold my students opinions and work ethic around social media.

Another great example of how social media has a positive impact in my classroom, is when I  recently received this tweet on the weekend from one of my students:

I was so excited to get a tweet on the weekend from a student that on their own, researched about our current inquiry and tweeted it to me!  (Remember, he is in grade 3).  This student isn't using social media to see what Justin Bieber is up to or to ramble on about his weekend.  He is using it in a purposeful way to show his learning.

 After the weekend, my student was all set with two QR codes printed out to share with the class.  Amazing!

Remember mistakes are welcomed in our classrooms and when children make mistakes it creates new learning.  Don't be quick to "shut it down"  when a mistake is made on social media.  Be thankful it was made in a controlled environment where students can learn from their mistakes without it being detrimental down the road.