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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.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

6 Ways to Effectively Use Pic Collage

I have been in many classrooms since October that are fairly new to using iPads in their classrooms.  After the first initial lesson on "iPad Norms"  A great app to start with is Pic Collage.  I really like this app because there are so many uses, very simple to use and it is free!  Here are a few ideas on how to effectively use Pic Collage in your classroom.

Use Pic Collage in Math:

Download Here

Download Here
Download Here
Download Here

Use Pic Collage in Literacy:

Use Pic Collage in Health

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Fun Lesson to Teach Addition using a Read Aloud, iPads and the Book Creator App

Last week I was in a grade 1 Classroom that was at the beginning stages of adding.  This made me think of a great lesson Karen Lirenman had done with the book One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab (counting by feet book).  I immediately told her about the lesson and we planned to co - teach it the following day.  While I read the story, Mrs. Dadd created an anchor chart of
all of the characters in the story and the children told us how many feet each character had.  We then modeled how to add different combinations of characters feet to get a sum.  Students then were asked to select a sum that was a "just right" challenge for them and to create a drawing of the two characters and their number sentence that went with their picture using the Book Creator App.  Children that were ready were challenged to add 3 characters' feet in their number sentence.  Students then recorded their voice explaining their number sentence
with a phone that plugs into the headphone jack in the iPad to reduce background noise.  (I purchased them at the dollar store.)  We then airdropped all of the pages to one iPad, combined the pages in Book Creator and exported it as a movie so the class could watch and listen to their class book on         the big screen!  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Using a Drawing App To Show Thinking

As we are still in the first month of school, I have many primary teachers ask me, "What app should I begin with first or where do I begin to implement my new iPads?"  I like to start with a drawing app.  The reason for this is that it is an app that does not require previous iPad use.  All ability levels will enjoy using a drawing app and you can build onto this app by exporting your students' pictures into other apps to label, record their voice or use the work to create a class book.  A drawing app also goes perfectly with teaching children the strategy of reading and responding with a digital tool.  If you have a class set of iPads then while you are doing your read aloud all of your students can participate.  If you have 2-1 iPads, have your students work in partners.  If you have less, model the strategy, then leave the read aloud book in a literacy center with your 2 or 3 iPads and have students practice the strategy that way.  Even if your students can't read yet, they can still look through the book and retell it in their own words.  Make sure you choose a book full of beautiful pictures, labels and charts.  This way your students can complete this task while you are working with a small group elsewhere.  In the lesson below, I used a National Geographic Reader on Bats.  I chose this book because it is easy to read, has great pictures and I knew it was a book that my students would love to reread at silent reading time.
Download Lesson Here

Friday, August 21, 2015

Primary Blogging Community Registration is OPEN

The Primary Blogging Community is currently accepting classes that blog for the October rotation.  The last rotation was a huge success with over 80 classes participating from all over the world. Here is a brief description of what the blogging community is:

What is the Primary Blogging Community?

The PBC is a community of primary teachers (K-4th grade) that want to share their students' learning via their classroom blog and their students' personal blogs.  Classrooms will be grouped with 3 or 4 other classrooms from around the globe.  The program is 5 weeks long.  The first week will concentrate on the classroom blogs only.  During this week, you will visit the other classes' class blog.  This is a chance for the other classes to see what is happening in your school and class, to discover where in the world you are located and to learn about how to write a good blog post and to watch how you model and work together to write a good comment.  After the first  week, we switch the focus from your classroom blog and concentrate on student blogs.  The second week, one class will be the focus class with the other 3 classes commenting on the first class' individual blogs.  The cycle continues for 3 more weeks.   The focus is solely on your student's individual blogs. 

Why join the Primary Blogging Community?

1.  You will be collaborating with other like minded educators on this project and in return will build your PLN.
2.  PBC creates enthusiasm in reading and writing.
3.  It gives your students a voice and lets them be the teacher to their peers.
4.  Your students will have a built in audience that will provide authentic feedback to what they are writing about on their blogs.
5.  On some days in the last rotation, my students had over 100 comments on their blogs!  The excitement and engagement piece to this blogging community is huge!  

What do I need to have to begin?

You need to have a classroom blog (could be a blog that is part of Kidblogs, just to give the rest of the participants some information about your school and community) and your students need their own personal blogs. We also communicate frequently on twitter, use #PrimaryBC on twitter and follow me on twitter for news and updates @mrswideen.

Where do I sign up?
Please fill in the google doc here.

When do we begin?

I will be closing registration September 21st and we will begin October 5th.

A few resources to get you on and your students ready:

Student Authored Portfolios: Archiving Learning With iPad  free iBook By Kathy Cassidy
Download Kidblog Here.
Download Edublogs Here.
Mrs. Wideen’s Class blogs Here
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Download poster here

Monday, July 20, 2015

Teaching and Assessing Reading Comprehension with Explain Everything

This past year, I really focused on explicitly teaching comprehension strategies to my students.  I taught how to reread a text, annotate a text, leaving tracks of thinking while reading, questioning techniques and most importantly, instilling in my students that reading is thinking.

We used Padlet walls to show our thinking, we drew pictures and wrote information digitally as I read aloud, we used today’s meet to make our thinking visible.  Using these different strategies kept my students engaged and allowed their thinking to be seen by their peers and myself.

Near the end of this past year we began an inquiry on Africa.  I find one of the most challenging things about student inquiry is to find resources that are interesting and at my students reading level.  One resource I use often is readinga-z.  Reading a-z is a website that has more than 2,500 downloadable books (including English, Spanish, and French versions) and thousands of teaching and learning materials.

I use to search for specific topics and then match my students reading levels to the text.  I would then print the various books out for my students.  This took a lot of time to print and a lot of paper!  I can usually find 2 or 3 different texts on the same topic in varying difficulty.

While I was searching for different books on Africa, I noticed that the books could be downloaded in a PDF.  This was a game changer.  Having 32 iPads in my room, I was able to save the book as a PDF and save it to Dropbox.  My classroom iPads all have the Dropbox app, which means:
  • Students open the Explain Everything app
  • Choose open file and download the PDF to Explain Everything
  • The PDF opens in Explain Everything and now students can annotate, draw, highlight and record their voice right on the document.
  • They can also save their work and go back to it for research purposes and it is a great way for me to assess their comprehension strategies.

You could also use this same format to have your students show non fiction text features like the example below:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tips and Tricks for Creating Authentic iPad Learning Stations for Primary Students

A few weeks ago, I did a workshop on Creating Authentic iPad Learning Stations for Primary Students.  I thought I would share some of the things that I spoke about and some of the key points that I tried to get across in my workshop.

First, an iPad Station does not consist of handing a child an iPad, putting them on an app and letting them click away.  Come on people, aren’t we past this by now?  In the past, I have had colleagues come ask me if they can use the iPads in my room the following period.  When I replied yes, their next question was, “What apps do you have on them?”  WHAT!? Integrating technology doesn’t mean that you hand a child an iPad for a period because you have nothing planned.  Using technology needs to be purposeful.  It needs to be thought out, and there needs to a reason to use it.

Technology is used to give students a voice, give students choice, to give students a global audience, to make thinking visible and to allow me to assess and give feedback using voice and video.  It also enables my parents to see their children’s work on a daily basis through Twitter and their personal blogs. 

When I first started creating my iPad task cards, I only had 2 iPads in my classroom.  I originally used them as a centre or station during my daily 5 or my math stations.  I was able to put the task card along with an iPad and voila! My students were able to all have a turn using the iPad for something meaningful.  All of my iPad stations stem from the Ontario Curriculum. 

Now that I have a cart of iPads, I still use the iPad stations but, now many of the task cards are made for whole class activities and are step by step instructions for students to follow to complete a task.

All of my iPad stations are content creation stations.  Which means, that students use their creativity and knowledge to produce something that shows their learning.  Here are a few examples:

My second key point is that you only need one page of apps for your students to be successful.  I too, have fallen into the free app downloading frenzy.  What happens is you have so many apps for your students to use that they never get comfortable using it and then have to spend extra time learning the functions rather than concentrating on their work.  If you have a handful of apps that your students can use efficiently then they are not distracted by trying out a bunch of new apps that probably aren’t as good as the ones I am going to suggest anyways.

Here are the must have apps we use in my classroom:

I like to use apps that you can use for different purposes.  We use two whiteboard apps in my room.  For young children or children new to the iPad, Draw and Tell is where to start.  For experienced iPad users (which is most children) or children in grade 2 or higher I strongly suggest Explain Everything.  If you can only buy one app for your iPads, make it EE.

Here is an example of one my iPad stations using EE:

And a student sample:

Another favourite app we use all of the time is Popplet:

We also use Pic Collage for many different applications:

Lastly, Geoboard is a great free app to use for math:

This year, I have used Padlet walls to assess work.  Some of my students choose to use paper and pencil instead of the iPads to show their learning, with a quick picture of their work they can upload it to the Padlet wall and I can look at all of my students' work in one place from anywhere and see who is ready to move on or who needs to work with me the following day in a small group.

These are only a few examples of the iPad stations we use, please feel free to use any of the stations I have created.  You can download and print them for free.  At the top of the page where it says iPad Stations is where they are all stored.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Must Have Apps for My Classroom

I have many emails from teachers that are just starting to use iPads in their classrooms about what apps I would recommend.  I have to admit that the apps I loved 3 years ago are the pretty much the same ones I would recommend today.  I do need to stress that these apps alone without teacher direction and curriculum goals will not magically improve your test scores or your students writing levels.  There is a lot of thought in the way that I incorporate technology into my classroom.  My favourite apps aren't button pushing apps that help students memorize math facts or sight words.  These are apps that if used properly show student thinking.  They are apps that make assessing students knowledge and thinking very apparent.  These are apps that allow my students freedom and creativity to show what they know.

So my disclaimer is that these are my favourite apps for my classroom.  A classroom that offers a lot of choice and freedom to my students.  A classroom that is noisy, messy and full of life.  This may not be your kind of classroom.  These may not be your kind of apps.

My Top Pics Are:

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Book Creator
Free & $5.79
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Explain Everything
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Drawing Pad

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Draw & Tell HD
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Green Screen
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Popplet/Popplet Lite