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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.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Join The Global Project #kidscancreatechange

We (my teaching partner and I) are embarking on an inquiry that we hope will promote innovation, empowerment, risk taking, commitment, and skilled problem solving in our students. 
Using Fullan’s six elements of character as our framework we are attempting to measure the impact of focusing work on social and global issues on students’ ability to demonstrate the 6 C’s.

The six C’s are:

  • Character education: building resilience, empathy, confidence and wellbeing.
  • Citizenship: referencing global knowledge, cultural respect, environmental awareness.
  • Communication: getting students to apply their oral work, listening, writing and reading in varied contexts.
  • Critical-thinking: designing and managing projects which address specific problems and arrive at solutions using appropriate and diverse tools.
  •  Collaboration: working in teams so students can learn with/from others.
  •  Creativity and imagination: to develop qualities like enterprise, leadership, innovation.         

In developing this inquiry, we wanted to keep to a theme “Make something in the world better.”  This could be:

  • In the school
  • In the community
  • In the world

We wanted the children to identify a need, to create a plan and then reflect on the outcome.

 It was December when we began this project, so it was the perfect season to embark in this journey.  There was a food drive at our school for local families and we also had a Christmas tree in our front hallway that students and teachers decorated with hats and mittens for children in need.  This was our first step in building empathy in our students.

We then started introducing our students to issues that many of them had no schema about.  We explored the following questions through the LivingOnOne Change Series:
·      What is it really like to live on just $1 a day?
·      How big of an effect could not having clean water nearby have on your life?
·      What kind of food can you afford on $1 a day and what does it really mean to be malnourished?
·      What options do the poor have to get back on their feet after a natural disaster?
·      What barriers do the poor face in finding work and how do they make a living?

·      How is it possible to budget just $1 a day for immediate costs like food and shelter and still save for long term items like your kids’ education and emergencies?
·      What prevents kids from going to school and how can education respect traditional culture while also teaching modern skills?

We noticed that the students were very engaged in the content and were hungry for more.  We invited  Emily Hime has a non profit organization called Hime For Help.  Emily opened and runs Maison Ke Kontan Children's Home in Port Au Prince where seventeen children currently reside. As well as running the Children's Home she also sponsors over ten children and families who are living in extreme poverty and gives these children an opportunity to attend school.   She also supports a tent city consisting of 76 people where she provides clothing, food, and medical treatment as well as a remote village in the mountains of Montrouis where she personally sponsors a family of nine and provides care packages, medical care, clothing, and food for other Haitians in the village.  Twenty two year old Emily Hime was gracious enough to come and talk to our class about her journey, her passion and why she is moving to Haiti indefinitely this February. 
someone from our local community to come in to speak to our students.


Emily and the background knowledge we provided our students through read alouds, video and pictures ignited a spark in our students that was contagious.  Students began bringing in spare change to send to Emily.  They began brainstorming ways they could help Emily and her organization. 


This is where #kidscancreatechange came from.  Our students want the world to know that even though they are young, they can create a huge impact.  An impact, that can change the world. 

We want you to join us.  We want you to prove that you don’t have to be rich, or famous, or old to make a difference.  We want the world to know that #kidscancreatechange. 

We are asking that you identify a need in your school, community or in the world that you want to make better.  Then let us know by filling in the google doc and documenting your journey with audio, text, pictures and or video.  If you have an iPad, create a page using the book creator app with all of your documentation and send it to us so we can create a global collaboration book on how #kidscancreatechange.  If you don’t have an iPad, we still want you to participate!  Send us your documentation through email and we will create the page for you!

We know that this project will take some time, we would like your documentation by April 13th so we can create the collaborative book and get it back to you before the end of the school year.

If you are asking the question, “Where do I start?”  We have created a google doc with some resources to get you started.

When you are ready to show and tell us your journey on how #kidscancreatechange check out the following information for easy instructions on how to send us your book creator pages.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!  Email me at mrswideen@gmail.com

Let’s empower our students and show the world that #kidscancreatechange



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Show Me The Money!

The past few weeks we have been working on money.  My second graders are expected to be able to estimate and count money amounts to one dollar.  Funny that our math program only has one lesson covering money.  As my good friend Erin Mastin says, it was time to "Wideen" it and go off course and do my own thing.

My students were ranging from little or no knowledge of what the names of the coins are to being able to count money to around a dollar.  Here are a few activities that we did and a few ways I differentiated the activities:

Get your kids moving with Frozen People Coin Tag!


  1. Label your students with a coin amount, either 1,5,10 or 25 cents.
  2. Have children run around the playing area.  
  3. Yell out an amount of money.
  4. Children work together to find the total value represented by the coin labels on their bodies.

I have shared the following activity before, but I needed to differentiate the activity for some of my students so instead of everyone showing me a dollar 4 different ways, I had some students sorting coins, and others were showing smaller amounts different ways.  Students would then use Draw and Tell or today they used Explain Everything to take a picture and record their thinking. All the following activities are available on my website, just click the tab that says iPad Stations, then choose the math option.



A student example of the activity


As you know, Explain Everything is one of my favourite apps and you will love what I am going to show you next.  I came across a file that was created to use with Explain Everything.  This file was created by Tim Pelton.  He made a project that I saved to my dropbox (dropbox is on all of my class iPads)  Students go to dropbox, choose the file and choose to open it in Explain Everything.  Presto! You have a screen with movable coins that students can use to show their learning.  Here is the link for the file.
We used this application in many different ways:
  • I would call out an amount and they would make it on their screens then tweet it.

  • They would show a certain amount different ways on different screens. 


I also created another activity called Trading Up!

Believe it or not, all of the above actives were going on at the same time in my room, except for tag of course.  The students were engaged, busy and excited to do the activities and it gave me some time to work with a group that needed extra help.







Sunday, January 4, 2015

Changing the World by EMPOWERING my Students




I have been reading other blogs tonight and seeing the pattern of choosing "one word" to really focus on this year.  This couldn't have come at a better time as I wrestle with getting my big Global Project ready to launch.  My "word" has everything to do with my students, the teachers near and far that I connect with each day and my own children.  My "word" this year is to empower.  

I have been encouraging my students to create positive change not only in our local community, but on a global scale too.  Before the break, I began showing my students a documentary titled Living On One.  It is about four college students that flew to Guatemala to see what it would be like to live on just one dollar a day, for 56 days.  There are six 5-10 minute episodes on the most pressing issues Guatemalan people face everyday.  My students were enthralled with these videos and asked me every morning if we were going to watch another episode.

Emily with my class.
I then invited an amazing young woman into our classroom that lives near us who is running Maison Ke Kontan Children's Home in Port Au Prince where seventeen children currently reside. As well as running the Children's Home she also sponsors over ten children and families who are living in extreme poverty and gives these children an opportunity to attend school.   She also supports a tent city consisting of 76 people where she provides clothing, food, and medical treatment as well as a remote village in the mountains of Montrouis where she personally sponsors a family of nine and provides care packages, medical care, clothing, and food for other Haitians in the village.  Twenty two year old Emily Hime was gracious enough to come and talk to my class about her journey, her passion and why she is moving to Haiti indefinitely this February.  

I am so proud of my students for wanting to create change.  We have decided as
Two children who are in Emily's care wearing our
school t-shirts.
a class to support Emily and her non profit organization Hime For Help.  Before the break my students were brainstorming ways to raise money and how to share and ignite other children to "Be the Change" using social media.  Now this is empowerment.  When my students are showing commitment to act for the common good and problem solving for a better future.


I am going back to school tomorrow with an arm full of mentor texts to share with my students about empowerment and changing the world, one person at a time. 

I can't wait to continue this journey and to invite you to also encourage passion and possibility in your students.  Stay tuned for a Global Project that will empower your students to create, innovate and problem solve in the service of a better future.