Students generated words to describe a veteran.
In honor of Veteran’s Day, I always try to read the book America’s White Table, by Margot Theis Raven. If you’ve never read it, go get it out of your local library and read it in the privacy of your own home. That way, if you get teary eyed, no one will see. I always have to read it before kids get there so I can prepare myself. It is an outstanding picture book.
The story tells the significance of the white table and each item laid upon it in honor of Veteran’s Day. At the end of the story, the narrator traces the word hero in the salt on the plate as her tribute to the veterans. After subtly wiping my watery eyes, I lead a discussion with my students about synonyms for hero. Inevitably, the discussion morphs into adjectives for veterans, but honestly, I’m okay with that. In this particular lesson, I’m more focused on teaching my students to respect and recognize veterans. I can teach about the true definition of synonym some other day.
This year, we created a word cloud on Tagxedo with all of our descriptive words. I typed the words in as we discussed them and through the finished image up on our class webpage for kids to share at home. Following that, students had to choose their favorite word and trace it in salt on our own plate. I did use a a colored plate, just to make the image clearer. I photographed each image and loaded them to our Photo Stream. Students then pulled all of the salt words into a Pic Collage. Their finished projects are coming out great.
Tomorrow’s extension is a brief writing activity. Students will choose one word from their Pic Collage and defend and support why it is the most important word in the image. I’m anxious to read the responses. The kids were so incredibly thoughtful in their word choices, I can’t wait to see them defend them.
Students created a Tagxedo word cloud of dialogue tags.
We’ve been studying dialogue the past couple of weeks as we worked on spooky narratives. Students studied the dialogue rules (chanting comma, capital, quotations ad nauseam), edited copious DOL style sentences, created a tombstone for Said (because Said is Dead) listing a ton of different dialogue tags, creating both a Wordle and Tagxedo word cloud with dialog tags, and included at least two examples of dialogue in their Halloween narratives. Noticing that we still didn’t quite get this whole separate the tag from the quote thing, I did a quick reteach and then what turned into a bulletin board worthy performance assessment.
I read the famous Where the Wild Things Are aloud to my children, having them point out the few examples of dialogue found in the book. (I also planned an editing lesson using that book – it’s full of run on sentences!) I also pointed out that the Wild Rumpus has no words. I made it my students’ job to give words to the Wild Rumpus. Students each chose a page from the story and used sticky notes to add dialogue to the illustration. The requirements were that the dialogue had to be relevant to the story, include dialogue tags (keeping in mind that Said is Dead), and use appropriate conventions.
Once the students had created their conversation, they uploaded a photo of their page from Dropbox to the app Comic Touch Lite. Here they added speech bubbles for each character to the image. Even though they were technically speech bubbles, the students had to include the dialogue tags as well because we’re working on the punctuation of these types of sentences. The results came out awesome and totally became my next bulletin board.
Giving Word to the Wild Rumpus Rubric - Wild Rumpus Dialog Activity
Kids love social media; even my elementary school students. I’ve shamelessly used this love to motivate them to expand their vocabulary. I was inspired to have my kids “tweet” after seeing the various ways other teachers have students jot down their learning in Twitter format. Simply search Pinterest for examples. In our classroom, we use it to create grammatically correct sentences featuring a selected term.
Students scan a QR code that takes them straight to our class blog and the Tweet Sheet.
Each week, I post a Twitter Word of the Week on the board. I generally select vocabulary words that my students might not be familiar with, but might find themselves confronted with while reading directions or tasks. I try to use a variety of higher level words to expand my students’ vocabulary: annotate, support, defend, etc. We review the definition of the word, I give them a couple of example sentences, and we discuss affixes that could be added to the word. Students then have the remainder of the week to create one single sentence using the word appropriately in a grammatically correct sentence.
Students write a rough draft of the sentence in their journals, self-edit, then “tweet” their sentence. Since we can’t use Twitter at school, we fake it. I update a discussion topic on our class blog weekly. This blog is found on our school hosted website, and is a safe place for students to learn blogging. Students use the Scan app on the iPads to scan a QR code that sends them directly to the discussion topic. After logging in, they simply type up their sentence and submit it. I grade the sentence for grammar conventions and appropriate use of the new word. It’s an easy way to expand my students vocabulary, a quick and easy ELA grade, and a great way to engage my students in what could otherwise be a fairly boring weekly task.
So it became blatantly obvious on Friday, that even after a retest, my students were still unable to classify animals as carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores. I was pleased that some could tell me what those words meant, but almost none could generate examples of these animals. I of course wondered how I could support my science teacher while integrating technology. My solution? Pic Collage.
I blogged earlier this year about Pic Collage being a great photo collage tool that was made even better with the ability to search the web for safe images straight from the app. As my students have already used this app, I planned a quick one period review lesson on the classification of consumers and let the kids go to work. Each student chose a random card with carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore on it. From there they were given the requirements of the project and set loose. Each student had to identify at least five examples of an animal that fit into the category they chose. They had to add text to the collage to label the animal classification as well as their name. Besides that, students were free to choose whatever layout, images, text, and color scheme they wanted. I can happily report that 100% of my students completed the task in our 50 minute block of time and most actually made pic collages for each of the animal classifications. Each student independently uploaded their file to Dropbox and got a chance to check out the other projects as well. With only a few exceptions, they also showed 100% mastery of generating animals to fit a given consumer classification.
In the midst of this lesson, I had another Pic Collage idea. Students could create Pic Collages of nouns and verbs. This would be a fun iLesson to cement the parts of speech.
International Dot Day was celebrated on September 15th and celebrates the famous book The Dot by author Peter Reynolds. We did two Dot themed iLessons last week in celebration. Both iLessons are fairly independent, as it was also MAP testing week and I was orally administering tests to students two at a time.
For math, students explored the Dot with the coLAR Mix app – which worked in collaboration with the Dot Day team to create a Dot inspired page. I printed out the themed coloring page and students set about to create their own dots. Once finished, students used the app to turn their 2D image into a 3D masterpiece. They loved the augmented reality aspect of this app. Their dots became bouncy balls, spheres, even spinning wheels. Students had to take photos of their dot and then upload a favorite to Dropbox. From there, I created a slideshow of the students’ favorite images (you can checkout the slideshow here) and created a question within the slide show. This week, the students’ homework is to go onto our school webpage, access the slideshow, and leave a comment describing in math terms what happened to their dots. I’m hoping for words like two dimensional, three dimensional, flat, sphere, etc. Cross your fingers!
For ELA, students worked on tree ring poetry. They had to write a single line describing something important that happened in each year of their lives. After editing, students used the app TypeDrawing to create tree ring dots, using their text as the illustration. Using typography was a fun tool to motivate the students with. Plus, I got to knock out concrete poetry in the process. Seeing their words become art was a really neat experience for the kids. Not to mention the fact that everyone completed the assignment on time so that they had a chance to publish their dots.
Okay. I’ve been reading about the Explain Everything app for a couple of years now, and never bought it. (I’m a huge wimp when it comes to spending money…even when it’s only $2.99) Totally should have invested in this when I first read about it. I actually haven’t gotten a chance to use this in class yet, but used it with my son over the summer in a great iLesson idea.
My four year old son loves nonfiction books about animals. This summer we read a book about owls. Being teachers, my husband and I of course quiz his comprehension, even with bedtime stories. I told him that if he could remember five facts about owls in the morning, we would use a new app and do something special. He remembered most of the book and wanted to start as soon as he got up, at 6:30.
With very little guidance, I showed my son how to search the Google Chrome app using the voice input and then helped him choose safe images to save to camera roll. He would simply say things like “owlets” and the images page would load. He selected his favorite pictures to go with the things he remembered and I helped him save them. Then we went to the Explain Everything app.
Wow. This app was so easy to use, that after two slides, my four year old uploaded his own picture to the slide, hit record, said his fact, and stopped the recording. I obviously sat with him to help out as needed. But imagine, the possibilities in an elementary classroom! What an awesome way for students to present a research project, upgrade a book report, or share knowledge. For that matter, teachers could easily create mini-lessons for students to watch as well.
My son’s Owl Report can be found here: Owls -As told by a 4 year old. My favorite part is the bit about nesteses and roosteses. Also, we apologize for the baby sister making herself known at the end.
Back to school activities can often become stale as you do the same getting to know you lessons, year after year. I teach multiple grade levels, so my roll this year is full of children whom I’ve already taught. I did the Fakebook Facebook pages last year and needed a new iLesson to hook my students on the first day.
I decided to play on the Instagram love and have my students create picture collages using the free app Pic Collage. After a day of digital orientation, students got right to work creating their own Pic Collages. The digital requirements of the assignment required students to choose a collage frame with between four and nine spaces. They had to add a photo of themselves (which was easy, as they had taken “selfies” during digital orientation and uploaded them to the shared Dropbox file). Then they added pictures from the web that related to important things in their lives. I loved using Pic Collage, because built into the app is an option to select copyright safe images from the web. This means no going back and forth between the Internet, the camera roll, and the app. Everything was self contained.
My son helped create an example for the students.
After completing their Pic Collage, students had to do a brief writing activity where they wrote an autobiographical paragraph. I used this first writing lesson as a way to point out similarly worded sentences (I like…. I like….I like…). It was easy to generate sentences, as students used each image they put into their collage to write a sentence. We worked on varying sentence structure and then edited and published our work.
Overall, the students loved the activity and were quick to complete their tasks. While the actual Pic Collage only took us one period to complete, it was enough to completely engage all of my students in the entire writing task. They were able to refer to their images during the writing process and all of the students were 100% on task. I love teaching with technology for many reasons – but engaged students is one of the best reasons to use it.
Open House Pic Collage Me board.
Another great thing about this lesson? It made the perfect Open House bulletin board!