Area, Perimeter, and Student Created Tutorials

We’re moving into the downhill slide of school, which means geometry and measurement in math.  I like that these units fall toward the end of the year because they are more hands on, and typically more engaging.   We started with area and perimeter a couple of weeks ago.  While we did the standard practice activities, including marking out shapes in the hallway to calculate perimeter, I augmented with a couple of iLessons to keep the kids engaged.

Jungle GeometryAt the start of the unit, I taught the kids how to use the app Jungle Geometry.  This is a great app, with a wide variety of different geometry and measurement tasks.  My students used the area and perimeter tasks in the app this time, but we’ll use this app again when we do more of the geometry standards.  Jungle Geometry is a favorite of mine because I can customize the levels, measurement units and tools, and differentiate for each student within the app.  There are a ton of customization tools, making this perfect for my multi-level group.  You can read more about Jungle Geometry in my review here at FunEducationalApps.com.

By far my favorite activity was the students’ performance assessment.  Students were given the task of creating a tutorial for how to find area and perimeter.  I had already created my own tutorial that the students utilized for a note-making activity.  Now it was their turn.  Students were given a rubric of what needed to be in the tutorial: definitions of both area and perimeter, formulas, examples and directions for solving problems, and example problems with pictures.  Students could work in pairs or alone – with the stipulation that I had to hear both voices if students worked together.  The results were amazing!

My students are very familiar with the app Explain Everything, so we used that as our platform for creating the tutorials.  Students utilized the shape and drawing tools, the text features, and even added some photos they took of the shapes we had measured in the hallway.  Narrations went from 40 seconds to 9 minutes.  And they all were great.

As a teacher, one of the best things about students creating tutorials, are the videos that aren’t right.  I had a student who kept calculating perimeter wrong every time, and I couldn’t figure out what he was doing.  Because he created the tutorial and had to explain his thinking as he did it, I was able to analyze his errors.  He was adding every side twice, because in the examples of rectangles I had given the class, each short and long side was added twice.  So when he found the perimeter of a pentagon, he added each side twice.  I never would have figured this out if he hadn’t explained his thinking in the tutorial.  It was an easy fix.  I just needed to know where the problem was.

Area and Perimeter Tutorial Rubric

Meeting Michelangelo

I posted last week about Why I Use Google Chrome on the iPad.  That post spawned from our research project on Michelangelo.  And no, I don’t teach art.  I teach fourth and fifth grade special education.  The point of the project was to conduct a research project in a small group setting so that I could guide and model the steps an independent learner would take to begin a research project.  Honestly, I struggled with the topic selection – should I choose a science or social studies topic to span content areas and address more standards?  Or was it okay to choose this random artist that the rest of the world has been exposed to, but my rural students had never heard of?  I decided to give my students the art.  Why shouldn’t they, too, have the experience of fine art.

 

Strategic use of Pic Collage made the David school appropriate.

Strategic use of Pic Collage made the David school appropriate.

Now, there were several obstacles to overcome before I ever began this project.  First and foremost – a lot of Michelangelo’s artwork was done in the nude.  So not going there with my ten and eleven year olds!  Instead, I made good use of the Pic Collage app!  I found images of some of Michelangelo’s best known works - The Pieta, David, and The Sistine Chapel – using the search feature in the app, and then cut and pasted some decorative leaves for the artwork.  I liked Pic Collage for this because searching for the images, cutting out the leaf, and saving my work was all self-contained.  I didn’t have to go between the Internet and the app.

Pic Collage

Next, I dropped the images I had edited into a quick little slideshow using Sonic Pics.  This was only about a minute long, but let me narrate the images so that my students got a look at Michelangelo’s most famous works.  The kids viewed this on their iPads and had about 5 minutes to view the other images in the Michelangelo Dropbox folder I shared with them.  This way they could free explore the images and play with the zoom features.

As this was a group research project, we developed a series of questions we wanted to answer together.  I then chose some appropriate websites and placed them in a folder in Google Chrome.  (Yay for syncing bookmarks across devices!)  We discussed appropriate search terms and practiced asking the questions into the Google microphone.  We also utilized the accessibility features and speak selection options to have the websites read to us.    Read more about our actual research in the prior post.

Our last activity was not techy at all, but it was awesome!  After publishing, the kids painted the Sistine Chapel.  I taped some paper underneath my kidney tables and my students created their own masterpieces.  While we learned in our research that Michelangelo didn’t really lay down to paint the Sistine Chapel, we did it anyway just to get the experience of painting like that.  The kids (an adults who visited) loved it!

 Photo Mar 17, 8 25 32 PM Painting the Sistine Chapel  DSCN0346

Why I Use Google Chrome on the iPad

I love my iPad, but I’m a Google girl at heart.  Safari works fine, and I have no issues with it.  But Google Chrome just fits my teaching so much better.  It has several features that just make it super easy to access and perfect for elementary classroom use.

Google Chrome appWe’ve been working this week on a research project about Michelangelo, the artist, not the Ninja Turtle.  (Give me a week – I’ll be posting about that next time.)  Being a special education teacher, research projects are normally the bane of my existence.  Turns out research projects are tough on a good day, but imagine not being able to spell your search criteria or read your sources.  Enter Google Chrome.

1. Google Chrome syncs with all your other Google Chromes – making bookmarks accessible across devices.  So let’s say I started a folder with child-friendly Michelangelo resources on my laptop at home and then added another site to it from my school iPad while waiting for a faculty meeting to start, and then found a few more sites after school on my school computer.  Since Google Chrome syncs across devices, each of my student iPads now has the same folder with the same content to begin our research with.  This means no messy searching, web address typing, or “Is this the right one?” for my students.

2. Google Chrome has a microphone option to search with.  It’s tough to research a topic if you can’t spell the words in your search criteria.  Unless my kids are typing verbatim from a notes page (and how original is that thought?), chances are they aren’t going to spell their query correctly.  Google Chrome removes that challenge.  With a little practice enunciating, my kids can ask their own questions as we research.  It was great to see where their thoughts went, beyond the general questions.  They had some really insightful questions, that I would never have thought to include in an elementary research project.  Just another example of why student ownership is so important.

Enable narration of text in  Settings, under the Accessibility menu.

Enable narration of text in Settings, under the Accessibility menu.

3. Accessibility – okay this isn’t Google Chrome, but fits into the post beautifully.  I hope everyone is aware of the Accessibility options on the iPad.  In the Settings menu, users can choose to turn on the Speak Selection in the Accessibility menu.  After doing this, students can highlight the text they want to have read aloud, and simply tap Speak to hear the narration.  We found that we had to slow the voice way down in order to have it read slow enough for us to comprehend and make notes.  As a side note, I thought the navigation of tapping and dragging to highlight whole sections of text would prove to be difficult for my fourth graders.  Not at all.  They were able to do so with ease.

Google Chrome just makes my job a little bit easier.  Anything that makes learning more accessible to my students is worth a try.  Plus, their research papers are coming out great.  Check back next week to see how the rest of the project went.

Fractional Observations

Students used an image of their homeroom to generate fractional data.

Students used an image of their homeroom to generate fractional data.

This is not a tech heavy iLesson, but it is a good example of how a glimmer of a tech really hooks the kids.  A while back we were reviewing basic fraction identification.  Let’s face it, this can get boring.  To liven things up, I paired up my students and sent each pair to a homeroom class to take a class photo.  My kids were responsible for getting the whole class together and taking a picture with the iPad.  The only stipulation was that you had to be able to see each of the students’ faces.

After returning to class, each pair of students had to analyze their photo and do some fractional observations.  Because they used the iPad to take the photo, the students were able to zoom in and manipulate the photo to get more information.  The task was to make observations using fractions about the students in the photo.  I put very few limits on this project and gave very little guidance.  I was pleasantly surprised by the data my kids were able to generate from their photos.  Most partners had between 12-15 observations about their image.  Some were basic observations like 13/21 are girls and 7/19 have long hair.  But some were super detailed and things I never would have thought of: 12/19 are smiling and 4/12 show their teeth in the smile.  Because I didn’t give the kids any preconceived ideas, all of the data they generated was completely unique.

The students finished up the project by printing their photo and typing up their observations.  They presented the photo and data to the homeroom teacher and had to give a brief summary of their findings.  Even though this lesson wasn’t tech heavy, the kids were still hooked.  That is one of the beauties of technology – the kids love it.  It doesn’t take much to engage them.  With the learning in their hands, the kids owned that lesson.

Using the group photo, students created original and authentic fractional observations.

Using the group photo, students created original and authentic fractional observations.

 

SCSHA Presentation

I am super excited to be presenting Friday at the South Carolina Speech Language and Hearing Association convention!  A couple of colleagues and I are giving a session called Tying Technology to the Common Core.  It will focus on creation based learning using the iPad in both therapy and education.  Participants will leave the session with a list of iLesson ideas and ways that they can immediately go back to their settings and begin incorporating tech.  We are focusing on just a handful of really well done apps and giving examples of how we’ve used them within our own classrooms.  We’ve even talked to the developers of these apps and gotten over 50 promo codes for various apps to give away at the end. If you are interested in checking out our session – join us tomorrow at 2:00 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center in Charleston.  Hope to see some of you there – please come introduce yourself if you stop by!

scsha

Inference iLessons

We’ve been working on inferring this week. Whew. Inferencing is not a concrete idea, and therefore it is something hard for my students to grasp. To help them focus on the skill of making inferences, and not on the challenge of reading, I presented activities in several modalities.We began by making observations and using those observations to support inferences in pictures. I loaded five different photos to a shared Dropbox folder and asked students to create T-charts in their interactive notebooks with observations on one side and inferences on the other. I tried to pick high interest pictures that would provoke ideas. The underwater hotel and sand-boarding picture got some great inferences.

 inference pics underwater hotel
kenny chesneyNext, we used Kenny Chesney’s song “The Boys of Fall” to make inferences. Given that reading is a challenge for my students, I love using song lyrics as text. Children can listen to the text aloud while also looking at the lyrics. We always listen to music twice. The first time we listen and soak it in, the second time I ask them to write down the lyrics. I always give the students a copy of the lyrics, but I’ve found that if the kids have to write them down, they are focused on the actual words and not on the tune. The task with this song was to infer that the song was about football. Students then had to support their inference with evidence from the text by highlighting portions of the lyrics.You're The DetectiveWe also used the app You’re the Detective to do some small group instruction. This app is full of various cases. We read the written case files aloud, investigated the picture, and then answered questions in an attempt to solve a mystery. In a way, isn’t inferring simply using clues to make a guess? The kids really did well connecting inferring to solving mysteries. This may have been the best connections lesson of the bunch.  If you want to know more about this app, you can read my review for Fun Educational Apps here.

Our performance assessment again involved pictures. Each child was given the same image. Students used the app Explain Everything to annotate the image and record their thoughts. Students were responsible for giving me two observations and two inferences about the picture.  By recording themselves talking about the picture, I got way better responses than I would have if I had asked them to write.

Oh The Snowmanity! A Great App for Teaching Point of View

snowmanityJust a quick post about an app that is currently free.  Oh the Snowmanity! is a super cute story telling about the life of a snowman, through the snowman’s eyes.  The rhyming story is written in an engaging font that bounces around the screen and is narrated by an expressive voice.  It has a few interactions for readers, but the app is mostly about the story.  And the plot is great.  It tells the woes of a snowman’s life in a way that readers have probably never thought about.  From wondering why he’s got buttons but no jacket, to the horrible thing his new friend the dog does, the story is a really great example of how point of view affects the story.

My Pinterest board is currently full of ideas for winter writing.  Oh The Snowmanity would fit beautifully with a writing prompt like “If I lived in a snow globe…” or the prompts about melting snowmen.  We used it with our fifth graders today.  They’ve just done a writing project on perspective and building a snowman from the ground up.  Today we tried a Quick Write and asked the students to write a journal entry from the point of view of the snowman.  We used this app to get them started and give an example of point of view.  I think the biggest hook was the page of the book that talks about the beauty of the snow fall, but then tells how the snowman was freaked out by the bits of flesh falling on him.  It was definitely a light bulb moment for the my kids!  If you are looking for a great way to ease into integrating technology, this would be a great place to start.  Grab it for free before it goes back to full price.

snowmanity2