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.
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.
Another great thing about this lesson? It made the perfect Open House bulletin board!