Posted in Apps, iLesson, Paperless

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.

Posted in Apps, iLesson, iPod and iPad Implementation

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.


Posted in Apps, iLesson, Paperless

Adding Fractions

Fractions, fractions, fractions, and more fractions.  We’ve finished up equivalent fractions and moved on to adding fractions.

Image           Image          Image          fractions+

To begin with, I’ve used a variety of fraction apps as station based learning so that I can work in small groups with students.  One of my favorites is Slice It!, an app where students have to split shapes into equal pieces.  I like this one because of the focus on equal sized pieces.  I also like Smart Pirates, as it deals with fraction identification, equivalents, and adding fractions.  Another app that the kids like is Fractions+.  Matching fractions to pieces and connecting rows make this game-like app a favorite.  But one of my iLessons began with the app Oh No Fractions!  The full version (worth the money) has equivalent fractions plus all four operations.  I gave the students no guidance other than to play the adding fractions game and be able to tell me at the end, how to find equivalent fractions.  The app has both a Show Me feature and an I’ve Got It part.  It guides children through creating common denominators and then adding.  The kids had to turn in an index card at the end of the activity telling how to add fractions.  About 40% of the kids found the key before I ever gave any instruction.  I love inquiry based learning.

I also created an adding fraction tutorial for my students.  As I posted earlier, I love the tutorial idea because it allows my children to access the instruction whenever they want to.  While a few of my students access the video from our class site at home, the bulk of my kids use it in class.  By having the tutorial accessible on their iPads, students can use the video whenever they need it.  Those needing less support can work from the tutorial while I work with a small group who needs more intensive support.

While working on adding fractions, we also did a performance assessment.  Students had to use fraction pieces to create pairs of fractions.  They then took pictures using the iPads of each pair of fractions.  The following day, students uploaded their photos into Doodle Buddy and created number sentences using their own fraction pieces.  After solving the problems, they uploaded them to Dropbox for grading.  I love it when the kids own their work.  I gave them no portion of this assignment.  They created everything themselves.

Adding Frations       Photo Dec 27, 3 00 37 PM

Posted in Apps, iLesson

Ugly Christmas Sweater Writing Prompt

Looking for an activity that wouldn’t increase the already hefty Christmas/Full Moon hype, I stumbled across the Ugly Christmas Sweater writing idea from iintegratetechnology.  Utilizing the popularity of the ugly holiday sweater theme, I was able to hook my kids on a writing task that kept them occupied those last few days before Christmas.

Ugly Sweater AppI began by making sure that all of my kids knew what the ugly holiday sweater theme was all about.   We watched

Children used the Ugly Holiday Sweater app to write descriptively.
Children used the Ugly Holiday Sweater app to write descriptively.

the popular television commercial for Bank of America on Youtube.  Next, we used the app Ugly Holiday Sweaters to ugly sweater ourselves for the holiday season.  Some of these pictures were absolutely great!  Keep in mind, I’ve not yet given the writing prompt.  After students worked with a partner to get a photo of themselves in their ugly sweater, I finally gave the directions.  Students had to write descriptively and persuasively to convince me that their’s was the most beautiful sweater in the world.  Oh the moans and groans!

photocardThe children wrote great essays about their sweaters.  To publish, students used Bill Atkinson’s Photocard app.  On one side of the postcard was an image of them in their ugly holiday sweater, and on the other side they typed their written piece.

Posted in Apps, iLesson

Giving Words to the Wild Rumpus

Students created a Tagxedo word cloud of dialogue tags.
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.

ImageOnce 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

Posted in Apps, iLesson

Carnivore, Herbivore, Omnivore, Oh My!

pic_collageSo 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.

pic collages  Photo Oct 21, 11 29 28 AM  Pic Collage  Photo Oct 21, 11 35 11 AM

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.

Posted in Apps, iLesson

Celebrating Dot Day

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.

colarFor 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!

Photo Sep 07, 4 35 45 PM Photo Sep 12, 2 51 07 PMDot Day

typedrawingFor 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.

Photo Sep 18, 11 35 58 AM  Tree ring poetry