Just 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.
Fractions, fractions, fractions, and more fractions. We’ve finished up equivalent fractions and moved on to adding 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.
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.
I began by making sure that all of my kids knew what the ugly holiday sweater theme was all about. We watched
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!
The 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.
I posted last year about a neat way that we worked on equivalent fractions. We ate our way through equivalent fractions. The lesson was so engaging, that I tweaked it a bit, and used it again.
I used my awesome Ken-a-Vision document camera and the corresponding app Educam to send my students an image of three different candy bars. Students had to split each candy bar into equivalent fractions using the annotation tools in Educam. Educam has pen and text tools that let students illustrate an image I send from the document camera. I particularly love this tool because it is so easy to use. Just check out my students’ work.
I also utilized a Explain Everything to create a tutorial video for my students. So many of my students need extra help and often I just can’t get to everyone. By putting this video in Dropbox, my kids can access it anytime from their iPads. I also put it on my school website so that students and parents can access it at home too.
I’ve decided tutorials are a really great way to give my students direct instruction, even when I can’t get to them physically. I’ll definitely be using more of these in class.
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.
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.
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.
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.