I’ve found Thanksgiving to be the perfect season for…persuasive writing. This year’s writing prompt involved point of view and persuasive techniques. Students wrote from the perspective of the turkey with the task of convincing me not to chop off their head and eat them for Thanksgiving dinner.
Our initial writing used the OREO graphic organizer for persuasive writing. I found the idea and graphic organizers on Our Cool School. The premise is simple: each paragraph has an Opinion, Reason, Explanation, Opinion. We of course Double Stuf or Triple Stuf our Oreos to create multi-paragraph essays!
I motivated my students to finish this writing quickly by giving the kids two options for publishing. They could either publish using the iFunFace app or Mad Lips. iFunFace creates a talking head using whatever image the user uploads. Mad Lips asks the user to record their own lips on an image. Both of the apps allow the student to record themselves reading their work. Below I’ve uploaded the video we spliced together of each students’ work. Their persuasive reasoning was hysterical. From turkeys who stink because they wash gym shorts daily to turkeys who are diseased from running around without shoes, this writing was the best example of voice I’ve gotten from these kids all year. I loved being able to hear their expression as they read aloud their written work.
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.
Next, 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.We 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.
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.
We finished up lines and angles a while back, and I’ve been meaning to share my student’s awesome final quiz. We had already located angle types in the classroom and taken photos of them. To reverse the students’ thinking, I gave them a photo and they had to identify examples of the four angle types (right, obtuse, acute, and straight) as well as the three line types (parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting). I could have done this using a basic worksheet, but instead we went paperless.
Using the Educam app and my Ken-A-Vision Document Camera, I placed a photo of a roller coaster track under the camera and sent it to my students’ iPads. Their task was to use the pen and text tools to find, trace, and label an example of each of the above items within the one picture. Some even discovered the arrow tool and used it to be more precise with their labels. They loved it! After finishing up the quiz, students saved their photos and uploaded them to Dropbox. It was fun, engaging, and totally paperless.