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.
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.
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.