I posted last week about Why I Use Google Chrome on the iPad. That post spawned from our research project on Michelangelo. And no, I don’t teach art. I teach fourth and fifth grade special education. The point of the project was to conduct a research project in a small group setting so that I could guide and model the steps an independent learner would take to begin a research project. Honestly, I struggled with the topic selection – should I choose a science or social studies topic to span content areas and address more standards? Or was it okay to choose this random artist that the rest of the world has been exposed to, but my rural students had never heard of? I decided to give my students the art. Why shouldn’t they, too, have the experience of fine art.
Now, there were several obstacles to overcome before I ever began this project. First and foremost – a lot of Michelangelo’s artwork was done in the nude. So not going there with my ten and eleven year olds! Instead, I made good use of the Pic Collage app! I found images of some of Michelangelo’s best known works – The Pieta, David, and The Sistine Chapel – using the search feature in the app, and then cut and pasted some decorative leaves for the artwork. I liked Pic Collage for this because searching for the images, cutting out the leaf, and saving my work was all self-contained. I didn’t have to go between the Internet and the app.
Next, I dropped the images I had edited into a quick little slideshow using Sonic Pics. This was only about a minute long, but let me narrate the images so that my students got a look at Michelangelo’s most famous works. The kids viewed this on their iPads and had about 5 minutes to view the other images in the Michelangelo Dropbox folder I shared with them. This way they could free explore the images and play with the zoom features.
As this was a group research project, we developed a series of questions we wanted to answer together. I then chose some appropriate websites and placed them in a folder in Google Chrome. (Yay for syncing bookmarks across devices!) We discussed appropriate search terms and practiced asking the questions into the Google microphone. We also utilized the accessibility features and speak selection options to have the websites read to us. Read more about our actual research in the prior post.
Our last activity was not techy at all, but it was awesome! After publishing, the kids painted the Sistine Chapel. I taped some paper underneath my kidney tables and my students created their own masterpieces. While we learned in our research that Michelangelo didn’t really lay down to paint the Sistine Chapel, we did it anyway just to get the experience of painting like that. The kids (an adults who visited) loved it!
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.
So 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.
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.
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!