Kindergartners got a chance to compose and narrate a page in a shared class book recently. The subject was what they like about Kindergarten. The students chose their favorite aspect of Kindergarten, wrote a sentence about it and, using the iPad, took a photograph of someone demonstrating the favorite thing.
Using StoryKit, a free iPhone app, students created their pages. The writing is authentic and each student narrated his or her own sentence.
The result? A great book that was easy to make and one that all of the students enjoy reading and listening to.
Research. Not a favorite activity of students around the world, but a necessary skill, none the less. I recently teamed with an 8th grade teacher to turn the the research requirement of her SOLs into a project with some oomph! Students researched a variety of topics related to the ocean environment – everything from climate change to shark finning to the effects of pollution on marine animals and coral reefs.
Students got started by viewing Sylvia Earle’s TED Prize - My Wish to Protect our Oceans Students were given research topics, assigned to groups and used engines like Gooru to find information. The big question, ‘What changes are necessary for humans to survive?’, framed their research. Students needed to explore both sides of their issue and come to a conclusion. While students had their choice of presentation modes, most chose Prezi or Glogster.
The student presentations were well done and well,sobering. With each presentation classmates generated ideas about changes necessary for humans to survive – reducing carbon footprints, improved fishing practices, and responsible seafood choices.
Here are a few samples:
This project awakened a passion and interest in many of the students. They came away with an understanding of the problems our world is facing and with ideas on how to impact those problems. It is my hope that they will carry this knowledge with them and take actions that will make this world a better place.
“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” -Baba Dioum
18 young pirates scoured the grounds of Green Valley Elementary in search of treasure. Four boxes, hidden in the play yard contained pictures of words that started with the initial consonants the pirates were learning about in class. The Kindergartners worked together in teams to read the hand held GPS units, find the hidden caches and decide which pictures matched the initial consonant.
Nouns are a hot topic this week. First graders have combed the school to identify and photograph the nouns around them. Click the link below to view a short video of what they found!
Ted Talks – ideas worth spreading – are some of the most relevant conversations in education today. A Ted Conference is just wrapping up this afternoon. It was lived streamed to two locations in the US – Palm Springs and Roanoke, VA. I was at another learning event this week and was unable to experience the live stream but hope that the information will be available to learners soon.
In the meantime, here’s a fantastic look at why the world needs all kinds of thinkers. Temple Grandin gives us insight on Autism.
The iPod Touch carts have been delivered to our elementary schools and are ready for use in the classroom. The carts will travel throughout RCPS schools on a rotating schedule so don’t miss out on using them while they are in your school!
You don’t have to be an expert on using the iPod Touches to get started but you absolutely want to have a plan. While the Apps on the iPod Touches are often game like, they have been loaded onto our carts because of their abilities to reinforce curriculum.
So…where to start? Here’s a partial list of the Apps currently available on the carts.
Grades PK-1 – iwritewords,Build-a-word,Wordcub, ABC Tracer
Grades 1-3 – Pocketphonics, word scramble, Kidswords, Same Sounds, Contractions
Grades 3-5 – Question Builder, Spell it, Chicktionary,WordPops
Grades PK-2 – Feed Me
Grades 1-3 – Basic Math,Penny Me, Kids Time Fun, Pizza Fractions
Grades 1-5 – Math Minute, Missing Symbol, Cash Cow, Clock Masters
Apps are a good starting point for classroom use of iPod Touches, but just scratch the surface of what these tools can do. Podcasts, videocasts and independent learning are all at your fingertips!
Talk to your ITRT about using these resources in your classroom. You’ll be amazed at the level of engagment you’ll see from your students!
There are many ways to use web-based resources to help students get ready for SOL testing next month.
ePats – Electronic Practice Assessment Tools are installed on computer lab machines. Students can also practice in the classroom and at home by visiting this site. You’ll need to install the launcher and any practice tests you’d like to use.
Released Test Items- The Virginia Department of Education posts questions from previous SOL tests. These released test items offer students a chance to practice test taking strategies.
Tami Maloney’s Interactive Quizzes – Quizzes are arranged by grade level and subject.
Jefferson Lab SOL Quizzes
Virginia Studies Quizzes and Tests
Science Reviews in Quia
Social Studies Reviews – Scroll down to the section that reads “General SOL Social Studies Tests.
In addition to all these tools, RCPS teachers can access the Flanagan test on by logging into the RCPS Intranet. Let’s schedule a time so I can help you use these tools in your classroom!
A group of Green Valley Elementary students recently participated in a collaborative story writing activity with students from Pennsylvania, California, and Wisconsin. While the majority of participating classrooms were grade 2, Mrs. Williams’ group was comprised of first graders.
Mrs. Williams, Green Valley’s Reading Specialist, joined the Write Your Story Wiki and was grouped in Story #9. Her students wrote and illustrated the second paragraph in the story. When the story was completely written and illustrated, Karen Ditzler, the project coordinator, added the pictures to a VoiceThread. The students then narrated their portion of the story.
The students had a great time with this activity and Mrs. Williams hopes to participate again next year. If you’d like your students to participate in this activity or one like it, please contact me and I’ll team the activity with you. It is a great way to hook kids on writing!
Oliver K. Woodman has been busy this year. He’s helped second graders learn about geography, map skills, and types of communities. You’d think he’d be tired, but he’s not ready to stop yet!
Oliver has taken up the sport of Geocaching and is making his way to Redcrest, California. This time, though, it will be Geocachers who carry him from place to place.
You can follow Oliver’s progress on our Oliver K. Woodman wiki.
We all know that project-based learning is a great way to engage students in learning. Coming up with projects can be time consuming, though, and time seems to always be at a premium.
What’s the solution? There are hundreds of content centered, standards-based projects already developed and waiting for you to participate in!
Here are just a few:
OREOS -This year’s project runs from 9/21 – 10/16. Students estimate how many cookies they can stack before the Oreos fall over. The project is correlated to K-5 standards and there are numerous extension activities for all content areas. Several teachers participated in this project last year and a good time was had by all! Use this link to learn more about this fun activity: http://www.jenuinetech.com/Projects/OreoXI/instructions09.htm
Square of Life - Study local and global environments and connect with classrooms all over the world as you share data about the square you study! This project runs from 9/4 – 12/1/09 and while it targets science, there are many curriculum extensions in other content areas. http://www.ciese.org/curriculum/squareproj/
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Comparing & contrasting, measuring temperatures and writing tall tales are all wrapped up in this exciting online project! This one ends on 9/18, though, so if you are interested in participating let me know right away! http://www.jenuinetech.com/Projects/CWACOM/information.html
Global Water Sampling - Assess the quality of water based on physical and chemical characteristics and compare the data against samples from around the world!
Wikis are a fun and easy way to collaborate on content-based projects with classrooms in other locations . Here’s a sampling of a few that are or will be up and running soon. See one that you’d like to participate in? Let’s get you set up!!
Native Cultures Project
Around the World in 80 Classrooms
Regions of VA
How Tall is a First Grader
USA Fun Facts
The Story Exchange
Blogging - Writing for a real world audience is a great way to get kids involved in the writing process. Teachers everywhere are using blogs instead of paper/pencil writing assignments. If you are interested in exploring this authentic writing experinence, please contact me and I’ll get you started!