Category Archives: iPads

April Showers bring May Flowers

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If you’re like me – you’re wrapping up your Spring Break.  Or maybe, you’re just about to begin.  Or, maybe, you’re like some of my Georgia friends and Spring Break was week ago – before Spring had even started.  No matter your finishing point on the break scale, you may be searching for new and fun ideas to keep your students engaged these last few weeks of the year.  Testing is about to begin for upper grades.  Class schedules will be altered.  Recess plans may have to move from outdoors to indoors because of noise.  I’ve been using Google, Pinterest, and blogs to find creative ways to enhance our last nine weeks of school.

SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS!

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http://www.education.com/activity/kindergarten/science/

I also blogged about other fun experiments a couple of years ago: https://withliteracyinmind.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/snippets-2/

If you have them – iPAD PROJECTS

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http://iteachwithipads.net/2015/03/31/building-early-literacy-skills-with-ipads/

https://withliteracyinmind.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/kindergarten-and-the-writing-process/

http://barrowmediacenter.com/tag/kindergarten/

SHOW and TELL

This one is pretty self explanatory – create a schedule and fill some time blocks with Show and Tell.  The kids have been sneaking toys to school anyway! (Well, mine have!)

GUEST READERS
(featured below, my hubby)

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Again, create a schedule for parents, community members, or even other teachers.  My kids love being read to and when someone else comes in – it is extra special. You can easily create a google doc that can be emailed out for sign up.

RECYCLED CRAFTS/ MAKER SPACE

I automatically save tissue boxes, shoe boxes, and toilet paper rolls.  Let’s put these items to great use!  The Pinterest board below has so many great ideas.

https://www.pinterest.com/susanmomof5/kids-crafts-recycled-materials/

Aren’t sure what a maker space is?

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http://kindergartenmakerspace.blogspot.com/

NATURE WALKS

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We have a green way near our school as well as plenty of trees.  If you have the beauty of nature around you – and the parental permission necessary – take your kiddos for a hike.  Document your walk with iPads or other hand-helds, pictures, or science journals.

GO NOODLE

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It’s FREE, engaging, and FUN!
https://www.gonoodle.com/

HAPPY SPRING!

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, Read Alouds, Science, Technology

Kindergarten and the Writing Process

“Writing might be magical, but it’s not magic. It’s a process, a rational series of decisions and steps that every writer makes and takes, no matter what the length, the deadline, even the genre.” – Donald Murray

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Say what you will about Lucy Calkins – especially since her mass marketed writing program has been released.  I hold firm to her (and my) foundational beliefs about the writing process.  All children can be writers. We meet writers where they are, capture them with great literature, and inspire them to find the writer within.

The not fun part is when the writing process gets “put upon” students.  It is presented as a series of “must do” steps just to feel that a piece is complete. It can be daunting and disheartening, especially to our youngest writers.

So how do we present these steps to our emerging readers and writers?  I prefer to model the different phases of the process.  You will not see a step by step guide to the process in my classroom.  There is not a poster of the process as a cycle (which is my preference – a piece of writing can always be returned to if the writer chooses).  I teach five and six year olds and the walls of our classroom are filled with anchor charts they have created. You may see a check list of things to remember.  You may see rubric of what our “best work” should look like.  But you will not see “THE WRITING PROCESS” laid out on our walls.

Throughout the year, we build on our writing.  We begin with labeling, progress to simple sentences, and finally (hopefully) we write multiple sentences with details.  We emphasize adding details – both to our drawings and our writing.  We use graphic organizers (brainstorming), 4 squares (rough drafts), iPad apps and paper (publishing).  We read our writing out loud – to a friend, to a teacher, to ourselves.  We check our sight words with the word wall.  We ask each other questions (editing/revising).

The last two weeks, we have been exploring the ocean and all it offers.  My students this year are very interested in animals and habitats.  We started a project this week that allows us to put two of our favorite things together – research and the iPad.  Using the “plan” below, students began researching an ocean animal of their choice.

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Students used library books, Pebble Go, Brainpop Jr, and other sources (each other) for research.  I modeled adding information to the plan after reading or listening to research.  We learn early on that copying every word from a book or the computer is a big NO NO.  We learn that we must use words from our own heads, not another author’s words.  If we write it, we need to be able to read it!  Not to mention that whole plagiarism thing!

Once the plan was complete, they showed a teacher what they had.  We had conferences about how to use the information in the best way. They could choose an app to make their project or actual paper.  Many students chose to create a paper book about their animal.  Either way, what they produced what meaningful to them – and they learned about the writing process along the way.

Here are some examples, still works in progress:

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This student opted to leave his planning page in his book.  He thought it would make a great table of contents!

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These are writings that I know the students will return to again and again as they learn more.  They have asked to not take them home yet – just in case! Wonderful authors in the making!

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, Lower Grades, Reading Workshop, Science, Technology, Writing Workshop

“Spacing” Out With Blokify

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Spatial thinking is often an intelligence (literacy) we neglect to address in our schools. It is one of those things we consider ourselves to just not be so great at – “I’m not that great with depth perception” (guilty) or “Geometry and measurement has never really been my strong suit”.

This week, after reading a post by a mentor of mine, I suggested to a colleague we download the app Blokify for our student iPads. It is addicting to the children, especially if they have played Minecraft before, and it is addicting in a good way. The level of engagement is outstanding.

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Blokify offers two modes for users to create 3D images. Images can be built according to a pattern, or using free play. Hints are given for the pattern, telling the user where to place blocks and of which type. The less hints used, the more diamonds one can earn. The diamonds can be used to “buy” additional types of blocks or worlds to create with. All in one app, my students are building, creating, collaborating, visualizing, and problem solving. It requires a level of spatial reasoning that can be difficult for our kindergarten minds at first – as this is a developing intelligence. Together, students and teachers, we are learning through trial and error and perseverance to become more skilled.

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Today, we shared a Skype session with another kindergarten class with the creator of the app. Jen was incredibly helpful and patient with our questions, answering each one. We learned about improvements that are upcoming for the app (as it is very new) and how images created in the app can be produced with a 3D printer. In our classroom, we know to ask 3 friends before coming to the teacher. Each person is an expert at something. It was amazing to be able to communicate with the ultimate expert of Blokify and ask for more information.

What does building with 3D blocks have to do with good ole “traditional” literacy – the reading and writing of it all? Well, more than you may think. Increasing spatial intelligence can have an impact on reading and reasoning skills.

In my own research this week, I discovered a plethora of knowledge regarding spatial intelligence and children. On the parentingscience website, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. writes about the importance of spatial intelligence and improving these skills within children. Evidence from studies suggests that simple practice with spatial activities heightens one’s abilities in later spatial tasks. This training also closes gender gaps that are often seen between men and women performing the same spatial exercise. Students who have a foundational knowledge of spatial vocabulary perform even better. Familiarity with shape and position words increases understanding of spatial relationships, which then in turn increases a student’s ability to visualize, manipulate, and problem solve efficiently. In a 2011 study, students who heard more spatial vocabulary, used more spatial vocabulary and scored higher on tests. We all know how a child’s working vocabulary directly impacts reading ability and in turn writing ability. My personal belief regarding this research is that the skills students build upon – problem solving, visualizing, and perseverance – have the greatest impact. Our struggling readers and writers often give up at the first hint of a challenge. By cultivating confidence, we can help all students succeed.

So if you are looking for a way to address multiple intelligences, increase engagement, collaboration and problem solving; I highly recommend Blokify. It is a free app available in the iTunes App Store.

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, Lower Grades, Technology, Upper Grades

Literacy and CreAPPtivity

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“Creativity is now as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
– Sir Ken Robinson

I whole-heartedly agree with Sir Ken Robinson’s statement.  Let’s kick it up a notch and not only treat creativity and literacy with the same status but also see them as going hand in hand.  Previously, I blogged about the different apps we use in our classroom.  This post is about the creation apps we just couldn’t live without.

With these apps, we build the much-needed bridge between creativity and literacy.  The beauty of it is, no matter how intimidating it may feel at first, creating with these apps is child’s play – literally.  I remember feeling anxious about our first project because of its multi-step nature.  I thought about students who had difficulty with multi-step directions, etc.  However, my students did what our smallest wonders often do – they amazed me.  With the iPad and its apps, students just get it.  They are born and raised in a technology driven world.  I was anxious because it was more new to me – not to them.  Are there still parameters with these projects?  Yes.  Goals and standards to meet? Yes.  Does that take away from my student ability to create? No.

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The backbone to many of our projects is a drawing app of some sort.  We love Drawing Pad, but have used Doodle Buddy, Hello Crayon, and ScribblePress  in the past.  We are able to draw using various utensils – crayons, markers, paint – and then save our drawing to our camera roll.  After saving, we can easily add our drawing to other creation apps.

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Once we have our images saved to our camera roll, from a drawing app or the internet, we can upload them into one of the apps above.  Explain Everything, Show Me, and Educreations are screen casting apps.  These apps allow students to upload a picture or draw as they are recording.  These apps are great to use for those students who want to elaborate on what they have done or for all students to demonstrate knowledge.  Students are able to have voice and choice in what they choose to explain and which app to use.  Pic Collage and Book Creator are used most often in our class.  We use both apps across subject areas and topics.  The students enjoy using their own drawings combined with the stamps within the app in Pic Collage.  Book Creator gives students and teachers the ability to create books about anything, on any level using created pictures, images from the internet, text, and voice recordings.  Books can then be uploaded into iBooks and remain on student shelf to read independently.  iMovie is very new to us!  We just recently received the app on all student iPads.  Projects using this app are forth coming!  Check out my 4th grade teaching colleague and how she uses iMovie in her classroom.

Screen shots of projects we have created in Pic Collage:

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Book Creator:

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Pic Collage, then uploaded into Book Creator for a class book:

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Filed under iPads, Literacy

Literacy – it’s APPtastic!

Let’s say you’re a parent, or a teacher, or a tutor, and you find yourself in possession of an iPad, or 5, or 10, or 25… How can you use the device as a learning tool rather than a technologically savvy, highly entertaining babysitter?

I have been spending the last eighteen months answering this question. My school is an Apple Distinguished School – we are considered a model for other schools in the country (and world) for our 1:1 iPad use in the classroom.  Coming in to this technologically rich environment has been a blessing – albeit intimidating.  Luckily, I have my rock start mentor and an ever-growing PLN on twitter to guide my way. It probably took until Christmas last school year for me to adjust to and feel confident enough in my own skills/management of the devices to venture out and try projects. I jumped right in, with both feet, but it took some time to get comfortable and swim in the deep end of app-smashing, creation, and personalized learning.

Here is a list of my class’ favorite apps and how we use them:

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Endless Alphabet teaches students letter sounds, spelling, and vocabulary within context.  They are able to learn new words in a fun way – with precious little monsters – and then transfer them to conversation or writing.  We were fortunate enough to catch this app when it was free.  Cost:  $5.99

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Our district uses the Houghton Mifflin reading series Journeys.  With our adoption, we purchased access codes for the leveled readers.  The app itself is free and downloads a sampling of readers from levels A – Z.  We use the app during the reading center or Read to Self time.  The students like having voice and choice when choosing leveled books.  With the kindergarten access code, we receive books leveled A-F.  If a book is too difficult, there is a read to me option.  Students are able to hear fluently read text, reread a text from guided reading groups, or explore new books on their independent level.  Cost:  Free, but need access code

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Grandpa’s Workshop was another great free find.  This app combines math with real world experiences in a woodworking shop.  I was actually quite surprised by the different skills combined within this app – beginning fractions (with guidance), counting, comparing/contrasting, and measuring.  Grandpa is encouraging and entertaining – he dances and students can give him a high five for a job well done.  Interspersed throughout are videos of real world projects where students learn about building projects and what is needed.  The carry over of knowledge from this app is great.  Many students write about Grandpa’s Workshop and use what they have learned in small group math lessons.  Cost:$1.99

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There are several different magnetic letter apps available ranging from free to $8.99.  The differences in prices have to do more so with added shapes/stencils/backgrounds than with actual content.  Don’t get me wrong, the shapes, etc. are fun for creativity – but our main use for this app is word work activities.  In the beginning of the year, the students use this app to practice spelling their names, recognizing letters or numbers, and also letter sounds.  We use the app in small groups at least once a week.  As we move forward with our sight words, we use the app to practice spelling those as well.  Students can take a screen shot of what they have done and save it to their camera roll for later use.  Cost:  Free (for a lite version)

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When our iPads were taken and wiped clean by the district, we knew that we absolutely had to have this app on our list of the first apps to be reloaded.  With Montessori Crosswords, students learn that words are made up of sounds and practice dragging sounds into boxes.  They then move on to spelling words with long vowels or blends.  As the difficulty increases, the students solve actual crosswords within the app.  To personalize for students, the settings can be adapted to particular sound categories for students to work on.  Cost:  $2.99

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As with Montessori Crosswords, you get a lot of bang for your buck with Montessori Numbers.  Students can begin with basic number sense skills such as recognition and tracing.  As levels increase, the skills become more difficult ranging from algebraic reasoning to place value.  Students are able to customize difficulty for themselves, or it can be adjusted by the teacher.  Many students in my class are adept at increasing their own difficulty and challenging themselves – which is wonderful!  Cost: $2.99

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I like Books combines 37 different emergent reader texts into one app.  You can download some of the individual books for free, but with this app they are kept all in one place.  Although the text is emergent, the content connects to the real world.  Students/parents/teachers can record the story in their own voice and then listen to it.  Each book is interactive – and you have the ability to customize the interactive features.    Images are professionally taken photographs – reinforcing a text feature of nonfiction books.  These books are wonderful for ESL learners as the text can be altered and recorded in any language.  Cost:$1.99 (for 37 books)

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Number Pieces Basic is an app we are just now beginning to use regularly.  Students are able to manipulate numbers using base ten blocks.  They can write on the screen, break numbers apart, and solve number equations with multidigit numbers.  Screen shots can be taken to save work of a student.  The app is great to use for a quick assessment of place value.  Cost: Free

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Pocket Charts Pro combines both reading/phonics and math skills.  The app has 20 different pocket charts to choose from.  Skills range from letter recognition to rhyming words, number recognition to adding/subtracting.  The app is wonderful for self guided practice.  I introduce the app in small groups and then they are free to choose which activity when in the app.  Cost:  $4.99

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Phonics awareness provides a platform for students to practice working with words.  They can segment or blend words as well as practice syllables.  This app has a first grade edition as well.  A voice prompt guides the students through each activity.  Many students enjoy separating the bugs and chopping them apart!  There is also a carry over to small groups with the app, remediation or acceleration of skills.  Cost:  Free

These are some of our favorite apps for small groups and independent practice.  Check back again soon for a post all about our favorite creation apps!  Literacy — it’s APPtastic!

To keep up with free apps of the day, follow Technology in Education or My Hullabaloo on Facebook and Pinterest

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Monster Mash (Wa ooh)

This post has been awaiting final touches for a few days now.  It’s been pushed to the side for other things, but after reading other posts by colleagues – I knew it was time to polish it off and get it out there!  Some days, you just need a few minutes to breathe – even if you have great ideas to get out.

I was talking about my topic with my mentor today.  She includes app smashing in many of her posts –  including some of our monster unit.
“It could be called Monster Smash!”  Great minds think alike – and I’m continuously thankful I get to put my head together with hers often.

During our Monster unit last week, we mashed a lot more things together than apps.  We mashed literacies, intelligences, experiences, strengths, and technologies.  This unit is always very popular.  We lead up to it by learning about nonfiction texts and some real life “monsters” such as bats, owls, and spiders.  We compare and contrast fiction and nonfiction, real and make believe.  We read wonderful stories, create anchor charts, and illustrate a monster poem. We discuss the parts of a book, make connections, and form opinions.

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The first read aloud was the classic by Ed Emberley.  I borrowed an idea from a fellow K teacher to read the words and have students draw what they hear.  Many students recognized the book right away, but they continued to draw each part of the big green monster.  We used our iPads and the Drawing Pad app to create our monsters.  They then uploaded their monsters into Showbie and I created a class book using Book Creator.  Some students chose to draw their picture in Drawing Pad and then “smash” their picture into Pic Collage for typing about the monster.

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There was an Old Monster is a great text to connect with others.

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And Leonardo is just the best monster…

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Our math target standard also fit in perfectly with monsters – shapes and sorting.  Using the smartboard, we created monsters from pattern blocks.  We talked about the attributes of the shapes we used, the color they were, and how we could sort the shapes into groups.  Cookie Monster helped us practice patterns online with this game.

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Little minds were so creative during this unit.  Writing time was joyful, even for my most reluctant writers.  We wrote about monster lives, monster food, monster homes – pretty much anything monster.  To end our unit, we included some of our writing with a handmade monster.  Scissor skills are difficult for little hands.  The idea of cutting without lines excited some and intimidated others.  It was rewarding to watch them sigh with relief when hearing there was “no right way” to make their monster (a little sad too…).

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Happy Halloween!

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Filed under iPads, Literacy, math literacy, Mentor Text, Read Alouds, Technology, Uncategorized

Connecting with Global Read Aloud 2013

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This week we started connecting globally with other kindergarten classes through the global read aloud.  We tweet everyday and read posts from other kindergarten classes, but this project really hit home with them.  I explained that so many kindergarten classes would be reading the same book at the same time.  They were mesmerized.  They were excited.  They wanted to know what it would look like.  Being a part of the global read aloud means that my students are part of a bigger community and I am also a part of a larger network.

For primary grades, the global read aloud is focusing on Eric Carle for six weeks.  This week was week one:  The Hungry Caterpillar (one of my all time favorites).  We were already studying farm animals and it seemed to tie right in.  Using my edmodo group, I was linked to a great puppet show of the story.  Many of my students were already familiar with it.  We watched the puppet show on the smartboard and then we moved on to the read aloud.  I always love to hear what the students think Eric Carle uses to make his pictures.  Several students thought crayons.  One budding artisit thought he uses crayons with “water paint” on top.  We visited the Eric Carle website to learn about his collage technique.  Needless to say, the students loved it.

Our next step was to respond to the story.  We discussed our favorite parts.  I modeled using the Hello Crayon app on the iPad to create a picture of my favorite part.

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My favorite part was Saturday – the day he ate just about everything.

From that point – they were on their own to create freely.  We started this during our writing time and worked diligently, productively, almost silently straight through our afternoon rotations.  They explored the app and its finishes with the colors.

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The creations are beautiful.  I loved hearing why they chose to illustrate what they did and why they made the drawings look a certain way.

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I then uploaded their creations into the Showbie app (more on Showbie from my mentor here and here).  This app gives us the opportunity to curate class projects and digital portfolios with the iPad.  I am still in the process of compiling all student illustrations to complete our class book.  I will share once it is complete! (Technology is a wonderful, albeit fickle at times, tool).

For more information on Global Read Aloud 2013 – Please visit: http://globalreadaloud.wikispaces.com/

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Filed under Global Read Aloud 2013, iPads, Literacy, Mentor Text, Read Alouds, Technology, Writing Workshop