Tag Archives: technology

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

The New AR

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In the beginning of my teaching career (not that long ago), the acronym AR was not my favorite thing.  It was associated with Accelerated Reader – and probably still is for some.  Hearing someone speak about AR used to elicit feelings of annoyance and often resulted in me hopping on a soapbox (which I am trying desparately not to get on now).
Recently, I have been reconditioning my brain to associate AR with Augmented Reality. My reaction is the complete opposite of what is used to be.  Augmented Reality makes me excited!  Excited for where technology can lead us – especially in the field of education. Excited for the possibilities AR gives our students to learn in different ways.

If someone asked me six months ago about AR, I wouldn’t have been able to explain it.  I’m still not so sure I can do so correctly now.  Simply put, most of us use some form of AR everyday and we don’t even realize it.  If you scan a QR code, check in with FourSquare, or workout using wiiFit – you’re using AR.  AR takes our reality and enhances it (augments it) to give us the information we need, shows us more than we are able to see at once, or lets our friends know what we are up to.

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How does AR impact education? In any way we want! While attending iSummit last month, I sat in on a session all about Augmented Reality and how teachers are using it with their students.  To say I was blown away would be an understatement.  I was energized and motivated to begin exploring and creating foundations to use these apps and websites in my classroom.  From enhancing field trips to creating scavenger hunts for test review to manipulating the Mars Rover – the possibilities are astounding.

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Here are some user friendly apps that I have been testing out the past few weeks:

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.42.29 PMMy class began getting to know Chromville at the end of the school year.  They enjoyed creating their 3D world and then writing about it.  After coloring a world downloaded from the website, students then open the app, select the appropriate world, and their coloring comes to life!  It does take a little practice to manipulate the character on screen – for example, it is easier for the students to put their paper on the floor and stand over it to get a good scan. The camera feature is easy to see and for students to use.

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icon_340 Spacecraft 3D brings Nasa to the palm of your hand!  After downloading and printing the marker, students can manipulate a 3D version of the Mars Rover, Voyager, or 14 other spacecraft.  Using the animation features, you can rotate the craft, move parts, etc.  By shifting the angle of your iPad, you also shift the way you see the craft.  I took screen shots of my rover, but within the app settings you can select the camera. I love that the marker target image is a sand sample taken by one of the spacecraft.

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iTunesArtwork402x Shape Quest by PBS Kids offers 3 games (2 non AR).  To play the AR game, you need to download the game board marker (black and white or color).  Once users open the app and aim the camera at the game board, their game begins!  I found this a little more difficult to maneuver, but I’m also sure my students would have any easier time with it.  Students are able to use shape knowledge and their bodies to work through levels of the game.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 7.41.10 PMPerhaps the AR app/website combo I am most excited about is Aris. Using the website, the creator can drop pins on the map of a specific location (school, field trip destination, classroom) and add fun facts, videos, or trivia questions.  When students/users open the app and begin the project, they are notified when they arrive at a destination that has been pinned.  They are then able to scan the QR code (or other marker) and learn more.

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Imagine scavenger hunts around campus to review content, book trailers on a library tour, welcome videos from school staff for visitors – – – if you can dream it up and find a map, you can create it!  It is advised that you practice the project first to make sure characters/pins are dropped in the exact place.

To learn more – surf on over to  arisgames.org for demos, to play projects that are already created, or to create your own.

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Additonal Resources:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/augmented-reality-new-dimensions-learning-drew-minock

http://www.twoguysandsomeipads.com/p/meaningful-integration.html

http://www.kleinspiration.com/2013/05/using-augmented-reality-via-aurasma-in.html

http://www.teachthought.com/technology/32-augmented-reality-apps-for-the-classroom-from-edshelf/

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Filed under iSummit 2014, Technology

Digital Literacy

21st century kid

 

As years go by, buzz words and terms come and go.  Currently – I feel inundated with 21st century learner, 21st century skills, and digital age. While attending iSummit earlier this month, I participated in a session about Digital Literacy led by Angela Maiers (see more love for her here). At the crux of her presentation is that literacy (of all types) is a HUMAN RIGHT. Devastatingly – a human right that is still not afforded to all.  To be literate means you have lifetime membership to the “reading club”.  You have access to resources, ideas, and even joys that nonmembers do not. There is confidence and POWER in literacy.  With our membership, comes responsibility – to members and nonmembers alike.

With Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, et al our world feels in some ways more intimate.  We share everything, at times too much, and we get responses instantly. We get feedback – instantly. We become validated – instantly. We are insulted – instantly.  We are heartbroken – instantly. We realize the pros and cons of having an audience to our writing – instantly.

Friends of mine poke fun at me for correcting myself in the comments section of a Facebook post for a grammar error.  They wonder why I type out every single word in a text – refusing (for the most part) to use the lingo.  I do not speak BRB, TTYL, LOL, SMH, TY, IKR, ICYMI, YW… At times, I have to ask what an abbreviation means.

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Why am I this way?  Am I an officer of grammar law? Not really.  Am I snobby?  I try not to be. Am I just a little crazy? Most definitely.  Mainly, though, I feel a writer’s responsibility when putting  my words into the world through media. People are reading what you say – even strangers.  Haven’t you seen the fun Buzzfeed has with texts, comments, and posts?

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Part of being literate in the 21st century means you are able to learn, process, share/teach others, and – if necessary – relearn and unlearn.  When you blog, you’re speaking to more people than you imagine.  Blogs are not just online diaries to unload your thoughts.  After you unload your thoughts – someone reads them.  That someone may have a comment for you.  Then, it becomes your turn in the conversation again. Our members of the “club” need to understand this.

Since blogging, tweeting, and commenting are becoming the new form of written expression, we as teachers have a responsibility to create opportunities for students to practice these skills OFFLINE first.  Essentially, they are prewriting. Pretty sure they fits in a standard somewhere!

Resources for building skills offline:

http://purposedriventeaching.net/2013/09/29/connecting-your-students-with-authors-with-twitter/

http://www.teacherstechworkshop.com/2013/08/6-amazing-facebook-templates-to-use.html

http://conversationsinliteracy.blogspot.com/2014/02/twitter-tweets-graffiti.html

http://langwitches.org/blog/2010/04/11/skype-jobs-for-students/

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2014/03/pinterest-inspired-project-and-hallway-display

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/526147168938992093/

Happy Blogging-Tweeting-Chatting-Hashtagging-Commenting-Pinning!

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Filed under iSummit 2014, Literacy, Technology, Uncategorized

“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

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…).

20131031-082855.jpgMy monster eats poopy diapers.

20131031-082901.jpgMy monster eats fruit.

20131031-082908.jpgMy monster eats bones.

20131031-082915.jpgMy monster eats people.

20131031-082922.jpgMy monster eats tires.

20131031-082929.jpgMy monster is scary.

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Happy Halloween!

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

Tweetness and Twitter love

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Things I learned during a long weekend out of town:

1) Never leave home without my laptop

2) Twitter is pretty amazing

Just like week I posted about needing something to tweet about.  I wanted to get more into it – I just wasn’t sure where to start.  Not even an hour after I finished writing, I noticed that #kinderchat was hosting a chat for newbies.  I immediately jumped on it and counted down until 9:00 pm.

Let’s just say the chat was awesomely overwhelming — so many unique, talented, experienced voices all coming through at one time.  I wanted to take the time to read each one and I wanted to respond as well.  I started the chat using Hootsuite.  While I found it useful for reading everyone’s tweets and I love how you can have a page for each hashtag – the chatting part was not friendly for me.  Someone in the chat tweeted she was using Twubs.  I checked it out and liked it immensely for the chat experience.

I was able to chat with kindergarten teachers from all over the country with varied levels of experience.  Already, I consider each one to be a part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I have been sharing resources, getting advice, and exploring new ideas for the upcoming year.  Not to mention, the positive feedback and support… from complete strangers.

You may ask, what does this have to do with literacy?  This blog is supposed to be all about it.  I’ll tell you this – it has everything to do with literacy.  In the past week, I have thought about all sorts of literacy.  After the chat, many of us discussed the validity of calendar.  Who was doing calendar in K, what did it look like, was it really valuable?  All of these are questions I struggled with this year.  I, myself, quit doing calendar every single day about half way through the year.  I did not see value in it for my students because they were not valuing it.  We still sang songs to increase numeric fluency, awareness of time and days of the week, and coin recognition.  This article was suggested by @togolightly in regards to calendar: http://mrsasroom.blogspot.com/2012/08/calendar-time-in-pre-k.html?spref=tw

She links her post to this article from the NAEYC: CalendarTime

The issue of homework in Kindergarten was also discussed.  Again – this is an issue I struggle with.  Currently, we have monthly homework calendars.  The choices on the calendar are designed to be extensions of what we are studying in the classroom to build literacy and numeracy.  Most nights, I would really love my parents to just read with their children.  That is powerful in and of itself.  However, we do teach in a culture that expects certain things.  I am hoping that homework will not be an expectation from my classroom in the near future.

Here is an article that really made me think about homework: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03wwln-lede-t.html?_r=2&

Thanks @mattBgomez!

One of the ideas I’m most excited about is setting up a Twitter handle for my class this year.  Several of my new Tweeps have handles for their classes.  Some have a continuous feed going, others choose a Tweeter for the day.  I like the idea of choosing one student a day to start.  Students have the opportunity to share their favorite part of the day.  They learn that their thoughts become words, their words become writing – writing that can be shared with the world.  What’s more literate than that?

I’ll leave you with this thought – a video from my mentor Kristi.  Are you a lone nut?

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Filed under Literacy, Technology

Site worthy

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I’ve been playing online today checking out different sites that I can recommend to parents and use at the Smartboard center in my class.  I hope you find some that work for you and yours…

Tried and True
www.starfall.com

www.storybots.com

www.abcmouse.com (membership required)

http://pbskids.org/games/index.html

http://www.abcya.com/

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/play/games/

Something New

http://www.abcfastphonics.com/

http://www.cookie.com/

www.turtlediary.com

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Filed under Literacy, Technology