Wednesday, December 18, 2013

iPad Showcase for Parents

My students have been working on their iPads since the beginning of September.  Learning to create on the iPads has been a gradual process and I have been extremely excited about the learning that is taking place in my classroom.  My students have taken charge of their learning.  They are starting to do more of the work.  They are taking the information they are learning and showcasing it through a variety of apps and projects.

The students have work they were very proud of and they were anxious to share it with their parents, so we decided to invite parents and grandparents into our classroom for breakfast and an iPad showcase.  We brainstormed apps and projects the students wanted to show their parents.

Our agenda for the morning
When the families arrived in the morning, students and parents enjoyed breakfast as I gave a quick explanation of each of the apps and how they are used.  Then I let the students steal the show.  The parents were amazed watching their kids navigate through their iPads.  I heard so many parents say "That's really cool!," "Wow! You did that?!" "I'm so proud of you!."  It was a great experience for my students and their parents.  The parents were able to see the learning that is taking place in my classroom.  They were able to see how the iPads can be used with the curriculum and how they make differentiation immediate and purposeful.  My students each had a devoted audience member for about an hour that they were able to showcase their learning to.  They were talking about their learning with their parents.  I don't think these conversations would be happening if it wasn't for the iPads.

     This morning was a wonderful experience for the parents and students.  The parents enjoyed sharing in their child's learning and it was an opportunity for them to see what has been happening in the classroom.  I think this iPad Showcase helped parents have a better understanding of how we are using the iPads in our classroom.  I enjoyed having them in our classroom and I am looking forward to doing it again next quarter.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Teaching Perspective

Today I had to take on the challenge of teaching perspective to my students in math.  This is a fairly easy concept, but it seems to be something my students' young 4th grade minds have trouble grasping. Fortunately, my students had iPads and the app Doceri to help them gain a greater understanding.

I started the lesson by creating an object with cubes.  I then used the camera on my iPad to show the students the different perspectives of the object.  As a class, the students each drew an example of what the perspective was of the object from the side, top and front on their Whiteboard app.  After they became familiar with the vocabulary, I gave the students a pile of cubes and had them design a 3-D object that had a variety of height and depth.  Once they designed their objects, they created a slide in Doceri to describe each view.   The students enjoyed creating their objects and were amazed by how much the perspective changed from one to another.

Click Here for an example of a Doceri project on perspective.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Classroom Walls Are CRASHING Down!

In the last year, my classroom has begun to change dramatically.  In December of last year, I was given a classroom set of iPads.  I have been extremely impressed with the amount of creativity and collaboration that these devices have brought to my classroom.  As we all know, each class is different and I am discovering that many of the things that worked for my class last year aren’t working as well this year and things that are working this year, didn’t necessarily work the best last year. My classroom this year consists of a room full of high-energy boys.  This energy can be a blessing or a burden depending on how you handle it.  I decided to take this energy by full force and filter it into learning.  My class wants to learn, and they want their learning to be immediate and meaningful. Who doesn't? Right! 
With the help of my colleague, Brent Catlett, this is starting to happen. Brent is the creator of (#eduhangout)  which encourages teachers to make connections with other teachers across the globe.  Through this connection my class, as well as 3 other classrooms in the U.S. were given the opportunity to participate in virtual field trips through Google Hangouts. This event was the beginning of Google’s new community Connected Classrooms (#connectedclassrooms).  As an educator, joining these communities is a MUST!  
Our morning started with a visit to the Seattle Aquarium.  My students in Nebraska were able to meet with marine biologists and learn about the changing seasons in the ocean.  A scuba diver used an underwater camera to show them some of the marine life such as kelp, rock fish, and salmon.  While doing this, the scuba diver would explain to them what she was showing them.  I was amazed.  I never thought my classroom in Nebraska would be echoing the sound of scuba equipment as we discovered that salmon use their noses to navigate home.  The students learning was immediate and at their fingertips.  Throughout the presentation, my students were able to share about the seasons changing in Nebraska and how it was similar to the life in the ocean.  I couldn’t believe how much my students were learning in that short amount of time.  
Seattle Aquarium
Once our visit to the Seattle Aquarium was over, we ventured to the Minnesota Zoo.  The students met with a zoologist, Adam,  who shared with them interesting facts about the black bear and it’s preparation for hibernation.  The students loved interacting with Adam and asking him questions.  This Australian, in Minnesota was able to get their wheels turning.  After the hangout, my students were still talking about all of the facts that they learned.  Hibernation and black bears became a sparked interest as well as how this guy from Australia ended up in Minnesota.  They were anxious to explore and find answers.
Touring the NASA warehouse.
Our final visit for the day was to NASA to learn about the Solar Impulse!  The what?! You might be asking (me too!).  Prior to the hangout, my students were asking me where is the NASA we were going to visit and what is Solar Impulse?  My response...."I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out."  As the hangout was starting to begin all we heard was French being spoken between the gentlemen from NASA.  I’m pretty sure this is when the goosebumps started.  I thought to myself, this is big! The kids were confused and in awe.  When everything was in order and the presentation began, the gentlemen shared with us that they were in Sweden and Switzerland working on an airplane called the Solar Impulse.  In the next few years, this airplane will be able to fly around the world without stopping.  It will be completely powered by solar energy.  My students were taken to the warehouse to see the making of the plane.  They were able to see the massive wing and small cockpit.  They were enthralled with the idea that a toilet was built into the seat and that the pilot would only sleep for about 20 minutes at a time during this almost week long flight.  I on the other hand, couldn’t believe that the co-founders of this project were talking to MY CLASS!  It was amazing to hear them share their knowledge and to listen to their words of encouragement and inspiration.  I hope that in a few years when they hear of the Solar Impulse flying across the U.S. they will remember the advice that was shared with them.  "When you have dreams, you have passion and when you have passion, you can do anything!"
This opportunity was amazing and brought so much learning into my classroom.  The walls of my classroom are “falling down” as I speak.  My students are anxious to explore the world and I’m anxious to guide them.  Thank you Brent and Google for sparking the fire in my students and myself.  Connections like these are what keep my students motivated to learn and I’m looking forward to making more connections across the world in the near future!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Technology Tool I LOVE!

When I think about a technology tool I use in my classroom, my immediate thought is our classroom set of iPads.  Prior to having iPads in my classroom, I hadn't really used an iPad.  I was aware of the potential they had in the classroom but hadn't had the opportunity to experiment with them.   After working with the iPads in my classroom, these are some of the opportunities they have brought to my classroom:

  Throughout the year my students posted about different things they were learning in the classroom.  Through their blogs, they were able to share their writing about their learning and received comments from people across the world.

Flipped Classroom
  I was able to create iBooks for the students to use in Math.  With this, students were able to watch videos I had created to explain what they were learning.  I liked this because students that needed to review a lesson were able to do it on their own so they were continually getting the extra support they needed.

Paperless Classroom
  Since the students have the capability of accessing their school email.  My classroom has become virtually paperless.  When students complete and assignment or project, they are able to email me the information or share their Google Docs with myself or other students.  This has made the workflow in my classroom run smoothly.

Apps I LOVE!!
  Notability, Google Drive, Doceri, iMovie, Comic Life, and Kid Blog

Monday, June 10, 2013

Word Work in Action

  I am currently teaching summer school so I decided to write about a lesson we just did.  I was inspired by a still picture video that I found on YouTube called Everything At Once.
  I have a classroom set of iPads and during summer school, I am using them to teach the students how to create different types of iMovies.  One of the movies my students created was a still photo movie with a letters.
  For this lesson, I had the students find a word in the dictionary that they weren't familiar with.  It had to be a word that described them.  Once they found the word they had to write the definition on a sentence strip and find the letters that spelled their word.  They then worked with a partner and took pictures of the letters changing directions and being manipulated to eventually spell their vocabulary word.  Once the students had all of the pictures they needed (around 100) the students then recorded the still picture movie and put it with music.  When you watch the movie, it looks as if the letters are moving by themselves to form the word.
  I thought this was a great activity because the students all learned a new vocabulary word that described them and when the students presented their videos, their classmates were learning the new words as well.  I was amazed by how engaged the students were, and I enjoyed seeing their creativity.
  While creating these projects, we did run into a little stump.  The iMovie app automatically adds the Ken Burns affect to still photos, and there is not an easy way to take it off.  The app also does not have an apply all option.  Since the students had 100+ photos they were working with, we decided this editing piece would take too long.  So the students used another iPad to record their screen, then took that recording and added music to it in iMovie.  The project turned out pretty good.  The filming is a little dark, but we worked with what we had, and the students were fairly happy with their projects.  It was a learning experience for all of us, and it was a simple reminder that as a teacher, I need to be flexible and find ways to work around those little barriers I come across.
  If you know of an app (free would be great) that would allow my students to record their screen, please share.  Or if you know of a very simple way to take off the Ken Burns affect and add an apply all rule to transitions on the iMovie app.  Please share!!!

Here is a clip of one of the final products.