Mar 27

Making Review Games

As the year ends it can be challenging to find ways to review material with students, while still proving opportunities to engage in the creative process.  The students in the pictures below are reviewing concepts learned throughout the year by creating review games.  Students could choose which type of game they wanted to create.  The game could resemble a popular game or one completely created from the student’s imagination.  Students created board games, card games, and video games using Scratch.  One student pair even created their own version of Twister using the planets as the color splotches on the mat!  Another pair created a game using Scratch to review sound waves.  In this particular game as a player makes noises near the computer a sound wave appears on the screen.  Also, various sprites will react to the volume of the sounds in that they will change certain colors, spin fast or slow, and grow or shrink.  The final step of the game allows the player to label the parts of the sound wave they created.

 

 

 

Mar 16

Writing Biographies

Student’s in Ms. Carter’s class were tasked to, “Choose a person from history who intrigues or amazes you in some way.”  Students could select a person from any party of the world who made contributions to any area of interest, such as math, science, writing, technology, or human rights.  After conducting research on the selected person, the students needed to present the information to their classmates in some way.  Some students chose to showcase their research on a poster, a mobile, or by creating a digital media project.  In addition, the students created shadow boxes to represent a significant event from the person’s life.  All students had the opportunity to present their projects to their classmates and to show-off their work in the hallway.  You can see in the pictures below that students included QR codes on shadow box projects to explain the significant event depicted.

 

Mar 10

Animating Science with Scratch

One hallmark of true understanding is when students understand material well enough to reteach that information to others.  5th grade students have been doing just that by creating animations to teach science concepts to other students.  Students have created animations to share information about the scientific method, simple machines, electricity, meteorological instruments, astronomers, and ecosystems.  The students plan to share their creations with other students throughout the school as they learn about these scientific subjects.

 

    

Mar 05

Using Scratch to Create Learning Opportunities for Others

Students in Ms. Cosby’s class were given the task to create review materials using the Scratch program.   They learned how to use Scratch by self selecting video tutorials to learn new skills they could apply to their products.  Some students even taught skills based on request to the class using self-developed mini-lessons.  Students choose to create interactive games, a few created animations that included question and answer sections, and others created programs that resembled popular games like Jeopardy.

 

Jun 06

Interactive Table by SMART

This week our preschool students had a chance to try out an interactive table, made by SMART. Up to six students could use the table at a time, but we stuck to just three students to start. In order to finish each activity the students had to work together. The students were very excited to manipulate letters and letter sounds, practice math skills, and participate in sorting activities.

It was a positive learning experience for the students. Have you had an experience with students using an interactive table? If so, what are you thoughts on the product?

Jun 03

iPad Stands and Document Cameras – Student Made!

In Lisa Brown’s 5th grade math class students have been busy measuring, drilling, hammering, and building!

We gave her students a challenge to build a stand for the iPads that could act as a document camera stand for teachers. Teachers can purchase document cameras online for around $100, and we knew we could find a way to build a cheaper model that teachers could use in conjunction with their iPads.

First, students were given a design challenge packet that detailed the project requirements. Then students had to draw four different models with their group, and pick their favorite model. Students had to give us an exact list of materials (with dimensions included). Students used materials from our children’s engineering lab to build prototypes from recycled materials. One group even created a digital prototype using Minecraft! Students were then provided with the materials on their list, and began to build! Mrs. Brown taught the students how to safely hammer nails, drill holes in wood and PVC, and how to use liquid nails (the teachers took care of any sawing).

The class came up with three very different models. We evaluated the models for cost effectiveness and replication feasibility. We found we could build all models for under $12, and we selected the model that would be the easiest to replicate for other teachers.

Our next step will be to ask teachers if they would like our class to build a document camera stand for their classroom!

This project combined children’s engineering, STEM minded activities, 21st century skills, and real world products!

Jun 01

Cyberbullying refresher – before leaving for summer!

As students prepare to leave school for the summer, we wanted to take the time to remind them of responsible behavior online.  Over the summer students undoubtedly have more free time, and we know many of our students will spend that time online.

5th graders at GES spent an entire morning reviewing what cyberbullying is, how it affects others, and how we can prevent it from happening.  The students worked in groups to research the answer to one of the questions below, and then they created a media project to act as a public service announcement.  We had time to share a few of their projects.  Later that day Officer Cranor (our Goochland County school resource officer) spoke to the students about cyberbullying to reinforce the information we shared in class earlier that day.  He had a wonderful movie to share as well.

The students at GES are responsible and kind.  I look forward to watching them act as upstanders when faced cyberbullying (or any type of bullying) in any situation!

 

Students worked with their group to research, and answer the following questions:

 

What is cyber bullying?

Are you a bystander or an upstander?  Learn to be an upstander.

What can a cyberbullying target do to get help?

What are the negative effects of cyberbullying?

What laws are associated with cyberbullying?

What can parents do to help kids with cyberbullying?

What can schools do to help kids with cyberbullying?

How can we prevent cyberbullying?

May 22

Another way to practice fluency!

Students from Mrs. Adam’s class using Book Creator.

This year at Byrd all second graders have learned how to practice reading fluency using the iPads.  Each class learned this skill using a different app.  Mrs. Swift’s class learned to create recordings using iMovie.  Mrs. Nixon’s class learned to use a voice recording app, and finally Mrs. Adam’s class recently learned to use Book Creator.

 

iMovie allowed students to take a picture of their fluency passage, and record over top of the picture.  It took about three lessons that were forty-five minutes each until the students could use the app independently.  It was difficult for some students to match the length of the picture with the length of the recording.  Also, we could not turn off the Ken-Burns effect.

 

Mrs. Nixon’s class used a voice recording app.  They could easily capture their voice time and time again, however, with these types of apps they could not capture an image of their book or passage.  It took the students two lessons that were forty-five minutes each to use the software independently.  There are numerous free voice recording apps out there.  Here is a link to one example, Quick Voice Recorder.

 

Mrs. Adam’s class learned to use Book Creator to capture fluency practice.  The students learned how to use the app in one, hour-long lesson.  This has been my favorite method by far!  The students have created a fluency book. Using this app students can capture a picture of their reading passage.  Then they can add a recording of the passage.  Finally, we assigned the students a reading skill to illustrate with the drawing tools.  We had students illustrate the main idea of the passage, but we could have used just about any reading skill!  I love Book Creator allowed the students to have a multi-sensory experience with reading.  They were seeing the text, hearing themselves read, and drawing to deepen comprehension.

 

Have you used any other tools in your class to help students practice reading fluency?

May 20

eBooks for Others

This year Mrs. Demas and I have enjoyed bringing various writing activities into the classroom that promote writing for a variety of audiences.  Recently, the students finished up another authentic writing project that gave a new audience a chance to view and enjoy their published work.

The 4th grade students created eBooks using Book Creator for the GES and BES preschool students. To begin this activity the fourth graders had to spend some time investigating other children’s books. As a class we discussed different aspects of illustrations, text patterns, and the amount of text on a page. We also took a closer look at how children’s authors use vivid language and sensory words in their writing. Students had the opportunity to work together in groups to study children’s books.

The fourth graders had a choice to write a fiction or nonfiction book. They could pick any topic to write about, and were provided with a list of preschool interests – which were supplied by the preschool teachers.

Each week Mrs. Demas and myself were more and more amazed by the progress students made on their books. The quality of their writing was phenomenal, and their illustrations blew us away. Students could create their illustrations by using software on the iPad, or they could use paper and drawing tools. Some students chose to combine both art forms. There were even some students that used 3D models as the characters in their books. One student, for example, created her main character out of clay (it was a dinosaur!).

  

Book Creator (the app we used) allowed students to add text, independently create illustrations, and add audio files to their stories. Students were required to capture all text in an audio clip, thus turning all stories into audiobooks. Book Creator also allowed the students to easily share their work with Google Drive for easy transfer to our lesson website and to the preschool iPads.

Perhaps the most fun element of this project was the day the fourth graders walked over to the GES preschool to share their stories. The students shared stories that warmed our hearts, taught social lessons, and that taught facts to the preschool students. Our fourth graders at GES were admirably caring and patient as they taught the preschool students how to open the books, activate the audio clips, and turn the pages. Now the preschool students have over thirty new eBooks on their iPads to enjoy for the rest of the school year!

We commend the fourth grade students for their focus and enthusiasm throughout this project!

Check out our books on this link!  You will need to download the files on a device with eReader software (iPad and iPhone will work).  We have also posted the materials we used to implement and assess this project.

Watch as a fourth grader teaches a preschool student to use the audio buttons and to turn the pages.

May 19

Kindergarteners create digital stories

Teaching lessons involving heavy technology use to kindergarteners is always an adventure!  Sometimes it is difficult to anticipate the flow, timing, and outcome of the lesson.

 

I always love the opportunity to work with Ms. Burton’s kindergarten students at BES!  They are great listeners and eager to participate in any lesson utilizing technology.  For their most recent project the students learned to use a digital story telling app called 30 Hands.  Using this app the students could take pictures and record themselves reading a story.  First, the students created a character.  Then the students wrote a story about that character.  Students next had to take a picture of their character within the app, and practice reading their story.  The students were able to record their stories within the 30 Hands app.

 

The next day I returned to Ms. Burton’s class so the students could share their stories with one another.  Since it was our first time using this particular app, we also spent some time reflecting on the project via class discussion.  The students shared that next time they should speak a little louder or position themselves closer to the microphone.  The class unanimously agreed that they loved creating digital stories using 30 Hands!

 

Here are some examples of the students’ work!

 

 

Meet Miss Bune

Meet Hailey

Meet Jacob

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