Friday, December 15, 2017

Today Was a Good Day!

I just introduced my class to Sway.  It is available in the App store. But I found out that to be able to add searchable photos, my students had to use sway.com.  Sway is the perfect tool for my students to share what they are learning about explorers. It comes with a library of searchable Creative Commons photos that students can easily add to their project. No copyright infringement here!

What I like about Sway is that it is easy for students to use. Additionally, students focus on content before they start changing font, color, or adding a background to make their project pretty. Once they have their content, they can quickly customize their cards to find the perfect look for their presentation.

So let's go back to the content. Students used Georgia Studies Weekly, Brain Pop, and Discovery Streaming to research different explorers. Dinah Zike's 4-door Notebook Foldable helped them organize their notes. I started with Columbus and modeled how to take highlight and take notes. The organizer proved to be very helpful because each "door" on the organizer later become a separate "card" on Sway.                                                                                                                                                              
Students working Together
Foldable to organize Notes



As I was modeling how to complete the cards one student commented that it reminded her of  "Boxes and Bullets" that we had just learned during Writer's Workshop. Oh, Joy!  I decided to capitalize on that and quickly revised the cards to follow the Boxes and Bullets format.

Now it was time for the students to research a different explorer in their small groups.  So I divided the students into smaller groups and gave them their new foldable to begin their research.  Then I watched as students sat beside or near their partners, but did not really interact with their partners. I listened as I heard them talk about basketball and video games; everything but explorers. I did just tell them to "work together", didn't I?

That's when it hit me and I called them all back to the carpet for a Mid-Workshop Teaching Lesson (as Lucy Calkins calls it). But this lesson was not about Explorers nor how to make a Sway.  This lesson was about how to work together with a partner.  And to do this I needed a partner.  I picked 1 student to come sit beside me.  I took the lead and together we modeled how to use the materials together, how to talk about what either of us found, how to make sure we each had the notes we needed.  We talked to each other (about our explorer) and we showed each other where we found text evidence to support our thinking.

I think the most important part of the lesson came next. We had a discussion about what they saw or heard that let them know we were working cooperatively. Students shared their responses. They said things like: "You leaned closer when the other person was talking" and "You looked at the paper and listened when they were reading".  I wanted specifics. If they merely said "You were working together", I asked them for specifics. What did they see or hear us say that let them know we were working together?  I wanted specific examples.

Then I sent them off to work and the difference was phenomenal! See for yourself.





I only wished I had recorded their responses on a T-Chart. The beautiful thing about teaching is I'm sure I will have another opportunity. Soon.

Check out Liliana's final product.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Then There Were Two!

Have you heard the news? The NEW Student Stories is coming to Class Dojo on Sept.15th. I must admit when I first started tweeting about the release, it was all about trying to win a Chrome Book. Then I messed around and actually watched the video! And my mind started reeling! Literally...

You see, I've been trying to streamline the technology I use in my class forever! For obvious reasons parents can get overwhelmed when there is too much technology. Students can get overwhelmed. Let's be real...I can get overwhelmed.

I always tried to make sure each piece I used had a specific purpose: I used Remind for reminders, Edmodo to share content and make assignments, Class Dojo to communicate social and behavioral skills, and Seesaw to share academic progress with my students' families.  Each of these programs is great and I have used them all for several years!  But a little birdie (actually, it was our County's Technology Director) kept telling me that I needed to streamline the technology I used in my class...for parents.

I have a 1:1 iPad class and between the different apps and programs, it can be a bit much.  Especially at the beginning of the year. This year I decided to use OneNote Class Notebook exclusively to assign work and share content with my students.  I also made a conscious decision to use Class Dojo to message AND remind my parents. Yes! I stopped using Edmodo and Remind...Gasp!

Then there were two: Class Dojo and Seesaw! I started the year sending photos of the class on Class Story with messages throughout the day. Unlike Remind, Class Dojo allows me to message 1 parent, a group of parents, or the whole group. Low and behold this has been the first year I have had 100% of my parents join Class Dojo!

Did I forget to mention that Dojo sends a Friday report to parents? But that's not what prompted me to write this post. Hold on to your hat!

Now Class Dojo is changing their Student Stories. Students can share what they are learning in class with their parents.  See for yourself.



Now the big question I'm asking myself is will Class Dojo ever replace Seesaw in my class?  I'm not ready to go that far! Seesaw has proven to be an easy tool for my student's to use to share their work with families and I can easily see the work my students have produced throughout the year.

Right now I'm just happy that I've got it down to just two! I bet Cristin will be happy about that as well.

Side Note: Class Dojo requires a parent email before students can connect and post.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Global Learners

Are you a global learner?  Are your students? Technology can connect people who under normal circumstances would never cross paths.

This year I have had the privilege of introducing my students to students across the globe through Mystery Skype. What is Mystery Skype? Check out this post by Mr. Solarz for a great explanation.

When I look back, I think it all started a few years ago with The Global Read Aloud. I saw then how my students looked forward to using technology to connect with other students. This year (through Twitter and Mystery Skype) I was introduced to World Read Aloud Day by a wonderful teacher in Wisconsin, Jackie Trebiatowski.

Together our classes created a book using the app Book Creator. Students worked to photograph their school and interview staff members. Once each class had their portion of the book completed, I compiled the two books for our final book, A Tale of Two Schools. We each read the book to our class and then met via the Internet to learn more about our new friends. What were the most surprising things we learned about our new friends? Our class was surprised to find out they have recess unless it's below 0 degrees AND they have recess twice a day! They were surprised to find out we have a pet snake and our school has over 1,000 students!


If you have not tried Book Creator, I would highly recommend you try the free version. You can create 1 book with the free version, but you will need the paid version to combine books or create more than 1 book. Students can create their own books to share with others.

This year we created our Reading and Math Journals using Book Creator. At the end of Reading Workshop, my students add a reflection about what they have read independently. I originally gave them a template to get started, but now they are free to use any format they want as long as they include the date, title of the book, author, and their reflection.


We were working on figurative language.


I just recently learned about #BookSnaps on Twitter from Tara Martin. What an awesome way for students to document their reading comprehension!

For our math journal, I Airdrop the Global Math Task Twitter Challenge (GMTTC24) each week.


I also send them grade specific Global Math Tasks throughout the week for them to solve. After my students solve the challenges, I share their solutions on Twitter. This year our class had the privilege of contributing math problems for other students to solve. They got a kick out of seeing how other students solved their problems.





Students share both journals with me and their parents on Seesaw. Parents love seeing their child's work and students love the feedback they get from their parents and peers on Seesaw. Like it or not, we are all global learners. And as educators, we owe it to ourselves and our students to make those connections.

The world is waiting!


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