Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been exploring the midwest region of the United States in Social Studies, and they have been learning about perimeter and area in Math (SOL5.8). So today, students in Ms. Hall’s class used My Google Maps to find the perimeter and area of a midwestern state and create a brief state report. First, we reviewed the states in the midwest region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The students chose one they found interesting and researched it online to make sure it was the state they wanted to do. Next, we went to My Google Maps and clicked “Create a New Map.” We changed the title to the name of our chosen state. Then I showed them how to use the drawing tool to draw an outline of the state. I also showed them how to customize the line thickness and the fill color (after you save the shape, click the paint bucket tool). One of the cool features of My Google Maps is that it shows you the perimeter and the area of any shape you draw. So the students typed the perimeter and area of their state in the pop-up information box, with the correct units: miles and square miles. They also added some of the facts about their state that they discovered in their research. We clicked the camera icon to add a few photos of our state. Finally, with the extra time we had at the end, I demonstrated how they could search for their school and put a pin on it. The pin can be customized, as well, by clicking the paint bucket tool. We shared our maps so anyone with the link could view them, and we pasted the links in Schoology. You can see some of their projects here.
Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying light (SOL5.6) and sound (SOL5.5) and their various wave frequencies, so today students in Ms. Johnson’s class showed what they have learned by making animations. First we reviewed light and sound waves and their appearance so we could illustrate them correctly. We looked at a virtual oscilloscope, generated our own wave frequencies with Wave on a String, and explored different visualizations with Seeing Music. We even explored a 3-D model of the human ear to see how we hear sound waves. Although we didn’t get to explore light (a good site for experimenting with the light spectrum is Physics Classroom), I did remind them that colors on the red end of the spectrum have lower frequencies, and colors on the violet side of the spectrum have higher frequencies. It was now time to create our animations. We went to BrushNinja, and the students drew a creature or an object that made sound. Then they decided if it produced low frequency or high frequency sounds, and they illustrated the sound waves. If they had time, they illustrated the light waves as well. Some students even identified the angles in their drawing as acute, right or obtuse since they are learning about angles in Math (SOL5.12). They downloaded their animations as GIF files and posted them to Schoology with a description. You can check out some of their animations and descriptions here.
Our local high school is going to put on a parade this summer, so the fourth graders at Trevvett Elementary have been tasked with designing the float for their school. They asked me to help them develop prototypes, and then they would vote on the best one to actually build. I decided to show them Tinkercad because they could create 3-D models of their float ideas and print them on the 3-D printer. First, we discussed parades and floats they had seen before. What made a float memorable? How do you think they were constructed? I showed them this slideshow with sample floats for inspiration. The theme for our school’s float is “Creativity,” one of the HLP categories we have been focusing on this year. How do these sample floats showcase creativity in their materials and design? Next, we went to Tinkercad and I explained how to use the tools, modify the 3-D shapes, and make holes and text. They have been learning about solid geometric figures in Math (SOL4.11), so we identified the various shapes as we used them. After the students designed their floats, they took screenshots of them, and shared them in a Schoology gallery. You can see some of their designs here.
Second graders at Laburnum Elementary are learning how to tell time to the nearest five minutes (SOL2.9), so today students in Ms. Brouillard’s class created time activities with Wick. First, I showed the students a sample and explained that each button works with code. If you click the button with the correct time, the character turns happy, but if you click the button with the wrong time, the character turns sad. The Back button returns the character to its normal, beginning state. I explained that the students will be able to customize their own character, clock, and buttons. They could even customize the code, if they wanted. Wick is a powerful coding tool, and one thing I really appreciate is that it doesn’t require a login, which is very important for elementary students. Once they entered the website, I instructed the students to click the “Open” button in the top right corner and upload the template that I gave them. The template has a blank clock face, a simple character, a back button and two buttons with 0:00 on them for the two choices. The students used the drawing tools to draw hands on the clock, and I challenged them to pick a difficult time, instead of an easy one. Then they put the correct time on one button and an incorrect time on the other button. I explained that they should try to make the incorrect one “believable” by choosing a time that another student might guess, based on common mistakes (switching the hands, for instance). They could also move the buttons around and change their color by clicking on them. The students also double clicked the character to reveal three instances of it, and they used the drawing tools to make the first one look normal, the second one look excited and the third one look sad. Finally, they tested their projects to make sure they worked correctly and exported them as HTML files. I uploaded them to my website where you can see some student examples here.
Second graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about time (SOL2.9), so today students in Ms. Fournier’s class created a Time book with Book Creator. First we practiced telling time to the nearest five minutes with an analog clock online (other ones are here and here). We discussed the difference between AM and PM and the activities they would be doing at the different times. Next we went to Book Creator, and I showed them how to use the various tools: text, drawing, recording, camera and image search. I explained that they could use any of the tools they wanted to create their book. Each student made a title page with the word “Time” and a photo or two of clocks. For the next page, I gave them an image of a blank clock face that they could upload to their books. Then they used the drawing tools to draw a minute hand and an hour hand on it. They also typed a sentence telling the time and what they would be doing at that time. I encouraged the students to add extra pages to their books if they had time. One cool feature of Book Creator is the “Read to me” button at the top right. If you click it, a computer-generated voice reads the book aloud. This is a great feature to help students proofread their writing because they will hear when the voice reads something that doesn’t sound right. Finally, after the students finished their individual pages, I combined them all together into one class book that you can see here.
Fifth graders at Trevvett Elementary have been studying angles (SOL5.12) and triangles (SOL5.13) in Math, so today students in Ms. Capano’s class created Scratch activities to review these concepts. First I showed them a sample using the new text-to-speech feature. I explained that there were several different voices they could choose from. Mine uses the Spanish female voice. I pointed out that they could click the “See Inside” button on my sample if they needed help with their code. Next the students logged into their Scratch accounts and chose a background and a sprite, or character. On the background, the students drew their angle or triangle with the drawing tools. They also used the drawing tools to create three costumes for the character: a neutral one for asking the question, an excited one for the right answer, and a sad one for the wrong answer. Then we started working on our code. I taught them how to turn on the text-to-speech feature by clicking the “Add Extension” button on the bottom left. The students added code to ask the user’s name and save it as a variable so they could include it in their responses. Variables are another concept fifth graders learn about in Math (SOL5.19). We also added an “If-Then” code so that if the answer was right, it would change costumes and give an excited response, but if it was wrong, the costume would change to the sad one and give an encouraging response to keep trying. You can take a look at some of their projects here. Be sure to turn up your volume because they do have voices!
Third Graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning about fractions in Math (SOL3.2), so today students in Ms. Peay’s class created fraction animations with BrushNinja. First we discussed fractions of a group and viewed various examples. Then we discussed how we might illustrate these types of fractions with animations. The students had some great ideas: a group of oranges that progressively rotted, a candy bar being eaten in sections, a bunch of ice cream cones melting one-by-one. We went to BrushNinja, and I instructed the students to draw their group of objects at the beginning when they all looked the same. I asked, What fraction would this represent? Since the animation is showing the fraction that had changed, we figured that we should write the fraction as 0/total. To save time, I showed them how they could duplicate the drawing, make a change to one object in the group, write the fraction, then continue that process until all the objects had been changed and the final fraction was total/total. Or as another option, students could redraw the picture in each successive frame with the changes and the new fractions. The final projects turned out great. You can see them here.
Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying angles (SOL5.12) and variables (SOL5.19), so today students in Ms. Burgess’s class used Scratch to review both of these concepts. First we signed into Scratch and clicked “Create” to start a new project. I showed them how to delete the cat and choose a new sprite, or character, from the library. Next, we clicked on the background tab, and I instructed them to draw an angle using the line tool. Our plan was for the character to ask a question about the angle, and if the answer is correct, the character will get happy, but if the answer is wrong, the character will be sad. I explained how to click the Costumes tab and design three costumes for their character: normal, happy, and sad. We also changed the names of each costume at the top so that we could identify them in our code. Now it was time for coding! We programmed the character to ask the user’s name, save their name in a variable, and use their name later in the responses. You can see some student projects here (and if you click “See Inside” you can look at the code they used).
First graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about fractions (SOL1.4), so today students in Ms. Mackenzie’s class used Logomakr to create their own fractions. Logomakr is a great webtool for elementary students – it’s easy to use, there’s no sign in, it has a huge library of clipart, and you can save your images with a link or as a downloadable PNG file. For this lesson, I created a template you can see (and use) here. To create a template, just design your task in LogoMakr, then save it and copy the link. When students click on the link and make changes, it generates new links for their projects, so your template is not changed. First, I showed them how to change the colors of the shapes to create their own fractions. Then, I demonstrated how to double-click on the fractions to change the numerator and denominator to match their illustration. Finally, we used the clipart search feature to make our own fractions. Students found a clipart image they liked, copied and pasted it several times to make a group, then changed the color of a few items and typed the fraction of the colored ones compared to the whole. You can see some student examples here.
Fourth graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning about perimeter and area in Math (SOL4.7) and Civil War battles in History (VS.7b). Today students in Ms. Reed’s class used Google Maps to find the perimeter and area of Manassas Battlefield, where the Battle of Bull Run was fought in 1861. It was the site of the first major battle of the Civil War, and it’s now a national park. First, we explored it with regular Google maps so we could take a virtual field trip there. We turned on satellite view (bottom left corner) and clicked the yellow guy in the bottom right corner (also known as Pegman). When you click on him, you will see blue lines and blue dots. The blue lines show street view, but the blue dots give you a 360 degree view of those sites. Sometimes they are even inside of buildings and museums! So Pegman is a fantastic way to take virtual field trips (TIP: Try dragging Pegman over Hawaii or Nevada, and see what he turns into)! After exploring the battlefield in Google Maps, I asked the students to estimate its perimeter and area. I explained that in the next step we would actually measure its perimeter and area and see whose estimate was closest. My Google Maps is a great way to create, customize and save your own maps. To get started, we clicked the red button “Create a new map.” In the search box we typed “Manassas Battlefield” and arrived at the site. Then I showed them how to use the drawing tool to outline the battlefield. It took a bit of practice, but once the outline was complete, we gave it a title, typed a description, added a photo or two, and hit the Save button. When we clicked back on the outline, a box popped up with some cool features. We could change the outline and fill color with the paint bucket, but more importantly, it told us the area and perimeter of the outline! To finish the project, we clicked the Share button, changed the settings so anyone with the link could view the map, copied the link, and pasted it into Schoology. The students also typed the perimeter and area into the comments so they could compare their findings with their classmates’. You can see some of their maps and comments here.