Techapalooza 2016

captureEvery August we host an elementary technology conference here in Henrico, Virginia. This year it was called Techapalooza, and it had a music festival theme. We had a full day of presentations by fantastic educators sharing how they use technology in their classrooms. There were also food trucks, great door prizes, and DJs spinning tunes. It was a great day all around! You can check out the conference blog here, and if you join the G+ community, you’ll find links to most of the presentations. I presented on two topics. First I shared examples of how teachers and students have created their own videos, animations, and music using free, easy-to-use webtools. It was called “EDM: Educators Doing Multimedia” (since EDM, Electronic Dance Music, is often heard at music festivals). My second presentation was about using student response webtools in the classroom. There are several sites that give you live feedback from assessments, and some of the sites provide practice with TEI (technology-enhanced item) questions, similar to those found on recent standardized tests. You can explore the tools I shared here: “PLUR: Processing Live Uploaded Responses” (since PLUR–peace, love, unity, respect–is the music festival mantra). If you couldn’t make it to our technology conference this year, come out next August!

3rd Grade Ancient Civilizations Maps

CaptureThird graders at Davis Elementary have been preparing diligently for the upcoming SOL Tests. To help them review their map skills and the ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, and Mali (SOL3.4), students in Ms. Parkinson’s class created ancient civilization maps using Google maps today. First I posted a link to My Google Maps on Google classroom. Students clicked the “Create a new map” button and typed a title like “3rd Grade Review.” Then we tried to find important landmarks for each civilization without using the “Search” feature. For Greece, we located the Parthenon in Athens, and placed a marker on it. I showed them how to add a picture to the marker and customize the map icon. We placed a similar marker on the Colosseum in Rome and on Timbuktu in Mali. For our last location, I wanted to show them how to create a custom icon, so we found Davis Elementary on the map and placed a marker on it. We clicked the paint bucket > More icons > Custom icon > Webcam and took a photo of ourselves. Then we selected that photo as our marker icon for Davis. Finally we shared our maps to “Anyone with the link” and pasted the links on Google classroom for everyone to see. You can see them all here. Be sure to zoom into each marker to see the actual buildings.

2nd Grade Egypt Comics

CaptureSecond graders at Holladay Elementary are learning about ancient Egypt and its contributions (SOL2.1) so today students in Ms. Brown’s class created comics about ancient Egypt using StoryboardThat. I posted a link to StoryboardThat on Google Classroom so the students could access it easily, and once we arrived at the site, we clicked “Create a Storyboard.” To find backgrounds that relate to ancient Egypt, we clicked the “Historical” tab and scrolled to the end. There are also ancient Egyptian characters under the “Classical Era” tab. I showed the students how to customize the characters’ skin, eyes, hair, clothing, and poses. Then we added “Textables,” or speech bubbles, and the students typed complete sentences with facts about ancient Egypt. I put a word bank on the board to help with spelling: pharaoh, hieroglyphics, pyramid, Nile, papyrus, mummy, etc. Since you have to be 13 to have an account and save your comics on StoryboardThat, we saved our work by taking a screenshot of it (Dell Start icon > Snipping tool). Finally we uploaded our comics to Google classroom and posted a question for our classmates to answer. You can see some student samples here.

5th Grade Perimeter

CaptureFifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning how to find the perimeter of shapes (SOL5.8a), so today students in Ms. Shiew’s class created shapes out of virtual building blocks and asked their classmates to calculate the perimeter. First I posted a link to Build with Chrome on Google classroom. This is a great site for anyone who loves Legos (which means everyone in the world). Students could select different colors and sizes of bricks to build their shape. I explained that they would have to figure out the perimeter of their own shape before asking their classmates to do it, so they shouldn’t make it too complicated. Once the students finished building their shape, we took a screenshot of it (using the Snipping Tool on the Dell Start Menu). Then I posted a link to CheckThis on Google classroom, and the students created a simple webpage and uploaded their pic. Next they added a poll to their webpage and listed some possible perimeters, including the correct one. We used the knobs on the bricks as our unit of measurement. Finally the students published their webpages and posted the links to Google classroom so their classmates could figure out the perimeters of their shapes. You can see their projects here.

Kindergarten States of Matter

untitled_paintKindergarten students at Laburnum Elementary have been learning that water occurs in different phases (SOL K.5a): solid, liquid, and gas. Ms. Daniels has been teaching her class that other types of matter occur in different phases as well. So today her students practiced sorting matter into solids, liquids, and gases using ABCYa!Paint. This would be a great activity for Pixie, due to the abundance of stickers, however, as I mentioned before, we are having problems with Pixie showing up when kindergarten students log in with their generic login. ABCYa!Paint has enough stickers and stamps to provide a couple of examples for each phase of matter, so it worked fine for this activity. First the students drew two lines down the paper, making three groups and wrote an S, L, and G in each one for solid, liquid, and gas. Then they used stickers and stamps to put examples in each category. For gas we used the bubbles and balloons, for liquids we used the different paint splats, and most of the other images were solids. When they were finished, we saved their pictures and uploaded them to CoMemories so everyone could see them. You can see a few examples here.

1st Grade Coin Values

CaptureFirst graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning how to find the value of coins up to $1.00 (SOL1.7b) and understand picture graphs (SOL1.14). Today students in Ms. Wingfield’s class practiced these skills using Google docs. First, to review the values of the coins and picture graphs I gave them a spreadsheet that you can copy here. Students can enter a number of coins (less than 10) in the colored squares, and the spreadsheet automatically generates a picture graph and provides the value. You can see a sample here. Once the students had experimented with the spreadsheet, they opened a Google slideshow template that I posted to Google classroom (you can make a copy here). They typed their name on the first slide, and on the second slide they had to type an equivalent coins statement (like “5 pennies = 1 nickel”). Then they could make copies of the coin images they needed to show their equivalence, and they could delete the ones they didn’t need. You can see a sample here.

Kindergarten Living & Nonliving Things

CaptureKindergarten students at Davis Elementary have been learning how to differentiate between living and nonliving things (SOLK.6). Today Ms. Dickey’s class sorted pictures of objects into two groups (SOLK.1d): living and nonliving. First we went to ABCYa!Paint and drew a straight line down the center. ABCYa! Paint has become a more reliable tool for painting in kindergarten since Pixie sometimes doesn’t show up with the kindergarten login. Next we used the text tool to type “Living” on one side of the line and “Nonliving” on the other. Then the students used the Stickers and the Stamp tool to add different images to the correct category. Some of them also painted pictures of objects they couldn’t find. We even had a good debate about whether dinosaurs should go in the living or the nonliving group. Once they were finished, we saved the image with the Save button and uploaded the pictures to CoMemories. CoMemories is a great, easy-to-use webtool for uploading pictures from a variety of computers and users. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping the picture onto the webpage. Even kindergarteners can do it! You can see all their pictures here.

4th Grade Moon Animations

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.19.41 PMThe phases of the moon give us a beautiful calendar in the sky, but sometimes that calendar is difficult to read. Is the first quarter when the right or left side is lit up? Is the moon waxing or waning? Answering these questions takes a bit of perspective, and that’s why animation is an excellent way to broaden students’ understanding of these processes, especially if the students create the animation themselves. Third graders at Varina Elementary used ABCYa! Animate to create animated .gifs of four moon phases: (1) new moon, (2) first quarter, (3) full moon, and (4) last quarter (SOL3.8a). In order to be accurate, the students had to do some research. They had to find out which direction the moon orbits the Earth and what the moon looks like from Earth at different positions. Once they had their facts, they illustrated the position of the Sun, Earth, and moon for each phase, showing what we see from our perspective here on Earth. Next they exported the four images as one animated .gif file. Then they posted their animations to Google classroom with a question for their classmates to answer. After watching each other’s animations and answering each other’s questions, these third graders have a much clearer understanding of how the moon phases happen and the order in which they occur. This was actually submitted as an H21 lesson, which means you can download the lesson plan here. Student samples: Layla Obey and Erin Hardin.

4th Grade Hanover Tavern Padlets

CaptureFourth graders at Davis Elementary just took a field trip to the Hanover Tavern to learn more about Patrick Henry and the Revolutionary War Era in Virginia (VS.5). Today students in Ms. White’s class reflected on what they learned using Padlet. I posted a link to Padlet on Google classroom, and the students signed in using their Google accounts. Since this is on the HCPS CORE Resources list, it’s OK for students to sign in and set up accounts. Padlet is a great webtool that provides an online bulletin board for your students to post text, images, and even videos. First we clicked the “New Padlet” button at the top to create our Padlet. Students customized the wallpaper and the icon, and typed a title. For the Description, students wrote an open-ended question for their classmates to answer on their Padlet. We discussed the difference between open-ended questions (like, “What was your favorite part and why?” or “What is something that surprised you?” or “What would you like to have explored more?”) and one-answer questions (like, “When did the Revolutionary War start?” or “Did you have fun?”). Next, students clicked the Share button, and we made sure that the Privacy was set to Secret (only people with the link could view it). Then we copied the link and pasted it to Google classroom. Now students could click on each others’ links and add posts to the Padlets by double clicking on them. They typed their name for the title of each post and their answer to the question in the box. They could also click the camera button and take a photo of themselves. We made sure that we didn’t put our posts on top of anyone else’s. With Padlet, you can move your own post, but not other people’s (the creator can move anyone’s posts though). You can see some student samples here.

Kindergarten Seasons Animations

seasonsKindergarten students at Davis Elementary have been learning about Earth patterns, cycles, and seasons (SOL K.9 & K.10), so today Ms. Feldman’s class created animations to show how trees change through the seasons. We used ABCYa! Animate to create the animations. On the first frame, students painted a line across the bottom for the ground and filled it in with the paint bucket. Then we painted a tree with some bare branches. We copied our picture four times using the copy cat button. Then the students went back to each frame to add details for the specific seasons. For spring, we added blossoms to the tree; for winter, we changed the color of the ground to light grey and painted snowflakes; for summer, we painted green leaves on the tree; and for fall, we painted different colored leaves falling to the ground. Some students added additional creative details. We downloaded our finished animations as GIF files, then I took them to a page I created on Padlet so they could post their animations. They double clicked on the “bulletin board,” typed their name in the title, and uploaded their animation. A cool feature of Padlet is that animated gifs stay animated on the board, so you can see all the changing trees here.