This year, with the transition to Dell and the focus on using Google apps, it’s been a challenge for the very young students to just log into their Google accounts. But today, kindergarteners in Ms. Brown’s class at Holladay Elementary showed that they were ready to create on the computers! We helped them log into their Google accounts and got them set up with Google classroom. I gave them an assignment to write about winter using Google Docs. They opened the blank template, and I showed them how to change the font, size, and color of the title. Next we practiced writing one complete sentence with a capital (using Shift) and a period. Finally I showed them how to do a Google image search for a winter picture. We posted their documents on Google classroom so they could read each others’ stories. I was impressed with how well they did! Take a look at their writing here.
Fourth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning how to multiply 2-digit numbers (SOL4.4b), so today students in Ms. Burcham’s class created their own “how-to” videos explaining how they do it. As students create their videos, they have to break the process down into steps and explain each step. Not only is this valuable for the students, but it also helps the teacher see how the students are thinking each step of the way. They can identify exactly where in the problem solving process misunderstandings occur. Another benefit of creating “how-to” videos is that students can go back to the videos later if they need a quick review. We used a webtool called Pixiclip to record our videos. It’s a great tool that doesn’t require a login. You can record audio or video and you can draw, type, or upload files on a virtual whiteboard. First the students created their own multiplication problem to solve. I encouraged them to challenge themselves though, and not make it a simple problem. Next they chose the strategy they would use to solve it and recorded their steps. Those who finished early went on to make videos showing where the different people groups settled in Virginia (VS.4b), since they are studying colonial times in Social Studies. I gave them a map to use to save some time. We posted all our links to Google classroom, but you can see some of their videos by clicking here.
Second graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about living systems (SOL2.5) and how animals’ adaptations help them survive, so today students in Ms. Jefferson’s class created animal videos using Pixiclip. Pixieclip is an online whiteboard where you can draw, type, or upload photos, and it records your webcam so you can explain what you are doing. The students first chose an animal they were interested in learning more about. We did some quick online research to identify the animal’s special features that help it survive. We also downloaded a photo of our animal. Next we went to Pixiclip and uploaded the photo. There are 3 choices: start doodling (no audio or video), add audio message, or add video message. I explained that they could choose to make an audio or video message, depending on if they wanted to be filmed. They dragged their photo to the whiteboard which triggers the recording to start. Then the students used the pen tool to circle special features on their animals and explained the function of each one. When they were finished, they posted their links to the Google classroom page so they could watch each others’ videos. I posted a few to a Google doc that you can see here.
Fifth graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about the northeastern region of the United States (NE1.1, NE2.2b). Their benchmark tests also revealed that they need extra practice with collecting, organizing, and interpreting data (Math SOL5.15). So today students in Ms. Elsea’s class gathered data about the northeastern states and presented their information with infographics. First, I instructed the students to choose two northeastern states to compare. We used Measure of America to get data about the population, education, economics, health, or whatever topic the students wanted to compare for their two states. Next we went to Piktochart to make our infographics. I showed them how to change the background and choose a font and color scheme. I encouraged them to use just a few colors and to be consistent with the colors across all the graphics and text. One of the first graphics we added was a map showing our two states. Then we added a pie chart comparing the data we had gathered, and I showed them how to add clip art that related to their data. Some students were able to add several graphics. Finally, we copied the links to our infographics, and posted them to our Google classroom page so we could see each others’ presentations. Take a look at some of them here.
Second graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about place value for numbers up to 999 (SOL2.1). Ms. Barnes had sent me a message saying she wanted to review using Pixie with them, so we created collaborative place value movies. First we opened a blank Pixie document and I showed them how to add a text box and change the font, size, and color. I told them to type any 3-digit number they wanted up to 999. Then we searched the stickers for a picture of something they found interesting (since Christmas is coming, many of them chose Christmas stickers). Next I showed them how to take their photo and record their voice saying their number in a sentence like, “I’m Brian, and I have 129 Christmas trees!” To make things a little more interesting, I instructed them to switch seats with a partner. Their partner would type the word form of the number, take their picture, and record their voice saying the number again. Then I told them to switch again, and this time they would write the expanded form of the number, but we didn’t have time to record our voices this last time. You can see some of their videos by clicking here.
Fourth graders at Laburnum have been studying the planets in science (SOL4.7) and they’ve been learning how to estimate and solve multiplication and division problems in math (SOL4.4). So today students in Ms. Butler’s class created their first Google docs comparing the sizes of the planets. First we logged into Google classroom, and I posted an assignment with a blank Google doc. I explained that we would be comparing the radius of Earth with the radius of another planet. The students chose the planet they wanted to compare, and I taught them how to do a quick Google search for “(name of planet) radius” to find out the length of the radius. We left that information open in a tab for our reference and went back to our Google doc to add the title. I demonstrated how to change the font, size, and color of the title text. Then we added a photo of the planet, and I encouraged them to try to match the color of their title with the color of the planet. I also explained that it would be great if they could find a photo of their planet and the Earth. Next they wrote a word problem for their classmates to solve. The general format would be to give the radius of the Earth and the radius of their planet and ask about how many times bigger or smaller the planet was in comparison with Earth. The students would have to round the numbers and divide in order to figure it out. I showed them how to share their documents on the Google classroom page, and they tried to solve each others’ problems, writing the answers in the comments section. I wanted you to be able to see them as well, so I added an interactive part to each one (we didn’t have time to do that in class), and posted them here. UPDATE 1/8/2015: I taught a similar lesson in Ms. White’s class at Davis, but we made websites instead of Google Docs.
Fifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about the states in the southeastern region of the United States (SE2.2b,c), so today students in Ms. Filer’s class created websites about a southeastern state of their choice. Since they had recently completed their benchmark tests, I was looking at the data, and I noticed that many fifth graders had a hard time identifying the point of view of the author and distinguishing between facts and opinions (SOL 5.5f, 5.6i). So I wanted to include those skills in my lesson as well. First we talked about point of view and how to identify the author’s point of view. Did the author have a positive or negative view of the topic they were writing about? Since our websites would be about a place, we looked at some online reviews for a local place, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. It was fairly easy to identify the author’s point of view by the words they used. Clearly some people enjoyed the gardens, while others did not. Next we practiced identifying facts and opinions in the reviews. I pointed out that usually a review could be considered more reliable if it included facts, instead of just opinions. We discussed where we should go to get the most reliable facts. Would the Botanical Gardens website be the most reliable, or could it be biased? I explained that the students would be creating a website about a southeastern state, and they would have to include facts and opinions, so it would be best if they had actually been to that state. I pointed out that the reader should be able to identify your point of view and tell whether you had positive or negative feelings about the state. The students could research their state using books or websites, and we used Tackk to create our websites. Tackk allows them to add text, maps, and photos of their state. After creating their websites, they posted the links on Google classroom with a question for their classmates to identify the facts, opinions, and viewpoint. Take a look at some samples here. This lesson was also submitted to Henrico21, so if you’d like to see the complete lesson plan, click here.
Fourth graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about life in colonial Virginia and the Revolutionary War (VS.4,VS.5), and they’ve been learning how to multiply two digit numbers in math (SOL4.4), so today we made multiplication maps about colonial Virginia in Ms. Ficor’s class. First we discussed which major cities existed during this time (Norfolk, Richmond, Williamsburg, Yorktown). We also talked about what activities would require colonial people to travel from town to town (trading, spying, fighting, visiting). I explained that they would be creating maps with a story problem to solve. They would have to figure out the distance between two towns, tell why a colonist was traveling back and forth between those towns, and tell how many times that person made the trip. Then their classmates would solve each others’ problems. I posted a link to My Google Maps on their Google classroom page. The students placed markers on the two towns their colonists were traveling between and then clicked for directions. A blue line is automatically created with the distance. I showed how they could change the mode of transportation to walking. Next they shared their maps and copied the link to post to the classroom page. They wrote their story problem in their post, and their classmates solved them in the comments. I pointed out that they needed to solve their own problems, so they could check the answers. You can try out some of their problems here.
Fourth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying the planets in science (SOL4.7) and in math, elapsed time was a topic they need to review based on their benchmark scores (SOL4.9), so today students in Ms.Burcham’s and Ms.Dixon’s classes created planet elapsed time story problems. I presented them with a situation: “You are an astronaut. You have been given the incredible opportunity to explore a planet of your choice. But you only have enough oxygen to last one complete day on the planet. How will you calculate what time you must leave the planet?” The first step was to select a planet. We used an animated 3-D view of the solar system to help us make our decision. Once we selected our planet, we discussed what factors determine the length of a day, and we conducted research to find out long a day actually lasts on our planet. We discovered that if you type “length of day on (planet)” into Google, you will get the answer quickly. Next we created word problems using Google slides and images. This was their first time making Google slideshows so I posted the assignment into Google classroom with a blank template for each student. I showed them how to add slides, text, images, and transitions. For their story problem, the students provided the length of day and the time they arrived, and their classmates had to figure out what time they must leave the planet. We posted our slideshows to Google classroom for everyone to view, and the students posted their answers in the comments section. Can you save the astronauts? Try some here. This lesson was submitted to our county’s Henrico 21 website, so if you’d like to see the complete lesson plan, click here.
Third graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about the architecture of the ancient Greeks (SOL3.1) and how to identify Greece on a map (SOL3.4). They have also been studying perimeter in math (SOL3.9d). So today students in Ms. Eller’s class found the Parthenon using Google maps and calculated the perimeter of it. First we signed into our Google accounts and went to Google classroom where I posted a link to My Google Maps. The students clicked “Create a Map,” and we talked about where Greece was located. First we found Europe, then we located the Mediterranean Sea. Since the map was labeled, it was easy to find Greece. We zoomed in on Greece, and I instructed them to keep zooming in on the labeled city of Athens. Once they were closer to the city, we started zooming in on a green patch labeled “Acropolis.” Then we switched over to Satellite view (click Base Map in the left menu box). Now we could actually see the Parthenon and its columns! By the way, if you would like to give your class a virtual tour of the Parthenon you could go to it in regular Google maps and drag the yellow peg man from the bottom right tool bar to one of the blue dots that appear near the Parthenon for a Street View panoramic tour of the site! To calculate the perimeter of the Parthenon you could use the ruler tool and measure all the sides, but we used the line tool and drew a rectangle around the Parthenon. I showed them how to change the color and thickness of the shape using the paint bucket that appears next to the shape in the left-hand key. When you click the shape after you’ve saved it, a box pops up that gives you the perimeter. We clicked the pencil on the box to edit it and wrote the perimeter in the description (other people who view the map won’t see the perimeter unless it’s in the description). We also clicked the camera tool to add a photo of the Parthenon. We posted the links to our maps in Google classroom so we could compare our measurements with our classmates’. You can look at some of their maps here.