4th Grade Revolutionary War Comics

CaptureFourth graders at Davis Elementary have been studying the Revolutionary War in Social Studies (VS.5), and they have been learning how to formulate questions about nonfiction text in Reading (SOL4.6b). So today students in Ms. White’s class created Revolutionary War comics and asked their classmates questions about them. We used StoryboardThat to make the comics because it has plenty of Revolutionary War backgrounds, characters, and props for the students to use. First we brainstormed ideas for the comics so everyone wasn’t doing the same thing. Students could make comics about any Revolutionary War event they had learned about so far. Since they were just beginning the unit, they didn’t have many events to choose from yet, but as they learn more, they can make additional comics. I showed them how to change the characters’ poses and expressions to fit the context. I also explained that the speech bubbles needed to include enough facts and information for their classmates to answer the questions. When they were finished, we took screenshots of the comics and posted them to Google classroom with a question. The students enjoyed reading each others’comics and answering their questions, plus, it was a great review. You can see some student samples here.




1st Grade Winter Compound Words

Story_Maker1First graders at Holladay Elementary are learning about winter in science (SOL1.7) and compound words in Language Arts (SOL1.6g), so today students in Ms. Schemmel’s class wrote and illustrated sentences with winter compound words. We used ABCYa! Storymaker, which is a great site for writing in the lower grades. First we brainstormed a list of winter compound words: snowman, earmuffs, overcoat, wintertime, snowball, gingerbread, fireplace, snowflake, iceberg, frostbite, evergreen, peppermint, sweatshirt, turtleneck, pullover, snowplow, etc. Next students typed a sentence or two about winter using some of the compound words we discussed. I explained how to start each sentence with a capital using Shift, put a space between each word with the space bar, and end each sentence with a period. It’s also important to explain to first graders that when they get to the end of the line, it will automatically go to the next line if they just keep typing. When they finished their sentences, they used the painting tools to paint a winter picture. I showed them how to use the paint bucket to fill in the sky and the spray can to make snowflakes. When they were finished, we saved them, and I uploaded them to CoMemories. You can see them all here.




2nd Grade Rounding with Habitats

CaptureSecond graders at Holladay Elementary are learning how to round to the nearest ten in math (SOL2.1b) and they are studying habitats in science (SOL2.5), so today students in Ms. Edmonds’ class created comics about rounding numbers in habitats. First, I posted a link to StoryboardThat on Google classroom. StoryboardThat is an amazing webtool that students can use to create their own comics. I introduced the lesson by explaining that scientists often count living and nonliving things in a habitat, but since they can’t count every single one, they usually round the numbers. I instructed the students to choose a habitat they were curious about (desert, forest, ocean, etc) and think about the living and nonliving things in that habitat. They could do some quick research online if necessary. When the students had their ideas, they clicked the Storyboard link and were given a blank comic strip with three boxes. I explained that they would put living things (plants and animals) from the habitat in two boxes and nonliving things (rocks, shells, etc) in the other box. They dragged in backgrounds, characters, and clip art into each scene. They enjoyed changing the facial expressions and poses of the characters. Then we added speech bubbles for the characters to say how many of each living and nonliving thing there were in the habitat. We took a screenshot of our comics and posted them to Google classroom with a question about rounding the animals, plants, or nonliving things in the habitat. Our classmates tried rounding the numbers in our comics to the nearest ten, and they posted their answers in the comments. You can try them yourself here.




4th Grade Comparing Fractions

CaptureFourth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning how to compare fractions (SOL4.2a), so today students in Ms. Connell’s class compared fractions using Google slides. I gave them a blank slideshow in Google classroom and showed them how to change the font, size, and color of the title (“Fractions”) and subtitle (their name). Next we added a background image to the title slide. For the second slide, we added a background color instead of an image. The students typed a sentence asking their classmates to tell whether one fraction was greater or less than another fraction. I asked them to pick fractions that were challenging to compare, for example 2/3 and 7/12, instead of simple ones like 1/2 and 1/4 that could easily be compared. We used tables to show the fractions. I taught them how to add a table with the table button and to click and drag across the correct total number of squares (the denominator of the fraction). We used the paint bucket to fill in the number in the numerator. When you add tables to a slide, they are automatically the same size and the squares are equal, so it really worked out well for comparing the fractions (unless the students re-sized them on accident). Next, we added a text box with the answer and used transitions so the answer appeared at the end. Finally, we published our slideshows and pasted the links to Google classroom. You can see them all here.




3rd Grade Estimating Weight of Matter

CaptureThird graders at Varina Elementary are learning how to estimate weight in math (SOL3.9c), and they are studying matter in science (SOL3.3) so today students in Ms. Hambrick’s and Ms. Leo’s classes estimated the weights of different types of matter. First I gave them each a copy of a blank Google slideshow template in Google classroom. I explained the concept, that they would pick a type of matter (solid, liquid, or gas) that they were curious about and estimate its weight. Then we would research its actual weight. With that in mind, I instructed the students to find a background image for their title slide that showed matter. They typed a creative title, changed the font, size, and color, and typed their name in the subtitle. Next, we created a new slide with “Title only” and changed the background color. The students typed a sentence about their object, identifying it as a solid, liquid, or gas and wrote a question for their classmates to estimate its weight. We had to discuss the incredible variety of matter all around so they weren’t copying a few ideas (it seemed like everyone wanted to weigh hoverboards and cheetahs). They came up with some good ideas that even got me curious. How much does a tree weigh? How much does the water in a pool weigh? Once they had their estimation slide finished, we made one more with the answer. Students had to do a Google search to find the actual weight of their object, and we discussed reliable and unreliable results. Finally we published the slideshows and posted the links on Google classroom so they could practice estimating weight with each other’s presentations. You can see them all here.




3rd Grade Greece & Rome Nearpod

CaptureNearpod is a cool webtool for making interactive presentations that provide live feedback from your students. They can answer your questions, draw or label a picture, take a quiz, vote on a poll, fill-in-the-blank, and more! Ms. Middleton at Holladay Elementary wanted to learn more about it, so today I showed her 3rd graders a Nearpod activity I created about Greece and Rome (SOL3.1). I tried to showcase each feature: it includes (1) a poll about the occupations in ancient Greece and Rome, (2) a 2-question quiz about the building projects of these two civilizations, (3) a fill-in-the-blank activity about the geography, (4) a map students can draw on to locate Greece and Rome, (5) a matching memory test, and (6) a free response question. If you wanted to create your own Nearpod, you would log in with your Google account and click “Create.” Then you would add different slides by clicking the type of activity you wanted. You could also upload a PDF file and each page would become its own slide. When you finish, you click “Publish.” To start a live session with your class you would go to “My Library” and click “Live Lesson” on the slideshow you want to share with them. Nearpod will give you a PIN number for the lesson, and when students go to Nearpod, they just enter the PIN number. They don’t need to log in. Let me know if you’d like me to show Nearpod to your class!




4th Grade New Year Goals

CaptureHolladay Elementary is a Leader in ME Lighthouse school (the first elementary school in Virginia to reach that status), and students here try to show the 7 habits of highly effective people. Fourth graders in Ms. Tonello’s class wanted to include the 7 habits in their goals for the new year. Today I showed them how to publish their goals by making a quick website with CheckThis. First we went to CheckThis, and I showed them how to choose the fonts and colors for their website by clicking the “Aa” button in the top right corner. Next they typed their title, subtitle, and wrote about their goals for 2016. We clicked the green “+” button to add photos that represented each goal. Then we added a poll question to allow visitors to vote on which idea they liked best. Finally we published the websites and pasted the links to Google classroom so they could visit each others’ pages. You can see them all here, and feel free to answer their poll questions.




5th Grade Plant Inferences

CaptureFifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about plants in science (SOL5.5) and they have been making inferences in reading (SOL5.5i). Since solving riddles often involves making inferences, students in Ms. Kirchmier’s class wrote plant riddles for each other to solve. We used Google slides to create the riddles. I gave them a blank template in Google classroom and showed them how to make a title page with a background image. For the second slide, students chose a color background and added a text box with their riddle. I explained that the riddle had to be about a plant part, and it had to make students think. Riddles shouldn’t be too easy to solve. Next students inserted a photo from a Google search and added animations and transitions. Finally they published their slideshows (File > Publish) and posted the links on Google classroom. Students solved each other’s riddles in the comments section. You can see them all here.




5th Grade Southeast Region Maps

CaptureFifth graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about the southeast region of the United States, so today, students in Ms. Bailey’s class created interactive maps of the southeast region. First I posted a link to My Google Maps on Google classroom. My Google maps allows you to create and save your own maps. The students had to identify places of importance or interest in each state and place a marker on those spots. I showed them how to customize the markers and how to add text and photos to each one. Next the students clicked the Share button and changed the setting from “Private” to “Anyone with the link can view.” We copied the links and posted them to Google classroom so they could see each others’ maps. You can take a look at them here.




2nd Grade American Indian Math Animations

CaptureSecond graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about subtraction in Math (SOL2.7), and they’ve been studying American Indians in Social Studies (SOL2.2). Today students in Ms. Becker’s class created American Indian math animations. First we opened Pixie, and I instructed them to chose the Powhatan, Lakota, or Pueblo Indian tribe to illustrate. We discussed how to paint the environment for each tribe: the Powhatan lived in the woods, the Lakota lived on the plains, and the Pueblo lived in the desert. After the students painted the background, we went to stickers, and I showed them where the American Indian stickers were located. They added images of the Indians, their homes, plants, and animals. Since they were creating a subtraction problem, they had to copy and paste one of the stickers multiple times for the initial number (for example, 14 buffalo, 12 canoes, 18 pots). The students added a text box and wrote a sentence like, “The Lakota Indians saw 14 buffalo.” Next the students clicked File > Duplicate to make a copy of the picture, and they typed a sentence telling how many were subtracted. They also deleted the corresponding number of stickers. We exported the two pictures as JPG files, then went to Gickr and uploaded the image files. Gickr turns still photos into an animated GIF file. Once the GIF files had been created and downloaded, students uploaded them to Google classroom for their classmates to solve. You can see them all here.