Fourth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying 20th Century famous Virginians (VS.9), so today students in Ms. Robinson’s class chose one of them and created a comic about their accomplishments. I posted a link to StoryboardThat on Google classroom, and once students accessed the website, they clicked the “Create a Storyboard” button. I explained that their comic would have three panels. Each panel needed to provide an important fact or accomplishment for the Virginian they chose. We discussed ideas for backgrounds and where to find authentic-looking characters (mostly from the 1900s tab). I also showed them how to customize the characters by changing their color, clothing, and poses. After students added backgrounds and characters to each panel, I showed them how to add speech bubbles. We discussed the importance of writing complete sentences that explain the facts and accomplishments. Students could open a new tab to do additional research if necessary. Once they were finished, I showed them how to take a screenshot of their comics (Click the Start button > Snipping Tool) to save them since they can’t create accounts. Finally we posted our comics to Google classroom for everyone to see. You can see them here.
Fourth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about electricity and circuits (SOL4.3), so today students in Ms. Burcham’s class created animated circuits. First we discussed the parts of a circuit. To keep things simple for the amount of time we had, we limited our circuits to a power source for generating electricity (battery) and an object that converts the electrical energy into light, sound, heat, or motion. We left off the switch, but students could easily create other animations in the future with switches and additional parts. I posted a link to ABCYa!Animate on Google Classroom, and the first object we drew was the power source. I showed them how to use the shapes tool to draw a simple battery. We discussed the positive and negative end (the positive end is the part with the knob) and which direction the current would flow out of the battery so our animations would be accurate. When one student said it flows from positive to negative and another said it flows the opposite way, I said that they both were right, in a sense. The actual flow of electrons is from the negative end to the positive end, but when Benjamin Franklin and other early scientists wrote about electricity, before the electron had been discovered, they said that the flow was from the positive to the negative end. So that “current” was called “conventional current” because it was based on convention, or tradition. Many circuit diagrams show the flow of electricity according to convention, or from positive to negative, so that’s the way we showed it today. I also related it back to their force and motion unit (SOL4.2) by asking whether a battery has potential or kinetic energy. They were correct in stating that it has potential energy. Any resistor on the circuit, like a light bulb, slowed the flow of electrons due to friction. So now that their concepts were correct, they could draw the rest of the diagram. We drew the wire, making sure it connected to both ends of the battery so the electricity could flow, and we drew an object to be powered by the battery along the route of the wire. For each frame we represented the current by yellow dots along the wire. When the dots reached the object, we made it do something, like turn on or move. Then we continued the dots back to the battery. When we finished our animations, we exported them as GIF files and uploaded them to Google classroom with a question for our classmates to answer. You can see them all here (bonus if you can find the battery with no potential energy).
Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been studying angles (SOL5.12) and plane figures (SOL5.13), so today students in Ms. Parker’s class created slideshows about shapes and angles found in real life. I posted a blank Google slideshow template in Google classroom and made a copy for each student. For the title page we searched for a good background image to represent shapes. On subsequent slides, the students wrote sentences about angles and shapes, typing the important words in bold. Then they clicked the image button and either took a photo with the webcam or searched for an image online representing the geometric concept. Next they clicked the Shapes button and added arrows or shapes to highlight the relevant part of the image. The students also added transitions and animations to their slideshow. We only had time in class to make the first slide, but the students went on afterwards and added additional slides. You can see them all here.
Fourth graders at Davis Elementary have been learning about polygons (SOL4.12) and angles (SOL4.10), so today students in Ms. Bennett’s class used their knowledge of angles to create polygons using basic coding skills. Teaching students about coding is an important skill that is being emphasized more and more. Not only is it practical, but it also trains the brain in logical and sequential processing. I posted a link to Scratch on Google classroom, which is an excellent site for teaching elementary students how to write basic computer code. I helped them set up their accounts, and we used the teacher’s email for confirmation. Then we signed in and clicked “Create” to start our project. I did an example first, showing them how to use code to create a triangle. We discussed pixels (for the length of the sides), angles (for the corners of the shape), and position (for returning to the beginning). First I wrote a long code, programming each side and angle, then I asked if they thought there was a simpler way. Some of them figured out that they could use the loop feature to handle some of the repeated commands. Now they were ready to create their own shapes. We started by making a custom sprite (click “New Sprite” and choose file, drawing, or camera). The the students used the coding blocks to make their shape. They could create any polygon with less than 10 sides. They also added a speech bubble at the end for their sprite to say the name of the shape they created. When they were finished, they shared their projects on Google classroom. You can see them all here. Be sure to click the “See Inside” button to take a look at the code.
Ms. Jefferson at Davis Elementary emailed me with a project idea she had for her class: “I would like for the kids to create menus. One of our language arts sols includes real world reading, so on Wednesday the kids will start creating menus for a pretend restaurant. We will also include math by using prices for items written correctly using the dollar sign and decimal point or the cent sign. When you come on Thursday, the kids should be ready to use their drafts to create on the computer.” This was a great idea, and I really like how it included elements of both language arts and math. I created a simple Google slides brochure template with a line down the middle of the slide for the menu fold. I gave a copy to each student on Google classroom, but only one student in each group opened the slideshow so they could all be on the same document. First I showed them how to add a Background image. I explained that the image shouldn’t be too distracting from the text. Food closeup photos work well, but images with lots of different types of food are distracting. Next the students added a title with the name of their restaurant and a subtitle with their names or a description of their cuisine. Davis is a multicultural school, so there were many ethnic restaurants. The second slide was the inside of the menu, so I showed the students how to add a table for the foods and the prices. They also added some images of the dishes they served. Finally, we published our menus to the web (File > Publish to the web) and pasted the links to Google classroom. You can see them all here.
Third graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about the water cycle (SOL3.9), so today students in Ms. Tyler’s class created animated water cycles using Google slides. First we looked at a sample animated water cycle to review. I posted a blank slideshow template in Google classroom and set it to make a copy for each student. On the first slide we clicked the Background button and searched for a good image to represent the water cycle (clouds, ocean, rain, etc). We added a title and our names, changing the font, size, and color to coordinate with the background image. Next, we added a new slide and changed the Background color to a sky blue. We used the shapes tool to place blue and green rectangles at the bottom for the ocean and land. We also used the shapes tool to add an arrow, a sun, a cloud, and a circle for a rain drop. I showed them how to change the border thickness and color of each shape. Once we got the raindrop looking the way we wanted, we copied and pasted it multiple times until we had a bunch of rain drops. Then we grouped them together by dragging across all of them and clicking Arrange > Group. Finally, we added text boxes to label each part of the water cycle (evaporation, condensation, and precipitation). To animate the water cycle, we clicked on the background and then clicked the Transition button at the top. Each object in the picture had to be clicked in the order it was supposed to appear, and we added an animation to it. When the students were finished, they clicked File > Publish to the web and copied the link. We posted them to Google classroom so our classmates could see the, but you can see them here.
Third graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning how to count money and make change (SOL3.8), so today students in Ms. Ford’s class created comics about buying things and getting change back. I posted a link to StoryboardThat on Google classroom, and when students opened the website we clicked “Create a Storyboard.” First we looked at the background Scenes and discussed possible places where money is exchanged: grocery store, restaurant, shopping mall, movie theater, school, etc. I explained that their comic would have 3 frames: the first one would be about how much the item costs, the second one would be about how much money the character paid, and in the last frame, a character would ask a question for the students to solve, like, “How much change would I get back?” For the characters, I demonstrated how to customize their colors, costumes, and expressions. I also showed the students how to use the Search box to find additional props, like money and objects to buy. The last step in making the comic was to add the speech bubbles and type complete sentences in each frame about the money story problem. When they were finished, the students took screenshots of their comics and uploaded them to Google classroom for their classmates to solve. You can see some examples here.
Fifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been studying sound (SOL5.2), so today students in Ms. DiMatteo’s class created Google slideshows about two characteristics of sound waves: frequency and amplitude (SOL5.2b). First we explored these topics with various interactive websites. With the “Wave on a String” website, students can create their own waves and adjust the frequency and amplitude. With the “Virtual Oscilloscope” students can turn on their microphones and actually see how different sound waves look on the oscilloscope. With the “Oscilloscope & Sounds” website students can press different keys on a piano to see how the pitch is reflected in the frequency. They can also adjust the volume slider to see how that affects the amplitude. I suggest turning both of the dials to #1 at the beginning so the sound waves are big enough. The last site we explored is another virtual oscilloscope that lets students experiment with changing the pitch and volume. Now the students were ready to create their slideshows. I posted a template on Google classroom that you can copy here. On the cover slide, we clicked the Background button and searched for an image having to do with sound. We also typed our names in the blank. The next slide is about frequency, so I instructed the students to think of an animal or object that makes a high or low frequency sound and create an animation using ABCYa!Animate to illustrate it. We exported our animations as GIF files and added them to our slide. On the last slide we went through the same process, but this time, illustrating amplitude. Unfortunately we ran into problems with the animations only playing once and then disappearing. For this reason, I have no student samples to share, but I figured out a solution. You can upload your animation to EZGIFMaker, press the “Animate It” button, and download the newly created GIF file. That webtool also lets you delete frames that had mistakes. You can take a look at my sample here. P.S. If you are studying sound, be sure to check out our very own Matt Caratachea’s awesome sound video!
First graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning how to tell time using analog and digital clocks (SOL1.8). Today, we practiced telling time with analog clocks in Ms. French’s class. I gave each student a Google slideshow template that you can copy here. On the first slide, the students typed their names and we discussed what time was shown on the clock. On the other slides they clicked and dragged the correct clock hands to show the times. They could delete the unused hands by clicking on them and pressing the Backspace button (optional). Then they typed a sentence about an activity they would do at that time. I pointed out that the times were all PM so they were in the afternoon or night. I also showed them how to click the image button and search for a picture of the activity by typing it in the box (words like eating, playing, sleeping, etc). After adding photos to each slide, we went back to the first slide and I showed them how to watch their presentation by clicking the “Present” button. You can see a sample slideshow here. UPDATE 3/16/2016 I taught a similar lesson in Ms. Pope’s 1st grade class at Laburnum, except this time we used Storymaker. You can see those samples here.
Fourth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about numeric and geometric patterns (SOL4.15), so today students in Ms. Thomas’ and Ms. Connell’s classes created patterns using a variety of webtools. Ms. Thomas’ class hadn’t used Google slides yet, so I wanted to show them how to make an animated slideshow. I posted a blank template on Google classroom and set it to make a copy for each student. When they opened their copy, each student clicked the Background button at the top and searched for a pattern image to use. Then they typed their title and name. Next, we created a new slide and chose a background color. I showed them how to add shapes and change the border and fill colors. They created their patterns with shapes, then I explained how to add a transition to each shape so that they appeared in order. When they were finished, we clicked the Share button and changed the privacy settings so that anyone with the link could view the slideshow. The students pasted their links to Google classroom so that their classmates could try to solve their patterns. Ms. Connell’s class had already made slideshows, so I showed them three webtools for animation: Parapara, SketchToy, and ABCYa!Animate. The students could choose which one they wanted to use, and they could use more than one if they had time. Parapara is good for quick, simple animations. Sketchtoy redraws anything you draw with cool vibrating lines. I’ve showcased ABCYa! Animate many times on this blog because it’s one of the best animation webtools for kids that I’ve seen. Ms. Connell’s class created both geometric and numeric patterns. You can see them all here.