A couple of days ago I was searching for a way that students could make an online classification system for living things (SOL5.5). I wanted them to be able to answer questions about a living thing and have their search get narrowed until they were able to classify it. I found a site called Inklewriter that was pretty cool. It allows you to write “choose-your-own-ending” stories. It was perfect for the classification lesson, and I made a sample that you can see here. Unfortunately, that lesson was cancelled because of testing. However, I was able to try it out today with a couple of 2nd grade classes as part of a creative writing assignment. I explained the idea that their stories had to have a dilemma with two choices for the reader to make. One choice should result in something good happening, and the other should result in something bad happening. Each student typed up their stories and wrote the two choices. Then I showed them how to add a picture by searching for an image of something in their story and pasting in the weblink to that image. Next they wrote about the results of each choice. Inklewriter was fun and easy to use and it didn’t require any login to write the stories (although you need a login to save them… we did run into a little problem when we all tried logging into the same account, so I just saved their stories one at a time afterwards). Their stories turned out great! You can try a couple of student samples here and here, or you can find all their stories here: Marable and Street. (PS. This site would also work great with an economics lesson on choices and opportunity costs SOL3.9).
I often like to use web tools with kindergarten students because if they can work with kindergarteners, then they can work for anyone! So today at Laburnum Elementary I tried out a couple of the sites that I used last week with the 2nd graders, and the kindergarteners in Ms. Orr’s room did a fantastic job with them! They have been studying magnetism (SOL K.3), so first we discussed what makes something magnetic or non magnetic. Then they went to DrawSave and drew a magnetic or a nonmagnetic object of their choice. They saved the pictures themselves and they only needed a little help copying the weblink. Next they clicked one of two links (magnetic or nonmagnetic depending on what they drew) to go to an online Padlet board. Adding their picture was as simple as clicking on the board and pasting in the weblink. The students really enjoyed seeing each others’ pictures and it lead to some good discussions as they tried to figure out what their friends drew (I later added the descriptive words since I didn’t know what some of them were either). You can see their work here: Magnetic and Nonmagnetic. The students caught on surprisingly fast and in just one hour many of them had drawn and uploaded two pictures. It was a great way to review magnetism, especially since it’s online and students can look at it at home with their families.
Learning the difference between the past and present (SOL 1.1) is a difficult concept for first graders to understand since they have little to no experience of life in the past. Providing lots of opportunities to see and hear about the past through videos, stories, and pictures is essential for helping them understand the differences. So today first grade students in Ms. Edmonds’ class at Holladay Elementary created pictures about the past using Kerpoof. Pixie would be another good option, but this class already had lots of experience with Pixie, so they wanted to try something new. Kerpoof has a relatively large collection of clip art, and many of them relate to life in the past. First we chose “Create a Picture” and they selected a background for their picture. We discussed which backgrounds would be good for the past (nature scenes) and which ones would not (cities, schools, sports fields, etc). Then the students added clip art to their pictures. We focused on family life and transportation. I gave them a few words they could search for in order to find good clip art (cabin, past, horse, wagon, pilgrim work well). If they couldn’t find a particular picture, they could draw their own. To practice this, all the students drew a fire and added it to their scene. Another cool feature of Kerpoof is that each clip art object has a speech bubble icon that can be used to make the object “talk” or to create a label. Some of the advanced students were able to use that feature. Finally we posted the pictures online so the students could see each others’ scenes. They could then use these pictures to write a story or they could contrast them with pictures from the present.
Second graders at Laburnum Elementary have been studying the three states of matter (solids, liquids, and gasses). So today we discussed the differences between each state, and I gave them a task to draw one of the states of matter using an online drawing tool called DrawSave. It’s a great tool because it’s simple to use, there is no login, and it gives you a link to your picture when you are finished. I wanted to create a sorting activity like this one that I made using Flash, so I was searching for an online tool that would let students upload their photos and then drag them around. I found a couple that worked, but each one had some limitations that I’ll go over. Scribblar is a good one that I’ve used many times. It has a simple login (your name), it allows students to upload their photos, and they can drag the pictures around. You can see a sample I created with the students’ artwork here. The only limitation is that it’s too easy for the students to mess it up. They can scribble all over it and delete each others’ pictures. Another site I tried was LinoIt. It was easy enough to upload the pictures, but the students could not drag them around and the background chart was repeated. You can see that sample here. I also tried RealTimeBoard, but that required students to have an email in order to move things around (see my sample here). Finally I decided to use Padlet (previously Wallwisher). It was easy for students to upload their picture, they were able to add labels, and it looks really sharp. You can see what the students did here. The only problem was students could not move each other’s pictures around, only their own (this could be a good thing, but for my lesson I wanted them to be able to sort each others’ pictures). The students enjoyed seeing each others’ pictures pop up instantly on their screens and it was a great way to review the three states of matter. I never did find the perfect tool, but I found some really good ones in the process!
As a special enrichment project for Black History Month, a small group of third grade students in Ms. Marion’s class at Holladay Elementary researched, created, and presented their own videos about famous African Americans. The three pairs of students selected Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks for their projects. First, with the help of the media specialist, they gathered information about their person using books from the library and various websites. Then I helped them with some of the technology for their presentation. Some wanted to do a Keynote, and others wanted to do an iMovie project. These students already knew the basics of the programs, but I showed them how to use the advanced features like adding backgrounds, music, and special effects. They did all of the scripting and editing themselves. They also selected their own pictures and music to use. They even designed their own costumes and props! When they finished, I exported their projects as QuickTime videos and uploaded them to Vimeo so the students could share them with their classmates and families. You can check them out here: Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks.
The fourth graders at Chamberlayne Elementary have been learning all about animals and their ecosystems (SOL 4.5). They have also been individually researching an animal of their choice. So today they shared their information in a variety of ways. Students in two classes made interactive images of their animals using Thinglink. Thinglink allows students to put hotspots on different parts of a picture so when visitors scroll over the hotspots, a fact pops up. It was perfect for pointing out the various physical adaptations that help their animals survive. Take a look at a few student samples: Giraffe, Frog, and Dolphin. Other students wanted to create talking pictures with Blabberize. This was a little more difficult to do because they had to record an mp3 first (you can record one using Vocaroo or RecordMP3). Then they had to upload the mp3 file to Blabberize along with a picture. But the videos turned out great! Here are a couple of student samples: Peacock and Wild Boar. Still other students wanted to create Pixie pictures of their animals with recorded voiceovers. These projects provided an excellent way to review since the students were eager to share their work with their classmates and families. I put all the links onto a Google Doc that you can see here. UPDATE: Ms. Waggoner’s class continued this project and created webpages with Instablogg, embedding their videos and pictures into their sites. I posted the links here.
The kindergarten students in Ms. Miller’s class at Holladay have been learning about the coins and their values. Pixie is a great program for reviewing the coins because there are coin stickers in the clip art library. However, this class was already familiar with Pixie, so I wanted to try something new with them. I was impressed with ABCYa’s Animation Site, so I figured I’d use their Painting Site and see how it went. I like it because it’s similar to Pixie with drawing tools, text, stamps, and clip art, plus you can save your pictures as a JPEG file. However, sometimes you can’t tell how a website will work until you test it with a whole class, and unfortunately, I ran into some problems with saving that I’ll explain later. Most of the site worked very well. I showed the students how to use the clip art to get a picture of a child that looked like them. Then they typed their names. They used the stamp tool to stamp out one of each type of coin (a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter). Next, for the coin values, we used the number cupcakes from the clip art library. Finally, the students used different color paints to draw a line from the coin to its value. To save, we clicked the save button and navigated to our folders, but when we checked, many students’ pictures were not saved this way. So we took screenshots (Apple + Shift + 3). I uploaded all their pictures to Comemories and you can see them here.
Kindergarteners at Holladay Elementary have been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. since his birthday is this month (SOL K.1b). Today we created a timeline of his life using Dipity. Dipity makes it easy to create a cool, interactive timeline (you can see ours embedded below). First I took them to my Martin Luther King, Jr. site to hear his speech and see a sample timeline. Then I gave them each an event in his life to illustrate using Pixie. You can download the folder of events by clicking here. I also showed them various photos of each event so they could get some ideas for their drawings. You can download the folder of pictures by clicking here. After the students drew the pictures, I showed them how to export them as a JPEG file so we could upload them to Dipity. Once they were uploaded, Dipity does some cool things with the information. You can view it as a timeline, of course, but you can also view it as a flipbook, a list, and even a map showing where the events took place! You can access those different views by clicking the links at the top left of the timeline. You can see our timeline here, or embedded below.
Third graders at Laburnum Elementary have been doing a lot of writing using Pages (the word processing program on the Macs), so they wanted to try something new and different. I thought that blogging would be perfect for them! We used Instablogg because it doesn’t require a login, it gives a link for them to go back and edit, and it also allows comments. Since this past weekend was the Inauguration of President Obama in Washington DC, I gave that as a possible topic. It’s a good idea to give choices though, so if they didn’t want to write about that, they could write about their weekends. First we talked about good writing habits. We discussed how to keep their ideas organized and flowing smoothly. We also discussed using sentence variety and descriptive words to keep things interesting. I pointed out the importance of correct spelling and grammar since this would be published online and anyone could read it (even President Obama)! Once they finished typing, I showed them how to search for a good picture online. I also showed them how to change the size when they embed it into the blog. I posted all their links to a Google Doc that you can see here.
Second graders at Laburnum Elementary are currently reviewing the American Indian tribes they’ve been studying for the past several weeks (Powhatan, Lakota, and Pueblo). So to help them review, they made websites today using CheckThis. CheckThis is a great way for elementary students to create websites because it doesn’t require a login, and adding new parts is as simple as clicking a button. To get them started brainstorming ideas, each child chose a tribe and pretended that they lived in the tribe. They gave themselves a name and an occupation and thought about what their lives would be like. Then we went to CheckThis and started writing. They wrote about where they lived, what they ate, what the land and climate were like, and any other creative ideas they wanted to add. Next we got a picture to embed. We discussed good search terms that would get the best picture (“lakota indian” would get more results than just typing “indian”). Finally, I showed them how to add a poll question that would help the reader review the American Indians. I posted all the links to a Google Doc that you can see here.