5th Grade Ocean Food Chain

Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been reading and writing nonfiction text (SOL5.6 & 5.7) and they have been learning about ocean food chains in Science (SOL5.6). So today students in Ms. Primrose’s and Mr. Williams’ classes created an ocean food chain in Google drawing and wrote about it. First I gave them each a copy of a blank Google doc in Google classroom. I showed them how to add the title and change the font, size, and color. Next we had to research our food chain. The students could pick whichever sea creatures they were interested in, but they had to have the correct predator-prey relationships. For example, they couldn’t have a jellyfish eating an octopus. I explained how to open a new tab and ask Google questions like, “What is an ocean plant? What eats seaweed? What predators does a dolphin have?” Once they had their correct food chain facts, they wrote about the sequence in their Google doc. Then we clicked Insert > Drawing, and the students created their food chain diagram using images (click the Image button > Search) and arrows (click the Shapes button). Finally, we clicked File > Publish to the web, copied the link, and posted our projects to Google classroom. You can see them all here.

4th Grade Fire Safety Diagrams

October 9-15th is Fire Prevention week in memory of the famous Chicago Fire on October 9th, 1871. Fourth graders at Trevvett Elementary had a visit from the fire truck today, and students in Ms. Harlow’s class created digital fire escape floor plans for their homes. First we discussed the importance of creating a plan for everyone in your family to get out of a burning house and the need to practice different scenarios where the fire may be blocking an exit. I explained that a creating a floor plan with arrows for directions is a good place to start, like the fire escape diagrams hanging in each classroom. There are a couple of websites students can use to create fire escape routes such as The Burn Institute and The Fire Escape Planner. They could even design 3-D models of their home with Planner5d, Homestyler, RoomSketcher, or HomebyMe. However, I needed to show them how to make Google slideshows, so we created our fire escape plans using Google slides. I made a blank Google slides template and shared a copy with each student in Google classroom. On the first slide we clicked the “Background” button and searched for a picture of fire to use. Then we added a title and our names in a font, size, and color of our choice. I showed them how to add a new blank slide by clicking the arrow next to the “+” button in the top left corner. On this slide we created the floor plan of our house using the shapes tool. We used rectangles for the rooms, doors, and windows. Then we used the text tool to add labels to each room. Many students used the smile shape to add their family members, but I explained that they could also do a Google image search for a “person icon.” I pointed out that adding “icon” to their search would provide simple drawings with transparent backgrounds. We used that strategy to search for a “fire icon” and added a fire to the house, blocking an exit. Then students used the arrow tool to show how the people would escape. I showed them how to change the thickness and color of the arrow using the buttons to the right of the arrow tool. Finally we published our slideshows (File > Publish to the web) and pasted the links to Google classroom. You can see their projects here.

3rd Grade Comparing Rules & Laws

captureThird graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning about the difference between rules and laws (SOL3.10a). The teachers developed a project as an alternative assessment where the students create posters comparing rules and laws, so today Ms. Hufnell’s students made digital posters using Google docs. Some of the students worked with a partner while others worked individually. First I made copies of a blank Google doc for each student in Google classroom. I showed them how to create a fancy title by changing the font, size, and color. Then we inserted a 2×2 table. In the first row, students wrote the rule and the law that they chose. I showed them how to make the important words bold. In the second row students described the rule and law, and I showed them how to make bullet points. Finally, the students clicked Insert > Image > Search and searched for images that reflected the rule and and law they chose. We published our posters to Google classroom so everyone could see them. You can check out some of their projects here.

1st Grade U.S. Symbols Patterns

captureFirst graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning about patterns in Math (SOL1.17) and U.S. symbols in Social Studies (SOL1.11), so today students in Ms. Lucas’ class created patterns with U.S. symbols using Pixie. First I showed them how to add a text box by clicking the blue T, and they typed their names with a capital letter. Next we clicked the Stickers button and searched for the Symbols folder (it has an orange exclamation point on it). Inside the Symbols folder, there is a folder of American symbols. There are stickers for the four symbols the students have been studying: the American flag, the bald eagle, the Washington Monument, and the Statue of Liberty. I showed the students how to click and drag the stickers onto their document and create a pattern. As they finished their patterns, we exported them using the Export button, and I uploaded them to a photo sharing site called CoMemories. You can see them all here.


5th Grade Scientific Method Videos

captureFifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been studying the steps in the scientific method (SOL5.1). One of their teachers, Ms. Haislip, emailed me asking if I could show them how to make a video reviewing the steps. Since the lesson was only one hour, I decided to focus on the most difficult step – identifying the independent and dependent variables (SOL5.1e), then they could add the other steps later. First we got into pairs, and I showed them how to log into WeVideo with their Google accounts. We switched over to Storyboard mode using the three lines menu in the top left corner since that’s easier than Timeline mode. Each pair of students brainstormed ideas for an experiment they’d like to do and typed the title in the Title clip of the storyboard. Next we used the record button to record their intro. They had to introduce themselves and explain the purpose of their experiment. Then they opened a new tab and searched for an image to represent their experiment. They downloaded the image and added it to their video timeline. I showed them how to record a voiceover for the photo, identifying the dependent and independent variables. Students had to convey their understanding that the independent variable is the one that the scientist changes and the dependent variable is the one that responds to the change. Finally the students added a theme with music and published their videos. We posted the links to Google classroom, but you can see some student samples here.


4th Grade Virginia Indians Videos

pasted-image-0Fourth graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about the Virginia Indians (VS.2d), so today I showed students in Ms. Tonello’s class how to make videos about a Virginia Indian group using WeVideo. First they picked a partner to work with because WeVideo puts a bit of strain on the wireless bandwidth. Next, we logged in with our Google accounts and switched to Storyboard mode (since it is easier for beginners). Each pair chose a Virginia Indian group (Powhatan, Monacan, Cherokee) and typed the name of their group on the title clip. Then they clicked the red record button and recorded their introduction video. I showed them how to drag their video down from the media frame into the storyboard frame. Next, we opened a new tab and searched for a map of Virginia to include in our video (most used this one since it was part of the Wikimedia commons). They used the Snipping Tool to take a screenshot of the map, and they used the pen tool to circle where their Indian group lived. Then students uploaded the map to their video project and recorded a quick voiceover using the microphone button. We switched to Timeline mode in order to drag the voiceover to match up with the map. Finally we clicked the Themes button and chose a theme with music. We discovered that we needed to turn down the volume of the music track or we couldn’t hear our voices. That’s all we had time for today, so we posted our links to Google classroom with the hopes of finishing them later. Check out a few student examples here.


3rd Grade Animal Adaptations

captureThird graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about animal adaptations in Science (SOL3.4) and writing for a variety of purposes in Language Arts (SOL3.9). So today students in Ms. Lanham’s class wrote about animal adaptations using Google docs. This was my first lesson with them, so I wanted to introduce them to Google classroom and the basics of word processing. First I posted a blank Google doc template to Google classroom and set it to make a copy for each student. I instructed them to choose an animal they were curious about and do a bit of research in another tab. A good way to get some quick facts is just to type the name of the animal and “adaptations” into a Google search. We discussed the importance of putting the information in their own words and not plagiarizing. Then we went back to the Google doc and typed a creative title. I showed them how to change the font, size, and color of their title. Next they wrote a few sentences about some of the adaptations their animal had to help it survive. Finally, instead of simply adding a picture of the animal, we clicked Insert > Drawing so we could circle or otherwise point out the various adaptations seen in the image. When they were finished, the students published their writing and posted the links to Google classroom. You can read all their animal reports here.

5th Grade Animated Rock Cycle

captureFifth graders at Trevvett Elementary are currently studying the rock cycle (SOL5.7a,b), so students in Mr. Hilton’s class and Ms. Catlett’s class created animated rock cycles using Biteslide and Gickr. First we went to Biteslide to design the rock cycle diagram. Biteslide is a paid site, but you can use the Demo for free (click “Try Demo”). It’s great for designing posters, diagrams, and slideshows because it has built-in templates, clip art, and a filtered Google image search. Students added a background image and a title. Then they searched for images of metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks and labeled them. Next they added arrows with explanations describing how rocks change from one form to another. I gave them a tip for finding pictures with no background by adding “icon” to their search (“fire icon” for example). Once their diagrams were complete, we took screenshots of them using the Snipping Tool. To prepare for the animation, we deleted parts of the diagram in reverse order and continued taking screenshots until we just had the first rock type left. Finally we uploaded our screenshots to Gickr which created an animated .gif file of our diagram. You can see all their diagrams here.

4th Grade Virginia Regions Videos

captureFourth graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about the regions of Virginia and their products (VS.10b) in Social Studies. Since Ms. Rivara let me know that she wants to do more video projects with her class this year, I taught them how to use WeVideo to create short movies about the regions of Virginia. First we got in self-selected groups, and each group discussed the region they wanted to do. One student from each group signed into WeVideo with their Google account. We switched from Timeline mode to Storyboard mode (using the 3 lines in the top left corner) to use a simpler layout at the beginning. We clicked on the Title slide and added the name of our region. Next I showed them how to use the red record button to record their introduction using the webcam. We added that to our video storyboard by clicking and dragging it. Then we searched online for pictures of our region and added those our video storyboard as well. I explained how to use the microphone button to record a voiceover, and we switched over to Timeline mode (using the 3 lines) so that we could adjust the duration of the photos to match our voiceover. Finally we clicked the Themes button and chose a theme with the effects and music we liked. When the students finished editing their videos, we clicked the Finish button, chose the 480 size to load it faster, and published it. Now we could copy our links and paste them to Google classroom so we could watch each other’s videos. You can see them all here. UPDATE 10/13/2016 Ms. Adamonis’ 4th graders at Trevvett did a similar project which you can see here.


Reading Olympics Raps

captureEvery year Ms. Teague, the librarian at Holladay Elementary, hosts a Reading Olympics competition for 4th and 5th grade students. The students have to read at least five books from the book list by March, then they compete in the Olympics by answering questions about the books with their teams. You can learn more about it on Mrs. Teague’s blog. It’s been very effective at getting the students engaged and excited about reading. In fact, this year, three fifth grade boys were so excited that they came up with the idea of creating a rap for the competition. They worked with the music teacher, Ms. Jones, and me to compose and record their rap. I showed them how to use ButtonBass to generate a good beat that matched their lyrics. Then Ms. Jones used a flip camera to record and edit their video. She published it on the school website, shared it on the morning announcements, and you can check it out here. Way to go, guys!