Third graders at Varina Elementary are learning about human influences on the environment (SOL3.10), so today students in Ms. Galvin’s class created environment posters using several different webtools. First, we discussed ways that humans impact the environment either positively or negatively and related it to the current wildfires happening in Australia. Some humans are fighting the fires and protecting the animals, while other humans are causing the fires to spread. I recorded their ideas on the board and instructed students to choose one for their poster. Next, each student did a Google image search for a background image and downloaded it to their Chromebook. Then, we took a selfie using Pixect with an expression showing how we were feeling about the background image. I like Pixect for taking selfies because it’s easy to use, it has a timer, and it features some cool effects. Since we wanted our background image to be the one we downloaded earlier, we removed the background with RemoveBG. If you’ve never tried that tool, it’s really amazing. It automatically detects the background in a photo and deletes it in a matter of seconds! Finally, we combined the background image with our selfie using a tool called ToonyTool. With ToonyTool, you can add a background, a character (our selfie), and speech bubbles and text. The posters turned out great! You can see them all here. UPDATE: With Ms. Lanham’s class we added elapsed time to the posters (SOL3.9b) and added them to the document.
Kindergarten students at Holladay Elementary are learning how to write their names and other words (SOL K.10), and they are studying the states of matter in Science (SOL K.4). Today, students in Ms. Edelblut’s class drew pictures of solids, liquids, and gasses and they typed the words. First, we went to ABCYa! Storymaker and typed our names. I showed them how to use Shift to make a capital letter. Then we discussed different examples of solids, liquids, and gasses. I taught them how to use the paint brush tool to draw each of the three states of matter and how to use the text tool to type the words. Finally we clicked the lines in the top right corner and chose the save icon to download a PDF of our creations. You can look at some student examples here.
Kindergarteners at Holladay Elementary have been learning how to classify objects and represent data (SOLK.1c). They have also been studying the physical properties matter, such as the relative weights of objects (SOLK.3). Today, students in Ms. Whitfield’s class used ABCYa! Paint to group different objects by weight. First, I showed them how to use the paint brush tool to draw a line down the middle of their paper. Then they drew an “L” for “light” and an “H” for “heavy” on either side of the line. Clicking and dragging to draw and write is a challenging task for small kindergarten hands, but they did it! Next, I instructed them to click on the stickers and choose a few to drag onto their paper. We discussed the difference between real and imaginary objects. Since we can’t really weigh imaginary objects, we concluded that we should use stickers representing real objects for this activity. They put heavy objects on the “H” side (like trucks and big animals) and light objects on the “L” side (like foods and small animals). Finally, we saved our work by downloading it as an image file. You can see some student examples here.
LogoMakr is a cool website for making logos. It has a great library of clip art and customizable text. But one of the things I like most about using LogoMakr in the classroom is you can design templates with it for your students to use. Just set up the page with the text and images you want, then save it, and send the link to students. They can change it up as much as they want, and when they save it, it gives them a new link, so your original template isn’t changed at all. For lower grades it’s especially great because it doesn’t ask them to sign in to use it. Here are two examples I used with first grade students at Laburnum Elementary today: In one class we made fractions (SOL1.4). The students changed the colors of the shapes in my template and typed the fractions in the text boxes. Then they made their own fraction with the shapes tool. In another class we created weather graphs (Math SOL1.12 & Science SOL1.7). The students dragged the weather symbols to make a pictograph, then they dragged the bars to make a bar graph. They also changed the colors of the bars. You are welcome to use these templates or adapt them as you wish. Try LogoMakr with your class!
Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about changes in the Earth’s crust due to plate tectonics (SOL5.7e). Today, students in Ms. Gallahan’s class used their analysis skills to look for correlations between a map of the Earth’s plates and a map of current earthquakes and volcanoes. First, they made a copy of a Google drawing template showing a map of the Earth’s plates (you can get your own copy here). Next, I showed them how to add a fancy title using Word Art (Insert > Word Art). I demonstrated how to change the size, font, fill color, and outline. Then we went to this site to see where there are current volcanoes and earthquakes. The students were surprised to see so many going on all over the world! We took a screenshot of the map with the Snipping Tool (on Chromebooks you can also use the Windows Key + Ctrl + Shift to take a screenshot). We pasted the screenshot into our Google drawing, and I showed them how to make it half transparent using the Format Options menu (Adjustments > Transparency). The tricky part was resizing the screenshot so the continents were the same size and matched up on both maps. Once they were aligned, it was easy to see some correlations. The volcanoes and earthquakes were happening along the plate boundaries! The plates map has arrows showing their movements, so we could figure out which ones were convergent, divergent, and transform boundaries. I instructed the students to get a shape from the Shapes tool, change its color, and type one or two of their discoveries and conclusions in the shape. Finally, we shared our posters in Schoology. You can see some of them here.
Fifth graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about the layers of the Earth in Science (SOL5.7d), so today students in Ms. Johnson’s class created 3-D models of the Earth using CoSpaces. First, I set up a free classroom account, and the students logged in with a code. Usually, the first thing you do in CoSpaces is click the Environment button at the bottom and chose an environment. We decided to use the default environment for this project to save time. Then, we clicked on Library button and chose the Build tab to find the half-sphere shape. We added that to our scene, and I showed them how to use the pop-up tools to raise the shape and rotate it. Right-clicking on the shape brings up a menu that we used to change the color of the shape. Since this represented the crust, we also added a label using the right-click menu. Then, we duplicated the shape, shrunk it a bit, recolored it, and labeled this new half-sphere as the mantle. Some chose to try to push the shape into the crust, while others left theirs out. The students continued in this way, adding the rest of the layers of the Earth. Finally, we chose a character from the characters library to add to the scene. The characters can be customized and given speech bubbles by right-clicking on them. CoSpaces has a coding component as well, but we didn’t have time to code during this lesson. We shared our projects in Schoology, and you can see some student examples here.
Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about the scientific method: forming a hypothesis, collecting data, taking measurements, graphing information, and analyzing the results (SOL5.1). Since Virginia is currently facing the threat of Hurricane Florence, and since the 5th graders need to review weather (SOL4.6), we decided to research hurricanes using the scientific method. First, I showed them some photos of past hurricanes and identified the eye of the hurricane. If the “eye” is the center, then the “eyelid” can be the area near the eye, and the “eyebrow” can be a bit further out. What part of the hurricane has the strongest winds? We made a copy of this spreadsheet, and I asked the students to write their hypothesis in the purple box. For example: If the distance from the eye increases, the windspeed will increase (or decrease). Now it was time to make some measurements and collect data. We went to Windy and Earth which show live storms on the Earth. You can click anywhere in the storm to get the windspeed (you may need to go to settings to change the units to mph). We used Accuweather or the National Hurricane Center to get the names of the hurricanes. The students could measure the winds in any hurricane they wanted, and I pointed out that the more data they collect, the more reliable their conclusions will be. They recorded the information in their spreadsheet, including the name of the hurricane and the windspeed measured at the eye, eyelid, eyebrow, and maximum (found by just searching around the storm for the biggest number). Finally, I showed them how to graph the data and customize the colors. We analyzed the results to confirm or revise our hypothesis. Most of us discovered that the strongest winds were in the eyebrow area, so as the distance from the eye increased, the windspeed increased. You can take a look at some student samples here. UPDATE: Schools closed the next day, 9/14, due to Hurricane Florence, and on 9/17 we had tornados!
First graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about ordinal numbers (SOL1.3). Today, students in Ms. Leibowitz’s class identified the ordinal numbers of objects in a drawing they created. First, we helped the students log into the computers, since they haven’t had much experience with them. Then we went to Kleki, a free drawing site I like because it’s simple to access and use. We started off just scribbling in order to practice using the click and drag technique. This, in itself, is a challenge for young students developing their fine motor skills. Once they got the hang of it, I showed them the Undo button, and we undid all the scribbles. Now it was time to start drawing pictures. I demonstrated how they could change colors using the rainbow. They could draw anything they wanted, as long as the objects were in a row, since we would be identifying their ordinal positions. Some first graders get very concerned if their pictures are not perfect, so I let them know that their pictures could be messy (I did a few messy examples). Even a squiggle could be a snake or a worm. Their drawings could be simple (circles, squares, triangles), or, if they wanted a challenge, they could make them more complex (trees, houses, cars), by combining shapes together. But, I explained, the most important thing was for them to enjoy the process. As they finished, I went around and saved their work (File > Export Image). I also uploaded the pictures to a shared Google doc, accessed with a link shortener so I could navigate to it quickly from each student’s computer. Finally, once all the students’ artwork was uploaded, we looked at the pictures and identified the ordinal position of different objects. For example, what is the position of the flower? What is in third place? You can see their pictures here. UPDATE: I have used Kleki to teach lessons in other first grade classes for shapes (SOL1.11a) Ms. Spencer & Ms. Milteer and patterns (SOL1.14) Ms. Sunseri & Ms. Burnett.
Fifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about classifying objects (SOL5.1a) and organisms (SOL5.5b) using various characteristics. Today, students in Ms. Haislip’s class practiced this skill by classifying their classmates. First, we went to AvatarMaker and created an avatar that looked like us–same hair style, eye color, etc. We downloaded the image as a 200×200 png file (click “Download”). Then we uploaded it to a shared Google slideshow so everyone could see each other’s avatars. Once all the avatars were uploaded, I turned off file sharing so no one would accidentally move or delete the images. I arranged the avatars neatly on the slide then instructed the students to make a copy of the slideshow (File > Make a copy). On their own copies, they duplicated the class slide (Right click > Duplicate slide), and we discussed ways to classify the students into groups with common characteristics. The students had many great ideas: gender, hair color, eye color, glasses, facial expression, etc. They chose a characteristic and typed it in the top of the slide. Next, they clicked and dragged the images to sort them into groups. As an option for making the groups clearer, I demonstrated how to create shapes with the Shapes tool and send them to the back (Arrange > Order > Send to Back). If students finished, they could make additional copies of the slide and create different sorts. You can see some student examples here.
Second graders at Laburnum Elementary got to know each other better today with a fun “Mystery Me” activity. First, they went to Pixect and took a photo of themselves. Pixect is a great tool for taking quick webcam photos. It has an array of filters and timers available to use, but we just saved the photo and uploaded it to FacePixelizer, where the real magic happens. FacePixelizer is another great tool with many instructional uses. We used it today to pixelate our faces, but it can be used to make anything in a photo unidentifiable and mysterious: pixelate a book title, a weather instrument, or an animal, and students can try to guess what it is from various clues. It’s simple to use. Just click and drag across the area you want to pixelate. The amount of pixelation can be adjusted with a slider. Once we pixelated our faces, we downloaded the images and added them to a Google slideshow template that I gave them. The first slide was titled “Who Am I?” with two sentence starters: “I like…” and “I have….” The students completed the sentences with clues about themselves. On the next page they typed “I’m (Name)” and uploaded their original photo from Pixect. When they were finished, I combined all their slideshows together and added a Dissolve transition between them, so the pixelated photo gradually revealed the mystery student. You can see a few student samples here.