Karen Nowicki, 5th Grade Teacher at Springfield Park, saw a TED Talk about SCRATCH and it sparked her interest. I too had just recently learned about SCRATCH at a technology conference in Charlottesville. I liked it so much, that I put in a software request to have it added to all student and teacher machines, and it was approved! Mrs. Nowicki and I are going to introduce the SCRATCH program to her students this week. As a starting point, the students will work through the SCRATCH Task Cards provided at scratch.mit.edu I printed them off, cut them out, folded them in half, and laminated them, so hopefully they will last for multiple classes. Not very tech-y of me, but I think it will be easier for the students to learn how to program code without having to go between multiple windows.
The students will work through as many cards as possible to learn how to manipulate the sprites (or characters) on SCRATCH. Our hope is that students will then be able to transfer this knowledge to create a review game or digital story telling. I can’t wait to see what the kids design! Check back later for their finished products.
Each year, the Springfield Park SCA sells Smencils to raise money for their school. In the past, the videos were created by a teacher. This year, we assigned the task to the students and they rose to the occasion! We began by meeting with the SCA Officers and having them brainstorm what needed to be included in the commercial. Next, the students created a Story Board for the commercial using a template from Pixie.
At the next SCA meeting, the students collaborated by taking on different parts of the commercial and filming mini-skits or taking still photos. Then the officers met again to put the videos and pictures together into an iMovie. Check out their finished result!
Mrs. Ricks at Springfield Park approached me looking for a more interactive way to have her students plan for writing a paragraph. She noticed that their attention just wasn’t there using paper, pencil, and markers, so I helped her create a template in Pixie that her students can use for future writing assignments.
The first green dot is for the topic sentence. The yellow dots are for main ideas, and the red rectangles are for supporting details. Finally, the last green circle is for the conclusion. On this template, everything except for the text boxes are glued down so that students can not rearrange the shapes on the page. After students type up their sentences, they could easily then record themselves reading their paragraph and listen to it played back to see if it makes sense. Click the link below to download this Pixie template.
Mrs. Neely, 4th grade teacher at Glen Lea, wanted to have a way that students could listen to their peers speeches and then vote for the SCA officers of their choice. Together we set up a blog for the Glen Lea Election!
On the blog you will find a tab for a page with a drop-down list for the speeches recorded by the students running for President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. After viewing the speeches, students then click on the tab for the page where they can cast their vote. On this page, a Google Form was embedded. Students selected the four candidates that they thought would best represent their school on the SCA. We set up the form so that students could only select one person in each category.
Mrs. Neely did not open the form up for voting until that morning and then closed it down again that afternoon. Once all votes are in, they automatically compile into a spreadsheet complete with graphs and percentages, so it is easy to see who the winners are!
The 5th Grade students in Mrs. Stoner’s math class were beginning a unit on graphing. Springfield Park is a pilot school for ActivEngage, so we were able to utilize this program. ActivEngage will be available at all elementary schools soon! In order to collect data, we asked the students when their birthday is and had them answer using the text response in Engage. After all students responded through Engage, we were able to show the entire classes responses on the screen. The students transferred this information to a graph using Keynote. We discussed how to use enter the data in the cells, and then use the inspector to create and label our graph. We focused on how all graphs need a title & x-axis and y-axis values and labels. What a quick and easy way to collect data!
The 5th Grade students in Ms. Lehman’s science class at Maybeury really enjoyed the fast paced light stations that they rotated to today. At one station, students visited some create web resources to find information about light in a Light CyberHunt. They then typed the answers they found on their Pages document.
On the next station, they were given a Pixie document with columns for transparent, translucent, and opaque materials. They had to search through the Pixie database for images that would be appropriate for each category.
The final station allowed the students to create a Comic Life from scratch. They selected one scientist who contributed something to the study of light and created a Comic Life page for them using a database of images that I found and dropped into their classroom folder. They also had to add appropriate text to their page.
One of my favorite Web 2.0 tools is VoiceThread! I have used it in several classrooms to get the students communicating about the things they are learning in class. The first step is to build avatars for your children so that their actual pictures are not out on the internet. There are several great sites for creating your avatar, such as buildyourwildself.com, or you can have your students draw themselves in Pixie. Then you can use these pictures to add identities on your page. You only have to create the identities once and they will be on your account forever, or until you delete them.
Sample Avatar Created on buildyourwildself.com
Next, the teacher uploads photos or videos to their VoiceThread project. Once the images are uploaded, you are able to share the link with your students so that they can hop on the computer and make comments. Comments can be typed or spoken. Both commenting options allow you to have a virtual pen, so you can draw on the page while you are talking or typing your comment. You can set their preferences so that all comments have to be approved by the teacher before they are posted. This is a really great way to get your students talking with their peers, other schools, other students in Virginia, students in other states, and students in other countries! The possibilities are endless.
As the benchmark testing is quickly approaching, many teachers are asking for fun activities they can do with their kids to review. I really like the idea of using the ActiVotes because the students tend to be more engaged and excited about review whenever the ActiVotes are in the room. My students always loved using my Quia website too, so why not put the two together? In this review lesson, I projected the teachers Quia site with a rags to riches activity on 2nd Grade map skills. Rags to Riches is similar to “Who wants to be a millionaire” so they kids get excited that they are earning pretend money as they answer the questions correctly. You can also change the currency. In this activity, they were trying to win a million Skittles rather than dollars.
All teachers in Henrico have access to a Quia site. Quia is a nice option for review because you can create your own activities with the specific questions that you want your students to know the answers to. You can also borrow activities from others if you find a great Quia activity that you like on other persons page. If you love their activity, but there is a question or two that you dislike, you can always edit the other persons work and make it fit your needs. If you would like help setting one up for your classroom, please sign up for a consultation.
The 5th Grade students in Mr. Cabaniss’s class at Maybeury did a fantastic job showing the 5 Kingdoms of Living Things through a Comic Life. His students were free to choose the format they thought would work best. Since we were dealing with 5 Kingdoms, most students chose a layout that had 5 spaces for their information. I dropped photos into their classroom folder so that they could easily access them and drag them straight into the Comic Life page. Once their pictures were in place, they added text bubbles to their pictures to explain a few characteristics of that kingdom. This would be a great activity for the different groups of vertebrates and invertebrates as well.
The 5th Grade students in Mrs. Nowicki’s class at Springfield Park wanted to talk with other students within the county to get their opinions on cell phone usage by kids and school uniform policies. In their research, the students discovered that Laburnum Elementary has a school uniform policy in place, so we asked the 5th grade teachers at Laburnum if they would be interested in blogging with us. They agreed, so the Springfield Park students came up with the questions they wanted to ask on each topic. Then Mrs. Grubbs, the school librarian, created a blog through blogs.henrico.k12.va.us so that the students at Springfield Park could communicate with students at Laburnum. The Springfield Park students really enjoyed seeing and responding to the comments made by their peers at another Henrico County school.
Blogs are a great way to take your students ideas outside of the walls of the classroom and even the school. Some teachers even have their students blogging with kids at schools in different states…and countries! Sign up for a consultation if you would like to learn how to create a blog for your students through blogs.henrico.