Monday, February 6, 2017

Internet Safety Newsletter

Recently, in the Technology Lab, the 8th Graders created an Internet Safety Newsletter. Each class was tasked with creating a unique newsletter. There were 3 Editors in each class (which they had to apply for) and it was up to them which articles were selected, what layout to use, and what videos to include. It was set up as a competition and the “best” would go out to our families and that class would also get a treat of some kind.

Each student created an article and then, in groups, the students created videos that went along with the topics of the articles in the newsletter. There are even videos on page 3 of the newsletter!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Olympics in the 2nd Grade.

I like to do projects.... even with the little ones. I think students learn a lot from just having to maintain an overall concept while still completing smaller tasks. Since the Olympics were this summer, I decided to use this idea for a large 2nd grade project.

  1. Handouts- I created handouts with a country and the amount of Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals they won in Rio. Each student had a DIFFERENT country. This makes is funner. :) They have to be confident enough in their skills because they would not be able to just do what their neighbor did (sneaky, right?)
  2. Research- We used Time for Kids and they needed to take guided notes on the back of their paper with the medal counts. I checked all their countries prior to make sure it was there. The students had to go to Google, search for "Time for Kids + Country" to get the correct site. I do not do this for them, nor do I create shortcuts. I guided them and had them take notes on things like- Capital, Currency, Climate, Religion, Language (which were all great talking points for cross-curricular discussions).
  3. PowerPoint- Students created short 6 slide presentation. On the interactive board, there was an outline of what each slide should be. (Title, Map, Flag, 3 facts slides, Medals) On this one, we had to review PowerPoint, they did a very basic presentation in 1st grade, and needed review and additional instruction. They were asked to insert an image on each slide as well, which they needed to find online. 
  4. Excel- Students created a basic spreadsheet with their country and the amount of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals their country won. They also added some basic sum formulas to add them up. Students that worked a little faster, were asked to add additional countries to their spreadsheets. As as side-note, we had some visitors one of the days we were working on this and one of them happened to be a tech teacher from a nearby school. She was absolutely shocked that I was able to have a conversation with them while the students were working on formulas in Excel! When they didn't know how to do something, they went to a "Help Desk Expert" for assistance and just kept going. It was such a proud teacher moment for me! 
  5. Presenting- I don't like to have the little ones sitting still the entire time in the Tech Lab so I usually space out presentations and do a few at the beginning or end of class over a few weeks. So, we are still working on this one.
Here are some work samples:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Help Desk Experts

I implemented a new concept in my classroom this year... it is called the Help Desk Experts. I have 3 identifiers that I made from a doll rod, a foam hand, and a small wooded circle. When the students first came into the classroom at the beginning of the year, they wanted so badly to know what they were for. I waited a few classes to fill them in and now they look for them and know when they belong at their work station!

So, what is this Help Desk Expert? Well, I find myself doing a lot of my own research and reading in all the free time that I have (hahaha!) I wish that I had some of the articles I read to provide links to, but I don't always keep all of my sporadic reading materials. Anyway, I realized that I am trying to foster a culture of accountability, professionalism, good communication and solid work in my Technology Classroom and I believe that a lot (most) students want the teacher (or adult, or parent, etc) to answer all their questions and "fix" everything for them. I don't agree with this with my own children and this has carried over into my teaching. Therefore, these Experts are students that I have identified as those that have quickly "mastered" a skill and have proven they can effectively assist other students. As we start a new project and get working I observe the students and find 2-3 students that I think will do a good job at being the expert. I move the identifiers to their station. (The students really take ownership of this and are so proud when they are selected.)

The other students... well, when they have a question, they need to first ask the Experts. If they are all stumped, I am always wandering around watching and am there to help them problem solve and no I won't just give them the answer. The older students are expected to work collaboratively with the other Experts, tinker, and research online before coming to me. The great thing about this is that you can customize how you use it in a way appropriate for your audience.

Is this all working?  Yes, this has really been working on getting the students to be more accountable. They are getting better at formulating questions when they need help. I also like that I can tie this in with their future and possible Computer Science jobs. BUT, what I am most happy about is that they are no longer immediately raising their hands to have somebody else do it for them- they are stopping and thinking, trying, and reaching out to their peers for help. I am so glad that I have implemented this into my classroom.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas!

This is a very short week for us here at school, only Monday and Tuesday. As a result, I only have a few classes since my early week is lighter with classes. I wanted to find something to do with the students that was a little different and having to do with Christmas. I had 5th graders today and decided to do a Binary Code ornament.

Last week, we participated in Hour of Code school-wide so I thought Binary Code would be a great follow-up for the 5th graders (and 6th grade tomorrow.) We didn't go too deep into Binary Code, but we did define what it is and why it is important. I asked the students to create an ornament with the word, "Joy" which they did and many asked if they could create other words and make more. The students really enjoyed making these and we made some extras to take to the School Office to put on the school tree.

The instructions were simple... Red=1, Green=0, and White is a space between letters.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Stop Motion!

One of my favorite projects with 5th grade is their Stop Motion Project. It is one of the few projects that I have done more than one year in a row. It is such a great project that I can incorporate so many skills into--- Research, Storyboards & Google Docs, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, and of course Technology!

This is an overview of the project:

  1. Research Stop Motion- What it is? How long has it been around? How does it work? 
  2. Learn the app, Lego Stop Motion- We broke it down into pieces where we looked at the app and then we introduced a block and created short videos to understand how it worked.
  3. Assignment of the "Mystery Bag"- Each student gets a mysterious bag of something that they must use in their video (such as blocks, sequins, yarn, cups, beads, etc)
  4. Storyboards- Students had to create a storyboard in Google Docs, using numbering. 
  5. Practice- This is when they practice, work out the kinks. revise storyboards, and run through at least once from beginning to end. 
  6. Action! They record their turn-in Stop Motion video. 
  7. Viewing Party- We watched all videos and students had to provide peer feedback (both pro and cons) and what would a viewing party be without popcorn???

I love watching the students work on this. It gives all students a little something they like-whether, creative or analytical. This is usually one of the projects they say at the end of the year was one of their favorites and I always get requests for this type of project in the following grades.

(I love this picture with them all lined up in the hall working on their projects!)

(Viewing Party, complete with popcorn!)



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Election 2016

The 3rd grade teachers were discussing a class election and I asked if I could help out. It sounded like a lot of fun. The students prepared posters and speeches at home and in their classrooms for President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate some technology into the events. I decided to create an electronic ballot for them to use on our new Chromebooks. This was a great way to get them using some technology AND it would give us some data in a spreadsheet to play with as well! I also made certificates for the "winners" to take home. (Oh.... I made sugar cookies for the two classes as well, yummy!)

Here are the "voting booths" that I created for the 3rd graders and some of the other things that I set up:

We still have to analyze the data in our spreadsheets, but I need to find some time to change some names around so that the students don't see the actual percentages of specific candidates- I guess there were some hurt feelings after the election :( 

Friday, October 28, 2016

It's Fairy Nice to See You...

Today is "Halloween" at our school. I always try to come up with a over the top costume. This year, I decided to do a costume that went along with a project I was doing with the 1st graders.

The first graders have been really busy working on all kinds of Fairy Projects in the Tech Lab. They have really been getting into it and I love every minute of it. When my daughter was younger, we built her a fairy house (doll house) on top of a tree trunk in our yard. I will always remember how she would run to the house after school to see if the fairies visited that day or if they possibly left a treat. She was even in our local paper and we found her article all over the internet as the Associated Press picked it up! So in the Tech Lab, the students in first grade have been doing:

  • Research on Fairies which included Google Images, books from my personal library, and books from the local library.
  • Students did a nature hunt and collected branches, leaves, acorns, etc and we went over to the school garden and they built fairy houses in collaborative groups. (fits in nicely with our STEM Initiative)
  • We went back to school garden and they took pictures with the iPads of their fairy houses. They needed to remember 3 things when taking the pictures: Be still, center their object on the iPad and be close enough to see some details. They were little detectives too... the fairies came to visit because we found lots of fairy dust and they left a few notes for the class thanking them for the wonderful houses!
  • Students created an online drawing, that was inspired by the fairy house they built. They created these drawings at (Paint Go!)
  • The students are going to finish their project as a class by creating PowerPoint Presentations. This will be their first experience using this software. 
  • I will create a video that provides an overview of all the pieces and parts!

Oh, that's me... I am an Autumn Fairy. Their teacher said that I was the talk of the room this morning and they thought that I had turned into a real fairy! I told them Mrs. Wyszynski would probably return on Monday. Halloween is such a fun day to be a teacher!