Thursday, July 25, 2013

Technology Integration First Year Recap

Love me some technology!! Here are a few highlights of how I integrate technology to engage students and enrich their learning. Enjoy!

1. Unit Reviews with Jeopardy
Who doesn't love a good ol' round of Jeopardy? This isn't your typical PowerPoint Jeopardy...have you heard of JeopardyLabs? It's free and looks so authentic! I started creating these as test reviews but then thought, silly me, I should have the students make these! So they did. :) But they only did it once because it was rather time consuming for them to create their own. However they got so into Jeopardy that they were making them at home with the categories as different members of their family!  Two other students created a Jeopardy about Greek Gods and Goddesses for fun too. Here are the links to a few we used in class: Ancient Egypt and China, Fractions, Estimation, Tables, and Calendar, Matter, Measurement, and Probability.

2. Research, Writing, and Egypt with Puppet Pals
Click Photo to View Movie
This may be my favorite project from this past year because it was FUN and integrated reading, writing, and social studies. When I discovered the Puppet Pals app I couldn't wait to use it in the classroom. The students created videos where they acted like a tour guide in ancient Egypt. Here's a description of the app from iTunes:

"Simply pick out your actors and backdrops, drag them on to the stage, and tap record. Your movements and audio will be recorded in real time for playback later."

First I had the students research ancient Egypt. This opportunity gave the students practice locating information in a nonfiction text (our social studies textbook), which is a comprehension skill they struggled with. I created a research guide using the essential questions from our state's curriculum. The students recorded their research in a tree map.

Then the students used their research to write a five paragraph script as a tour guide. The students got really creative and into their role as a tour guide! I recall some of them writing in their introduction things like "I hope you had a safe plane ride!" and "I hope you brought lots of water because it's going to be hot in the desert!"

After they finished writing their script, they were ready to begin using Puppet Pals. First they selected their backdrops from Google Images (photos of pyramids, the Nile River, the desert, etc.). Then I took their photo so they could upload themselves into Puppet Pals. I also permitted them to use two to three other characters as people on their tour. In the video above, the student chose Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Sarah Palin as participants in her tour. Too funny! Finally, they would record their script! As a result of this project, EVERY STUDENT became an expert on ancient Egypt! I look forward to doing this project again next year!

3. Word Study Tests with Spelling City
I absolutely love using Spelling City to give word study assessments! Spelling City makes administering different word study tests for differentiated groups SO EASY. Once you create your own lists, they'll be available for future use, which equals working smarter, not harder! I included Spelling City as a center during our rotations on Fridays.

4. Economics Vocabulary with Motivational Posters
You know those Motivational Posters? Well there's an app to create your own! Our awesome ITRT shared this app with us at one of our monthly staff technology trainings! The students used our classroom costumes and props to illustrate/demonstrate an academic vocabulary word. I love their angry faces in this poster! I'm always on the lookout for other exciting ways to incorporate academic vocabulary...any ideas?!

Stay tuned for my next post on gifts for students and parents!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hello, again! First Year Recap

Hello, again! I'm back! Turns out my first year of teaching was a little VERY busy... but it was also AWESOME, rewarding, challenging, and FUN!! There are so many things I want to share but for now I'll leave you with a recap of some of my favorites activities...Enjoy!

1. Native American Tribes in the United States
In Virginia, 2nd graders learn about the Powhatan, Lakota, and Pueblo Native Americans. They must know their regions, land, climate, modes of transportation, occupations, architecture, and contributions. Students worked in groups using construction paper and markers to make a map (I already had the outline of a blank US map printed for them) demonstrating the essential knowledge.This was an excellent hands-on, cooperative activity, especially for the art smart and visual learners!

2.World Map with Sugar Cookies
This cooking activity was a hit! The final outcome it what you see above... to have a world map labeled with the continents, oceans, and specific rivers and mountain ranges. So much happened before this though and we got a little messy!! First, the students made the sugar cookie dough!

I had stations set up around the room with an ingredient and measuring utensil at each station. Then each group of 5 to 6 students had a big mixing bowl at their table. Each group member received one or two ingredient cards with a measurement. They were responsible for using their ingredient card(s) to go to an ingredient station, measure, the ingredient, and put the ingredient in their mixing bowl. Everyone was held accountable, had an important role, and had to make sure their measurements were correct! If your students haven't learned measurement yet, I suggest doing a mini-lesson beforehand so their cookie dough comes out...normal. Then came the mixing, the cookie cutters (purchased from Amazon), and the baking.

The next day, when the cookies were all done, the students used their textbook to research the location of the continents, oceans, rivers, and mountain ranges that are listed in our state's standards. Each group received a baggie of labels and divied up the labels between the members of their group. I had the students put the labels on toothpicks and write their student number on their labels so I would know who was responsible for what. Not only did we integrate our measurement and map skills, we had a yummy treat when all was said and done. :)

I LOVE this reading activity from Babbling Abby at The Inspired Apple!! Here's a synopsis from Abby's TpT store:

"By investigating "Snow Day Case Files" students will sort through evidence to determine what the main characters in a mini-story did during a snow day. As "Inference Investigators," students are encouraged to make inferences based on the clues in the evidence."

Tree Map for classifying evidence (the heading of the map says "Clues")

I had my students work in pairs and each pair made inferences about two pieces of evidence. After the students made inferences about their evidence, we had a whole group discussion about their discoveries. I had discussion questions, like Abby suggested, but I also made a tree map with masking tape on our rug to classify our evidence. Each branch of the tree map connected with a discussion question. For instance, if the first discussion question asked, "What are some activities Tim and Grandma Sue did," then the students would place any evidence that they thought answered that question under the first branch on the tree map. Classifying the data with the tree map really helped students see the connections between their evidence.

I LOVE the "Snow Day Case Files" because the kids LOVED it. However, my favorite thing about this activity is how it makes inferencing, an abstract reading comprehension skill, concrete and hands-on. As a result of this activity, the students really knew what it meant to inference and be a "reading detective". They became expert inference investigators!! Be sure to check out Abby's Inferencing Investigation!

4.  Gallery Walks
I love using Gallery Walks to get kids up and moving around the room! During a Gallery Walk, students rotate around the room to an image or piece of text, like a discussion question or problem. The students may work independently at each gallery or may have some kind of discussion, it's up to you! My students have done Addition and Subtraction Story Problem Gallery Walks, Fraction Gallery Walk, and Matter Gallery Walks. In the picture above, the students had to identify and illustrate the change in matter based on a real-world example. Here's a close-up of one of the galleries and recording sheet:

Stay tuned for a recap of my favorite technology integrated activities!! Thanks for visiting. :)

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