Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Time Project with Educreations

Once again I see that my students are technology natives and can teach me so much! Last week the students created their Character Trait projects for their guided reading books. I was concerned that they couldn't save in Educreations until they recorded. That meant gathering pictures and photographs of their work in Dropbox or on the camera roll and then bringing them over to Educreations. Many students, however, wanted to use the vast image search within Educreations. One of my students realized that she could go into Educreations, do an entire page with text and images the way she wanted it and then just take a screenshot of that page. The technology specialist, learning center teacher, learning center para, and I never thought of that! We all are too old to be technology natives.

I always reflect on what worked and what didn't. I will still have students plan everything out in a storyboard fashion ahead of time including any hand drawn pictures they want in their presentation. That is why everything else went so smoothly. I will then have them go straight to Educreations to create one page at a time and take a screenshot of each one. That way the work won't get lost. When it is all created then they can record.

Recording was a challenge in the classroom, so I may arrange for some parents to come in next year when we are planning to record. Luckily, this year I had two Learning Center staff members that were able to find quiet areas in the school to do the recordings with a couple students at a time.

One of the students chose to write the text and not record his voice. Instead, he chose a song that fit his character well and recorded it from his Iphone. It came out great! Again, tech. natives!

Our tech. specialist created a school account with Educreations so that the kids could save it to the site. I know there is a way to share these presentations with parents using a link, but I am not sure how yet. I will figure all that out for next year. We did watch all of them in class on the SMARTBoard.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Drop It Like It's Hot!

So within the span of about three days, I had two colleagues talk to me about using Drop Box for three different purposes! I was intrigued. I know it isn't that new, but it was news to me!

1. My teammate mentioned it as a way for us, as a team, to collaborate together on the run. We do not have common planning time and we have used Google Docs in the past for this purpose. Drop Box is the new and improved Google Docs/Drive.

2. My teammate also shared the fact that the need for flash drives would be eliminated! Do you know how often fifth graders lose or forget to bring their flash drives? With drop box they can put their work in the "cloud" and access it easily at home and at school. This also allows the teachers to access it as well because a student can share it when they are done!

3. Another teammate told me that the tech. specialist from our school could come and demonstrate how to use Drop Box on the IPad for projects. We are planning on having the students use the Educreations app to create a presentation about their guided reading books. My teammate was concerned because it is very difficult to save and share Educreations projects when you have multiple people using the same IPads. One user IPad is no problem. Also, you can't save on Educreations until you record. So, students need to have everything planned out and put somewhere until they are ready to place it all in Educreations and record. Some of their pieces will be in the camera roll and others they will place directly into the drop box. Drop box is better because this set of Ipads is being used in grades 3-5. Any student can delete pictures from the camera roll, but if it is in Drop Box, it is safe! When the projects are all done, then the students can save them to Educreations to be watched.

4. I will use Drop Box, along with Document Writer, to make my files mobile! I love the idea of working from anywhere on any device. 

Wait! Most importantly, the free version has plenty of space! I think it is 2 gigs.

I went to dropbox.com and downloaded it onto my laptop. It then gave a prompt to have it added as an app for my IPhone. It sent me a text which sent me to the app page. Easy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Goldilocks and the Three Triangles

I was in the middle of a lesson yesterday and was struck with an idea. I am sure others have thought of it, but it was new to me. The focus was to help my students remember what a right, acute, and obtuse angle are so that they can identify different kinds of triangles.

The Goldilocks metaphor came to me when I said that 90 degrees is a right angle. One of my students asked, "Why is it called a right angle?" I jokingly answered, "90 degrees is just right." Then the fairy tale came to mind. 90 degrees is "just right." Acute is the angle that is "too small" and obtuse is the angle that is "too big."

Worked for my students. 

Another part of identifying triangles is the length of sides. My students know equilateral because they hear the word equal in it. They know it means all side are equal length. What was causing them confusion was how to remember the difference between scalene and isosceles. Again, brainstorming with my students to find a mneumonic that works, I came up with two sides are the same length, we have two eyes, Isosceles. If they know equilateral and isosceles, scalene is easy!

Now they need to study the memory devices and practice identifying triangles!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

IPhone Camera: Uses in Classroom

I don't think it is officially considered an iPhone app., but the camera on my iPhone has helped in my teaching in many ways. The obvious way that I use the camera is to take pictures of any fun events or learning activities/science investigations, etc. I compile the pics at the end of the year and create a Photo Story to be played at Open House in May. In addition, the parents who work on the fifth grade yearbook every year sometimes use one or two of my pics. We also have a fifth grade Weebly site, and I post pictures there as well to share with parents throughout the year.

In April of this year, I attended the Blue Ribbon Conference that is hosted in our district, Reading Public Schools. One of the keynote speakers was Dan Meyer.  He talked about an Educational Technology Manifesto: capture perplexity, share perplexity, resolve perplexity. 

Meyer shared how he uses his iPhone to capture perplexity. As I go through my summer, I will capture any images that I think may be perplexing for my students. Cropping a picture is one way of doing this, so that only part of the story is being told. Another perplexing image could be a sign with grammatical errors that the class has to notice and fix. 

Now my camera is another tool for enhancing my curriculum!