Global Read Aloud

My fourth grade class is participating in the Global Read Aloud that just started Monday. The book we are reading is Out of My Mind.

My class is completely engaged in the story and created wonderful questions to ponder. As a beginning of the book activity, I read the first two chapters and created a Wordle, or word cloud, to show what we already know about the main character, Melody. Additionally, we have connected with a 4th grade classroom in Richmond, Virginia. We created a OOMM group on Edmodo and the kids have been making predictions and connections about the story. It has already started some friendships with kids hundreds of miles away.

The 4th grade class in VA and my students started our journey together by participating in a Mystery Skype, where we each gave clues of our location and had to find where they were. Some kids were on Google Maps, some had maps and Atlases to research, we had inquirers, and questioners. It was very exciting to see my students collaborate and use the clues to guess the whereabouts of the other class. I highly recommend this activity.

We have 5 weeks of the read aloud and can’t wait to see what next week brings us.

Take a look at our cloud.Wordle for OOMM

A New Year is Upon Us!

Welcome Back Everyone!

We have now been in school for about 3 1/2 weeks now. I have 14 enthusiastic 9 and 10 year olds. As always our first challenge to overcome is the multiplication facts that we forgot over the summer. My challenge to them is to have them mastered through 12 by December and I will give them the reward of an ice cream sundae party. The challenge has taken on its own beat, and not too fast unfortunately. If you have another incentive I could use, let me know……

We completed a short novel the first week of school, The Hundred Dresses, which led discussions about treating others with empathy and respect, no matter how different they may be from the rest of us. We had some good discussions about theme and character traits communicated from the author’s writing.

We are currently reading Shiloh and enjoying again high level discussions about theme. We have also researched articles on animal abuse and compared it to the events that occur though out our reading. It’s a great way to use factual information in our written responses. I would also eventually lead them into writing a compare and contrast piece using the research we gathered.

Lastly, we are starting to study biomes and ecosystems and would love to connect with a classroom that lives in a different ecosystem than ours. I would love to Skype and have some discussions about our environments we reside in. I am very excited in this opportunity for our classrooms to connect. Let me know…..

Have a great year and blog with you soon,

Pam

 

 

QR Codes

My class just finished writing a book review for their favorite picture book this year. Since we needed to practice using Google Docs, they typed them and added an image to their final draft. In January, I attended the FETC in Florida and learned all these wonderful ideas for using technology in the classroom. All, but, one student has a device in my class, so I decided to create QR codes of their book reviews and teach the kids how to scan the QR codes on their devices. It was a total success. The QR scan app is completely free. We used NeoREader or QRafter. To take our Google Doc and convert it to a QR code we used the web based QRstuff.com. It was so easy to use. Copy the URL of the GoogleDoc and paste it in the QRstuff window and then download your QR code.

Make sure you allow people to see your link on the Google Doc document, found in privacy settings. It will give you the URL code to embed in the QRstuff window.

We then copy and pasted the QR code on our book review and displayed it on our bulletin board for other classmates to scan. It was fun to have my students go home and show their parents the new technology they learned. Now, they notice QR codes wherever they go!

Ice Bear

I read the book, Ice Bear, by Nicola Davies. This book connects to the real world because mother bear takes really good care of her cubs, just as lots of moms love their children too.

In the story Ice Bear, it tells about how polar bears survive in Antarctica and how they take care of their cubs. It also shares the adventure of a momma polar bear.

This informational book took place in Antarctica where a mother polar bear cares of her cubs. The author would also explain how  polar bears survive in Antarctica, what type of whether they live in, and the polar bears physical features.

The theme of this book is that, “Although polar bears are big creatures, they are loving creatures too.” I think that because in the book it says, “But polar bears gentle too.” It said that when the momma bear was taking care of her cubs.

In the book, Ice Bear, the part that really stood out to me is when the author told us how caring and gentle the polar bear can be sometimes. This made me feel warm inside because most people know polar bears as hunting animals.

I would recommend the book, Ice Bear, for anyone who loves polar bears or animals. I would recommend it  because it has a lot of polar bear facts and tells about a polar bears life.

 

One of my Favorites!

Our class is discussing the essential question of “How are animals portrayed as characters?”
We just finished our read-aloud, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Heartbreaking, humorous, and transparent are just a few ways to describe this book. It is written from the point of view of a very vain toy rabbit, but through his journey, he discovers love and loneliness. It’s a real tear jerker! I couldn’t have picked a more perfect book to tie into this essential question. It is a must read!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Visual Prompt

Two weeks ago, I read about a way to get my kids to respond to prompts through blogging. Currently, I am using Edmodo to communicate with my students. I assign homework and send messages about school to them. This is also a way for them to ask me questions and email me with concerns. This is all fine, but I want my correspondence to be more academic. We have a reading blog where they can write about what they are reading and we can comment. I started it with a simple blog on Kidblog. I want my class to get more exposure with the outside world though. That’s why I decided to give them visual prompts and let them write whatever they are thinking. I want them to be more creative and give them the liberty to take their thoughts to a deeper level.

I have been using http://visualwritingprompts.wordpress.com and http://wonderopolis.org for my prompt ideas.

Here’s the one I used this week, and got some really terrific thinking from my students.

Quizlet for the Classroom

I began to use a new program called Quizlet for the kids to practice vocabulary words. It’s awesome because my students can hear the word, see flashcards, and play games while learning their words. I have created sets for my novel unit, spelling units, science topics, and Social Studies units. The other thing I love about it, is there are sets of vocab cards already created by other educators. I search and, Wow!, there’s already a unit done for me. My students have downloaded the app on their devices and some have it on their computer. I have made it a nightly homework assignment to practice their cards. Quizlet will report who has been on studying too! Check it out. Best of all it’s FREE!

 http://quizlet.com/

Sorry, I’ve been absent!

My goal this year was to write more, but of course, that has not gone so well. Let me fill you in on what we have been doing in my 4th grade class. We have been integrating technology into our classroom setting, pacing ourselves as we learn. We have just become a Google for Education school. My students just received their Gmails. I haven’t allowed them to use it outside of the classroom. I am currently teaching them how to use the tools and switch back and forth with the tabs. Last week, we typed a couple of paragraphs and changed fonts, sizes, aligned text, and looked at few other simple features for Google Docs.

This week, I had the class research tips to help a dog that is afraid of thunderstorms. It ties into our novel study, Because of Winn Dixie. The children learned to use the Google Search feature to research for tips. They collected information and created a small essay on helping dogs from their finding on the Internet. It not only integrates technology, but meets the Common Core objectives for information writing.

It became very apparent that my students need not only practice keyboarding, but evaluating good and bad information on the internet. I will definitely plan more lessons typical to my last couple of weeks.

Let me know how you are integrating technology into your classroom activities and lessons.

Pam

Digital Citizenship

I was looking for some lessons on digital citizenship for my 4th grade class. We were learning about the ins and outs of blogging and I wanted to teach them about online safety and appropriate conduct using technology. I came across a great website called CommonSenseMedia.org

It offers lessons for grades K through 12th. It also has videos for students, parents, and professional development. The site is free to join and you receive updates and information as our educational technology platform becomes more popular with kids.

It’s really important for kids to have a background on digital citizenship before you let them on any social media app.

Tech Champs

My school has assigned teachers as tech champs to pave the way to integrating technology into 21 century skills and the Common Core into the classroom. Tech champs will be trained in Google apps, ITouch and IPad applications, and SmartBoard for the classroom.

As a teacher for only the past 13 years, education has evolved into a completely new world! Technology was just a minute speck in the realm of education. Not only are administrators asking for a total re-haul of curriculum incorporating the new Common Core, but we are expected to include technology and 21st Century skills too. As we all know, that is a lot to take on in one year. Tech Champs are supposed to be the trouble shooters for teachers that may be struggling or training educators in the newest and greatest of new Web 2.0 tools for the classroom.

I have been asked to be a Tech Champ. I feel compelled to take on the challenge because I will be one of the first trained on new apps and tools that enter the marketplace. My classroom will act as my pilot lab for new and exciting applications. We will be on the cutting edge of technology for the classroom. On the other hand, time is of the essence. Time has been a complaint for teachers forever. We never seem to have enough time to prep and plan, and evaluate, or reflect before instruction. Now, add the learning curve of technology to the equation. I find my self working at home and weekends even more to understand how I would use Web 2.0 tools in my classroom. Believe me, there are infinite ways to have technology be an integral part of the learning process, however instruction in and out of the classroom must be extended from the traditional method of teaching.

At the moment, I am using the SmartBoard in my classroom for lessons and instruction. I would say I’m still in the beginning phase. I try to explore something new on the board each day. My students love playing detectives and troubleshooting with me.

My class is also blogging with another 4th grade classroom in our district. We decided to start with just responses about the literature that we are reading in class and independently. The kids are using the basic skills of blogging right now. I hope to move them to some advance blogging by linking to author sites, adding images, and creating some orignal written work and embedding it on the blog.

We have also Skyped a couple times with the 4th grade class sharing some book reviews. Again, I would love to connect with classrooms globally. I love the EPals site, but I just don’t have the time right now to do anything with it right now. Check it out if you want to connect to other global classrooms. They have great projects to participate in too.

I’m using Edmodo to connect to parents and students, school to home. I put the nightly homework and deadlines on it daily. It is a way for the kids to connect outside of school on an academic platform. My rule is that it can only be used as a resource for school, not a place to chat socially. If the kids want to chat about a book or academic subject, I have no problem with it. Edmodo also has a great application called LearnZillioin, where there is a tutorial of selected common core standards and guided lessons for the kids to watch in and out of school. I use it on my SmartBoard as a mini-lesson and then direct my students to it on Edmodo, if they need to watch it again at night, say for homework help.

I’ve also experimented with Glogster and Animoto. I like them, but again it requires additional time to teach my class the basic skills of the application.

As a tech champ, I hope to weed out the apps that work well in the classroom and those that are fun but don’t meet the standard criteria. I hope you continue to visit my blog and watch for some of my reviews of the latest Web 2.o tools for the classroom.

Have a great week!