Thursday, April 28, 2016

Poetry Month

I was at a loss as to what to do with K-2 during poetry month this year.  Luckily, the librarians in my district are so willing to share ideas.  Here is what I ended up doing with them.

Kinder:  "A Rainbow is..."  from The Bubbly Blonde Teacher blog.  I read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss and then the kinders filled out the rainbow poem.
Of course, we had the standard answers... red as an apple, blue as water.  But we had some pretty creative ones also... purple as a plum, orange as a sunset, green as a lizard.  And I always love when they ask how to spell orange and I say it is right there on your paper and they say, "No, the orange that you eat".  They are amazed that the color and the food are spelled the same :)

1st Grade:  "Ouch" Poem from the First Grade W.O.W. blog.  I read about 6 of my favorite poems from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.  And then read the "Band-Aid" and "Sick" poems. We brainstormed a list of ways we can get hurt and then the wrote their poems.  I found some Minion Band-aids at the Dollar Store and gave those to the kids when they finished their poem.  
I love that this one started to rhyme and then gave up.

2nd Grade:  Shape Poems on the ipad using  Theme Poem app and Tagul website.

And we finished off the month participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day today.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Makerspace Still Going Strong

I must say, I really enjoy my makerspace time in the morning.  It is really fun to see the students in a loose, creative atmosphere.  It is funny to me to see what the kids gravitate towards, sometimes totally not what I expect.

Coding and Duct Tape have been huge hits, as I expected.  I do have to figure out a cheaper way to get duct tape though.  We went through a ton!  I had 4 different projects linked on my libguide: a flower, a ring, bracelets and a bookmark.

Three activities that surprised me were Finger Knitting, Shadow Puppets and GeoShapes.  Finger Knitting took over the school for a while.  Kids were bringing their own yarn and knitting at recess.  We had modern day knitting circles going on.  It was great. 

Students also enjoyed making hand shadow puppets.  It was fun to see which kids could make the shapes and which needed help and then to see their amazement when they were able to do it.    

For geo shapes, I had a sheet with pictures of different 3D shapes and told them they could use any of the materials in the makerspace to make their shapes.  Most chose tape and straws, but a few got creative and used pipe cleaners or fabric.  

I have one more round of makerspace for the year and I am thinking that I am not going to stick to the STEAM theme as much.  I have some different things I want to have in place for next year, so I thought now would be a good time to have them out.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Shape Poems

I have always loved Shape Poems but found it so difficult to form the words in the correct shape.  I started looking for an app that might do it for me and came up with something close.

With 2nd grade this week, I read them some shape poems from Come to My Party by Heidi Roemer.

We talked about how these poems rhymed, but not all poems do.  We talked about how poems describe things and can be about any topic and then I had them open the Read, Write Think Theme Poem app on the iPads.  

This app has different themes to choose from.  We picked Nature poems.  Students wrote a poem about the sun, flowers, rain, trees, moon, sun, leaves or fish.  Then before we saved it, we copied the words of the poem using the select all and then copy feature.

We then opened the website Tagul.  
WARNING: This website requires a login.  I used my library google account, but I went in ahead of time and on each iPad logged in and created a shortcut on the home screen of the iPad to make it easy for the 2nd graders during the lesson.  There are also a bunch of different features on this website, so I could suggest playing around with it yourself before jumping in and doing it with a class.

We created a new cloud and imported our words that we had copied using the paste feature,  Then click VISUALIZE and wal-ah our words were in the shape of a... cloud.  We then looked at the different shapes available on the website and picked one that went with out poem.  Tap visualize again and then poof... our words were inside a shape that matched the poem. 




You'll notice the words in the colored shape poems are not in order of the poem but we were still excited about what we had done!   

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Amazing Jeff Mack

WOW!! What a day!

Today we welcomed Jeff Mack, author and illustrator of many, many books.

He had 5th grade completely engaged and quieter than I have ever seen them for an ENTIRE hour!

He showed them in a real video (sped up) how his illustrations come about from taping the paper down to his drawing board to taking a thumb drive of the illustrations to the copy shop so he can see how the "book" will turn out.  He also discussed how illustrators have to be sure to match the style of the drawing to the characters. The students brought notebooks and pencils and he showed them how to draw Clueless McGee.  We are not sure if this Clueless McGee is ready for Halloween or in some kind of show...

Since 4th graders in Texas have to take a state writing test, his presentaiton to them was more about the writing process and his steps for writing.  He was sure to draw with them also... a Steph-Curry-loving-hippo.

With K,1st, 2nd and 3rd, he talked about practicing and not giving up when you don;t get it right the first time.  Then he read a book with each group. You can definitely tell that these drawing came from the lower grades... only random thought came from a 3rd grader who wanted bear to hold a "cup of hot chocolate that smells like broccoli"?  I know... I'm sure there is a reason for that, but we didn't go there.


All in all, it was a great day.  Students and teachers enjoyed his visit.  I highly recommend Jeff if you are looking for an author to visit your school.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Newsela

Last week my Instructional Technology Specialist friend, Jennifer Heine (@JHeineEDU) happened to be on my campus for 2 days.  We have been outside-of-work friends for 12 years now, ever since our now 13 year-old boys were in the baby class together at daycare, but rarely ever see each other during the work week as she is assigned to different campuses.  She is also one of my go-to people when I have a technology problem or question and I want to look smart for my campus. Additionally, she is one of a small handful of people that talk as fast and erratically as I do, so while no one else can follow our conversations, we understand each other just fine.

Usually our sharing of ideas happens in the summer while on one of the rides at Schlitterbahn, where we have no paper to write them down or at some sporting event where in the midst of the work related talk we are also cheering and by the time the game is over work related thoughts are gone. 
12 years old

6 years old
Since she was on my campus for a whole 2 days, it was my opportunity to pick her brain in one of those "look smart for my campus" situations.  After the first round of STAAR, my 5th grade teachers like to spend two days rotating the kids around -each teacher has a different science activity and the students spend an hour with each teacher.  One of the teachers came to me an asked if I could think of anything "fun" they could do with the chromebooks.  I mentioned this to Jennifer and before I could even finish the request she was bouncing in her chair ready to tell me the perfect thing!

Newsela!  Have you heard of this?  It is a website full of nonfiction articles for all subject areas and reading levels.  Teachers can create classrooms and assign article to kids to read based on level or topic.  The articles are not too long and what kid can resist reading about these kinds of things?

Anyway, we were talking and bouncing ideas of what they could do with these articles and decided google classroom and slides would be a great option.  I took the idea back to the teacher and she loved it!  There are some things that need to be done within newsela to set up the classroom ahead of time.  Then the teacher picked 8 science articles related to things they had talked about this year in science. The task was for students to choose an article, read it and then make a google slide about the article and how it relates to something they have learned in science. 

I'm excited to see how these turn out. The students were definitely excited about the different articles assigned to them.