Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Three Apps to Get Kids Creating - Beginner Edition

Over the weekend, I saw a great infographic that succinctly represents Bloom's Taxonomy in Digital form.  According to the infographic "Bloom's Digital Taxonomy Verbs" creating is about: "putting elements together to form a functional whole, and reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure by planning or producing." 
The iPad apps featured below are some great ways to inspire creating and sharing.  Even if you're new to using iPads with your class, one of these free tools will likely be something you can easily add to your teaching toolbox. 

Draw and Tell

The Draw and Tell app by Duck, Duck, Moose is an easy to use app that can be used for a variety of activities.  See an overview of the app here:

Draw and Tell Tools
Students of all ages, with some practice, will easily pick up on the menu options which are represented in visual format, with additional customization options along the bottom of the screen. 

The record feature counts students in so they know when to begin their recordings, and provides them with the ability to record narration, thinking, and reflection to share. 

Three Ideas for Use
  • Whiteboarding - use the app as a simple whiteboard for students to practice letters or math problems or as a brainstorming tool.  Students can make fast use of the writing paper template and the graph paper, save their work and share.
  • Annotating & recording narration over images of documents - students can snap pictures of handouts to annotate or work they have done with paper and pencil and record reflections about their process or narrate their steps or thinking.
  • Writing -students can use the app for all kinds of writing projects.  
    • Creative writing - create different scenes for the beginning, middle and end of a story, record narration and then put the pieces together into a movie
    • How to writing - take pictures, create annotations and record steps of a 
    • Key Details & Main Idea - take pictures of important evidence from a text and record their thoughts to discuss main idea with support from the text 
    • Retell key events - take pictures from a story and retell the key events

Chatterpix Kids

Chatterpix Kids is a video creation tool that allows students to snap a picture, draw a line and make that picture come alive with their own 30 second voice recordings.  They can really get creative by adding filters, borders and stickers to their creation.

See an overview of how it works here:

Three Ideas for Use
  •  "Have Some Serious Classroom Fun with the Chatterpix App" details a number of ideas that you might get a kick out of from seasonal activities to bringing your artwork to life.  For sure check out the article for more inspiration.
  • 30 Second Book Talks - have students take a snapshot of the cover of their favorite book and share reasons other kids should read it (a great opinion piece idea as well) Check out the example of one that included multiple chatterpix videos combined in iMovie:

  • Letter sounds - have students record their own letter sounds as reminders.  Check out this example from Mrs. Mills Kindergarten class:


PicCollage Kids

PicCollage Kids is an excellent photo collage app that can be used for a variety of purposes.  The built in web search feature is helpful in allowing students to find pictures they need and the font and sticker selection makes for a visually appealing product.   See an overview of how it works here:

 Three Ideas for Use

  • Comic Strips - using the grid feature, students can organize selected photos (or pictures of drawings) into comic strips and insert sticker of speech bubbles and typed text to create comic strips of content or as a writing exercise
  • How To/Key Idea Posters - students can collect images for a how to process or take pictures of text/images that demonstrate key ideas of a text.  Check out this example made by one of Mrs. Klei's first graders:
With these simple to use apps, you can have your students engaging in higher order Bloom's Taxonomy skills with little effort. When preparing for lessons, take into consideration that you will need to leave a little time for letting students explore and learn how to use it. Consider using the how to videos shared here to show kids how to use the apps, or assign time to play with the apps for homework and let students teach each other tips and tricks.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Flipped Classroom: Getting Started with the Basics


A Flipped Class is one where the teacher develops or curates content that would traditionally be delivered in a lecture and assigns students to watch video, listen to podcasts or read articles or books so that class time can be used for projects, practice and activities.  It is also sometimes referred to as Blended Learning.  And with practice can be used as a method of differentiating instruction and allowing students more freedom to explore and learn content at a pace that meets their needs.

I first learned about the Flipped Classroom model about four years ago and delved into an extensive study of the concept.  To my surprise, it is something that unknowingly I had been experimenting with since about 2006 when I began using a Moodle classroom online with students and began recording audio lectures for students if I was going to be absent.  The concept, in my position as a librarian, really helped me create an archive of screencasted work that students could go back and play at will, pause and rewind or fast forward if needed.  In essence it let me be in a bunch of places at once and deliver content at the time it was most needed.  

In my research I learned that Jonathan Bergmann and Eric Sams were the Flipped Class gurus, and I bought their book Flipped Your Class: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day and found it to be filled with practical information.  

Let's Hear About the Basics

Hear about what Flipped Learning is from Eric Sams:

Let's get a little deeper with some information about why you would do it and some things to consider:

Things to Think About 

As the video above says, start with one lesson, one screencast, one note-taking strategy.

This infographic will give you a quick overview of strategies to construct a flipped lesson:

Ready to make your first Screencast?

What do you need?

Depending on your computer set up, you may need a microphone, and a webcam is also a useful tool for "Picture in a Picture" where you show a live video of yourself in a small screen over the larger screen. If you have a laptop with a built in camera, you shouldn't need any extra peripherals, just a quiet time to record. 

PC/Windows Users 

My favorite tool for PC/Windows users is Screencast-o-Matic.  You can download the free version of the software here.  The site does allow you to record without downloading their software, but I found I often had trouble loading it.  They do also offer a subscription service for a fee that allows you to create screencasts longer than 15 minutes, but for most elementary teachers 15 minutes of recording time is plenty.

See an overview here:

If you choose to download the software, it will put an icon on your computer.  You can access the Screencast-o-Matic recording tool directly from your computer instead of going to the website as shown in the video. 

You will want to check the microphone to make sure it's working in a test run, and when you have finished recording, you will want to save it to your desktop or somewhere handy where you can find it when you need it. 

Mac users
Mac users can just use Quicktime, which comes with the Mac.  See how to use it here:

I would suggest option to use mouse clicks.

iPad Users
For a basic presentation from the iPad you might try IPEVO.  This is perfect for screencasting slides that include math problems.

IPEVO Basics- Creating boards:

IPEVO - Annotating

IPEVO - Making the Recording

One of the benefits of using IPEVO is that you can create a saved list of your screen recordings right on your iPad and airdrop them to your students if your students do not have wifi access at home and need to view the videos offline.

How to Share Your Video

You can share the screencasts you made in a number of ways with your students. One of the easiest ways would be to upload the video as a file to Schoology.  That way, if needed, a student could download the video to their iPad to use if they were going to be out of a wifi area.

See how that looks for the student here:

You could also create a YouTube channel and upload there, and send students the link through Schoology or by posting on your webpage, or you could just upload the videos to your school webpage.

If you need help with any of these sharing options, let me know!

For a plethora of information on getting started or for current research on the model, check out Flip Learning 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

PBL: Designing a Good Project

As we get into designing project based learning experiences for our students, it's important to consider pitfalls of project mentioned in Chapter 4 of Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age and to consider what quality projects take into consideration.

Check out this quick overview:

Here's a graphic to remind us of BIE inspired, Gold Standard PBL.

In their book Reinventing Project-based Learning, Boss and Krauss suggest that the best projects share some of the following qualities:
  • students have choice in learning 
  • students construct meaning
  • there is a driving question that the project centers on
  • it's real life or related to real life
  • it covers multiple disciplines
  • it breaks down the walls of the classroom and brings in outside people
  • it uses inquiry that involves use of primary sources
  • students learn with and fro each other
  • it includes iterative design (ICE)
As you design your project, create a project sketch that includes learning objective, possibilities for projects, driving question, entry event and possible resources.  Make use of planning documents in the Teacher PBL Planning Documents folder of our PBL Group in Schoology.

Do you need help writing a working driving question?  Check out BIE's Tubric which helps guide you in considering: why, why, could and should questions, a potential audience, and project direction.  It's a great exercise in thinking through the question development process.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Digital & Information Literacy: Choosing the Best Sources

What is Digital Literacy?

Digital Literacy, according to the ALA is the "ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills".

Students who are strong in Digital Literacy could be considered "Knowledge Constructors" under the ISTE Standards and can "plan and employ effective research strategies" and "evaluate accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information" amongst other skills.

For elementary students this means that they can identify the very best places to go to find information and can demonstrate persistence in looking for information that meets their needs and ability.

For teachers it helps to direct students to quality information sources from the very beginning and provide them with enough choice so that they can begin to develop an understanding of the strategies to find the best information.

I would recommend a "tiered approach" to looking for information. It helps if students get into a habit of looking for information in the best sources first: Books and Databases. The second tier for exploring would include high quality websites like BrainPOP and Newsela, the third tier would be conducting an effective search on a kid friendly search engine like Kiddle, and finally students should understand that for academic work they should avoid using Wikipedia as a source, but instead explore the sources cited on Wikipedia.

The  graphic below includes links to sources, along with how to videos.



 Using KYVL: Overview 

The Kentucky Virtual Library is a great resource that we have available to us with high quality databases.  The available databases allow students and teachers to access information at appropriate reading levels.  When searching databases, be sure to instruct your students to check their spelling - the databases don't often autocorrect.

Get an overview of how to use KYVL here:

For more information on using the individual databases, checkout the KYVL playlist on YouTube.

 Digital Literacy Includes Using Images and Music Responsibly

In education it is easy to make an excuse that any image and song are free game since it's being used for an educational purpose. In reality, we aren't doing our students any favors by letting them use any image they find off of Google Image search or any song they have in their personal library.

It's important to teach students about mindfully selecting images that they have permission to use either through subscription services like Britannica Image Quest or through sites that let them search for Creative Commons Licensed work like Photos For Class.

If students are unable to find what they are looking for on one of these sites, they can do an advanced image search on Google, where they search for images that are labeled for reuse with modification.

For songs, have students stick to music and jingles that are available in applications they are already using like iMovie or loops in Garageband.
Google Image Search by Usage Rights

Citing Sources

Even our youngest students are capable of citing their sources, even if it just means giving the title of their source at the primary level.  At the intermediate level, students should be encouraged to record source material as they are doing their research including title, author, publisher or website, and important dates. 

Students can easily create a Works Cited page using Microsoft Word on the desktop computers.  Check out the how to video below:

Helping students develop digital and information literacy skills will help them navigate in a media rich digital age. Teaching students to assess sources of information for quality and accuracy from, even the kindergarten age, will provide them with a much needed foundation to become 21st Century "Knowledge Constructors" and critical thinkers.