Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wow- My Class had an Amazing Week!!

 Wow- My Class had an Amazing Week!!

Sitting here reflecting on my week.  I didn't follow any scripted lessons.  I planned but I let the kids help direct where we went and what we did.

I planned two video conference sessions.

The first one with a teacher in New Zealand that I connected with last year through doing Quad Blogging.   She actually sent us a lovely package with their class mascot, Kiwi and some lovely NZ candies for us to try.  Kiwi is here to learn about life in Colorado.  Students are taking him home, snapping a few photos and writing on their blog about what he experiences.  We made our connection at the end of our Wednesday and the beginning of their Thursday.  The timing is just right.  I want my students to learn about life in other places.  I created some focus for them around - School, Food, Celebrations/Holidays and Hobbies.  I asked them to come up with questions on one of these topics.  During the connection, students took turns asking questions and then taking notes using a circle Thinking Map.  (plan to take their individual ones and make one big one)  The kids really enjoyed learning first hand about life in another classroom.  Ms. Wills and I have grand plans for furthering this connection as her year winds down and then again as it starts up.  My 5th graders will be reading "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" (bought it from Scholastic for $1)-- So I thought.... how about buying enough copies for Ms. Wills' class?  So a grand plan is in the works for this project for the spring.

The second connection was with Ms. Gills' class in Ontario, Canada.  I am participating in the Global Read Aloud 2011.  It is a fabulously cool project put together by Pernille Ripp, a teacher in Wisconsin and a few others.  The gist of the project is that teachers across the globe are reading the same book - Tuck Everlasing- to their students and then using a wiki to connect, discuss and share.  There is also a version for younger students using Flat Stanley.  You can see a bit of what we've done in our room here.  Back to our connecting on Thursday with Ms. Gills' class.  Students again had a page that they'd brainstormed questions on and were asked to take notes as we learned the answers.  However, the other focus of this connection was to discuss Tuck Everlasting.  It was a great way to open our classroom.  We learned our little friend Kiwi from New Zealand has actually visited a class in Ms. Gills' school.  Small world!!

During our chat with Ms. Gills' class, she talked about using Garage Band to have students create music they thought was coming from a music box in a part of Tuck Everlasting.  We don't have Macs in our school but I was reminded of a cool tool I've been wanting to learn and share with the kids.  Aviary is available through our Google Domain and has an audio/music editor for the PC world.  So we tromped down to the computer lab to use Aviary.  I gave the students the task of using it to create theme songs for either a character in Tuck Everlasting or an overall one for the book.  Lucy and Kenny came up with this  and Lucas and Thomas made this one.  THEY LOVED it!!

We wrapped up our short adventure with Aviary and headed back to our classroom.  We decided to work a bit on our 100 Word Challenges that are due Tuesday.  I connected with a teacher in London via Twitter and discovered a cool project she has created for a weekly writing challenge.  Last week we had our very own Trey selected as a showcased author on the site.  I'm really impressed with their creativity and ability to tell a story in just 100 words!

I ended my Friday with students finishing up making their obstacle course maps using Google Drawing.  The maps were tied to a writing prompt about creating an obstacle/challenge course. 

I really love my class this year!  I think the fact I only have 22 (I know I am super lucky for this) is making a HUGE difference in how we are taking care of each other, the room, me and what we are able to accomplish, learn and create each day! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Using Kidblog for My Students First Blogging Experience

My students and I are a couple weeks into using for our blogging tool.  I like the ease of the tool.  No bells and whistles for the landing page-- just blogs!  I decided to open it up for anyone to see and comment.  My students and I have talked often about being safe on the Internet and have create important rules:

1. ALWAYS use your first name ONLY!
2. NEVER use personal information!
3.  Keep comments and posts sensible- remember you are representing the school.
4.  ALWAYS proofread, edit, and spell check what you write!  We are communicating with other classes now and want to show off our writing and thinking skills!

I like that this blogging site allows me to monitor the posts and comments.  I have to approve everything before is published.  The site also allows me to add the teachers we connect with as guests so they can publish and have access as well.  

I'd highly recommend this blogging tool if you are new to blogging with your students.  There are many other tools out there but this is the easiest one I've seen.

How I Jumped on the Blogging Train

I recently heard Karl Fisch speak at our Jeffco Tech Share Fair.  The keynote was amazingly motivating!  I've been batting around the idea of getting my kids connected globally for a couple years but could never find the extra.. time, motivation...   However, my excuses stopped January 22nd. 

6:00 AM January 23rd
The power of Twitter!

 It was this simple.  I threw out a request to my PLN (personal learning network). Within minutes, I had Tom Barrett, Karl Fisch, Rachel Forward, Lee Kolbert and many others who retweeted or said they could connect me!

~6:15 AM
I was connected!  My tweet had gone global!  The power of sending out a plea via Twitter was priceless.  My students will now be connecting with a class in Virginia, Missouri, several in the UK- London area, New Zealand and Australia is on the horizon.