Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Wednesday Wit

 It's all about perspective... always....

If this is yours, please message me so I can provide proper credit to you!

Monday, May 2, 2022

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Now that we've moved on past COVID protocols, and kids can work together again, I've had to review my tech teamwork policy.

Help with your words, not with your hands.

I love how much the kids love to help each other. In fact, one of the lessons in's curriculum has kids doing something called paired programming. I use the analogy of pilot and navigator a lot as well, directing one student to use the controls while the other is in charge of the "map."

There are a ton of unplugged ways to practice this as well. When I taught third grade, we had a fun (yet old fashioned!) team building activity that involved one student giving directions to a second student. The first student had to direct the second as to where to place shapes to build a picture. The "direction giver" was not allowed to say what the picture was, they were only allowed to say things like "put the blue circle below the red rectangle." The result was often comical, and drove home the importance of clear communication (a lesson we can use at any age!)

Communication is one of those critical life skills that kids begin developing at birth, and the finessing of communication skills can take a life time to achieve. These kids are so helpful (for the most part) and are more than happy to jump up and help out a classmate, especially with technology. The challenge comes when kids want to grab their friend's device and do the work for them, instead of explaining how to complete the task at hand. 

Yes, it can take longer to explain something to someone. Yes, it can seem tedious, especially when you (or the child helper) can get it done in one or two clicks. But it's so much more than just the time factor. It's incredibly important for each child to learn those basic tech skills. And it's even more important for everyone to learn how to clearly explain something to another person.

It's part of why I love teaching coding so much - if the directions aren't crystal clear, the program won't work. Plain and simple. And while communicating in real life isn't as black and white as coding is, it's definitely a skill worth honing.

Help with your words, not your hands.

Making the time for this kind of practice is worth it, because in the long run (or even just a few months down the road) the payout is huge. Not only that, but it crosses curriculum and content areas - because if you can explain a fairly complicated tech task, maybe explaining your thinking for that math problem won't be so challenging!


Friday, April 29, 2022

Photo of the Week


Always a blast, I love how engaged the kids are when they're exploring with Cody the Code-a-Pillar!


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Stop (the) Motion AGAIN!

Hold the Presses!

This past weekend I found the COOLEST (yes, it's worth the all caps!) website to use for stop motion (and so much more) with students! I've written about stop motion in the past, and all that you can do with it. For iPads, my favorite app is the free version of Stop Motion Studio. It is very user friendly, and I continue to use it with our lower grades as they still use iPads. Many of our older grade students also prefer using Stop Motion Studio on their own tablets at home.

For Chromebooks, we've been using the Chrome App Stop Motion Animator. It is a great introduction to stop motion, and is super simple to use. But saving your work is a little clunky, and it is pretty basic (which for the most part, is really good when introducing the concept to students!)


If you're looking for something that can do just a tad bit more (or, really, a lot more) then check out Wick Editor. It. Is. SO. Much. Fun! The editor still appears to be in a bit of a beta mode, but is fully functional on so many levels. I love that it is simple enough for basic learning, but the accouterments with this tool are beyond!

After I explored the platform a little bit, I perused the privacy policy. Even though my students are exploring Wick Editor without creating accounts, it's always important to know what information is being collected, and what's happening with that information. They have a section specifically on children and privacy that you can read for yourself. We're using the platform without accounts and I am totally good with that!

This morning when I got to school, I grabbed my student Chromebook to test it out and ensure that when students tried to access it, they wouldn't reach the doomed block screen. Then, I got to lead one of my favorite types of lessons, the "I dunno?!" lesson. Here's how that went:

Once the class was gathered in front of the Smartboard, I told them about this new platform I found for stop motion animation. The kids bubbled with excitement, as we started exploring stop motion a few weeks ago. I opened the Wick Editor and showed them what I knew - how to add an element, to play the animation, to add a layer, and how to delete an element. That's it. 

When they were then unleashed to their own Chromebooks, and they started asking "how do I do this?" I told them that I had already shown them everything I knew about the platform, and it was up to them to learn more. Yeah, I had to repeat that a few times, but by the end of the period, these kiddos were figuring out the coding aspect and beyond! (Did I mention this can be used for coding animations and such, too?)

I was beaming with pride watching these third graders Google questions that they couldn't figure out independently, as they taught each other how to change the frame rate and the background. They found the apps that can be added to the editor for surprisingly fun elements. As we wrapped, one group was working on coding a robot to dance.

All this after 20 minutes of exploration. Student led. I call this a WIN!


Friday, April 8, 2022

Photo of the Week

Fourth graders began designing a quilt square using Google Drawings.
This is part of their study of the Underground Railroad.
The designs the are crafting are incredible!