Tuesday, December 22, 2020

And the Winner is....

Quick follow up on this year's 8th grade Campaign for a Cause --

After the Primaries, there were six candidates left entering the Convention.

After the Convention, the top three were on the ballot for the final election, and this year's winner was...

Detroit Justice Center!

Everyone ran clean, fair, and informative campaigns, and learned a lot about some great organizations in the process.  The next step is to raise money for Detroit Justice Center, with the students will do in the coming months.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Poppin' with BrainPop!

Fourth grade studies Westward Expansion as part of their Social Studies curriculum.  It's a very interesting topic, especially when you do a lot of learning about it with BrainPop!

The kids start off by watching a few different BrainPop movies, made even easier because the kids each have their own BrainPop accounts, so teachers can assign the movies to the kids that way.  From there, they do a ton of research, note taking, brainstorming, and organizing.

Next comes the writing.  This is one of their first formal essays of the grade, and they can choose any topic from the subject area - Gold Rush, Lewis and Clark, Louisiana Purchase, etc.  This part takes a lot of thought, as the kids learn to turn their notes into sentences and the sentences into well-crafted paragraphs.

Typically, at this point, you'd think that the last step would be to type or write a final copy of the completed essay.

But you'd be wrong.

Enter BrainPop!  It's Make-a-Movie Time! 

How does it work, you ask, when you are looking at a final draft of writing?  That, my friends, is for another post.

This post came to be because this week the kids got to explore Make-a-Movie for the first time.  And it was a lot of fun!  The features in Make-a-Movie (once again, assigned thanks to individual BrainPop Accounts,) allow kids to create their very own BrainPop, from letter to labels, backgrounds to images.  

And they are very, very cool!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Campaign for a Cause

Social Action is all the rage right now, and for a reason.  It's been a necessary and powerful movement for years. (If you can call it a movement? Maybe it's a lifestyle?)  As part of their 8th grade English class, our students take action for some very special local organizations.

While the goals of the unit were the same, the execution was a little different this year, thanks to the pandemic. 12 groups supporting 12 different organizations. From the 12 groups at the rally, the primaries narrow it down to six.  The convention today brought it down to three finalists.

My favorite part this year?  Totally selfish.  Because the Rally, Convention, and Election were via Zoom and I got to attend all of them.  (The Primaries were held in live individual classes.)

My second favorite part this year?  For the first time, the Election is open to 5th - 8th graders.  I particularly like this because being a Jewish Day School, all of the kids have to do a mitzvah project for their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.  By opening this to the younger grades, they will see some very worthy local organizations that they may very well choose to support when it's their turn to plan their mitzvah projects.

Not pictured: the 6 classrooms that Zoomed in, and the
dozen plus students learning from home who joined remotely!

Another favorite part this year?  I learned about faux green screens thanks to Flipgrid Frames!

The best part of this year?  That the kids learned about and highlighted very deserving local organizations!  This has been a very energizing week of campaigning!  I am excited to see who wins at tomorrow's election!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Book Creator: Let's Get Writing!

The 3rd grade tech journey has been pretty basic thus far: Typing and Google Slides.

It's time to kick things up a notch (remember Emeril?) in the tech game!  It's time for Book Creator!

A huge writing unit in 3rd grade is Informational Text.  They review elements of non-fiction, explore supporting details, and develop writing skills in general.  The kids get to choose their own topic, which the kids love.

The writing starts in January.  The tech practice starts now!

To kick things off, we practiced typing in a website - yikes!  Thankfully, GoGuardian makes it easy to send websites to kids computers!  Once they got to the website, the kids had to make sure to click on student login and login with Google.  Then, they're in!

It was fun exploring cover design, learning to add text boxes and import pictures, and yes, change fonts.  The drawing tool in Book Creator is amazing!  You can add little details to enhance your pages, create custom backgrounds, and so much more!  It's all so intuitive, to, so after a little practice, the kids are good to go!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Hour of Code Week 2020

I love Hour of Code.  I love the concept, the execution, the videos, the activities - everything.

This year, since I am working remotely, I had to put a bit of a twist on the week.  

The video released for Hour of Code this year was by far my favorite yet.  It had most of the teachers in tears while it was being shown.  If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to check it out!

Seesaw made it super easy to create an interactive learning experience for the kids.  Check out the Seesaw Activity if you want to see it!  The activity walks the kids through the video and a brief self assessment before taking the kids to three choice boards.  After they explore some of the Hour of Code activities, there are a few reflection questions to wrap up the activity.

This week is such a great reminder as to how coding can support all learning - the ability to problem-solve and persevere.  We get so preoccupied with doing things a certain way, fitting everything into the schedule for the day... sometimes we forget that there are so many paths to the same destination.

I think my favorite part of the week, though, was having some 4th graders help me tackle one of the more challenging options and seeing their pride in cracking those codes!  

Major Bonus!  Immersive reader is now a part of code.org!  Super stoked over here!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Quick Post: Quick Draw!

Quick post about a quick activity that my friend Megan did today with her 4th graders.  Megan is teaching remotely this year, and just like her on-campus counterparts, she always opens with a class activity.  

I was blown away by the quality of these quick draws!  Next time I pop in and see it happening, I promise I'll get pictures, because let me tell you - 60 seconds is not a lot of time, but their drawings are amazing!


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

We Are Digital Citizens!

After working their way through a unit on Digital Citizenship, fourth graders created infographics to showcase their learning, and to teach others how to be good digital citizens.  Check out their work!