Friday, February 26, 2021

Moby Mask! Aaah!

Note the "Extremely Urgent"
notice on the envelope!
The coolest package was delivered to my door yesterday.  It wasn't but a flat-ish envelope, yet it is by far the best thing I've gotten in the mail in a while!  

I opened it up and I know my dog thought I was losing my mind cause with my overly excited response.  But this is something to be overly excited about!

You've "heard" me talk about BrainPop before.  Many, many, many times, actually.

Now I have my very own Moby Mask!  I am very excited to wear it on my first day back in the building in April!  

Thanks for the superb swag, BrainPop!  I am stoked to wear this (along with my BrainPop shirt) for all our BrainPop lessons in the future!

Monday, February 22, 2021

Take Note!

So much is different this year because of COVID, and yet at the same time, so much is the same.

Take, for instance, book clubs.  Pretty much every grade hosts a variety of book clubs throughout the year.  Right now, fourth grade is in the middle of book clubs on pioneers.  Usually, after each "section" of reading (which the kids determine in their group) the kids gather to take and share notes, and discuss the reading.

Since they can't necessarily do that in person, it's Google to the rescue!

Being fourth graders, they've had more than a year of Google experience, and are quite secure in their basic skills, including working collaboratively on a doc.  I just happened to peek in on a group (thank you GoGuardian!) and saw this example of three members adding their notes at the same time.

When I was in fourth grade, I had a hard time drawing on a poster with three other people, but these kids?  My how times have changed!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Can you repeat that, please?

Last week, the day before break, I had the privilege of moderating a Zoom fashion show for a 6th grade class.  As part of their curriculum, the kids had learned about elements of fashion design.  They even had a guest speaker Zoom in, who happened to be an alumnus of the school!

Then the kids spent time designing a t-shirt using all they had learned - colors, shapes, textures, you name it.  The last step before the fashion show itself was writing a detailed description of their design.  They needed to include the vocabulary they had learned specific for the unit, as well as explain the why behind their design choices.  

And they had to do it all in Hebrew.  

Every word of it.

As I moderated, I was blown away.  I mean, these kids are in 6th grade, and listening to them?  You'd have thought they were native Hebrew speakers! 

As they say in Hebrew for a job well done - Kol Hakavod!

Monday, February 15, 2021

Faux Paw Returns!

Well, only sort of returns.  In my world it's the return of Faux Paw, because in my previous life as a classroom teacher he visited regularly.  This is the first time he's visited since, though!


Last week I got to spend some time with some second graders and we introduced the concept of Digital Citizenship.  This happens to be the remote class, and they happen to be a rather active group.  That's why I chose Faux Paw and his animated adventures!

Faux Paw is a product of iKeepSafe's programming for digital safety.  He has been updated a bit since my classroom days, and has online books as well as animated adventures.  I love the animations because they are short cartoons, but the first one in particular, doesn't do a great job as a stand alone.

So we started the lesson by reading the first ten pages of the book.  Then switched to the cartoon.  The last step was a reflection in, you guessed it, Seesaw.

If you're looking for a great conversation starter, especially for younger grades (K-3ish) you might want to check out Faux Paw!  And as always, if you use Seesaw, message me for the activity if you'd like to add it to your collection!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Lessons in Technology, Lessons in Life

 Hey!  Check it out!  I have a post on my school's blog!  

When something goes wrong, my first thought is to turn to my therapist, but since she’s not available 24/7, I turn to my smartphone. You can learn a lot from a smartphone, or any technology, really! Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:

Check out the rest of the post over on the blog, and read some of the other posts, too - lots of food for thought! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A Technology Tail?

I love reading.  I love stories.  And I especially love picture books.  My personal collection of children's books, ranging in age from birth to high school, is embarrassingly large.

When it came time to introduce digital citizenship in 3rd grade, I decided that this year, I'd start with a book!  Unfortunately, this particular book is in my office at school.  And I'm working from home.

Never fear!  Another mashup to the rescue!  Thanks to the amazing teachers on the planet, I was able to find a video of the book on YouTube.  I then embedded the video into Seesaw, where the kids would complete a follow-up activity, and voila!

We read the book A Technology Tail, by Julia Cook.  If you don't know it, it's a great introduction for kids about how everything they do online makes an impact in the "real world" whether they realize it or not.  It's a great book to add to a digital literacy library.

After we read the book (thank you YouTube) the kids completed an activity in Seesaw that asked them to first pick examples from the book, and then look for examples in their lives.  They needed an example of a "hole" or something you do online that is unsafe, a "tear" or something you do online that is unkind, and an example of a "gift" or something you do online that is positive.  

The book does a fantastic job of examining why some things might feel like a "gift" to one person, but are a "tear" to another.  The kids came up with some great examples from their own experiences, too!  If you're interested in the Seesaw activity, drop me a line and I'll send it your way!


Sunday, February 7, 2021

We Broke Out!

Last week, I had the privilege of being with each of the three fifth grade classes for one period.  I really wanted to revisit coding (on quite the Scratch kick right now!) but it's awfully challenging to code when there is a teacher in the room who knows how to code, it's nearly impossible to teach it remotely.

So my next thought was to teach the kids how to create their own BreakoutEDU rooms.  I mean, how cool would that be?!  To design your own virtual escape rooms?!  But then I realized that the kids haven't done a BreakoutEDU all year.

I had to change that.

Sticking with the coding theme, I created accounts for each student with BreakoutEDU (very cool feature, by the way!) and put three different choices in their class library.  It was super simple to set up, and even simpler for the kids to login.  All they have to do when they get to the BreakoutEDU site is click "login with Google Classroom" and they're in!

The concentration in this group was intense!
Then the kids got to pick a partner, and pick a box.  Each partnership (or trio) went into a breakout room in Google Meet (not to be confused with BreakoutEDU!) and worked together to escape.

Like in Scratch, these BreakoutEDU experiences require perseverance, grit, and determination.  I also like that they demand a different way of thinking, that deeper layer of problem-solving needed for puzzles like this.  

I am pleased to say that of the 12 groups, nine of them broke out, and all the other groups got really close!

P.S.  As the teacher/facilitator, it's always helpful to have the games open to provide clues!  Thank goodness for multiple monitors!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

You've been Framed!

Every year, our third graders engage in a biography unit.  And every year, they present their learning in some sort of wax museum format.  And every year, we try to add one new twist to the unit.

Three years ago it was recording the presentations with the Green Screen (Love DoInk!) Two years ago it was having the kids use Osmo Masterpiece (one of my favorites!) to create portraits.  Last year, Covid crashed the plans, but Flipgrid fixed things!

This year, with some kids on campus and some kids remote, we turned to Flipgrid again.  Flipgrid, with a twist.

Since discovering the fabulousness of Flipgrid Frames, I look for any excuse to use one!  This year's wax museum was the perfect excuse!  Especially because it can be done with no special tools - just good old paper and coloring supplies.  No Green Screen needed!

Even better, math can be integrated in the process too.  How?  Because you need to start with a regular piece of drawing paper.  Fold that paper in quarters.  Measure two inches from the side (or one and a half) and cut out the center.  Unfold and you have a frame to decorate!

To create the virtual frame, Google Drawings was used.  (I am sure there are easier ways - share if you know of any!)  Then the kids added the frame as an image in Flipgrid, stretched it to fill the screen, and you have some very fancy videos!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Scratch That

Many years ago, back when I was a classroom teacher, I had two former students come in every week to teach my third graders Scratch. The first year, I was too in awe of what my former students were teaching my current students to pay much attention to the content.  The second year, I started paying attention.  And I learned a lot.

Fast forward to now, and fourth graders are learning Scratch, and wow are they picking it up quickly!  We dabbled a little last year, pre-covid, in Scratch Jr, but for most of the kids this is their first big jump into the world of coding (outside, of course, of Hour of Code!)

Our first task?  Learn how to create a "tag" game.  We're almost finished, too!

The biggest lesson?

Perseverance.  Grit.  Determination.  The kids having the most success are the ones who are persevering through the challenges.  And their little happy dances when they succeed make me smile!

Oh, another big lesson?  Follow the f$%@# directions!