Friday, August 21, 2015

Back to School in a Digital World

Inspiring a Community of Learners

Our Future is so Bright, We have to Wear Shades

That time of year has arrived when students are anxious to see class lists, teachers are busy preparing for a new beginning, and parents are gathering school supplies and rearranging family schedules.  All of this brings excitement and anticipation to the hearts of all.  We become partners with families in one of the most important jobs we have--helping each child become all he or she can be.  It’s an exciting and challenging task--and a terrifically rewarding one.

I am a firm believer that the first few weeks of school set the tone for entire school year.  It is important that we spend these weeks building positive relationships with each child and his/her family. 

There are a lot of activities and ideas that help build relationships and a community of learners. 

You Matter - Create Movie Traiers
+Angela Maiers an inspirational teacher, author, and speaker sums it up perfectly! #YouMatter Our students need to know they matter from Day 1.  Last year, my students had the privilege of being guest writers on her blog. My students worked in small groups and created Movie Trailers sharing the importance of making a difference in the world and sharing the importance of "You Matter"!  

Sharing our Genius - Kidblog
To go along with Angela Maier's importance of You Matter, she also shares the significance of our students sharing their genius.  The first week of school I had my fourth graders use Notability to create a picture sharing their genius. Then, they created a blog post in Kidblog sharing their Genius with the World! 

Selfie and Descriptive Words - Pic Collage for Kids
Students took a selfie or a photo of each other. Around their picture, they added adjectives to describe themselves.  I love their creativity and all the positive words they use to describe themselves. Teachers can print these and post them in the classroom for all to enjoy.

All About Me - Popplet
Have students create an "All about Me" Popplet to share with the class. A great way for classmates to get to know each other. Students can add images on their Popplet by importing a picture through their camera roll or they may draw pictures.

Goal/Goals for Fourth Grade - ChatterPix
We all know that setting goals is important for success and improvement. Adding a fun twist makes it even more engaging to students. I had students set a goal they would like to achieve during the upcoming year. Students used ChatterPix to record their goal. It was great to see their creativity and all the smiles.

All About Me - Fact and Opinion - Stick Around created by +Tony Vincent 
Stick Around is an awesome app to use in all curricular areas. What better way to start the school year then to create a Fact and Opinion puzzle.  Students created fact and opinion puzzles focusing on themselves.  What a great learning opportunity for students. They can learn more about their classmates by playing each others' puzzles.

Summer Vacation - 3D Avatar Creator by BuddyPoke
Another activity to engage students is to have them share something they did for their summer vacation using an Avatar Creator. What is better than our students watching videos? Of course, creating them and sharing their learning with others. Let the FUN and LEARNING begin!

Summer Vacation - Toontastic
Creating and sharing our thinking and learning is what school is all about. At the beginning of the year we are all still in summer mode.  What better what to share our summer adventures, but to create a video for others to enjoy.

Self-Potraits using Osmo Masterpiece
What better way to begin the school year then draw a self-portrait. Osmo makes that possible.  Have students take a snapshot of themselves and let the drawing begin.  Students will have the drawing plus an added bonus - a video of themselves drawing their masterpiece!

Questions for the Teacher - Padlet 

It just so happens that one of our first language skills was interrogative questions. A great way for our students to get to know us is to have them ask us questions.  The new iPad app for Padlet makes it so easy and gives students a platform to collaborate. 

Scrapbook of the School Year - Book Creator
My mom has been coming to my classroom and creating scrapbooks with my students for years.  It is an awesome keepsake and memory for the year.  Another idea for a year-long project would be for students to create a scrapbook using Book Creator.   This would be an awesome digital portfolio of the year.

As we know,  the world of teaching has changed.  One thing hasn't changed...The relationship we develop with each student is always what is most important.  My mom has made a huge, positive impact on my students for as long as I can remember.  It only seems appropriate to end my post with a Movie Trailer my students created of my mom and how she makes a difference. Yes, digital is great, but sometimes there are other means to show our love of learning! 

I would love to hear how other educators are building a Community of Learners. As we all know, it is about our students who are counting on us to Make a Difference! Here's to the Best School Year Yet!  

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