Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Power of Writing in a 1:1 Classroom

The quote below by F. Scott Fitzgerald is so true when it comes to our students and writing.  They need to be given opportunities to write about what is important and meaningful to them. With state writing tests and curriculum expectations this becomes difficult at times.  There are things we can do as educators to help instill a passion for writing in our students. Students need to be intrinsically motivated and engaged. They need to have the opportunity to interact with each other. Being a 1:1 classroom has helped tremendously. 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

We know as educators it is important that our students write on a daily basis.  We know writing improves communication skills and helps teachers assess what students are learning.  When our students write it helps them retain information they have learned.  Writing also encourages student creativity and problem solving. Becoming a 1:1 has made writing even more relevant to my students because now instead of writing for just a teacher, they have a global audience. Digital citizenship in writing is important in our classroom.  As we say in our room, "Make it Worthy of the Web".  When our students write they have a voice to share their thoughts and feelings. They have the opportunity to be creative and write about their passions. Students are writing for an authentic audience and purpose. Writing is happening at its best on a daily basis!

Students not only practice their writing skills, but they can reflect on their learning, connect with other classrooms from all around the world, and create a portfolio of their writing.  Students peer edit prior to posting each blog.  They use Kidblog to publish what they wrote for our writing genre of the week as well as all curricular areas.  Our classroom Kidblog site is Mrs. Evon's Fourth Grade Team.  Another way to help your students get more comments from others around the globe is to tweet it out on Twitter and remember to use #comments4kids.

I love this video my fourth graders created 
on why they LOVE to blog!


My fourth graders are using Google Docs to create documents and presentations. Peer editing and collaborative writing projects happen at its best.  Whenever we Mystery Skype it is a great way for students to share questions, insights, and predictions.  They are also making global connections. Their documents can be shared with anyone which makes workflow easy and paperless. 


Book Creator

My students love Book Creator and we use it a lot in our classroom in all subject areas.  Students have the opportunity to write books and then share them with others to enjoy. The possibilities of what they can write are endless. They love to add videos and app smash to the books they are writing.  Students have the ability to add links to their books.  Another feature they love it that they can narrate their book as well as add images and music. It is a powerful digital writing tool for my fourth graders. Seeing how proud each of my students are when they publish their book is priceless. 

Writing Mysteries
Writing Nonfiction Books - The South Region



My fourth graders love to use Pages to write and publish their work.  Each week, students have a new writing genre.  My fourth graders write their first draft.  After they edit and proofread they put their final draft into Pages and are able to select a template of their choice.  Each student then publishes his/her writing into Kidblog.





















Tia's Writing
Angelique's Writing 
Sean's Narrative Poem


Write About This

Even though we have the free version, of Write About This, my students love this app. With the free version, we are limited with the picture-based writing prompts.  This version has 50 leveled texts and voice prompts.  Students have the ability to create and write their own prompts. They can only save one writing piece into their "My Write Abouts".  My fourth graders solved this problem by adding each writing piece to their camera roll. They are then able to put their writing into Kidblog.  


Example of a Post on Kidblog from Angelique

Quick Write



Great Sites that Promote Writing Ideas and Creativity


Malala Yousafzai


Wonderopolis is a great a great site to get students to think outside the box.  Students are able to go to Wonderopolis on their iPad and read the Wonder of the Day and reflect upon their thinking. 


Smithsonian has a wonderful free reading resource for teachers.  It provides students engaging news articles written on their specific reading level. Each weekday new articles are posted.  After reading the article assigned by the teacher, students can post comments on the article they read.  All comments have to be teacher approved, and students can respond to their classmates' comments. If you want student's comments to go public for others to view and comment, all you have to do is send TweenTribune an email.  I love the aspect that students have the opportunity to connect with other students globally.  If their comments are shared publicly, teachers still need to approve comments shared on each child's post.



Picture of the Day
Another awesome feature my students love is the picture of the day.  There is a caption below each picture, but students are unable to see it until they comment on the photo.  After they submit their comment they are able to view the caption.  This is great to foster student imagination and "thinking outside the box".  If teacher's allow, students have the opportunity to change and modify their comment after viewing the actual caption.  Below is the picture of the day for January 5th.


Writing is meaningful and important to our students when they have a purpose for writing as well as a global audience. They thrive to become better writers and their passion continues to grow. Having a 1:1 allows writing to become collaborative and more relevant than ever before!


Ray Bradbury
I would love to hear from other educators on how you are instilling a passion for writing with your students.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Students Favorite Free Apps to Show their Learning

Students showing their learning in creative ways is what teaching is all about.  Here are some of my students' favorite apps that are free to "Show what they Know"!


     







ChatterPix

Students can show their learning by creating talking pictures. Students have the ability to bring stories to life. All you have to do is upload your image, draw a mouth where you want it, and record. 

Showing our Learning - Reading Comprehension Skill 
and our Science Essential Objective



                                                                         Shadow Puppet Edu

Shadow Puppet is a another app that my students love to use.  It is a digital story telling app.  My fourth graders use it in all curricular areas. There is an integrated search tool where students can find pictures from the Library of Congress.  All you have to do is pick photos from any album including your camera roll. You have the ability to drop and drag to reorder your project. Record your audio voice to create your story.  You can also add background music to your story  Students can share their projects in a variety of ways.  My fourth graders like to send their stories to iMovie and then export to YouTube.  This is one of their favorite apps to explain their learning. 



Shadow Puppet Tutorial


Students can create, explain, and share demonstrations of their learning in any subject area.  They can create videos showing the concepts they are learning.




Doceri is an interactive whiteboard for the iPad.  It is great way to evaluate students' understanding  of curriculum concepts.  Students share their knowledge of our district essential objectives and state standards.  How to use Doceri with the iPad.





Launchpad Toy Creators of Toontastic has recently become free and one that my students love. It is a wonderful Story Telling app that is easy for students to use. I recently wrote a post on how we are using it in all curricular areas.


The Declaration of Independence

Writing Genre-Adventure Story



30hands is another great app that students can use to create and show what they know! It is a story telling app, and students can create presentations in any subject area. All students need to do to create a basic slideshow is to import pictures from their camera roll. You then press the record button under each image to narrate your presentation. Students also have the ability to draw images instead of importing pictures.  When projects are complete they are saved on the iPad. To finish off their presentations, my students like to send their project to iMovie.
Example of how we used 30hands with our Reading Focus Skill - Summarizing






Kidblog

Let's not forget about Kidblog!  Kidblog is a great way to showcase students' learning in all curricular areas.  Students not only practice their writing skills, but they can reflect on their learning, connect with other classrooms from all over the world, and create a portfolio of their writing.  My fourth graders would love comments on their posts. 
Mrs. Evon's Fourth Grade Kidblog Site




Monday, January 5, 2015

Smithsonian Tribune-Free K-12 Reading Resource


Smithsonian has a wonderful free reading resource for teachers.  It provides students engaging news articles written on their specific reading level. Each weekday trending new articles are posted. Students also have the opportunity to watch one-minute STEM videos.


It is easy to set up an account through Smithsonian.  After teachers have registered it is simple to import a class list.  They encourage you to use students first name only and last initial. Teachers are then given each student's user name and password.

Teachers can set up to nine different classrooms.


Students then login through the app.  There are four apps to choose from depending on the grade level you teach.

Download SmithsonianTTJunior for Grades K-4
Download SmithsonianTweenTribune for Grades 5-8
Download SmithsonianTeenTribune for Grades 9-12
Download SmithsonianTTEspaƱol in Spanish

After reading the article assigned by the teacher, students then take a quiz and post comments on the article they read. It is easy to track, each student's quiz and the comments they make are displayed on the teacher dashboard.  All comments have to be teacher approved, and students can respond to their classmates' comments. If you want student's comments to go public for others to view and comment, all you have to do is send TweenTribune an email.  I love the aspect that students have the opportunity to connect with other students globally.  If their comments are shared publicly, teachers still need to approve comments shared on each child's post.


Monday Morning Ready
Smithsonian TweenTribune just introduced Monday Morning Ready. Each weekend I get their weekly newsletters.  I am sent a new article and quiz, adapted to different reading levels.  The topic selected is a hot topic that is trending for the week.  Lesson plans and materials are provided so teachers can expand upon the topic. 

Lexile Levels
Each article is given a Lexile Level so you can assign articles according to each student's specific reading level.  Articles are adapted to multiple reading levels. Even though students read the same article, they take the quiz written on their specific level. 



Great Selection of Topics
There is a wide variety of current event topics for students to read.  I have found them high-interest articles that are relevant to our students. It is important that our students are reading nonfiction materials, as well as staying informed on what is going on in the world.  The content includes text, graphics, and photos; as well as audio and audio video materials.




Teacher Links
Teacher management is simple.  There is a drop-down box to manage students, assign articles, and approve comments.  


Assignment Dashboard


Teachers can create individualized plans.
Individualized Lesson Plans



Example of my students' comments.




Daily Quiz
Students also can take a daily quiz about current and past events.  They can research and look up the answers.  Here is an example of one of the questions from January 5th.  Scores are recorded on the teacher's dashboard.



Picture of the Day
Another awesome feature my students love is the picture of the day.  There is a caption below each picture, but students are unable to see it until they comment on the photo.  After they submit their comment they are able to view the caption.  This is great to foster student imagination and "thinking outside the box".  If teacher's allow, students have the opportunity to change and modify their comment after viewing the actual caption.  Below is the picture of the day for January 5th.




I love that my students have access to quality nonfiction articles.  I plan to utilize the Smithsonian Site during Guided Reading/Daily 5.