Grade 2 Animal Book

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Grade 2 students have finished their animal research and are working on creating a combined iPad Book with their research facts. This book will be shared with next year’s Kindergarten and 1st grade students. It is an “interactive” book (created with “iBook Author”) where readers can click on the video presentations from the students, and look at pictures gathered from the site, Facts4me.com.

Students were filmed during their presentations. They worked on: speaking clearly, loudly, and slowly. The group of students then chose which pictures worked best with their facts.

An example page from the Animal Book.
An example page from the Animal Book.

The finished “book” will not be published on the Internet, but will be installed on the iPads in the Computer Lab, and any other classroom iPad upon teacher request. Sharing the knowledge with younger students gives the 2nd Grade students an authentic audience and provides an “audio/video” book to listen to facts that might be too difficult for them to read.

Things you can do at home with your student:

  • Ask your 2nd Grade student about the animal facts they remember.
  • Ask your 2nd Grade student what was the hardest part of the project? What was their favorite part? How do they feel about their finished work?
  • When watching their own video, many 2nd Graders reported that they sounded “funny” on the video. This is due to not having much experience hearing their own recorded voice. If you have an iPad at home (or any recording device), provide opportunities for your student to record his/her voice and then listen to it!
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Google Earth = GOOD!

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Multi 1/2 and Grade 1 students have started exploring Google Earth — first as a whole group with me, and then in smaller groups in Centers. Google Earth is truly an amazing tool and never ceases to “wow” students.

Students first explored the application in what is known as “Sandbox Mode.” In Sandbox Mode, students get to explore and play with the tool before they get any instruction from a teacher. There are many reasons to do this, but primarily, it helps build students’ confidence in starting to figure out the application by themselves, and also gets them immediately in the “driver’s seat,” rather than painfully waiting through a direct instruction lesson before they can finally get their hands on the tool! Students explore the tool in a “low-risk” setting (have fun!) and take on the role of “instructor” as they share their discoveries with peers in partnerships, and then later when we come back together as a group.

When we come back as a whole group, I start by showing how to search for our school in Google Earth by entering its address. One thing students see right away is that usually Google Earth can’t find the exact location to our school… It puts us down the road a bit:

this way

I next show how by clicking and dragging on the map, students can “walk” along the road to find our school:

our school

Students realize how relevant the pictures in Google Earth are when I show them my own car in the parking lot behind the school:

my car

Once they see that, students start asking if I can find their own house in Google Earth! (I assure them that they will have time when they get back to Google Earth and that I will help them type the names of their streets).

I show a few more things on Google Earth, and then ask the students to figure out where the pictures of Earth come from and “Why are there no clouds?” This opens up a whole new discussion about technology!

When students go into small groups, they will search for landmarks around Wells.

Things you and your student can do at home:

  • Download Google Earth! It’s FREE! It’s AMAZING!
  • Work with some of the “Layers” that are included in Google Earth. Check out New York City with the 3D Buildings on!
  • Find directions to relatives or friends and “fly” from your house to them to show how far it is.
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Yes, Your Kindergarten Student is Programming!

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Over the past couple of weeks, Kindergarten classes have been using iPads in the Computer Lab. We first learned how to share them with a partner and how to operate them safely by playing a simple math game. Once routines were established, we moved on to learning how to PROGRAM.

Daisy_the_Dinosaur

 

daisy

Using an incredible, free iPad App—Daisy the Dinosaur—students learned the basics of programming. It is amazing to watch such young students approach problem solving without fear or hesitation, as well as witness what incredible readers they’ve become over the year (students had no trouble reading the commands to give Daisy, such as: jump, move, spin, turn, roll, etc). I showed the “bare essentials” of how to use the App, and then let students have a go. I gave them 2 challenges as well: see if they could program Daisy to go under the sun as well as have Daisy touch the sun. In order for students to do this, they had to figure out how to program numerous commands to get Daisy to cross the long field, and to give Daisy numerous “grow” commands until she was high enough to touch the sun. Some students figured out that they could also make Daisy “jump” to touch the sun!

 

The Challenge of "Touching the Sun"
The Challenge of “Touching the Sun”

This week, we also learned how to set up “loops” to repeat commands, as well as “if, then” commands. An example of an “if, then” command would be: “If I shake the iPad, Daisy will SPIN.”

Daisy the Dinosaur is a free App that runs on the iPad: http://www.daisythedinosaur.com/.

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Things to do at home with your scholar:

  • Download Daisy the Dinosaur if you have an iPad!
  • Ask your student what his/her favorite part of programming with Daisy was.
  • Ask your student to describe how he/she solved the challenges.
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Programming: Driver and Navigator Roles

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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In the following video, you get to see a student and me modeling the roles of “Driver” and “Navigator.” This is how 3rd and 4th grade students work in partnerships while learning how to program at Code.org. You also get to witness a student help the teacher get “unstuck!”

Navigator and Driver from wells elementary on Vimeo.

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First Grade and Multi 1/2 Move Into Their “Office”

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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1st and Multi 1/2 Grade students have been enjoying learning some basic “word processing” skills with the free application, “Open Office 4 Kids” (or, Ooo4kids). They love the idea that they can have their own “virtual” office where they can do their writing.

Students have been learning the following skills/information:

  • that there are FREE software applications that have been made by people who volunteer their time
  • how to OPEN a Word Processing Document
  • the importance of SAVING RIGHT AWAY! and SAVING OFTEN!
  • how to use the SHIFT KEY TO MAKE A CAPITAL LETTER for the FIRST LETTER OF THEIR NAME and for the FIRST LETTER IN A SENTENCE
  • how to END A SENTENCE WITH PUNCTUATION
  • and, that ONLY 1 SPACE GOES AFTER EVERY WORD AND EVERY PUNCTUATION.

In follow-up lessons, students learn how to find and open the document they were previously working on.

We’ve been using the prompt, “Once upon a time…” for this first experience in using a word processing document. In follow-up, small-group Centers, students will return to the application and write without a prompt.

Things you can do with your student at home:

  • Download Open Office 4 Kids (http://educoo.org/TelechargerOOo4Kids.php). Note: at the time of this writing, only the French website has been accessible, but you’ll be able to find the English version for your computer’s operating system.
  • Ask your scholar what he/she has been writing about in the lab.
  • Encourage your student to SAVE OFTEN when using a word processing application at home!
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Update on Programming

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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There’s nothing more exciting for a teacher to hear than a student calling out, “I got it!” I hear it daily in 3rd, 4th and Multi 3/4 classes as students solve the “puzzles” at Code.org. The programming centers in the Computer Lab are moving along at a fast and furious pace and students are having a blast.

Students are asked to find different partners every two levels they complete at Code.org, and share the roles of “Driver” and “Navigator.” The “Driver” is the student who is controlling the computer and the “Navigator” is the partner who is helping to solve the problem (with questions or hints for the “Driver”). The “Navigator” isn’t allowed to touch the computer and can only talk and point to show his/her suggestions. After the partners have done two levels together, they need to find different partners to work with. This is to mirror what will probably happen in many of the students’ future careers: they will be working with many different people, and need to build collaborative skills with different people now, rather than just choose the comfort of working with a close friend.

Many students are clearly continuing their programming at home. If your student hasn’t shown you Code.org, encourage him/her to at least sign in and show what level their on. Hopefully, your student will at least be inspired to repeat a level they’ve already completed and show you how the site works.

Why is learning to code important?

Check out the following video and infographic below:

infographic

Things to do at home with your student:

  • Watch the video and discuss the infographic (above) with your scholar to start a discussion about coding.
  • Ask your student to show you Code.org!
  • Ask your student why we’re learning coding at Wells Elementary School? How will this help students?
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Making Movies in Your Mind

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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1st Grade and Multi 1/2 students have been working the past couple of weeks at a site called, “Into the Book” (at http://reading.ecb.org/). There are eight different reading strategies for students to explore at the site, but we’ve been focusing on the strategy of “Visualizing,” or, “making pictures/movies in your mind when you read. This is an essential strategy for reading comprehension. For some, this strategy comes naturally; for others, it is something they need to practice often. “Into the Book” helps students strengthen this skill by reading text and then creating images and picking music that illustrates what “movies” they have in their mind while reading.

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We start the lesson by first taking a “mind walk” where I have students listen to me as I describe our imaginary walk through the school. I have them stop and center on an image, such as, “Oh look: there’s Ms. Westerberg in the library!” and then add to the description so they can focus on how the images in their minds change. For instance, “Wow, look at Ms. Westerberg dance on top of the desk in that pink tutu.” When students start giggling, you know the images in their minds have just changed!

Next, we head to the “Into the Book” site and watch an introductory video about visualizing. As a class, we work together on coming up with images and music for a nonfiction piece, and then students go off and independently work on a poem, called “Cat Act.”

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Students also learn the skill of how to create a username that they need to write down so they can log back into the site later in order to finish their work.

Things you and your students can do at home:

  • Ask your students about our “mind walk.” Try it with them! You tell a story that takes them on a “visual” walk, and then ask them to tell you one!
  • When reading with your children, model how you “see images” in your mind and discuss how those images change. Ask them what images they see in their mind. Compare images of a certain character in a book. Sketch out your character and compare drawings.
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Grade 2: Research

Note: This year I am blogging weekly reflections at my school site (weskids.com) in order to provide more transparency in my teaching for parents, students, and the community (local and global). I will be cross-posting most of the entries here at Bit By Bit as well. You can see the original posts at the “Reflections by Mr. S” blog.

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Students in Grade 2 have dug deep into research over the past weeks. We are using the site, Facts4me.com (http://facts4me.com/) in order to collect facts about animals. Students have been working in groups to gather the following:

Whether or not the animal is endangered, and if so, why?

  • What is its diet?
  • What is its habitat?
  • Who are its predators?
  • What are its features?
  • Other interesting facts

Welcome_to_Facts_4_Me

Students are learning how to put the facts they find into their own words and decide which facts are most important to share. Once the facts have been collected, students decide who is going to present each fact in the final presentation and then rewrite their facts on notecards. Groups are deciding whether they want to create their own artwork to accompany the final product, or use the “open source” photos from Facts4me.com.

The final product will be a movie made in an application on the iPads called, “Puppet Pals” and will eventually be published on our website. We have Rodeo practice happening throughout this process, so the final project will take a bit of time to finish.

Students have been thoroughly engaged in their research and are really getting to know the facts about their chosen animal as they work on editing and rewriting.

Things you can do at home with your scholar:

  • First off, Facts4me.com is an amazing site, with succinct facts and easy readability. Unfortunately, the school only has an account for use at school from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. However, Facts4me.com offers an amazing Family Deal of 24/7 access to its huge collection of nonfiction books for a yearly price of $20! Check out the site and see if it’s something you’d like at home (for the price of one book, you’ll get hundreds!).
  • Ask your student to tell you the facts she/he remembers about their animal.
  • Explore with your student other websites, books, internet sites related to the animal they are studying.
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