You all know I love brain breaks, they keep us all sane! So, as promised here are my Halloween brain breaks. I just put them all on a SMART notebook slide that are linked directly to You Tube videos that have been sent through safe search. My kiddos have been sooooo excited for the new brain breaks slide to arrive! I hope your kiddos enjoy them as much as I know mine will!
I have begun to notice that as the year progresses there is becoming a normalcy to our iPad routines. This week was more about perfecting old learning and less new shiny things to do with them. That may be because it was a totally crazy week overall, and there was just not much time. This weeks post will be short and sweet...here we go!
I had been looking at requires recording the words, which requires quiet, which we don't have in our classroom. Quiet is just not the way these kids roll! If I could mix this app with Spelling Free then I would have the perfect app, but alas that is not to be. Since I can't do that I added recording, and adding their words to their Monday homework (stay tuned to see how that works out).
I did make a great find this week! Some of the books from Raz-Kids are free to download in the app store! Seventeen different titles to be exact! Some of my kiddos don't have internet so being able to download books right to their iPad is great. It also saves me from having to make copies, and losing guided reading groups that sometimes never come back. This week one of my groups read and downloaded Bananas Sometimes, and they were very excited to keep them forever!
We also started math workshop this week, and one of our rotations and we used this app as one of our rotations.
It was a slow iPad week, but I have perfected my use of guided access, and the kids have perfected logging in when they need to. Many of them have also memorized their Apple passwords which I am so incredibly thankful for. One of the kids had a great idea about their passwords that I had to share. I keep their password cheat sheets for when they need to download because I don't really want those taped to their case like their other logins. However paper is easily lost, so one of my girls took a picture with of hers with her camera. Brilliant!!! Now they just take a quick peek at their picture if they need to and off they go!
We have big things ahead for next week so stay tuned!
I cannot believe that my kiddos have had their iPads for almost a month. We've come so far in such a short time. It's hard to believe that three weeks ago they had a hard time taking off the covers, and now they can send e-mail, but more about that later... In fact they are getting a little to good with the iPads, and I had to use guided access this week :P
It's okay for a free app, but not perfect. The built in dictionary option makes it easy to add words...even random words that are NOT on your spelling list. It gives test and practice options where the words can be read to students.
Here is a video of the practice option
We loved both those options, but not the record option. At some point we may try the option that allows students to take their spelling test on the iPad and e-mail it directly to me. Right now they need the practice actually writing their words. The best part about the spelling app is the improvement my kiddos have made. Last week we took our first spelling test. They had their words in the notes section of their iPads for paper and pencil practice at home, and during daily five. Only one of them had a perfect score on the Friday test. This week six of them got a perfect score, and several others were close. Some went from getting one or two right to getting eight or nine correct (out of ten). The iPads made practicing fun and engaging, and even though they practiced almost exclusively on the iPads they transferred the learning easily to pencil and paper!
Our next move was to join forces with our teacher librarian to create our Popplets.
After our exploration time last Friday they were all set to go, and the Popplets turned out great. They also showed that my munchkins really understand what living things need to survive! A big thanks to our teacher librarian " Mr.T" for getting our Gmail accounts set up, and being the an extra set of fingers to help my "littles" navigate their iPad screens. We couldn't have done it without you!
Here it is... our very first e-mail (I didn't send my first e-mail until high school).
The others followed suit quickly and easily. I also had them type up some of their sight words and send them to me from home in an e-mail as homework.
I even got this sweet surprise in my in box this morning! I have one little friend who thinks e-mailing her teacher is the coolest thing ever!
I paired this app with a worksheet I created, and it was a nice combination of traditional work and technology. I saw great results all around, and this turned out to be one of their favorite apps! I would hear little shouts of "yes" whenever they got an answer right on the iPad.
Well, we have another successful week under our belts and I couldn't be prouder of my class full of amazing kids. As a teacher I am finding that important balance between the iPads and more traditional paper and pencil work. That in itself is huge! Next week... a different spelling app with even more ways to practice, and planning a full week of online, and iPad learning for a student who is going out of town for a week.
We just finished up week two with our iPads and we are still going strong! We worked on perfecting old skills, and mastering new ones. My kiddos continue to amaze me with their quick mastery of these devices. All but one of my kiddos have mastered their Lexia and Raz-Kids logins, nobody has asked for help in several days! The first new skill we embarked on was typing our spelling words into the notes section of the iPads.
They did a great job, and I saved TWENTY copies. The only thing I would have done differently in hindsight was to give them some explore time with notes. It would have made my life a lot easier!!
The next success was mine! I mastered mClass and got over half of my DIBELS done. The only problem is that you can't stop the timer if you get interrupted which is frustrating to no end!!! It was also a bit of a trial getting it all loaded onto the iPads, but now that it's on I LOVE it. It saves so much time. I don't have to enter anything. It's all automatic.
Another bit of new learning that we are embarking on is number talks. If you're at all familiar with number talks you've probably heard of rekenreks. Normally you have to buy a pricy class set or make them out of yarn, cardboard, and beads (like I want to spend my free time doing that). My way is much easier...we just downloaded the Free Math Rack app. Here we are making five in different ways during number talks.
Our final task of the week was to get ready to show all we have learned in science. Next week I'll co-teach with our teacher librarian and the kids will create Popplets. After the "notes" experience I decided to give them a chance to free explore within the Popplets lite app. I was amazed!!!!!
We talked about how they would learn more by just working with the app than by my teaching them how. It took less than two minutes for them to figure out how to get pictures from their photo streams and add them to the Popplets, change colors, take pictures and add them, type labels, and draw pictures.
I let them go for about fifteen minutes and they are totally ready to create their projects. I was also impressed by the level of collaboration I saw. Only two asked me for help, and they were quickly rescued by fellow classmates. There was a lot of "Ooooohhh how did you do that?, "I'll show you!" , "Who needs help?", and "I can help people!" flying around our room today. I think people assumed that these devices would isolate the kids from each other and decrease their collaboration skills. In reality the opposite is true, when they collaborate using the iPads there is less fighting and arguing, and it goes much more smoothly in general.
Stay tuned until next week for our finished Popplets!!
I have a confession to make! I'm not perfect (yep I know shocker) and my classroom is not all cute pins and iPad coolness! I have another confession to make... I MISS MY OLD CLASS!! They were sweet, well trained, and we were a family. Granted they were not always that way. When they became mine last December (straight out of student teaching thank you very much) they were sort of a hot mess. They had been through a lot, and by that I mean you don't get a new teacher in December because everything is peachy keen. It took a lot of work, but by the end of the year we were a true family. Their social, emotional, and academic growth blew my mind. This year I was super excited because I thought this year would be the same. I looked at my new class list with excitement and wonder. Then those names turned into real kids who fight, argue, whine, cry, chit chat a lot, and don't always listen. "I gave up my sweet babies for this" says the little voice in my head. Final confession the beginning of the year sucks really is not fun! Everyone says "things will get better, training them takes time" but that little voice is still there reminding me of what I miss. I'm writing this because another very, very, very tiny voice in my head says "Maybe next year at this time you'll be missing another group of sweet babies!".
While this is a huge blessing there is also a lot to learn, and a lot of mistakes to be made. A big part of learning is reflection, so that's what I'm going to do here! Every week or two I'll reflect on what we've done and what we've learned.
So far we've made amazing progress! All my kids know how to treat their iPads. We spent a lot of time on little things like holding them with TWO HANDS, not setting them on the floor, where to keep them when they are not being used, and not forgetting that our backpacks hold precious cargo as we come and go from school! They also have the basics of navigation down. Every student can turn it on, type in their unlock code, and turn it off again two different ways. They can use five fingers to get home, and four to slide up and manage their open apps. This is huge because most of them had never even held a tablet before!
With all those skills firmly in place we set out to actually use them as an educational tool. Once everybody had their apps downloaded for Lexia and Raz-Kids they were raring to go. They can all log on to their apps without help... for the most part.
Lexia (learn about it here http://www.lexialearning.com/product ) is a great program that our school has purchased for student use. It works on phonemic awareness, phonics, and other literacy skills. Above is a student working on phonemic awareness with Lexia. It was nice to have before, but we were limited by our lack of technology at school and in their homes. Now it is invaluable, with the free Lexia Reading app every kid can have access to it every day in school. Those with home internet can also access it at home.
At my previous school most of the kids had devices at home, and there was more access to newer notebooks, so we used a program called Raz-Kids (find it here http://www.raz-kids.com/main/ViewPage/name/index ). Due to a generous donation I was able to purchase a classroom license for my kiddos. With Raz-Kids, students have access to hundreds of "just right" books online. They can read them independently, listen to them being read fluently, and take comprehension quizzes. The free app makes for easy access to all the books they could want wherever they can find Wi-Fi. Here is one of my kiddos taking a quiz on her iPad.
Our next step with the iPads was to use them as scientific tools. Just like "real" scientists we got out into the field (literally the field behind our school LOL) and looked for things to photograph. We are studying living and non-living things so my scientists had to take three pictures of each and later prove to the class why that particular specimen was living or non-living. Here we are... scientists on the move :)
We ended our first week with the iPads in science where we have moved on to the idea that living things grow and change over time, even people. Each student used their iPad to take pictures of their baby and toddler photos at home. The kiddos were super excited to show how they (a living thing) have grown and changed over time.
For the most part our first week went amazingly well. We only had a few moments where kids were not quite doing what they were supposed to with their iPads, but I even consider that a success because it means they are increasing their skills with the device.
Next week ...typing our spelling words into the notes section of our iPads to save on copies :)