Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Number Pieces

This post has been in the works for awhile, but I finally decided to to get it done!

Number Pieces Basic is one of our favorite apps, and I wanted to share a little bit  about how we use it.  We use number pieces whenever we need to do anything with place value.

When we first started out using it we were simply making numbers with tens and ones

Write the number... then build it with tens and ones

Then we moved on to adding a one digit to a two digit number 

We like to mix pencil and paper with the iPads

Virtual manipulatives are awesome!

Now we are adding and subtracting two digit numbers  and we need this app even more. Our resource wanted the kiddos building multiple tens sticks (up to nine per problem) with interlocking cubes.I agree there is a place for regular tangible manipulatives (and we have used them in the past) but this was not it. I don't know about you, but with my kiddos it's very hard to keep tools from turning into toys. Cubs get thrown, castles get built, and we all know what little boys make with them... GU*S! Ugg no thank you! I would much rather spend time working with kids on the skill at hand than managing the evil cubes! Plus I don't have enough cubes for every kid to build the number 94!!!

This worked so much better!!

Build 20 remove 10 How many are left?

They built the first number, deleted the second number and wrote the equation


I don't even want to think about doing this with the cubes...

Thank God for Number Pieces

Everything is all Right or Maybe it's Left...

As part of our social studies standards we have to teach our kiddos their left from their right. I know I could find some boring worksheets where they have to circle the ball on the right or circle the tree on the left, but as we've already established I'm not a very worksheety teacher, and I get bored easily! With that in mind I found something more fun! I saw this idea somewhere, and borrowed it. For the past week I have been putting yummy smelling cotton candy Lip Smackers on the kids right hands. They smell them all the time, and know that the hand they're smelling is their right hand. Simple, easy, and fun (it also makes for a nice reward if needed). Gotta love muscle memory! 

I choose the big fat Lip Smackers to cover the most area!

Now that we have a fairly firm grasp on left and right we get to play Left Center Right LCR ( this link gives details on how to play, but I'll give you the basics). I played this once at a party (adults play this as for money, but we use math counters) and thought it would be a fun way to practice left and right. Everyone sits in a circle, and each kiddo gets three math counters. 
Then they roll the dice ...

If you roll a dot you get to keep your counter. If you roll a C you have to put it in the center of the circle, and if you roll an L or R you pass a counter to the person on that side of you.

When you're out of counters you watch until someone has to pass you one, or until there is only one person left with counters. The last person left with counters is the WINNER! The kiddos love this game, and we have a lot of fun with it. It's also a great way to practice sportsmanship and taking turns!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

QRazy about TeacherTube

For awhile I've been wanting to share links to recordings/videos of my students reading their writing with QR codes, but last year the school iBoss filter was blocking the ones I posted to YouTube. It was so frustrating, because I really wanted all the students (not just mine) to be able to access these videos easily. I tried Viemo... BLOCKED. I tried SchoolTube... it's a pain to sign up! Finally I found TeacherTube, and I love it. Sign up is simple and easy. The upload process is insanely fast, and  the best part of all... it creates the QR code for you! All you have to do is cut and paste them.

Here is how we created our video/recordings (we used the FaceTalker app).

 First I took a picture of them holding up their writing while covering their faces (for safety). Then I removed the mouth from the picture (the mouth is designed to move, so I just remove it). Next they record their reading and I attach it to the picture. Once we get a good recording I e-mail it to myself, save it to my computer, and upload. Once it's uploaded  I cut and paste the QR code, print it, and attach it to their final copy before I display it in the hallway!

The kids love it, and everyone else thinks it's pretty cool too! We hope you enjoy them! There aren't very many because most of them were writing in pairs.

Here is a link to my TeacherTube channel where you can check out all their awesome writing!
In the hallway...

The finished product!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Creating Fluid Learners: Mixing Technology and Tradition

I have been seeing so much online from both sides of the technology divide about what students "MUST" do. The voices are so loud! Almost deafening at times and they aren't always very nice. Each side fears that that the other wants to take away what they hold most dear, and they both  fling scientific studies, data, and experts at each other, but to what end? I am very much a tech geek (obviously) , and I fly my geek flag high. Whenever I go on vacation I almost need a separate bag to carry all of my devices and their chargers.  

I was raised on a steady diet of nice hefty books, freshly sharpened pencils, and boxes of sixty-four Crayola crayons (with the sharpener in the back), but I also had computers in my school and in my classrooms starting in kindergarten, and a computer at home starting in fourth grade. Granted the floppy discs were bigger than my hand, but I digress. As you can see I grew up moving fluidly between screens and paper. I want that same thing for my students. Quite frankly I believe that students MUST have both if they are going to be successful in life!

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that we are a 1:1 iPad school.  Many times when people hear that they assume that we've thrown out all of the paper and pencil tradition and panic ensues. "They have to learn to write" naysayers shout in a panic, and my kiddos do. We plan, draft, revise, edit, and illustrate on paper. We take dictation in cute little notebooks, and scribble, scratch, and scrawl with colored pens in our writing center.  

Then we whip out our iPads and type out final copies faster than you can say "oops I ripped my paper while I was erasing". I can sit down with my kiddos and really go deep into editing and revising without the stress of them having to worry about copying it over again. Nothing gets in the way of others enjoying our writing, even when those fine motor skills are still developing.

We also love to read, and we read everywhere…big books, Kindle books, mini books, chapter books, poems on paper, poems on the screen, poems on charts, Myon books, Razkids books, books to color, and books you hold. Every one helps us to become better readers each and every day.



In math manipulatives hang out alongside fact practice apps, and worksheets in Notability, and we practice that pencil grip with our styluses.  We buddy up to roll virtual dice, play games with real cards, and color by number! 

We get the best of both worlds, and everybody wins. Particularly my students! They will grow up being able to access information anywhere they choose, and they will be able to slide fluidly between technology and tradition. They won't have to choose!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Ga ga for Google Docs... and drive

Okay, I'll admit it! I was not always a fan of Google docs! At first I thought it was Word without the bells and whistles (it sort of is) but now I know that it's so much more... where to begin??? First off I have said goodbye to all my external drives, which I am very good at loosing, or leaving at home, or leaving at school. I do everything on in Google docs now. That way all my stuff is everywhere! I really do mean everywhere... school notebook, personal notebook, phone, and of course the iPad! No more of those ugg I left it at school or shoot  that worksheet is on my laptop at home type moments.Everything from lesson plans to links for the kiddos it's all there!

I love it for me, but I love it even more for the kiddos.  They LOVE to publish their final copies in Google docs. Yes they have to learn to actually write, and we do actually write during every other step in the writing process. For publishing I prefer to use Google drive, and here are the top five reasons...

1. Publishing is no longer like pulling teeth
2. If they make a mistake that is appropriate to fix we can fix it fast and easy without starting over
3. They can see their own errors easily
4. Everyone can read it
5.Typing is an essential life skill

Here they are hard at work
 Using our rough drafts to create our final copies

Notice she is using both hands! Most of them type faster than they write! They are so good at this that they should do PD for teachers on how to navigate Google drive/Google docs! Not kidding!
They were so excited to finish up, and pick their favorite font for me to use when I printed them! Some of them completed three pieces! Normally one is like pulling teeth.

Printing is super easy too. They each have a  folder in their Google drive with their name on it. I own the folder, but it's shared with them so they can open it up and start typing. They never have to send it to me or share it with me because it appears in MY drive in real time!

We even hit those fine motor skills by illustrating

So proud of their finished products!

I can even cut and paste some of my favorites here in seconds!

This one had  a great hook!  

It was me against the dog.First I was playing with the dogs bol.Then the dog bit me.I was ciring! I told my mommy.She Said I will be okay.Then I was happy.I left the dog alone.I have a scor.I have a scor  to remember when I got bit. By Miss. H
Lots of great details in this one!
Me and my mom and my hamster were at home.My mom was gonna feed my hamster Buttercup.My hamster Buttercup was dead.He stoped breathing.I was crying. I threw my hamster Buttercup away.I was exploding teaers. will not forget my hamster Buttercup.
By Miss D
Finally the best closure EVER! 
Ahhhhhhhh! Kiyin was kaching me.We were on the blak top.I triptych on the blak top.I scrat my ne.My mommy hapt my fil betr. It became a skab and skin.
I can share them fast and easy with anyone who wants it! Parents, teammates, bloggy friends, or even district iPad goddesses! Plus reading them just makes me smile!  Love my kiddos, love my Google docs!

The Best iPad Management Hack Ever!!!

Lately I have been hearing a lot of questions about how to monitor iPad use in the classroom. People have mentioned various programs that could work, but I don't have the time, bandwidth, or money to buy them. Guided access is great if your kiddos aren't techie (mine can get out of it without knowing the code, and they're only in first grade). It also takes a lot of time to get kiddos off and on because we use at least eight to ten apps/programs/websites every day.

Even I had problems with keeping everybody where they should be, and then a simple solution popped into my mind! It was a face palm sort of moment. Are you ready for it??? Have them sit on the opposite side of their desks (it won't work for everyone because of their classroom set up) it works wonders for us!! Now we call the back side the iPad side and the other side the writing side. When they sit on the iPad side I can see what is on ALL their screens from my small group table!

I have not had even one kid stray out of where they should be since we started doing this! The kids would say "easy peasy lemon squeezy"!