A Lesson on Heat

Welcome to the next installment of our Guest Blogging Series!  This post comes from Nicole Konicke a teacher at Lawson Middle School.

Who would ever think that heat transfer could be funny? My 6th grade students were able to do just that in their heat transfer comic projects. Their projects were completed as a comic, using Comic Maker or Book Creator.  Technology has provided an outlet for my students to show their creativity.

The inquiry hook to our mini heat transfer unit was a convection lab. During the lab, students used hot water (heat source), a pan, and some food coloring to demonstrate a convection current. We followed up by watching Bill Nye Heat. Then, we began our project.

In this project, students were required to show their understanding of the three types of heat transfer: convection, conduction, and radiation through a day in the life of a molecule or a day in the life of a person as the character went through each type of heat transfer. They were responsible for including the type of heat transfer in action, how the heat transfer works, how the heat is being transferred, and where the heat was being transferred to. Students needed to have dialogue, represented through speech bubbles, between the characters.

We started our project by brainstorming the differences and similarities between the three types of heat transfer. I provided a list of scientific vocabulary that could be used throughout the comic. Then, we had a mini lesson on how to use book creator and comic maker. Students were given the freedom to explore the two apps for the rest of the class period. The final step before beginning the comic included story board completion. Students were to sketch and plan out their scenes prior to completing on the app.

My students did have some issues along the way, but they displayed their collaboration skills through the problem solving process. We all worked together to try to solve the issue and one student was able to come up with a quick solution. She was eager to airplay her iPad and share the solution with the class. The class was engaged throughout the entire project. I am continuously amazed at the work my students produce with their iPads.

 

 

 

 

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Twitter in the Classroom

Welcome to the next installment of our Guest Blogging Series!  This post comes from Christina Tsuei a teacher at Murdock-Portal Elementary.

Now, more than ever, technology allows us to stay connected to the world around us. Twitter is an online social networking tool in which users can post 140 character updates of what is going on in their lives.

In my multiage elementary classroom, my twitter account is primarily available for my classroom parents to get a live update of what is going on in their child’s classroom throughout the day. Too often, students go home and tell their parents they had a “good” day and they learned “nothing” that day. My twitter account gives parents a way to get the inside scoop of their daily educational experience.

Throughout the week, I give students the opportunity to come up with questions that relate to something they have learning in class so that parents can feel connected to their child’s learning experiences and they can ask their child meaningful questions. This provides opportunity to have an open dialogue between home and school. Parents also have the ability to tweet our class back.

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Our twitter instructions are as follows:

  1. Take a Post It note
  2. Write your tweet
  3. Stick it on the display under the correct heading

Heading choices are:

  • “What did you learn today?”
  • “What did you enjoy doing today?”
  • “What did you find challenging today?”
  • “What did you do to be of service to others today?”

Our class twitter account also follows other teachers locally and around the world. My students were able to skype with a class in Palo Alto and dialogue about what they were learning and experiencing. The class has really enjoyed being connected to the world around them through Twitter!

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 9.21.24 AMYou do not need a twitter account to read the tweets. Instead just click on this link: https://twitter.com/MsTsuei and you’ll be able to see recent tweets. If you are a twitter user, feel free to follow @MsTsuei!

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Coding with Kindergarten

Welcome to the next installment of our Guest Blogging Series!  This post comes from Jenna Clarke a kindergarten teacher at Stocklmeir Elementary.

Why yes, you can have fun coding, even a kindergartener can code. Even I can teach kindergarteners to code, with help of course.  When I first heard about the “Hour of Code” I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give it a try.  After all, what is coding?  How does it work?  I asked our tech team for a volunteer to teach my class for the worldwide hour of code phenomenon that I had read about, and waited.  I was fortunate and Audrey Prouse – our Assistant Principal – offered to teach my class.  She came into our classroom and explained very well what coding was, it’s part of technology, and how it is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. One step, or one piece at a time.

In kindergarten, the first part of the technology piece is learning to use the mouse. We used the mouse to learn directions, left, right, up, and down. Then we used the mouse to navigate the internet browser to find the website code.org.  We were using technology to code by putting the puzzle pieces together and we were now part of the “hour of code” participants.

I was motivated to learn more, so when I received an email from a colleague about the hour of code seminar presented by Embark Labs, I signed up. I attended the seminar, dreamt of coding, and the next day took what I learned and presented it to my class. This is what coding beyond the hour of code looks like in a learner focused kindergarten classroom.

After presenting the 3×3 grid on our carpet, I explained the directions and the “one step at a time” concept.  After we defined the words position and orientation, I shared that the goal was to move the box to each X on the carpet to “light it up” with the least amount of steps. Students were called up to hold the box to determine if the directions called out were a change in position (moving forward out of the cell) or orientation (moving left or right within the cell.) The students were fully engaged and ready to code on their own.

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We used the arrows as symbols when recording the codes on white boards

After the students were clear on the position and orientation concepts of coding they were assigned to groups to write out their own codes to “light up the X.” In small groups they were given a whiteboard, marker, and small dice to help with determining the movement on grids they drew on the whiteboard. Working together the students used the arrow symbols to record each step of the code. Once they had written down the code, they checked their work on the main grid on the carpet.

This was a great learning tool in the classroom to help the students really understand the basics of coding. They were having fun and fully engaged the entire time.

On our next visit to the computer lab, the students were ready to go beyond the hour of code and try some more advanced coding.  At code.org we used our mouse to navigate to find the Lightbot application. Working together and independently the students moved the robot using the arrows that indicated right, left, move forward, and jump. When they had completed the steps they were able to self check to see if their robot was able to light up the cubes. When they completed the task successfully, they were really excited. “We are coding!”

Coding in Kindergarten, why yes, they can!  Watching my students go from learning how to use a mouse, start the computer, navigate google, finding the website, use the applications to code, and properly log out of the computer, was a wonderful experience.

Choice in a Learner Focused Classroom

 Welcome to our first Guest Blog Post!  Our first post comes from Jen Auten a second grade teacher at Montclaire Elementary.  You can follow her and on Twitter at @gr2ipadteacher.

With technology it’s easy to provide students with choice in their learning.  In October my second grade students completed a brief research project about bats.  The sequence of activities could be applied to other content areas.  For example, we went through a similar series of activities in November related to Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians.

As a hook we started the unit with a short video about bats in Zaption.  Zaption allows questions and polls to be embedded within a video to capture content understanding and student feedback as the students watch.

Next, students read articles written at several different reading levels from ReadWorks.  I embedded the articles in Actively Learn so that as the students read they had to answer questions and find specific evidence for their answers before they progressed to the next block of reading.  Students also read about bats from non-fiction books from the school library and from a free app called Epic.  Students were provided a variety of book options at different reading levels.  As they read students took notes on paper or on the iPad.

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Bats – Popplet

Finally it was time to create a presentation.  I provided students with basic guidelines.  They had to create a presentation with 3 images related to bats and at least 3 facts about bats from their in class learning.  Prior to this project we have used many apps in class that allow students to draw, type, search and import images in a safe environment, and record their voices.  As you can see from the samples, students chose a variety of methods to share their learning.

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Bats – PicCollage

AirPlay provided an easy way to share projects with each other.

Even more student samples!