Monthly Archives: February 2016

Third Grade Students Polish their Dictionary Skills

After checking with the 3rd grade chairperson, she suggested practice using a dictionary.  So I created an activity to reinforce all the skills needed to successfully use a paper dictionary. Our third grade students practiced using a traditional dictionary by looking up interesting new words.  I chose words that were a little beyond the usual spoken vocabulary for this age group (falter, impartial, loot, quest, throng, etc.), but weren’t too difficult or abstract.   To help them review the function of a dictionary, I asked them why they thought someone invented dictionaries. They came up with definition, pronunciation, spelling, etc.   I went over the different parts of the graphic organizer, making clear what I was asking them to do. We briefly reviewed what “guide words” were, too.

Graphic Organizer

I designed a very simple graphic organizer for each student to use.  This time I had the students work by themselves, no sharing of dictionaries! I asked them to include the page number where they found their assigned word and they had to record the guide words that were on the page where they found their word.  They also indicated what part of speech their word was, by circling the appropriate word.

I asked them to write down one definition (only one, even if there was more than one).

Third grade students polishing their dictionary skills using dictionary and graphic organizer

Third grade students polishing their dictionary skills.


Students practice using dictionaries, utilizing alphabetizing skills, plus writing practice.

Students practice using dictionaries, utilizing alphabetizing skills, plus getting writing practice.

Writing Practice

After finding the definition of the word, they wrote a sentence that demonstrated they grasped the meaning of the word.  I included the writing component as our students need lots of practice with writing.   Some of the students surprised me by coming up with some very creative sentences.  I had to have some students edit their sentences, as they either didn’t use the word in the correct way, ie. they used it as a noun and it was an adjective or the sentence just didn’t make sense (that’s why they need lots of practice).

Alphabetical Order

As I could see that some students were still struggling with alphabetical order (I had to sing the ABC song a lot to assist them), with the second class I added another step.  When they successfully completed their graphic organizer, I had the students place their paper on the table and we put them in alphabetical order as they brought them up to me.  More singing of the ABC song!

 Cursive Curve Ball!

I know that our students also need more experience and practice with cursive writing. When I wrote in the assigned word on the graphic organizer for each student, first I printed it, but I then also wrote it in cursive!  Some were able to recognize that it was the same word while others were confused and thought it was a second word!

Bookmark Reward

I don’t know I haven’t done this before, but after successfully completing the activity they each received a bookmark.  They were excited about that!





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Filed under Information Literacy Instruction, Uncategorized

The Twenties, Jazz Age, Harlem Renaissance and Chatterpix

Our fifth grade students are required to be knowledgeable of 5 figures from the 1920’s United States history: Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford.

Georgia Performance Standards: SS5H4b. Describe the cultural developments and individual contributions in the 1920s of the Jazz Age (Louis Armstrong), the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes), baseball (Babe Ruth), the automobile (Henry Ford), and the airplane (Charles Lindbergh).

Collaborating with the teachers, we decided that the students would use Chatterpix to record a first person narrative in the persona of one of the historical figures.

Graphic Organizer and Livebinders

I designed a graphic organizer for the students to use to collect their notes and write their script.  I created Livebinders for each historical figure to ensure that the students used quality, reliable websites.  Here is a link to one of the Livebinders:

Livebinder for resources on Charles Lindbergh

Livebinder for resources on Charles Lindbergh

Chatterpix Recordings

I looked over the students’ scripts trying to ensure they were written in first person, contained sufficient details to explain why these people are notable and how they changed the United States in the 1920s, and didn’t contain a sentence about when that person died (looking at the recordings, I see that one of these statements did slip by). We had two iPads in use at one time and students didn’t need much help using Chatterpix as last year as 4th graders they did a Chatterpix.  At this point one class has finished their recordings, a second one has done a few, and we haven’t started recording the third class yet!

Uploading to YouTube

I uploaded the finished Chatterpix to my YouTube channel so that I can share the links easily to each of the teachers and the students.  Our students all have a Dell tablet assigned to them, so they will be able to view their Chatterpix and their classmates easily on YouTube.  I sure wish there was an android version of Chatterpix and then it would be so much easier!  When all 5th students are finished, I will share the link on our school’s new Facebook page.

My YouTube channel link:

Technology Challenges

Last year, after students finished their American Revolutionary War historical figures’ Chatterpix, I just exported them easily by choosing the email option.  This year, using the same iPad, that didn’t work and neither did using the export to YouTube option.  So, I exported them to “Photos” and then used the USB cord to directly connect the iPad to my laptop and copied them.  Then uploaded them to my YouTube channel!  Oh, and then today I couldn’t get the iPad to connect to our school’s wifi.  Boy, some days technology is so much fun!!!

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Filed under Social media, Students using technology, Uncategorized

Facebook…other duties as assigned!

Our school now has a Facebook page!  Despite the title of this post with the facetious “other duties as assigned” (the often included catch-all in a list of duties in a job description), my communications committee and I initiated the drive to get a Facebook page for our school and we are really excited.

The Road to Facebook: Be Careful What You Ask For!

The communications committee is an all encompassing group which serves as our library media center committee, but we also are in charge of the school newsletter, news item submissions to the district, etc.  At our fall meeting we bemoaned the fact that our school’s website had been eliminated when the district’s website moved to a new server.  The district has contracted with a company which will provide hosting services and a template for each individual school’s website, but we had no clear date for that to happen.

We wished we could have a school Facebook page as we saw that as an effective way to communicate with parents.  Not all of our families have internet at home, but nearly all have cell phones.  Parents are more likely to already be on Facebook than to think, “I wonder what’s new at school; let me go check the website” (no wait, there is no school website at this time!?!).  So, deciding to go about things through the proper channels, I contacted our public information officer (who is newish on the job and more up-to-date on social media than his predecessor) to see what the district’s policy on Facebook was.

Lo and behold that topic was to be discussed at the upcoming school board meeting.  Long story short, the board approved a social media policy. And even more helpfully, each school’s FB administrator’s would have their IP address unblocked so that we can work on the school FB account at school.

ISECS Facebook page

My school’s Facebook page

Library Media Specialist: a Great Fit as the Facebook Administrator

Library media specialists generally don’t need another thing added to their plate, but being the Facebook administrator for your school is really an important and great opportunity.  Who else has the overview of what’s happening at your school?  Who else is technologically savvy enough to do a good job?  Who else is up on social media?

I’ve always been the unofficial/official photographer of the school anyway, so this is an additional way to use the photos I’m taking.  Facebook is another means to spread the word about what’s occuring at our school not only to parents but to the wider community.  We are not a zoned school, so we rely on parents choosing to enroll their children at our school.  Facebook will be another recruitment tool for us.

So, despite the many, many things I am required to do each day, posting on Facebook will be a task that I can accomplish fairly quickly. Sometimes I need to be able to do one thing, one positive, fun, quick thing and think, “Check.  Got that done.” So tomorrow (and for several more days), as I try and run down missing assets from our recent asset inventory (entailing endless emails, phone calls, and room checks), it will be a pleasure to document our students being  engaged with technology on their new tablets or some other educational activity!



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Filed under Social media