Category Archives: Books

AnswerGarden, Third Grade and Same, Same but Different

I’m not sure how I came across AnswerGarden (https://answergarden.ch) but I’m glad I did.  I have used it with two grades so far and hope to use it again.  On their website they describe it as tool for real time feedback.  I thought of it as a short cut to creating a Wordle.  I love to create Wordles (or Tagxedos) with students responses but I don’t like typing in all their words!unnamed (1)

Same, Same but Different

I read Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw’s book, Same, Same but Different to third graders.  This books works so beautifully in our IB/PYP school.  It can be tied in with our Learner Profile and Attitudes or our focus on being internationally minded.

After reading the book, I asked the students to reflect on the book; what were words, details or big ideas they got from the book?  With AnswerGarden you can have the responses limited to 20 or 40 characters and this time I chose 20.  I suggested they could use words or phrases.  Sentences get a little tricky if you only have 20 characters.

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AnswerGarden

With AnswerGarden, which is free and very easy to use, the students can type in their feedback and can see in real-time other student’s words.  They like seeing their responses as well as their classmates.

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This is what the finished AnswerGarden looked like.

Export to Wordle and Tagxedo

The AnswerGarden can easily be exported to both Wordle and Tagxedo, which gives you more options to be creative visually.

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The AnswerGarden can be exported to Tagxedo.

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The AnswerGarden can also be exported to Wordle.

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Third Grade Opinion Writing and Padlet

I wanted to give the third grade students another opportunity to practice typing on their tablets and wanted to have another go at using Padlet.  I choose to read Hannah and Phillip Hoose’s book, Hey, Little Ant (illustrated by Debbie Tilley) and we focused on the International Baccalaureate concept, perspective.  The last sentence of the book is, “What do you think the kid should do?”

Padlet

I created a Padlet using the “shelf” template so that I could create two columns, one headed “Squish the ant” and the other “Ant goes free.”  I instructed the students to choose one opinion and write a response citing two reasons to support your opinion.

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Technology Set-Up

The first time I introduced Padlet to this grade level a couple of weeks ago, I had them bring their Dell tablets with their keyboards and mouse.  They have to have an external keyboard as our tablet case cover “bounces” as they use the on-screen keyboard and that keeps opening up response windows.  That didn’t go so well; tablets weren’t charged, keyboards were forgotten, they couldn’t type the shortened URL in correctly, etc.  So this time I logged into 6 of our library desktops in advance and had the website pulled up.  This went much more smoothly.  It wasn’t a whole group activity, but I just kept rotating the students through.

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This second time around they were more focused on their writing and less on trying to read other students’ responses.  I think this is partially because they weren’t seeing so many boxes popping up in real time, which really distracted them.

I also encouraged the students to type with two hands (even if they are only using their index finger).  This speeds up their typing and this is important on the state test where they have to do several extended responses.  Unfortunately, we don’t have structured keyboarding instruction.

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I do have one iPad which also worked. 

Padlet

One student who was responding later in the visit noticed that more of his classmates had decided that the ant should go free.  Interesting that he noticed and heartening to see that more of them are respectful of the ant!

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First Grade Reflects Using Flipgrid

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First grade classes are learning about plants and animals.  I read Steve Jenkins’ book, What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You?  which is about how prey animals try to avoid getting eaten.  I had the students respond to the last sentence in the book, “What would you do if an animal wanted to eat you?” and they recorded their response by taping a video on Flipgrid.

When I use Flipgrid with older students (second grade and older) I have the students write their reflection before having them record their video.  However, with first grade students I felt it would be more of a barrier if they had to write sentences before hand.  At the least it would have made this activity take two library visits to complete and I didn’t think it would be worth dragging it out.

The students sure did enjoy seeing themselves!  Check out one of the classes responses.

https://flipgrid.com/ef4ede

1st grade

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International Day of Peace and The Chickens Build a Wall

I recognized International Day of Peace with most of the grades this year and for the fourth grade classes I read Jean-Francois Dumont’s book, The Chickens Build a Wall.  After reading the book, I posed several questions about the book and asked them to respond to one of them.

Padlet: Student Writing

I introduced Padlet to these students.  The questions were posted in columns and the students used their tablets (we are a 1:1 school) to access Padlet and write a reflection.  Time did not allow for the students to respond to their classmates ideas, but I hope the teachers will take this digital tool and use it in the classroom where they have more time.  They did enjoy reading what other students wrote.

Chickens Build

Making a Connection with the Real World

One of our students made a connection with the central idea of the book to something they heard was happening in the United States today.  Check out Kate’s response:

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International Day of Peace and The Enemy

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We recognized the United Nation’s International Day of Peace during the week of September 18-22.  I wanted the students to be aware of and reflect on the concepts surrounding IDP, but I also wanted to introduce/use a digital tool to 5th grade students.

I read the book, The Enemy: A Book About Peace by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch.   I think  some the students were a little surprised by the simplicity of the illustrations and text.  But, for the most part they really got into the story and had definite opinions about it.

Padlet as Response Method

We are a 1:1 school so I had the students bring their tablets with their keyboard and mouse so that the students could share their ideas on Padlet.   (I attempted to use Padlet once in the past without a keyboard and mouse and it was a disaster.  The tablet case’s covering bounced as the student typed and Padlet kept opening up multiple windows!).

I handed out the questions after I read the book and we went over them as a group and they chose one question to respond to. Screen capture of Padlet

My time with each class is limited so the students did not have the opportunity to respond to each other, although they did enjoy reading their classmate’s writings.  I will use Padlet again with this grade and as they have been exposed to it, time will likely permit a more interactive experience.

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3rd Grade, St. Patrick’s Day and Flipgrid

I wanted the 3rd grade students to have another opportunity to write while in the library, as this will be their first time taking the Georgia Milestones (our state standardized test), which has a portion for open-ended response.  Last week they used Padlet to respond, but I checked with one of the teachers and gave her a choice of Padlet or Flipgrid for this week.  She opted for Flipgrid, as bringing the tablets with keyboards and mouses can be time consuming. Most of our 3rd grade students have had at least 2 experiences using Flipgrid since I have used it with 1st and 2nd grades in the past.

First we read Tomie de Paola’s Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale.

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Then I asked them what they would wish for if they caught a leprechaun.  After writing their responses on index cards, they recorded them on Flipgrid.

These students have become very independent users of Flipgrid.  I set my laptop up on a chair and showed them how to place their index card up against the screen.  I had one or two students in a line observing the student who was recording and off they went!

Student recording on Flipgrid.

These 3rd grade students are pretty independent now when using Flipgrid.

Amongst the usual wishes (lots of money, a pot of gold, magical cars, etc.) there were a couple that tugged at my heart.  Hannah wished for world peace and Kyrique who wanted money to pay homeless people.  Check out the 3rd grade responses.  What would you wish for?

Mrs. Orme’s class (Hannah is a student in this class) flipgrid.com/36ca5f

Ms. Cook’s class (Kyrique is in this class) flipgrid.com/f7d65f

Mrs. Cambron’s class  flipgrid.com/7732bf

 

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Read Across America Day 2017

I have organized, planned and executed 12 Read Across America Days at my school.  It’s always the most exhausting but rewarding day (and only 5 more to do before I retire-but who’s counting?).  Lots of walking (to and fro from the office, to classrooms to take photos); excited members of the community coming to read; random parents and volunteer readers showing up unannounced,etc.

Additional Student Involvement: Including Student Readers

This year we involved our students more in RAAD.  I asked some of the 4th grade students who had recently read to fellow students and staff for World Read Aloud Day if they would be interested in reading to Kindergarten and 1st grade classes.  I tried to match up a couple with younger siblings’ classrooms.  I gave them some choices on book titles and we went over how to read aloud to a group.

I will definitely keep this student involvement for next year’s RAAD, but I will spend more time training them and have them practice with me.  They enjoyed reading to the classes and I think it helped build their self-confidence.

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Fourth grade student reading to a kindergarten class.

Further Student Involvement: Official Escorts

At the suggestion of our International Baccalaureate: PYP Coordinator, we added student escorts.  These members of our school’s United Nations Club took the readers to their classroom, guided them to a second classroom if necessary, and escorted them to the front office to sign out of the building.  The students basked in this responsibility and it gave the readers (mostly community members) a chance to further interact with our students. I will definitely continue this next year as well.

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3rd Grade United Nations Club member escort and RAAD reader.

Read Across the World Day: A New Experience

One of our kindergarten teachers came to me a week or so ago with an idea proposed by a parent of one of her students.  The father of the student is in the Army currently stationed in Kuwait.  The mom thought maybe we could Skype and have the dad read a book to the class.  After discussions back and forth, the mom came up with the idea of dad recording himself reading.  She uploaded the video to YouTube and sent me the link so that I could project it on the big screen in the library.  She arranged to come to school and the class came to the library for a “special reader” who was going to share a story.

I had the teacher sitting in a chair with the book as dad (and 3 fellow Army members) read the book from his phone. It took the student a couple of seconds to realize what was going on and then he said, “That’s my dad!”. The teacher turned the pages while the soldiers read the book and the students were very engaged.  As the class was leaving the boy asked his mom if he could call his dad!

The soldiers did a very energetic reading and singing!

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Our long distance reader, a kindergarten student’s father reading from Kuwait via YouTube!

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The kindergarten class after they finished watching the video from the soldiers in Kuwait, with mom and teacher.

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We had 4 news reporters from our local Fox television stations read to the students.  One class of 5th graders asked the young reporter for her autograph!

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