Monday, February 17, 2014

Fun Foldable

I'm always up for a fun foldable and I got one from a friend of mine. She got it from a museum course she took with her daughter and snagged a couple of templates for me (Yay! Thanks Nichelle :)

It seems a bit complicated with all the mountain and valley folds but I have used it with several fourth grade classrooms and they got the hang of it pretty easily.

It can be used with any topic. I choose magnets because the finished foldable reminded me of a bar magnet.

To get a  free copy of the foldable template check out my GOOGLE SITES HERE.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Blabberize Explorer Tech Project

I recently worked with two teachers helping to put together a research project using as the presentation method (the subject was explorers - grade level 4th).

Blabberize is a free website that allows you to manipulate the mouths of pictures to make them "talk" with your recorded voice. Click on the picture to see how the site works and a sample of an "explorer interview" or CLICK HERE)

The first group of children used two pictures - one of them and one of their explorer and recorded their voices. They turned out fine although we had a lot of problems with the microphones.

Based on my experience with the first group I introduced a change to the project for the second group. Students had to conduct an "interview" with an explorer. The program can handle a total of 10 scenes so that meant that five questions could be asked. The teacher and I had to explain and model good interviewing skills. The kids did extremely well and if it wasn't for identifying names I would link copies of the finished interviews :(

Students used an interview sheet (see my google sites HERE for a free copy of it) and used it as a guide when conducting their research. The recording was a bit of a nightmare until we switched to audacity (a free microsoft recording software we have on our computer). Students pre-recorded their ten scenes (saving each one as #1, #2, #3, etc.) and then uploaded it when they got into the Blabberize program. It wasn't that hard and once I showed the students they were recording and saving like pros. I contacted the Blabberize folks and they suggested looking at the flash player we were using or the settings related to the flash player. I never did that since the audacity thing worked very well...but I was happy with how fast they got back to me!

I showed this project to some fifth grade teachers and thought it would work within their standards interviewing key folks during WWI or WWII. If I get samples from them I will post.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February Tech Newsletter

Two posts this week! My February tech newsletter is up on my google site - HERE. Lots of good ideas for how to present research topics. Enjoy!

Reading Tables/Graphs Practice Idea

Every Monday and Friday I would pull up the weather channel's 10 day forecast for our city. I would have dry erase markers and boards at the table and would ask a series of questions based on the data.

- What day will have the highest temperature?
- What day will have the lowest temperature? Or what day are you going to have to dress the warmest?
- What is the difference between those temperatures? (math!)
- What day(s) has the greatest chance of rain? Or what day are we most likely to have indoor recess?
- What day(s) has the lowest chance of rain?
- What day is going to be the windiest?
- What day is going to have the greatest drop between their day and evening temperature?

I always look at the weather so I figure why not make it a classroom thing! Luckily we studied weather in the fourth grade so it was easy to incorporate it in my lessons but even if I taught a "non-weather grade" I would still do it.

It was amazing to see how difficult it was for the kids to find the information at first and when I asked them to calculate the difference between the highest and lowest number I could hear the class grind to a halt. I'm happy to report that with practice the students got use to the drill and became very proficient at finding the information quickly.

Here were some of the side results of doing this activity:
1. Students started looking for how the weather was going to effect their weekend plans or week day sports practice schedules.
2. They started discussions as to what sites provided better weather forecast (particularly if their parents used different sites).
3. On rain days they wanted to see the radar map.
4. If children were traveling out of town they would ask to pull up those locations for packing purposes (mostly done on Friday).

I loved it because it gave students real life practice reading tables and graphs and then applying that information to their lives outside the classroom.

If you didn't want to do it whole group you could always make a sheet that you printed as morning work on Monday and Friday and leave the forecast on the board and then reviewed the answers.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tech Project - Spinning Acrostic

I was looking up different techniques for digital storytelling using PowerPoint when I came across this cool video onYouTube.  I liked the spinning effect and thought it could be used for an animated acrostic.

I talked a teacher friend of mine into doing it with her class (4th grade) during their colonial unit and they turned out pretty good (the ones that finished). The hardest part was getting the kids to pre-make the acrostic! If you click on the video above you will watch a 6 minute tutorial on how to make the effect happen (or you can click on THIS LINK to go directly to my YouTube video).

I tried something new with this class. Normally we go through all the steps together but I wanted to see if students could follow a detailed tutorial so I could just be there for support. I made a 9 minute video and told them that if they followed all the steps they could do this project. I had maybe a total of five students in the class who finished with little or no help from me. All the rest could not, or did not, want to follow the video tutorial. In hindsight I should have done the first part (saving and typing) whole group and then as students finished they would watch a shorter video on how to add the animations. I think 9 minutes was too long for many of the students and they didn't get the concept to pause the video after each section.

I did a similar tutorial with another class and changed it to a 2 minute video and the kids did much better with that (different project but the concept was the same).

Anyway….if you are looking for a slightly different take on a PowerPoint you might want to try this technique. It can be done in any subject area. This one modeled use in a Social Studies class but I've also done it with a science class using the word "Light."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Secret Door Foldable


Another one of my goals this year is to complete 52 pins on Pinterest. So I went through my pins to see if I could isolate the ones I wanted to try and a video I had pinned last year about a secret door foldable jumped out at me. The video can be found HERE.

I decided to try it out using 8 1/2 x 11 card stock (the teacher used larger construction paper) and I tried it using half of the card stock (kids love things in miniature!). Both turned out cute and were very easy to do...although I might pre-cut the strips for students.

I choose the topic "The Moon" for both. I have a friend who is going into Astronomy in the next quarter and thought I could talk her into trying it with her students if she saw the samples. I was also thinking that a child could do a large one for a larger topic, i.e. The Solar System, and a smaller one for a part of the larger topic, i.e. Earth (I also thought the larger one could be a habitat and the smaller one an animal in that habitat).

Because the foldable flips open to a secret picture it really can't be glued into the notebook. You can easily slide them into a plastic bag that then gets taped into the book (I have done that several times).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Classroom Management - Bathroom Breaks

I was in a fifth grade classroom just before the holidays and saw a boy put a hand sanitize bottle on his desk with a timer taped to it. I asked him to explain and he said that if they want to go to the bathroom they pick one of the two bottles on the shelf (see second picture), set the timer for three minutes, and go to the bathroom. They have to make it back before the three minutes is up, use the hand sanitizer, turn off the alarm and put it back on the shelf.  

The teacher said that the three minute alarm is her indication that someone might be playing or taking too long in the bathroom. 

Clearly all the kids knew the bathroom procedure. There are two bottles for the boys and two for the girls. Apparently the boys lost one of the bottles before the break and they can only go out one at a time.

I thought this was a clever way to manage bathroom procedures so I thought I would share.