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Monday, February 24, 2014

Digital Workflow: How are we using iPads to increase rigor and deepen learning?

Knowing that no one app does it all, one of my goals this school year was to create a system of digital workflow that allows for layering of apps in order to squeeze out the most learning and productivity from our 1:1 digital classroom. It is fairly simple to use the iPad and its apps to substitute or supplement learning activities in order to enhance the learning experience. It is more challenging to use the iPad and its apps to modify or redefine tasks essentially transforming learning and bumping into the higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Creating, analyzing and applying knowledge has a significant impact on student outcomes.

Although we've been layering apps, or 'app smashing' for some time, my first attempts at thoughtful 'digital workflow' began last week.  I broke the work down into 3 categories:

  • Information Gathering
  • Information Processing
  • Information Sharing

I intentionally chose apps that would enhance the learning I had in mind for my students. An example of this digital workflow looks something like this:


I noticed that many of my scholars were not reading and writing Word Wall words correctly or with fluency. So, after assessing the class, I assigned a digital project to be completed during Reading/Writing Workshop. Scholars were asked to use the app Magletters to make their six most difficult words, taking a screenshot of each. The screenshots were then uploaded to the app PicCollage and practiced with partners and individually. The PicCollage was then uploaded into the app IPEVO where scholars read and spelled the words aloud. These screencasts were then shared with partners. It is easy to see how this goes beyond traditional writing words multiple times to learn them. Scholars created screencasts to practice words and teach words to their classmates.

This week scholars will be using digital workflow to create screencasts that demonstrate their learning about 3D shapes. The workflow will look like this:


They will use the camera to take photos of real solid shapes. They will then upload these photos into the app Haiku Deck to be labeled and saved as screenshots. Finally the screenshots will be uploaded into the 30 Hands app so that scholars can show what they know in a screencast...identifying each shape, drawing connections to shapes in the real world and verbalizing the attributes of solid shapes.

Ultimately, when I am confident that scholars are quite proficient with many quality apps and their functions, I would like to use the digital workflow system to allow choice in workflow projects because choice creates engagement and a sense of ownership.

Special thanks to Amy Phillips, GCISD Digital Coach, for helping me think through this transformation in my teaching:)





Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mystery Readers Via Skype

One of the ways our class is connecting to the world around us is through an event called 'Mystery Readers'. We are using Skype to invite family members (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents) who live far away to join us in our classroom and read a favorite book. The Mystery Reader is a secret until they appear on the screen. In addition to sharing a favorite book, they might tell about where they are Skyping from and a little about their town. We will be keeping track of all of our Mystery Readers using pins on Google Earth.
Our first Mystery Reader event was last Friday when Bradlee's aunt Kayla and Uncle Mitch skyped in from a small town outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Together they read the book Chuck's Band, by Peggy Anderson,  a local author from their town. The story was enjoyed by all and there were questions about other books about bands and other books by the same author. I have a feeling that during our next class trip to the library, there will be a run on Peggy Anderson books!
After the Skype session there was a lot of excitement in the room as scholars asked questions in anticipation of our next Mystery Reader next Friday.
Special thanks to Mitch and Kayla Puckett for jumping in and being our first Mystery Readers!



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Everything You EVER Wanted to Know About Groundhogs...

As our class began reading about Groundhog Day in preparation for our Groundhog Shadow Hider challenge, I noticed that scholars were very interested in groundhogs. They had a lot of questions and a few misconceptions. I thought that this natural interest in groundhogs presented a unique opportunity for some student selected research and expository writing. The kids were thrilled with the idea.
We began with a RAN (Reading and Analyzing Non-fiction) chart. This chart allowed us to record everything known and thought to be known about groundhogs prior to any research.


Ideas were recorded and placed in the appropriate columns.
Then, together we read books and watched videos about groundhogs to gather information.  We answered questions, cleared up misconceptions, recorded new informations and, like all researchers, were left with a few things to wonder about.

Expository writing, or informational writing, is part of our curriculum so it seem only natural that scholars write their own 'Expert Books'...after all, they ARE experts on groundhogs now.

Ideas from the chart were synthesized and organized using a Tree Map on iPads using an app called Popplet.
I introduced the idea that the study of animals and animal behavior is really all about survival and adaptations. Kindergarteners LOVE big sciency words and began to play around with using them. 'Survival' and 'adaptation' became the frame of reference for Tree Map.


Scholars used their Popplets to guide their book writing.



Before scholars began writing, I shared the expository writing rubric that outlined expectations for final products.  Making students aware of expectations up front serves to guide them successfully through their work.


Below are some excerpts for some of the Expert Books.

Groundhogs have fur to last the winter. Groundhogs have sharp claws to dig.

In the summer, groundhogs eat tree bark, sticks and plants to get fat for the winter to hibernate.
Groundhogs live underground. Groundhogs live in burrows. Groundhogs live in 5 chambers so the don't get eaten by predators.
Groundhog Life Cycle: Groundhogs have kits then they turn into middle aged groundhogs then they turn into grown-ups.
Groundhogs eat, eat, eat in spring and summer but they sleep, sleep sleep in the winter. Another way to say sleep is hibernate.They eat plants and they gnaw on sticks.

You can easily see from these writing samples that scholars were able to do more than just regurgitate simple facts. They were synthesizing information through the lens of survival and adaptations to make meaning of how groundhogs live.





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Robotic Phil Visits Cannon Kinders

Groundhog Day fell on a Sunday this year, but that didn't stop Cannon kinders from celebrating! We participated in a Groundhog Day reenactment. The weather outside was freezing so we put plan B into place and met in the gym. The guests of honor were the 'mayor' of Gobblers Knob and a robotic Phil, one of Cannon's new roamer robots, dressed for the part and programed to greet the kids as part of the celebration.

Special thanks to Mrs. Jackson for producing this video:)


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Punxsutawney Phil's Prediction...

Punxsutawney Phil made his annual Groundhog Day prediction this morning.
Follow this link to check out the celebration in Gobblers Knob, PA early this morning.

Groundhog Day 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Groundhog Day Engineering Challenge

Groundhog Day is coming up this weekend! Scholars have been researching groundhogs and have learned lots of information about where they live, what they eat, and their body parts. They've synthesized this information to learn about the adaptations groundhogs have for survival.

Our class is also very excited about our groundhog engineering challenge. After investigating shadows, they are ready to plan, design and test their 'Shadow Hiders'.