Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Power of the Camera by Heather Canty

The Power of the Camera 

There is so much power with the camera in the iPad.  In my classroom, the iPad is a learning and assessment tool.  And one of the most powerful ways to use the iPad has nothing to do with an app.  Here are some ways I use the iPad camera.

Anchor charts

In reading and writing workshop, I create anchor charts, which are just visual reminders of what I have taught them.  The anchor chart grows as our learning grows, and when it's done it is graduated from the easel to the bulletin board so that students can reference it while they are working independently.  Before all students had their own ipad, if they needed some information from the chart they would have to get up and go to it, which wasn't always helpful because their work was still at their desk.  Now, with students each having their own ipad, I have students take pictures of the anchor charts when we graduate them to the bulletin board.  They have folders organized by subject where they keep the pictures of the anchor charts, and then whenever they need to reference them they can pull them right up and have it with them while they are working.  It has really increased how often the kids call upon their prior learning.  


Having a classroom of 22 kids makes it difficult to get around to help, or listen in to, all students in any given subject area or block of time.  Using the video camera on the ipad, I can instantly listen in on what ALL students are doing, and then make a plan for future teaching or feedback.  For example, the kids have been working on doing a better job of their partner conversations during reading.  During their daily partner share time at the end of reader's workshop, I often get to listen in to about 2 partnerships.  I wanted to get a feel for how the partner talk was going overall, so I asked students to video their partner conversation one day, and then submit to me through google classroom.  I was then able to watch all 11 partner conversations in action, and I now know exactly what I need to teach them to take them to the next level.  This is just one of several videos they have submitted that have allowed me access to all students in a short period of time.


At the end of every math unit, students take an assessment.  Inevitably, every time I give a math assessment there are students who turn them in having skipped some questions, or having misread the directions.  And, I often have students raising their hands during the test to ask questions that are actually already answered in the test itself.  Now that all students have ipads, I import a copy of the test, and create a short video in which I read the questions and directions to the kids, show them where to do their work, and give them reminders.  They can then play the video while they are taking the test, and start and stop it at their own pace.  I no longer get tests turned in unfinished, have students not following directions, and I almost never see a single hand raised during the test.  Having access to this gives students the power to really show their math skills without anything else getting in the way!  

The Art of Informational Writing by Julie Fiumara

In our Writer's Workshop Unit, The Art of Informational Writing, students are publishing their final piece using Book Creator on their iPads. Throughout the Unit of Study, students created informational topic that includes introductions, 4-5 chapters, a conclusion, and several text features. 

Students will create a digital book on Book Creator that includes their published, typed piece, tables, diagrams, pictures of their own drawings, photos about their topics, table of contents, glossaries, and more.

Students will edit their piece by organizing the pages, creating and editing their text features (which requires multiple applications), and editing the design features to make it appealing to their reading audience. 
This Video does not have recorded voice yet.

The final product with be shared digitally with each student's family and could include the students' voice reading their book aloud. In addition, we will share the final product on Google Classroom and each student can read their classmate's books.

Reading Pulses

Fluency is a reading skill that requires practice and careful monitoring.  Students in Mrs. Brown's classroom are simultaneously doing a fluency pulse.  They record themselves reading  at their independent reading level, critique themselves, re-record to fix errors if needed and then send the recording off to Mrs. Brown for feedback. Students appreciate the opportunity to redo the reading pulse and enjoy getting timely feedback.  In order for students to move up to the next reading level they must be fluent in the current reading level. It's quick, efficient, and authentic progress monitoring.

Digital Resources and 1-to-1 by Cathy Potter

Our library has both a physical presence and an online presence. Third grade students with 1:1 iPads have access to all of the FES Library’s digital resources all day, anywhere they are in the building. Students use their devices in the classroom and in the library for research and literacy work. Having the 1:1 iPads in third grade has been powerful because students always have access to digital library resources such as online databases, ebooks and online encyclopedias. For example, we subscribe to PebbleGo which provides readers with digital articles on a variety of science and history topics. We also have a school subscription to True-Flix where students may access nonfiction e-books, and our library catalog offers readers many fiction and nonfiction e-books that students may check-out on their iPads. It’s like having the library at their fingertips. Students can visit the library website to access material for research without searching Google, which we know isn’t the most effective way for an elementary student to research a topic.

The library also subscribes to Tales2Go which provides unlimited streaming of thousands of children's audiobooks to our students. Students have access to these audiobooks on their iPads for reading class. It allows students that might not be reading at their grade level to access material and listen to stories that their classmates are reading so they can take part in class discussions and book groups.  If you look at the Common Core Standards, we're asking learners to read and write but we also want them to be able to speak and listen effectively. Listening is a crucial skill that students needs to develop, and listening to audiobooks is a way to improve those listening and comprehension skills. Students also listen to audio books for pleasure which has been motivating for our readers and has encouraged a love of reading.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Read Aloud with Accountable Talk and Reading Workshop by Suzy Palmer

Read Aloud with Accountable Talk

Using the one to one iPads, I am able to pose a question to the entire class based on the book I am using for read aloud. The children respond to the question and as they are responding, I can see all responses on my laptop as they are composing. As the children go to independent reading, I can conference with the students immediately addressing their personal needs. Also, they have the opportunity to revise their work with my support. It is immediate, efficient and personal. Most importantly, the children thoroughly enjoy this process which allows them to monitor their growth in reading comprehension.

Example of Jot Board from Student iPad

Reading Workshop

In the reading workshop classroom, the children are taught to ask questions, respond to a question using evidence from the text, or come up with an observation. The process (called jotting), before the one to one iPads, involved the students writing on a post-it. These post-its were then stuck to a board for me to collect and bring home to look at. Inevitably, post-its were lost, names were not written down, etc., so I created a template in which each child can “jot” their individual responses using their iPad. This  jot board is basically a template created by me with four squares where the student records the title of the book, the date, and a response.  The question can actually be pre written into the jot boards, as well. By using my laptop, I can view all responses, make a comment or a suggestion. I am also able to quickly see who was absent, which student needs my help in which area, and which students need to be challenged even more.  Both the students and I have the history of this process so progress can be monitored. Children have enjoyed working in the squares because they can easily see what it is that they need to work on based on feedback in the other squares. I am able to establish strategy groups for the children based on what their needs are and this can be done the next day while the lesson is fresh in their minds. Again, this process is personal, efficient and immediate.

Friday, December 18, 2015

eBooks in Reading Class

3rd grade students in Mrs. Clark's class are taking part in a "Navigating Nonfiction" reading unit. Students were assigned to interest groups and read both print and digital nonfiction books. Mrs. Potter went into the classroom and showed the students how to access eBooks on the iPads. Students read eBooks from the Epic books app and on the TrueFlix site. One of the many benefits of reading eBooks is that multiple students can read the same book at the same time. Because the iPads are a tool always available to students, the eBooks are always accessible. With eBooks students who have difficulty accessing complex texts often use the read-to-me feature. Another advantage of eBooks is the variability in reading levels across the same topic. Built in glossaries provide definitions within the text.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mathematical Thinking and iPads

The students in Ms. Canty's class are using the app Explain Everything to record their thinking as they solve a word problem in math. They then upload the video to Google Classroom so Ms. Canty can use the information to assess each students knowledge of the concept. With paper and pencil a student could get a problem wrong and even though they showed their work it would be difficult to understand exactly where their thinking went awry. By seeing and hearing the student as they solve the problem the teacher can "see" what the student was thinking and correct any misconceptions.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Writing: It's All About Revising!

Students in Mrs. Palmer and Coppinger's classes have been using Google Classroom to make the revision process easier. The students are writing personal narratives directly on the iPads. Mrs. Palmer can then look at their writing, 24/7, and make comments about how they can revise their work. Students can then immediately use these suggestions to make their revisions. The video below explains how this works.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Research in Science

Students in Mrs. Booth and Ms. Coppinger's classes participated in a project based learning challenge to create a public service announcement to raise awareness of an endangered species. 
To accomplish the task, each group was assigned an endangered species to research. Students in each group were assigned a role - biologist, conservationist, environmentalist and design team leader. The students used their iPads to complete the research, answering such questions as How have humans changed the endangered species' environment? Each student had 2 to 3 questions to answer to contribute to the public service announcement. The design team leader was in charge of gathering appropriate pictures to include in a Keynote presentation.