Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip - Mind mapping with Kidspiration

I've mentioned Kidspiration on other occasions, but found it useful again this week and worth another mention. It's such an easy tool to use and students pick up on it quickly and use it effectively. I tried it with students in my Year 1/2 class and they really got into it and taught themselves how to find and add pictures, how to change line colours and much more.

Students were asked to create a mind map of the things that keep them healthy. I demonstrated the basics and created my own mind map (though incomplete) as seen below:

They began with the central idea - Keeping Healthy, and then branched out as their inspiration led them. One of my gripes with the program is that it doesn't pick up on spelling as students type or offer suggested spelling. These days that is one of the things you come to expect.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Learning about the Brain

Next term both my Year 1 students and my Year 2 students will be completing a health unit. The unit for the Year 1s focuses on what makes us healthy including diet, exercise, sleep, hygiene etc. They unit for the Year 2s focuses on the different body systems and how they work. I've spent some time these holidays seeking out some interactive resources that I can use with a particular focus on the brain and nervous system. I'd like to share some of these with you here:

E-learning for Kids - has a great activity about the brain and nerves. This would be useful to explore with students to gain a greater understanding of how the brain works. It is interactive and has kid-friendly pictures and animations.

The Secret Life of the Brain - is a PBS site providing a range of information about the brain. I particularly like the 3D anatomy of the brain which allows you to look at an illustration of the brain from different angles.

Your Brain and Nervous System and Your Gross and Cool Body: Nervous System- provide explanations of the brain. These will be useful during our literacy lessons when we teach students about the features of explanations and model how to write them.

Brain Drain - is a simple activity for getting an idea of the functions of different parts of the brain.

Brainy Games - is a variety of games to help you learn more about the brain and test your knowledge. I haven't tried them all, but found the ones I did most useful for revision.

Neuron Explosion - goes into greater detail than I plan to cover with my students, but may be a useful activity for students who want to take things further. This simple activity explains the parts of a neuron and has a true/false quiz.

I hope you find something useful for stretching the minds of your students too! Enjoy

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This guest post was written by education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes for PharmacyTechnicianCertification.com.

20 Free Summer School Resources for Students

Studies have shown that kids experience learning loss from grade to grade if they do not participate in educational activities on their summer break. Of course, convincing kids to study during the summer is no easy feat. Turning to the Internet may be one of the best ways to keep them engaged and interested in academic activities. When kids are online, they don't usually feel like they're studying--especially if they're having fun. Here are 20 sites your student can try throughout the summer.

Book Adventure - Designed for K-8 students, this free reading motivation program allows children to create their own book list, get reading recommendations, take quizzes about books they have read, and earn points and prizes for their efforts.

Big Universe - Big Universe is an award-winning site for both reluctant readers and creative kids. Registered members can read hundreds of books and take quizzes to test their comprehension. Big Universe also offers a unique tool that allows users to create, print, and publish animated e-books.

MeeGenius - MeeGenius is an online picture book library for kids. Library patrons can read books, personalize books with their own name, and share the books they read and personalize with other people.

Read Print - This online library provides more than 8,000 classic books, poems, and plays that can be read for free online. Children's favorites include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Women.

Librivox - Librivox is a good source for free audio books. The site's volunteers have recorded thousands of books that are in the public domain. MP3 and ogg files are available for many of the best-loved classes.

365 Pictures - 365 Pictures offers writing prompts to inspire creativity. A new photo prompt is published each day. Old prompts are also available in the site's archive.

Whyville - Whyville is a social learning community for kids. After becoming Whyville citizens, children can chat, play games, and learn about science, math, art, and more.

Seussville - Seussville provides a wide range of games based on Dr. Seuss' books. Site visitors can also listen to music and sign up to win free books.

Tutpup - This free, award-winning site provides a safe place for children to play educational games and challenge other students around the world. Game categories include spelling, times tables, basic math, and algebra.

Math Playground - Designed for elementary and middle school students, Math Playground offers math games, logic puzzles, word problems, math videos, and other resources to keep kids up-to-date on their math skills throughout the summer.

Arcademic Skill Builders - This site offers free single-player and multi-player arcade games that can be played online. All of the games are educational and designed to maintain and approve academic skills.

Canvastic.net - Canvastic.net if a web-based graphics tool for K-8 students. The free version has many useful features, but does include advertisements. An upgraded version without ads is available for a small fee.

Tux Paint - Tux Paint is an open source drawing program for children age 3 and up. The program provides easy-to-use drawing tools, sound effects, and a helpful cartoon mascot.

Crayola.com - Students can express their creativity and work on their art skills in Crayola's Creativity Center. The site offers a card maker, certificate maker, games, and more.

Stellarium - Stellarium is like a planetarium for your computer. The software is free to download and displays a realistic night sky on your desktop.

International Space Station - NASA offers a wide range of information about the International Space Station on their website. Students can view videos, photos, and details of current missions.

National Zoo Web Cams - Children can tour the Smithsonian Nation Zoological Park over the summer by tuning into the zoo's live web cams. Some of the animals that can be viewed include fish, otters, ferrets, cheetah, leopards, fishing cats, lions, tigers, pandas, gorillas, and flamingos.

FreeRice - This UN World Food Program site is good for older students who like trivia and community service. Every time a trivia question is answered correctly, rice is donated to the hungry. Trivia categories include art, chemistry, English, math, foreign languages, and geography.

Yugma - Yugma is a free web-based conferencing tool that would work well for students who need off-site tutoring over the summer. The tool allows users to share desktops and meet with up to 20 people at once.

BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper - BJ Pinchbeck's Homework Helper is an excellent place to find additional summer school resources. The site links to resources all over the web. Resource categories include art, music, computer science, English, math, science, health, foreign languages, and social studies.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Friday Fun - 30/4/10

Term 2 started this week and it was nice to get back into things with a short week. Here are some of the highlights.

Fun This Week

Anzac Day Assembly
On Tuesday afternoon the Year 5/6 students hosted a special assembly in recognition of Anzac Day. The proceedings were very respectful and students maintained a very solemn attitude throughout.

We taught students about antonyms (more commonly thought of as opposites) and encouraged students to think of words that pair up. We had a cardboard jigsaw for students to use to extend this learning, and also found a couple of online games to practice pairing antonyms. One is at Do2Learn and another more complex one can be found here.

What's in the Box?
This term Year 2 students will be exploring different materials and considering their properties and how they may be changed. We began by presenting them with eight different items in shoe boxes. They reached into the box and felt the object and then wrote down words to describe the properties they identified. We used the following worksheet to record the investigation. Items we used included: glass, wood, concrete, rubber, aluminium, plastic, plasticine, and styrofoam.

For 2P and 1/2Rs art lesson we played with tones, textures and fractions to create an abstract piece of artwork. Students were given three coloured squares - black, grey, and white. They cut one of these in half creating two triangles; one in half creating rectangles; and one in quarters (squares or triangles). They used scrunched newspaper to splotch a large sheet of purple paper with yellow paint (for the background). I also gave them some strips of crepe paper streamers to twist or fold into lines. Students then added all their bits to the purple paper - creating a picture or pattern if desired or placing in an abstract design.

The Blogger Behind This Blog #8

I feel I owe my readers an explanation for my slackness with blogging this year. It's not that I have come to devalue blogging, or that I've given up my interest in teaching and technology - these are all still a part of who I am. However, something else has come to the fore. It has jiggled up the way I see the world and the way I use my time.

I'm sharing my body with a baby. I'm going to get to be a mummy.

For me this is huge. This has been my biggest dream for the longest time. In my perspective, this is bigger than anything I've done so far - bigger than teaching, bigger than running, bigger than living in New York City.

I'd always hoped that one day I might get my chance, but never really believed it would happen. I was busy filling my life with these other things, hoping that they might satisfy me instead. And while these have become an important part of who I am, I am very excited by what lies ahead. I feel that it is at the core of who I am.

So, my life has taken a bit of a turn. I'm no longer trying to forward my career in order to make up for being childless. I'm no longer looking for a running challenge to push me to my limits. I'm no longer balancing on the cutting edge of technology, waiting to try the latest and greatest. Instead, I'm trying to look after my family: my husband, my baby and myself. I'm taking time to rest and relax. I'm taking time to talk to my husband and plan for the future. I'm taking time to eat right and take the dog for a walk.

I plan to keep blogging, at least for now, but over the next couple of months I will be moving Friday Fun across to the School Website on our My Classes page. This will make it only accessible to parents, but will make it easier for other teachers to contribute to and continue once I go on maternity leave.

I want to thank those of you who have supported me with my blogging journey so far, and apologise for my inconsistency of late.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday Fun - 2/4/10

The past couple of weeks have been exciting for a number of reasons. It was great to meet up with parents during the three-way interviews and to have the opportunity to discuss each child's learning and development. We have been doing lots of special things in the classroom and having fun with our learning.

Harmony Day Activities
For Harmony Day this year students wore orange and made a donation to the Red Cross efforts in Haiti. In the Year 1/2 and 2 classrooms we selected some activities for students to rotate through. One teacher taught students some origami, another taught students a game, another made a circle of decorated orange hands with them, and I played and discussed this video from explore.org. Our message was that everyone is different and we can appreciate and learn from the differences of others.

Earth Hour
We didn't do anything too spectacular for Earth Hour this year. We continued with our Friday Fun, but with all the power turned off. The room was darker, but not too dark. You would think that it would be quite easy to play with Lego without any power, however I did have students ask if we could put some music on, and I found myself itching to get on a computer and finish typing up students' stories! It's sad how reliant we become on electricity.

Cityscape Artwork

Year 2 students created cityscapes by cutting out paper buildings and then using black marker for adding detail. They added land and other features using oil pastels.

Excursion to the Botanic Gardens
The day of our excursion started out with a good bout of rain. It got so heavy at one point on the bus ride that we seriously considered turning around and returning to school. We decided, however, to continue as planned but to have something to eat in one of the classrooms before beginning our journey around the gardens. Finally the rain let up enough for us to move on. The Year 2s investigated the bridges throughout the gardens and completed booklets made by Miss Poore. The Year 1s explored the biodiversity of the gardens, pointing out interesting features of plants and insects. They also completed this booklet provided by the Botanic Gardens.

Bridge Building Day

Year 2 students brought in boxes and other items from home to use for building bridges. They were given some time to plan their design and then got busy with the building. It was great to see the designs they were coming up with and to see their responses to some prompts ie. "How do the cars get up onto the bridge?"

Year 1 Presentation

While the Year 2s built bridges, the Year 1s went through the photos that were taken during the excursion. They then created a PowerPoint presentation and speeches to share with the other Year 1 students to explain what they had seen and learnt at the Botanic Gardens. They enjoyed selecting the pictures to include and changing the background colours for each page.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Thoughts on "Thinkin' Things 1"

During my computer lab duty last week I did some playing with the software our school already has access and licences for. I came across Thinkin' Things Collection 1. While I'm not sure how much I would be willing to pay for this program, it was a great find for something we already had. There are six different activities for students to explore thinking skills and creativity with music, patterns and shapes. Levels can be modified according to desired challenge.

My students enjoyed exploring this software and experimenting. Partway through the session we paused with our playing to share the things we were discovering. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and loved the opportunity to get creative.

In particular, I enjoyed playing the chicken xylophone (which plays clucking sounds!) and also trying to play Oranga Banga's instruments after hearing him play them in the dark.

I'm looking forward to trying our Thinkin' Things Collection 3 during my lab duty this week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Friday Fun - 19/3/10

I feel as though I turned a corner with my class this week. It seems that we've got to that comfortable zone where we know enough about each other to be able to relax a little, even let down our guard and enjoy a bit of fun together.

Fun this Week

Tower Building

This week all the Year 2 students completed a technology project to design, make and appraise a tower using 10 sheets of newspaper and 50cm of tape. The tower needed to be free-standing and to hold a ping-pong ball at the top. Students considered different ways of manipulating the newspaper to increase strength, stability and appearance. When they were
finished, we conducted a "gallery tour" where students walked around and jotted down constructive feedback for one another on a sheet of paper next to each tower. In a couple of weeks we will be having a "Build-A-Bridge Day" where students will have a chance to use recycled materials to design, make and appraise a bridge.

Year 1 Assembly
This week my Year 1s spent quite a bit of time in with the other Year 1s preparing for the assembly they hosted on Friday. They sang two Peter Coombe songs and showed some of their mini-beast artworks. The Year 1s did a great job and it was nice to see them up there with all their other Year 1 friends.

Beatrix Potter Books
During our visit to the library on Tuesday, I read my class one of the little Beatrix Potter Books. It's been a while since I've picked up one of these classics and found I needed to spend quite a bit of time clarifying the meaning of words which are no longer commonly used. Quite a few of the girls enjoyed the story and decided to borrow some of the other Beatrix Potter books. The librarian said that they had been coming up on the 'at risk' list in a cull she is required to do to remove the books that haven't been borrowed for a number of years. Guess their safe now for a little longer!

Money, Money, Money
In Maths we focused on recognising coins and adding and subtracting with money. One of the groups worked on team problem solving using the canteen price list, another worked on finding how much change students would get from a dollar if they spent different amounts. My group worked on calculating totals using 10c and 5c coins and also finding different ways to make up 80c. This is one of those maths concepts that is an important life skill to develop and easy for parents to practise with their children at home.

Students in 2P and 1/2R surveyed one another about their favourite bridges and created a bar graph to show student preferences. Students found it lots of fun and a little challenging, particularly when it came to keeping track of who they had already asked.

In Cricket this week students learnt how to bowl with straight arms and practised bowling at wickets. It has been great to watch them developing these skills a little more each week, and we look forward to the mini-game they will get to play next week.

Story Writing
Last week my class read the big book The Greedy Goat by Faye Bolton. One of the things we discussed together was the role that mice often play in stories: while small, they often make the biggest difference. Examples include The Lion and The Mouse, Who Sank the Boat, and The Mitten. As I had a copy of Jan Brett's The Mitten on hand, we read it for a bit of fun. So this week, when selecting my big book, I found The Old Man's Mitten retold by Yevonne Pollock. After reading this with the class we used a Venn diagram to compare Pollock's version with Brett's. (You can find other follow-up activities here.) Students then created their own stories with a similar plot.

Paper Planes for Friday Fun
I've been trying to stick to some kind of sciency theme in my room during Friday Fun and, not being particularly sciency myself, it's not always easy. This week I decided to do some exploration of flight using paper aeroplanes! We watched some eHow videos to learn how to make a couple of different designs and then took them outside for some test flights. Students then made modifications to their planes and we tested them out again. I think we all had a lot of fun playing around with planes and experimenting with the best way to get them to go the distance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday Fun - 5/3/10

It's hard to believe that we've just made it past the halfway mark of first term. Where does the time go? We're now well into the swing of our routines and it was great to have so many parent helpers flowing into the classroom during the week. We really appreciate the help that parents can offer in the classroom and it goes a long way in helping students to consolidate their learning. It also frees teachers up to be able to target specific students and support them with their needs.

Fun this Week

Maths - Groups Of
In my Maths group, I worked with students on the concept of 'groups of''. We particularly looked at groups of 2 and 2 groups of _ because it connected with our work on doubles from last week. We also looked a little at groups of 5 and practiced counting different objects by multiples.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Students in 1/2R read a big book version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. In this version, each line is marked in one of four colours and students join in by reading their allocated colour. This was a great way to get everyone involved with the reading, and after a couple of times, all students knew the story well. On Friday students worked in small groups to retell the story through drama. They practiced a couple of times before performing it for the group.
We also used this text as a springboard for adding adjectives to our writing. Students began by choosing a creature eg. rabbit, and added adjectives to build the description.
For example: The fluffy rabbit.
The fluffy, white rabbit.
The fluffy, white, cute rabbit.

Famous Bridges
Each class selected a famous bridge to find out more about. We learnt some facts about these bridges and the elements that make the structure unique. Students from 2P and 1/2R used trundle wheels on the school oval to get a sense of the length of the bridges they were investigating. Next week students will be placed in groups with members from each of the four classes, to teach each other about the bridges they covered in class.

Literacy Rotations

While 2W and 2D have been doing Literacy Rotations for a couple of weeks now, 2P and 1/2R got started this week. We organised ability groups across the two classes (2P and 1/2R) and selected a variety of activities suited to students' needs. These include Spelling, Grammar, Handwriting, Reading, Listening Post and Computer activities. We made an activity work board so that
students can see which activities they are supposed to work on, and in which order. We also organised boxes for each group which contain their books and the worksheets that they will require. Our activity stations take place between recess and lunch on Wednesdays with an additional hour on Thursday mornings. They worked really smoothly this week, particularly due to the support of parent helpers.

We had the first session of our Cricket clinics this week, during which time students practiced throwing a tennis ball and catching it in cupped hands (or one cupped hand). They also developed skills in aiming, by trying to hit cones at various distances.

Walkathon Rev-up Assembly
After lots of singing practice and script run-throughs, we hosted this week's assembly. We performed "Octopus' Garden" and led the school in singing "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". There were lots of other announcements in the assembly, including a Year 5/6 skit to rev everyone up for the walkathon, and an amazing violin performance by a teacher who tutors violin for interested students. It was great to see so many family members who made it along to the assembly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Basic Word Processing

I don't like to spend too much time teaching the basics of word processing, but I know it's something that my students need to learn. Here's an activity to teach a few things in one hit and produce a book that students can take home to learn about their classmates. I did this with students in a Year 1/2 class. I demonstrated all steps (except the printing and saving process) before sending students to work. Skills covered are written in red.

Who Am I? Book

Preparation: Upload photographs of all students to a location they can easily access. Ensure all students have a folder to save their work in.

  • Step 1: Log onto a computer and double click on the Word icon.
  • Step 2: Choose a larger font size (we used 26 because we didn't have to scroll down to select it!)
  • Step 3: Students type 5 clues about themselves eg. I am a girl. I have long brown hair. I am in Year 1. I am good at tennis. I like riding my bike.
  • Step 4: Teacher circulates and demonstrates how to right-click on spelling errors underlined in red, and select the correct spelling. Teacher corrects misspelled words where the correct option is not given.
  • Step 5: Students select Word Art following the path Insert/Picture/WordArt. They select the style they would like to use and type into the box: Who am I? (After pressing OK, they can resize the text by dragging the edges/corners of the text)
  • Step 6: Students press the Return/Enter key to move to the second page and then follow the path Insert/Picture/From File to find and insert their photo.
  • Step 7: Below the picture, students type: I am (insert name)
  • Step 8: Teacher demonstrates how to print and save.
  • Step 9: After checking with the teacher, print the document.
  • Step 10: Save document into folder.
Completion: Collect up student work and bind pages or insert into a pocket display book. Students can then read this in class or take turns to take it home to read with family.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday Fun - 26/2/10

Where did this week go? We had a great week, despite the number of afternoon meetings we teachers had to attend. I must admit, it's nice to be a teacher again this year, and not one of the leaders needing to organise and run the meetings! I'm enjoying the time I get to spend with my students, the easier pace, and the better work/life balance.

Fun This Week

Build it Up
Students looked at a Flickr slideshow of images of bridges. They then filled out KWL charts to jot down the things they know about bridges (K), and the things that they want to know about bridges (W). We made a list of their suggestions and later in the week we used a 'hot-dotting' procedure to determine the most popular student interests. To 'hot-dot' students placed dots next to the suggestions they liked most. They had a purple dot to represent 3 points (for their first preference) and two green dots to represent 1 point (for their next two preferences).

Monet's Bridge
1/2R and 2P students created artworks inspired by the work of Monet. They drew a bridge landscape using watercolour pencils and we will be finishing them off and adding the water next week.

Insect Close-Ups
As part of their Biodiversity unit, the Year 1 students learnt about a variety of mini-beasts and created magnified drawings of them. They used oil pastels to colour these in.

Students had their first recorder lessons for 2010 this week. The Year 2 students took off from where they left at the end of last year, and my Year 1 students had an introductory lesson with me. They learnt how to hold a recorder, how to blow through it, and the fingering for notes B and A. The Year 1 students also joined the Year 1 unit for a singing lesson in the afternoon.

A Class of Spies
1/2R read the big book "The Spy Meeting" by Jill Eggleton this week. Students then drew pictures of themselves as spies wearing "hats for hiding in", "shoes for slinking in", big jackets, dark glasses and carrying spy paraphernalia. They then named their spy and wrote about their spy. We put these together to create another Overnight Take Home Book. I also found this unit plan for the big book - too late for me, but it may be handy if you are going to use it!

Little Visitors

The Year 1/2 class had some little visitors on Monday when one of the students brought in his baby mice to show us. Apple Strudel and Berry Strudel enjoyed their visit and everyone was keen to have a pat.

Doubles Facts
This week our Maths lessons focused on the link between addition and subtraction. My Maths group made ladybirds to learn the doubles facts and the subtraction facts to go with them. We used the ladybirds from Sparkle Box.

How Long is a Metre?
1/2R and 2P played with the concept of a metre. Students began by estimating a 1m line with wooden blocks and then checked it with a metre tape. I was impressed with how close the estimations were. They then measured items around the classroom and completed a table to show things that were less than a metre, about a metre and more than a metre.

Octopus' Garden
Next week the 1/2 and 2 classes will be hosting the assembly at school so we began preparing a song to perform. We will be singing "Octopus' Garden" with the guitar accompaniment of one of the teachers. (The Beatles version is pitched too low for our students.) I sense that we will be doing a lot more practice next week!

Swimming Carnival
We had our annual swimming carnival on Friday and the younger students enjoyed time with structured activities: tyre relay, noodle relay, kick board relay, cork scramble, ball games, hoop activities etc They also had some time for free play including the use of the slide. The older Year 2s had their first time at the big carnival and enjoyed cheering for their house and swimming in races.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday Fun - 19/2/10

Having had such a bitsy week with sickness the week before, it was great to get back into gear and have a proper week at work. Things are starting to come together better and we are working out how our routines are going to work and how to manage differentiation across classes. The Year 1s in my class got to spend some more time with the other Year 1 students, which they'd missed out on in the previous week. Next week we hope to get started with home readers, Spelling, and Maths groups, so it may be a little rocky to begin with, but it always is at the beginning.

Fun this week:

Footsteps Dance
Last year we had a trial lesson with Footsteps Dance Company to see whether we wanted to use them this year. We were very impressed, so had them back this week. Rachel worked with students across all grade levels and taught them a dance to perform for our Thursday evening performance. The Year 1/2 and 2 students learnt how to "Walk Like an Egyptian". It was a lot of fun and found it irresistible to join in with them during the practices!
SouthCare Helicopter Visit

On Friday morning the SouthCare Helicopter landed on the oval adjacent to the school. We took classes down to watch, and then students got to walk through and see the inside. Our local milk suppliers provided a free carton of milk to all the students. (It's always funny to hear how much the kids love the milk - it must taste different when it's given to them in a small carton!) These visits are always very exciting and get the kids nicely hyped up for the rest of the day!
Build it Up - Year 2
I took my Year 2s out to look at the construction that is taking place in our playground. To see what is happening and try to make sense of the bits we can see. We will visit again throughout the term to see how things are progressing.

The Earth - Year 1
The Year 1 students began their Integrated Inquiry. They learnt about the meaning of Biodiversity and watched segments from a video called "Earth" which looks at how animals interact with their environment and with each other. They learnt that living things require water and the sun.

I spent a lot of time during the week organising the new Mathletics passwords and logons for 2010. Students should now be able to access Mathletics again and teachers can use it (and Rainforest Maths) in their Maths lessons. I have been doing this in my Maths lessons, using examples from the board and students working in teams at their desks writing answers on small whiteboards. This builds the skills as well as developing teamwork.

I also invented a class game to practise representing 2-digit numbers using bundles of 10 paddle-pop sticks and loose sticks. I put an interactive hundreds chart on the board. Students took turns in their table groups to make a number, check it with their group and then tap it on the Interactive Whiteboard (thus changing its colour). The class continue to make the unmade numbers until all have been completed. Students found this particularly exciting and got plenty of practice at representing numbers with bundles and singles.

On Tuesday one of my students brought in the book "Flanimals" by Ricky Gervais. She was very excited for me to read it to the class, so we read some during our Library lesson. We had our computer lab lesson straight after library, so students used 2Publish+ to draw their own flanimal and write about it. We put these together in a display folio to send home for students to read with their parents. It was a great opportunity to springboard from one student's interests and allow everyone to experiment with their own creativity.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

10 Sites for Teachers to Add to Their Personal Learning Network

Developing a personal learning network that includes online communities and web 2.0 tools is a great way for teachers to develop and stay connected. There are many different sites that would be valuable to any educator's PLN. Here are 10 sites to explore today.

The Educator's PLN - This personal learning network for educators provides social network information, Twitter information, and listings of blogs, educational sites, tutorial sites, and online videos.

TheApple - Monster created this site to provide a place for teachers to meet and learn. Site offerings include weekly newsletters, a job search board, career articles, education news, a place to find and share lesson plans, videos, and forum.

LearnCentral - This Elluminate site is a social learning network for education. Teachers can use it to find resources, connect with other educators, host virtual meetings, and contribute to the academic community.

TeachStreet - TeachStreet bills itself as a site for people who like to learn, but it is much more than that. This online community makes it easy to find classes and learning materials and also allows teachers to locate and network with students online.

TeacherLingo - This online blog community for educators is a good place for teachers to share their blogs or find new blogs to follow. TeacherLingo also provides discussion forums and a place to share lesson plans and other classroom resources.

TeacherTube - TeacherTube is an online community for teachers who want to share instructional videos. Visitors can watch videos online, view documents, listen to audio, or contribute their own learning materials.

WTT - WTT (We the Teachers) has combined social networking with education resources to create a useful personal learning network for teachers. Site members can share ideas and lesson plans, learn from other teachers, and join groups of educators with shared interests.

Classroom 2.0 - Classroom 2.0 is a Ning network for teachers who want to explore the use of web 2.0 tools in the classroom. The site is a good place to engage in discussions, share resources, and learn about upcoming education events.

Partners In Learning Network - This global community of educators provides a place for teachers to learn, discuss education, find lesson plans, and access free classroom tools. The community includes more than 1.5 million educators in 59 countries.

Edutagger - Created specifically for K-12 educators, this social bookmarking site allows teachers to share links to educational articles and websites.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

13th Teaching K-6 Carnival

Welcome to the February 2010 edition of Teaching K-6 carnival. I apologise for my lateness in producing this month's edition. I have been fighting off a virus this week and have struggled to get much done. In the Southern Hemisphere school has now started for the 2010 school year. We have been busy establishing routines and meeting parents. In the Northern Hemisphere teachers fight on through the cold with the anticipation of the upcoming Spring.
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, why not check out these fun activities...
Char Polanosky presents Valentines Day Math Place Values Worksheet posted at Printables for Kids, saying, "This is a fun math activity for the kids to do while preparing for Valentine's Day."

Rachel Lynette presents Valentine's Day Logic Puzzle posted at Minds in Bloom, saying, "Just a little something for Valentine's Day"

Brain Strain

Jasmine Hall shares a fascinating list of 50 Brain Facts Every Educator Should Know posted at Associate Degree - Facts and Information. For example, did you know that the human brain is 75% water and weighs about 3 pounds?

Swagat lightens the mood with some amusing School humor..... posted at Its all in here. I'm a fan of the analogies!

Gripes and Brags

Find out more about copyright, fair use and pirating from Mathew Needleman in his presentation Steal This Preso (K12Online09) Now Live! posted at Creating Lifelong Learners.

Leah Aharoni shares a parent's perspective on The Danger of Parenting Books posted at Ingathered.

Innovate - Beyond the Slate

Christina presents How to make math fun – and understandable posted at Gadabout Media, saying, "The King of Everything isn't a sit down and just memorize it learner. So when his first grade teacher handed his class 60 pages of homework for winter break, we had to make it fun--and understandable. Now? Subtraction, addition, rounding up, rounding down, greater than less than? No problem. We've got pennies to show us the way!"

Quirky Momma presents Using M&Ms to Graph with your Preschooler posted at quirkymomma.com, saying, "M&Ms and math?!? I wish my algebra teacher thought of this!" She also shares Learning to Read Word Families: ??at? words saying, "We love this early reading curriculum. It is great to supplement schooling!"
Shannon Dodds shares how she brought snow inside for her children to play with in Snow Day! posted at Mommyapolis. Teachers in snowy areas might like to consider this an option for a scientific exploration of snow.
Claudine presents ESL Lesson Plan Ideas for Winter Break posted at Korea-Diva, saying, "Here are some easy activities for teachers who are short on time. I used these lessons during winter break in South Korea, but they can be used at any time!"
TIC presents Download Free SMART board Activities For All Grades posted at Technology In Class, saying, "Looking for prepared lessons for a SMART board? Look no further, here are many of them."

Kevin Heath presents Tips For Teaching Your Child To Read posted at Kevin Heath - More4kids Inc..

Look No Further

OnlineCollege presents 100 Best Education Blogs of 2009 posted at Associate's Degree.
Harold Gelien presents Top 50 Blogs for e-Learning Tools and Tips posted at Top Online University Reviews.
Angela Martin presents 100 Inspirational Blog Posts for Homeschoolers posted at Associate Degree - Facts and Information.
Herbert Anderson presents 25 Tips for Students & Teachers Using Google Wave posted at Top Online University Reviews.
Rose King presents The Ultimate Google Wave Guide for Students: 100 Tips, Tools, and Tricks posted at Online Degree Programs.org.
Redfire Atkinson presents 5 Free Online Web Apps to Show Off Your Artwork posted at Masters in Art Education.
Aaliyah Williams presents Top 6 iPhone Apps for Teachers posted at Masters in Special Education.
Kaitlyn Cole presents 100 Essential Blog Posts for the First-Year Teacher posted at Online Colleges.org.
Mary Jones presents 10 Great Articles to Teach Your Kids About Strangers posted at Online Degree.

mrrob presents 20 Awesome Web Tools For Teachers & Professors and Five Top Websites for ESL Students posted at Teaching degree online.

Why not submit your post for the next carnival?

The Teaching K-6 Carnival is posted monthly on the 7th. I will be collecting submissions throughout the next month, looking in particular for posts that discuss and exemplify innovative teaching and the integration of technology in the K-6 classroom. I also invite some discussion around education related news articles and a few "brain strains" to keep our minds alert and challenged. Please submit only articles of which you are the author and refrain from using this merely as a sales pitch. For full details, please read my call for submissions.
If you have a relevant post that you would like to submit to the next edition of Teaching K-6 Carnival use our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Support this Carnival
If you enjoyed this edition of the carnival, you can support its continuation by sharing it with others. Link to us, add us to a tweet, stumble or digg us. Thanks!
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Friday Fun - 5/2/10

Wow. What a great week!

This was the first week of the new school year. I met my new kiddies and got back into the swing of doing school. And it was FUN! Over the summer I zoned out completely and enjoyed the bludgy things of life - I even painted my nails! I'd forgotten how much I'm in my element when with my class, so it was unbelievably good to be back at it.

This year I am teaching a Year 1/2 composite class filled with awesome kids. I get to work with both the Year 1 teaching team and the Year 2 teaching team to make sure that my students have access to valuable learning experiences.

Fun this week:

Class Novel
This week the students in Years 1/2 and 2 began reading James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. We hope to read a few of his books throughout the year and we're enjoying this one so far.

Self Portraits
Year 1/2 and 2 students sketched self portraits and then added colour with oil pastels. They used an edicol dye wash for the background. The finished product was fantastic and it was great to see character shining through the style each student used.

Fundamental Motor Skills
We set up four stations to further develop skills in locomotion and throwing, catching, and striking a ball. The Year 1/2 and 2 classes moved through these activities, having an absolute ball and developing coordination at the same time.

Class Names
The Year 1/2 and 2 classes have selected class names relating to life in the ocean. We have the Super Sharks, the Fantastic Fish, the Stunning Seahorses and the Terrific Turtles (that's my class). We did some research on our animals and then did a relevant art activity. My class made origami turtles using the following video from eHow:

How to Make an Origami Turtle -- powered by eHow.com

Friday Fun
We set up a variety of activities in the Year 1/2 and 2 classrooms and students chose which activities they wanted to try. One classroom was set up with construction equipment including Mobilo, Lego and Gears. Another was set up for creative play with puppets, dress-ups, and a variety of arty crafty activities. And mine was set up with a collection of different types of rocks, magnifying glasses, books about rocks and minerals and mini "science notebooks". We hope to offer a similar variety each week to allow students to explore, learn and play.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tech Tips Tuesday

This Week's Tip: Livemocha

Julie Lindsay shared this link in her Across My Desk (Weekly), so I thought I'd check it out for myself...and now I'm hooked! Livemocha is a social network for learning languages. It makes so much sense that I wonder why it has taken us (well, me) so long to get to this point.

I've found myself being drawn to language learning at various points throughout my life so far. At high school I learnt bits of German and then a few years of Japanese. In Year 12 I learnt some Russian in preparation for some voluntary work in a Russian Summer Camp. While teaching at a school with Spanish as a LOTE (Language Other Than English) I did a basic course in Beginning Spanish. A couple of years ago, I did further study of Spanish at my local Technical College. And, yet again, I'm drawn to learning for two main reasons:

1. I'd like to be able to travel to Japan and REALLY experience it.
2. Should I ever have a child, I'd like to be able to bring them up bilingual.

So how does Livemocha work?
After registering for an account (I chose the free version and so far it is meeting my needs) I selected the course/s I wanted to work on and began my first lesson. The lesson content is the same for each language, just with different vocabulary (obviously!) The first part of each lesson involves seeing images, listening to the spoken language and seeing the written text (translation is available). At the end of this part you can choose to make a flashcard set from the vocabulary. The second part is a review quiz covering the content just seen. The third part is a written task to apply the vocabulary learnt. This is then submitted to the network (and this is the best part) for a native speaker to review for you! The fourth part is a spoken task, recorded with your computer's microphone, again submitted for review. Whenever you submit a task, you are invited to review someone else's task. You get Mocha points for completing lessons and also for reviewing the work of others.

Why I love it
The way I see it, this is collaboration at its best. We are all teaching AND learning at the same time. I need others to support me with Japanese and Spanish, others need me to support them with English. I understand the struggles of others as I struggle too. Helping others is easy, but the help of others is invaluable. It makes so much sense!

The not so good bits
Sometimes the vocabulary is inconsistent across the different parts of the lessons. For example, in my first Japanese lesson, there were new characters in the speaking part that weren't introduced in the vocabulary lesson.
Involvement can become time-consuming. I find that a lesson takes about half an hour from start to finish, and then on top of that I end up doing quite a bit of reviewing others' work. This hasn't been a problem while I'm on holidays, but once work starts back, I'm not sure how it will go.
Some of the written tasks involve divulging information about upcoming holidays, directions to your house etc. I am not comfortable providing this online to strangers, so change the task in order to protect myself. I'm also cautious of how this may be used by people to make connections beyond the language learning arena as I've already had a message from someone (not a regular user of Livemocha) suggesting we meet up.

How could you use this?
If you would like to learn a language this is a great way to do it, particularly if you have some prior knowledge of the language. I wouldn't suggest using this with students given my objections regarding personal safety/privacy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

12th Teaching K-6 Carnival

Welcome to the January 2010 edition of the Teaching K-6 Carnival. This edition marks the start of the second year of this carnival. As we head into 2010 we look forward to another year of learning filled with inspiration, collaboration, and challenges.

Brain Strain

Allison Johanson presents a great read for those teachers on vacation who are looking for ways to keep their minds active. You may also find some useful ideas for the classroom in her 55 Tips to Instantly Make Your Brain Stronger and Faster posted at Masters in Health Informatics.

Nightwalker explains Content-Based Instruction – A Cognitive Approach in his post at My English Pages. This is a good introduction as a starting point to learning and applying content-based instruction.

Gripes and Brags

Mimi shares her passion for children's books and tells us about a close encounter with the author type in Warning: People In Mirror May Not Be As Fabulous As They Appear posted at It's Not All Flowers and Sausages. If you haven't discovered her blog yet, don't hold off any longer - it's a winner.

In the News

Keira presents Why Should Kids Read Newspapers? posted at Literature Young Adult Fiction, saying, "Reading the newspaper is a great way to encourage reading habits and teach skills."

Innovate - Beyond the Slate

Rachel Lynette of Minds in Bloom gives us a great list of ideas to help us Get out of that Rut! These suggestions help to shake things up in the classroom to prevent boredom setting in.

Tom DeRosa presents Use a Deck of Cards to Set Your Child Up For Future Math Success posted at I Want to Teach Forever. These simple suggestions help students to develop skills with sorting and counting and pave the way for more difficult concepts.

MG presents ideas on Teaching our kids to save. posted at Personalize Baby. Why not use this suggestion to inspire an art project to make personalised piggy banks that students can fill at home?

At A Reader's Community, M Dahms presents an answer to the question What is Reader's Workshop? Here you can find all you need to get started and keep going with Reader's Workshops.

Elementaryhistoryteacher presents Bespoken Blacksmiths posted at History Is Elementary. This post helps us to think more about the importance of teaching subject specific vocabulary, and also helps us to understand the context of blacksmithing.

Vera Lang presents How to Knit Christmas Tree Ornaments posted at Fine Craft Guild .com. While a little late for this year, these may come in handy for 2010. "These little Christmas tree ornaments are so easy that kids could make them as presents for their family home. Great seasonal projects. Free patterns, illustrations and craft tips provides."

Why not submit your post for the next carnival?

The Teaching K-6 Carnival is posted monthly on the 7th. I will be collecting submissions throughout the next month, looking in particular for posts that discuss and exemplify innovative teaching and the integration of technology in the K-6 classroom. I also invite some discussion around education related news articles and a few "brain strains" to keep our minds alert and challenged. Please submit only articles of which you are the author and refrain from using this merely as a sales pitch. For full details, please read my call for submissions.

If you have a relevant post that you would like to submit to the next edition of Teaching K-6 Carnival use our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Support this Carnival

If you enjoyed this edition of the carnival, you can support its continuation by sharing it with others. Link to us, add us to a tweet, stumble or digg us. Thanks!

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