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Friday, February 28, 2014

To listen or not to listen....that is the question!

I have always been one to listen to background noise when I was growing up studying, although I know it is not for everyone. For some, the background noise is a distraction. For me the distraction was the dead silence...chirp chirp.

I need something. If what I am working on is super important then I will listen to music without words. I gave the students the same choice a few weeks ago, and I have found it to be extremely beneficial. I use the iTunes Radio, I do not let them use the featured stations, but added our own. The students requested some stations, and I gave them a listen (if I didn't know them) and added them. They listen for a month at a time, and at the beginning of the month I will delete the radio stations and take new requests. I will leave the ones that they love (like the Frozen Radio Station)...the top station in my room!

We are coming up to the beginning of the month and I have a long list of "must leave on the list" radio stations! They don't know it yet, but I will be adding an irish station in honor of St. Patrick's Day! We just shared our idea with the second graders, and we hope they get as much enjoyment out of it as we do during our work time.

For those friends who can't work with the music, then they just put on their headphones, and listen to the sweet sweet silence. It has made everyone happy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hanging out for "A New York" minute

Today I had the unique experience to be a part of my first google hangout ever with a really cool guy named Adam Bellow. Adam is the creator and mastermind behind the amazing app Educlipper. It is one of my students favorite apps. They have really taken to the social media that has been created especially for them. They love the ability to clip all kinds of photos, videos, and weblinks to their clipboards.

Coach Catlett brought up the idea last week, and I was all in. Two main reasons here, hangout, I mean come on, who doesn't want to try is the telephone call of the future. Like on the Jetsons! And second, how often does a famous inventor (because let's face it...that is what Adam is) get to talk face to face to our students. And as it turns out, not just my students, but six classes! We invited students from Two Springs and Bellevue Elementary schools to join us in this hangout. It was so well planned and thought out. The kids had questions prepared. We had chosen the students to step up and talk to Adam, and he was so interested and gracious.

He answered all of our questions and even took some time to show us some new up and coming updates to the app! Kind of a sneak peek! And the children were giddy with the knowledge that they had seen and heard some things that no one else knows! Until Coach and I tweeted about it!

The whole experience was so worthwhile, and although it was amazing to see the connection kids can make with the technology to connect so far across the country, it was even more amazing to see the inspiration and motivation to dive back in and work more with Educlipper, because now they can say they met the creator!

I cannot thank Adam Bellow enough for his graciousness in taking time out of his schedule to connect, and share with my students and me! It was an amazing experience. I did have a few questions that I didn't get to ask (maybe because of starstruck syndrome!) But one thing he had said was that he used to teach. I was curious as to the grade level, and if he missed it, and if he ever gets the chance to go back in and be a part of a classroom in his travels? Well, guess there will have to be a next time, so I can ask these questions. If you haven't tried a google hangout, give it a go! you can meet some interesting people and the experience is unforgettable!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Just another blog

Well, it's been a while since I posted and our classroom has been actively enjoying many apps on our iPads. We are mastering Haiku Deck, Tellagami, Popplet, Explain Everything, and Screen Chomp. We have found ways to app smash several of these together in iMovie. The students have been working hard on their own projects and have also been able to take time to help mentor others who were struggling with certain aspects. During our "show and share" day, there was some amazing teaching going on by a few students who really had gone in depth to a couple of apps and it was amazing to hear the questions asked, and answers explained! I cannot fathom how much my classroom has changed in just a couple of weeks.

The students have used these apps to  made some sensational presentations for vocabulary, but even better were the ones summarizing separate parts of the American Revolutionary War.

There were a couple that had the W.O.W. Factor (Worthy Of the Web), and I hope to have them posted to our class website and the kids' blog site too. WOW Factor is one of our new catch phrases that was shared with us by Coach Catlett, and it is fun to hear the kids saying it to each other..."that was really good but do you think it has the WOW Factor?"

I also spent some extra hours at school and got our app boards done. The students (and I) really like some routine to start our day. So we have a few set things that we all do everyday and then there are a couple things that are self directed. So each morning the kids like to have the list of what to start with (even though it is almost the same each time). Most mornings I find myself giving the same directions several times, so I came up with an "iPad To Do List". On the other side of the board I have the "all done?" list of apps the kids can use. This is very few and far between, although I have found them using these during indoor recess!  I posted the pictures below. I have all the app icons saved and would be happy to share. Although I have to give the credit to Sara Heine, as she started this whole idea with her cute bulletin board apps that she originally shared with me!


In other news, my blog board is almost done! I found a map that was headed for the trash and I recycled parts that were usable. Bought some new pins and next week we will begin tracking where our comments originate from. We will be putting several pins in different states in the US, but our most exciting comment has come from a small school in Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaysia! That is our first international comment. We will also be sharing our blog pages with our People to People International Project Partner, Moses Monari, a year 4 and 5 teacher at the School of Hope in Sondu Kenya. When they comment that will be our third continent, which will be amazing. We are also commenting on some blogs from  New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, so we are hoping they comment back to us so we can expand our comments that we are receiving.

Well, that's all from Boycetown for tonight! Heading to bed. Enjoy the winter break!