Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Website Wednesday

Search apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android using a variety of search methods. Select a specific category from general categories to specific topics. Use the filter to only see apps that are free, have no in-app purchases and are for a specific age grade. Great resource when looking for apps to use at school or home.
The quick and safe way to find and cite images for class! Searches through the Creative Commons photos on Flickr. *Please note that the students will not be able to see the images at school, but they could use this tool at home to find photos for their school projects. They still need to give credit.
Provides math games geared toward specific concepts at each grade level for K-6. You can access four games without registering. Teachers can join for free, which allows teachers and students to access all the games for free while at school. You must pay for students to use these games at home.
Great resource for information on President Lincoln. Provides activities, research topics, critical thinking questions, vocabulary, lesson plans and more.

Help students understand the human body - including the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory and nervous system - with these 14 StudyJams! activities.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blogging with Primary Students

This school year, a few of our elementary teachers ventured into the world of blogging with their
students.  They have been using their class blog to have students demonstrate how to do a math problem, explain what they know about a specific topic, and share their projects (artwork, tech projects, etc.).  These teachers have been using Kidblog as it was the only tool we had available at the time.  However, this fall, we purchased the app Easy Blogger Jr. (now referred to as Blogger Jr.) for the primary grades.  This tool allows students who can't type or are slow typists to post photos with an audio recording and videos.  So a Kindergarten student could collect a group of items starting with the letter for the week, take a photo, and record themselves saying the letter and identifying each item.  Blogger Jr. is a good tool for allowing young students to experience the world of blogging.

Blogger Jr. connects to Blogger for posting your student's photos, videos and typing (should your students be ready to venture into the world of typing).  As a result, you will need to do some prep work setting up a blog and activating a YouTube account for the student videos.  Fortunately, you can use your school email account to activate YouTube and set-up Blogger.  If you have never accessed the YouTube channel associated to your school email, they you will need to follow the instructions on this website - Creating a Google/Gmail and Activating YouTube.  If you are using a school email account, then begin with step #4.

Once you have your YouTube account activated, you are ready to set-up your class blog in Blogger.  The following video (click the link below the image) will walk you through setting up your class blog where students will post via Blogger Jr.  It will also show you how to add students to in the Blogger Jr. app.  Adding students into the Blogger Jr. app becomes the one time consuming task of the whole process.  You must set-up the app on each device so it connects to your class blog and you have added the student or students who will be using Blogger Jr. on that device.

Easy Blogger Jr
Prior to setting up the Blogger Jr. app, you might want to take a photo of the student(s) who will be added on the device.  For example, if Susan and Marcus are going to use iPod #1 for completing their blog posts, then I would use that iPod to take a photo of each student.  When I add them to Blogger Jr., I will put in their first name and photo.  This allows them to see their photo on the login screen of Blogger Jr.  This student photo is not posted out on the class blog, it is only for the use of the Blogger Jr. app on that one device.

Before students begin blogging, you will want to cover the basics of blogging and any rules that you would like them to follow.  This might include how to use the app, not blogging unless the teacher has asked you to, not using their name in a post, don't say anything hurtful or untrue, etc.  I'm not as artsy as my elementary teachers, but you might create your own poster with the class blogging rules as a reminder for your students.

So, you're all set-up with Blogger Jr., now how can you use this tool with students?  Here's a list of things students could blog about:

  • Photo of their artwork
  • Something new you learned today
  • Your class pet
  • Math problems using manipulatives
  • Counting Practice
  • Book Reviews
  • Reading practice
  • Making patterns
  • Tell what you know about a specific topic

Needing some additional assistance with Blogger Jr?  Here are some quick links to their support resources:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Website Wednesday

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year, New Challenges

The last three years, I've posted my three words for the year.  I use these words to help guide me through the year and while I have new words for the year, I also decided to try a yearly photo challenge.  I've noticed this photo challenge trend the past couple years and thought it was time to try something new.  I did a quick Google search for photo challenges and found one on Capture Your 365 (CY365).  They provide a monthly list with a word or phrase to focus your photo on that day or you can opt to complete a weekly challenge instead.  You can also choose to share your photos through one of the social media venues set-up by CY365.  Finally, you can sign up for a daily prompt reminder and tip for the day.

Now I don't claim to be a photographer, but I do like photography and admire those with an eye for capturing the world through photos.  My goals are to complete each daily challenge, stretch my creativity, and improve my photography skills.  Here is the list for January...

January 2015
I have not shared my photos yet through any of the social media options, but I have looked at several that have been shared each day via Twitter.  I've been using the web tool Tagboard to search for the hashtag and view the posted images.  With Tagboard, I don't have to create a Twitter account, but can still glean information related to a specific hashtag.  I did start posting my photos to my Flickr account, but had to do some learning about Flickr, specifically about the privacy and profile settings.  I have also struggled a little with Flickr because you must create a Yahoo account in order to use this web tool.  I've never been a fan of Yahoo and as I've been working on this blog post my animosity continues to grow.  I had thought about using Picasa, the Google tool for storing and sharing photos, but I know several other educators who use Flickr and decided to give it a try.  This challenge will not only stretch my photography skills, but also my technology skills.

I am still working on the sharing aspect of this challenge and hope to set that up this evening.  My intent is to share my photos via Twitter and Facebook.  Hopefully, this will help me stay accountable to the challenge.  (Since starting this blog post yesterday, I did get my first few days of the photo challenge shared out to Twitter and Facebook.)

As for my new words for the year, I have chosen First, One and Challenge.

First - This one is personal to me, but I read a devotional this past year that addressed all the

things we do when trouble arises or we need help.  For example, worrying internally, talking to friends and asking for advice, but prayer and talking to God seem to be the last options we consider.  So, the word first is a reminder to myself to pray and talk to God first in all things.

One -  I'm using this word to remind myself of several things.
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Move every hour - I need to work on this more at work, because I forget to move from my desk sometimes when I get focused on a project.
  • Read one chapter in a nonfiction book each day - While I enjoy reading, nonfiction is not my favorite.  I do read blog posts and articles daily, but reading an actual nonfiction book is a challenge for me.  I have purchased and been given several over the years and while they all sound intriguing, I just never make it all the way through the book.  I get the first couple chapters read and then put it aside.  This goal not only seems attainable to myself, but it should help me stay focused; where as reading one nonfiction book a month would be like high school, waiting until the last minute to read my book and stressing over.
  • One project at a time - If I'm excited about a project, I want to start it right away, but then I push another project to the side.  As a result, I can have multiple projects going at once and don't make the progress to completion like I desire.
Challenge - I actually just added this word as I started writing this blog post.  As I'm working
on the photo challenge this year, I feel this word is good for me as I progress through this new year.  I've noticed lately that I don't always push or challenge myself to try new things, take risks or venture in new areas of growth.  Hopefully, this word will help me break that mold and venture outside of my box.

What about you?  Do you set new year resolutions for yourself or words of the year?  Are you trying a new challenge this year?  I'd love to hear your goals and challenges for the new year.  Feel free to share them in the comments below.