Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Hour of Code Rocks!

This month, our school participated in the Hour of Code! This is an amazing program envisioned by Hadi Partovi to encourage more kids to try programming and learning computer science. This is our second year trying Hour of Code and it was bigger and better!
Every class had the opportunity to work on one of two courses created by Code.org for students in K-5 classes. These courses are far more than one hour and are more like 20 hours each. Our goal was for each student to learn some basics and to challenge them to go farther. Most did! In addition to the Code.org courses, students had the opportunity to work on Google's Made with Code, Scratch and many other programs.
After all this, I can truly say, WE♥CODE!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hour of Code is Coming!

So excited to be planning Year 2 of Hour of Code at San Elijo Elementary! Last year was awesome with all of our classes giving it a try. Over 1400 elementary kids getting a taste of computer science and what makes all these fun things we use work.

Since beginning with Hour of Code last year, my second grade classes have made big progress through the 20 hour course with a few of the kids completing the entire course. As a school, we hired a computer lab tech who is helping make sure all kids have the same opportunities in technology. We've also started 3 after school tech classes, of which over 50% of the kids are girls. The older students have become mentors, helping the younger ones and their teachers learn how to use google apps and coding programs.

This year will be bigger and better! Thanks to more resources from Code.org, our Kinder and First graders will begin the Code.org Course 1 and the Second through Fifth graders will start on Course 2. In addition, we will be linking the extra activities that the students can work on through Scratch, creating with Flappy Bird, and Frozen! And our Tech Team of mentor students are ready to help wherever needed!

(When I emailed a couple former students Thursday morning to tell them the announcement about programming with Frozen, one parent replied "She just screamed and ran upstairs to try it!")

We are set to launch at our Friday Flag Assembly on December 5th. I'm thinking of trying the "Move It, Move It" activity with the kids directing our Asst Principal through a course with a couple obstacles. Hopefully, this will make for some great photo opps!

We will also have the classes view one of the Code.org videos right afterwards back in their classrooms. The next idea is to create a physical badge or sticker the kids can receive from a staff member. If we embed the video in a google slide show with info about Hour of Code plans for our school, we could add a secret message. Kids who decode the message and tell a school adult will receive the special badge. I'm so excited to pull it all together and share the excitement!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What's with that clock change thing?

One of the best projects my classes have ever done has been participating in Mystery Class through Journey North. In this global game of hide and seek, the search is on to discover the location of 10 mystery class locations somewhere in the world. Hundreds of classrooms participate in this project ranging from second grade through 12th grade. 
We start prepping for this hunt the first week of school by noting the sunrise and sunset times in our city. How many hours of daylight do we have? Next week, will it be the same, or different? Why is it changing? Each week we look up this data, graph it, talk about it, wonder what it means. We discuss and think about time zones - why is it later when we call grandma on the East Coast? We trace our shadows at differnt times in the day, why are they longer shorter, going this way or that?
In January, we will start getting sunrise and sunset times for the 10 mystery locations. Based on what we've observed in our local area, we will make predictions about where these sites could be. Later we'll get some more data and geographical clues to research, narrow down, and hopefully confirm our guess. We will be right? Even I, the teacher, don't know. But finally the true locations will be revealed. Whether we are right or wrong doesn't matter as much as the quest and learning. But we are usually right ;)
Which brings me to my original question, what's with this time change thing? This week, while charting our daylight hours and the sunrise and sunset times, we noticed something strange. The pattern of change for the daylight stayed the same, we are losing about 13 or 14 minutes of daylight each week - this week about 10 hours and 46 minutes of daylight here. But the graph for the sunrise and sunset times took a big jump to the left. What happened there? Our entire class was able to connect that changing the clocks made our graph have a big change. It didn't change the amount of daylight, we didn't actually add or lose an hour, it just stepped to the left (or moved to the morning.) 
(I forgot to take a photo of our working graph. I'll do that tomorrow and add it here.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fun with Forms

If you haven't tried Google Forms you really should! There are so many fun and time saving uses for them. I've used them for student information gathering, polling, collecting student award names, quizzes, reading response logs and much more! Last week I had my second grade students use a google form to share great words that they came across in their reading. I had them predict what they thought the words meant and then look up the definition and add that. Here is the form I created to do this -

After they entered their vocabulary words, I copied the list of words from the spreadsheet that is automatically created for each form. I pasted the words into Wordle and made a word collage of their words. Here are their amazing words!

For more info about forms, check out the google tutorial.  http://www.google.com/forms/about/

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tips for Class Dojo

For those of you using Class Dojo, here are a few tips for organizing the behaviors.

First, the behaviors come up in alphabetical order. There are certain behaviors that I want to see first on my mobile app or on screen so I don't have to scroll through them all. To organize them the way you want to, start each behavior with a number. I just changed to a 2 digit numbering system to accommodate for some extra behaviors. If I numbered them 1, 2, 3 ...up to 10, 11, etc then the way computers number it would go 1, 11, 12, ... So I start with 01, 02, 03...

My kids earn extra points for behavior as a class or individuals in special classes like Music, Library, PE, etc. Those come up less frequently so I bunched them together in the 20s. I also weight those behaviors. If the class gets "5" top behavior from the PE teacher, then they get 5 points from me in Dojo.

Sub Days - if I have a sub prescheduled that I know, I might have them use Class Dojo with the class. I did have one sub a few years back give a kiddo 9 negative points in one day. Granted, he was having a bad day, but I wouldn't give a kiddo that many negative dojos and that was a big hole to climb out of for both of us (parent feedback, etc.) So now I have Substitute teachers use a clipboard and notes to let me know about behaviors and I do the Dojo points when I return. If the whole class had a good day +2. Awesome day or specifically noted as extra special could earn a +5.

My system is mainly based on positive feedback. I do have behaviors listed for negative Dojo points but use them very rarely. And none of my negative behaviors are weighted. If someone needs a reminder to get back on task, I would give a + point to someone near them who is on task to model what I'm looking for. Also, I am more likely to discuss a behavior privately before using the negative point. 

Thanks Class Dojo! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Slides in Second Grade

Google Drive in Second Grade
Today was our first day to try Google Slides in class. We have been working on landforms and the kids have worked on Google Drawing and Docs for a few weeks. This was done by a team of 3 second graders today. It's not complete but I'm so excited about what they will be able to do this year! :)

Here's to the risk takers! This next presentation was made by another student who figured out (and taught the class) how to crop images into shapes! Hello! I did not know how to do this! I didn't know I wanted to do this. But now I really want to!

GAfE Summit San Diego

Anyone who knows me knows that I love all things Google. And what could be better than Three days of Google!
Friday 10/3: Google Education Trainer (GET) Workshop with Sergio Villegas. Great review and additional info about all of the Google Drive pieces. Tip 1: create custom search engines for each unit so kids are not distracted by off topics results. I created a search engine just for animal research  with National Geographic, National Geographic Kids, and San Diego Zoo. When I tested it by searching the word "frogs" I came up with over 1100 entries! So even limiting students to specific resources will still give them a lot to choose from. Fun Challenge: Sergio gave us a couple photos during the day and we needed to use our google skills to find the address of the location or what kind of animal was pictured. After we found it we discussed the search terms we used to find it.
Saturday 10/4 and Sunday10/5: Long days at Coronado High School with 400 other teachers all learning and sharing how to integrate technology. 100s, if not 1000s, of tweets and status updates were posted over the weekend. Take Aways: 1. connect through Twitter more often than at conferences. Teachers are awesome at sharing. 2. Google Hang Outs are cool and will have a ton of uses from Mystery Career Calls to Virtual Field Trips. 3. Close reading will be fun with the Text Talk Study Skills Add On. Students highlight vocabulary and key ideas and then can 'collect the highlights' into a separate document. 4. Google Forms have undergone a huge update and we now have tons of design choices and can upload our own images. You can also embed video into a form. I'll be posting ways I will use these tips over the next few weeks. I love EdTech!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Images in the Public Domain

Finding appropriate images in the public domain for lessons and presentations can be difficult. Google images are not the place to go. Pixabay was created to have a place to go to find high quality clip art and illustrations that are free to use. Registration is free and "You can use any Pixabay image without attribution in digital and printed form, even for commercial applications." You will see a few Shutterstock images at the top of the results page, those are not free but are advertising to keep the site free. Everything below those images (the ones without the Shutterstock watermark) are free to use.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New Blog Design!

This summer I visited a lot of teaching blogs and loved reading and learning. But they also looked so cute! I started checking the bottom of every blog design I liked and made note of the blog designer. I kept coming back to Design by Christi. So I went to her page and started the process to have her redesign my site. Last week it was my turn. After giving her my color and theme ideas, she sent me some samples. We went back and forth a few times but I just knew that we were on the right track. I love everything about my new blog design! I love the colors and style and I love the nature and earth clip art! I hope someday to be able to do some of these design techniques and coding myself but for now I'll leave it to the pros. Thanks so much Christi! I'm inspired to add more to my blog, if for no other reason than to come visit it ;)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Class Dojo Continued :)

Here's a little more about Class Dojo. In Dojo, you can set up your class with all of your students and it will assign a random monster avatar. You or students can change the avatar. You can change them under "Edit Class" and students can change them when they create their own account. To create a student account, go to "Reports", click "Student Accounts", print and send home the Student Codes. While there, you can click on "Parent Accounts", print and send home Parent Codes. Parent accounts let parents check the status of their student and you can message them individually or as a group.
One thing I decided to try this upcoming year, is to set up Team Points. I added my five table groups and gave them unique avatars. Changing avatars is done under "Edit Class". You can choose a new monster or upload your own images to use. See below.

Then you can also create your own behaviors based on your class. I've added behaviors that work for us and added character traits. Part of our day will be recognizing peers for showing positive character traits. Those nominations and my own observations will be noted here with the character traits also.  You can organize the behaviors in the order that makes it easy for you by numbering them.

Using Class Dojo, it is easy to watch for trends in behaviors. Are there certain times during the day or subjects that are difficult for a student? Am I making sure I'm noticing positive behaviors from every student? Is there anyone who is quietly slipping through the cracks? I'll make a special attempt to spend more time making a connection and noticing positive behaviors.
At the end of each week, we'll note the total points to pay out in the class money and reset the points for the following week. The reset just clears the points from the screen but the student's history of points will still be there.
Class Dojo can be accessed by all devices. I use my laptop when I want to display it on the projector. I have student leaders note good listening behavior on the ipad while I do a read aloud, students also use the ipad to give themselves points for good work. I can also use my phone to give points while leading reading group, or at library, or wherever. This is an amazing, powerful, free app! Give it a try!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Class Dojo Announcement - Going School Wide!

Many of my teacher friends know how much I love Class Dojo! I was even lucky enough to meet Sam, one of the creators of Class Dojo, at ISTE San Diego in 2012. I'm such a fan I asked if I could take a pic with him.

We had a great chat that day and he asked a lot of questions about how Class Dojo could make things better in the classroom. I think that's one of the things that makes this program so good, they go out and find teachers and listen to what we're saying.

For those of you who haven't heard of it, "ClassDojo is a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators. Better learning behaviors, smoother lessons and hassle-free data - and its free!" Kids love the monster avatars, and love seeing their points grow. One of their favorite jobs is to be the Class Dojo checker during a read aloud. One person gets to hold the ipad and watch for great listening behavior while I read. They also love giving themselves points for good work.

Now on to the big announcement. Class Dojo just announced the ability to go School Wide! What does that mean? It means that now teachers who team can connect and share their students! You'll be able to use Class Dojo with other teachers who share your students at your school, share rosters, and track student progress across classes. If you Job Share, it will be easier than ever to share the class. When students go to a special class, that teacher can give points that you will be able to see. Team teaching, student teacher, teacher's aide, all areas where this might be a great tool to have!

There are two ways - Shared Classes and Shared Students. Read all about it here on the Class Dojo Blog and get the specific details and how to right here > How do Class Dojo school wide features work?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Classroom Clickers in a Low Tech Classroom

Have you ever seen examples of classrooms with clickers? Have you tried to figure out how you could get your hands on a set? Donations? Donors Choose? Second job? 
Now you don't have to as long as you have paper and one device - a smart phone or a tablet will do.
Plickers is an iOS or Android app that the teacher uses to scan student cards. Each student has a paper card with a unique visual code. The code has four sides labeled A, B, C, and D. The student turns the card and holds it up for the teacher to scan. The app scans the codes, records who the teacher assigned each card to, and captures the answer each student chose.

What an amazing app! You don't need to be a 1to1 class, you don't need a set of ipads or clickers, you don't need to share devices among kids, all you need is paper. The cards can be scanned from a distance so the teacher could stay in front of the class and just scan the group while they hold up the cards.

Image from https://www.plickers.com/support

Check it out. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/plickers/id701184049?mt=8

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What if Everybody Did That?

Last year I found this book, What If Everybody Did That? and used it as a read aloud for my class. It sparked some great conversations and fun scenarios. The story goes through a day in the life of a little boy who makes some minor poor choices. But then it is pointed out how bad this would be if everyone did that. From leaving trash on the ground to calling out in class so many small things become big deals quickly. This coming year, I'd love to have the class create their own book patterned in a similar way after doing the read aloud. I found this great lesson plan all set.

Here is a free resource for class book pages TPT Book Page
I hope you enjoy this book as much as we did.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Playing Around with Classroom Design

There are many versions of the "In Our Classroom" poster and I decided to play around with it with my Photoshop. I'm still not sure if I want to use the black and white or color version. Feel free to download and use it yourself. I searched to see where the original poster came from but haven't found the author. If you know the origin, please let me know so I can give credit. If you'd like to use this poster - it is formatted for 11x17. You should be able to print it out at your local office supply store. Here's a link to the images in jpg and pdf file forms Click Here


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Google Apps for Education

So SMUSD has switched over to GMail and all things Google. I'm loving it. I just completed the Google Educator course and passed Yippee! For those just wanting the basics, there is a great intro course and you can pick and choose what parts you want to know more about.
Google for Ed Training

Over the summer I will be posting some tutorials on how GAfE will help teachers be more efficient and how it will help help us manage our paper load. One of the best things I started this past year was use Google Docs for student writing and use the Add-On Doctopus to copy, share, and organize the files. Here's a great explanation by Jay Atwood on how it works.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Anybody Can Learn to Code

In December, our school participated in The Hour of Code, an opportunity for every student try computer programming. This was an amazing experience with even our youngest students giving it a try. 
Since then, my students have continued to learn by going through the K-8 Intro to Computer Science course at http://learn.code.org/.
This is a great opportunity for every student. The tutorials are all there to walk the students through all of the steps.
One of my students completed the course in a couple weeks, another is close to completion and the rest are working on it at their own pace. The two who are farthest along are mentoring a 1st grader who is interested in learning also.