Friday, January 30, 2015

The Robots are Here!

We are so excited to have the opportunity to try out some new robots with our Tech Team and my second grade class! Thanks to generous donations, our Donors Choose project was funded in less than 3 days and 2 weeks later the robots are here!

30 minutes before school started on Friday
We gathered the Tech Team before school to open the boxes and see what we have. Immediately, one of the kids found the app to program them, downloaded and started figuring it out! 

Later that day, my second graders tried out both of the Dash robots and put them through a few paces. We still don't know what Dot does, but we'll work on that when Tech Team meets officially.

Here's Dot

These are the same kind of robots that visited the White House during the Hour of Code week. We can't wait to get started programming them!

Dash and Dot at the White House

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Google Form Fun

What's there not to love about Google Forms? There are countless ways to use them. This week we are being Word Detectives. Students are finding new or interesting words and predicting the meaning before looking up the word in an online dictionary.
Here's an image of the form they are using for their words

You can check out a copy of the live form here. Word Detective Google Form  (Cleaned up my drive and this form is gone - out of date).

From the linked spreadsheet, I grabbed the list of words the kids have submitted so far and created a Wordle out of the list. 

Another variation is to intro a topic with images and video clips. As they viewed the images and clips, I had the kids submit words that they thought of into a form. Again I pulled their responses into a word art with Wordle. Looking at the word art helped us think about what we know and come up with questions that we would like to research.

Here are some of the questions that they have come up with so far:

  • Are these lava rocks?
  • why do they erupt. why do they make land?
  • Was that the island that was created in the Pacific ocean? How many rocks were there?
  • how does it explode?
  • how does it blow up bursting in the air when it erupts?
  • how do the people who take pictures not die?
Please comment with a way you have used Google Forms with your class.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We Rocked Hour of Code!

Last month, our elementary school participated in the Hour of Code, a global event to introduce computer science to students around the world.

Every student, Kindergarten through fifth grade, was able to try coding through in the computer lab guided by Mrs. Rockett, our awesome computer lab teacher. All of the students can and are continuing to learn computer science through activities on the school website.

The coding activities include continuing the computer science course through, creating games and apps through Scratch, programming a virtual robot through Lightbot, and many more.

On Friday, January 16th, at our Friday Flag Salute assembly, we were able to share how we did with coding through the Hour of Code. Our students wrote 190,043 lines of code! And the ones that did the most were the first graders, with one class rocking it, having written 8811 lines of code! (This counts only the activities as those are the ones I could find and add up. We also did Made with Code by Google, and some Scratch and other activities.)

Revealing the total for the lines of code. This is just before the 1 joined us to reveal 190,043 lines of code!

We are excited to continue learning about coding and computer science. We have added an after school class and are finding ways to add it into our school day. Coding helps us develop excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Using Class Dojo to Encourage Students to Go Beyond!

I've been a fan of Class Dojo since almost the very beginning. I think the program was released in August, 2011 and my friend and teaching buddy, Marla, got me started in November of that year. Since then, my students have enjoyed seeing their little monsters every day. Some years we have changed them to our own characters like princesses, pirates, and jungle animals. Other years we just see which are assigned randomly.

We've grown along with Dojo, by adding behaviors that are important to us and bringing this little window into our day to the parents through the parent sign up. Our class focuses mostly on the positives - I think this year we've issued one negative. It's nice to work on what we are doing right and try to make that happen more often.

One new behavior we've added this year is Challenge Accepted. When we have something beyond our daily lesson that would be interesting to research, learn, or do - then students can earn Challenge Accepted Class Dojo points. We have several levels of points based on what we think the challenge may be worth.

Over winter break, I asked students to write about their break activities to add to My Maps (something new I learned over break from Molly Schroeder). Their writing needed to be in complete sentences, checking punctuation and capitalization. As an optional task to keep them writing on their break, they earned +3 Challenge Accepted points.

Whenever we come across an interesting question, like "What does am or pm stand for?" Students who take the opportunity to look it up and report back earn a Challenge Accepted point.

A student decided to practice addition and subtraction 2 and 3 digit problems over break without being asked. She was so excited to show me. She didn't even think to ask about Challenge Accepted points but definitely deserved the points!

To encourage kids to try new genre in their independent reading, we currently have a Reading Bingo Challenge. When they read titles from different genre across the bingo row and pass AR tests on the books they earn a whopping +15 Challenge Accepted points!

Check out more about Class Dojo and their new app in this article by Richard Byrne.
ClassDojo Releases a Streamlined New App - Now You Can Send Pictures Too

Give it a try! Challenge Accepted!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Google Classroom Mobile App

Since Google Classroom was launched last summer, over 30 million assignments have been turned in through Classroom according to Jorge Lugo. "If those assignments had been on paper instead of Google Docs, they would stretch from New York to Los Angeles when laid end to end. If every assignment had taken just one minute to print out, Classroom saved 57 years that would have otherwise been spent waiting for the printer." 
Today, I saw the announcement for a Google Classroom Mobile App. I immediately ran, not walked, to go get it! I can't wait to try it!
Check it out for yourself!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Expert Help: Alice Keeler on Google Sheets: Creating a Line Graph

My class has done the Journey North Mystery Class Project for several years. It's a year long project that takes us through tracking daylight and observing changes to using geographical clues. We will be looking for 10 Mystery Classes located somewhere around the world.
So far, we've always graphed the data on paper and posted them in the classroom. We will still work on that, but I wanted a way the kids could see the data online so they could refer back to it, talk about what it means, and make predictions. I was stuck because I couldn't get the data into a line graph in Google Sheets or Excel.
One morning I posted the question to Alice Keeler (@AliceKeeler).

 Twitter Question
She asked a few more questions, I shared the Google Sheet file with her, and was able to watch as she moved things around and made it work! The amazing thing about Google Sheets, or any Google Doc, is the ability to share in real time! She commented right in the file and showed me where I went wrong and how to fix it. Not only do I have a line graph that I had been trying to figure out for several years, but I know how to do it myself the next time!

Click here for the explanation in Alice Keeler's blog.

Alice Keeler's Blog

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fun with My Maps

Recently I came across a link from Twitter to a you tube video from Teach Tech Play. They do a monthly teacher web share of lessons, tips, and ideas. This was December's episode and Molly Schroeder shared a great tip for using Google's My Maps with Google forms to share geographical data. You see Molly's part of the episode here. Teach Tech Play Episode 6.

Start at 30:15 to watch Molly's segment.
Basically, what you do is set up a Google form to collect data that includes location info. The collected info is gathered in a Google spreadsheet. Open My Maps (or just Google it). Follow Molly's instructions and demo on how to import the data.

Here is an example of my students sharing info from their winter break (names have been removed.) Example of Winter Break sharing map (<Link to live map example).

Example of My Maps

I also have plans use Molly's suggestion to collect weather and climate data from family and friends of the students to compare data from all over. I'm sure there are many many uses for this tool. Comment with your ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Thank you, Molly, for the great idea and explanation!