Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Setting Goals

Does your school use Accelerated Reader? Mine does. We use it to encourage kids to read more, and to focus on the content which they demonstrate by taking and passing quizzes. Students are recognized for earning various levels of points depending on grade level. It is not used for grades.

One feature that I found sometime last school year was the ability to set goals with the students and for the kids to earn certificates. To set the goals and certification levels, you sign in to your teacher account and go to Record Books and Goals. If you use the STAR reading assessment, you can have the program set a beginning goal based on their reading level and how many minutes you expect them to read per day.

Since our school awards a special medal to students earning 40 points by the end of the year I made this our goal. I broke up the points across the 3 trimesters as 10 points for the first, 15 for the second and 15 for the third trimester. When the kids log on and work on a quiz, they can see their progress towards their goal.

Many of my kids reached their goal before the end of the trimester. Now what? I asked them what each of them would like their goal to be next? We chatted about how much time they had and how many points they thought they could reach. The result? Students love to tell me that they reached their goal and ask me to set a new goal! Do I do it right then? Most often not. But we do find a time to set it for them. What happens if they don't reach this goal? Nothing. We talk about how far they've come by setting high goals. Here is an example of the goal info from the Home Connect login.

The certificates are in the same place as the goal setting. AR has certain criteria for the certificates. The goals and certificates they are working toward are visible on their page when they go to their account. Certification Criteria

Here are some of my kids with their current certificates.

If you have a supportive admin, see if you can send the kids down to the office to get the admin's signature on the certificate. The kids love it! This year several of my kids worked very hard to earn a certificate so our student teacher could sign it before her time with us was done.

So how do you use AR? What makes it fun and interesting for your class?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nearpod Live or as Homework

I haven't blogged about this yet, but I love Nearpod! I think of it as kind of an 'in yo face' slide show but it's more than that. First, for a live presentation all screens show the same material and progress at the same pace. You control what students see and interact with and it's all on their own laptops or tablets. More than that, there are so many interactive elements. Students can answer polls, draw or write what they are thinking, do a quick quiz to check comprehension, check out embedded sound or web links and more!

Nearpod Info

My class loves when I pull their work to the main classroom screen and they get to discuss and check how that person did. No names are shown on the screen but about 99% of the time, my kids will say "That's mine!" The quick quizzes give each student immediate feedback on their own screen so they can see how they are doing.

It's very simple to create a Nearpod. You can use an already created file in the Nearpod library. You can create one from scratch, you can upload a powerpoint or pdf to use. There is even a Google extension called Nearpodize This that let's you take a Google Slides file directly to Nearpod. Once you load the slide show up you'll want to add interactive activities. That's where it gets fun for the kids. Can we say active participation?!

With a subscription, you can use Nearpods as homework activities. This is using the Nearpod file self paced, but all answers and interactive parts are saved in reports. The homework Nearpod could also be used as a center activity, or review. I have used it with audio files to have the kids do a self paced spelling quiz.

Give Nearpod a try!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Reading Challenges

Some kids love to read and will read whether you ask them to or not. Some kids avoid reading unless you make them. My goal, as a teacher, is to help kids find a love and purpose for reading. I try to keep the "have tos" about reading homework to minimum and encourage the "want tos".

A couple weeks ago I came across a reading bingo sheet on Pinterest and decided to make one for my class. I offered extra Class Dojo Challenge Accepted points for reading books from a variety of genres. It was fun to help kids go on a hunt through our class and school libraries to find a science fiction or historical fiction because that's the last box they needed to check off.

This week I'll be offering a new Bingo option. Inspired by this blog on Fun Places to Read, I remembered all the fun places I loved to read with my boys. Here are the links to my Bingo pages that you can use for your class. Hopefully, our kids will read something that sparks a fire and love for reading that will last a lifetime!

Book Genre Bingo

Fun Places to Read Bingo

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Weather Map Math

Using the info I learned from Molly Schroeder here, my second grade class set up a weather survey with Google Forms and My Maps. (See previous blog post). The survey quickly spread from friends and family of our class families and sharing on social media. Photos and weather data came flooding in. See our live map here.

We've been enjoying looking at the different locations and talking and writing about why temperatures and seasons would be different. I love that My Maps has an option to color code the pins based on whatever category we choose. I did manually change the warmest bands to orange and red and the very coldest to purple to help them stand out with the kids.

Today, we took another look at the maps during our math block. We are working on addition and subtraction of two and three digit numbers. I gave the kids this worksheet to guide them through comparing temperatures from our home location to a location of their choice.

It was great to see them talk it through in their groups, defend their answers, and explain why there would be a difference. Those who finished one location tried a second choice on a dry erase board. Students who I knew were ready for a challenge were encouraged to try a comparison with the negative temp in Fairbanks, Alaska and how might that work. Several of the kids shared and the class was able to give feedback.

Some images from the class:

We are so thankful for family and friends helping us with this project. We have map data from all over the US, and on all 7 continents - including Antarctica! I'm sure we will refer back to this map many times over the next few weeks. 

Thanks to Molly for her inspiration!