Monday, October 22, 2012

Gary Talks Programming...Kids Get It!

Let me introduce you to our friend, Gary...

He's a Puppet Lab guy.
He's a world traveler.
He's a tech guy.

Most importantly... he's the guy that can talk CODE and PROGRAMMING to 10/11 year olds in "kid speak". And, that's what he did today in 5th grade science class.


The VERY first thing Gary did was form a connection with the kids. He started off with, "Remember when..." Our class had played a little game with Gary a couple months ago...Where In The World. We used our class Twitter account and asked Gary questions to narrow down what country he was presenting in (Sweden).  The kids absolutely LOVED connecting with Gary over, this intro quickly pulled them into the lesson.

 The talk of our previous Twitter game led to talk of the Arctic circle, hours of daylight, tilting of the planet... Oh...and we talked language translation, geography, and money.


 His big accomplishment (other than all that other stuff) was to make a really great connection with programming and Lego building for the kids. He compared the bits of code that they would be working with in class to Lego bricks. "Each little brick of code...that makes the whole thing work." That made sense (to the kids and me)!

 Time to play... 

Gary walked the fifth graders through code that directed the computer to:

 -Assignment vs. Comparison


 And more... The kids were problem-solving with Gary as they worked through making the "computer do EXACTLY what you told it to do!" Using guess and check, thinking aloud, and reasoning, Gary led the students through a pretty complex set of tasks (in my opinion). Discussion of taking a bigger problem and breaking it down into the smaller parts to have "little victories" was exactly the message I want my young scientists to get! The entire lesson focused on problem solving, math, language, and science. Talk of variables, errors, and resolution...pretty intense, right? But, Gary definitely kept the kids engaged, working, and thinking.


 It didn't hurt that he brought his audience Swedish candy!

He even managed to plug having more women in this field! Hooray!

 But, seriously... find your GARY! That guy that'll spend the day connecting to your kids. We need professionals in our classrooms promoting problem-solving, critical thinking, science, math, technology, language.

Find him (or her)... then, * 4.

Run that program ALL DAY!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Water Cycle Cartoons

Quick post...
someone asked for a quick how to for the water cycle cartoons I posted a week or so ago.

Here goes...

DrawingPad App pictures + StripDesigner App= FUN water cycle cartoon making

*Excellent assessment piece for me...continued the conversation AND showed what students need a bit of a review!

Here are the sample projects...

Weaving in the iPad and other Technology (even when I'm not there)

This week has been a particularly rough week for both me and my students. With three days out of the classroom, we miss each other and it's tough! I love my students, and I love the work they do for me. As I'm out, I'm wondering a couple things:

  1. Are they learning while I'm out?
  2. Are they being "good" for the sub? 
  3. Are they respectful to each other?
  4. Am I giving them the same or similar activities as if I were there?
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I had some students who were challenging for the sub and the students around them. general, working today with the students I reflected on two things...Yes-they were learning in my absence and Yes- they were completing the activities using the iPad even in my absence.

Here are a few ways I set my students up to learn in my absence...still utilizing the technology in the room:
  • In several classes, I had several students who pretested out of the material for this week. They excelled on a voluntary pretest given through our StudyIsland program. So, they worked independently on their iPads to create ScribblePress books about energy traveling through ecosystems. Given a check sheet of topics that needed to be covered, the students utilized apps such as Popplet, DrawingPad, Safari, ScribblePress, and TypeDrawing to create these books...independently. (You see I modeled this for them about 2 weeks ago as we made our field trip books together. They all contributed and then watched me pull it together in ScribblePress app once already. They were set!) HOWEVER...they did have to get a quick tutorial on Dropbox if they were working with a partner. That didn't slow them down though!
Here are 2 sample pages from Luke's book...

But, what about other students? What did I have them do with the sub?
  • There was some reading out of the book. There was some note-taking. (I don't know that they particularly enjoyed that. But, I did have some awesome Smart Board slides for them to utilize and get involved with!)
  • They did use Edmodo. They used it to share with me while I was away. They discussed their day, what they got accomplished, and what they still wanted to learn. I loved reading their posts! Here is one that just cracked me up!

  • They did use Edmodo to back channel during a Planet Earth video clip. That was really cool to see their thoughts as they watched a segment from Cave ecosystems.
  • Today we used DrawingPad app on the iPad to create food chains. This was a great assessment for me to see who really understood the concept from the previous day. Here's a cool example of that...

  • Tomorrow, students will be working with their iPads to take a quick StudyIsland follow up assessment. Then, they will be working in MentalCase app for building flash cards for vocabulary.

To stay connected with my students, I mentioned that I used Edmodo. But, I also made a video (using iMovie on my iPad and uploading to our school YouTube account) explaining my expectations and where class was headed for the day. And, I was lucky enough to Skype into one of my Science classes with the help of my awesome special education teacher, Karen Lamb. She got us hooked up and dialed in for a fun quick Skype.

So, it's been a rough week. But, my students and I are still moving forward, still utilizing our tools, and still learning in science. I'm looking forward to a full, fun week next week. I have a Mystery Skype planned, a ShowMe app lesson planned, and some fun chalk and iMovie action for food!