Day 48 A Smile and A Laugh

After studying the vocabulary words from Jack and the Beanstalk, and using many of them (without being asked, by the way) in our virtual comic strips, it was time to make sure we had mastered them! I am really loving Google Forms for simple quizzes! I created our vocab test using the drop down option so the kids could read the definition and had to choose from four choices on the drop down menu. I embedded the form right on our website on Today's Jobs. The kids worked at their own pace through the quiz and then clicked "submit" and viola, their answers appeared in my spreadsheet. From there it was easy to pick out the incorrect answers and record the grades. Since there weren't many incorrect answers (yippie!) I will probably "share" this spreadsheet and the kids can go check out their grade using our class Google account.

Most of the students have now finished their virtual "comics" using the template planning sheet for Jack and the Beanstalk. They are adorable! Yes, some are better than others, but the cleverness is in the details! Make sure you stop by The Cove Bookshelf on our website where we house books and stories we've written, you won't be disappointed! If you don't have much time, make sure you click on these in particular! Jack and the Beanstalk meets 21st century digital native: Calvin's Part 1 and 2, Jamie's, Calizia's, Jasmine L's, Brandon's Part 1 and 2, or Whitney's. You'll get a chuckle, I guarantee!
[caption id="attachment_319" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Baby give me my harp."]Baby give me my harp.[/caption]

Day 46 Did You Know You Had A Refresh Button?

Today was another one of those days that I beg my Principal to allow me to loop to 5th grade with these kids! (Seriously, I sent him an email begging - again!)
So we were beginning our math class and I had decided we needed another good dose of review working with two digit by two digit multiplication. As I handed out the five problems I wanted the kids to complete as a warm-up, and we were talking about how we'd have to dig way back in our memory banks to remember how to complete them, I hear from Joey, "Yeah, Mrs. C., it's like pressing the refresh button in our brain!"
Wow! Loving my Digital Natives!
[caption id="attachment_311" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="\"...the refresh button in our brain!\""]"...the refresh button in our brain!"[/caption]
Photo Credit: Bulubula's Photostream via Flickr

Day 45 When Did Jack Do THAT?!

Today we continued our reading/listening/planning activities with Jack and the Beanstalk. To model what I thought were some of the important events in the story without coming right out and telling them, "I think you should include this...", I decided to create a PowerPoint slide with the numbers 1-8 down the left side and 8 events on the right side. I created each event in its own textbox so the kids would be able to drag and drop each one into a new position, and of course, mixed them up well before sending it to them.
When they went to Today's Jobs, they were told a new assignment awaited them in their Edmodo account. Here's what they saw when they got there:
[caption id="attachment_306" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Day 45 Edmodo Directions"]Day 45 Edmodo Directions[/caption]
I love Edmodo's Assignment tool because once the kids complete the activity, all they have to do is click "Turn In" under the assignment and submit their work to me. When I click "Turned In" as the teacher, it displays all my kids on one page and the words "NOT TURNED IN" or "NOT GRADED" (which turns to "GRADED" once I assess it) so I know exactly what each child has completed. This feature also sends a message to the child with the grade I've given on the assignment! So Cool!
After completing this sequencing activity the kids continued the work they have begun using one of the neatest tools we've "played with" yet! Story Creator is a wonderful free site that allows you to register your school (unless you want to save all your kids' work in your personal account - a pain because you continually have to enter your password for them to access their work) and your kids can create myth and legend comic strips. The site is jam-packed with backgrounds, objects, characters, speech/thought bubbles, animations, and really neat editing tools. The kids are using their main event templates to create what Story Creator calls "Chapters". Oh my goodness...the creativity that is emerging gives me chills! Please check back on my next post and I will provide a link where you can see what they've done with Jack and the Beanstalk. Magic Beans for sure!
[caption id="attachment_307" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Magic at the Cove!"]Magic at the Cove![/caption]
Photo Credit: Munkin's Photostream via Flickr

Day 44 An Oldy, But Goody

My kids struggle with the idea of summarizing a story. They have a lot of trouble picking out the main ideas or events that occur in narratives they read. After coming upon the oldy, but goody "Jack and the Beanstalk" on an audio book website called Light Up Your Brain, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to practice this skill while continuing our adventure using online audio books.
The kids had all heard the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, but the original story which we were about to read was full of wonderful, rich vocabulary. I created a list of 18 of words I thought my kids would struggle with and linked that document on "Today's Jobs". I had them all pull that list up on their laptops and we went over them together, discussing if we'd seen them before and using them to predict what might happen in this version of the story.
I also created a very simple template for the kids to fill out (with their pencils) as they read/listened to the story. It basically had 4 large boxes on each page where the kids were to write only the important things that Jack does throughout the story. They were given three of these sheets, so they had to limit the important events to 12 at the most! (I linked the template on our Today's Jobs page as well, just in case someone "messed up" and needed another, they could take the initiative to solve the problem and print a new one. Wireless is wonderful!) The kids were told we would be using these very important planning sheets to develop virtual comic strips tomorrow. Oh, boy! That piqued their interest!
There was silence for the rest of the morning! Engagement, reading, listening, pausing, thinking, deciding, writing, planning....
[caption id="attachment_302" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="The Magic of the Beanstalk!"]The Magic of the Beanstalk![/caption]
Picture Credit: Spysgrandson via Flickr

Day 42 Online Reading vs The Book!

So the other day I had the kids visit a new link on our class website called the Cove Online Library. This is a place I have begun to collect free online stories and books for kids. They had to choose a story (at the time, all of the stories had audio capabilities so the kids could choose to have the story read to them as they followed along) and take notes of main events and words they thought would make great vocabulary words. They really seemed to enjoy this and were captivated. They were actually SO captivated that when I Skyped with a room of teachers downtown being trained to start our additional 1:1 program at the middle school level, half of my kids were unaware! I actually turned the camera so my videoconferencing colleagues could see the magic in action!
I decided for today's jobs to have the kids digest their new information in three ways. They were asked to address our newest classroom blog post which asked them to tell all about the story they read! Please check some of these summaries out and tell me SOME of these kids are not improving their literacy! Whitney, one of my young ladies made my whole week when she said (after working for 60 minutes straight), "Mrs. C. I really learn a lot of grammar when I am blogging!" Yes!! Never heard that when we were copying sentences out of the grammar book....
Their second extension of the online story activity was to take the vocabulary words they had collected (choose your favorite 5), look up the definitions (I gave them a link to an online kid's dictionary), and add them to our new Vocabulary Wall (also embedded on our class website). I used Wallwisher for this, and it worked out wonderfully! The kids loved adding the virtual sticky notes to our wall, and now we have a wonderful collection of challenging words to learn! Make sure you check out our collection HERE.
And finally, I really wanted to get an idea of how the kids felt reading on the computer versus holding a paper book. So I created a quick survey on SurveyMonkey and linked it on our Job List for today. Here are some of the results:
1. 77% of my kids would rather read a book on their computer.
2. When given the choice 53% would like to follow along as the computer reads the story (more details below), followed by 41% wishing to read with a partner, and in last place reading a book to myself (only 4 of my 19 kids).
3. When asked, "What did you like about reading an online story?" some of the interesting responses were:
"I learned more about the story than I would if I read."
"It read it to you and you could pause it and play it."
"I liked I experienced something different that day."
"I like reading on line because I don't like to read a lot."
4. When asked, "Is there anything you did not like about reading an online story?" most of the responses were "nothing", but here are a few others:
"I didn't like how they read it needed more insperation and excitement."
"I didn't like how long it was but other then that no."

I feel good today! I think we're heading in the right direction!
[caption id="attachment_298" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The New Way to Read"]The New Way to Read[/caption]
Picture Credit: Real Ink vs. E-Ink via Flickr

Day 39 Document Sharing without Google

Today was a great day back from vacation. The kids were ready to get back to work and so was I!
Although we have been learning how to comment on our classroom blog (more like addressing a writing prompt, really), I introduced the kids to their Gaggle Blog capabilities. I plan to allow them to blog about whatever topics they find interesting. I think they need that individual creative outlet as opposed to always being told what to write about.
They loved it! They learned how to find each other in our county's Gaggle directory (we have our subscription set to county only for safety at this point), and immediately started commenting on each other's posts! Wonderful!
Also tried out Primary Pad today in both a goal setting activity and a science mini research activity. In language arts each group was provided a link to "their" pad. They were to add goals they have set for themselves for the coming year. The nice thing about Primary Pad is that users don't have to register to collaborate on a document (no email required!). I set the pads up so that they only had to know our class password to be able to add their ideas to it!
Primary Pad also has other fantastic features. Each child chooses a color and types his/her name next to it. Then whatever he/she adds to the pad is highlighted in his/her color, and other group member can see in real time what their peers are typing. Up to 30 different kids can be editing the same document at the exact same time! Another cool feature is the "Timeliner" tab which allows you to view all the changes that have been made to the pad over time, as well as the authors of those changes. This worked out to be a great alternative to going the Google Docs route with my kids who are under 13 (would require special parental permission).
We used Primary Pad again in Science as I had the kids conduct a little Internet research concerning rocks and minerals. Dr. Same and Dr. Different each had a link to their own pad. The kids were to research whether rocks and minerals are the same thing or different things. Following that research they were to add facts to the pad of the Dr. whom they supported. Here is a screenshot of some of the results! You can get a closer look at the pad here. Lots of learning... lots of fun!
[caption id="attachment_294" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Additions to Dr. Different\'s Pad"]Additions to Dr. Different's Pad[/caption]