Sunday, December 11, 2016

One week until Christmas Break!

What are some ways you are incorporating technology into your holiday plans this week before Christmas?
Here are just a few ideas:

Have you thought of a holiday gift that you can help kids make to give their parents or grandparents?

My go to gift is using Tagxedo and having students make word clouds! The student could add words that describe the person they are gifting or they could name holiday words and traditions that are unique to their family. Tagxedo allows them to then choose a picture that the words will be collaged into.

On a blog that I read religiously, Richard Bryne has recently posted 2 ideas for creating holiday cards. Those posts can be read here and here. These are both great ideas for making a class holiday card or having students make cards for their family.

I wish I still taught math! Infographics are the perfect math discussion starter and hold so much potential for real world holiday themed lessons.
This infographic is called Christmas by the Numbers is from a collaboration between and Column Five.
This infographic is from and shows where the average person spends money during the holiday season and compares the commerce of real Christmas trees vs. Store bought trees. This one is perfect for 4th-5th graders and provides an opportunity to use 21st century problem solving skills!

Finally, there are a lot of good holiday themed timelines out there. This timeline shows how toys have changed over the last hundred years, which students will probably find fascinating!

I hope to post more frequently over the holiday break, so keep coming back! Enjoy the last week with your students!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Teaching Coding Without a Computer

A challenge for some librarians is to teach 21st century skills using limited resources. When schools have a limited number of laptop, ipad, and chromebook carts often times teachers have these resources checked out and librarians have limited time to use these technologies. I have scoured the internet to find the librarians in my county resources that we can use to teach elementary students the basics of Coding without needing a computer! I am in a fortunate situation that after students come to library and learn the basics about coding, they continue their exploration in the computer lab with more advanced coding modules on and So how are we learning the basics of computer programming without a computer? I've outlined my lessons below, and linked each resource to the original poster. Enjoy!

Week 1- I posed this question to my 3rd-5th grade classes: "Who is smarter; a computer or a human?" I had students think about and then walk to the poster of their choice. Then they had to give at least 1 reason/evidence to back up their claim. They wrote this evidence on a sticky note and stuck it to the poster. I then read the choices aloud and we discussed that humans are the ones with brains, and humans have to tell computers what to do! It was the perfect introduction to what coding and computer programming is. It made our next weeks of learning relevant to them! We also talked about future jobs that would require computer programming skills and how our state is pushing for all students regardless of age to learn the basics of computer coding.

Weeks 2-6 (5 weeks of stations) I made a bulletin board that displayed each class roster, divided by color (highlighter) into groups. Then I had each station as a row and each week as a column and spaced out color coded cards so that students knew which station they would participate in each week.

Station 1- Candy Corn Race- Myself, along with a library volunteer made this game by printing centimeter grid paper and putting the paper into a protective sleeve. We placed an arrow pointing upward in the middle square. Students play a game, taking turns and tossing a large dice that has simple directions on all sides like move forward, move backward, turn left, turn right, skip a turn, move opponents piece forward 1 etc. The student moves their game piece according to the direction they tossed. Coding connection- students are more aware of breaking down directions into simple 1 step moves. For example if the dice is tossed to turn right, the player can only turn right, not move forward. It also really helps my students practice turning right and turning left and moving a player from the players perspective instead of their own perspective.

Station 2- Robot Turtles board game by Think Fun (AMAZING!) The students LOVE lasering the ice castles :)

Station 3- Scratch Jr. App (This is my only technology station!)

Station 4- Lego Mazes (idea from )

Station 5- Picture Books (coding a character to get through the story as if it was a video game!) Idea from- The Very Hungry Caterpillar; We're Going on a Bear Hunt; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See

Sunday, October 30, 2016

SciShow Kids You Tube Channel

Looking for short, engaging videos that kids love? Look no further! SciShow Kids Youtube Channel has fact packed videos that explain the "why" behind numerous topics that kids wonder about. These videos are the perfect attention grabbing edition to any lesson. I have provided ideas for incorporating these videos into your reading or library lessons by practicing the following ELA skills: Sequencing, Compare Contrast, Key Words, Main Idea/Details.

1. Sequencing
Pass out a diagram and have students draw pictures of each step while watching the video. Example: Water Cycle Video
2. Compare Contrast
Show a video like Frog or Toad or Butterfly or Moth. Pass out a Venn Diagram and have students record ways they are the same and different on the graphic organizer. 

3. Key Word Sort
Pass out key words about the topic you are introducing. Have students read each card. Have them try to match the key words with their definition (background knowledge) Then, play the video. During the video students can rearrange as necessary to match key words with their definition. After the video students can check their sort with another student. Example: Ocean Layers Video
4. Main Idea & Details
Pass out a graphic organizer that has the main ideas listed have students record details that support each main idea as they watch the video. Example: Animals with Winter Coats video
Credit: All images and videos are from the SciShow Kids Youtube Channel linked here

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bat and Owls (Nonfiction Study)

Earlier this month, Richard Bryne posted an article about short Halloween themed factual videos forkids on his blog Freetech4teachers. With Halloween quickly approaching I am using these with my 1st and 2nd grades, and they are perfect attention grabbers! In both grades, I am focusing on teaching students to activate their background knowledge before reading nonfiction. I encourage students to build new learning, on prior knowledge. I show the videos to help activate background knowledge. We also read books about the topic and do activities to help facilitate new learning. I’ve included an outline of these lessons below.

1. Activate background knowledge by having students Think.Pair.Share information they already know about bats. I record the facts they share on the ClearTouch board. Together, we use their background knowledge to ask a question and extend their thinking about what they want to learn about bats.

2. I Show video from SciShow Kids YouTube Channel about bats.

3. We Read aloud Gail Gibbons book, Bats and recorded facts/answers to questions in the learned section of the graphic organizer.

4. Then we discussed the difference between nonfiction and fiction books and students used ActivVotes to identify between the two types of books with a flipchart. 
1. Activate background knowledge by doing a class image brainstorm. Students viewed the image on the board and then shared facts that they already knew about the image.
2. I showed the Owl video from SciShow Youtube channel about Owls and had each team think of a question they still had about Owls.

3. We discussed the difference between facts and opinions and explained that facts can be proven. I explained that sometimes facts contain numbers because numbers can be proven.

4. I passed out the following sheet and students filled in the numbers to complete each fact about Owls, as I read aloud Owls by Gail Gibbons. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Integrating STEAM into Library I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis

As the Library Media Specialist, I have a passion for helping teachers and students integrate technology into all subjects. STEAM integration is one area that I have focused on for the past couple of years because I value student centered, problem solving instructional methods! Below, I have included some ideas for combining new and current literature studies with STEAM education. Leave a comment and share how you and your students are learning STEAM!

STEAM and the I Survived Series by: Lauren Tarshis
Understanding by Design Lesson Goals

Since I designed this unit for third grade in the library, I introduced a book in the series and read aloud a section of one I Survived book one week, and then facilitated a STEAM activity the next week that went along with that book. The first week, I read aloud the first 4-5 chapters of I Survived the Eruption of Mount St. Helens, 1980. The next week, we did the following STEAM activity.
(Image: Scholastic)

STEAM Activity: Compare four different types (Coke, Diet Coke, Mt. Dew and Diet Mt. Dew) of Soda to see which type has the highest eruption. Compare diet and regular to see which has the highest eruption. Draw a conclusion about the results and have students discuss how the Mentos in Coke is like rocks and lava in a volcano. 

Week 3 we read aloud I Survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake 1906.
(Image: Scholastic)
Our STEAM activity during week 4 focused on Math. Students worked in a group to plan supplies to stock an Earthquake shelter for a neighborhood. The group had $100.00 and was tasked with purchasing items to serve 50 people. This is part of our Teacher Pay Teacher STEM Engineering Packet, available for purchase. It is amazing to hear to students discuss this problem. One student insisted that Soft Drinks were not a need, and another student in their team suggested they have at least one in case one of the fifty people is a diabetic! So creative! 
How are you combining STEAM and literature? 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hosting a Family Technology Night

Recently I helped co-host a Family Technology Night at our school! It was a huge success, but a lot of work. I have put together an information packet to help schools who would like to host a similar program! If you purchase the entire packet, it includes the following Technology Family Night Information Guide AND everything you would need to host the family night including: handouts for parents about Early Learning Apps (Prek-1st grade), Online Reading Resources (grades 2-5), and Internet Safety. It also includes a sample and blank schedule, free homework passes, and signature card for student prize drawing!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Millennials vs. GenX Scholastic Interactive

How do history and culture shape a generation? How do generations shape our identities? These are just two of the thought provoking questions posed in Scholastic's new Millennials vs. GenX Interactive Social Studies Program. Students are asked to reflect on self and family and create interactive timelines that help shape their generation, interview a family member, and research generational differences. The website bundle includes student printable, teacher lesson plans, videos, and even a family activity. I think this would be a great independent learning experience for our Gifted Learners!