Tuesday, May 24, 2016

World Book Online Kids

As a Library Media Specialist, I love all of the wonderful educator features that World Book Online Kids offers students and teachers. Our division subscribes to this valuable resource for us for which I am so grateful! It is a wonderful online encyclopedia sources, but today I want to highlight some of its other features that you may not know about!

1.  Webquests-
Click on Educator Tools to find this hidden gem! Webquests are offered on the following topics:
·         Abraham Lincoln
·         Amphibians
·         Ancient Egypt
·         Ancient Rome
·         Baseball History: Negro League
·         Christopher Columbus
·         Dr. Seuss
·         Harriet Tubman
·         Martin Luther King Jr.
·         Pyramids
·         Reptiles
·         Rosa Parks
·         Space Exploration
·         Solar System
·         Whales
·         World War II
Each webquest is set up as a question set that students answer after searching for the corresponding article. This would be a perfect computer lab activity, nonfiction reading practice, or library/research activity!

2.  Lesson Plans/Activities-
Also located in the Educator Tools section are pre-made lesson plans that correspond with some of the encyclopedia articles. These lesson plans are mostly hands on activities that have step by step directions for teachers/students to follow and links to pdf handouts that go along with the content.

3. Homepage Images-
Whenever you visit the World Book Online Kids homepage, a different image will appear from articles in the encyclopedia database. These images are perfect to use in an opening activity/bell work/morning work activity. You could bookmark the homepage on your computer that hooks to your activboard, or Clear Touch board and display an image with questions for students to think about.
For the Praying Mantis- you could have students list as many adjectives to describe the animal as they possibly can and have a small prize for the winner.
For this image you could have students write a question about the image. Then, have them give their question to a friend and challenge their friend to find the answer.

This image would be the perfect writing prompt starter. Have student pretend they are traveling on the train and write a story about where they are going and describe their journey.
Students could write a number sentence to go along with the image. For example: A sled team has 6 dogs. 2 dogs are hurt and can’t run. How many dogs will run on the sled team.

4. World of Animals
On the homepage screen, there are many offerings one of which is World of Animals. This section is perfect for teaching/learning about animal specific topics like animal adaptations, ecosystems, animal needs, etc. If you click on the compare animal feature you suddenly have the PERFECT compare/contrast activity/infographic. Students can choose animal one and then animal two and click compare. Then, they will get an infographic that shows what the animals have in common and features that are different. 
5. Activities
6. Games
7. Interactive Maps and Printable Maps
The Maps and More feature offers interactive maps that link to encyclopedia articles about places and points of interest. It also offers printable maps by continent with labels and without. PERFECT for teaching geography!
8. Important People
This tab is perfect for biography research!
9. Compare Places
This activity is very similar to the compare animal feature. It allows students to choose 2 different locations, countries, continents etc. and it will provide an infographic that compares and contrasts both locations.  This could be a great extension activity or gifted activity!
I know your students will enjoy these features as much as our classes do! Once you teach students how to access and use the online encyclopedia, you could have a few computers or devices set up in the library with World Book open on them would also be perfect for a station! I know you will enjoy exploring as much as your students will! Leave us a comment of how you use WorldBook Online Kids in your classrooms! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Virtual Legos?! Build with Chrome

Did you know about this virtual building playground?! Build with Chrome allows students to free build with Legos online. They have multiple rotations and color choices and can even add special pieces like doors and windows. This site would be a perfect addition to a makerspace, library station, play therapy or creative outlet.

Educational Ideas
1. Have cards that kids draw from that have building challenges on them, like these. Students could write a persuasive paragraph to try and sell their creation. They could use an app like iMovie to make a video commercial to persuade people to buy their item.
2. Give students a short time to build (10-15 minutes) and then have them complete a tally mark table of how many different color pieces they used. Then, have them use their data to make a graph. 

3. Perfect for Geometry! Students can show their knowledge of 2 dimensional shapes and other geometry vocabulary. (square, rectangle, rhombus, quadrilateral, pentagon, hexagon etc.) 

4. Challenge students to build a structure or building and then determine the perimeter. 

5. Use Build with Chrome kick off the writing process and begin a writing prompt. Students can pretend they are traveling to a new civilization or planet and they are developing a new settlement. Allow them to build and then write about their settlement. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle School

It is that time of year....time to start talking about middle school and helping students prepare for the new environment of 500 students per grade level, lockers with combination locks, more freedom, puberty, and peer pressure. This year, my plan is to help my students through a couple whole group classroom guidance lessons, a visit to the middle school, and also some small groups for students who could use a little extra support.
Source Link

I just ordered a set of 5 of these American Girl books: A Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle School by Julie Williams.  I plan on organizing my group based on the chapters of the book:

Week 1: Fresh Start: A New Mindset
(What are your worries, concerns, and fears? What do you think middle school will be like? Things to think about before you go. Starting with a positive attitude)

Week 2: A New School: Navigating Your Way Around (practice opening locker combinations, making a good first impression with peers and teachers)

Week 3: Subjects (how to stay organized, new study habits, how to use homework hotline, importance of taking notes)

Week 4: Friends (how to deal with fading friendships and making new friends, avoiding peer pressure, building self esteem and being proud of who you are)

Week 5: Bringing it all together/closing

This is my outline so far. I plan to use the book like a book study and add a few other resources and activities. I'm really excited to get this group started. Do any of you run groups like this? If so please offer ideas and suggestions! :)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

STEAM Camp or Club Ideas in Elementary

Good Saturday Morning to you all! We only have 3 days left of school! In the spirit of summer break, I want to share with you all a presentation I put together for VSTE earlier this year. This presentation highlights a STEAM camp that I helped create for our school last year. Last year was our first year implementing the program and we had huge success! We averaged 25-30 participants a week and we included our summer school kids in as much of the fun as we could! Technology was the heart of this program. We used Edmodo as our class platform and we used this to organize opening activities, pre/post surveys, follow up and extension activities and collaboration among students.
The camp was 4 weeks long. Each week had a different theme (see presentation for more details).
This year we are continuing our STEAM camp program, however we are hosting the camp as our Summer School Program as well. I am excited about the dynamic we have of bright and gifted students working alongside our high need students and helping and encouraging them. We are offering a couple different themes this summer-
1. Engineering
2. Electricity
3. Robotics and Coding
4. Chemistry
Each week will be centered around a Science/STEM theme, but the focus of instruction will be on reading and math. We also want student to be active and engaged so we have planned a lot of interactive technology activities!

Some of our reading materials come form free online articles and ebooks from places like Wonderopolis.org, National Geographic Kids, and Scholastic News. Other reading materials comes from books that can be easily purchased from your school's Scholastic bookfair or local bookstores or checked out from local libraries.

Math activities are meant to be highly engaging and most of the time correlate with the daily STEM activity. Some of our math activities will include measurement stations, QR code scavenger hunts indoors and on playgrounds, Glow in the dark Fraction stations, Recipe math and much more!

Some of our STEM activities include constructing, flying, and measuring flight of paper airplanes, studying and building model Earthquake shelters, Exploring Matter and solid, liquids, gases, Volcanoes, Coding, and studying robots!

If you are interested in purchasing ready to use STEM camp packets for your classroom/school, we offer the following 4 packets in our TPT store for $6 each.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

End of Year Library Survey

How do you track student/teacher satisfaction with your library program? At the end of the year I like to give students and teachers a survey that asks them how often they used the library and general questions about their library experience. I have created a simple survey that has been perfect for my Talent Ed profile as well. If you would like to purchase the survey, it is $1.00 in my Teacher Pay Teacher account. I also give students a beginning of the year reading interest survey that I will hopefully post over the summer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Class Flow Co-teaching Lesson 1st Grade Math

Recently, I have co-taught with our 1st grade teachers to incorporate technology into two units- Fractions and Tally Marks/Graphs. Both times students LOVED using iPads in their math class and they loved that they got to manipulate, draw and respond to their classmates while using ClassFlow. What I loved about this lesson is that I could view each student's individual work, save it to review later, and provide TEI (Technology Enhanced Practice) with 1st graders! If you haven't signed up for a FREE ClassFlow teacher account yet, I highly recommend it. ClassFlow is very easy to use and you can upload Promethean flipcharts or Smart presentations as well.
For this lesson I created a flipchart in ActivInspire and then uploaded the flipchart to ClassFlow.
Step 1- Click on My Resources and then click on the +New Blue button.
Step 2- Click on flipchart upload for Promethean file or Smart Notebook upload for Smart file.
Step 3- The flipchart will now be housed in the My Resources area. To do the ClassFlow lesson with students, select Deliver and either choose Ad Hoc or Assign to a class that you have previously set up. 

Step 4- Students can use any device to access the ClassFlow lesson. They will go to https://classflow.com/student/ and enter the class code to join the lesson.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Weebly- How to Create a Classroom Website

Below is a presentation I created for a professional development session that our division is hosting for teachers. I have tried to give you examples of ways to use the free features of Weebly and step by step directions on how to create your own website. I have found the contact form, blog, photo gallery, and button/link features to be the most useful!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Current Events for Elementary Students

Sometimes it is hard to find quality current event news article outlets that are easy for students to access, limited to no advertisements, and have appropriate readability levels. Today, I am sharing with you two of my favorite websites and one of my favorite apps for student news articles. Here are a few ideas for incorporating these sites/apps into your classroom.
1. Scholastic News Online
This site offers students over 250 nonfiction articles, archived by date. The topics are student friendly and topics range from entertainment news to scientific news. Articles are probably most appropriate for students in grades 3-6. I've used these with my students and they a very excited when they see the date of the article and notice that we are reading about real and relevant topics!

2. Newsela for Elementary
Newsela is a one of a kind site that pairs current event news articles with comprehension questions! They also offer a variety of text sets on many topics of interest to students. This unique news site is also perfect for differentiating by reading levels in your classroom because it allows you to choose the lexile level of the passage. You can access the same article/topic written at a variety of Lexile levels!

3. News-O-Matic
This is a daily news app that can be purchased with an educator account (yearly) or a home version. I share this with my parents at our very first technology night at the start of each school year in hopes that some families will purchase the at home version! It is a daily news app that offers 5 news articles a day. These articles follow what is happening in the world today. The app also connects with google maps, has an audio feature, games, is ad free, and allows students to comment, vote and interact with others. The news/app can be purchased in three reading level formats-  Grades 1-2; Grades 3-4; Grades 5+. The 2016-2017 app is now available and is $9.99 if purchased thru the Apple Volume Purchase Store for 20+ devices.

***Encourage students to stay informed as a responsible citizen. Encourage families to talk about current events in a thoughtful, polite way. (Model this in your classroom). A couple of ideas on how to start this may be to add a link to a weekly news article on your google classroom site with a discussion questions and encourage the students to add comments or post, similar to a discussion board. This is also a great way to encourage digital citizenship and respectful online discussions!

Or, you may add a QR code link on your newsletter or classroom website that links to a Google Form generic questionnaire and students fill it out after finding and reading their own current event.

No time like the present to start this with popular worldwide events this year like the Olympics and presidential election!

Storybots YouTube Channel

Have you heard of Storybots? The Storybots YouTube Channel has amazing songs about all kinds of topics. These songs would be great for engaging kids and introducing a topic. It would also be a great project for fast workers or high level students to watch a Storybots video and listen to the song about a topic they are interested in, and then challenge them to write/sing a review song for the topic they are learning about in class! The songs are short and very catchy! Thank you Storybots for a great playlist!
(Image from Storybots YouTube Channel Playlist)

National Geographic Kids Youtube Channel: Making Stuff

National Geographic Kids Videos are perfect for elementary/middle school students! A couple Robot characters make the videos light and engaging for students! The videos are short and perfect for introducing procedural texts/media. The National Geographic Kids Youtube Channel contains three categories of Making Stuff Videos including, musical instruments, things, and food. There is a total of almost 50 videos with more being added all the time. Thank you National Geographic Kids!

Google Drawing: Ecosystem Venn Diagram 4th Grade

This was an amazing way to collaborate with our 4th grade classroom teacher to integrate technology and ELA skills like compare/contrast and venn diagrams into their Habitat/Ecosystem Unit. As the Library Media Specialist, I look forward to these opportunities where teachers seek my help in creating technology projects that go with their classroom instruction. I am also very fortunate to co-teach with our Computer Lab Manager and students can continue to work on technology projects during their computer lab time as well.
For this activity, students had 5-8 books sitting on their table when they entered the library. Each table had books about 2 different ecosystems. Students took notes on a paper copy of a Venn Diagram as they researched facts about the 2 ecosystems they were assigned. What made this assignment successful was the inquiry and rigor that came with not only independently researching facts- but, students had to also look for facts that were distinctly descriptive of a particular ecosystem over another one AND find things that two vastly different ecosystems had in common. I loved this assignment and students created the Venn Diagrams in google drawing during their computer lab time. 
Tips for creating Venn Diagrams in Google Drawing- 
1. Use the shape tool to make 1 circle and then show students how to copy/paste to create the 2nd circle so they are congruent. 
2. To change the background to white (or any color)- right click and choose background.
3. To be able to see the middle part of the Venn Diagram- Select one of the circles and right click. Then, choose order and send forward or backward depending on what you want. Then click on the paint bucket tool and choose custom and change the colors to a slightly transparent color. See diagrams below on how to follow these steps. 
4. Students can easily add pictures by selecting the tools tab, choosing research, and searching for the image they want to include. They will simply choose the camera icon, type their search into the bar, and click and drag the image to where they want the image in their project. There is a wonderful citation feature that automatically drops citations into the project as well. Also- see an image for these directions below. 

PDF's and Google Classroom

Google classroom provides a platform for you to easily assign students classwork (materials that you probably already have), especially PDF's. Simply upload any PDF you have saved to your computer to Google Classroom. Also, if you have a paper worksheet or activity that you want students to be able to complete online you can use a scanner app (I use Scanner Pro on my iPhone) and email/save a PDF version. Once you have uploaded the document, assign it to your class of students. Students will click on the assignment and then choose open with and click on dochub. Dochub, allows students to annotate, write, highlight etc. on and PDF. When they complete the assignment they can turn it in to you through Google Classroom. Above, is an example of one of my 4th grader's work typing on a PDF. This sheet is from Timeforkids.com, which I highly recommend. 

Google Classroom: Going Paper"Less"

This was the year for Google Classroom in both of our schools! I've read several blogs this year that encourage readers to summarize their year with one word. My word for the 2015-2016 school year would have to be paper"less." ​I do not mean that I never passed out a paper assignment or activity, I simply mean that we used less paper. Google Classroom is the tool that made this transition possible. I use Google Classroom as my main organizational and delivery platform for all of my 3rd-5th grade library classes and my 3rd grade reading class. It makes it very easy to distribute assignments in Google Docs, Forms, Slides and PDF's. It also has helped a lot with allowing students to easily access links, games, and internet based activities. I plan to share a lot of ideas for how we incorporate Google Classroom in my library/computer lab program, but also ideas for classroom teachers. I would love to hear your comments about Google Classroom. Have you used it with early elementary students? Post your feedback in the comments section!