As first graders are learning about the butterfly life cycle, we wanted to stay away from usual activities such as coloring in a pre-printed coloring page. INSTEAD of such an activity (created by others) and a quiz about recalling the different stages of the life cycle as assessment, we decided to have students built on their knowledge and fluency of creating a collage and CREATING a visual of their learning. The digital visual was to become an artifact for their student portfolio.
Our first graders are working weekly on a Hebrew visual dictionary on the iPad PicCollage app. They are very comfortable with the app itself. We were ready to spill over from Jewish studies into their General Studies class and push them on their workflow (fluency) with the iPad.
- we reviewed the stages of a butterfly
- showed students a National Geographic video of the life cycle
- modeled the creation of a PicCollage Butterfly poster by breaking down each step
- embedded digital citizenship (images copyright issues)
- emphasized the workflow of :
- choosing appropriate tools/apps (critical thinking)
- navigating to website ( workflow, information literacy)
- searching for images (information literacy, critical thinking, creativity)
- saving images (workflow)
- switching apps (workflow)
- browsing for images> importing images > editing images > adding text (workflow)
- designing (creativity)
- saving (workflow)
- emailing final product (workflow, communication)
I was impressed by our 6 & 7 years olds to get to work, able to follow along the workflow path, some having a little trouble with spelling some of the words, but ALL comfortable with tapping, swiping, switching between apps, pinching in and out, editing, saving images and simply knowing that these images will be waiting for them in their Photo Album to be used in another app.
This activity was NOT about using the iPad app, it was about creating a visual of their learning. It was about workflow, skills and creativity.
The emailed collages, will be placed on student blogfolis with a written or audio reflection of their creation or learning process.
A discussion of basic literary elements (character, setting) using several different picture books led to the creation of eBooks by my first grade students. By creating the eBooks, students were to demonstrate understanding of character, setting, and a sense of sequencing, while practicing their written storytelling skills. To begin the process, I used a wordless picture book (relies entirely on illustrations to tell a story) to allow the students to show off their creativity and imagination while developing their writing skills. They needed to interpret the illustrations (visual literacy) and then write sentences about each picture (reading and writing literacy) to tell a story. I chose a total of six pictures from The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (2004). Students used the Book Creator app on the iPads to create their masterpieces. Following are the various steps:
1. We began by looking at an example, the Butterfly ebook created by our school’s last First grade class (in 2011). We discussed how this book is visible to anyone in the world with an Internet connection and the importance of doing a really good job when publishing.
2. As a class, we used our visual literacy skills to briefly describe all six pictures I had preselected from The Red Book.
3. With a copy of the six pictures in hand, students then each decided on the order of the pictures for their own stories and used a storyboard template to develop their stories.
4. The next lesson was spent transferring (typing) handwritten text from the storyboards to the Book Creator app.
5. Once typing was completed, students created the artwork on paper with colored pencils. I then used each student’s iPad to take photos of the pictures and imported them into each story.
6. An important part of the eBook creation process was the review and edit process. Students used a Book Checklist while reading through their stories and carefully marking off each box.
Check out some of the very creative eBooks by the 1st grade authors!
Lastly, it was time to reflect on our learning. We first reviewed the process of creating our eBooks by remembering all the different steps. We also discussed the different products used (iPad, pencil and paper, storyboard template, editing checklist). Finally, we talked about the skills we learned (identifying literary elements in fiction, using different products, matching illustrations with our sentences, editing our work). Before video recording student reflections, I offered my own reflection as a model for the students.
- I’ve learned that 1st grade students are very creative.
- I’ve learned that even though they cannot yet spell many words perfectly, 1st graders like to write. And they like to draw too!
- I’ve noticed that 1st grade students know all about setting and character and used both in their books.
- I’ve discovered that 1st grade students quickly learn new words, like font, end mark, and checklist.
- Also, I’ve discovered that 1st grade students love working with the iPads. They are little wizards with this tool! Swiping and tapping comes naturally to them, and even though I only asked them to change the font size to make it more easily readable, they immediately discovered how to change the font style altogether.
- I’ve learned that creating eBooks is a great skill builder.
- I’ve truly enjoyed working with 1st grade on our very first eBook creation!
Listen to the student reflections in the following brief video. I am looking forward to your feedback!
Helping students become quality Tutorial Designers has been on my mind and agenda. The reasons are plentiful, from the train of thought "if you can teach it, you know it", being a vital skill in the 21st century, Alan November's work "Who owns the Learning?"/ "Digital Learning Farm" to tutorials being an important piece in the self-motivated and self-directed learning of our times.
Teaching, nor creating (digital) tutorials, may come natural to everyone. There are are several skills involved. which are valuable for our students to learn.
not only understanding content and process, but being able to express and communicate them to someone else. The communication can be accomplished in a variety of media.
curating all student created tutorials in one place (ex. wiki) will create a hub, where students can search for tutorials of content, that they need a refresher on and it creates a depository for students in future years to come.
writing a script is an essential part of tutorial design. Tutorial writing could be considered part of the expository writing and technical writing genre
using specific vocabulary related to the content explained
"Storyboards are graphic organizers in the form of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing"~ Wikipedia
- digital storytelling
a tutorial is a special type of story. It requires the "teller" of the story to engage the "listener" via different digital media
tutorials are meant for others to learn from us
- digital media
creating, editing, and mixing of a variety of media forms (text, images, audio, video, etc.) and the fluency to work with a variety of media and switch effortless between them
the ability to understand and share the feelings (ex. not know how to do something or understand) of another
In addition to supporting students in gaining competency and fluency in the above mentioned skills, we emphasize QUALITY work. It is about depth of content knowledge and emphasis on showing evidence of learning, not just using a specific technology tool.
In an effort to support teachers and have a handy list for students when creating tutorials, I created the following checklist. The checklist is divided into three parts:
- Quality Considerations
Each part is divided further into different sections
- strategy & procedures
After planning with our first grade Hebrew teacher a year long project of Creating a Visual Dictionary on the iPad, it was time to put theory in practice.
Kitah Alef, our first graders, received an introductory lesson on properly handling our iPads in the classroom. We created a short video of our rules and tips. Students were excited to be sharing the video with Kindergarten and Pre-schoolers in the future, so they could learn from them.
On the first day, we learned common vocabulary we will be using when working with the iPads
- Home button
To practice following directions according to this new vocabulary, students opened the Skitch app, drew an Aleph (first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet) and sent/e-mailed that image to their teacher. Being able to create>save>send is an important fluency skill for students to learn and practice.
The second day we talked about the camera:
- practiced taking pictures without covering the camera up with a hand or finger
- switch back between front and back camera
- pay attention to make sure that the camera is not set to video recording
- hold the iPad steady while taking the picture
- using the thumb to take the picture
- going to the Photo Album to verify that image was taken and they are satisfied with the image.
Another stop to getting to know our iPads was the keyboard.
- we have the English and the Hebrew keyboard installed on each iPad
- tapping the “world” key to switch between keyboards
Students took pictures of “Ariot”, a cartoon character of their Hebrew book to be saved into the Photo Album
The next day,
- we reviewed the previous steps and found the picture they took of Ariot in their Photos.
- we opened PicCollage app
- added the “Ariot” image to the canvas
- resized the image
- cut around the image
The first image, they had taken a picture with the words, written in Hebrew, typed already underneath it. Our next step was to have them use the Hebrew keyboard in order to add the corresponding words to the image. They then changed color and size of the text too. Changing the background was not something we taught the students, but one or two “discovered” on their own and showed the rest of the class.
We created an album for each student on their assigned iPad. After a dictionary page was created and saved to the photo album, it was also placed into the student’s album, so all dictionary pages would be housed together and easily accessible.
Students were so excited that they found a classmate who started with the Hebrew letter of the week
After 4 weeks, students were “fluent” in creating their dictionary page for their Hebrew letter of the week. Being fluent meant:
- find and open Pic Collage
- take an image of something that starts with the Hebrew letter of the week
- re-size the image
- trace the image to cut around the object
- Change the background
- change the keyboard to Hebrew letters
- add text (name of object)
- save image to library
- add image to Album (specifically created to house students’ dictionary pages)
The workflow, that took 30+ minutes in the beginning is accomplished by most students in a few minutes now. Some of the students have become helpers on their own… walking around the room to help their classmates who are having trouble with a step.
State of our School Address (regarding Blogging)
3 years ago, we created blogs (WordPress platform) for ALL classroom teachers and resources. There was an expectation for teachers to be at least on the first step of the blogging ladder, illustrated in the image below. Their classroom blog needed to be, as a minimum, a replacement of a weekly folder filled with parent-school communication and homework assignments. Teachers were expected to learn how to update their blogs (at least on a weekly basis), insert images and videos and categorize their blog posts. (Getting to Know your Blog- A Beginner’s How To Guide)
This was a steep learning curve for some teachers. In addition, it was extra time consuming, as it was taking teachers longer time to learn and be comfortable with uploading and inserting images, creating photo galleries, creating links, posting, etc.
Then the question shifted from How to We Did it… We Built It…Will They Come? Some teachers continued to email parents weekly, pointing them to the blog to look at images and news, others resorted to “bribing” students with extra credit if their parents went on the blog, yet another class created a Blog Tutorial for Parents & Grandparents video.
In preparation for our students to become actively involved in contributing on the classroom blogs, as a school, we needed to Update & Upgrade Our School’s Media & Publishing Release in order to reflect the shift from students as consumers to students as producers.
Some teachers felt ready sooner than others, to climb the next step on the ladder. They opened their classroom blog up for comments to their students. They started to shift from merely pushing out information to parents and students to see the opportunity for a conversation. Teachers were learning to, not only post information, but posing questions for students, encouraging them to think and to participate in a virtual conversation. – Preparing Students for Commenting with Wall Blogging.
Once students were well on their way to begin. They were comfortable in logging into their accounts, reading posts and submitting a commenting, the next step was to focus on the QUALITY of their writing. What constitutes a quality comment? One class answered this question by creating a newscast- Quality Commenting Video by Third Graders
The next step on the classroom blogging ladder was for not only the teacher to produce content/posts, but for students to take ownership. For one teacher, it meant the realization that her classroom job list was in need of a 21st century update What is… What Will Be Obsolete…in Second Grade?
- had daily student “bloggers”, who were in charge of updating the classroom blog, being the Official Scribe of the day.
- had students take (handwritten notes) summarizing the daily learning during each subject area, to be then typed and uploaded on Friday to the blog (younger grades).
- highlighted best work from students as it was produced.
- put students in charge of photographing classroom/resource activities and learning taking place during the day, the class discussed and voted on the final images to be uploaded at the end of the day and write a short blurb to each image. – Let’s Ask the Kids: 2nd Grade Bloggers
Some classroom blogs were growing beyond homework assignment, as teachers found opportunities to amplify the use of their virtual spaces to get kids involved and engaged in conversation
As commenting and posting to the classroom blog became the routine, especially in the upper elementary grades, students were eager to “earn” their own blogs. It was up to the teacher to set the criteria for students to earn them (ex.5 quality posts moderated and published on the classroom blog).
Once having earned that promotion, students became administrators of their own blogfolio , a combination of an online portfolio and a learning blog. Students were able to choose their own theme from a variety of pre-approved themes available. They chose their own title and tagline, and wrote their About Page.
It takes time for the faculty to see that the students’ blogfolios are NOT a project from/for the Language Arts class. We are not there yet.Teachers, still need to take advantage of pulling in resource teachers and student experiences. Non-Language Arts teachers still need to realize that the blog is a platform for learning for THEIR students too. All this is a process for teachers and students to work through.
We had Professional Development workshops helping teachers subscribe to RSS feeds (Subscribing via RSS & Google Reader to Classroom Blogs) in order to streamline the process of reading AND giving feedback to all their students. This is a daunting task for many teachers, as they are feeling overwhelmed. I have met too many teachers (at other schools) who, precisely for that reason, gave up blogging with their students. It was simply too much work to read and sift through all the writing and commenting (!!). We are committed to working through this at our school though. We are concentrating on finding new ways to embed the reading, the writing, the commenting, the conversation into the “way we do things”, not something we do in addition.
I created the following infographic to demonstrate the flow of blogging in the classroom. The hope is to deflect from the emphasis on technology and the “translation” from analog work to digital work during the blogging process.
You can download the infographic as a pdf file.
There is so much to consider when blogging with your students. You will be able to read about some, some you will hear from teaches who are already blogging and some things you will just have to experience and go through for yourself in order to make it work for you and your students. What we do know, is that no teacher can attend a 3 hour workshop on blogging and is ready to blog with their students the following Monday. I wrote extensively about the process for Stepping it Up- Learning About Blogs FOR your Student as a guide for teachers who want to see blogging as a platform for their own professional development and as a medium for student learning.
Ann Davis, on her blog wrote a post titled “Rationale for Educational Blogging“, an article (and the following comments) worth reading! David Jakes responds in the comment section speaking directly to the teachers “who have kids write for the refrigerator”.
Ann Davis’ quote of “It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces”, resonates deeply with me. It is a challenge, that we are continuously reflecting on in school, as learning and literacy coaches, but need to do a better job in helping faculty work through this as well. Tough questions need to bubble up to the surface:
- Where it the Authentic Audience? by Andrea Hernandez
- What does it mean when students, teachers, parents feel “blogged out”?
- How do we prevent student blogfolios from becoming an accumulation of “Homework for Thursday”, “Homework for Friday” posts?
Where do we go from here?
We will continue to seek the following through our blogs:
- quality writing and commenting
- documentation of the learning process
- hub for learning artifacts
- meaningful discussion
- authentic feedback
- global awareness and connectedness
We will encourage, support and participate in activities that will foster the above goals.
- commenting mentor program
- blogging buddies
- professional blogs for our educators to build reflective teaching practices, connections to a global network of educators and building a personal brand
This year, we are piloting a new literacy program in grades 2, 4 and 5. This grew out of our summer professional development book groups, which you can read more about here. The program, called the Daily 5, is grounded in the knowledge base of what activities and behaviors are most effective for developing basic literacy. The Daily 5 was written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, who also maintain the DailyCafe.com website.
Our first Parent Connect this year was dedicated to sharing information about The Daily 5 and our implementation of it this year. Here is a review for those parents who were not able to join us, as well as anyone else interested in learning more.
Everything we do is grounded in an understanding of what our students need in order to be successful in this connected, high tech world. We believe the Daily 5 helps us help our students to become independent learners.
Our librarian, Karin Hallett, shared some of the research behind this program in the following slides:
If you would like to learn more, here is an excellent article that synthesizes current research and underscores the importance of self-selected independent reading.
We watched a video of Amy Stein teaching her second graders the "I PICK" strategy for learning how to choose "good fit books."
We also watched Stephanie Teitelbaum introducing "Read to Self" to her 4th and 5th graders.
Here are some thoughts from Andrea Hernandez and Jon Mitzmacher:
This final video includes a discussion about The CAFE Book, which is the counterpart to the Daily 5, as well as information about the data collection process.
Stephanie has started a professional blog, Teach, Blog and Tweet, where she will be documenting and reflecting upon the process as it unfolds. Please feel free to follow her there, and add your voice to the discussion.
We want to keep our parents in the loop about Social Media use in the classroom and are posting the following Twitter Policy and Rational.
Twitter Policy and Rationale
Several classrooms at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School are tweeting!
We wanted to be transparent in our rationale for using Twitter as a platform with our students for academic learning.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social media platform, a micro-blogging service. Every tweet is limited to 140 characters or less. Twitter is surfacing everywhere in our daily lives, from your favorite restaurant chain to your rabbi, politicians, celebrities, sports team and TV shows. What is less known about Twitter is the academic value of learning with and from other educators and students, experts, authors, organizations, companies from around the world that support 21st century learning. By tweeting with our students, we expose them to social networking strategies, support their growth as global digital citizens and model focused, clear writing.
Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety
Our students DO NOT tweet on personal accounts. The tweeting classrooms are using a classroom Twitter account, set up and managed by the classroom teachers and the 21st century learning team. We monitor and choose carefully, who is allowed to follow the classroom Twitter stream and who we follow on Twitter. Netiquette, Internet safety, digital citizenship including copyright lessons are interwoven throughout the year and continuously discussed and reinforced. Netiquette is defined as the "acceptable" way how to communicate on the Internet. Learning acceptable behavior is part of digital Citizenship, one of the core literacies of the 21st century. We remind students of our classroom rules and emphasize that "real world" etiquette, rules and consequences transfer to online behavior as well.
The use of Twitter in the classroom follows the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School's guidelines for Media and Publishing release. Tweets will occasionally mention students’ first name, but never their last name. We will also be sharing classroom images, video or audio, directly related to student learning.
Twitter as a Tool for Learning
We want students to produce and contribute developmentally and age appropriate quality content. This is a process that can only be internalized by “doing”. The focus of Twitter in our classrooms is always learning. We connect, share and reflect on our learning experiences at school as well as tap into and link to individual student background knowledge. Younger students will tweet and document experiences they have through observation. Older students will be “thinking” about their learning on a deeper level and learn to articulate their metacognitive process of reflection.
The classroom teacher and 21st century learning team will actively search for and connect classrooms with same grade level twitter buddies and pre-approved mentors, to give students an authentic audience for their writing, with whom students can share their learning, ask questions and gain perspective.
...First graders might read a story with another first grade class from Canada and collaboratively tweet a summary of the story or describe the main characters. They might even share, via Twitter, a link to artwork they created illustrating the story’s setting.
...Fifth graders might tweet with a High School history teacher from Boston about their studies of the American Revolution and might receive images of historic sites.
We will be continuously modeling quality during the process. Before we click the "tweet" button, the class will ask if their tweet:
* is Informative?
* documents their learning?
* asks questions?
* responds to someone else's question?
* curates information for specific audience?
* links to quality resources?
*adds Value to any links re-tweeted?
* states its intent clearly?
* is globally conscious?
* is grammatically correct?
* is spelled correctly?
As students tweet, they learn about word choices, clarity, the writing process (write/revise/edit/publish), networking skills, research skills, summarizing skills, global awareness and connections.
21at Century Skills & Literacies
Twitter is not the only tool that our classroom and students use to connect globally. We use a variety of platforms, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and Skype to allow our students to practice skills such as communicating, collaborating, connecting, creating and critical thinking skills. These tools also expose them to and support emerging 21st century literacies (global literacy, network literacy, media literacy, information literacy) in addition to basic literacy skills (reading and writing)
We encourage our parents to follow our classroom Twitter feed to join their students' learning journey.
We will be adding links to more Twitter classroom accounts from school as they become active on Twitter.
You can follow also our head of school, Jon Mitzmacher, Admission's Director, Talie Zaifert, 21st Century Learning Specialists, Andrea Hernandez & Silvia Tolisano, librarian, Karin Hallett and the following classroom teachers on Twitter: Shelly Zavon, Stephanie Teitelbaum, Deb Kuhr, Amy Stein, Seth Carpenter, Pamela Lewis, Sara Luetchau.
Kitah Alef, will be using our school's iPads regularly during the school year in general and Jewish studies. The first step was to learn how to take care of them. Students were excited to be the actors for the video clip.
We want our students to :
- use apps on the iPad to create, not just consume
- fluently pick apps that will serve a purpose
- fluently switch between apps, then insert, embed, share and disseminate their creations
We have to expose students to a variety of apps to help them gain skills in iPad Fluency
By fluency I mean the ability to:
- connect tasks effortless together (ex.creating and editing a video, then uploading, embedding and disseminating on several platforms)
- CREATE and then being able to COMMUNICATE- the ability to create and communicate your creation is one of the main characteristics of fluency
- record, edit and then publish a movie that automatically posts to my blog
- take an image…edit…then automatically post to my photo stream as well as embed into a blog post
- work within several apps, then remix content from each one by being able to import them from one app to another.
In the first few weeks after the iPad deployment, we are concentrating on allowing students to test and explore a variety of apps, as well as work on that fluency piece.
Here are a few examples of our lower elementary school students.
In first grade, students practiced their Hebrew letters in Doodle Buddy.
They then drew illustrations and learned about emailing the finished image to the teacher.
In second grade, we are helping students create an image, then saving it into the Photo Gallery (by an in-app function, via the built-in camera or taking a screenshot) and then edit and email that image to their teacher.
Second graders were learning to introduce themselves in Hebrew. We decided to create an eBook with each student contributing their own page.
The image can be created in a drawing app, such as Doodle Buddy, or being taken with the iPad’s built in camera, then imported into Doodle Buddy to write or type over it.
By adding an International keyboard to the iPad, we were able to easily switch between the English and Hebrew letters.
Here were the instructions for our students, which we modeled by mirroring the iPad display via projector:
- Take an image with the built-in camera
- Go to Photo Gallery and edit if needed
- Go to Doodle Buddy app by finding the app icon or by searching for app by name
- Import image from Photo Gallery as background
- Choose a marker, color, thickness and write your name in Hebrew on the image
- E-mail the image to your teacher
We are realizing that after a few run throughs of creating- saving- sending, our students are picking the sequence up easily. (The hardest part for these early elementary school students is to spell my name in the email correctly
We are also making it a point to have students explore the apps we have loaded on our iPads. As we are discussing, at the beginning of class, WHAT we want to CREATE, we are asking for input from the students:
- What app would be best suited (any alternatives)?
- The sequence from creating to saving and then the best way to share it with others (email, publish, classroom blog, etc.)
It is crystallizing itself clearly, that the iPad lessons are building on each other. The best success, I have been able to observe, is when students had explored an app in one class, worked with the app to create, in another class and finally pulled the sequence together for a larger project by remixing, sharing and collaborating.
If you have been following the 21st century blog, you read about our First Graders First iPad Encounters. We are so proud to share their final product with you: The iPad Butterfly Book.
Mrs. O'Neill writes:
The conversion of our classroom into a Monarch Butterfly nursery happened by chance. We discovered a caterpillar while taking a nature walk and decided to bring it into the classroom to observe. Since I have raised Monarchs before, I knew exactly what the caterpillar needed to thrive. The students were so excited about our one caterpillar friend that we kept checking the milkweed leaves for more caterpillars and a butterfly unit was born. We studied the life cycle and were privileged to see each stage (egg, caterpillars of various sizes, chrysalis, and even several butterflies emerging during class!) The children complied everything they discovered about Monarchs into this book so they could share it with you. We hope you enjoy our eBook.
If you own an iPad or iPhone, you can download the ePub file and directly drop them into your iTunes library. Once you sync your device with iTunes, you are able to read our butterfly book.
If you are reading this post on your iPad, simply click on the ePub link and choose to open in iBook.
Please leave us a comment where you are from and maybe other interesting facts about Monarch butterflies for us to learn.