Monday, January 30, 2012

Fourth Graders: Creative Story Writers

The ACDS writing task force provides several guidelines to support our students and their writing. Going through the editing process to then publish one's work is central to becoming a better writer. To publish to a wider audience further engages our students to think about their audience and motivates them to do their best work. 

The Fourth Graders are working to complete a project in their technology class using the website called Storybird to write stories that can be viewed online. Usually one writes a story and then works to draw the illustrations. With Storybird, the students go through a library of images grouped together by individual illustrators. Once the batch of images is chosen, the student then must react and use creative thinking to come up with a story idea. The next step is to pull specific images into the timeline and to begin the process of writing one's story in reaction to the illustrations. 

The Fourth Graders totally engaged in this process working to share ideas and give each other feedback. Students specifically had to have a peer editor review their stories before having Mr. Carpenter review and give the go ahead to publish. Several students continued the writing from home working to create several stories to also be published. 

Here are a couple of examples of student work. Several other students are at the publishing stage so many more students will soon have their work published. 

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Digital Community and Thoughtful Responses

Miss Cook posted some questions in 5th grade blog regarding the Hate That Cat book. The image above is a screen capture of her post. Notice the green highlighted area... 31 comments. While a class discussion definitively is an excellent instructional strategy, educators understand that many students would rather have more time and another outlet to "voice" their ideas. This is why our 5th grade teachers are using the class blog and the forum tool in Haiku to extend discussions offering further learning opportunities for their students.

Take a look at the comments the students made to Miss Cook's questions and to one another's responses. Find that we have a few blossoming poets in the 5th grade.

App Reviews by Students

Which apps are really helpful for learning? Our iPad using 5th graders are in the know. One main way of assessing the iPad Pilot program is to continually check in with the students so let's hear from them as they provide reviews for some of their favorite apps. As part of our 21st Century Skill effort, we work to put students in authentic roles where they use real life skills. In this case, they use analysis and evaluation skills. 

Geobee is a great game because it gives you knowledge of the world in a fun, non-boring way. I also like it because the questions have some variety in them. It is mixed up to confuse the player. 

Stack the States: Purpose > Stack the states is a fun, educational app that does not cost much. There is a HD one that costs 99 cents and another one that is free. You learned what from using it? > You can learn which state is in our continent. You can learn what is in each state. Improvements Needed > I do not think anything needs to be improved.

Writers Station: Purpose > The purpose is drawing. You draw with your finger or stylus and you can also put different smiley faces and things and type in boxes. Its kind of like making a book. You learned what from using it? > I learned to draw better on the iPad with my finger and stylus. Improvements Needed > I think they should put more smiley faces and pictures on it. :) :( :p ;) +l

Amazing HD: I think that  Amazing HD is amazing. You can get amazing pictures for backgrounds in HD. It is fun to look at the cool pictures from excellent photographers. Improvements Needed >You can't edit your pictures on Amazing HD.

Word Abacus: Purpose >To help with spelling and to learn new words. You learned what from using it? >I learned new words and how to spell them. Improvements Needed >I think we should have the definitions of the words on the side.

PhotoPad: Purpose >The purpose is to edit photos. You learned what from using it? > Photopad taught me how to edit photos and change backgrounds. It also can make the picture turn black and white, green, red, and blue!

APOD: Purpose> To show space pictures of the month. You learned what from using it?> I learned what celestial bodies look like. I read the captions of the pictures and they told me what the pictures were. Improvements Needed> It needs better graphics and more explanation of what the pictures are.

iHurricane: This app can show you where hurricanes are and where they will go. It will also show you where tropical storms are. It will show how high the winds are and how much rain it is estimated to bring.

Sparklefish is a cool app that allows you to make your own verbal mad-lib. It gives you a term and you say that into your iPad. When you are done, it plays back what you said in the context of  a story. It also lets you choose what topic you would want to do your story on.

Screen Chomp is an app where you can draw a math problem then you can make a recording when you talk through the iPad. When you are finished, you see and listen to what you drew and recorded. This app is normally used for math problems so it is an app that I think we should keep. 

Weather HD: Purpose > To be able to get the weather from almost anywhere in the world. You learned what from using it? > The weather in all my favorite places. Improvements Needed >Not many except if it could snow more!

Spanish App: Purpose >The purpose of this app is to teach you Spanish. You learned what from using it? > I learned a bit more about the colors, the days of the week, numbers, months, and seasons. Improvements Needed >There aren't a lot of improvements needed for this app, but I think that there should be more than six mini games. 


Student Reviewers: Andy, Sophie, Nora, Kathryn, Ellie, Hayden, Elliott, Harper, Thompson and Jack

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Mock Caldecott Learning Project

Our 5th graders working in teams just completed a super learning project designed by our librarian, Mrs. Lockwood. The assignment was to produce a video using still images and/or video with narration that communicated the reasons why each team's chosen book should be the winner of the Caldecott Medal. The students then came together to view all of the videos and to vote which book should win their mock Caldecott competition.

This project-based unit of study involved many of the 21st Century Skills noted in previous posts as well as skills from our ACDS Information and Communication Literacies curriculum.
  • Literacies: design, technology tools, writing
  • Authentic Assessment: real world, meaningful task shared with larger audience
  • Cross Discipline Learning: Reading, Library, Art and Technology 
  • Communication Skills: script writing, audio recording and image choice making

The students used their art skills during library time to draw seals for their interpretation of what the ACDS Mock Caldecott Medal might look like. They worked together in technology class to learn how to use iMovie for creating their videos. Collaboration also took place as the student teams wrote their scripts, decided which images to use from their book and then decided who would record the narration for each section of the video.

The learning continues with the project as Mrs. Lockwood posted to the Library Haiku page an assignment that prompts the students to reflect about all aspects of the project. This use of the Haiku Learning Management System (LMS) supports our blended learning efforts giving students access to content and collaborative learning activities outside of the classroom.

So which book won the ACDS Caldecott competition? The envelope please.

The ACDS Caledecott award goes to...

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

The two honor books are:

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

To add to the authenticity of this project, the author Stephen Savage posted a comment at our online video site. Here is a listing of all the books and teams in the competition along with their videos and seals.

  • Queen of the Falls by Connor, Christiana, Elliott and Rachel
  • I Want My Hat Back by Shannon, Kieran, Thompson and Kathryn
  • Grandpa Green by Camille, Mary Margaret, Jack and Kyle
  • Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Gretchen, Kayvon, Nora, Charles and Naomi  
  • Where’s Walrus? by Harper, Hayden and Hal
  • Say Hello to Zorro by Sophie, Andy, Kendall, Bella and Ellie
  • The Secret River by Mac, Mike, Trinity and JJ 
  • Caldecott Seals

  • ACDS Caldecott Seal by Rachel

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Work Skills for 2020

    The first iPad blog post shared information about the skills our students need for life in the 21st century. These 21st century skills are used by schools all over the world as they move away from the content-based curriculum of the 20th century. It is clear in our ever changing world that citizens need the skills to be adaptive learners who can easily access information to be problem solvers and creative in all aspects of their lives.

    A new listing of skills was recently produced by the Institute for the Future. The listing of skills and a full report can be downloaded from their site. It might be interesting for all of us in the ACDS community to "unpack" what each of these skills not only means but how we use them in our lives. As educators we continue to expand the curriculum to teach these skills as our students attain the attributes of our "Portrait of a Graduate".  

    Here is a synopsis of the skills. 
    • Sense-making. The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
    • Social intelligence. The ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
    • Novel and adaptive thinking. Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
    • Cross-cultural competency. The ability to operate in different cultural settings
    • Computational thinking. The ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
    • New-media literacy. The ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
    • Transdisciplinarity. Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
    • Design mind-set. Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
    • Cognitive load management. The ability to discriminate and filter information for importance and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
    • Virtual collaboration. The ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

    Skills Listing Source
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