Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Documenting Literacy Station Work

My kids have a wonderful time using the stamps in working with words stations.  They stamp a picture and then they write the word  under the stamp.  Usually they would complete this station and then turn it in to me.  This was fine but they wanted to take their work home with them.  To give them that ability, I used to quickly snap a picture of it and give it back to them.  This worked fine from a digital portfolio/documentation standpoint but it was me using the technology and not the kids.  I wanted to turn the control and use of technology over to them.  For this reason,  I put Evernote & Skitch on our I-pads & I-pods.  I started by teaching one "expert" child how to open Skitch, take a picture,  annotate by adding text, and sending it to my Evernote. You can see an example of his work below.  Normally they include their name so that I know who completed it but I chose one that he left his name off of.
He, in turn, began teaching others and now we have a VERY popular word work station.  One of them even snapped a photo of me teaching guided reading the other day and it showed up in my evernote!  Slightly off task but cute!

Friday, February 7, 2014

100th day!

So we finally reached our 100th day of school this week!  It was a little delayed thanks to two ice days here in the Houston area but Thursday was the big day.  We had a ton of fun counting all sorts of things to 100 many different ways.  We wrote down 100 sight words,  collectively read 100 books, made crazy 100 hats, and of course dressed up like we were 100.  One of my favorite projects of the week was our 100 year old self portraits.  The kids used tear art to create them and then they had to write about what they would be like when they were 100.  We then took out our ipads and used our face talk app to record what they wrote.   Each student sent me their mp4 file with drop it to me and dropbox and then I made a QR code for each of them. They glued the QR code to their picture so that when they take it home,  their parents can have a video of their animation.  I wanted to share them with you so I made a compilation video of their clips.  Also thought I would share our Kinder teachers taking part in the 100 day fun!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Podcasting in Kindergarten!

So  I use several methods to communicate with parents about our classroom activities but i still had trouble getting some parents to "seek" out my weekly update.  They were just passive about it.  Then one day during snack time, one of my students asked me what I was typing up.  I explained that I was sending a message to his parents about what we were doing during the week and what we would be doing the next week.  He then looked at me and said, " Can I help?"  That blew me away!  That was it.  Surely I could get parents to seek out the weekly news if their own kids were the ones giving it to them.  Now the question was....  how do I get 5 year olds to send out weekly news?  I didn't want them to have to write it and then correct it so that it was legible.  They would be much better at just verbalizing it.  That is when I decided to try weekly podcasting.  Each week,  we brainstorm the weekly news and announcements as a class.  We use shared & interactive writing to compose the news and then I select two "guest podcasters" for the week.  They rehearse their readings in small group with me and then I use audacity to record them.  When I am finished and have saved the file as an mp3,  I upload it to  edmodo.  The kids are super excited and always go home and get their parents to log in and listen.

If you don't use edmodo,  you could always use podbean.  A player is available to place on classroom webpages or blogs.  Of course, it is always an option to email the mp3 file to parents.

Try your hand at podcasting!  It is a super fun way to give your kids a real world application of reading, writing, and speaking.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

QR codes in the listening center

Ok. I have to admit that up until this year I have HATED the listening center. Years ago when I first started teaching there were books with accompanying cassette tapes! NIGHTMARE! The tapes had to be flipped over, changed out with each book, and they were always getting chewed up. I tried getting individual "walkmans" to go with each taped book but I still ran into the problem of having to teach which buttons did what and they still had to be rewound, flipped over etc.... I thought it would get better when CD's came out. I found myself using all of my scholastic points to replace my taped books with CD versions. I got parents to donate individual CD players. Now, I wouldn't have any chewed up tapes. Right? Right, but..... I still had the problem with the buttons and they ran through batteries like crazy! Ugggg. Enter the digital age. Ahhhhh.... now i have three ipod touches, 2 mini ipads, a kindle fire, and a galaxy tab in my room. I set about on a mission to turn each of my CD's into a digital file that could be accessed easily by the kids without my help. I did this by using audacity. We have the software on our school computer but you can download it for free. (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) Once I had each CD in Mp3 format, I tinkered around with making playlists. This just didn't work because at the beginning of the year, my techno-babies couldn't read. They could work an ipad with ease but they couldn't read the titles of the books well enough to locate them in the playlist. That is when I decided to try QR codes. I quickly uploaded each of my mp3 files to my dropbox and then copied the hyperlink and pasted it into qr code generator. (These are easily found by doing a search for qr code generator). From there I just print the codes onto stickers and affix them to the back of the books. The techno-babies now just pick a book, scan the code, and sit down to read. No buttons, No flipping, No chewed up tapes, and they have rechargeable batteries! YEAH! Also, the bonus...If I don't have a CD for a certain book, I can use audacity to record myself reading the book and do the same thing. Next goal....buy a tape to mp3 converter so I can put all of those old tapes to good use. Any recommendations?