Monday, March 31, 2014

QR codes in the Listening Center- Follow Up

So earlier this year I posted about using QR codes in my listening center.  If you want to read more from the original post,  here is the link.QR codes in the Listening Center Today I want to quickly share a fast and easy way that I have started generating these codes.  In the past,  I would go to a QR code generator via the web,  paste the audio file web address  from my dropbox ,  generate a qr code, cut and paste the code into a label template in word and then print.  Recently I learned that I could add a chrome extension that would not only shorten urls when I need but will also generate a qr code in a small pop up box right on the same screen. Now I just open dropbox,  click the file I want, and click the shorten-er icon.  This will take the file web address,  shorten it, and also generate a qr code from it.  I can also copy the code directly from the pop-up.  I still have to cut and paste into the label template but it no longer requires as many steps!  I am definitely all about simplifying.  If you would like to view a screencast of how to add and use  the shorten-er extension.  Please click below.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Expository Text in Kindergarten

Well we just finished our first week back after spring break!  We began our unit on expository text and writing. "All about"  books as the kids call them.  I started out by telling the kids we were going to choose a topic together and that we were going to learn how to research that topic using books, experts, and of course technology.  My class immediately chose sharks as their topic.  We then decided that we needed more shark books than I had available in my classroom.  We learned how to use our online library catalog to choose and order books from our school library.  The next step was to choose three questions that we had about sharks.  Our questions were "What body parts do sharks have?"  "What kinds of sharks are there?" and "What do sharks eat?"  Each day we read books and looked on various internet sites such as Nat Geo Kids, Discovery Education, and even the Wild Kratts from PBS kids  to answer our questions.  We charted and compiled all of our information.  We also "consulted" some experts by visiting the live webcams from The Monterey Bay Aquarium.  They have a fantastic site and each day you can watch a live diver in the tank who will talk about all the different fish.  Toward the end of the week,  I modeled and demonstrated how to turn their research into "All About"  books.  The coolest product that we made was using the site Thinglink.  I signed up for a free educator account and then helped small groups create a Thinglink report.  Check out one below.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

20 Questions Live!

Over the last two weeks my kinders have been playing 20 questions with our twitter pals in Michigan.  I got this wonderful idea from an amazing kinder teacher, Matt B. Gomez.  Hop on over to his amazing blog for other incredible ideas.  Matt's Blog After reading his inspirational blog post and watching his video,  I decided to give it a try.  Both my class and our Michigan pals had an absolute blast.  I set up a simple google doc and shared it with the other teacher.  We agreed on a time and voila.... amazing, relevant learning with real world application.  My kids were completely engaged in the reading/decoding,  asking questions, answering questions, and learning digital citizenship!  We played one week with my class selecting a  Texas Longhorn as our "item" and our friends asked the questions and then the following week we played again with us asking the questions.  We had to guess a mitten.  This was so easy to set up and do that we are going to try some other versions.  Perhaps a game centered around math next time!  I have included the link to a video of my class answering questions the first time around.  Give it a try!  You can find someone in your building  or another school or if you have connections with other teachers in other states.  It is so fun & easy.