Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Report Writing and ChatterPix

Look at these great illustrations from our penguin research project! Students selected one of the 17 different kinds of penguins to research and used non-fiction books, a student subscription to WorldBook Online, the Web site KidZone Penguins, and the kid-friendly search engine KidRex to research their penguin.

Students learned about their penguins location in the world, their size, diet, habitat, predators, and an interesting fact. Students checked in with me to make sure their research information was accurate before proceeding to the next step.

Students then used their knowledge about their penguin to draw a full color picture of their penguin and their habitat using crayons as this medium shows up really well in ChatterPix.

Using their iPads and the App ChatterPix, students took a picture of their penguin drawing. Then students drew a line for a mouth on their penguin picture and recorded their voice "speaking" as the penguin.

Finally, we did some "App Smashing." We uploaded our Penguin ChatterPix videos to SeeSaw and shared them to our class blog. We also printed out a paper copy of our research reports from SeeSaw and hung them on the bulletin board in the hallway so other students could scan the QR code reader and learn from our research. Finally, we uploaded our penguin research projects to Padlet so we can share them with parents, our school community, and you.

Click on this link to listen to our penguin research projects https://padlet.com/rafterys/penguin Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Formative Assessment and Classkick

Happy New Year friends! I'm so glad to get back to blogging. While I've been away, I have been learning about some of the best Apps for teachers. Right before Winter Break, I started using a formative assessment App called Classkick with my primary students and it's one of my new FAVORITE things. Are you using it in your classroom? If not, you should give it a try.

Classkick can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store. Chromebook, laptop, or desktop users can access Classkick from classkick.com. Before I downloaded the App (my district requires iPad Apps to be approved and it takes a few days), I made QR codes that directed students to their Classkick assignment.

Classkick is very teacher friendly and their Web site has tons of tutorials and get started guides for every grade level. I watched a few tutorials and uploaded my first assignment in under an hour.

Students can work at their own pace and receive immediate teacher feedback by virtually raising their hand. Students can click on the hand icon when they need help or are ready to turn in their assignment. In my class, students know to be on the lookout for teacher feedback on their Classkick assignment before moving on to the next activity. I've also set the expectation that students need to go back and fix incorrect answers. After students fix their mistakes, I can drag "old" feedback that is no longer needed to the trash can to delete it. I enjoy the ability to "pass" the paperless assignment back-and-forth without exchanging any paper.

Teachers have the ability to upload any PDF assignments to Classkick. As a primary teacher, I have hundreds of paper assignments in my filing cabinets. I also have tons of Word and PowerPoint files (yes, I create/design my Add Some Sparkle materials in PPT) that can be saved easily as PDF files. I like the fact that I don't have to create a separate multiple choice, short answer, or true/false assignment in order to use Classkick as a formative assessment tool. I'm all for working smarter, not harder.

Teachers have the ability to record their voice on assignments. Instead of typing out a bunch of written directions, I simplified my teacher directions and recorded a short audio segment with the steps students should follow to complete the assignment. Students could go back and listen to the audio directions as many times as they needed.

Classkick's Whole Class View is a dashboard that allows the teacher to see every student working on the assignment in real time. It's a bit mesmerizing to watch students all working at the same time at their own pace. As students are working on their assignment, I pull up and monitor the Whole Class View. With this view pulled up, I can monitor which students are needing my help, assess and provide feedback on assignments that are completed, award points for assignment completion, and export the assignment data.

I would love to hear how you're using Classkick in your classroom. What are your favorite things about it? Let's share ideas.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Class Checklists: Best Resource EVER!

Have you tried using a class checklist in your classroom? If not, you're missing out on the BEST RESOURCE EVER. It is my secret weapon that I use on a daily basis to keep me organized in my classroom.

Want to try one? It's a free resource from my TpT store, Add Some Sparkle.

Here's how you can get started:

  1. Download the Editable Class Checklist from my TpT Store
  2. Choose either the 25 student or 30 student checklist 
  3. Locate the editable sections of the resource by clicking on the blue boxes 
  4. Fill out the left side of your checklist with your classroom information, assignment information (if desired...I usually leave this blank), and your class roster. The form will automatically fill in the right-side of the document for you after you hit the "return/enter" key when you're finished typing.  
  5. Print your checklist. 
Now what? 
Print out a plain, white copy of your checklist and take it to a local printer (like Office Depot) to be made into tear-off pads. You'll need to tell the printer a few printing instructions: print on bright, colored paper, cut in half vertically, bind at the top, and each tear-off pad should have 50 sheets of paper each with a cardboard back.   

If you don't want to spend the money to make into tear-off pads, you can bind the checklist yourself with a small binder clip.

Classroom Organization Heaven 
I've used this resource in my classroom for ten years and I still love it. Here's some tips and tricks on how you can use it in your room. 
  • A teacher or the students themselves can put a checkmark in the "Done" column when they turn their assignment in. I leave a class checklist and a pencil on top of the tray where students turn in assignments and have taught them how to "mark it done" before they turn their assignment into the tray. 
  • There's no need to put graded papers in alphabetical or special number order. I use a class checklist while I grade and use this paper when I input my grades electronically. The students names are in alphabetical order on the checklist and that corresponds to my electronic grade book. I group my checklists by subject and group them with a binder clip to serve as a paper "backup" just incase my electronic grade book crashes (fingers crossed this never happens).   
  • If a parent volunteer or assistant needs to work with students, I give them a checklist. It gives them a quick reference on who the "next" student they need to work with is and it tells me as teacher who has completed the assignment or activity in one glance.  
  • I can't tell you how many times (picture day, fundraiser packet distribution day, district testing day) I needed a quick listing of the first and last names of everyone who was in my class. A class checklist does the trick every time. 
I'd love to hear how you are using my class checklists in your classroom. Send me a tweet @addsparkle88 or follow me on Instagram @addsomesparkle88.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hashtags and Community Building

Hello friends! I've been so inspired by #miss5thswhiteboard on Instagram and how she uses her classroom whiteboard to engage her students and build community that I want to do something similar with my 2nd graders.  

Have you seen some of the incredible work on Instagram? Check it out because it is AMAZING.

It got me thinking about how I could incorporate weekly social media hashtags to "frame" the whiteboard conversations in my classroom. Students would use a dry erase marker to post their response to the question or conversation topic of the day. Here's an example of how I plan to use this tool in my classroom below:

Aside from creating academic connections, I'm also excited about the opportunity to inspire some lively conversations and connections among us as a classroom community.

I compiled some of my favorite weekly social media hashtags for you below:
Click here to download a copy for yourself Social Media Hashtag Freebie.

I'd love to hear from you and how you've used your whiteboard to inspire community building in your classroom. Send me a tweet @addsparkle88 or follow me on Instagram @addsomesparkle88

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Working on Writing Fluency

Have you ever had a student tell you they were *ready* to edit with the teacher during Writer's Workshop and you read the VERY FIRST sentence of their writing and it doesn't make any sense?

I attended a Smekens Education Writing Workshop led by Courtney Gordon and learned about a unique tool to help students with their writing fluency called "audience on a stick." Now, my students must read their writing piece orally to their audience member when they think their piece is "done." The tool allows students to hear their writing mistakes and fix-up their own writing BEFORE they come to conference with me. (Sing hallelujah)
Some examples of the unique audience members students created: Darth Vader, a Colts football player, Mojo from Class Dojo, and an African Penguin. 
Students used a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 construction paper cut into fourths, art supplies, and a extra-long, jumbo popsicle stick (purchased in the craft section of Walmart) to create a colorful real life or fictional audience member. I explained that we would cut a "bubble" around their animal or person so they didn't need to use the entire space I've given them. I used clear packing tape to affix the audience member to the popsicle stick.

We keep the audience members in a pencil cup next to our Writing Workshop materials. Students can choose to use their own audience member or one their classmate has created. The unique choices of audience on a stick members keeps students engaged with the fluency tool long after it was first introduced.
Clockwise from top: A student self-portrait, Pikachu from Pokemon, fantasy animal lion/cheetah, a pet cat, and our classroom collection of audience on a stick members. 
As a bonus, students can use the "audience on a stick" tool to help them with their reading fluency as well as their writing fluency. It's a win-win situation.

If you get the chance, check out the Smekens Education Website for more great classroom resources from Courtney and her fabulous colleagues.

I'd love to hear how you are using "audience on a stick" in your classroom. It would make my day if you would send me a Tweet @addsparkle88 or tag me in an Instagram pic at addsomesparkle88.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

3 Fabulous Math Games for Fact Fluency

Hi friends! I'm sharing three math fact games perfect for fluency practice that your students are going to LOVE playing. These math fact games allow for differentiation at different levels of math fact mastery so all students can play the same game at a math station, center, or in a small group.

Sequence Num6ers (7+ adult): This game is for 3 players individually or 3 student teams working in partner groups. The object of the game is to score one sequence of 5 chips in a down, across, or diagonal pattern on the gameboard before your opponents. This game is perfect for addition and subtraction math fact practice as the playing cards feature both addition and subtraction number sentences. Colored coded number sentences and corresponding answers on the gameboard help students with their fact fluency. Students who need extra support can play the game with a number line. A few unexpected twists keep game play fun. Two "plus" cards allows a player to place a chip in any open space on the game board allowing players to "block" each other and the two "minus" cards allows you to remove an opponent's chip on the gameboard.

Double Shutter Shut the Super Box (6+ adult): This game is suitable for 1-4 players (you will need to keep score with the multiplayer game). The object of the game is to shut all of the tiles in the box or have the lowest remaining total on the board. The game directions are primarily written for addition but I've modified this game in the classroom and used this game for addition, subtraction, or multiplication fact practice. Students start with all the tiles flipped up. They roll two dice and create as many correct addition, subtraction, or multiplication number sentences and answers as they can. For each correct number sentence and answer, they get to shut the corresponding tile. Players can only shut a tile from the back row if the tile in front has already been shut. When the total points on the remaining tiles is six or fewer, players can choose to throw only one dice.

Four Way Countdown (6+ adult): This game is for 2-4 players. The object of the game is to be the first player to flip up all ten keys (wooden pegs) before your opponents. This game allows students to create addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division number sentences to match their roll of the dice. When students create a correct number sentence and answer, they flip up their key on their side of the gameboard. A few twists keep this game exciting, if you roll a double six and you have to put all of your keys back down. Roll an eleven and you get to choose: have it count for a number one (6 - 5 =1) or choose to put all of your opponent's keys down. (This is by far the most popular choice in my classroom.)

I hope that you'll be *Adding Some Sparkle* to your classroom very soon. I'd love to hear from my fellow teachers. How are you using this games in your classroom? Send me a Tweet @addsparkle88 or send me a picture on IG addsomesparkle88. Until next time friends.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hour of Code was a huge hit!

I never thought that computer coding education could begin as early as elementary school but my students proved to me that they had coding talent when we participated in Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week in December. What is it? It's a one hour introduction to computer science where students learn the basics of coding by using problem-solving, logic, and creativity.

I created a QR code choice board of coding activities with different themes such as Star Wars, Anna and Elsa, Flappy Bird, and Minecraft from the Hour of Code website. Students used their iPads and a QR code reader app to scan the QR code of the activity they were interested in. Having the QR code choice board definitely helped my primary students work more independently and allowed them the freedom to try many different types of coding activities.

Students were encouraged to work together in small groups to share their discoveries and help each other problem solve. Students were extremely engaged the entire time they spent coding. I loved hearing how they overcame an obstacle or problem and figured out a complex coding step. I found that these coding lessons provided a great opportunity to talk to my class about the importance of having a growth mindset when you're trying something new.
If you haven't tried an Hour of Code activity with your class, it's not too late! The activities I mentioned above stay up year round. Go to the Web site https://hourofcode.com/us to learn how to get started. Happy coding!