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Friday, December 20, 2013

6th Grade app fluency

6th graders spent much of their time during technology class this past November and December increasing their app fluency and experimenting with app smashing.  The term "app smashing" was originally coined by Greg Kulowiec (@gregkulowiec), but the concept of using multiple apps to merge content is also referred to as App Synergy by educational technology Lisa Johnson (@techchef4u).

Below are some articles on app smashing:

The History 2.0 Classroom: App Smashing Part I

Edudemic: How to use 'App Smashing' in Education

Unleashing Creativity

Tech Chef's App Synergy: The Art Form of App-Smashing

Beth Holland on App Smashing by Greg

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

4M Environmental Unit Glogster Poster

4th graders are in the technology lab right now creating glogster interactive online posters for their social studies environmental unit.  There is a lot of buzz and excitement in the room as students look at pictures of hybrid cars and graphs about space debris, watch videos on GMOs and organic foods, conduct research on websites for organizations such as National Geographic and the National Resource Defense Council, and discuss how to present information on topics such as endangered species, deforestation, alternative energy, extreme weather, climate change, factory farming, and marine debris.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2013-2014 Launch Grant Recipients

Here are the teachers' launch grants from the 2013-2014 school year. You can read more about the launch grant process on our launch grant help page.

Debbie SladeLSMusic notation and skill practice
Carol FineLSTree E-books
Lora Mazaheri and Maura PritchardLSIpads for Differentiation and Assessment
5th & 6th Grade TeachersLS5th & 6th summer iPad prep
Rebecca GearyLSiPad Exploration for Science Instruction
Kelley SchultheisMSAlternative Energy &Animal Behavior
Science Department MSMS Knights of Science Field Study.
Dorothy WilliamsMSLibrary Parent Pages
Susannah WalkerUSUS History Pilot Site
Thomas SiegelUSUS History Pilot Site
Christine OultonUSipad use in classroom
Karina BaumUSSocial media in the classroom
US Science Dept.USiPad Exploration for Science Instruction

Friday, June 7, 2013

Launch 2012-2013: Second Grade Nooks

Objective: To encourage reluctant readers to read during 15-minute “SSR” time each day after lunch.

Set up: 
1) I allocated a desk drawer for Nooks to be kept.
2) I gave instructions as to how Nooks should be handled.
3) I explained Nook basics:
Turning the Nook on/off
How to navigate to the classroom library
Explained that Nooks are to be used for reading books only
(no on-line games or web browsing)

Weeks 1-4: Teacher selected individuals to use Nooks during SSR
Constant questions:
Colin: “When will I get a turn?”
Pablo: “So-and-so has had it for three days in a row!”
Teddy: “Can I have it after so-and-so?

Weeks 5-9: Teacher posted a sign-up sheet for Nook use
Frequent comments/questions:
Alex: “Fotis signed up twice in one week!”
Fotis: “That’s because I traded with Sam and Sam forgot to erase my name!”
Alisa: “Ms. Peterson, I notice that Sam signed up three times this week.”
Sam: “That’s because we didn’t have SSR on two of those days, so I had to sign up a third time!”
Recommendation: For my classroom, the experiment would have been more successful if I had ordered four Nooks instead of two. With four Nooks, I could have assigned Nook useage on a weekly basis by table group. I would order short selections or maybe even just magazines (Time for Kids, National Geographic for Kids, Sports Illustrated for Kids, etc.) to ensure that on one was in the middle of a chapter at the end of the week.

Advantages to this format are:
  • Everyone would have an opportunity to use the Nooks.
  • Students would be exposed to a different media type (magazines).
  • Less time settling disputes over scheduling of the Nooks!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Launch Grant 2012-2013: iPads in the LS Science Classroom

The best laid plans....

At the start of the Launch project, my goal was to use iPads in order to create a portfolio of QR (Quick Response) Codes that contained extension science activities and games for kids to use during choice time or as enrichment. In theory it was a good idea. QR codes are easy to generate. The basic premise is you take a web address enter it into a QR code generator program, and an image like the one below is generated that contains a link to that website, video, or any other digital data.

Young kids, instead of having to type long web addresses, can scan the code (with a QR code scanner app) in order to get to the place or video. It is a great idea and particularly useful for younger students who are still practicing literacy skills, never mind keyboarding!

There are a myriad of free QR code generators including:
And QR scanners (from the APP store – free):

While in theory this was a good idea, and is a concept worth implementing for next year, I found that I did not have enough time in the science classroom to apply QR code use. Instead, I decided to use the iPad as a tool for the kids to express ideas, and demonstrate the knowledge they gained at particular instances during the year. I used the iPads during three targeted units at each grade level I teach: K, 1 and 4.

Fourth graders used the app Explain Everything which is a screen casting application to keep track of the work they were doing during the construction of the solar cars. They also made a movie for next year’s fourth grade with tips on how to solve some of the most common problems that come up during the design and construction of the solar cars. Below is one of the videos made.

To demonstrate their understanding of the mealworm lifecycle, first graders drew pictures of each of the stages of a mealworm’s growth and animated them with and app called Animator Free. Enjoy the movie below...

As the culminating activity of the motion unit, kindergartners designed and created marble coasters. Part of their responsibility included making sure they got a picture with their coaster. Once the picture was obtained, the kindergartners reviewed the path that the marble took on their track, as they animated their picture using the app called Animator Free. Take a look below!

The moral of the story have to go with the flow with technology! While the original goal of my project changed half way through it, I was surprised to learn what a great tool for the science classroom the iPad is. To quote from the EdTech Teacher folks iPads really did “help make (my...) science classroom a site of active learning and critical thinking, furthering student inquiry and connections with the materials.”
Movie 1

-Maria Elena Derrien

Launch Grant 2012-2013: LS French and Spanish Web 2.0 Tools

            This year, the Lower School Spanish and French classes (4-6) experimented with several different Web 2.0 tools. We were looking for inexpensive software that was creative, easy to use, and engaged students vocabulary and grammar skills both written and spoken.  Web 2.0 tools seemed to be the way to go specifically because most websites were free or less than $40.00. Many of the tools offered education specific webpages that provided classroom lists and rubric creators as well as the ability to make the content private to the classroom only with options of sharing it to the public. The following is a brief introduction to each web 2.0 tool, the link to each website, and examples from both French and Spanish classes. In addition, we added QR codes to our multimedia projects. To view them, use any smart device with a QR code scanner (most apps. are free to download) to see and/or hear the projects displayed.

A)  Sound Cloud
B)  QR Code Creator
C)  Animoto
D)  Pixton
E)  Glogster


            Sound cloud is a "social sound platform" that lets anyone share sounds publically or privately on any smart device and computers.  Students in the Spanish classes used Sound Cloud to record paragraphs describing themselves using adjectives. Later we turned their audio into QR codes. Students were able to use ipads to individually record and upload their audio simultaneously.  

Pros:                                                                                             Cons:

Easy to use                                                                                    Registration
Good sound quality                                                                      Another password and user name
Ability to make sounds private
Website for QR codes
Sign in to multiple devices on one account
Easy to share


     With QR, QR codes were created for Spanish student's Animoto and sound cloud activities. Students could scan their smart devices and watch their web 2.0 tool projects come to life. The QR codes could be created with different colors, printed and emailed. The QR codes were a fun way to display students work and keep an element of surprise when presenting projects. Students liked the idea of creating scavenger hunts using QR codes in our future language classes.

Pros:                                                                        Cons:

Easy to use                                                               Takes time to add each webpage
Easy to print
No registration

C) ANIMOTO:                                           

            In the French and Spanish classes we experimented with Animoto. Animoto is a creative website to make quick and easy videos. Students created video flashcards to practice new vocabulary and verbs. We liked the user friendliness of being able to log on to one account on several computers or iPads to create videos, and students were able to create Animotos in one class period. There were limitations  Students were engaged and expressed their enjoyment with the project. The videos were fun to watch and they asked to use Animoto again for additional projects.

 Pros                                                                         Cons:                                            
Easy to use                                                               Computer and iPad Animoto different
Many users on one account                                      Another registration
QR code friendly                                                      Pay for upgrade
Easy to share with others                                          Difficult to find songs without English
Ability to make private and public                            Photo bank limited
Good online tutorials

D) Pixton:

            Students in French and Spanish explored Pixton. Pixton is a website that creates fun and easy comics for a small fee. What we liked about Pixton was it allowed us to create class lists, rubrics and projects for students. We could track each student on a private school account as well as grade and comment on each of their projects. Students made comics using new vocabulary and grammar for basic conversations. When students first used Pixton, it took a class period to familiarize themselves with the program and several class periods to complete. For the first project we let them explore, but quickly realized that they were distracted making their avatars rather than focusing on the assignment. The second time around, we found more productive to create the comic and have them fill in the conversations. Students enjoyed Pixton and expressed that they didn't want to stop using it.

Pros:                                                                                 Cons:

inexpensive                                                                        Not free
QR code friendly                                                               Accent marks difficult to use
Can make private                                                               Takes some time to set up
Class list creator                                                                 Another registration/password
track student homework/work                                    
Rubric creator
comment on student work
students can comment on students work
Make private
Access to all accounts
Can create accounts for students on one main account
Access to edit
Easy to share
Easy to use
Easy to contact support via email or phone
Great online tutorials

E) Glogster:

Spanish and French students explored Glogster to create virtual posters for their MFA Projects, and in French, to create personal narratives to describe themselves. Students in both classes created Glogs to write and to illustrate information about their French or Spanish artists for their MFA Action projects (collabration between Art, Culture and Technology for MFA Day.) We liked that students were able to make posters without the mess, it was easy to use, and students could add illustrations, videos and music to support their research in one place. It was not easy to add accent marks and students demonstrated frustration. The only way we could add them was to use one specific font in a word document then copy and past the accents to the Glog.  Students expressed that they liked sing glogs and wanted to use them again.

Pros:                                                                                Cons:

inexpensive                                                                      Not free
QR code friendly                                                             Accent marks difficult to use
Can make private                                                             Takes some time to set up
Class list creator                                                               Another registration/password
track student homework/work
Make private
Access to all accounts
Can create accounts for students on one main account
Access to edit
Easy to share
Easy to use
Good online tutorials

            Overall, we found these web 2.0 tools to be a fun way to present old material and make it new and fresh. Each tool was easy to use with plenty of tutorials to help along the way. Becoming familiar with the programs varied in time. We were often frustrated about registration and remembering different username and passwords. In addition, we had to actively make content private for websites we did not purchase and made specifically for the classroom. We enjoyed discovering new tools and watching students engaged in displaying their different language skills.

-Cristina Carrion Murphy and Soizick Munir