Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday News

I hope everyone had a great week like us. One of my students had a brush with greatness which was very exciting to be a part of. So let's take a look at some of the stuff that took place this week.

So I teach three different sections of grade 4 science. I was looking for some new ways to get some assessments for the classes. I came across a great site called EDpuzzle. On this site you can set up a classroom very similar to Google Classroom. Then you can place a video where the class and students can go in and watch them and then answer questions you make up for them on the video. The best part is that you can totally alter the video so you can make it shorter or even add your own voice over videos that might not be in english. It's a clever little site that I am excited to explore some more. 
Back in January I challenged my students to write a letter to someone who inspired them. It was a great way to practice the skill of letter writing. Many of my students picked a variety of people and of course we saw the typical selections like Taylor Swift, One Direction, and Demi Lovato. Some of the kids are starting to get responses from the people they selected. One of our students got a package from author Robert Munch two weeks ago. However, this week we got one of the coolest packages in our classroom from our famous people. In my mail slot I had this really long envelope that clearly stated not to bend. I wasn't sure what was in their but I flipped it over to be stunned at who it was from. I took it up to the classroom immediately and showed the student who it was addressed to. Instantly, there was a grin from ear to ear and course an excessive amount of jumping. Which is funny because the person she wrote to is known for his jumping ability. Her famous person was NBA great Michael Jordan. Well here is the picture of what his "Airness" sent to my grade 3 student. 

Yeah that is signed!!! So cool!!! I was one extremely jealous teacher. 

Finally I've been working on Non-Fiction writing with my students for the past few weeks and created an assignment around the great "I Survived" book series. The series is based on real historical events but tells a fictional story in relation to the real events. My students have been absolutely hooked. They have no finished reading their selected books which they partner read. Now they are working on researching the actual event then creating an interactive Google Slides presentation. Here are some great photos of them working together. 

How did your week go?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Friday's News

In our next of the woods we had a four day week thanks to a PD day. However, like every four day week it was jam packed with lots of things.

Last weekend, Jeff attended the Google Apps for Education summit in town. There was over 900 educators who also attended the amazing event. The guest speakers who came to present came from all over the place and their ideas of how to implement EdTech in the classroom was simply amazing. Jeff attempted to successfully implement one new thing a day this week(come back next week to see some of the cool things he did)
Jeff also started his grade 4 science unit on Pulleys and Gears. Some of the things included giving the students a perspective of how gears work by travelling around a race track with an F1 car as it changes through high speeds and its gears. The kids loved it.

The kids also had a chance to recreate a water well after watching some villagers in Peru who made one for $35 with materials they found around the village. However, I supplied the materials for the kids and gave them price values for the materials they could buy. Here are some of the samples of what they produced. 
Here is a video of one group's attempt

Finally, in Jeff's class he showed them a great presentation on Growth Mindset, challenging them to try and always push themselves and not take the easy way out of things. His student all came up with things that have "YET" to accomplish and then they placed them all on the wall to see. His students are now working towards trying to complete these goals. They are also learning celebrate their mistakes.

How was your week?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Celebrate Mistakes and Growth

Don't you just love staff meetings? I know seriously everyone gets to sit around and you usually listen to the same old thing. If your lucky someone brought some licorice or a homemade salsa dip or even better fresh baked cookies. However, every once in a while you attend a staff meeting and you see something you haven't seen before and it just hits you like "wow, I think that might be a good thing to do in my class but how?"

At our last staff meeting one of our teachers brought a presentation from a PD session that she attended. It was around the idea of "Growth Mindset". The concept is simple. Challenge your brain to grow by not always taking the easy route to solving a problem or attempting a task. While the concept seems simple when you actually sit back and reflect upon your teaching practise how often do you push your students to actually let their brain grow? A majority of your class on a given day would likely pick the easy route to do anything then the harder one. We know this and it shouldn't be a secret as we probably do the same thing on occasions when it comes to preparing assessments and lessons.

So why does this happen? How do we get away from it? That's hard and it probably looks and sounds very different in each class. 

Recently, I challenged my class to think of things that they find hard to do. It could be anything like getting straight A's on their report, scoring perfect on a spelling quiz, performing a presentation by themselves, or even finding away to make and keep friends on the school yard. All things that sound easy to an older person but are a real challenge to those around us. Remember, I have a grade 3/4 split class and these are the things they think about on a daily basis.

When I challenged my class to think of these things I had them record their ideas on a poster similar to the picture you will see below. I asked them to think of that something that was their particular challenge and I said to them to write it down on the sheet and say "I've never been able to..... YET!" 

See that's their goal now for the rest of the year. Each day they will be given an hour or so to come up with ideas that they can do that will help them accomplish their "YET"

My hope is that by taking these steps towards accomplishing their "YET" they will see that challenging themselves will help allow their brains to grow. Prove to them that it's alright to make mistakes as they accomplish their goal. Finally, I want them challenge themselves to get out of the route of taking the easy way out by doing something that means extra special to them.

Their posters hang in our room now right by where they stack their chairs daily. They see these posters at the start and end of their day. It's a nice reminder to them to push harder each day. This wall has become my new favourite wall in my classroom. Even our Kindergarten buddies got in on the action and have their own wall too. That one is my second favourite wall. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

My Weekend with "The Google"

I am going to apologize up front for the length of this post but I had an "a-ha" moment this weekend. Well, not really an "a-ha" moment that we speak of that we want to see in our students but more of a "Holy crap, this is AWESOME" sort of moment this past weekend when I attended the 3rd Google Apps for Education(also known as GAfE for those in the know) summit in Kitchener, Ontario. I will tell you if you get a chance to ever attend it is a MUST!

I have to admit at first when I first sat down with someone and had a chat about GAfE outside of a school setting I told her that she was crazy. I said "it's a fad and will be out the door before it even gets going" Well here I am swallowing the proverbial crow. Sorry Secondgradealicious you where right and I was wrong. GAfE is here to stay and I am so happy for it. Attending the summit this weekend I got a great chance to collaborate and speak with so many others around the province as to how effective this is and going to change the way we teach in the future.

The weekend started out in a high school gymnasium full of energy and excitement to learn. Either that or there was an excessive amount of coffee served before the show got started. Being at a teaching conference that is entirely possible. There was #hashtags flying around like snow on a January day in Ontario(last snow joke of the year). You could tell the day was going to rock.

Throughout the weekend I attended 8 jam packed sessions. Saturday, I had the privilege to sit in on sessions such as flipping the classroom with videos produced with EDpuzzle(check this site out. These guys are onto something). Then it was onto something that I've come accustomed to this year and that is using GAfE for students with exceptionalities. Part of my teaching role this year is in Special Education and having students use Chromebooks and GAfE to help them in their daily work. After lunch, did I mention the lunch? It was good. Isn't a free lunch always good though? We discussed the how to create interactive presentations through Google Slides. This one I was excited about because it was a great presentation to change the mundane presentations that we've all seen through our careers. I might even use it for staff meetings :). Finally, I attended a session on Google Classroom. Another program I've become quite familiar with as I've been using it for the past year and love it almost as much as my students do.

Saturday ended with a bang though with my first ever experience with a demo slam. If your ever asked to attend a demo slam say "YES". While my description might make you think " what" you need to go for yourself and make your own decision. It consisted of 12 Google "groupies" ok they where special instructors really, showing us their best demo of something fun in the span of three minutes. It introduced me to the world of youtubepure (its youtube, without the annoying ads about how you can become a super huge bodybuilder)
or how about "Let me Google that for you" a great site to pass along to all those people who see you using a computer or EdTech and saying "oh how do I do....." well this site is sort of cheeky way to say here this is how you do it.

Sunday, started out with the same level excitement as Saturday. Did I mention the excessive amount of coffee? The morning made me so excited because Kevin Brookhouser was the keynote speaker and he was amazing. I became sort of a fan-boy of this man and not in the crazy obsessive way. I've visited his site 15 times in the past two days, that's normal right? He talked about the need to tap into creating education for human consumption. Check out his 20time project. Amazing stuff! Oh 16 times now.

After listening to Kevin speak I wanted to learn how to better use another very cool tool in Google Forms. I was able to create a spreadsheet and form that automatically sent emails from me to parents of students and it kept track of all the details to have a full detailed history of all our communications. From there it was listening to an amazing teacher who is using GAfE in his grade 2 class. Yes, even grade 2 students are excelling with this amazing tool. Love it! From there it was back to the free lunch table. hmmmm free lunch. I also sat in a breakout meeting with some Google experts. Sort of like having lunch with the rock stars of the summit. After I spent two sessions on how to use Google to collaborate with other teachers not just in my school but around the world. YES the world, going global people! Talk about a great way to expose our students to things you can't learn in a text book. Bring the actual people into your classroom through Google Hangouts.

All in all it was an amazing weekend. I learned so much in just two days that I am so excited to introduce to my staff and classroom. Most of all I am excited to try it with those that matter most. My students! At the end of the weekend I sort of felt like this, but in a good way.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Friday's News

Happy Friday!!!

How was your week?

This was a short week for us in Ontario.  Still feel like we are getting back into the swing of things. 

We are gearing up for Earth Day with our Earth Day package.  

This package includes activities and information on Earth Day to motivate your students to get involved.  How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day with your students? Tell us in the comment section below. 

Next is our daughters new favourite book.  It's Called Toots by Leslie Patricelli.  I think my daughter and I may have to share this book as I find it just as funny as she does.  This is a funny little book for emergent readers or kids who like potty humour.  

This next picture seems to be the theme of the week for me.  
Thought I would share it with you all;)

Wishing you all a great weekend!