Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It's Summer! Now What?

Many parents have contacted me asking for ideas for activities to keep the learning flowing during summer. Here are a few possibilities:

pvLearners/Google Apps - The student pvLearners accounts remain active all summer! My class has become pretty proficient with Google apps so students can continue creating documents, surveys, presentations, etc.

Digital Storytelling - This tech savvy group could use a variety of digital storytelling tools including text, photography, video, audio and graphic illustrations to put together stories this summer. Some good digital storytelling apps include Tellagami, ScreenChomp, ThingLink, Animoto and PuppetPals.

Read - All students have access to the school's online library all summer. It can be accessed here, and the kids all know their username and password. 
Make a Movie - Movie creation is such an amazing learning experience! It would be a lot of fun to make a movie documenting the summer, a summer vacation or a topic of interest. Great movie-making tools include YouTube Editor, WeVideo and iMovie. There are lots of fun movie making apps too like Magisto or 1SecondEveryday that would activate some movie-making creativity. 

Blog - The student KidBlog accounts are still active all summer or students can set up his or her own blog using a pvLearners account and blogger. 

Foreign Language - Rosetta Stone accounts are still active through the month of June and can be extended for the rest of the summer. Just contact the PVUSD Community Ed Department to upgrade your account. 

Khan Academy - Khan Academy provides a free, world class education for anyone! It is accessible on nearly any device. 

Letter Writing - Writing is more fun with an authentic audience and a purpose. Summer is the perfect time for students to write letters or send emails to out of state relatives and friends. 

Photo Journalism- In this day and age, everyone has a digital camera in his or her pocket at almost all times. Student photography offers a unique perspective and creates a nice summer memoir.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Last Day of School

Our Final Moments
 The 2013-2014 school year was an incredible one for me, and I will never forget it. Each student played a special role and brought something important to the class. This was a class of eager learners, high achievers and students who were kind, generous, funny and sweet. Through this blog, you now have a permanent record of the amazing 2013-2014 school year. The blog will be archived so you and/or your child can look back at what we did in 1st or 2nd grade.
Bidding Farewell To The 6th Grade Class
Thanks so much to YOU, all the parents who were so unbelievably supportive all year. This is truly a year I will remember forever, with the fondest of memories. As exciting as the idea of summer break always is, I always feel bittersweet at the end of a school year. I cherish the final moments with each student, knowing the next time I will see them they will be older, wiser, taller and just a little bit different. Thank you all for an incredible school year!
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
~Dr. Seuss
Watch the video above to see 1 second every day from the last month (or so) of school.


We entered many academic competitions and challenges this year and as is usually the case, many results are announced at the end of the year. The class once again did very well in the Noetic Math Competition. We had one perfect score and many other students finished in the top 10% nationally
Lots of other students earned an honorable mention, placing in the top 50% nationally. 
The class participated in the Continental Math League throughout the year and our first place winner (who earned perfect scores during all three meets) was rewarded with a trophy.
The analogy based WordMasters Challenge ended in a tie this year, with many other students doing very well! WordMasters Challenge winners each received a special medal.
 Last, but not least, the prizes finally arrived for the Be Kind People Project national writing competition! Not only did our first place winner receive a t-shirt and a gift certificate, the Be Kind People sent us goodies for the entire class! 
Congratulations to ALL students for their hard work and academic success this year! Competition is stiff in these academic competitions, and everyone performed well!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tweeting in the Classroom

We have been using Twitter this year to follow other classes on overnight field trips, tweet to the White House, the Minnesota Zoo and a few other locations during virtual field trips, and contact celebrity scientists and authors. Most recently we have been using Twitter to communicate with some of the other classrooms we have been doing our Mystery Skypes with. A few years ago my class created a Twitter Tutorial video and my class this year decided it was time for an update. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hat Day!

Students had a lot of fun today participating in the Hat Day fundraiser, a spirit day sponsored by the Student Council. For a dollar, students could break dress code and wear a hat all day. The money collected is being donated to ChangeMakers which is using the money to purchase books for the school library. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mystery Skype

A couple weeks ago we participated in our first Mystery Skype and the students LOVED IT!
It was such a fabulous learning opportunity, I was eager to get involved in another one as soon as possible!
We set up some guidelines for our Mystery Skypes and students were assigned roles. We had greeters, questioners, answerers and closers and every student was a researcher. To begin the activity, our assigned greeters said hello and welcomed the other Mystery Skype classroom. The purpose of our Mystery Skypes was to figure out what state the other classes were located.
Students took turns asking yes or no questions like, "Does your state border another country? Is your state west of the Mississippi River? Was your state one of the original thirteen colonies?" 
Students worked in small groups using portable devices and maps to answer questions about our state and also eliminate the states that based on the clues, couldn't be where our Mystery Skype class was located. As we went along, we got better at answering in complete sentences. "Yes, our state does begin with a vowel. No, our state is not part of New England."
After each class guesses the correct state, the closers take some time and and give the other class some facts about our state, school and class. I couldn't believe the tremendous learning the occurred during each Mystery Skype! Students worked collaboratively, had to communicate effectively, do research, use geography skills, and use deductive reasoning. Throughout both our Mystery Skypes, I saw almost 100% engagement! Watch the video below to see our first Mystery Skype in action!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Biography Book Report

Can You Spot Helen Keller, Ronald Reagan and Abigail Adams?
We had a lot of fun presenting our biography book reports and most of the students got really into his or her character!
Can You Spot Thomas Edison, Jackie Robinson and Christopher Columbus?
Watch the video clip below to see exactly who we had in our classroom!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Gift

The class was so excited to make a gift for their mom for 
Mother's Day!
Each student got a plate and using permanent markers, carefully added a design. Students were very careful to choose their mom's favorite colors.
I brought the plates home and baked them to set the design. I baked the plates at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
The finished products are beautiful! Many students were a little dismayed and concerned that the baking faded some of the colors, particularly green and blue.
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Cards With The Tellagami App

 An early Happy Mother's Day to all the fantastic moms! We created Mother's Day cards, but of course, added a 21st century twist.
First, students wrote a script in Google docs containing the message they wanted to send to their mom. After editing and practicing reading aloud, students were ready for the next step.
Using the Tellagami app, students created an avatar that looked like them. Then they set the avatar somewhere. 
What I love about this app is you can take a photo and set the avatar somewhere, real, like the classroom! This adds an element of Augmented Reality, one of my favorite new learning tools.
Next students read their script into the app, attaching their voice to their avatar.
Once they finished, a link to their video was generated. Students took the link and inserted it into a QR Code Generator. Then, they copied the URL of their QR Code and inserted the image of the QR Code into a Google doc, which I printed for them. In order to scan your special message, use any free QR Code reader. I like the i-nigma app, but there are literally hundreds to choose from.
The final step was pasting the QR Code onto their card, adding stickers, decorations and a personalized handwritten message to mom! Everyone enjoyed this project and the Tellegami app (free!) was a big hit! Happy Mother's Day!
Here is a link to an adorable sample gami and here is another

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

We wrapped up our unit about Cinco de Mayo with a fun fiesta on the 5th of May!
We learned about the significance of Ojo de Dios and each student got to create one. 
Later we read a short story about pinatas, and then everyone got to create their own paper bag pinata. They were stuffed with candy and sent home to be smashed.
Our final activity of the day was a delicious snack of chips and salsa, which every student really enjoyed! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Using Augmented Reality With Book Reports

Earlier this year students created book jackets for a book report assignment. Then we took this activity a step further! Students recorded their book jacket presentation using an iPad. Then, we took a photo of the actual book cover, not the one they created. We uploaded the photo and the video into the Aurasma App. Now, when we use that app and scan the book, the video of the student presenting their book report pops up. 
Screenshot From the Aurasma App
This is a type of technology called Augmented Reality and it has been a lot of fun to integrate into the classroom this year! At home if you download the Aurasma App (it's free) you can search for my channel. If you scan the book your child read, you may be in for a treat! We created a brief video on this project. Click below to view.