Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Churning Butter

Today in Science class, we churned butter. This integrated with a larger Social Studies unit based on the first Thanksgiving. After writing all the materials and instructions for churning butter, along with predicting what would happen, how long it would take for their butter to churn and a few other things, students worked with a small group churning a small container of cream to turn it into butter. Students observed the results of their labor and tasted the buttermilk they helped create as well. Everyone had fun churning the butter but I think everyone had MORE fun tasting the results of their hard work! Watch the video clip below to see our butter churning in action! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turkey Recipes Via Google Classroom

Every year of my teaching career I have had my students write Thanksgiving turkey recipes to create a funny class book. However, over the years this project has changed fairly dramatically. I used to have students write their recipes by hand. I would take the stack of recipes home and laboriously retype them all. I loved the finished project but did not love how much extra work it created for me.
This year I am extremely lucky to have 1:1 Chromebooks in my classroom and amazingly tech savvy students! I posted the turkey recipe assignment in Google Classroom (a fairly new feature of Google Apps For Education), students each created a document using a recipe template and virtually turned in their completed recipe. Google Classroom neatly tucked them all away in a beautifully organized folder for me! 
Then, we took the project a step further and created a class video about these books. Once it was uploaded to YouTube, a couple of students took the link and created a QR Code for us. We embedded the QR Code on the cover of the book so anyone reading the book can easily scan and view the adorable video.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Balance and Motion

In Science class, we just finished up a unit on balance and motion. We learning how to balance a pencil on the sharpened tip, using a counterweight. We took cardboard crayfish and balanced them in a variety of different ways. We created zoomers and spinners. We built roller coasters - both physical and virtual. But by far the most popular activities were the ones involving tops. Students loved creating, building and spinning tops!
Vocabulary we learned during this unit includes: counterweight, counterbalance, air resistance, stable, slope and rotational motion.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Honored to be Named a Jacobs Educator

Dr. Thomas Brush (Chair, Instructional Systems Technology Department), Josh Mika, Me and Kate Baker
This past weekend I had to great honor of traveling to Indiana University to accept the Jacobs Educator Award. This is an annual award which recognizes teachers across the United States who are using technology to support innovative inquiry-based teaching and learning activities in their classrooms. 
The weekend was a whirlwind of activities and events including touring the IU Campus, meeting with faculty, staff, students, parents of students and the other two awardees. Saturday morning we were part of a panel during Parent Weekend called "Why Teach?", speaking primarily to EDU students and their parents about our views regarding the opportunities, challenges, and rewards of the profession.
Part of the Jacobs Educator Award includes new technology for the classroom along with communication and ongoing collaboration with Indiana University's prestigious school of education. We will be doing many video conferences and professors and students from IU will be visiting the classroom throughout the year to observe how my students use technology for Inquiry Based Learning. 
Google Glass!
The events this weekend were extremely positive and inspiration and I am so excited to be a part of the team of Jacobs Educators and working with Indiana University. Of course, I am so excited for new, cutting edge technology, too! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vine Video Book Trailers

Students recently finished their first book report assignment of the school year. Everyone individually  read a book by Roald Dahl, created a poster about the book, wrote a brief summary and presented their poster to the class. 
We decided to take this project to the next level, by adding a unique technology facet to the assignment. Students used this awesome Vine video storyboard template created by Ms. Gwyneth Jones who was actually the inspiration for this entire lesson!
Using the storyboard, they wrote out the action and the dialogue that they wanted in each brief scene. Then, students recorded their book trailer with a partner or small group using the Vine App on the iPad. 
Vine is a short-form video sharing service. I was excited to try it with my students because iMovie (which I also love) tends to be very time-consuming. Vine allows students to record six second video clips which loop. I liked this project because it also forced students to really think about their message because it had to be very concise. It also allowed students to be creative and since their videos are published, they are also reaching an authentic audience. True 21st Century Learning in action! 
Once all the videos were uploaded to my Vine Channel, students found the video they had created and copied the link. Once the link was on the clipboard, they went to goo.gl and shortened the URL. Next, the clicked on "details" to generated a QR Code, which linked back to their video. Once they accessed the QR Code, students copied the image and pasted it into a Google doc. 
They typed their name underneath using any font they chose and shared the document with me so I could print it. 
Once the QR Codes were printed, they mounted them to a piece of colored paper and affixed it to their poster.
Pretty fancy!
We have two walls of very unique posters about assorted Roald Dahl books!
Do you see the QR Code?
Next came the most fun part of the entire project! Students got to use an iPad and scan all the QR Codes and watch the Vine video book trailers created by their classmates. 
There were many steps to this project: storyboarding the script, recording and producing the video, finding the URL, linking the URL to a QR Code, inserting the QR Code into a Google doc, sharing the doc with me and then adding the physical QR Code to the poster and scanning it. However, my 1st and 2nd grade students never cease to amaze me and glided through the process. This will not be the last time we use Vine or QR Codes in class this year! View one of our Vine video book trailers below or go to my Vine Channel to see all of them.