I first heard of EdCamp from a fellow blogger, Darin Johnston @AnIowaTeacher, in his blog post My #edcampMadWI Expereince. His blog post had piqued my interest, and I recently had been to another unconference, Pod Camp Pittsburgh, #pcpgh8, with my tech-savvy boyfriend (who is the brains behind this blog operation). We learned a lot at Pod Camp about blogging, search engine optimization and social media, so I figured trying a education-focused unconference would be a great way to learn more about current trends in education and connect with other educators.
So You Might be Wondering, “What is an “Unconference”?”
Yesterday, I attended the unconfence, EdCamp PGH, #edcamppgh, which is kind of like a professional development conference, except its not! What makes EdCamp different than a conferences is that class offerings and schedule are completely determined by the participants. At the start of the day participants jot topics they want to learn more about on sticky notes and post stick them on a piece of chart paper. Then there is another chart with a table, where the session times are listed down the side and the available rooms are listed across the top. If someone feels they are confident in moderating the discussion they move the topic from the first chart and place it in a time slot and a room. From there the organizers put the schedule up on the website, so participants can access it from our lap tops, tablets and smart phones.
At the beginning of the school year I created an interactive presentation for the daily calendar routine in my classroom. Included in this PowerPoint were YouTube videos of a weather song and a calendar song. Unfortunately, these songs seem to keep getting taking off YouTube. My students happened to be learning about proper nouns including the days of the week, so I decided film our own days of the week rap video. We had previously filmed a video of the Ants Go Marching which was one of my favorite projects this school year! I felt like it was time for another music project;, what better way to shake the winter blues!? I love using songs to teach concepts, because they really help to make the material stick! Continue reading →
My fellow building Technology Integrator and myself recently presented our favorite interactive websites to our faculty. We presented these to both our building staff, and then we were honored to share the list with the entire district-wide faculty. Our district has recently installed Epson Brightlink Interactive Projectors in the Elementary classrooms and the Junior High classrooms. We have found that many of of staff are uncomfortable with the new technology and have become overwhelmed some of our trainings on IWB software, such as ActivInspire. We compiled this list of our favorite interactive websites to provide teachers with a list of resources that they can go to for ready-made activities to use with their IWBs or on student computers. Continue reading →
We read the story titled On the Way to the Pond about two friends, Herbert and Tess, who want to go to the pond for a picnic! On the way they misplace their picnic basket, and Tess goes back to find it. She drops rocks along the way so she can find her way back. In math we have been working on addition and subtraction. I thought it would be cute if I sent my students on a QR scavenger hunt around the building. My plan was to attach the QR codes to rocks like in the story, and in the end they would find a picnic basket filled with treats!
Creating the QR Hunt
I used the website QR Voice that I had previously used for my What’s in the Bag? project. I typed in short addition and subtraction word problems, and QR voice generates a QR code. There is a 100 character limit for QR Voice. When students scan the code they hear the word problem read to them. I copied and pasted the QR codes into a word document. I also made a page with the word problems, so the teacher can reread the word problem if needed. Additionally, I included an answer key and a sheet where students can record their responses.
Going on the QR Code Scavenger Hunt
I printed the QR Codes and attached them to rocks with duct tape. During my planning period, I hid the rocks throughout the hallways in the school, and placed the picnic basket full of goldfish crackers at the end. I notified the teachers in my building that I was hiding rocks around the building, and asked them to inform their students. The class had tons of fun scanning the QR codes and solving the word problems. They were super excited each time the spotted a new rock! When they found the picnic basket at the end we went back to the classroom, sat in a big circle, and ate our goldfish crackers! The only snag we ran into was that one of the rocks got stolen!
All primary teachers know that Reader’s Theater is a great way to promote fluency and expression in students’ oral reading. Recently, we read two different pieces of literature in class that lend themselves nicely to Reader’s Theater. The first story, Try Your Best, is a realistic fiction story composed of mostly dialogue between characters about kids at a summer camp. The second story, Did You See Chip?, was a play about a girl who moves to the new city, looses her dog, and makes new friends on her journey to recover her missing pup! I wanted to try incorporating technology into my students’ Reader’s Theater experiences. For these two projects I selected two different tools, Voki, a web based tool, and Puppet Pals 2, an iPad app. Continue reading →
We read a delightful story titled Space Pup, about a super hero dog who rescues a bus that is stuck in the mud. I thought it would be fun to challenge students to extend the story by creating their own Space Pup adventure. I thought I could introduce my students to story elements by having them create a comic strip. Continue reading →
This week we read an informational text titled All That Corn in our Harcourt Trophies reading books. On Day 2 of the Harcourt Trophies plan it recommends that the teacher help students create a concept map about farms. I have been eager to use a new, web-based, mind mapping tool with my students and I saw this as the perfect opportunity. When I did my action research during my graduate studies with my PreK students, I used Kidspiration software for mind mapping. Kidspiration is a good software package, but for the purposes of this blog I want to make sure that I am showcasing applications that are free and accessible to everyone. Plus, I know there are many mind mapping tools that have come out in the past few years, so I wanted to familiarize myself with the new tools out there. The world of educational technology is ever-changing, so it is important to stay up to date! Continue reading →