December 13, 2013

Coding in the Primary Grades

All students in grades 1-12 had an opportunity to participate in an "hour of code" activity that was appropriate to their grade level. First graders used the iPad app Kodable to explore the concepts of planning a sequence, using if/then options and learning to repeat commands. Following the Hour of Code week students have been asking to access the app as one of their options in the classrooms.

Second and Third grades used the coding activities posted at the Computer Science week learn to code page of tutorials. Several students were able to complete the activity, whether they finished or not they all had success with the logical thinking procedures that are the underpinnings of programmming.

This is a slide show of some students at Rowe using iPads and YES learning top program on their laptops with assistants from HMS:

November 16, 2013

Leveraging Learning Conference 2013

Leveraging Learning Conference 2013 - Auburn, ME

The Kindergarten teachers at Rowe School are writing a YEF (Yarmouth Education Foundation) grant to have two iPad in each classroom and the first grade teachers are in their second year of using four iPads in each classroom. Given that, we arranged for six registrations for the two and a half day conference with one hundred-fifty primary educators in Auburn, ME. We rotated teachers so that every teacher who was interested was able to attend for at least one day. These are the notes from the conference. We had several big "takeaways" from the conference. One was that we wanted to limit the number of apps we used and focus on using them for creative expression, not just rote learning.

November 4, 2013

MICDL Consultancy in Honduras, October 2013

This is the presentation that I prepared for faculty meetings to share the experience of spending a week with a consultancy team working with the Honduran Department of Education project on technology for learning and innovation.

October 12, 2013

ACTEM MaineED Conference October 11, 2013

I worked with Amy Finnen on a session about classroom blogging. Most classrooms are using this tool and the three Kindergarten teachers who took the Yarmouth summer course worked together to fine tune their approach to sharing learning with families in their blogs.

This is the presentation we used for the session:

August 9, 2013

Maine Google Apps Summit

For the second year I attended and presented at the Maine Google in Education Summit, this year it was held at Hampden Academy on August 8 & 9. This gives me an opportunity to share with others and meet educators who are also using Google Apps in their districts. 

This year my sessions were:

June 25, 2013

Sebago Education Alliance (SEA) Tech Camp

My teaching and learning are continuing as I present and attend sessions at the SEA Tech Camp for teachers. On Monday I taught two half day sessions: Adding Media to Blogs, Wikis and Sites and What I Learned in School Today - Elementary Blogs. The links are to the plans for the sessions that include online links to help sheets and other resources. As always I learned while teaching and it was great to collaborate with other educators.

Today I am attending Alice's session on Google Certified Trainer session on using Google Apps. One of my goals this summer is to become a certified trainer taking the online series of trainings. There are a lot of people here who are not using using Google Apps for Education and I am struck by how much our district has come to rely on the interoperability and collaboration options of our domain.

June 20, 2013

Summer-Fall Yarmouth Technology Course 2013

In the week after students finished classes in Yarmouth 32 teachers and 9 student assistants spent three days focusing on using technology to support personalized learning. The course site is posted at Proposed projects include ways to involve students in curation using various tools and sharing work through blogs and specialized Google sites. The summer component of the course requires that teachers spend time online viewing suggested materials and reflecting in blog posts. There will be a work day in September and a final Saturday in October to share projects with everyone enrolled in the class for credit.

June 18, 2013

EdCafe Take Away

This post was created during the Yarmouth Summer-Fall Technology course during our demonstration lesson of Katrina Kenney's EdCafe model. We introduced the EdCafe model and then presented the choices for three sessions of PBS TED Talks Education videos. My group chose to watch the segment by Geoffrey Canada, of Harlem Children's Zone.
We discussed the video for about a half an hour. One interesting component was that we had two high school students in our group and they added their perspective about their preferences for assignments and personalizing their learning.

The takeaway for our group is as follows:

How are we as teachers failing our students?
  • Not all students are engaged at all times
  • Compartmentalized learning by subject, not integrated
  • Kids fall through the cracks - how do we get students to access support? Keep on trying!!

How do we keep on innovating?
  • Students respond to choice in learning materials and project options
  • Keep talking about what "personalized learning" means
  • Pursue YEF grants for resources

April 11, 2013

Building Bridges to Tomorrow - FlatClassroom K-2 Project

This spring I have been working with Marypat Bowen's class and the Building Bridges to Tomorrow K-2 FlatClassroom global collaboration with 22 schools. As part of the project each school created video content about weather and seasons in their part of the world that will be compiled using WeVideo. This is the video created by the Yarmouth class to share with the others. 

March 29, 2013

4th Graders Present to Yarmouth School Committee - Nexus 7 Pilot

The Yarmouth School Committee opens the monthly meeting with a presentation about a learning setting or offering in our schools. On March 28th we shared a ten minute explanation of the Nexus 7 1:1 Pilot Project that has been part of Kate Parkin's 4th grade classroom. Since we started the project in early December, Kate and I have been exploring ways to use the Nexus 7s in her classroom for learning. In talking with the students, the biggest uses of the tablets are for researching questions and creating written work that is then saved to Google Drive for further editing on laptops. Certainly there are Math apps and some utilities that the students are finding engaging and useful. In addition to the apps we put on initially we have added VidTrim for editing videos, Comic Strip It for creating comics and a Poetry app in honor of April being Poetry Month. While we weren't able to record the student voices that added a powerful element to the slides, this is the presentation we created for the meeting:

March 10, 2013

Explain Everything, KidBlog & YouTube Channels

In working with the first grade classrooms on students recording their stories on iPads I am focusing on Explain Everything these days. There is a significant update in the app that will load if you run updates. There is a video explaining the update at: One option is for students to draw a number sentence and then record their strategy. Another is to record photos during an activity and then have students upload the photo followed by adding voiceover. After the recording you export them to your email, then the videos can be downloaded and posted on the student blogs or classroom blog.

Kidblog: I can export student names from PowerSchool to readily set up each clasroom. Then the individual student blogs can be added to the classroom blog as a link gadget.

Also, one alternative to posting video to Posterous is to post from the iPad to a teacher YouTube channel that is part of Yarmouth Google apps. Once the video is posted, you view it on your computer, click Share, then Embed, turn off suggested videos, copy the embed code to the clipboard, go to your Blogger blog>New Post>html for the post>paste in the embed code.

March 7, 2013

First Grade Stories & Recordings

We have been talking about authentic ways to record student voices and learning on the first grade classroom blogs using the iPad. We were a bit sidetracked this month as Posterous blogs are closing down and it has been the only blog that is setup for us to email media directly to the class blog or individual student blogs. It is possible to request a backup of a Posterous blog and then move it to WordPress without cost. Unfortunately we cannot upload a video directly to a WordPress blog; you can embed a video from a YouTube channel as you would in a Blogger post.

Last week I started setting up classes in Kidblog to be added to classroom blogs as links on the side. In one class we are adding an “Addition Strategy” post in which each child draws a number sentence using Explain Everything on the iPad and then adds her/his voice describing the strategy used for a solution. The process for using Explain Everything was to have the children record and name each one as a project. When the students were done I selected each project to compile and send it via. email to a teacger. Once the projects are in email they are attachments which can be downloaded to a folder on a desktop. In Kidblog it is very easy to login as each student as the names are in a dropdown list and we used the same password for each student. The last step is to create a post and insert the video format of the Explain Everything project.

 Our goal is to put the creation of the product into student hands as much as possible. Pursuing the use of Storykit and Explain Everything as apps that students can use on their own seems like the way to go at this point.

January 18, 2013

Exploring the StoryKit app with First Graders

I worked with some students last Tuesday and recorded their descriptions of photos showing them balancing crayfish. They certainly knew how to use the word “counterweights”! I have written out the directions so that a parent who helps out during writing will be able to do the process with students. The parent who watched me this week liked the activity and wants to do it on her own.
(cross posted in a somewhat different form on the private "iPads in Grade One" blog.)

After exploring a number of story writing apps, we determined that our initial goal was to select an app that allowed students to be the ones creating on the iPad. Our favorite app for that at this point is Storykit. It is a free app that is actually an iPhone app that can be enlarged to work on an iPad.

I worked with students to test out this app and we were able to have two groups of 4 students take each other’s pictures, draw a background and record the “About the Author” pieces that they had asked to write to accompany their “How To” books in about an hour. We hadn’t carefully edited their writing so they will need to redo ones that included last names or addresses. We are planning to take pictures of their self-portraits to use as “avatars” instead of photos as needed. Having students assigned to an iPad can help with this as then the images are on the right iPad.

I visited all six classrooms on Friday and all 20 iPads have Storykit and are set up to send email. If you want to email directly to a student blog then you can use the email generated by Posterous when you set up the student spaces. If anyone else is interested in setting up individual spaces for kids I’d be glad to help you. If you give me your passwords I can do some of the setup for you.

January 15, 2013

Listening to Stories

One of the activities that early readers can do at school and at home is listen to stories as they watch the words and the pictures. We have looked at this more closely in our grade 1 & 2 classrooms this past year and we are curious about whether increased listening time will help with reading fluency. One disclaimer I should make early on is that when my young adult children were small I had some songs on tape, but I wasn't a big fan of mechanized story voices--I wanted there to be a human connection when a child was being read to and I refused to purchase the popular toys of the time (like Teddy Ruxpin) that had taped stories embedded inside their fake fur. I still believe in that human connection for reading time, but I value the option of additional time on their own for children to hear great stories and vocabulary that might be beyond their reading level.

Some of the sites that are available online are:
  1. TumbleBooks if you are a Portland Library Card Holder. Phrases are highlighted.
  2. Storyline Online has stories read aloud by actors.
  3. Oxford Owl has many ebooks that can be read aloud.
Some of these are now configured to work around Flash issues on an iPad. If you setup a home button from Safari to go to TumbleBooks it automatically goes to the Mobile Devices page that has books that don't need Flash.

For more sites the students at YES go to our Educational Resources site for instance on the Reading and Writing page for second grade.

January 7, 2013

Volcanoes in Google Earth

We can add layers to Google Earth on our MacBooks by using this information from the Smithsonian Institute.
Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program data for known or inferred Holocene volcanoes are now available as a Google Earth layer, displaying a photo (when available), geographic data, and links to more detailed information from the GVP and international volcano observatories or other websites focusing on regional volcanoes. The Google Earth software must be downloaded and installed to use this placemark file.

Download Holocene Volcanoes Placemark Download Holocene Volcanoes Network Link

Download Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report Network Link Download Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report Network Link