Tuesday, March 31, 2015

iPad Platforms for K

Last week, I posted on organizing iPads for kindergarten to make them most useful day to day.  One of those things is the Showbie app, which I use for my classroom platform. I could NOT be truly effective using iPads without it!

What is it?
Showbie is an app that allows you to upload any PDF, picture, video, or voice memo and send to all of your students. It is a way to send home homework, notes, help students self-monitor improvement, use for center responses, in guided reading, etc.

Why use it?
It streamlines the work you are giving students, cuts down on issues at the copier, reduces paper waste, and provides for both differentiation and immediate student feedback.  The parents also have constant access to student progress and can message you questions, concerns, etc.

Disclaimer: I do understand the need for developing fine motor skills, so we are definitely not completely paper free in my class. The kids also use stylus's to help develop fine motor.

Here is what my Showbie looks like from the teacher perspective.

If you click on an assignment such as "Monday Homework" it brings you here.

Now you can see my last three Monday homework assignments. It can be a document or an uploaded video of you reading. This is what the kids see on their iPads. They can edit each document, send me a note, upload a video, etc. When they make edits it goes directly to me and no one sees their edits.  When I edit the document though, everyone gets it.

Think of it this way - You are virtually passing out papers, and getting them back to grade. Then editing them and handing them back to the students. But, it is SO FAST this way!

Ok, so how do I see the assignments? Just click on "Shared Folder" and then the little people sign in the upper right. Then you can see a list of the kiddos and who has completed the assignment, Just click on the name to grade.  After you press "done" they get the edit.

Want to change an assignment? Just click the tool sign.

Ok here's where it gets fun - uploading documents. Click this little plus sign in the corner. Here is where you add pictures, comments, voice notes, etc. If you want to add a PDF or other file we have to go through Google Drive.

You can actually upload PDFs or other documents two ways, but this is the Google Drive way. If you don't already have Google Drive on your iPad, download the app - l.i.f.e. saver.

Open Google Drive > open your document > click "i" in corner

Click "open in."
 Click "open in" again.
Click "Open in Showbie"

Here it will tell you what folder you are putting the document into. If it is not the right folder, you can exit out, open the folder in your Showbie app, and repeat the process.

Once you click "Add File" it is in and ready to go!

What is really nice, is that you can differentiate work for each student. You can click on a student and upload things only for them, which is fabulous.

Next time, I can go through that process and I will also do a tutorial on uploading from your computer. Uploading files can be a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, this process makes like so much easier! Plus, you cut down on copy time, paper usage, and copier problems - hip hooray!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Five for Friday #1

I need to get my Five for Friday's (oops I mean Sunday) back up and running. So here goes!

I started out my week listing our house for sale and adding some spring green to my planters. Desperately trying to channel spring here in Chicago!

Tuesday, we started a new calendar system on our iPads. The kids access a colored calendar in their Showbie app and work on it while some are finishing breakfast - credit goes to our bilingual teacher Lily Gelacio for that one.

Three is goes to our little foster dog here who we have had now for 3 weeks. He is a pup and giving me a run for my $$. A seriously cute run. He is to flippin adorable.

Is this not the sweetest informational writing ever? This little one always makes my heart so happy. She is the sweetest thing. It reads: How to Make Your Family Happy. 1. First, you get a paper. 2. Next, you draw a heart. 3. Then you tip toe to my mom. 4. Last, I give it to her. I love my mom. 

Friday afternoon was spend prepping for next week's centers. My little gal here wanted to try it as I was pulling things out.

So there it is! Next week I will be on time...I swear. :o)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Bunnies

Hellllooo spring break! Well, not yet. We've got four more days...but we WILL make it! :o) How? By having way to much fun this week and doing all things bunny related...

Here's a little preview of my center set-up for this week   ------------->

We've got plastic eggs for digraphs, blends, sight words, subtraction, word problems - you name it.  I actually think I bought all of the mini erasers in the dollar spot at Targea for this week, but I digress....

First up we have Sight Word Scramble - you can use this with or without the eggs. I just wrote the sight words on the egg, put a cut up version of the word inside and the copies to match.  Read the word, fix it, write it -  easy cheesy. 


Next a little blend egg spinning game. Each egg has a blend, spin it to make a word and record the word. We are working on "L" blends and "R" blends for now, so those are the ones I addressed.  Again, you don't need the eggs for this, its just a lil bonus for the kiddos. 


Digraphs are the same concept as the blends...there are also two options for these centers.  One is just writing the word, the other is writing the word and the sentence!

Here we have a little surprise! Sight words are written on the outside of the eggs and the mini erasers are inside.  So the littles write the word, open the egg, record the number of bunnies and carrots and write a number sentence.

I have no idea why, but my littles love mix and fix sentences. If I cut it up, they HAVE to put it back together. It's like the weirdest thing ever...so anyways here's a sentence builder for that. Use the sentence fluency strips in this pack. Cut them up, NUMBER the back - because, well you know why, and put the pieces in the egg. The kids organize the pieces and write the sentence. 

So those are all my ideas for a successful week...now implementation may be a different thing - but that's the joy of teaching, now isn't it? ;o)

I have got some number sentences, subtraction and addition, and number bonds in there as well, but you may just want to go here for a preview.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Numbering bonding the K way

Today we continued exploring number bonds (FREEBIE here), which I like to introduce during our addition and subtraction units. Number bonds are a fun way to show your students how numbers are linked together in families, but it can be difficult to understand the connection when our little minds are transitioning from rote mathematic skill to application.

I struggled to find a way to make number bonds make sense for some of my kiddos - the mini-lesson and reteaching wasn't quite getting us to where we needed to be, so today we tried a new game.

BTW, anything labeled a "game" seems to make tasks more fun, right? :o)

Earlier this week, was drawing a number bond on the SmartBoard when one of my littles said it looked like a person, and bam. It hit me. Duh, they should be the "bonds" the kids kids should be acting it out. Gotta love teachable moments right?

So I put together a little guessing game to reteach (and activate) some of my little's minds who weren't quite there earlier this week.

The tallest little one in each group of 3 got to start being the "big circle." He or she held a few foam cubes in his/her hand and secretly divided it up into two groups.  She/he passed out the two group at the same time - just like the number bond "shoots" out two groups. Since the kids knew what the "big" number had to be the two "little circle" kids figured out what each other had.  Then they gave it back to the "big" and tried again. Everyone got a chance to be the big, so I knew we were hitting all areas of understanding.

I was amazed, surprised and SO proud how well my littles played this game! We TOTALLY got it!

Days like this remind me why I am in teaching - to enjoy the little moments and experiences that early learners give you. They see things that we as adults just do not. And I love the level at which they can explain and understand each in their individual way. It is seriously such a cool experience each day.

Ok. done. :o)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teaching K in a 1:1 tech district

Part of my reason to hold off blogging til I got settled in my new position is because I transitioned to a 1:1 technology district.

Yes, ALL of my kids have an iPad which they take home daily.

AND we are 83% low income, 37% English Language Learner. WHAT?! It's pretty incredible to put technology in the hands of little ones who otherwise may or may not have the resources to get it.

But there is a catch - you have to use this gift the right way so that it isn't a distractor or bandaid. Enter the SAMR model which is not always easy to incorporate in K.  If you don't really have a goal for the technology, then it isn't really that beneficial.

So, how do I use iPads beyond apps?
I will post about this journey often, so stay tuned.

1. Organize each student's iPad so that the apps you want most accessible are at the bottom.
They will click what they see, so if you want your kiddos to do homework on Showbie each night, have it on the front screen. Teach the kiddos to do this - they can!

2. Turn off Safari!
This saves you from a lot of inappropriate use and abuse. Go into Settings > General > Restrictions > enter password (use same the one for all iPads) > slide buttons for what to allow and not allow.  I turn off Safari, iTunes Store, In-App Purchases, Siri, Face Time, and Deleting Apps.

3. "But wait, now my kids can't access the internet." Not true! They still can. Download QR reader
Download a QR Reader app. Now anything you want them to have internet access to they can through QR code.  I.e. I make a QR code for any web quest activity I want them to do or youtube videos for my listening centers. The website is able to open up through the QR Reader app, but does not allow them to surf the web. It's the perfect fix!

4. Download a classroom platform/course management system
I use Showbie for this, which I will blog on next week. Some of the upper grade teachers use Schoology.

5. Hide all the things the kiddos don't need.
Put all the apps (iTunes, Settings, Newsstand, Maps, Music, etc) that you don't need the kids to use into a folder.  I label this "Apple" because it is all the Apple apps that we don't need daily.

This way of organizing the iPads has made my life SO much easier and the iPads much more useful for the parents and kids. Next week I will write more about the benefits of an classroom platform/course management system.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Oo that tricky leprechaun!

I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but every single year a leprechaun comes to my room on St. Patrick's Day, messes up my room, leaves green footprints, and tricks us into trying to get his pot of gold.

Video Cred: Leah O'Donnell (who rocks!)

So this year, after their special, the kids came in only to find the leprechaun left them a pot - not of gold - but with a letter in it.  Turns out we just started our persuasive writing unit and the leprechaun wanted us to write him letters persuading him to give us his gold.

So we did!

The kids really did do a great job and they ended up each getting a plastic gold coin to take home. One little lady also followed through on her promise to make him a little house and brought her project to school the next day. 

We also did this fun Pinterest craft and are working on a combination of these centers.

I usually use this event as a kick-start to leprechaun and Irish themed centers that we use the last two weeks of March.  I have a TON (legitimately WAY too many) of resources for March here.

What do you do in March? Anything you would like to do more in your class? Although I have way more March activities than I need, it's one of my favorite things to create for!

Back at it!

Hi there!  Super excited to get back into business with my new blog design! HUGE shout out to Lindsey over at L Paull Designs for All for designing this super cute layout on a budget. I am THRILLED to have found her, she is immensely talented and super nice.

I transitioned districts earlier this year and wanted to make sure I had the hang of the new curriculum and my classroom so that I could devote more time to blogging when I was established.  Now that I am up and running, I can devote more time to exploring how to maximize my students potential and develop resources for them and our curriculum.

In our school, we do guided reading, Lucy Calkins, and Envisions for math. We incorporate themes into these curriculums, so you will find lots of thematic resources here.

Please take a look around, email me with questions or requests, and enjoy! I am excited to be back!