Tag Archives: explain everything

GAFE with 5-year-olds.

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Yes, they can do it!

How? With your help.

This year, I am responsible for helping implement digital technology across the school, including in the Prep/1 classroom I teach in every afternoon. At the beginning of the year, all students from Years 2-10 were set up with their own Google account. After following Christine Pinto on Twitter for the last 12 months, I was fully convinced that students in Prep & Year 1 needed their own Google account too. We have 1:1 iPads, so I didn’t see how it could be a problem!

I asked our IT tech to set them up for me, and patiently waited. Within a week of the Prep/1 students having their own Google account, here’s what I did:

  • I placed all of the GAFE apps into a folder, and positioned it in the bottom bar of the iPad, for easy access. (Yes, I could have taught them how to do that, but at the start, I just needed to save myself some time. I’ll make sure I teach them how to create and move folders when the moment arises!)
  • I signed into Google Classroom for them (after school, the day before I needed it). (I am fully aware that this is not logistically possible for every teacher in every classroom. The class I’m talking about only has 13 students. But there are other ways around it – Year 6 Buddies to help, giving students their email address & password on a card, setting up keyboard shortcuts that inserts your school email address after the @ symbol…problem solve, you’ll get there!)

But how did I get the students to USE the GAFE apps? Well, the beauty of being 1:1 is that each student uses their iPad over & over, so they can stay signed in on the one device – no signing in and out constantly.

The first step was Google Classroom. I learnt from Alice Keeler & Christine Pinto that keeping your assignments numbered is a great way to keep track of them – and for students who can’t read yet. Despite many of them not yet being able to read properly, I still added written instructions for each assignment and I read them aloud for the students. I would ask them to look for the number 1 and press on the number. We would talk about the ‘plus’ button to add different things, like the ‘camera’ button to take a photo immediately, or the ‘mountain’ button to add a photo that we had taken earlier and was sitting in our camera roll.

A lot of the time, I add a Google Slide or Sheet to the assignment and allow it to create a copy for each student, so that each student would have the same template, but could input their own information. In Integrated Studies, we are looking at Friendship and the qualities of different people, so each student made an Introducing Me page in a collaborative Google Slide. They learnt how to find the slide with their name on it (all of the boys slides were green, all of the girls slides were orange), double tap in the text box, place the cursor after the words that were already there, and type their name, favourite colour and age. On the same slide, they learnt how to press the ‘plus’ button and take a photo, insert it and then use the ‘blue handles’ to change the size of their photo so that it wasn’t covering the text. We still had a few minutes left, so they also inserted a shape and changed the fill colour!

Introduce Me 1

Introduce Me 2

Yes, I use the proper vocabulary, most of the time. I talk about the flashing stick line being called the ‘cursor’ and the plus button being called ‘insert’. I talk about the writing that we do as ‘text’ and talk about the ‘text box’. I talk about Google Slides being the white app with the orange square being named ‘Google Slides’, so they’re getting a visual and a name to learn and relate it to.

They CAN do it! I use Google Classroom at least twice a week in my Prep/1 lessons (I’m only in there in the afternoons, and we also have Music, Library & Garden in my timeslots!), but my next step is to empower the other classroom teacher to use it more confidently. I have added her to the classroom and she can see everything that I post and that the kids submit, but so far, she’s just an observer!

I like to tell my colleagues that Google Classroom is another platform for collecting student work, without collecting piles of paper. One of the added benefits (believe me, there are HEAPS) is that students can submit more than just written work – my Prep/1 class have uploaded videos they’ve created using Explain Everything and Chatterpix, so they are learning oral language skills by recording and listening to their own voice.

My challenge is to integrate GAFE into each of our classrooms seamlessly, so that it’s not something ‘extra’ to use or facilitate, but that it becomes second nature to students and teachers!

Recent ‘gems’ from the App Store

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I thought I’d share with you a few of my most recent valuable iPad downloads from the App Store. Some of them I found through apps like AppOfTheDay and AppsGoneFree, whereas others were in the featured section of iTunes.

ABC Spy HD – free

A fantastic introduction to the alphabet for students which integrates with the world around them. Students are to scroll through the alphabet and take a photo of something beginning with each letter. They can choose a frame for their photo, add the word using text if they like and email and print the book when they are finished. Taking photos of classmates who have names starting with letters is a good way to start the letter-sound relationship and the fact that it can be made into a concrete material is fabulous!

Curious Ruler – free for a limited time

This app would be a fantastic resource for the maths classroom, especially when measuring using formal and informal units. By taking a photo of an object in the classroom, students can choose an informal unit to measure it with – compare the object’s length to the Australian $1 coin, a soccer ball, or a DVD. Changing the units means that you can view the results in centimetres or inches and encourage students to check that it’s correct using hands-on materials!

Dreamtime – free

This iBook-style app features a variety of Dreamtime stories written, illustrated and animated by students at Healesville High School. It offers an audio feature, so the story can be read aloud, or students can read it themselves. By touching individual words, they are read aloud for a full, authentic reading experience. For anybody who is teaching Indigenous culture and would like to focus on the history of story-telling, this app is a great find! 

K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite – free (Full version – $2.49)

If fluency and comprehension are a focus in your class, this app offers an easy assessment method. By entering a student’s name, you are able to ask students to read a passage as the app times how long it takes and calculates a words per minute score. At the end of each passage there are 3 comprehension questions for the reader to answer, highlighting correct and incorrect answers. While this version is free, it offers a range of passages to choose from without limiting you too much.

K12 Equivalence Tiles – free

Another app by K12 Inc., this app allows you to manipulate values in fraction, decimal and percentage format, to show the comparison between them and highlight the equivalence. With each different value colour-coded, it makes it easy to see the similarities and differences between the 3 types of figures. While there isn’t any option to export the chart, taking a screenshot of it and importing it into another app like Explain Everything or Educreations would allow students to explain and rationalise their mathematical thinking.

 

Although this is just a snapshot of what I’ve recently downloaded, I hope they’ve been helpful!

 

Making QR codes unique.

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When I was first introduced to mobile devices in 2012, QR codes were becoming all the rage. We now see them on drink bottles, food packaging, newspapers and posters.  

Our staff received some PD opportunities to scan a QR code to find out information, watch videos, complete scavenger hunts and be directed to websites.But there were still reservations on how teachers could use them, why it was a big deal to actually create their own and if it could engage students. Being one of the first classes to have access to iPads, I set about making sure that my students knew what a QR code was, how to use it and eventually, how to create their own.

History:

One of the first ways I used QR codes was to develop a ‘flipped classroom’ type of approach.  Instead of sitting down as a class and watching short video clips about different aspects of Australian Explorers and the First Fleet (AusVELS, Level 4 History), I chose 6 Youtube clips that I felt were appropriate.  Using the QR stuff website I transformed these Youtube clips into QR codes, printed and laminated them and placed them around the classroom. Armed with a worksheet (yes, sorry, a worksheet!) to record some of their findings, and one iPad between two students, I asked my class to try and find the answers to some of the questions on their sheets by watching the videos. Students could watch the videos in any order, watch them as many times as they liked, fast forward, rewind and pause the video and work collaboratively to try and find the answers.  I gave the students about 35 minutes to watch the videos and work on their answers. This lesson provided such rich conversation at the end of the allotted time and posed many questions, many of which were ‘Can we make our own videos?’.

Click on the following for the worksheet and the QR codes I created.

Vocabulary work:

As part of our Daily 5 program, my students participate in a Word Work time. This focuses on spelling, parts of words and other other uses of words. When we were focusing on synonyms, I felt that there could be a more engaging way to teach my students new words rather than whipping out the thesaurus.

I decided to use the Web 2.0 tool Bingo Baker, introduced to our staff by @LyndaCutting. The creator fills in the bingo board squares with the ‘answers’ (in my case, synonyms) and then generates a Bingo Baker Board. By copying the Bingo Board link into QRstuff, it creates a QR code that produces a randomly ordered bingo board each time it is scanned!  So no two students will have the answers in the same order!  I then inserted the QR code into Microsoft Word, along with a list of words that matched the ‘synonyms’. To play, each group member scanned the QR code and the bingo board would be displayed on their screen. As one of the group members called out a word from the list, (e.g. ‘hot’), the rest of the group members would have to search their board for the matching synonym (eg. boiling). Once they’ve found it, they simply tap the word on their device screen to mark it.  My students loved playing this and I’ll definitely be making a few more versions with different synonymns!

For a copy of my Synonym Bingo, click here.

Writing:

When writing narratives this year, my class used the Storybird website. As their final products were so amazing, I wanted them to be able to include their narratives in their Portfolio to take home, as well as self and peer assess their story. I created a video using Explain Everything for them to watch and listen to, in order for them to turn their narrative into a QR code. Once they printed it twice, one copy went onto their assessment sheet for their Portfolio, while the other one was blu-tacked to our outside window for students from other classes to come along and scan to read. To see how we managed it all, click here. The (very simple) assessment sheet can be found here.

I have also used QR codes in Maths for self-checking answers, but haven’t created anything for those lessons myself. I’m aiming to get my students to do a lot of the QR code creating this year to highlight and demonstrate their own maths skills!

If you have any engaging QR code ideas, I’d love to hear about them 🙂