Monday, November 18, 2013

AR Flashcard Work Stations

Beginning Letter Sounds Work Station with AR Flashcards

AR Flashcards
Using AR Flashcards app can bring in  a new spin on identifying things that begin with a letter sound.  AR Flashcards are augmented reality flashcards.  When you use the AR Flashcard App to view the card, something magical happens!  An animal appears before your eyes.

This app also includes a “camera” button.  This gives the user the ability to take a photo of the Augmented Reality animal that pops out of the flashcard.  If you place items, words, or yourself with the card, you can capture a nice entertaining photo or a photo that shows understanding.

Beginning Letter Sounds Work Station
Set up a work station with a basket of items that include examples and non-examples of things that start with the letter ____.  Allow students to work together to sound out the names of the items.  Students should place items that begin with the given letter around the AR Flash Card.  Students use the camera button in the app to take a photo of their work.  Have students include a name tag in the picture to identify who completed the work.  The photo will be saved to the camera roll.  Consider having students help to build the work station by searching for an example and a non-example at home for homework and brining it to school.  The item should fit into the palm of their hand. In the video below, Joe Meza and I share how to use AR Flashcards in a Beginning Letter Sound Work Station.

Phonogram Workstation

Set up a work station with words for students to read and recognize phonograms. Allow students to work together to read words and identify words that follow rules of the phonogram they are learning.  Students should place words that include the phonogram sound with the given phonogram that is built using the AR Flash Cards.  I share the example of using the -er sound of her in the video below. Students should use the camera button in the app to take a photo of their work.  Have students include a name tag in the picture to identify who completed the work.  The photo will be saved to the camera roll.  Consider challenging students to write other examples they think about on paper and include them when they take the picture.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Modifying my Child's Homework

At the beginning of the school year, I felt like homework with my first grader was torture. It still isn’t where I’d like it to be, but it’s a work in progress.  It will be a gradual change.

Homework is the same every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I believe I know what my child needs a little extra help with.  I really wish I could focus her “homework” time on creating scenarios and problems for her to solve, as a way to connect what she is learning to the real world.   I wish we could invest that time together to Blog more, make movies, write digital stories, or even create our own games.  For now, her homework is what it is, a way to reinforce what she is learning in the classroom. 

On Mondays and Tuesdays my 6yo spends about an hour and a half completing homework.  She must write her spelling words (8 in English and 8 in Spanish) 3 times each, complete a math work sheet (front and back) and read a book that is sent home with her.  These books usually include her spelling/vocabulary words, but are not challenging for her.  The stories don’t have a plot and are not exciting.  You literally have to make up what your favorite part would be by looking at the pictures.  They are not stories that encourage my child to love reading.

(I’m human) After raising my voice at my child saying, “focus”, “do your homework,” “stay on task,” “I don’t want to be here all night watching you write your words,” and hearing my daughter tell me, “I HATE homework,” I knew we needed to talk with her teacher.  I emailed her and scheduled time to meet with her after school.  I wanted to kindly inform her about what was going on. My daughter and I were frustrated. 

Asking For Change
I wondered if her teacher would allow me to modify my daughter’s homework.  After all, I do work with my child at home. If she was going to spend that much time on homework, I wanted her to have the opportunity to create something.

After kindly sharing my concern, I explained that I would like the opportunity to switch things up a bit. I told her I would never ask her to provide extra materials or provide different homework. I know how hard she works and how many students she has. I told her that my passion includes technology integration and allowing students the opportunity to create things that they are proud of. I said, “I’d like to begin using technology with her to study and learn during homework time.”  Her teacher said that would be okay.  I promised to email evidence or send a note on the nights we modified homework. 

First Change
A few weeks ago, I asked my daughter if she would like to try something different with her homework.  I set my laptop down at her homework desk.  We substituted handwriting her spelling words for typing her words three times each.  I loved teaching her how to change the font style, font size, use the “tab” key, and print a document. 

The following night, my daughter asked if she could print her homework.  “Print, NOOOOOO”, I thought. I was sure she wanted to hand print her spelling words.  Oh no, she had her heart set on, printing her homework on the printer.  Tuesday night spelling words are completed pyramid style, as requested.  That evening, she learned how to center her words to make a pyramid.


Since then, she has learned how to use the character keyboard on the MAC to accent letters when typing her Spanish spelling words.  She is doing this independently now and wants to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard.  She wants to learn!  She wants to do this homework.  Typing is still new and exciting to her.

What’s Next
My next step is to begin brainstorming more ideas that will keep her engaged while practicing her spelling words.  I want exciting and fun learning experience for her.  Will we create a spelling game?  Will we write a song together?  Will we make a spelling movie?  Who knows, but anything is more exciting than writing spelling words 3 times each.

Parent/Teacher Conference
During the actual parent/teacher conference at my daughter’s school, her teacher said that my daughter secretly handed her a note I had written when she turned in her homework typed.  My daughter was scared to turn it in.  She reassured us that it was fine.  :) She really does have a wonderful teacher.  I’m so glad I asked her if we could modify the homework.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Educreations + Background Eraser= ∞ Digital Storytelling Ideas

One of my favorite apps to share is Educreations.  It is app that students can use to explain their understanding, present what they have researched, or even tell a digital story.  I like to pair a few apps to allow students to use their own drawings from an external drawing app to create their stories.

Step 1- Draw a character
Use a drawing app to create a character that you would like to manipulate or move in Educreations and save it to your camera roll.

In the "What's Appening" tutorial below, I used the Hello Crayon App to draw a frog character.  It's easy to use and it's FREE.

Step 2- Erase the White Background
Use the Background Eraser App to erase the background your illustration and create a .PNG image file.  It's very easy to use if the background is one color.  With this trick, you can bring in a nice, full screen picture to use as a setting in Educreations, then use your own drawing as a "puppet."Check out the "What's Appening" tutorial on Background Eraser below.

Step 3- Create a Digital Story in Educreations
Create a digital story in Educrations by bringing in your own characters and moving them as you record. Check the "What's Appening" tutorial below.  My buddy shares his genius as we bring all three apps together.