Technology Activities for Author's Purpose

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Yesterday I had a blast hanging out with one of my 3rd grade teachers and her students. We used the iPads for an author's purpose lesson. The teacher and I collaborated with the school librarian who graciously hosted us in the library and helped pull persuasive books ahead of time.

Technology activities for teaching author's purpose

For our activity students scanned a QR code that took them to THIS pie template I created and dropped in Google Drive. They saved it to their camera roll and imported it as a background in PicCollage. Next, students added their name to the bottom right corner of their screen. If I were to do this lesson again, I would have them add their name to the bottom LEFT. The PicCollage watermark covered up their name once they saved. Then the fun and thinking began!


Students went on a picture hunt as they walked around to the different parts of the library to take pictures of different books/sources that were examples of persuading, informing and entertaining.

We showed them how to use the editing tool within PicCollage to cut out the extra space around the books. Once the image was edited, students simply pinched their pictures and added them to the correct piece of PIE.     Persuasive books are very challenging for students (it was hard for me too!) to pick out among the hundreds of books in the library. It helped tremendously that the librarian had pulled a few and set them out on a table.

The students found themselves walking to the nonfiction side of the library to take pictures of books that INFORM.    

Books that ENTERTAIN were all over the place! Once students had decorated their pie, they saved their work and submitted it to The Work Collector. Check out their PIE Posters:


At the end of the lesson the teacher mentioned that even the younger grade levels could do a similar activity but sort books by fiction vs. nonfiction. I LOVE this idea! Students could draw a T-Chart and label it in Doodle Buddy, save and pull it in as a background in PicCollage!
No problem! Check out a similar activity I have in my TpT store that you can use with Google Slides. Students use the Google search feature to find texts to decorate their PIE instead of going on a picture hunt.
Use Google Slides to make a digital PIE poster to practice author's purpose
Here is an author's purpose jeopardy game that I stumbled upon when searching the Internet. This would be fun to do as whole class review or set up as a center! You can choose how many teams play:
Author's purpose jeopardy game

Questions AND answers are all ready to go! Click either image to take you to this game.
Students would really enjoy this 15 question Fling the Teacher game:
Author's Purpose digital game

PowerPoint Maniac has a cute and FREE author's purpose PowerPoint game you can download from TpT:
Glitter in Third has digital graphic organizers that can be completed in Google Slides:
What sort of activities do YOU use in your classroom to reinforce author's purpose?

Probability iPad Activity

Monday, April 11, 2016

Are you teaching or getting ready to teach a unit on probability? Then THIS techie lesson will get your kiddos thinking about and working with the terms associated with probability.

Right before Spring Break I worked with some 3rd grade teachers at one of my elementary schools to introduce the basics of probability. We kicked off the lesson by giving every student an iPad to use with this Nearpod presentation I made below (you can use Nearpod with any device that has internet access):


After we launched the Nearpod presentation, the students opened the Nearpod app and entered the lesson code as well as their first name. Nearpod allows the teacher to control whatever the students see on their screen. It is truly a brilliant program! We used the FREE version of Nearpod for this lesson but Nearpod also comes with a paid subscription that has some pretty amazing features. Students viewed slides that we talked about and also interacted with the content by typing text, drawing, answering questions, etc.. It was a great introduction to probability terms such as likely, unlikely, certain, impossible, possible....

If you have a Nearpod account set up and are interested in using this presentation, sign into your account and then click on {THIS} link. The presentation will be sent directly to your library!

Next, we got the kids creating on their iPads using Comemories and the free app, Doodle Buddy.

Probability iPad Activity: Using Comemories and Doodle Buddy, students will create an image that matches a probability sentence.

Probability Templates QR Code
Students really put their knowledge of probability to the test! They scanned a QR code that took them to {THIS} Comemories site that was preloaded with different probability templates I had created. Students chose their favorite colored background and saved the template to the camera roll. Next, we launched the app, Doodle Buddy, and brought the template in as the background. Students read the sentence at the top of their template and had to make a picture representation to match the probability description using the stamps. This was a lot harder for them than it looked. Afterwards, students used the pencil tool to write their name at the top. Students submitted their work to my Work Collector and we were able to quickly project their creations on the board for everyone to read and decide if the sentence matched what was represented in the stamps they chose to use. We had some really good conversations about some of the pictures and students seemed to walk away with a better understanding of probability! Here are a few of their images that MATCH their probability description.

I hope you can use this lesson with your students!

Autism Awareness Mini Lesson

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Autism Awareness Month Mini Lesson
April is Autism Awareness month! I had the honor of observing Deanna Pollard, Mehfoud Elementary's OUTSTANDING librarian, who has been teaching all of the children at Mehfoud about autism. This subject can be very tricky to discuss with little ones but her mini lesson was absolutely fabulous. I loved how she approached the topic, shared movie clips, talked about tablets being an avenue for nonverbal children to communicate and wrapped up the lesson by having the students complete an exit TWEET. I learned that in 2015 Sesame Street introduced a new character who has autism, Julia. Where have IIII been the past year??? There are a ton of awesome videos that teach others about the challenges people with autism face on a daily basis. Deanna showed the kids two of those videos. 

Autism Awareness from Julie on Vimeo.

If you are interested in carrying out a similar lesson, here are the resources Deanna used.

First video that was shown about Julia:

Second video that was shown about Thomas:

The book that was displayed next to the questions can:

 HERE is the resource Deanna used that contain the ribbon practice pages. The coloring page appears broken up on two different pages. Deanna had to print, tape together and then shrink to fit on a 8.5x11 sheet of paper. The math puzzle pieces sheet is normal size :)

 You can grab these FREE Tweet Exit Cards from Wind Up Teacher's TpT Store by clicking the image below:

  Exit Tweet: An alternative to exit cards! FREE

How do you approach Autism Awareness month?

Shoulder Buddies in the Classroom: GIVEAWAY

Monday, April 4, 2016

Is Spring Break O-V-E-R for you? It is for me! Back to teaching those kiddos and keeping them engaged. It is that time of year where you are down to the wire teaching all of the concepts you haven't gotten to (thank you snow, lack of time, remediation, assemblies, and the list goes on....) AND trying to review all that you can before those state tests come along. EVERY MINUTE COUNTS.

Therefore, we don't have time to stop and deal with misbehaviors. However, when you have a room full of 20+ bodies all under the age of 10, something is bound to come up each and every day. To help alleviate those behavior blues, take control and invest in a SHOULDER BUDDY.

Use Shoulder Buddies for positive reinforcement in your classroom!

Kids LOVE shoulder buddies. I remember the first time I saw one in a Hallmark shop about 5 years ago. I was giddy and instantly purchased one for my classroom. My new purchase became a magical element to my classroom management. I would start the day with our shoulder buddy on my shoulder and he would "look" for an outstanding citizen he wanted to sit on. I would quickly make the announcement and then place our Shoulder Buddy on that student's shoulder. The STUDENT would now be responsible to look for another student who was doing an outstanding job. The kids would get SO into it. You do have to establish ground rules for your classroom Shoulder Buddy (just like Elf on the Shelf). For instance:
  • Shoulder Buddy doesn't sit longer than an hour  or two but also doesn't hop around every 10 minutes
  • Shoulder Buddy doesn't leave the classroom (so he doesn't fall into the toilet, someone's lunch, become abandoned on the playground, get tromped on at PE, etc.)
  • Shoulder Buddy doesn't always go to "our best friend"
  • Shoulder Buddy likes to change up where he sits (not just on BOYS shoulders)
  • No one touches Shoulder Buddy when he is sitting on someone's shoulder
Since our shoulder buddy didn't like to "sit" for more than an hour, he would "whisper" into the ear of whoever he was sitting on the name of the person he wanted to visit and the reason why he wanted to visit them. It.was.magic. This made the children aware of when others were being good citizens and EVERYONE wanted to "spread the love". What happened was it eliminated the overwhelming "authority" of me, the teacher, and helped the students become more accountable. Those students who once acted out to get any kind of attention (negative or positive) were now overly "good" because they were seeking the attention of their classmates to "send" them our shoulder buddy. Yes, it did become obnoxious when someone would yell "thank you sweet friend" from the top of their lungs so shoulder buddy across the room would hear them during reading centers, but that was a lot better than some things they would yell before Should Buddy was in the picture...

When I introduced Shoulder Buddy I would always hold a writing competition. My students would have to write a persuasive paragraph about what our Shoulder Buddy's name should be and WHY. The class would read through each paragraph and vote on their favorite. If I had a class of my own today, I would use Dotstorming to create a digital collaborative board for students to type their ideas. Dotstorming allows users to VOTE on their favorite ideas. This would be a quick and easy way to decide on a name!

Use Dotstorming for students to submit and vote on their favorite ideas!
Example of a Dotstorming Board and votes

A few months ago I stumbled upon a TECHIE shoulder buddy so I started bringing Mr. T around with me as I visited classrooms. Everyone wants Mr. T to sit on their shoulder. All Most eyes are on me at all times and all most ears are always listening. It's a beautiful thing.

Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to WIN "Digit" a MATH themed Shoulder Buddy!

You can buy your very own by clicking one of the links below. There are many different kinds of shoulder buddies. If the novelty starts to wear off after a few months, buy a new one. Period. 


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5 MUST Have Math Apps for Every K-5 Classroom

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

5 Must Have Math Apps for every K-5 Classroom

Hey everyone! Today I blogged over at Classroom Tested Resources about 5 MUST have MATH apps that every K-5 classroom needs. Check it out {HERE}.

Coding Decimals on a Number Line

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Last week our #TechTakeout crew visited 4th grade at one of our elementary schools to work on math review. After meeting with the Math Title I teacher, it was evident that decimals were a weak skill for this grade level. Therefore my coworker, Jim Covais, and I teamed up to create a fun activity to work on identifying decimals on a number line.

Use Scratch to practice decimals on a number line

We decided to use Scratch to code a sprite (character) to move across a number line of decimals between 0 and 1. Students created their own background in which they had to generate their number line with the drawing tools and divide it into fractional parts.

We assigned each student a decimal number that they had to correctly identify on their number line by marking it with a hash mark. Students used the coding blocks to make their sprite move to different parts of the number line in which a recording of their voice saying the decimal's name was included. Furthermore, students got to practice typing the word form of their decimals into the speech bubble that they programmed to pop up.

Here is one example (click the green flag, click the right arrow and then click the up arrow):

If you are interested in carrying out this same lesson with your students, then click the image below to take you to step by step directions:

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Growing Readers & Writers with Mentor Texts GIVEAWAY and a FREEBIE

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hello and welcome to the Growing Readers & Writers by Teaching with Mentor Texts linky. This is my first time teaming up with The Reading Crew and I couldn't be more excited. Be sure to check out everyone's blog post that contains a mentor text suggestion along with a FREEBIE. Also, on each blog you will find a mystery word at the end of the post. Please be sure to record them because you will need each word for a five point entry in our rafflecopter giveaway. Click {HERE} to download and print the form to help you keep track of the words. We are raffling off an Amazon gift card!

This linky was incredibly hard for me to choose just ONE mentor text. I ran up to my attic and had a ball going through all of my classroom texts. You know...the ones that teachers keep on the highest shelf of their bookcase in their classroom to pull at the most appropriate moment. THAT STASH.

As soon as Edward the Emu appeared, I KNEW that was THE ONE. Students of all ages love this book. Teachers do too :)

Edward the Emu is sick of where he lives, the zoo. Throughout the book he states "there is nowhere to go, there is nothing to do". Edward is also tired of being an Emu and strongly desires to be something else. His journey of "testing out" the life of other animals quickly shows Edward that being an emu might be the best thing after all. Edward returns home to find a big surprise awaiting him...
Most children in the United States have never heard of an emu since it is an Australian bird. To build background knowledge about emus,  have students guess/predict what exactly an emu is by giving them CLUES (wait to show the cover of the book). Here is a little FREE presentation you can launch to play the predicting game:

Click the image to take you to this Google Presentation
After figuring out what an emu is, your students can do a little online research by visiting San Diego's Zoo for Kids website. The animal sounds, colorful display and vivid pictures make this website one of a kind!

Once students have built their background knowledge about emus, it is time for the grand reveal of the book. I love to wrap my mentor texts in wrapping paper and put a bow on top to build suspense. What is in the package? WHO will get to open it? Or I like to dramatically pull it down from THE TOP SHELF. I once had a "special delivery" arrive at our door which was a treasure chest that contained our mentor text. Whatever method you choose, you KNOW those little minds are racing with excitement and they want YOU to read that book to them. 
This story is a great text to use to support the comprehension skill of making predictions. We want to teach and model predicting for our students to make them active thinkers as they read. If they stop and make a guess about what might happen next then they are setting a purpose for their reading--to find out if their prediction was correct or not. Predicting is a skill that needs to be modeled often, especially with the little ones. We need to teach our students how to look for clues as we are reading which will help them put all of the pieces together. Just as important, we also need to make sure to emphasize that it is okay if our predictions are wrong because that is what makes a story fun and exciting. However, guiding students to make appropriate predictions that are not "off the wall" is key.

Therefore, this DIGITAL resource will help your students practice the skill of making predictions. It will be free for the length of this linky (March 18th-21st). You can easily adapt this product to work before, during or even after reading the text. You choose! Or, do it all three times :) The most effective use of this Google Presentation is to make it one, collaborative presentation. This means ALL, yes ALL of your students will hop onto the same presentation. You can assign them a slide number to work on. They have a choice of typing in their prediction, drawing their prediction or adding images from the image search inside of the crystal ball. As you can tell in the 3rd picture, I am terrible at drawing on the computer so I would choose a different option :)

Edward the Emu Making Predictions Activity

Once each child enters their prediction and adds their selfie, put the collaborative presentation into PRESENT mode and advance through the slides for the entire class to see. Seeing and listening to other people's predictions helps everyone become better at this skill. Everyone has a different way of thinking and it is so important to expose children to this reality.

Of course you can use this product independently if need be!

This product contains directions and the following templates:

♥ Edward the Emu prediction (you can use before you read the book or stop in the middle)
♥ Edwina the Emu prediction (use after you read Edward the Emu..what do you think will happen in the next book?)
♥ A blank template that you can add a title for any book you choose to read in case you do not have access to this book
This product will be FREE March 18th-21st.
Making Predictions in Google Slides
Click the image to take you to this product
An easy lesson extension to get your students writing and their creativity flowing would be to have them type a different ending to Edward the Emu in a Google Doc. They could collaborate on an ending with a partner or just type up an ending on their own!

Also, be sure to check out the sequel: Edwina the Emu.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my entire disclosure statement here.

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Thank you for joining us today! My mystery word is Emu.

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Be sure to check out all of The Reading Crew's amazing posts:

LessonPaths: Organizing Digital Content

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hey everyone! Head on over to our Virginia is for Teacher's blog to read my latest post about LessonPaths, a web tool that will allow you to organize digital content for your students to interact with in a certain order!
LessonPaths: Organize digital content for your students
Click the image to take you to the post

Water Piano: Practicing PITCH

Monday, March 14, 2016

I had a blast with 5th graders the other day who were investigating PITCH in their SOUND unit. Students explored and researched the different pitch levels and why they occur.

One small group decided to make a water piano/xylophone out of glasses, water and a MaKey-MaKey. We programmed different pitches to sound in Scratch when the water in each glass was tapped. Each glass contained a different amount of liquid.

Students investigate pitch during their sound unit using Scratch and a MaKey-MaKey.

Here is their Scratch creation (click the green flag and press one of the arrow keys or space bar)


As you can see in the video at the beginning of this post, the students had a blast figuring out which glass of water would have the highest pitch (the one with the least amount of water) and which glass had the lowest pitch (the glass with the most water). When the glasses are full, the vibrations have more water to travel through. This slows down the vibrations and creates a lower pitch. There was a lot of critical thinking and problem solving involved and I KNOW these students will never forget this concept. I know I won't!

Telling Time iPad Activity

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Last week I worked with a first grade class who had been learning about the basics of telling time. Students at this age easily get the hands of the clock mixed up. Therefore, we did a fun little app smash to investigate this concept and to get the children to explain their thinking.

Telling Time iPad Activity idea using FREE apps

First, we visited my ALL TIME FAVORITE math app , SchoolKit Math. I blogged about this same app in my Kindergarten Measurement post.

This app gives you quick and easy access to many commonly used math manipulatives.

The app contains:

1. Number Line
2. Hundreds Chart
3. Ten Frame
4. Arrays
5. Money
6. Math Challenge
7. Fraction Kit
8. Number Houses
9. Tether Math
10. Number Tiles
11. Multiplication Table
12. Dot Grid
13. Bar Graph
14. Shapes
15. Algebra Tiles
16. Ruler 
17. Clock
18. Counters
19. Times Place
20. Line Graph
21. Comparisons
22. Multiply Fractions
23. Multiplication/Division Groups
24. Fact Families

We opened the CLOCKS manipulative and assigned the students a certain time to the nearest hour. Children who needed an extra "boost" were asked to make a time to the half hour. They wrote their time in the lower right hand corner using the pencil tool. Next, students were able to choose if they wanted their clock to show the digital minutes. You can make the minutes appear and disappear by tapping the :00 tool at the top:

We used the highlighting tool to color code the hands of the clock and make a key. (Ex. green=H (hour), pink=M(minute)).  Once students were finished (and the teachers checked their work), they took a screenshot. This app does not have a "save to the camera roll" option.

Next, we imported our clock creations into YakIt Kids. The students chose a mouth and a set of eyes to add to their clock. To wrap up the activity, students recorded their explanations.

Check out some of their movies:

Telling Time from Julie on Vimeo.
Super quick and easy! Give it a try if you have access to ipads :)

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Working with Affixes: Digital Activities

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Last Friday my ITRT team spent the day working with 4th grade at one of my elementary schools. The teachers wanted us to focus on vocabulary, specifically affixes (prefixes, root words and suffixes). We find that affixes is a weak skill across the board in grades 3-5 so we were excited to come up with some "techie" activities that would make this challenging skill fun and exciting.

Check out this digital activites that will get your students excited to work with affixes!

To kick off our hour session, we launched a NotebookCast board. I had just discovered this FREE online collaborative board and wanted to test it out since I had 7 other of my ITRT friends with me in case things didn't go according to plan. NotebookCast has the teacher create a free account. You create a virtual board that you share out with students via a link. Students click the link, enter a "nickname" and click submit. I LOVE how the tool automatically inputs the board code so the students don't have to type it in.

I had created THESE images in PowerPoint and saved them as jpegs to import into our board. Students saw the changes instantly/in real-time as I deleted and added new images to discuss. They used the chat feature to talk about possible definitions of the words I posted to the board. We broke the words down together as I called on students individually to "stoplight" our words. We circled the prefix in green (this starts our word), underlined the root words in yellow and boxed our suffixes in red (this ends our word). The PRS letters serve as a visual to remind students the ORDER of the parts of the words which happen to be in alphabetical order: Prefix, Root Word, Suffix.

Notebook cast practicing affixes

One of my coworkers gets such a kick out of me teaching my "PRS" trick because I always snap my fingers in the air to stand for the missing "Q". Really, he straight up likes to make fun of my animated ways so he created this animated gif of The Techie Teacher in action #workbully:

PqRS: ABC Order for the different affixes
ANYWAY...would I use Notebook Cast again? Well, that's great question. We ran into the issue of the site only accepting a certain amount of users. My guess is 10 users can be on at once. I had previously researched to see if this would happen and didn't run across this issue. Oh well, you live and learn. We ended up partnering the kids which went over fairly smoothly. Would have I liked all of the kids to have been on at once interacting? Of course. However, like all classroom teachers, we had to adapt. Notebook Cast might be a better tool to use with smaller groups.

After our warm up, we broke the students up into small groups to work on a mini digital project with of the ITRTs.

My group used Scratch and the MaKey-MaKey to code a word that had a prefix, root word and suffix. Check out the final product in action:

*I was playing around with the face blur edits that are now available in isn't perfect as you will see with the computer screen being blurred but you will get the point!*

Students used a pencil to break a word we printed out (each had a prefix and suffix) into three parts. They extended a line from each part of the word to the edge of the paper where they clipped the wires of the MaKey-MaKey. The led from the pencil is a conductor which made the MaKey-MaKey work!

In Scratch, they created their background to be a word we assigned them that had a prefix and suffix. They took a selfie to act as their sprite/character that moved to each part of the word when an arrow key was pressed: left arrow=prefix, down arrow=root word and right arrow=suffix.

Here is a Scratch example (click the green flag and then tap the arrow keys to make the selfie move and talk!)

 If you are interested in trying this out with your students, click {HERE} or the image below for the Scratch directions. You can still carry this out if you don't have access to MaKey-MaKeys. Just use the arrows on your computer :)

Coding AFFIXES with the MaKey MaKey and Scratch

Interested in buying a MaKey MaKey? Click the image below:

  Mrs. Green and Mrs. Robinson’s groups jumped on Nearpod and interacted together dissecting prefixes, suffixes and root words using THIS Nearpod activity.

Nearpod is an interactive tool that engages students, assesses their understanding and inspires success! When the teacher launches Nearpod as a live presentation the students are then given a code to “join” that Nearpod presentation. Students reviewed five prefixes and five suffixes. They created their own words using the drawing tool within Nearpod, watched short review clips online and even played two interactive games embedded into their lesson. Finally before finishing students were given words with both prefixes and suffixes and were asked to circle the prefix, underline the root word and box in the suffix. The student’s favorite part was how Mrs. Green and Mrs. Robinson were able to control their computers!

Mr. Covais’ group used Dell Webcam Central and Movie Maker to make some videos about prefixes and root words. Students chose a word and identified the prefix and root word. After the identification they worked with partners to discuss how they would act out the prefix and the root word. The students recorded their acting in Dell Webcam Central in two short clips. The partners then took the clips and put them into Movie Maker in the form of an addition problem. Best part of all, the teacher can now use these short videos for review in class.

Students had so much fun making these videos. Check out this awesome student example!
Acting out Prefixes from Jim Covais on Vimeo.
Want to do this activity?
Click the link below to get everything you need to get started! Prefix Movie Folder

 Mrs. Hues and Mr. Caratachea had a blast making raps with their groups! Different students approached the activity in a couple of different ways. Some students wrote a rap about prefixes and suffixes, while others just wrote a rap. No matter what the students chose to write their rap about they typed up their lyrics and highlighted all of the words using prefixes or suffixes. Once the students had their raps ready to go they went to an online drum machine to make their beats. We chose this particular drum machine because it is super easy to use. Students don’t need to have any prior knowledge on music production to quickly get the hang of using this tool. After the beats were made the students needed to record their track. They used Audacity to record the beat and then recorded their vocals on another track. Audacity is a great tool for simple multi or single track recording. The kids had some pretty serious rhymes going on! Check it out!
Example 1 Example 2

If your students are having a hard time with affixes then we encourage you to try out one of these activities!

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