Monday, October 16, 2017

Elementary Tech Kahoot

Have you used Kahoot before? I wrote a whole blog post about how to use Kahoot and why I love using it so much. I love all the updates they have made in the past year, too! Now you can assign Kahoots for homework so students can work independently, and you can also play in groups or teams. Definitely check out the updates if you haven't!

I use this Kahoot each year with my upper elementary students. I also almost always use this one of the first days with my Middle and High school students, too. This is a Kahoot that covers Windows programs, identifying keys, software, hardware, and keyboard shortcuts.  It is all Windows based, as I said before, but it could be adapted to the command key instead of the shift key if you wanted to use other parts of it.

One thing I love about Kahoot is that you can edit it to suite your needs. I'm sharing the link to mine so that you can check it out and use what you want, and change what you don't like! If you aren't interested in mine, definitely check out other technology Kahoots out there! I've used some pretty great ones.

If you haven't played Kahoot lately, you should definitely check out Ghost mode. One thing I love about Ghost Mode is that you can have your students compete against themselves. Have them complete this Kahoot at the beginning of the year, and then test them again later to see how much they have improved.

Do your kids love playing Kahoot too?
- Hilary 

Monday, October 9, 2017

iPad: Week 6 - Webquests

Webquests are so fun! Do you know what a webquest is?

Basically, your students are given a website to go to (via QR code or website link) and go there to find answers to questions that they are asked. Webquests are a fabulous way to incorporate technology and for your students to search for information on a topic instead of you just telling them what they need to know!

As a technology teacher, webquests are one of my absolute favorite ways to share information with my students. You know how they say that students remember the information better if they find it for themselves? Well I am a firm believer in that!

This week, I asked each of the teachers for a topic that they are covering in their course. I then went and created a digital resource to go with those topics for their class. Some of them included articles to read, while others just linked to webpages or kid-friendly videos. Here are the ones that we used -

You can also have students fill them out on paper like I've done with classes previously. I've done ones on Daylight Savings, Sharks, Careers, American Symbols, Seasons, and all sort of Holidays

Part of what I love about webquests is how versatile they are. They can cover all of these different topics listed above and so many more. If you've never used a webquest in your classroom before, I highly encourage you to. I have a ton in my store or you can make you own on sites like Create WebQuest and Zunal if you want to have all of the information online. 

Hope you try them out,

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fire Safety Week Resources

Next week, October 8-14, 2017 is FIRE SAFETY/PREVENTION week! I think that there is always a way to tie in these kinds of ideas into something that you are learning. Even if you aren't teaching it the entire week, teach a mini lesson or show a video before/after a special or first thing one more and have a conversation about fires and how they are preventable. 

Do you have fire drills in your school? Discuss why you do those and why they are so important. Do you have a back up location to go if your first one if compromised? One time, when the alarm goes off, tell your kids that your first location is compromised and head for the second location. 

Here are a few resources that I have found that I think are helpful for teaching about Fire Safety:

Fire Safety Rap Video 

Monday, October 2, 2017

iPad: Week 5 - Typing & Letter Identification Practice

As I start this school year with iPads instead of desktops, I wanted to share some of the apps and websites I plan to use with my elementary aged students throughout the year. While I don't think that typing is something to focus tons of attention on while on iPads, I do definitely think that it's worth covering throughout the year so that our kids don't get to the point where they're typing college essays with one finger, right? So without further ado -

  • Word Burst: This app has words pop up in bubbles, and you have to type them before they burst. Words get more difficult as time goes on, and more words appear on the screen at a time the more you get right. There are multiple levels and you score points for each letter you type correctly as your finish the word. You get 5 "lives" and you lose a life each time the bubble pops before you spell a word correctly. 
  • Flappy Type: Not quite the same concept as flappy bird, but they do have the same background. Basically different words show up on the screen one at a time and you have to type them. You see how many words you can type in a certain amount of time (1 minute). At the end, it tells you how many words you've typed and how many you got right. It also shows a list of words that you've typed. I typically have my students screen shot the words and send it to me so I know how they're doing. 

Online (iPad friendly):
  • Typing Class: Choose from 56 different lessons and use the onscreen keyboard to type. Sometimes it is a little laggy and I don't always like that you're using their keyboard instead of yours on your iPad, but it serves its purpose. It does have a time and accuracy level across the top. 
  • Keybr: You can pick one letter to focus on at a time and then use your iPad keyboard to type. It keeps track of your speed, score and errors. Super easy to use and you don't need to login to try it for a class period. I like to use this when I have a sub because it's easy to access and needs little explanation. 
  • Here you can pick to use the onscreen keyboard or the one on the iPad. You can also choose from beginner, intermediate, advanced or practice levels. This site walks you through the fingers you should use to type each letter and then slowly builds as you add more letters. The advanced levels add in symbols and numbers and have you type jokes or medical terms so you can practice full sentences or unfamiliar words. 
  • Nitro Type: Teach typing through an interactive race car type camping game. There are sentences that appear at the bottom of the screen, which I love because students aren't just aimlessly typing words. They car goes slower or faster depending on how quickly you are typing, and get a place at the end of the game based on how you do. You can play as a guest, but it doesn't save your scores. To help with this, just have your students screen shot their results and then the picture will save with the date on it so they can see how far they've come. 
  • Typing Home: Full of over 20 hours of free typing practice, with different lessons to choose from. Part of what I really like about this program is that it really does focus on which finger you are supposed to be typing with. Obviously that isn't as important on an iPad, but still a good lesson. There is also a typing test so you can see your typing speed and accuracy. I like my students to take this first without saying that it's a test so that we can see how they improve over the year. 
Happy Typing,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

iPads: Week 4 - Garage Band

Garage Band is such a fun and free app to use with the iPads! Although it can be loud (especially if your kids start singing to add their own vocals), it is so worth watching them create. I do not know about you, but I love activities that let my students express their creativity. I sometimes create assignments with limited parameters, just to see what they can come up with. This does take excellent classroom management skills (which I only have some days) in order for your students to stay on task and work hard, just be forewarned.

Anyways, if you haven't ever used Garage Band, it is pretty self explanatory. First you choose your instrument from keyboard, drummer, drums, guitar, world, amp, strings, bass, and audio recorder.

Then you choose one of the options for instrument preference.

Then you play around until you get a feel for the instrument. Once you have decided what kind of noise you want to record, you click the red record button at the bottom to record your jam. When you're done, you just click the stop button. You can listen to it, rerecord it, or move on to another instrument. 

This is an activity that I created for my students. It has limited directions, but helps them know where to find all of the Garage Band features. I used this in 2nd - 4th grade with my kiddos, and it was a blast. Check it out in my store here to snatch it up for only $1!

Jam On,

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What's So Great About Keynote?

I first started using keynote when we switched to iPads because it gave the students the ability to work like they did on PowerPoint on desktop computers, but on the iPads. When you are using iPads for multiple students, you run into licensing issues with things like Microsoft office where each user requires their own account. Microsoft and Google accounts all require email addresses, which are really tough to assign to elementary age kids.

One thing that I always didn't like about being a Microsoft school, was that we didn't have the ability to interact with our students sharing things like Google docs, or at least it wasn't as easy for us as everybody who uses Google classroom. Imagine how excited I was when I found something they can do almost that for my students using the iPads. Collaboration is not a Microsoft specialty, although they are working on some options. 

That being said, we thought that Keynote was a good alternative, and it already came on the iPads so it was easy to access. I have never really used Keynote before, even though I own a Mac, because I am most familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides so I would just use those, because most of us like to stay in our comfort zone, right?

Keynote allows you to send fully editable presentations to your students via AirDrop and Apple classroom. You sent each student a copy, so they are not messing with your original. It is super easy for them to send it back to you via AirDrop, or through Google classroom. If you are just using it for something like lecture notes, then they can just store it right on their devices. I love how easy it is for students to add text to blanks or thought-provoking questions that you leave them in your keynote presentations.

With some exploration of the app, I've quickly become relatively proficient at it after just a few uses. You can easily add links to anything you want your students to open and view or research on the internet. My students have watched videos, navigated to websites, and to other slides in the presentation, and it has worked really well for my students. It also has many of the same features that normal document editing would have. You can also add animations and such, just like you can with regular PowerPoint. 

A few disadvantages I've found with the Keynote iPad app, is that it isn't easy for adding pictures. If you have a picture on your iPad, the students can easily add that, but it isn't easy for them to search the internet for pictures of content you're discussing or to add to a research presentation that they are creating. For my students who like to wander while working on iPads, this is nice because they have less distractions. For me when I'm creating these presentations and like to add lots of visuals, it's a little bit of a hassle. 

Overall, I love working with Keynote and look forward to exploring more of its features. If you've used Keynote before, tell me how it works in your classroom!

Monday, September 18, 2017

iPads: Week 3 - Coding Apps

For those of you that do not know, I love to teach coding to my technology students. I don't think that there is any bad that can come out of student having some coding knowledge. Coding also is the base of many careers in many different career fields. That being said, anyone could benefit from knowing some code. I share some of my favorite computer based coding websites in another blog post.

This year, though, I have switched from a computer lab to an iPad lab so I set out to find some apps that I could use this year to teach coding. We have Dot & Dash robots that we use to program and combine robotics and code and I talk about how I use them here.

I highly recommend the Sololearn Inc apps for Middle and High School students. I used them myself when learning different coding languages to teach little bits to my students and they are super informational and effective. I love how easily I could move through them, and they had great help features for when I got stuck. There are Sololearn apps for C#, Java, SQL, JavaScript, HTML, Python and C++.

For my K-5 kiddos, though, I needed something a little more basic. I went searching through the App Store and downloaded the three that I thought looked most user friendly and popular - CodeSpark Academy, Kodable, and Tynker. Below I'll share with you my thoughts on each, and which I decided to use first in my K-5 classrooms.

Kodable: Kodable requires student logins in order to use the app. The advantage that Kodable gives you over other apps is that you create logins for the students, and then monitor student progress. It is nice to be able to make student logins and give them a class code, and not have to use emails for each individual student. In the setting of the mobile lab like I have though, creating accounts means all 200 students that I reach need to have accounts created for them. That is a ton of work for the rate and speed at which we will code. That being said, Kodable has some really great options for coding, but you have to pay for a lot of it. I did send out a cost request on their website, and it was reasonably priced for the amount of students that I have. That being said, our budget is pretty set for the year so Kodable isn't something we are going to purchase this year. I did have my students work through the beginning levels (there are only 5 that are free) just to get a little glimpse at coding, because of the 3 apps, I believe this one starts at the most basic level.

Tynker: My favorite part of the Tynker app is that once you open it up, you are free to code. It does start at probably a 2nd grade level (although most of my 1st graders fared okay), but with good directions, any students can follow along. There are MANY levels of Tynker and they are almost all free. They really start at the basics and quickly move your students forward. If they get one wrong, there are really great help features to update them. Another thing I really love about Tynker is that it starts with drag and drop coding. For those older students who can read, this is such a great way to teach coding. Using the words instead of pictures is ideal for their future in coding.

CodeSpark: As soon as you open up the CodeSpark app, you have to login as a parent. The parent login requires an email and password. It also costs $7.99 per month after a 1 month free trial. It does have a ton of coding challenges and adds new puzzles every week.  If you are a teacher, you can sign up for free student accounts, but you must add each students parent email to their logins. Again, you must do this for each of your students, or you can do a bulk import per class. Once you login to the device once with your teacher account, the students will just need to click their name in order to log in. They get to design a character and pick a fake name to be identified by. There aren't a ton of written directions once you get started - your student is mainly taught through pictures, but there are many levels that you can access with this free account.

Like I said, I did use Kodable with my K/1 students because it starts at the most basic level. I started my 2-4 kids on Tynker right away and they are loving it. We did do Hour of Code with last year, but even my new kids who haven't ever coded before are doing fabulous with Tynker.

Do you use a coding app in your classroom? Do you love it? Share it with me below. I would love to check it out!

Happy Coding,