Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mrs. Obach's Grade 1 Blog: Tooth Trouble

Mrs. Obach's Grade 1 Blog: Tooth Trouble: Today some of Mrs. Caldwell's Senior Kindergartens joined us on Skype to work together on this shared writing.  First, we read "But Then", ...

It's the Perfect Time to Study Polar Animals

Manitoba has been in quite a cold snap lately (temperatures as cold as -43 degrees Celsius with the windchill), and the animals that endure these temperatures on a regular basis seemed like a good focus for learning. We just met Peter Puppy in Letterland, and I always enjoy matching our letter/sound to a relevant area of study. For the next couple of weeks, we are excited to read, write, investigate, and share about penguins, polar bears, seals, walruses, and whales!

Penguin Attendance for the SMART Board--modify this template from SMART Exchange!

Activating Prior Knowledge with Brain Pop Junior
We viewed this free video on Arctic Habitats (no subscription required for this one)

KWL (Know, Want to Learn, Learned)

Positional Language with Polar Bears
Join the Mailbox teachers' magazine site for great free resources. The booklet "Polar Bear on the Go" is cute and free!

Stay tuned....more to come later this week!

Friday, January 25, 2013

SMARTer with Technology Part 2: Build Your Technology Toolbox

Goodnight 21st Century Learners

Little Hands, Big World

Technology for Classroom Procedures
Lots of great attendance activities available at SMART Exchange!

Rules and Routines
Special Helpers: the random word generator in SMART Notebook software works great!
Teach routines with social stories
Teach routines and prepare students for new experiences with movies

Lining Up
Call students using The Hat free download: great practice in reading names! Can also be used to practice sight words, math facts, number/letter recognition, etc.

Centre Workboard
My Centre Workboard in K

Calendar activities on the SMART Board using SMART Notebook software works wonderfully!
My Calendar in K 
Starfall Calendar
Here are some examples from SMART Exchange:
Sample Calendar 1
Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Technology for Assessment

SMART Recorder

SMART Response System

Technology for Communication/Collaboration/Sharing

In Plain English video
Twitter clients: Hootsuite, Tweet Deck 
Kinder Chat on Twitter
Kinder Chat Blog
New teacher chat

In Plain English video
Google Blogger

In Plain English video
Wikispaces: Smarter with Technology     OLCS Resource    OLCS Reading

Web sites


Skype in the Classroom
Check out my blog post that provides real examples of how Skype can enhance learning in the classroom. Also featured is a PDF file from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano demonstrating how to turn a Skype call into a learning call.


Xbox Video Kinect/Avatar Kinect

Online bulletin boards/mind mapping:
Lino It 

Tools for Storytelling
iPad apps for Digital Storytelling 
Book Creator
Draw and Tell

Technology for Creating 


LAME mp3 Encoder

Microsoft AutoCollage 
 This is a link to download a 30 day trial. Or, join Microsoft's Partners in Learning Network and download it for free!

Any Video Converter 

Creative Commons


Freeplay Music

Technology for Professional Learning and Resources
Microsoft Partners in Learning
Like them on Facebook
Microsoft Virtual University

SMART Exchange


Mobile Devices
Using your smart phone in the classroom

iPad Apps
Free Technology for Teachers' Top 46 Apps 

Other Useful Tools
Google Drive

Windows Sky Drive

Today's Meet

Poll Everywhere
Survey Monkey


Mr. Harry's Kindergarten Channel
Have Fun Teaching

The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Differentiating with Skype

While curling last night in our local bonspiel, my friend and colleague, Leah Obach, and I were discussing lesson plans for the upcoming day.

As you can see from the above Photobooth picture, we are not the most serious curlers on the ice!

Leah mentioned that she was teaching a lesson on -all and -ight words the following day. I replied that one of my K guided reading groups had just read the book "Balls" and worked on -all words as well. It didn't take us long to decide that my guided reading group should skype into her classroom to participate in the word sort lesson.
It was an exciting morning in the K room. Half of my class worked on letter and number printing with my EA while the remaining students skyped in to Mrs. Obach's class. We debated the merits of using SMART Bridgit so that the word sort could be truly interactive, but decided against it. Often we experience a delay with it, and the size of the web cam picture is very small. Instead we used the screen share feature in skype with one of Leah's special helpers moving the words for us when it was our turn. Leah did a quick mini-lesson on -all and -ight words, explaining how they rhymed with each other. She also discussed how to decode them by using the rime that we knew and adding the new sound on the front. Each classroom took turns reading and sorting words.
 I was so proud of my senior kindergarten students. They had no problem keeping up with the Grade 1s, and capably read both -all and -ight words. The level of engagement was high during the 15 minute call, and no reminders were needed to keep boys and girls on task. Mrs. Obach led the activity, while I occasionally prompted and encouraged my students. Once the call ended, my guided reading group showed the rest of my K class how to read and spell -all and -ight words, creating this slide on the SMART Board.
I was so excited to see how well Skype worked as a tool to provide differentiation to the learners in my K class. By using technology to connect a small group of my K students with a Grade 1 class, my boys and girls were able to participate in a learning experience that was at the perfect level for them. They were then able to apply their learning and teach the concept of -all and -ight words to the other students in my classroom. Ultimately, it is our goal that students will be able to engage in these Skype learning experiences with minimal adult guidance.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A look back at a life-changing experience....Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum 2012

As we start a new year, we want to take time to reflect on our incredible teaching and learning journey in 2012.  We also wanted to collate some samples documenting our experience of sharing the Little Hands, Big World project at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum.  The PiLGF in Prague, Czech Republic proved to be an exciting close to 2012, and it continues to provide momentum as we return to our classrooms after the holidays.

After connecting with teachers and seeing evidence of the powerful learning that students are engaged in around the world, it is evident that changes in education are underway.  Many learners are being challenged and engaged with interdisciplinary, personalized, student-directed learning experiences.  More than ever before, students are taking charge of their learning as they create solutions to real-world problems and function as agents of change in their homes and communities. The richness and diversity of the projects at the forum was inspiring, yet in the diversity there was an even greater commonality–innovative teachers and students working together as part of a greater whole! The sense of community we experienced with our fellow educators at the forum proved to be a wave that we are still riding–communicating with new Facebook friends and still sending out the odd #PILGF tweet to prove that we’re still connected! It was an experience of a lifetime that is impossible to convey to someone unless they have participated in a global forum, and the bonds that form are very strong!

Our school facilities are slower to respond to the needs of 21st century learners and educators. But we were energized to peek through a window to see the schools that are being redesigned to better promote these rich learning experiences. In turn, as they make use of new classrooms, schools, and tech tools, teachers are encouraged to rethink their approaches to teaching.

We enjoyed sharing our students’ work at the forum and we were delighted to be awarded First Runners Up in Extended Learning Beyond the Classroom.


We look forward to 2013 being another challenging and engaging year for us and for our students.

New Dehli TV Video of Forum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw9ZhsWv9Ng
Microsoft PiL Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Pj4Qjic4DcA
Awards Gala Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6vIelcr1fg
Flickr Stream from Global Forum: http://www.flickr.com/photos/90351558@N06/

It's Mitten Weather in Manitoba!

January, with its cold winds and freezing temperatures, always seems like the perfect time of year to focus on a multi-discliplinary mittens unit. Here are some of the activities that we enjoy working on in mathematics and ELA!

YouTube resources:
The Mitten read aloud

Jan Brett and her illustrations

SMART Notebook files: Mitten Sorting and Graphing Activity
To begin this activity, all students bring their mittens and gloves to the circle. We discuss the various attributes of our mittens and gloves, such as style, materials, etc. We sort our mittens and gloves using two large hula hoops as a Venn diagram. At first, the teacher gives the sorting rule, with students given the opportunity to generate their own sorting rules later on. The teacher or students can also sort the mittens and play "guess my sorting rule". To extend this activity and infuse technology, each child's mittens can be photographed, uploaded to the computer, and used in a SMART Notebook sorting activity. The "set picture transparency" feature is very useful in eliminating the backgrounds surrounding the mittens so no overlapping takes place during sorting.
The Mitten Story Map
Available at First Grade a la Carte

Mitten Writing: My mitten was so big a _________ could fit in it!

A variety of mitten activities in PDF format from Pinterest

And we love singing this mitten song while we play this "Farmer in the Dell" game--the first animal goes in the middle and gets to choose the next animal. The rest of the students make a circle, walking and singing around the animals in the centre. At the end of the song, once the mouse is in the circle, the student who is the bear gives a great sneeze and we all fall down!