Friday, March 2, 2018

It Begins! 2018 March Madness Tournament of Books!

For the past four years, I have hosted a March Madness Tournament of Books for Oak Hills 3rd - 5th Graders. As March approached this year, I was worried that maybe our students would feel a less enthusiastic about it since we have done it several times before. With that in mine, I still pushed ahead, surveyed classes for their favorite books, created the huge bracket on the wall and produced the paper bracket for voting. Yesterday I began chatting with classes about it and I was greeted with applause by one class and a great deal of enthusiasm by the rest! That doesn't happen every day! So I am thrilled to say, here we go, 2018 March Madness Tournament of Books.  This year I am not including any past winners into the "Sweet 16". So that means the series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter and Sisters are not included despite their continued popularity. I also made an exception for a nonfiction series and included the "Who Was" books. This series is one of the most read in our library collection.  After all of our 3rd - 5th Graders finish filling out their paper bracket, we will begin the voting using Google Forms. Stay tuned for the results!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Daily Announcements At OHE - Figuring It Out!

This year, our OHE principal, Mr. Labatte, asked if I would begin recording and managing the morning announcements each day. This is a daily offering in most schools, so it isn't breaking new ground. Video announcements are an excellent way to make all school announcements, kick off each school day, give students an opportunity to shine (and record with green screen!) and help set the tone in the school. 

Being responsible for the school announcements is a time consuming task that almost everyone takes for granted as part of their elementary school landscape. So for everyone affiliated with a school, make sure to thank the adult responsible for the school announcements. There is much behind the scene work they are doing to bring it to your school! For my part, I am regularly thanked by our principal and staff. In addition, Mr. Labatte already had the technology (Touchcast & green screen) ready to go, the work flow figured out when I took it over.

Our special features are Staff Book Talk (which is everyone on staff including kitchen staff, clerical, & custodians etc) & twice a month we do a Student Shout Out (that Mr. Labatte announces and records). We also have special announcements like the upcoming Book Fair and such. Many of the special feature announcements & the daily weather are recorded in the "start from scratch" screen in Touchcast and then imported into the news recording.

Mrs. Burkle, our media clerk, produces a script for each day of the week in 5 separate Notes on the iPad (so she can save and use them each week) and then just cut and paste them into the TS teleprompter.  I bookmarked the district lunch menu and Accuweather (a screenshot for use with the green screen), each with a shortcut on the iPad homepage near the Touchcast app.  After cutting and pasting the menu from the district menu into the script in Notes, we are ready to go!

Inline image 1

Each day after the students record the morning announcements, I edit the recording, cutting in the weather recording and the Pledge of Allegiance.  I then export the video to the iPad camera roll and import it into iMovie. Here I turn up the sound as student voices are often too quiet to be heard when being played back in our classrooms. Once this step is done this step, I upload it to our OHE NEWS Youtube channel.  Having it in Youtube is great because it gives our teachers the flexibility to access and share the announcements when it works into their daily schedule.

There are many moving parts to make it all come together. Student schedules for availability, a quiet location for the recording, and student reading ability all play a part in the behind the scenes details of recording the news. Happily the end product is great for our school and for our students!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Oak Hills Parent Power Hour!

Our school's Learning Specialist, Patty Johnson, asked if I would gather and present resources for our OHE parents. Once I began I was amazed at the huge array of digital options that would be great for our families!  Here is what I shared!

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Lorenson Lowdown Newspaper! Great Job 3rd Graders!

Two months ago, Mrs. Lorenson asked me to help her find a way for her students to create a digital newspaper. After searching for options, I suggested a template that I found on a website created by a tech teacher in Alberta, Canada, Darren Maltais.

Among the many digital templates, the newspaper option was perfect for Mrs. Lorenson's MTSS class.  Mrs. Lorenson began by brainstorming with students the OHE topic areas to include in their paper. She had students select their favorite topic and then assigned them to write interview questions to ask the adults in charge of their chosen OHE topic area.  Once the interviews were completed, students wrote their articles based on their interview notes.

Meanwhile, I copied the newspaper template to my Google Drive. The format was a Google slideshow. I made a few edits, like changing the date and title to The Lorenson Lowdown and duplicated the slide 19 times, one for each student. I shared the Google slides with all of her students. Each student was assigned one slide for their article. They typed their article and added a photo. Once they completed the slideshow, I downloaded the slideshow to a .pdf and uploaded it to

This project took some time, but gave students an opportunity to work on many of the ELA benchmarks. Great job to Mrs. Lorenson's MTSS class!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bringing Student Designs To 3D Life!

This has been an exciting week! Last week, I posted about our 5th graders learning to design in the Tinkercad web app in my post 5th Graders Begin 3D Design. This week students were thrilled to begin printing their designs on our 3D printer! It was a fairly steep learning curve for my students and I! Now that we are seeing success, I am happy to say it was worth the effort.  Once I introduced Tinkercad and all of the little nuances, students went through the 5 original lessons provided in Tinkercad.  I then shared a few more "how to" lessons to help them as they began designing their projects. 

Once students designed their projects, students exported their designs (.stl file) from Tinkercad to their Google Drive, and then they shared it with me. This work flow was simple and efficient! I asked our district email administrator for a Google account just for 3D printing so I wouldn't have all of their emails and files in my work Google/Gmail account. I then downloaded their projects, and set them on the Makerbot print bed so that I could print five or six designs at a time.  

Also, our 3D printer lives in our library so that all of the students in the building can see the 3D printer working. This initial exposure to the printer will help prepare students for when they are given the opportunity to design and print.

Now that our 5th graders have learned how to design for the 3D printer, I am realizing how great this design experience is for our students. I would recommend Tinkercad designing for students with or without a 3D printer.

Friday, January 26, 2018

5th Graders Practice Creative Writing With Plot & Setting Using Storybird

I recently had the opportunity to share the Storybird app with our 5th grade students. I was reminded how wonderful this web app is for inspiring an supporting student writing.

Our students loved having a huge library of original digital art to select for their stories. This artwork served as the illustrations for their stories but also sparked their creativity. Their stories, once published as a flipbook, could be shared with each other, other classrooms and with their families. Storybird even has a feature that allows students to collaborate on a story. The best part is that students enjoy writing using this app, and nothing beats students having fun while learning! Check out Olivia's story about a scared bunny!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

5th Graders Begin 3D Design With Tinkercad...

In November, we opened up our brand new 3D printer, Makerbot Replicator+, and began the process of learning how to print. The process of learning how to print was centered around learning to design in the web app Tinkercad, and learning how to manage the print jobs in the Makerbot print application. I really needed to be a students myself before becoming a teacher. I used trial and error to discover the ins and outs of the process.  I had quite a few failed print jobs, but slowly I began to have some success. 

Once I figured it out, I then began to put on my teacher hat and try to discover the best way to roll out this complicated task for our 5th graders. It was clear that work flow was going to be a big deal. Finally, yesterday I introduced Tinkercad to the first of four 5th grade classes.  I introduced the Tinkercad work plane and tools. We discussed the importance of renaming their projects clearly so I would be able to managing all of the 3D print jobs once they sent them to me.

After the introduction, I asked students to go through a few introductory lessons in Tinkercad so they could learn how to use the design features.

Now students will spend the next few sessions designing. Stay tuned for the final projects!