Stepping Towards the Future

blue technology around brain

As I am about to cross the finish line of this semester, online learning has taken over the world. Things will never be the same as they were; technology has forever changed the way learners acquire new knowledge and master skills. While it was forced upon educators rather rapidly, I find myself thankful for this class as it helped me begin my journey in navigating the endless amazing sources available. I believe that as time goes on, more and more curriculum will be done on screens. Thanks to this class, I feel much more prepared for my future as modern day teacher in an ever changing world.

When we began the class, we started working fairly basic but valuable websites. In particular, I found Interactive Google Slides to be really fun. Like a modern day choose-your-own adventure book, interactive slides allowed my to create an activity for the preschoolers I was working with at them time about learning social cues and being a good friend. It would have to be done with an adult, but i believe it could start some good conversations.

As the semester progressed, we worked with another Google tool: Google sites. I decided to focus on kindergarten standards to create a website about weather. Google Sites is easy to navigate and has a lot of really great features such as embedding YouTube videos and other Google Tools. This is my favorite tool we learned about; I have a feeling I will be frequently using this!

Another valuable tool we got to learn to use is Edpuzzle. Edpuzzle allows teachers to crop, pause, and add questions or comments to any YouTube video. It also takes away advertisements and suggested videos at the end, so students won’t potentially click on something you don’t want them to. There is so much great YouTube content, especially for remote learning, so I know this tool will come in handy too!

Finally, I believe my best piece of work from this class is the final project I created: a Google site for personal narrative writing for the 4th grade. I wanted to challenge myself working with content for older grades, and found that it was much different than working with the younger grades due to the type of content you can provide for them as well as the complexity of instructions they can follow. I used Google docs, Edpuzzle, YouTube, and image inserts to create an abundance of resources for the writers.

Featured Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Final Project- 4th Grade Personal Narratives

cartoon monitor with a document open

For my final project, I wanted to do something for an older set of kids than what I usually do just to see how it feels (it was fun). I remember writing my own personal narrative in 4th grade and really enjoying it, so I decided to create a Google Site all about that. The site has four pages for each step of the process: Brainstorming, Rough Draft, Editing, and Final Draft. I inserted various google docs, youtube videos, images, and used Edpuzzle to edit a video as support and guidance for what to do in each of these steps. I ended up finding some great resources for worksheets that help students plan out what they want to say. Ideally, students would spend one day brainstorming, two or three days writing, two days editing, and one day on the final draft. By then final day, students will have written a complete personal narrative that not only is well sequenced and edited, but that they are proud of too! Here are the standards I am basing the lesson off of:

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 4 here.)

With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Featured Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay

All About Anywhere

girl with a map that has "anywhere" written across it

I am absolutely obsessed with Book Creator! It is such a valuable teaching tool that I could see myself using with just about any age group. I did my example book as a report about the state of California to fit 2nd grade ELA standards, but the possibilities for this app are endless. It could be a great way for students to submit fun reports, do presentations as you can record over the pages, create a memory book, or document a science experiment. You can even turn on the function to collaborate in the app! Younger kids would be able to insert images and use limited text, while older kids could type as much as they need to. It is super user friendly; I really like how it’s equipped with a google image search for public domain images already set up. This is my favorite tool we have worked with so far and I look forward to using it with my future classes.

Featured Image by denkendewolke from Pixabay

What Animals Eat: Wakelet Vs. Weblets

a leopard on a tree branch

For this lesson, I whipped up a quick example in both Webjets and Wakelet of a young students lesson on how to classify animals based on what they eat. While Webjets was okay, I absolutely loved Wakelet! I was judging based on ease of use for both teacher and student, ability to add different forms of content, and overall easiness to navigate. Webjets looks cute with the style of a bulletin board, but creating “cards” was super tedious. Plus the website wasn’t as user friendly. Wakelet is pretty, super easy to use, and allows easy addition of outside content. It actually reminded me a lot of a google form. I think it was easy enough that kids could use it to make projects like animal reports, book reports, or science research.

I also couldn’t figure out how to make the HTML Snippet of the Wakelet page smaller or how to do a Snippet for Webjet. I’m not very tech savy, all the more reason I liked Wakelet!

Featured Photo by Gwen Weustink on Unsplash

The Radical Rainforest

Rainbow beak toucan sitting on branch in front of large green leaves

In this video, students will be learning some basic information about the rainforest ecosystem and what is does for the planet. This would be a great resource for students studying different ecosystems in 2nd through 5th grade. Perhaps you could have students watch multiple videos on different ecosystems and compare what they learn or have them research one type of ecosystem extensively. It could also be used to talk about deforestation and conservation as moral dilemmas for some of the older elementary kids.

I really enjoyed using Edpuzzle and could definitely see myself using it lots in the future. There is so much great content to learn from online, and the use of periodic breaks allows kids to actually absorb and think about content, as well as take a brain break if needed.

Featured Photo by Chloe Evans on Unsplash

Finding the Author and Illustrator

open Alice in Wonderland book with text and Alice with a deer

For this screencast, I am teaching kindergarten students how to find where the author and illustrator of a picture book is displayed on the cover. This will help them complete CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.6 With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story. I used iMovie to edit together various screen-recorded clips. It was very easy to use and I could see myself using this in the future as a resource for students to reference when working independently or in small groups. It was even simple enough I think older students could do this on their own.

Featured Image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Why Are Schools Closing?

A room full of empty brown tables and chairs

I wanted to use this assignment as an opportunity to tackle current events. Recently, schools all over the world are closing for a few weeks to practice social distancing amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. I would imagine this is a very confusing time for children as it is also very confusing for adults. I made this video to talk about the closures in a child-friendly way.

I really loved using the Toontastic App. It was easy, fun, and I really liked how customizable it is. There are so many things this could be used for in the classroom, such as making a book report, history lesson, science experiment report, or telling a creative narrative. Kids will have no troubles using it and they could even work together to make content.

Photo by Akshay Chauhan on Unsplash

Treehouse Summers

overlooking a bay area park

I’m from summers in treehouses under the chlorinated sun

And weekends watching Little League games 

I’m from mom and dad and a twin brother

Our pictures on walls in wooden frames

I’m from pets of all kinds in all shapes and sizes

All leaving lasting impressions on my heart 

I’m from rolling grass hills decorated with flowers

And friends who never strayed far apart

Treehouse Summers

I absolutely loved making this Adobe Spark Page! It was easy but still customizable. There are endlessly possibilities to use this in a classroom. If students are old enough, you could have them create an original short story or poem and create media to go with it. Or students could attach photos for a personal narrative. They would need a few computer skills in order to understand how to create the page, but it is fairly simply so even the little ones could use it with some guidance.

Featured Image by semafore from Pixabay

Whatever Weather

rows of open umbrellas that are greens, blues, yellows, and white

This Google Site is designed as part of a bigger unit about weather for kindergarteners. It meets the Oregon Department of Education’s science standards for this grade as students are required to learn about different types of weather and what is appropriate to wear in those situations. The site includes a song, a Google tour showing different weather patterns, a short quiz about what they’ve learned, and a page of resources for further learning like games, more songs, and links to websites predicting current forecasts. This could be done however the teacher is most comfortable: individually, as a class, in a small group, or at home.

Featured image by Wim van ‘t Einde on Unsplash

Prep to be a Kinder Kid!

colorful kids silhouettes and the word "Kindergarten" in colorful capital letters

This Google Doc is designed for preschoolers and their families to work together to prepare the student to enter elementary school. It acts as an introduction to concepts that children will greatly benefit from knowing before entering kindergarten. These concepts will hopefully not be entirely new to students as they should be exploring them in preschool, but something this format may be different than what they’ve worked with before. Ideally this would work best if each student had a computer and access to an adult, such as a small group setting during school and be accessible outside of school for students to work with their families.

By the end of the document, students should be able to cut with child safety scissors on lines, properly grip a pencil and write letters with it, know all the letters, and be able to count to at least 10. They will be exposed to phonics, sorting, small words, and audio of read along stories. They will also get practice following directions while learning to play games and following along in books when listening to the read-along stories.

The Google doc will help students achieve these goals by providing them with a variety of educational games to play, songs to sing, worksheets/activities, and videos to watch. All the game sights linked are great resources for other educational content when further explored as well, such as games for different subjects or grade levels.

Educational Activities for Kiddos MyMap

person on swing

Below is a Google MyMap created as a resource for families to take their young learners (Pre-K-1st grade) in free time that act as not only fun things to do, but educational opportunities. I believe that children learn best through play, so many of these locations are designed for place based learning, but there are also a volunteer opportunity and a craft supply store. One layer of the map will show outdoor locations, while the other will show indoor locations. It would even be fun to pitch a field trip idea around one of these experiences!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Being a Good Friend Interactive Slides

Heart with a chain behind three friends

These slides are intended for young students aged Pre-K through 2nd grade. Some children may need help reading the questions and answers, but should be able to click on the choices on their own. The goal of this activity is for students to practice making kind choices in common scenarios. By choosing the option that a good friend would choose, students are able to move on to the next question. By choosing the option that may result in more harm than good, students will have to try the question again. I would either have the adults of the house sit with the child at the begging of the school year or during a particularly rough patch and go through this at home, or have the whole class on computers/tablets and go through the choices together, explaining further why one is right and one is wrong.

Featured Image: friendship by Nithinan Tatah from the Noun Project