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What is the Daily 5?- Parent Connect 9/24/12

This year, we are piloting a new literacy program in grades 2, 4 and 5.  This grew out of our summer professional development book groups, which you can read more about here. The program, called the Daily 5, is grounded in the knowledge base of what activities and behaviors are most effective for developing basic literacy. The Daily 5 was written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, who also maintain the website.

Our first Parent Connect this year was dedicated to sharing information about The Daily 5 and our implementation of it this year. Here is a review for those parents who were not able to join us, as well as anyone else interested in learning more.

Everything we do is grounded in an understanding of what our students need in order to be successful in this connected, high tech world. We believe the Daily 5 helps us help our students to become independent learners.

Our librarian, Karin Hallett, shared some of the research behind this program in the following slides:

If you would like to learn more, here is an excellent article that synthesizes current research and underscores the importance of self-selected independent reading.

We watched a video of Amy Stein teaching her second graders the "I PICK" strategy for learning how to choose "good fit books."

We also watched Stephanie Teitelbaum introducing "Read to Self" to her 4th and 5th graders.

Here are some thoughts from Andrea Hernandez and Jon Mitzmacher:

This final video includes a discussion about The CAFE Book, which is the counterpart to the Daily 5, as well as information about the data collection process.

Stephanie has started a professional blog, Teach, Blog and Tweet, where she will be documenting and reflecting upon the process as it unfolds. Please feel free to follow her there, and add your voice to the discussion.



Kitah Alef Shares Tips to Take Care of the iPads in School

Kitah Alef, will be using our school's iPads regularly during the school year in general and Jewish studies. The first step was to learn how to take care of them. Students were excited to be the actors for the video clip.

First Grade is Taking Care of their iPads from langwitches on Vimeo.


Another Student-Created eBook- A Week in 2nd Grade

In the course of our iPad explorations in 2nd grade, some students made the choice to read ebooks that were in the iPad library. One of those books was the butterfly book, written by the first graders. Second graders loved reading the text and looking at the illustrations and photos in this beautiful book. They were also inspired to create an ebook of their own.

Julia reading the 1st Grader's Butterfly Book

Julia, who loves looking at the daily agenda, suggested that it would be fun to write a book about a day in 2nd grade. After discussions with the class, we settled on the plan to collaboratively create a book detailing, "A Week in 2nd Grade."

The first step was a collaborative brainstorming session to decide the most important and interesting things to include in the book. It was decided that each student would be responsible for writing and illustrating (via a photo taken with the iPad) one page. After deciding what to include and assigning pages, students used a graphic organizer as a pre-write to brainstorm ideas for their topic. 

The next step in the process was to write a paragraph using paper and pencil. Finally, students were ready to use the Book Creator app on the iPad to create their page. As students worked on various stages of the writing process, teachers met one-on-one with the students to help them edit their writing. Because this process was quite long, not every piece of writing was perfectly edited. We felt that it was important to actually finish the project and publish the book and teachers did not edit student work without the student's participation. The writing you see, therefore, is authentic 2nd grade work and may contain some errors in spelling or grammar.

If you own an iPad or iPhone, you can download the ePub file  and directly drop it into your iTunes library. Once you sync your device with iTunes, you are able to read our ebook .

If you are reading this post on your iPad, simply click on the ePub file and choose to open in iBook.


Working on iPad Fluency in First and Second Grade

We want our students to :

  • use apps on the iPad to create, not just consume
  • fluently pick apps that will serve a purpose
  • fluently switch between apps, then insert, embed, share and disseminate their creations

We have to expose students to a variety of apps to help them gain skills in iPad Fluency

By fluency I mean the ability to:

  • connect tasks effortless together (ex.creating and editing a video, then uploading, embedding and disseminating on several platforms)
  • CREATE and then being able to COMMUNICATE- the ability to create and communicate your creation is one of the main characteristics of fluency
  • record, edit and then publish a movie that automatically posts to my blog
  • take an image…edit…then automatically post to my photo stream as well as embed into a blog post
  • work within several apps, then remix content from each one by being able to import them from one app to another.

In the first few weeks after the iPad deployment, we are concentrating on allowing students to test and explore a variety of apps, as well as work on that fluency piece.

Here are a few examples of our lower elementary school students.

In first grade, students practiced their Hebrew letters in Doodle Buddy.

They then drew illustrations and learned about emailing the finished image to the teacher.

In second grade, we are helping students create an image, then saving it into the Photo Gallery (by an in-app function, via the built-in camera or taking a screenshot) and then edit and email that image to their teacher.

Second graders were learning to introduce themselves in Hebrew. We decided to create an eBook with each student contributing their own page.

The image can be created in a drawing app, such as Doodle Buddy, or being taken with the iPad’s built in camera, then imported into Doodle Buddy to write or type over it.

By adding an International keyboard to the iPad, we were able to easily switch between the English and Hebrew letters.

Here were the instructions for our students, which we modeled by mirroring the iPad display via projector:

  1. Take an image with the built-in camera
  2. Go to Photo Gallery and edit if needed
  3. Go to Doodle Buddy app by finding the app icon or by searching for app by name
  4. Import image from Photo Gallery as background
  5. Choose a marker, color, thickness and write your name in Hebrew on the image
  6. E-mail the image to your teacher

We are realizing that after a few run throughs of creating- saving- sending, our students are picking the sequence up easily.  (The hardest part for these early elementary school students is to spell my name in the email correctly :)

We are also making it a point to have students explore the apps we have loaded on our iPads. As we are discussing, at the beginning of class, WHAT we want to CREATE, we are asking for input from the students:

  1. What app would be best suited (any alternatives)?
  2. The sequence from creating to saving and then the best way to share it with others (email, publish, classroom blog, etc.)

It is crystallizing itself clearly, that the iPad lessons are building on each other. The best success, I have been able to observe, is when students had explored an app in one class, worked with the app to create, in another class and finally pulled the sequence together for a larger project by remixing, sharing and collaborating.


Proud to Present Butterfly iPad Book by our First Graders

If you have been following the 21st century blog, you read about our First Graders First iPad Encounters. We are so proud to share their final product with you: The iPad Butterfly Book.

Mrs. O'Neill writes:

The conversion of our classroom into a Monarch Butterfly nursery happened by chance. We discovered a caterpillar while taking a nature walk and decided to bring it into the classroom to observe. Since I have raised Monarchs before, I knew exactly what the caterpillar needed to thrive. The students were so excited about our one caterpillar friend that we kept checking the milkweed leaves for more caterpillars and a butterfly unit was born. We studied the life cycle and were privileged to see each stage (egg, caterpillars of various sizes, chrysalis, and even several butterflies emerging during class!) The children complied everything they discovered about Monarchs into this book so they could share it with you. We hope you enjoy our eBook.

If you own an iPad or iPhone, you can download the ePub file and directly drop them into your iTunes library. Once you sync your device with iTunes, you are able to read our butterfly book.

If you are reading this post on your iPad, simply click on the ePub link and choose to open in iBook.

Please leave us a comment where you are from and maybe other interesting facts about Monarch butterflies for us to learn.


iPad Exploration

After finally getting the 20 new iPads set up and ready to use (a major undertaking for which I take no credit-- read about it here), I am planning to embark on an explorative journey of how to best use these tools to transform learning in 2nd grade.

Aside from a little fun in Kitah Alef one afternoon, using Doodle Buddy to practice writing Hebrew letters, I have very little experience with the iPad as a school device. I am only a moderately fluent user of my own iPad, which I use mostly to consume information.

So, where to begin?

I will be using iPads in one of the 2nd grade learning centers, twice a week. My initial goals are to learn more about what can reasonably be done by 2nd graders during this period of time and to let the kids do a bit of structured exploration. So far we have only been able to add free apps to our iPads. (Here is our list.)
I need to do my own experiential learning of how to use the iPads with young children, while continuing to gain fluency in using the iPad for my own productivity. I am willing to allow curricular goals to take a backseat in the early stages of exploration. In my many years of using technology with students (of ALL ages) I have always had big goals, but I have learned that what seems simple to me is not always as simple as it seems. In fact, I believe that one of the reasons many teachers turn off from using technology actively with students in the "messiness" of it. For me, part of embracing the messiness (which I have come to love) is to realize that it's all learning.
In thinking about how to structure the early exploration, I recalled a model called Plan, Do and Review. In researching the method, I see that it is used most frequently in preschool, but is also indicated as developmentally appropriate for use in lower elementary grades.
I like this model because it gives students opportunity to explore and choose but within a guided structure designed by the teacher. I believe that creativity and exploration are often more productive within a structure. I have observed that students, when given too many choices, may have trouble committing to an activity. They become overwhelmed with choices and jump around from one thing to the next, never really "doing" anything.
In the initial meeting with students, after a brief introduction to the iPad and discussion about proper care and handling, I plan to provide students with 3 or 4 choices of apps/activities to freely explore. I will keep demonstration to a bare minimum and let the focus be on problem solving and exploration for the students.
Ideas for choices:
•Listen to a student created podcast, downloaded from the MJGDS podcast channel on iTunes. We have many excellent, student-created podcasts, including one that they made last year in first grade.
Doodle Buddy
Google Earth
•Read an eBook (we have a few free eBooks downloaded, as well as two student-created eBooks.)
Puppet Pals
•Sock Puppets
The emphasis will be making a choice and then sticking to that choice for the entirety of the "do" period.
Doing is the active engagement. Some choices will offer more exploration and experimentation than others. It's all good. Or even if it's not good, it's ok. That's why there is time to review.
Review can be formal or informal. I am hoping to have time for a formal, written review. I've created a google form for students to use (at this point, I will probably print the form and have them write it. In the future, we plan to download the forms app so students can fill out the form on the iPads).
Although that will complete one Plan, Do, Review session, the cycle will continue with the next session as students become more familiar with the process itself, as well as the things they enjoy doing during their "do" time.
This is my plan for at least the first few sessions of working with the 2nd graders. It should give me opportunity to get a feel for using the iPads with the small groups. From there, Miss Stein and I will strategize on next steps.
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First Graders- First iPad Encounters


The iPads are finally set up and ready to go into the classrooms! It happened to be our first graders who were the first ones to get their hands on them!

Our first graders just finished a unit on butterflies. It was the perfect timing to work with them and create an ebook about the different stages of a butterfly and show their learning reflection as a culminating activity of that unit.

Students wrote a story, as a class, about the different stages of the butterfly. We shared their words with our Art teacher, Mrs. Gutterman, who is now working with our students to create the illustrations for the book.

The first time, I brought the iPads into the class, we spent time talking about the care and handle of the devices.

When picking the iPad up from the teacher we reminding them to

  • carry the iPad with two hands to their desk
  • set them down as quietly as possible
  • don’t hold the iPad from the SmartCover
  • don’t walk around the classroom with an iPad in your hand
  • no pulling, showing or tugging on someone else’s iPad

It was important to also introduce “iPad” vocabulary to our first graders, so we would all be able to use a common language when instructing or asking questions. We introduced this first time the following lingo:

  • Home button
  • screen
  • swiping
  • sliding
  • tap
  • apps
  • icons
  • pinch in/ pinch out
  • front camera
  • back camera

The introduction was done with the whole class. We then split into groups. These groups rotated in and out of the classroom to go to Art to start working on their watercolor illustrations. The rest stayed with us in the classroom to become familiar with the iPad.

We projected the iPad to the screen at the front of the room to show them the two apps we would be “playing” with that day: iBooks,  Doodle Buddy.

As we showed them a student created eBook , as an example,  it was the perfect opportunity to examine some of the similarities (author, illustrator, text, images) and differences (spine, turning pages vs. swiping pages) between a traditional printed book and an eBook.

Each student then was free to read the eBooks we had pre-loaded on the iPad, and then move on to Doodle Buddy. They discovered quickly the Tic-Tac-Toe and Maze backgrounds as well as the stickers with attached sounds. All in all it was a great way for students to get comfortable with touching, swiping, sliding, drawing and overall handling of the iPad.


By the second encounter, students were ready to learn to use the built-in camera app of the iPad2. We had the entire class together for this session. We showed them the location of each little camera on he front and back of the device and helped them locate the camera app. There were lots of giggles when they learned how to switch between the front and back facing camera. They then could practice taking their own picture. Not an easy task, when keeping in mind to LOOK at the camera lens, instead of the button to shoot the picture.

We showed them WHERE to find the pictures that they took (Photo Album) and how to swipe through the images.

The following time I came to the first grade classroom, it was time to introduce them to the Book Creator app. This time the iPads were part of a center that students rotated through.

We reviewed how to find and open an app. I then showed them how to insert the image that they took of themselves the previous day. They then practiced resizing and moving the image.

During journal time, first graders had written a short reflection about what they had learned about butterflies during their unit of study. They also included a sentence how they felt about it.  They brought their (paper) journal to the table and learned how to bring up the iPad keyboard and to type their text.

A hush fell over the center as all the students were busy :

  • sounding words out
  • finding the letters on the keyboard
  • inserting spaces
  • learning that the cursor will automatically advance to the next line, if they ran out of space
  • being amazed that the iPad will capitalize the first word after a period automatically, etc.

I kept a student as a “helper” from a previous center rotation when a new student rotated into the center in order to help me with pointing out the insert image or text icons or location of the space bar or delete button.

Looking back at these three “First Encounters with the iPad” sessions with our first graders, I am excited and thrilled. I can “feel” the potential, the engagement and motivation of the students. I can see how the devices will become a tool to bring instant information, growing collaboration, and creativity to the classroom.

Alan November’s powerful words on the motivating and empowering factor of “Leaving a Legacy“, in regards  to student learning, are ringing in my ears. We will be sharing the iPads among ALL of our students (K-8). I can  see how we can develop a cross grade level and cross subject area support center, media center, and library FOR and BY our students. My hope is that students will take ownership of these iPads to contribute their best work, knowing that they will be sharing it with the rest of the school.

The work students are doing with their “Butterfly Book”, will not only be seen by their current teacher and their parents, but will be part of research and background information for upcoming students in years to come.

Stay tuned as we will be sharing the final ePub version of the butterfly book for you to download to your own iPad, iPhone or Kindle.