Saturday, March 25, 2017

Blackout Poetry with Google Docs and Drawings


I love the idea of Blackout Poetry. The basic premise is using existing text and finding words within the text to create a poem...then blacking out what you don't need. There are many internet posts, pictures, and videos on creating Blackout Poetry for those interested in looking into this cool genre. Many years ago I tried it with a Girl Scout troop of fourth and fifth graders and they found the concept difficult..and I have to admit that I probably didn't do a good job of explaining it.

I tried a variation of it using magazines where students cut out words and created a poem using their "found" words. That went a little better (maybe because they can tangibly rearrange the words?).

Anyway...I haven't had much of an opportunity to work with students and poetry in several years and then this video came across my Pinterest feed and I got excited about using technology with blackout poetry.



The video was super easy to follow and I created a blackout poem using his instructions and text from DOGO news


I sent the video and my example to a couple of my tech co-workers who work with middle and high schools as a possible push for ELA classes in April. One of them asked if you could put an image behind it and that got me working on it (here is the same poem with an image behind it). 


To add an image I had to do it in Google Drawings.

So the poem was created in Google Docs using the instructions from the video and then I downloaded it as a PDF. I then took a snip of it (using the computers snipping tool...and saving it as a picture on my computer). I then opened up Google Drawings and inserted my poem as a picture and stretched it out to fit the canvas. I searched for a picture of a beach (since my poem was beach themed) and inserted that on top of the poem (please note you will no longer see the poem at this point). I right clicked on the beach picture and selected "image options" and used the transparency bar to make the beach image light so the poem would show through. I downloaded the whole thing as a JPEG.

I made this super short video that walks you through the steps. 

I haven't tried it with students yet but plan to work with a gifted and talented group of fourth and fifth graders after Spring Break to try it out (I will post their results and how it went). 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Black History Month - Video/Story




On my news feed at the beginning of the month StoryLine Online posted that a new book was added to their growing library of videos where celebrities read books online.

This one is called As Fast As Words Could Fly written by Pamela M. Tuck and read by Dule Hill.

The video tells the story of Mason Steel, a young African-American boy living in the south during the civil rights movement, who supports his activist father with the help of a typewriting in the fight for racial equality and ending segregation.

According to the press release the video comes with supplemental activity guides for both home and school, aimed at students in 3rd - 5th grades.

Since February is Black History month it would make an excellent read aloud (that you don't actually have to read aloud) in the classroom.




Tuesday, January 24, 2017

7 Sneaky Ways to Get Students Reading Using Technology - Article


Super excited to find out an educational article I wrote was published today in eschoolnews.com.

The article was inspired by a training class I conducted during our district's summer institute. As a mom of a boy I am well versed in getting my own child to read using sneaky and underhanded ways and this article highlights a few of those I think would work in the classroom.

The article was not a paying article...more of a contribution to the world of educational articles. Even though I write this blog and our district's newsletter (both of which I love to do!) it is nice to be published outside something I somewhat control.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Presidential Inauguration - Word Search




This week, Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our new President. Many teachers across the nation will be showing the event live in their classroom. Unfortunately while teachers are tuning in students may tune out. I developed a "Word Search" strategy that I modified from a teacher on how to engage students while listening to speeches and public addresses.

Prior to the speech ask students what kinds of words they think might come up in the President's speech. Brainstorm 10-20 words and then make a list (i.e. future, working together, hope, jobs). Have them try and think like the President. What might he say to try to motivate Americans from all levels and backgrounds? Have students copy that list on a piece of paper. During the speech have them listen carefully and put a check next to any word that the President uses that is on the list. If he uses it it more then once the word gets checked again. Note any words that seem to come up a lot that you didn't list. After the speech compare your results and discuss why they thought some words were mentioned and others were not. Did the words used help convey his overall message? Could they summarize his speech using words on the list?

I did this with fourth graders during Obama's inauguration and it worked like a charm. All the students were keyed in and checking their word list. The discussion afterward was certainly more engaging then if the event had been strictly passive on the student's end. This is one of those ideas that could be used from elementary to high school.




Two New (and exciting) Technology Upgrades

Exciting Technology Upgrade #1 - Google Classroom




This week Google Classroom announced that they have added a way to assign work to individuals, or groups of students, within Classroom. This is a HUGE deal, as it has been an issue of complaint not only in our district but also in the Classroom community forms. They have a couple of other upgrades as well (but this is the one that made the teachers I work with jump for joy!). You can read about the updates HERE.

What we would love Google Classroom to add is an inking feature for our touch screen tablet users (that would be users in grades 6-12 this year and 3-5 next year).

Right now our 3-5 users have iPads and Google Classroom allows students to open assignments and use the inking tool to write on documents with their finger (very handy!). However this isn't a feature available on our touch screen tablets.


The Classroom developers do allow for teacher feedback and I definitely submitted the suggestion (and asked a bunch of teacher friends to submit it as well). Hopefully, with enough requests, the developers might look into it.



Exciting Technology Upgrade #2 - ReadWorks Digital


For those of you unfamiliar with ReadWorks, it is a FREE site that offers downloadable leveled reading passage and questions sets for use in the classroom. I use it all the time with students. Most teachers typically run off copies of the passage and question sets for students...which, as you can image, uses a lot of paper. I've got several of our teachers putting the material into Google Classroom which reduces the amount of paper but Read Works just announced the launch of ReadWorksDigital which makes assigning reading passages so much easier!!!

ReadWorksDigital allows teachers to make classrooms, students then join with a class code and you can assign work through the site...which also grades the question sets. Students can join with their Google account if you are a GAFE school. To find out more there is a short video explaining how it works HERE.

I haven't tried it with a class yet but I am hoping to this week. I will report back once I have given it a test run. I'm definitely excited though!

Monday, December 19, 2016

FREE - 2017 New Year Goal Foldable




I made one of these foldables years ago when I was in the classroom and thought I would give it another try.

Normally under the last flap it reads "list the titles of X amount of books you will read this year" but I thought that would be difficult for children who aren't sitting around with a list of book titles they are dying to read. So instead I used the "7" to indicate the amount of months left before school starts in August. Under that flap I am encouraging students to set a goal of reading one chapter book a month. Of course I would love for students to read more then that but I thought it was a "doable" goal, particularly for the reluctant readers.

I uploaded the foldable to the ClassFlow Marketplace. If you aren't a member you will need to make a free account.

The foldable packet comes with two different layouts. One is better for three hole punching and keeping in a binder. The other is better if you plan to hang the foldables in the hallway.

I also modified the foldable slightly for younger grade levels (grades 1-2) so there are two different grade ranges in the packet.

The foldable is EDITABLE in case you want to modify anything. The instructions on how to edit it from a PDF is included in the instructions.

Enjoy! (and Happy New Year)


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Family Code Night



Join millions of classrooms around the world December 5 - 11 as they celebrate and highlight an hour of code in the classroom. To find out more go to the Hour of Code website at https://hourofcode.com/us

There are a lot of free resources across multiple grade levels as well on the code.org website.

Last year, in many of our schools, the Hour of Code was worked into students computer lab specials rotation but I have also seen it worked into science lab times, as well as during math blocks.

Recently I found out about a website dedicated to helping schools host a Family Code Night. You can sign up for a free family code night event kit on their site and use that as a tech night focus.

Since the Hour of Code runs in December consider combining it with a holiday night with families (getting the PTO involved to serve cookies and hot chocolate). At a recent conference, I heard of one school hosting a Tech the Halls night where teachers decorated the halls with a technology theme. This would be fun to do in conjunction with a Family Code Night, with parents and students voting for the best decorated hall/wall. A school that I have worked with in the past has also set up green screen areas during a family holiday event where families can have their holiday picture taken with a fun winter themed background (someone suggested working with Walgreens or a local print shop to see if they would offer discounts on reprints of the pictures).

However you choose to recognize an Hour Code know that there are a lot of resources, activities, and lesson plans online so even if you aren't an expert...they will help you look like one!