Sunday, January 27, 2019

Digital Conversation Heart Writing Activity

Every Valentine's Day I would see several teachers use the fun conversation heart candies to have students create friendly letters (example below)

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You can imagine the sadness that fell after Necco announced they would not be manufactured this year.

In an attempt to help teachers go digital, and see the value in Google Drawings, I made a conversation heart friendly letter template. I made a sample letter to test it out, and in theory it should work (see first picture). 

The ideas is that students would write the letter using a combination of text and conversations hearts I have provided (I made the body of the letter default to 3" spacing so the hearts could easily be placed within the context of the letter). Students could change the words around on the hearts if they needed to as well.  Once they were done they could use the clipart around the hearts to decorate their letter (all clipart is from Pixabay so it is labeled for reuse). Once they were done they could drag the parts of a friendly letter labels to their correct area. I gave earlier finishers a chance to explore the links I provided about the lack of conversation hearts this year. 

I made the template white so letters could be printed and put in a display if needed. 

Everything in this template is editable. You will be prompted to make a copy when you open it and then you can change what you need. You might want to make a second copy in your Google Drive. One you will test out yourself as a sample and the other you would modify as you see fit as your template for students. 

I am introducing it to teachers the week before Valentine's Day and hoping to help with a class on the 13th. I would definitely be interested in seeing any finished letters, as this is my first time with this activity. Feel free to comment below or tag me in any pictures on Twitter @atechcoachlife.

Monday, January 7, 2019

World Sketchnote Day (January 11th)

Friday is World Sketchnote Day (January 11th). I recently fell in love with Sketchnoting after attending Matt Miller's session at GaETC. Sketchnoting is a type of visual notetaking that allows people to better recall concepts and ideas. It combines structure, text, and pictures to convey thinking in a creative way.

To be clear I am not an artist and my first attempt during the session, where we were given challenges to complete, wasn't very good. I am glad that we were told that it wasn't about the ART but about the IDEAS.

In the session someone said I should find Wanda Terral, and see if she was doing a Sketchnote session. As it turned out she was sitting three rows ahead of me and she told me that I should check out Sylvia Duckworth's new book (which was coming out that week) about Sketchnotes. 

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I pre-ordered it and read it cover to cover over Thanksgiving break. It is a fabulous easy to read resource!

I loved it so much I left a glowing review on Amazon.

The author was so nice and contacted me and sent me an autographed copy (how nice was that?!?!).

I was telling one of our media specialist about it and we teamed up to teach Sketchnoting to 5th graders over four weeks (the four weeks before the winter break). 

She only saw them once a week...hence the four week time period. Not knowing what we were doing we broke it down as follows:

Week 1 - Doodle warm up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Introduction (with Sketchnote challenges throughout the lesson similar to what I experienced at the conference with Matt Miller). Below are some of the completed "challenge" sheets students did during this first lesson. 

Week 2 - Doodle warm up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Creating our Doodle Dictionary. Students learned how to draw various frequently used icons...all of the ones I selected were from the Sylvia Duckworth book). I bought these file folders from Amazon and each student got one with 10 sheets of blank paper on the inside (five sheets on one side and five on the other). We didn't have time to get them to decorate the outside...but in my fantasy world I wanted them to (see my example below). I wish I had called it a Doodle Dictionary...which has a better ring to it. The idea is that they would continue to add "doodles" to their "dictionary" for reference when they needed it. As the teacher, I would given them a few new doodles a week to add that related to content (for example in week three I knew they might need to draw a moose so we added a moose to their Doodle Dictionary). 

Week 3 - Doodle Warm Up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Review and Create Our First Sketchnote (we used Hanukkah in Alaska on StoryLine Online). This was my example I showed students (I used a different book so they wouldn't copy...but we found they copied the layout):

Note: We had students add a thinking person sketch in the corner with a thought bubble so they could write down any questions they had while they were watching the video. The school is going for STEM certification and questioning is a competent. If we had time we could have let them research their questions. Since we didn't we let them share out and discuss. 

 Week 4 - (This was the plan) Doodle Warm Up (from Sylvia Duckworth's book), Sketchnoting Digitally with academic content (the idea was to show students how they could use their tablets built in Sketchpad and Kami to create Sketchnotes)

We realized at the end of week three that we had to adjust. Students didn't do well on their own. When we showed the Storyline Online book they didn't know where to start or what to do (one class finished the other class didn't). We learned that they needed some structure. We also found out that we couldn't get them in the fourth week due to performance practice. We talked their teachers into letting us teach a content based lesson in their classroom the last week, which actually turned out to be really good. Since it was in a regular classroom block, not a related arts block, the teachers stayed with the class so we were able to show how Sketchnotes could be incorporated into a lesson and they could see what the students were capable of. In the classroom lesson we gave students a template (STRUCTURE) with resources and specific instructions and they did much better!

We did some digital sketching in the warm ups in weeks two, three and four using Kami and the built in tablet Sketchpad but we never created a digital version from start to finish, which was my goal. Perhaps if we had them longer we might have been able to get to it. 

It was a fun four weeks regardless and it is possible that Kim, the media specialist, and I learned more than the students but we now have a better idea of how we would do projects like this one in the future. 

Fortunately I get another chance with a fifth grade class in a few weeks. I was showing some of the student work to a teacher in another school and she is having me come in Monday-Friday in her AM block one week to teach a similar "sketchnote unit" with her students. I am super excited to apply the lessons I learned from doing it the first time. I'll definitely post updates!

In the meantime you, and your students, can participate in World Sketchnote Day by having them creating a Sketchnote on any topic and then posting it to social media with any, or all, of the following hashtags.


Friday, January 4, 2019

Goal Setting with Students

Our students go back to school from the holiday break this Monday (January 7th). I suspect that most teachers talk about setting goals throughout the year (MAP goals, reading goals, etc.) but coming back in the New Year is a great time to reiterate the importance of goal setting and talk about why we should do it. Teaching students now how to set goals helps them to develop a growth mindset and gives them skills they will need as they get jobs later in life. 

For myself setting goals (big and small) helps me to stay focused as well as encourages continued learning. I can't image having a day, month, or year without some goals list! Some of my goals are organize my closets and drawers and others are fun like try and match one pinned outfit a month.

January's Pinned Outfit Match Goal Achieved

When I was younger I made it a goal to be able to do a handstand. I practiced outside for HOURS until I could do it. My son wanted to learn a flip skateboard trick and I watched as he spent an entire holiday break with his friends in the driveway trying to nail it (and watching YouTube videos that helped him learn it).

I recently read this article on We Are Teachers about goal setting with students and loved some of the ideas. My favorite is having students complete "WOW" goals (goals that can be done "within one week"). Students need to understand that small goals can add up to complete a big goal (and to be realistic most children need immediate gratification and success in order to see goal setting is worth it).

The article mentions some books that would be good for students in relation to goal setting but I also put together a list of videos that could be used as well. They aren't necessary about setting goals but rather kids who had to set goals in order to achieve what they wanted. 

Achievement -…/148-hall-of-fame
Mo’s Bows -
Ballet -…/152-ballet
Rube Goldberg –
Double Dutch -
Darci Lynn Ventriloquist -
Singing -…/154-grace-vanderwaal

You can show a few of the videos and have student pair up and come up with a personal goal they would like to achieve...complete a handstand, get to the next level of a video game, learn how to draw a horse. Keep it away from school goals to begin with...that wouldn't be nearly as fun to discuss.

Give students this Newsela article Celebrating Kids Who Did Amazing Things in 2018 and have them pick one of the children and have them make a list of three goals that child probably had to set in order to reach their BIG goal. The article can be accessed with a free account. They also offer another article about Setting Goals, and Keeping them, for the New Year .

Then have students come up with three goals: one personal, one home, and one school and have them list the small goals they need to achieve them.

I liked these goal displays I came across on Pinterest. I always feel that if a goal is "public" you are more likely to complete it.

Blog Post

Blog Link

Blog Post - Reading Goals

If you have any other great videos, books, or ideas for goal setting please share them in the comments section or share on Twitter tagging @atechcoachlife.