Friday, November 26, 2010

Real Collaboration

For Reading Buddies today, our class worked with the Grade 4 class to add a sticky note to this Wallwisher Wall (embedded below) on books. Students reflected on the books that they read together. Some of my Grade 2 students used Wallwisher last year, so they were the experts, but for the majority of students, this was a new tool. Students had access to the wall on nine computers and the SMART Board.

It was amazing to watch! The students were working together on these computers and on the SMART Board too. They were problem-solving together, writing together, and even sharing ideas both orally and in written form. This was real collaboration! It wasn't about the teacher showing the students what to do, but about the students showing each other what to do and helping each other along the way. Now the only question is, what exciting thing can we do next week for Reading Buddies?

To really help make this Wallwisher Wall a global activity, we would love for you to add a sticky note here about a lesson that you've learned from a book that you've read. Thanks for your help with this activity!

Aviva (Grade 1/2 Teacher) and David (Grade 4 Teacher)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Blogger's Cafe Is Open

Over a week ago, @j_allen tweeted me and mentioned that my professional blog was discussed in a Blogging Session at #edcampkc. I was really excited about this, so when Josh tweeted out the link to the recorded session, I had to watch it. I was fortunate to watch three amazing members of my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter present on blogging. One of these presenters was Nick, also known by many as @thenerdyteacher. Nick was talking about the Blogger's Cafe that he has in his high school English class. I've read some of the posts on his blog about this Blogger's Cafe, and again, I was intrigued by the idea. When I saw that his students used Kidblog to do their blogging (a platform that I use too), I knew that I needed to give this a try.

Nick's Blogger's Cafe operates as a backchannel in his classroom, where basically he has two students blogging about the teaching and learning that's happening in the classroom as it's happening. I loved this backchannel concept, and I knew that I wanted the same set-up too.

Having students blogging throughout the day though sounded like too much, so I thought that I would "open" the Blogger's Cafe during our Literacy Centre and Math Centre Review. It would be interesting to have a written student perspective on this review process. Since I wanted the cafe feel too, I decided to set up a comfortable area in the room for blogging (with some pillows and stuffed animals to help create an ambiance). To make the blogging portable, I thought that I would have my students write on the iPod Touches.

I initially set it up for students to blog in Kidblog, but I quickly found out that Kidblog was hard for the students to operate on the iPod Touches. One of my first students got her post published, but the other student got frustrated making it work. I then thought that the students could micro-blog on Twitter, and they liked this, but wanted a blog post that was not confined to 140 characters. A student actually suggested that we use our Litcircuits Blog for this, and that's when I remembered that @mrjarbenne told me to download the WordPress app onto my class iPod Touches. Perfect! The Litcircuits Blog was the way to go, and the students were the ones to come up with the idea too. Awesome!!

The best part though was not in the set-up but in the blogging. All of my students are anxious to be our daily bloggers. They are excited to write, and they don't even realize that they're writing. They are completely engaged in this writing process. They also told me that they need to be "even better listeners," so that they "don't forget to include anything important." Wow! They really get it! These six and seven year olds are developing their listening comprehension skills in a meaningful way.

Thank you so much Nick for inspiring me to try something new in my classroom and giving my students another wonderful way to write! For the parents out there, what do think of the Blogger's Cafe? What are your child's thoughts on it too? For the educators out there, have you used a Blogger's Cafe in your classroom? How do you make it work? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Students Explaining Their Thinking

Last weekend, I wrote a post on the Live With Livescribe Blog about metacognition. I think that it's really important that students of all ages explain their thinking. Below is a Glog where I've embedded three videos of students demonstrating metacognition in both reading activities and math (right-click on the Glog to view it in full screen).

For parents out there, I'd love to hear about how your child demonstrates metacognition when completing different literacy and math activities at home. For teachers out there, I'd love to learn about different metacognitive activities that you've done with your class before. Hopefully we can all learn from each other.


Friday, November 5, 2010

What Does Freedom Mean To Us?

In class today, my students watched this amazing video called, A Pittance of Time.

We used this video to discuss why we celebrate Remembrance Day on November 11th. Then the students got to discuss with each other what peace and freedom means to them. We used the information from this discussion to create our own slideshow on What Freedom Means To Us.

This slideshow will be shown at our Remembrance Day Assembly on November 11th. We would love to know, what does freedom mean to you?


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reflecting On Works Of Art

As a special literacy and art activity, the children watched and listened to Pinky Dinky Doo And The Far Out Adventure On Planet Vroom Vroom. As a follow-up to this listening activity, they had to create their own plasticine spaceship for Pinky Dinky Doo. To connect with our new Art Curriculum expectations, the children had to reflect on these plasticine spaceships and explain what they liked best about them and what they would add or change. Below is a VoiceThread where the Grade 1 and 2 students used the webcam feature to record their thoughts.

I love all of their various ideas and how they explained all of their answers too. What do you like about these spaceships? What would you add or change too? Any positive feedback would be much appreciated!


P.S. My apologies about some of the photographs! I still have much to learn about how to become a better photographer.:)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reading Buddies: Giving Students Leadership Opportunities

My class started Reading Buddies today. For the first time ever, I am pairing up with younger junior students (a Grade 4 class) for Reading Buddies. The students meet every Day 3 for 20 minutes to read to each other. Both the Grade 1/2 students and the Grade 4 students have specific reading tasks, and they both get an opportunity to self-assess and peer-assess their reading.

Today was fantastic! About 10 minutes into our Reading Buddy time, the Grade 4 teacher said to me, "Isn't this amazing, Miss Dunsiger?!?! Look at the students. They're all engaged, they're all reading, and there are no problems either." It really was great to see!

Throughout our Reading Buddy time together, the students are also going to get a chance to respond to books together using different technology tools too (including blogs, Wallwishers, VoiceThreads, and even our Palm Treos). The Grade 1/2 students will get to teach the Grade 4 students how to use these tools, and both groups of students can experiment and learn together.

What are some different activities you've done with Reading Buddies in the past? I would love to hear your ideas!