The Order Of Things: Step by Step Drawing With The iPad in K

The Occupational Therapist came into our class today and did the Mat Man activity with my students today. The students use all the pieces from the “Handwriting Without Tears” program to create a person. The students sang a song while she made a Mat Man, the students made two Mat Men as two smaller groups while listening to the song, and then each student drew their own Mat Man.

Then, a brilliant idea came upon me. Or what I THOUGHT WAS BRILLIANT ANYWAY.

Sequencing. We’ve been having a tough go at this one in my class. The students have been INVENTING things that happen between pictures in stories. Say for example I had three pictures laid out for the students: one picture of a boy standing next to the sink with his face painted like a tiger, another picture of the same boy washing his face at the sink, and another picture of the same boy with his face clean holding a dirty towel. Simple enough to put together? Not for some. “We’ll first, the boy was washing his face and then his mom called him and said they were going to get their face painted so he got his face painted and the he ran through the sprinkler and his face paint came off so he went to the bathroom and rubbed it on the towel.”

Really guys? REALLY?!

So we went simple sequencing style. I thought maybe sequencing with one item (drawing Mat Man) rather than with a whole story would be easier. The OT did a great job of showing the students how to put the pieces together to make a Mat Man. I took a picture of each step with my iPad, and then with a student iPad too.

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I condensed it into one photo for blog purposes, but I took separate photos on my student iPads.

Then, I made a separate album on the student iPad with the title “Mat Man”. I printed off the last picture of Mat Man totally complete onto an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet and framed it so it could stand up. I placed a clip board with some paper, and voila.

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The students were able to come to the iPad and swipe through the steps to draw Mat Man by themselves.

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I even had a student bring a separate iPad over and use the “My Blackboard” App to draw his Mat Man!

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This was SO SUCCESSFUL for my students because they are just not that type of group that is going to come to the classroom and create amazing things on their own. They’re not. Seem are. Most aren’t. Last year: different story. We were the Edmonton version of the Museum of Modern Art. They want help, they need help, they want the steps of how to create. It’s my responsibility to step back from the Reggio aspect that I love so much and provide them with what they need.

Also, the best thing ever? I had this activity done and on the table 30 MINUTES AFTER WE HAD DONE THE MAT MAN ACTIVITY TOGETHER. Win!

I have done similar tasks at our art station. Very simple, and classroom worthy.

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I even found some printables on Pinterest quite a while back. We have done the castle, and the house, and LOOK at the wonderful art the students have created totally by themselves.

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I am even considering having a dedicated iPad for the art station for sequencing art activities like we have done so far. It’s much less work for me to take pictures of each ste and create a separate folder, than print it, draw it, colour it, and frame it/laminate it myself.

We are gonna keep doing this for sure! What a sweet activity to have your students do too. They can make their own step by step picture story using the iPad to take pictures. Then use one of a million apps to record their voice explaining their drawing steps.

Making Number Posters: The “Digital Reggio” Way

There were a few people on the amazing #kinderchat talking about having students make posters in the classroom. I’m sorry folks, I can’t remember who exactly I was chatting with! I’m pretty sure it was @hechternacht and @Havalah but there could have been more, so sorry if I forgot you!

I got to talking about how Reggio and Reggio inspired classrooms have most items made by the students. No more trips to Education Station! I love the idea of having students make items for the classroom in order for it to be meaningful. We did it last year and I wanted to continue this year.
BUT I wanted to make it a little more “digital”.

Last year, I made numbers for the wall with my students by helping them trace numbers with pencils and then having them glue items on top. I plan on making our alphabet for the class with the help of our artsy hands and creativity, so something different was needed for numbers. So I guided the students towards completing the math activity with the help of the iPad.

I printed out the numbers 1 through 10 on cardstock. I also put a sticker in the top left hand corner (inspired by the Handwriting Without Tears program we are currently using parts of) so that the students didn’t confused 6 and 9 when they were working on their project.

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I put them in a basket. The students chose a number and then had to go around the classroom and find that number of items. They then had to take a picture of the items next to the number.

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Once they had done all 10 numbers, I printed the photos out, mounted them to black cardstock and taped them to the cupboard. Boom. Home. Made. Digital. Reggio. Number. Posters.

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I would have liked for them to be a little lower on the cupboards for students to see easier, but as per usual, space is at a premium in a K class.
I think they look smashing however! I hope the students do too.

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I think this is such a great math activity to do with all students. I would maybe make another set of cardstock numbers with super hero stickers, or boy friendly stickers, to get the reluctant boys a little more enthusiastic about the idea. All the students enjoyed the activity however, so I guess that’s a thought for the future.

“I Can’t Draw!”: Google Images To The Rescue

We’ve all heard it before: “I don’t know how to draw a __________.”
And I believe I have found a very simple solution: Google Images.

Last week my students were working on their first “page” of their “I Am Unique” books. We learned the vocabulary and hand movements to say “j’aime” which means “I like”. The students had to use their “magic writing” to write down the word of an item they liked. Then they had to draw it underneath. (Sidenote: I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed this depending on their group of students, but I have quite a few this year who are still learning that print and the picture on the page of a story are associated with each other, which is an important outcome in the Alberta Program of Studies for Kindergarten).

The idea popped into my head very quickly: just search for an image on Google Images! This gave us the opportunity to talk about how sometime we find inappropriate content on the Internet when looking for information, and that if we find it, we have to just ignore it. To be honest though, this has never happened to my students because the search terms they use are pretty harmless. We searched for items like chocolate ice cream, snakes, turtles, and flowers. Nothing negative came out of those searches. This one time when I was preparing for a lesson about the Canadian Food Guide, I searched for “meat” a little too quickly and got some VERY interesting results.
So, digital citizenship, check!

The students loved it. They loved scrolling through the images and being able to pick the one they liked best to help them in the drawing process of their task.

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Look at the difference it made for this student! Together, Google Images and I helped him with his drawing on the left. The drawing on the right was his first attempt with no visual aids.
I did hand over hand with him to make the triangle of the cone, since he is still working on his pre-printing shapes, and I also helped him narrow down the colours needed for his chocolate ice cream. We practiced the lines on the waffle cone together too.

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I also found a great visual on Pinterest from the Handwriting Without Tears program that I framed to stand up in front of students. It’s great for students who are unsure about letters but have the awareness to form some letters, or at least attempt to copy them, giving them more confidence in the writing process.

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Whole Group Instruction: Abandon Ship?

I was tearing my hair out. And wondering why I wasn’t feeling great about how we were learning in the classroom. I came to one conclusion: class size. This year I am teaching the biggest class sizes I have ever had. And whole group instruction was NOT going well. And no, I don’t mean the part where I can’t ignore their wiggling, turning, touching, picking, and squirming on the carpet. I can ignore that. I was not feeling confident that my group was actually LISTENING. I was convinced some days I could say “WE’RE GOING ON A FIELD TRIP TO DISNEYLAND!” and I would STILL have some who were half asleep. My whole group instruction was only working for my 7 or 8 highest students.

My SNTA decided to divide and conquer. We realized we couldn’t run our day like we had last year.

Since we all know a kindergarten class shouldn’t go over 15 kids *ahemcoughahem* we decided to split the class into two groups. 13 with me, and 13 with my SNTA. I printed their pictures out, printed name labels, put a magnet on the back and put it up on the whiteboard.

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Sorry for the blurry picture. FOIP and all.

I wrote my name above one group and my team teacher/SNTA’s name above the other group. It depends if my team teacher is with me on what day, as she isn’t with us full time. This allows me to erase the name without having to move 13 students’ pictures each morning.

One group goes with me for whatever lesson I have planned. The other group goes with my SNTA for a broad based strategy lesson (a strategy used for help students with speech or occupational therapy in the classroom) or they go with my team teacher for a different lesson. The next day is simple: we switch groups. Anyone who missed a certain activity gets their name marked on the board and they can do it another day if necessary.

It gets every better. I don’t “do the activity” I have planned with all 13 kids. That is much too many. And I don’t have 13 pairs of hand or 13 sets of eyes. After we are done our small group discussion of 13 and each student knows what to do, I take 3 or 4 students out of that group to start working. The others go play. When one person is done, I call another from the group, then another person finished and I call another, etc. When all 13 students are done, I have accomplished my goal of the day. This has also allowed me to document more accurately in their Evernote portfolios.

Another bonus: it has really helped me refine my lessons! Technically I teach the same lesson 4 times. Twice to my morning group and twice to my afternoon group. The teaching part doesn’t happen all on the same day, so it gives me time to reflect on what worked well and what didn’t so I can change it for the next group.

I still have a full head of hair, and the day is running much smoother in my classroom.