FrameMagic: All About Me

I love using two photography apps in the classroom: PicCollage and FrameMagic. It’s still the beginning of the organized hearing cats chaos, so my students haven’t gotten their hands on these apps yet, but it have been using them to document.

FrameMagic is GREAT for combining 2-30 photos into one collage-type photo. Bonus: I only need to store that one photo on my iPad, and it also takes up less room in my Photo Stream. Yay!

We read the book “The Best Part Of Me”.

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Then the students drew self portraits. Simple ones. Black marker, white paper, print your name up top, leave room for your teacher to document your sweet sweet quote at the bottom, spend one hour gluing them and making them all look pretty, kinda simple. I took photos of all the finished products, then used the multiple selection function in FrameMagic to make the magic happen.

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I threw each individual photo in the students e-portfolios! then deleted those bad boys off my device. They were everywhere they needed to be, so SEE YA LATER!

The students told them the best part of themselves while they were drawing, and I typed their quote as they worked. Afterwards, I took a picture of the best part of them they had verbalized to me earlier. Again, I used FrameMagic to collage the photos, and it think this will look great in the classroom.

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QR Codes in K: Capture the Voice

The following activity was my first successful attempt at using QR Codes in the classroom. You can use QR Codes in many ways but I specifically wanted to use them to capture the voices of my students explaining imaginary people they created.

The students practiced verbally explaining their people throughout the entire process of our culminating task. This was important, because if you leave practicing how to speak in a second language until the END of your task, you’re pretty much hooped. Practice is essential.

The students planned their people out, painted the backgrounds, drew their people, painted their skin and clothing, and drew and painted the finishing details.

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When they were all finished, they looked beautiful. We then added the QR Codes.

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Here’s how we went about it.
I used the app “Croak It” (on my iPad) because Audio Boo wouldn’t allow me enough storage unless I upgraded my account, which I wasn’t about to do. Croak It’s set back was that each student was only able to record for 30 seconds. This is where the oral language component gets differentiated. I had some students who could explain their person’s name, eye colour, hair colour, shirt colour, pant colour, and shoe colour in 30 seconds. I had other students who could only do one or two of the above. The 30 seconds was kind of nice as a teacher as well. Limiting the recording time to 30 seconds means this activity was relatively quick, and couldn’t drag on and on.

Create a Croak It profile, open the app, and do a test recording. It’s simple to use, and once you have the hang of it, you can fly through it with the students. My students like to do one final oral practice, then we record right after that.

After they have recorded their Croak It, title it with their name, and email the URL to yourself. I did this because I teach half day K, and I wanted to have a place to keep all their URLs just in case we didn’t have time to record and make the QR Codes in one day. Huge shocker, we didn’t have time. *detect the sarcasm*

The next day, we used the app “Zappy” to create our QR Codes.

Open the email containing the student’s URL.

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Copy the URL by holding your finger down on the link and selecting “Copy”.

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Open your QR Code creating app and select the URL option. This way when you scan the QR Code, it will lead you to the Croak It site containing your student’s recording.

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Paste your URL in the text box by holding your finger down and selecting “Paste”.

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After you tap “Go”, your QR Code will be created.

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I imagine at this point, fancy people could print directly from here. However, for personal and professional reasons, I needed to make it look perfect. Therefore, I emailed the QR Code to myself by touching “Share” and doing just so. I also included the student’s name (big orange mark) in the email subject line to limit confusion.

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I created a Word document of boxes with each of the students’ names and then inserted their QR Code into the proper box. Print, cut, glue on artist canvas, and presto. The codes are ready for anyone to scan. I included a few directions on the bulletin board so people would know what they are and how to use them.

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They are beautifully hanging in the hallway. I took this picture with less than half of them completed, and they’re still fabulous.

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Creating a Class Slide Show: Sonic Pics & Pic Collage Apps

With any great technological success in kindergarten, sharing is an absolute must! My class and I just experienced the use of purposeful technology in our classroom using two apps: Sonic Pics and Pic Collage.

We are continuing our unit entitled “The Colours God Creates” and have been talking lots about our skin colour, eye colour, and hair colour. To practice their oral French language skills, I wanted to have the students create a slide show as a whole class show casing their different hair colour and eye colour. We had been practicing the sentence structure (“Mme Kathleen a les yeux verts”) for many days.
As per usual, the start of this plan was a disaster. I experimented with Explain Everything, and it seemed to work well. The students could insert a photo of their eye colour onto their slide, type their text at the bottom, and record their voice. This did not go as planned. Each time we used the app, it crashed, lost our photos, and had difficulties saving their work. I managed to push through and save the afternoon class’ work about their eye colour, but the morning class’ work was totally lost. The afternoon class watched their slide show with glee and delight, their eyes shining as they listened to their voices boom through the speakers and their pictures show up on the interactive white board. The morning class’ posture slumped down and they looked up at me with shocked and sad little faces as I told them all of their work was lost. It was pretty much the saddest sight ever. “HAVE NO FEAR!” I said. “We are STILL going to use the iPad to make a slide show about our hair colour!” They squealed with delight. “And this time, we will use TWO apps, not just one!” This seemed to make up for the bad news I had just broken to them.
After I threw Explain Everything out the window, I KNEW I wanted to use Sonic Pics to create our slide show. I had used it before. It was simple, and exported well. The only problem was that I couldn’t add text, or so I thought. Therefore, we used Pic Collage to accomplish the goals that Sonic Pics couldn’t quite meet. We inserted a photo of the students’ hair colour, then the student got to choose a font to use for their sentence. Of course, some students could type the whole thing, others I had to give them the letters to use, and others I needed to type the whole thing for them. After they had finished, the students resized the photo and the text to look aesthetically pleasing, and they exported the photo to the camera roll.
Of course I had to cross out the names, but here is how their photos looked after they were finished.

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The next day, I quickly dropped all the photos into Sonic Pics, and I had the project ready to record in minutes. Here is how the set up looks in the app after all the photo have been dropped in.

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Sonic pics divides projects, and recordings, which is nice in case you need to add any more photos before you start to record. Here is how my screen looked when I had the first student with me, ready to record their voice.

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Instead of that “play” button at the bottom of the photo, there will be a red button that tells you the student is ready to record. I pressed the button, the student recorded their voice, I pressed pause, swiped to the next student, and just kept going from there. After you are finished, the recording saves nicely, and is easily exportable in many different ways. I export my videos to YouTube, and set the privacy settings to “unlisted”. That way, only individuals with the link can view the video, and parents can send the link to other family members to watch.
I can’t post a link to the final product yet, because the slide show had my students’ names in it, and I must ask permission from my parents to post this type of work on public sites. As soon as I have permission, I will post the link to our final video.
This was a great digital citizenship activity for my students. After my morning class lost their work, we talked about how we wouldn’t be able to post it on the Internet anyways because it had photos of our faces. It was a great chance to talk to them about how they are still learning how to use the Internet safely, and that it is not ok for them to post pictures of themselves online at such a young age. These activities reinforced our two mantras about technology in the classroom: “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!” and “When we are working with technology, we have to have lots of patience.”

Patterns: The Final Task with “Draw & Tell” App

We have patterned everything to death. For many many weeks. So, it was time to assess the learning. Also, Demonstration of Learning is coming up and I wanted to include an e-Portfolio entry that summarized the students’ learning about patterns. Mostly I wanted to show that the students were able to create their own pattern and extend a pattern that was given to them.

I chose to use Draw & Tell because they have an amazing amount of stickers that the students can choose from to create their patterns.

First, when you open the app, choose a blank document.

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I then asked the students to write their name using the colored pencil and to draw a line to divide the page. Writing their name is a MUST since there is no other way to distinguish who’s work belongs to who. It will also make exporting the video easier. I did this so they could create their own pattern at the top and then extend a given pattern at the bottom.

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Touch the grumpy little bird to access all the stickers.

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After the student creates their pattern at the top, I ask them to close their eyes so I can create a pattern at the bottom they need to extend. When they have finished, touch the pink microphone to record their voice explaining their pattern.

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I asked them questions while they were recording to draw out their though process. I struggled with whether or not to ask them the questions in English or in French, since I knew I would have parents asking what the question was. However, it’s French immersion and I’m totally for speaking as much French as I can with the students. So I kinda went fifty fifty with it.

Click here to watch and listen to one example.

Click here to listen to one of my ADORABLE students. We are just best buddies forever.

Sharing with parents is fairly easy. I export to YouTube so I can include the URL in the students’ e-Portfolios and to be able to email the link directly to parents.

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I write a short description of what was asked of the students during the task. Since I have 51 students you betta BELIEVE I COPY AND PASTE THAT BAD BOY.

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Always make sure you upload the video as unlisted since we don’t want student work floating around the interwebz everywhere all the time.

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When all the students have done one example with me, this will definitely be created into a station where they can work independently. Not every video will get exported to YouTube, but there will be some students who ask if I can “send it to mommy and daddy’s phone”. So I will. Because that’s the great part about these digital creations – sharing them!

Goin’ With The Flow, Uncomfortably: Following Student Interest

I love Reggio. I love project and inquiry based learning.
Wait.
I love the IDEA of those approaches. Executing them in the classroom is a whole other story.
I’ve been taking baby steps to becoming more Reggio inspired in my classroom. I feel fairly confident about how to set up the environment, how to have self-managed projects in the classroom, and how to document effectively enough to point out areas or student interest.
It is at that point where the most difficult part has been for me as a teacher. Learning how to go with the flow with student interest while tying it into the provincial Program of Studies has been…tough. Let’s not sugar coat it.

Giving the freedom to students as they inquire about a specific subject gives me an uncomfortable feeling inside because I’m not sure where we are going with it. But that’s kinda how I know it’s working.

I know I’m not the first person to come to the conclusion that if you had a class of 10 students, going with their interests would be a lot easier. If 5 of them take a liking to flowers you have put everywhere in the classroom, you could probably convince the other 5 fairly easily to learn about flowers. It would lead to a perfect investigation and exploration of a million areas within the subject. What I’m struggling with now is finding the common points in student documentation, and making it enthusiastic and engaging for 51 students. To make it even more difficult, I have an AM program and a PM program. In the example I’m about to talk about, it was interest from the AM class that lead to our investigation about boats. However, I had to convince the PM class to explore the same thing as well, without them even having been there for the initial discussion of boats.

I wanted to take a really good shot at going with the students’ interest about one subject this year. We were creating some bookmarks for our library when I drew a boat in my example.

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Lots of other students drew boats too.

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I set up a self-managed area with rocks and tiles for the students to make boats.

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We were also inspired by a student who went on a cruise over the break and painted us a picture of a boat.

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Another student made a boat out of modeling clay.

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It was kinda staring me in the face that we could get on board with the ships exploration. Pun TOTALLY intended. And again, that uncomfortable feeling came creeping in because is hadn’t obsessively planned a boat unit that would go on for 3.5 weeks detailing every activity the students would do. Meep!

I thought exploring sinking and floating would be a great place to go from here. We put different objects in water and basically loved this activity for days and days.

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The students basically came to the conclusion that if the objects were made of wood they would float, if they were made of plastic that was hollow enough it would float, and that heavy items sank.
Even TALKING about this with students without giving them the answer was difficult for me. Again, uncomfortable feelings by GUIDING the students to their own conclusion rather than saying it and having them remember it.

I then decided to pull the rug out of under them by using material that wasn’t plastic or wood. I have them tin foil to make boats. We tested them with marbles and the whole nine yards, and they loved it.

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A few students then came to the conclusion that the bigger you made the boat, and the longer, the more marbles it would hold. When they were adding the marbles, counting in French so high was difficult for them so I used me of my favorite apps called “My Blackboard” to record some winning results.

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But what to do next? Uncomfortable feelings were killing me yet again! I figured we had so many conclusions and ideas swirling around in our heads that we had better organize our ideas. We used Popplet to organize items that float and sink when we tested them.

We talked about what a word web was, and did an example on the smart board together. The students paired themselves up and in their groups of two, each student tested three items from the class. They got to choose if they would like to retest the items from our previous experiment or if they would like to test new items. I helped them write the words “sink” and “float” in French. They took individual pictures of each item they wanted to test. Then all I had to do was teach them how to make a new bubble out of the primary bubble and how to insert the photo. Almost every student caught on quickly and needed little assistance from me. I stayed with them to enforce the French vocabulary when they were experimenting.

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We’re will we go next? I’m not sure. But let me tell you, those uncomfortable feelings will be accompanying me for sure.

iPad vs. Paper: Christmas Card Writing

This station I have set up in my classroom really is the best of both worlds. A perfect balance between technology and the traditional paper and pencil. For serious!

My students loved the Mat Man activity so much, I decided to dedicate a few iPads to a new Christmas card writing area. Christmas cards and dirt cheap at the dollar store, and us kindergarten teachers know that students go through resources and various items like WATER. My students do anyways, and I have 49 of them. What’s with their obsession with tape? We can go through like 3 rolls a day if allowed. Guess that’s another blog post. 😉

Here is the look of the new station.

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Less elaborate than previous stations, but very effective. There are two sides to the station, one for each student.

For a previous activity with cookie sheets and magnetic letters, I printed my students photos, mounted them on cardstock and placed a name label at the bottom.

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Sorry for the blurred out face, name, and magnetic letters. Privacy protection, and all that jazz.
I also use these cardstock photos to organize our day, as seen in my previous posts.

I wanted to keep the names at the station for the students to be able to choose who they would like to write a Christmas card to. Their attention was so drawn to the iPad that I took a photo of each photo.

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I then put them in a separate album. One album for the AM students and one for the PM students. I did this on two iPads. I also put up the “Handwriting Without Tears” letters framed to define the space, and help students form their letters properly.

Then I got a coworker of mine (thanks again!) to take overhead shots of me doing the steps of the activity. I write the name of the person who the card is going to first, then I write my name at the bottom, then I put the card in the envelope, then I write the name of the person who it’s going to on the outside of the envelope.

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I took the photos off my digital camera and sized them onto a regular word document. I printed it twice, one for each side of the station.

I also dragged the “Photos” app to the bottom of the screen. This way students know when they come to this station, they know that’s the app they are able to use.

I also forgot to take the photos of two cute mailboxes I have. I put them on the table so when the students are done writing, they can put them in the mail box. At the end of each day we will empty it out, read the names of the students who have cards, and they can take them home.

Another successful self-managed ipad station in the classroom. Youpie! We will see how they like it tomorrow. Maybe I said “successful” too soon!

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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.

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