Category Archives: K-12

PicCollage Game Boards

The PicCollage (or PicKids) app is a versatile tool that my students have used for reflection, creating visuals for a report, and telling stories.  Recently, I’ve seen a couple of different articles on the web about students and teachers using PicCollage to make game boards.  This can range in educational value from creation for fun all of the way to another way to assess learning.  In all cases, creativity can be a part of the activity as students can personalize the boards with photos, stickers, and text.  For some examples and specific integration ideas, check out these two blog posts: “Digital Game Boards with PicCollage” and “Creating and Playing Games on PicCollage.”

Mindset Monopoly
Mindset Monopoly Game created by some of my 3rd Graders (using some Mandala images made by my 4th graders!)

#Awards

One of my absolute favorite bloggers, Joelle Trayers, posted some pictures last week of some Hashtag Awards her Kinder students designed for themselves.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to try the idea myself!  I met with my 1st graders today, and we had a short discussion about hashtags.  Then they designed their own hashtag awards.  In a way, this is similar to a 6 Word Memoir activity because it helps me to learn so much about what is important to my students and how they see themselves.  I might try this at the beginning of the year next time!

Photo May 23, 12 39 15 PMPhoto May 23, 12 40 31 PMPhoto May 23, 12 41 34 PMPhoto May 23, 12 43 28 PMPhoto May 23, 12 43 47 PMPhoto May 23, 12 43 55 PMPhoto May 23, 12 44 12 PM

More End of the Year Stuff

This is a reblog of a post that I did a couple of years ago, but it was originally titled, “Alternatives to Showing the Movie Frozen for the Next 14 Days.”  Since that movie is kind of over now, I came up with a more fitting title for my recycled material 😉

yearend
image from Live Life Happy on Flickr

You know how it goes.  Grades are turned in.  Textbooks have been collected.  The computer lab is shut down.  But the activity level of our students has gone up.  What’s a teacher supposed to do?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been trying to get my students to reflect on the year.  Using our class blog as a reference has helped tremendously.

Yesterday, with my GT 1st graders, I also asked them to look through the blog posts for their grade level.  They used a simple printable I found from Laura Candler to write their favorite moments of the year.  Here are some examples:

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Using divergent thinking for activities like the Squiggle Challenge and S.C.A.M.P.E.R. were very popular with this class.  Speaking of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., here is what some of them did with a page from my Summer Pool Party S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet – Put an inflatable pool cushion to another use. (By the way, all of my grade levels, K-5, love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. drawings!)

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One of the blog posts the first graders “re-discovered” as they reflected was this one.  Try showing the Kid President video at the bottom of that post, and see if your own students can add to the list.  We used Padlet, but old-fashioned pencil and paper works, too!

Here are some other ideas from past posts for making the last couple of weeks fun and engaging:

I would also recommend checking out the Not Just Child’s Play blog by Joelle Trayers for ideas.  That woman always has creative suggestions that can be modified for any elementary grade level!

DriveSlides

The Guru of Everything Google, Alice Keeler, partnered with Matt Miller to publish the DriveSlides Chrome Extension, which is available for free on the Chrome Web Store here.

Near the end of the school year, many teachers like to make slideshows of pictures from throughout the year.  With DriveSlides, Keller and Miller have given us a tool that will make this process much faster if you want to use Google Slides.  Once you install the DriveSlides extension, open the folder in Google Drive that contains all of the pictures you want to put in your presentation.  Click on the extension icon in your toolbar, and watch the magic happen.  (You will need to allow permissions the first time you use the extension.)  After a slight pause, a new window will open and automatically create a Google Slideshow with all of the pictures in that folder.

My whole family gathered around as I made this quick demonstration with pictures of our family bulldog, taking mental notes so they could use the extension too. (I added the background after the pictures were all imported, using suggestions from the Google Explore Tool.)

If you want to add audio to your slideshow, here is some advice from Richard Byrne.

Keeler also has another Chrome Extension called, “Slideshot,” which will take screenshots every minute and create a slideshow out of those when you hit “Finish.”

Want some more ideas for the end of the school year?  Check out this post!

Give Them a Surprise Ending (Reblog)

As the conclusion of another school year approaches, I thought it might be fitting to re-publish this post from last year with suggestions for ways to end the year “strong.”

I always laugh when people say that we should end school earlier in the year because the last few weeks are a waste.  What do they think would happen if school stopped in April?  Somehow I doubt the teachers or students would be any less eager for the last day.  The way I see it, the only way to fix this problem is to never have a last day – or to never tell anyone when it is.

“Ok, boys and girls.  Bus riders are dismissed and so are car-riders and walkers. Oh, and by the way, there’s no school for the next 2 1/2 months.”

Yep.  That would go over well.

A surprise end-date probably won’t get the approval of any school board on this planet, so I recommend a surprise ending, instead.

What do I mean?  I mean, don’t resort to the predictable, let’s-show-movies-and-wear-pajamas-and-read-all-day plans that are the fallback for so many teachers this time of year.  This is your time to M. Night Shyamalan your way into teaching fame!  (But not in a spooky “Guess what, you’re dead, too,” way – more in a “School is way more than filling in bubbles on a piece of paper” way.)

How can you surprise them?  Here are some activities that could make the highlight reels of your students’ year.

What suggestions do you have to make these last days memorable for your students?  Put them in the comments below!

End the year like this... (image from Tetsumo on Flickr)
End the year like this!
(image from Tetsumo on Flickr)

Robert Kaplinsky’s Real World Problems

Robert Kaplinsky uses images from everyday life to pose interesting math challenges for students in Kinder through high school.  You can choose problems by grade level on his site, or you can look at this spreadsheet that identifies the Common Core Standards covered in each problem.

Questions like, “How Many Combos are there on a Coke Freestyle?” are sure to elicit curiosity from your students.  Kaplinsky shares the image, a challenge, questions to be asked by the teacher to encourage discussion, and background information regarding the facts and the math related to each image.

Robert’s site inspired me to look for some other free images that might spawn some intriguing math questions, and I found this one on Pixabay:

sea-shells

Can you think of math questions for your own students that would correlate to this picture?

By the way, I’ll be adding this to my, “15 Math Sites that Won’t Make You Fall Asleep” post – which will actually make the current number of recommended sites 17 at this point 😉

Graduation Inspiration (Reblog)

This is a reblog of a post I originally published in 2015. 

As graduation season rolls around once again, I thought I would compile a list of videos that I’ve found over the years that eloquently describe the hopes and dreams I have for my students in the future. I’ve placed the length of each video beside it.  Not all of these are graduation speeches, but they all give one or more of the following messages: Be Kind, Work Hard, and Make the Most of Your Time and Abilities.  Most of these videos (and many more) can be found on my “Inspirational Videos for Students” Pinterest Board.  As always, please preview any video before you show it to your students.

graduation

Thoughts on Kindness from George Saunders (2:12)

Making It from StoryCorps (2:43)

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived (1:16)

Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Speech (4:40), Ashton Kutcher on his Teen Choice Speech (3:15) – better for older students

The Time You Have in Jellybeans (2:44)

212: The Extra Degree Inspirational Movie (2:59)

Kid President Graduation Speech (4:12)

The Real Purpose of Your Life (2:18)

These last two are my all-time favorite videos to show departing students:

Jeff Bezos at Princeton (18:44 – his part starts around 6:27)

Mark Bezos: A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter (4:40)

For more resources, Amy Borovoy curated a wonderful list last May for Edutopia. You can find it here.