## Hexagonal Reflections

One of the things I wanted to try this year was to ask my students to do hexagonal thinking as they reflected over what they had learned.  Since my 4th graders had already done some hexagonal thinking this year, I thought they might like to experiment with this activity.

First, they visited our class blog where I have been posting pictures from throughout the year.  I showed them how to filter the categories to find all of the blog posts from their class.  Then they chose pictures that were meaningful to them and saved them to their home drives.

After choosing 4-5 pictures, the students signed in to my account on Canva, and created their own blank “A4” projects.  Once the project opened, they were directed to use the search window to find a hexagon frame.  In Canva, frames have a cloud and blue sky in them.

What I like about frames is that you can drag pictures into them, and they will take the shape of the frame without overlapping.

After the students added a hexagon frame, they resized it and copied it so several could fit on one page.  Once their frames were arranged, they uploaded their pictures and set them in the frames.  Then they used text designs to explain the connections between pictures that shared sides.

You can see a couple of examples below.  They would probably make more sense if you had been in my class this year, but this gives you the general idea.

This went better than my last visual hexagon activity, but I think I will improve it next year by giving a few more guidelines for the “connector” texts so the students will try to find unique parallels that aren’t readily apparent.

For more ideas for end-of-the-year activities, here is a recent post I published.

## Give the Green Light with a Green Screen

“You mean they didn’t really go there?” a student asked me.

She was pointing to a bulletin board of Photo Mapo projects by my 1st graders.  Each student had chosen a Google Street View image of a landmark in the country they were studying.  Using the Green Screen app by DoInk, the students inserted pictures of themselves in front of the landmarks.  They also took video of themselves explaining the landmarks.  The pictures were inserted into Photo Mapo, linked to their videos on Aurasma, and presto – interactive postcards.

Several of my grade levels have taken advantage of the Green Screen app we purchased this year.  My 2nd graders used it to portray themselves in front of famous bridges around the world, and one chose to use it to make a video about her biomimetic invention.

In yesterday’s post, I showed how word clouds can be fun with the Green Screen app (thanks to Tricia Fuglestad for the idea).

Tricia also gave me the idea for the Time Magazine covers my 5th graders worked on last week.  Here is a link to her post about this project.  For our own versions, my students used Green Screen by DoInk and Canva.

Some of my students have become so familiar with using the screen that they automatically turn it around to the blue side if a student is wearing green so he or she won’t appear as a disembodied head.

If you want some more green screen ideas, I highly recommend you do a search on Tricia’s Fugleblog.  Don’t have the ability to buy apps? Touchcast is free, though not quite as user friendly for younger students.  No green screen in your classroom?  There are tons of instructions for makeshift screens on the web, including pizza boxes, science boards, sheets, and paint.

Let your students travel to any continent, planet, or even the future with a green screen.

## Word Cloud App Smashing

I think we’ve already established that I have very little imagination.  I admire creativity, but I am much better at borrowing other people’s ideas than I am at generating my own.

When I first learned about Word Clouds, for example, I thought they were fun but really couldn’t think of too many applications for their use.  Fortunately, I network with many other people who can think outside the cloud.

For example, someone tweeted the other day about using Word Clouds with Thinglink.  I wish I remember who.  Great idea!  If you are using iOS, you can use the ABCya Word Cloud app along with the Thinglink app.  On the web, there are plenty of word cloud generators such as Tagxedo and Wordle, and Thinglink has a web application as well.

In April, Tricia Fugelstad blogged about using word clouds with self-portraits.  Since we were using iPads in my class, my students had a bit different workflow than Tricia’s students.  Again, we used the ABCya app.  We also used Green Screen by DoInk.  (Unfortunately, the latter one isn’t free – but well worth every penny!)

Last week, Susan Prabulos blogged about using word clouds to reminisce about the year.  I realized her idea would work perfectly with the Pic Collage and/or Canva project I planned for my students. Since we were using iPads, we couldn’t use Tagxedo to create a special shape (great idea, Susan!) but the students enjoyed it anyway.

My 2nd graders were short on time (and somewhat keyboard challenged) so we brainstormed a word cloud to represent our year in GT together.  Then they added it to Pic Collages they created using self-selected pictures from our blog.

Some inserted the word cloud into the layout,

while others chose to use the word cloud as their background image.

Of course, you could take this activity even farther by creating a Thinglink from the collage and having students reflect on how the photos relate to the words in the cloud.

For more word cloud ideas, check out this post from awhile back.

## Using Canva for Reflections

My students went on a great field trip two weeks ago, and lots of photos were taken.  We have a class blog but I thought it would be nice to use the pictures for more than that.  I decided to try out Canva for a reflection tool.  I have exactly 18 students in my 5th grade GT class.  With 10 iPads and 8 laptops, Canva was the perfect choice because you can use either the app or the website to create. There are lots of free templates and text options to choose from, and the students also enjoy trying to different filters on the photos.

I have one class account for Canva that all of the students use.  This makes using the app easy because they can stay logged in.  Another bonus is that I could upload all of the field trip pictures taken by the group to that account from Dropbox, and the students could choose any pictures from the uploads to create their photo collages.

The students were assigned to find pictures that completed any two of the following:

• One way the field trip connected to something I learned in GT was…
• The field trip inspired me to…
• My favorite exhibit was…

They could use any combination of pictures, and they needed to use some sort of captions to relate the photos to the above statements.

Here are some of their final products:

Every photo collage was different, and I really learned what was important to the students from doing this activity.

## Canva for Education

I first posted about Canva about 18 months ago when it was in its beta stage.  Since then, this amazing graphic design service has: become a full-fledged website, launched a mobile app, and unveiled its education services (which include sign-in with Google Apps for Education).

I was one of the educators approached by Canva to write some lesson plans utilizing their resources.  (Full disclosure: I was paid for this service.)  You can also find plans from Vicki Davis, Paul Hamilton, Steven Anderson, and William Ferriter.  These plans include many different disciplines and grade levels. In addition, you can access excellent specific graphic design tutorials provided by Canva.

If you are looking for app-smashing ideas for Canva and ThingLink, try these from Lisa Johnson (TechChef4U).  Lisa also explains how to use Canva’s public profile feature in this guest post on Free Technology for Teachers.

One of my favorite things about Canva is how the company has really reached out to educators for suggestions and ideas.  As you will see on their Canva for Education splash page, they have a board of Education Advisors, and I can personally attest that Canva keeps in regular contact with us to find ways they can improve their product.

Canva is free, but it also offers graphics for a fee.  It’s easy to train your students to identify the free images, backgrounds, etc… so their projects don’t end up costing money.  In addition, they can upload their own images, and take advantage of Canva’s free templates to design eye-popping presentations, posters, and collages.

If you have students in elementary school, I recommend that you create one account that your students will all access.  This will allow you to keep track of their projects and, if you are in a school where students share iPads, then this account can stay logged in.

The best way to get started with Canva as a teacher is to open a free account and start using it yourself.  Make blog graphics, picture collages, quote posters for your classroom.  Once you see how easy it is to create something that looks professional, you will come up with your own ideas for ways to integrate it into your classroom.

## Tech Stuff I Love

First of all, a big shout out to the awesome ladies I met at TCEA from Lamar Consolidated School District yesterday – @spletkalcisd, @KBoneGT, @imrielee and @StacieQuarles!  Meeting them absolutely made my day!

Based on yesterday’s poll, here are the things I hope to share at TCEA on Thursday morning:

### Canva

An awesome free web tool (and iOS app) for creating graphic designs in many different formats.  Disclaimer: I recently wrote lesson plans for Canva’s Teaching Materials section in their Design School.

### Augmented Reality

Click on the link above to go to my Augmented Reality Resource page, which is full of ideas for lessons, activities, web tools, and apps. It also includes links to tutorials for Aurasma and Daqri, two of the best tools for creating auras.  Here are a few of my own lessons:

### Cubelets

If you have a Maker Space or any room for creativity in your time with students at all, I highly recommend these robots from Modular Robotics.  You can click on the header link to learn more.  Put this at the top of your list for any grant application.  They are pricey, but well worth it.  I have seen so many creative combinations from the students as they put different cubes together to make robots that move based on temperature, distance, and light.  They’ve made drawing robots and spent twenty minutes figuring out how to combine every Cubelet we have to make the robot in the video below.  There are Lego Adapters to add, and really there is no limit to the imagination with these fun cubes that connect magnetically. There is even a Bluetooth one so you can control your robot with a mobile device.  Don’t forget to check out the Lesson Plans! (Ironically, this is the one product that I’m hawking that will cost you money – yet I have no stake in it at all!)

By the way, this may be a spoiler if you read it before our 10:30 session – but don’t skip!  There are several other people presenting, and they will have more awesome things to share!  Plus, I’m bringing some of the toys to play with in case you want to try them out before or after the session 🙂