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.”
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!
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 😉
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:
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!)
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:
- Some More Activities for the End of the School Year
- More Aurasma Ideas – Great for the End of the School Year
- Journal Pages for Kids
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!
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!
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.
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.
- Play a Breakout Edu game.
- Do an Aurasma scavenger hunt.
- Let students do a QR Code Reflection.
- Use Hexagonal Learning to reflect on the school year. (Thanks to the GT teacher who gave me this idea!)
- Try some Word Cloud App Smashing.
- Make a Rube Goldberg Machine.
- Do a Mini Cardboard Box Challenge – what game can they make out of a shoe-box?
- Don’t you think it’s time to conduct the Ultimate Paper Airplane Competition?
- Do some Balloon-Popping math.
- Have a video game design contest.
- Give your students a Bottle of Dreams!
What suggestions do you have to make these last days memorable for your students? Put them in the comments below!
Critical Squares: Games of Critical Thinking and Understanding, is a book written by Shari Tishman and Albert Andrade for Harvard’s Project Zero. One of the games I like to use in my classroom is “Whatzit Tic-Tac-Toe.” We generally play it to think deeper about novels that we have read, but I decided to try it as an end-of-year reflection activity yesterday.
We don’t play the game as the rules state in the book. I put the grid up on the interactive white board and all of the prompts are covered. The students are divided into teams, and I start the game by uncovering one of the prompts. Then all of the teams have 5 minutes to write down an answer.
The prompts all have the word, “Whatzit” in them, and we substitute our topic for that word. So, yesterday, we substituted GT (Gifted and Talented Class) for “Whatzit.” For example, one of the questions is, “List three important features of the Whatzit,” and the students wrote 3 important features of our GT class.
After 5 minutes, all teams submit their answers without any names on them. I shuffle them, and read all of the answers out loud, then select the one that “Wows” me the most (kind of Apples to Apples style). The winning team members reveal themselves and they get a point. Then they select the next topic.
Students are always engaged when they play this. Plus, they are super quiet because they don’t want the other teams or me, the judge, to hear their answers. But what I love most about this game is the variety of answers and what I learn about myself, my class, and the students.
One prompt is, “List two very different kinds of features of the Whatzit.” The winning team wrote, “Learning and fun.” I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or cry because this could be interpreted to mean that learning and fun don’t usually coincide in their lives.
I would like to be proud that a team listed me as one of the important features of GT, but that was probably a strategic move more than a heartfelt one 😉
I must say that, having dealt with intermittent internet for the last few weeks, I was definitely in agreement with the team that, in answer to, “Which feature of the Whatzit is hardest to understand?” responded, “When technology doesn’t work.”
Yep, definitely top of my list of things that are hard to understand in my class. Well, that and why kids always move faster when you start counting even when you don’t tell them what number you’re counting to and what terrible thing will happen if you get there. I seriously will never understand that – but like technology, it comes in handy sometimes…