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.
If you are interested in using Canva, you can sign up for free!
A couple of weeks ago, Adobe released a new iPad app called, “Adobe Voice.” It reminds me a bit of Microsoft’s Photo Story – a free piece of software that allows you to create a video out of images. Like Photo Story, Adobe Voice allows you to add photos, text, narration, and music. However, it does give more options for where you can find your photos. You can do a Creative Commons search, use your own, or even choose from a library of icons that is provided. I imagine the Creative Commons search is where the 12+ rating comes from on the iTunes store. However, my students didn’t run into any inappropriate images during their projects.
The first group to use Adobe Voice in my classroom was a pair of my 3rd grade GT students. They were trying to synthesize one of the ideas they had brainstormed for solving the problems of noise and mess in the cafeteria. After consulting with a couple of “expert” principals, they realized that we were lacking some student leadership in the lunch room, and created this presentation to pitch a proposal to our principal for having student monitors during meal times.
They were under a time constraint, so they did not delve into many of the creative features of the app, but they got their message through quickly and effectively.
Last Thursday, I met with my 5th grade GT students for the final time. Because they have been with me once a week for two years, I wanted to get a sense from them of what they felt was the one “takeaway” they got from being in my classroom. (In Kaplan language, this is called the “Big Idea.”) I gave them full freedom to cull through my Pinterest Board of Favorite Quotations. I asked them to choose one that they thought exemplified the message I wanted them to carry with them for the rest of their lives. Then they were asked to create an Adobe Voice presentation built around that message, giving examples to support it. Here are a couple of their videos (unfortunately, embed codes for Adobe Voice do not work on this WordPress blog):
You can view all of the presentations on our class blog post. I loved the variety, and the multitude of perspectives.
A couple of things you should note if you are using Adobe Voice:
You will need an Adobe (or Facebook) account to login in order to upload your videos.
You can share the videos through e-mail and social networks, but there does not appear to be a way to download the video to your camera roll or to export the file.
In order to embed the video in a blog post, you will need to access it online once it is uploaded, and then get the embed code (also, the free WordPress hosted sites will not work with the embed code).
Check to see if the image search is blocked by your district filter. If so, students will need to have images ready on their camera roll or to be able to take pictures while creating.
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:
I have 2 blogs that I try to post to each day – this one and a class blog. My goal for this year was to have the students take over the class blog posts, but that was only partially successful and will be part of my Epic Fails for the Year series in the near future. Part 2 of that particular Epic Fail was getting people to actually read the class blog. As far as I can tell, only a sprinkling of parents read the posts. But a few did seem to appreciate them so I trudged on.
I included a lot of pictures throughout the year on the class blog. The students rarely looked at them, but were excited when I would take a moment to show them in class. Since I only see most of my GT classes once a week, I must admit that part of my motivation for keeping this up was selfish; the posts and the pics have been helpful to me just to jog my memory every time I do lesson plans 😉
Yesterday was my last class with my 2nd grade GT students. I like them to do some sort of reflection at the end of the year, and we usually spend a lot of time reviewing the events of the past 9 months. (Otherwise, their favorite memory tends to be the very last thing we did.) This year, I decided to try something different.
I showed the students how to access the categories of our class blog so they could view all of the posts for 2nd grade for this year. Then they went through the posts, and chose pictures that were meaningful to them. As they were on iPads, I taught them how to hold their finger on an image to save it to the Camera Roll (fair warning – this is a tricky skill for 2nd graders). After about 30 minutes, I showed them the Pic Collage app. They were allowed to add any pictures that they wanted to their collages. Many added text (and stickers, of course!) They loved the activity. When they were finished, each student had a personal poster to remind him or her of the year in GT. If we had more time, we would have made ThingLinks with reflections, similar to last year.
Of course, you can do this activity without iPads. Canva is a cross-platform online tool that is great for collecting pictures, and there are many others. My favorite part was giving the students the opportunity to choose what had been the most meaningful moments to them during the year – and a creative way for them to display this.
Near the beginning of the summer, I posted a series reflecting on some of the changes I want to make for this upcoming school year. It is our staff development week here in San Antonio, and I have been looking back at my resolutions as I begin to plan for the return of the students next week. I’m glad I wrote these back in June – because many of the specifics of these declarations left my brain about a week after I recorded them. In case you are interested, and missed the posts the first time around, here are some of my goals for this school year:
I’m a bit concerned about my Doodling goal. I think I can do the encouragement part – but maybe not so much the modeling!
Now, if I’m really good at this whole self-reflection business, I will come back to this list next June to evaluate how I fared. Maybe I should ask my students to track these; they have much better memories!
Here are a couple more technology integration ideas for the end of the school year:
QR Code Year-End Reflection – You can read more about this tic-tac-toe reflection activity in my post from last year around this time. It isn’t anything showy, but a nice way to round out the year, and the students always love the added mystery of scanning QR codes.
Thinglink Favorite Memories – I have been meaning to use Thinglink with my students all year, and finally got around to trying it – right when they are about to leave. I’m not sure this idea is original, but my brain seemed to think it was a great idea at one o’clock Monday morning. I took a class photo of my 2nd grade gifted students, and then asked them to each share a favorite memory from their years in GT so far. Then I uploaded the pic to Thinglink and uploaded the videos to my Google account. I tagged each of the kids in the pic with their video. I embedded it into our class blog, and now the parents have a nice, interactive photo that won’t take up any closet space. Here is a link to the post.
Below is a neat Thinglink example I found of suggested iPad apps.
When Richard Byrne allowed some of us to guest post on his Free Technology for Teachers blog last week, I was fascinated by the variety in the posts. This one, in particular, struck me. The simplicity of the idea makes me regret that I haven’t tried this before now. But I certainly have plans to incorporate it in my classroom soon, thanks to the author, Alison Anderson. Ms. Anderson basically encourages the use of videos and photography in the classroom. This is not new to me. But I love the ways she incorporates them. For example, she takes pictures of the kids “in action” during class, then posts them, and assigns this homework: “Narrate what was happening and what you were thinking about in these 5 pictures of you in class today.” What a great reflection piece! I highly recommend that you read the rest of Ms. Anderson’s article to find out more ways to use cameras in the classroom.