An extension to the Google Drawing lesson

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E. B. (6th grader), Santa Claus, 2016

So, during the last week before break, I gave my students a couple of choices.  They could work on coding, on typing practice, or create something (school appropriate) on Google Drawing.  My one student, E.B., completely blew me away.  He is not a student who is usually focused.  But, this time, he was.  I was so amazed and shocked at what he came up with!  I did not help him one bit – he took his time, worked hard, and created this amazing image!  I printed it out for him in color to give to his mom for Christmas.  I mean, how could I not!  This was truly a success from my Google Drawing lesson.

 

Google Drawing

So I came upon a lesson from teacherspayteachers.com for Google drawing.  I really liked this lesson because it incorporated the winter theme without specifically stating that students must create something Christmas-y (I avoid that as much as I can).  I came across Computer Elementary Activities , which I really liked as they had a nice snowman, and directions on how to have students draw it.  For my students, because I know their listening levels (basically 0), I instead put the important directions on the board and allowed students a bit of creativity with it.  I was actually surprised by how many of my students enjoyed it!  I did this with 6th grade to start.  Several of my students, who are normally not the best in my class, did exceptionally well!  I asked that if they wouldn’t mind if I could have a link to them to keep them, as I was just that impressed.  Here are some examples.  I highly recommend this lesson, especially as it gets closer to winter break and kids get antsy!

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Week of Coding

At the beginning of December, my 3rd-6th graders participated in Hour of Code week.

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Student explaining how she is solving the problem.

Each class was given an hour to work on several options from the code.org website.  There were many things that went well, and several that didn’t.

The first was buy-in.  Getting buy-in from my students can be difficult.  That’s another story for another post, though.  My 3rd and 4th graders absolutely loved it.  They loved working on Frozen, Moana, Star Wars, among others.  The favorite was Tynker’s Dragon Dash.  A lot of students really loved that one.  My 5th and 6th, however, were more difficult.  Many from those grades enjoyed it, but others were just not interested.  I have a difficult time doing many things with the 5th and 6th, though, so I don’t look at it as a fail.

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Working together to solve a problem.

Opening students minds.  My students don’t always tend to be challenged, well, as much as we would like at least.  I know teachers in my school work hard to try.  But, some of my students, they just don’t want to use their minds.  However, I was pleasantly surprised in how many were actually trying, especially after an initial difficulty.  Students also worked together too, which was a plus.

I am not sure what I would do differently.  With my students, I’m really just giving introductions to different aspects of computers, the internet, and its capabilities.  Someday I’d like to have a computer club or coding club, for students who would be very interested in it overall.  But for now, I’ll continue to use it as another option for computer free time.img_8879

 

Importing Old Posts

Yesterday I spent a little bit of my day importing posts from my old blog on my website to this blog.  Why, though?  Why does it matter?

I think it matters because I have been writing a blog for a while.  It was just hosted on my webpage, which serves more as a portfolio than a true blogging medium.  It was not the centerpiece, but buried in a link.  A prominent link, but a link all the same.  I have all of these ideas that I have been sitting on, almost hiding, for some time now, and now they are finally out in the world for more to see.  They are no longer kind of hidden thoughts, but prominently out there.  I even changed over my twitter webpage link to this one!

I think once I’m truly in a place I want to be professionally, I will combine the two, make the blog the more prominent.  The portfolio information will be there, but not play as important of a role.  I won’t need to highlight things like my education and projects so much as show off what I have been doing in my library through my blog, which I am starting to do now.

What do you think?  Am I being a bit redundant?  Should I combine things now and forget it?  Or is it smart to focus more on the blogging and leave the portfolio be?

 

Prodigygame.com Review (Math)

prodigylogoThis week I introduced my son to Prodigy game.  This is gamification math game at its best.  Let me just say, he is hooked!  To me, Prodigy game feels like a mix between Pokemon (with spells, animals, etc.) and almost a Zelda-feel (I’m aging myself with this…).  I was actually first introduced to this at the Midwest Educators Technology Conference (METC) this past February.  I thought it was cool, but then my focus went somewhere else.  Then, we brought it to my school.  I have seen so many of my students, who would usually go to ABCYA.com or other miscellaneous websites, now head straight for this game.  And the final straw was my tech academy instructor showing me it.  I fell in love.

So, I figured that was my cue to bring it to my son.  From first glance, it was love.  He loves powering up his animals, he is already on level 30 in one week, and he’s practicing math skills that he needs!

There are a lot of pros to this website.  First, it’s free.  As in seriously free!  You cannot go wrong there!  You don’t have any diminished services because it is free.  To me, that is a great way to do business, since their revenue comes from parents buying the memberships.

For the teacher, there are a lot of back-end data that you get on students.  This is invaluable for the teacher! I personally like the student progress and curriculum reports. That to me tells me a lot about what my son knows and what he still needs to work on.

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Student progress of place values

The only con I can come up with is that kids will want to play this all the time!  It has almost surpassed Minecraft in my house.  Almost.

Screenshots from www.prodigygame.com.

 

Designing a Blog

I want to talk a bit about designing a blog.  You can say you want to write a blog, but it still has to look good!  I’ve spent the better part two days really trying to decide on this blog, this look, feel, even the name!  This is not quick work if you want to do it right!

Before I did anything, I had to decide on a site to host.  I have my own website, where my blog has been hosted.  But, I want to keep this separate from it.  I want it to be independent, its own entity, if you will.  I will eventually import some of my better blog posts, but that will be a bit. So, I had to decide.  I looked at both WordPress and Blogger.  Why did I decide on WordPress over Blogger?  Main reason, honestly?  Someone already took reademption on Blogger.  I’ve used WordPress for a few years as my website template, so I’m familiar with it, but I don’t want to host it on my domain just yet.  Again, wanted them to be separate.  So, here we are.

imageThen, of course, is the blog name.  This was difficult.  I am really not that creative when it comes to wordsmithing.  Thank goodness for a talented partner who knows me well.  He was able to come up with Reademption and the reasons why… I’ve incorporated it into my about page.

So, I’ve got the platform, I’ve got the name.  I set that all up, no problems.  But, here’s the
fun but tricky part.  A theme.  I’m all about WordPress free themes…. usually.  But this time I could not find one that really made me happy!  I went through about 10 overall.  I have settled on this theme, Sorbet, for now.  The downside to not hosting it on my own site, though, is that I can’t do as much customization as I normally would.  Eventually I will, just like all else, but for now, to get this baby started, we’re starting here.

imageAfter that, it’s just finetuning, figuring out what widgets and menus I want, and then from there, it’s all about posting.  So, there you have it.  My take on designing a blog.