Sunday, March 20, 2016

Luck O' the iPads

St. Patrick's Day was a great day to try our luck with PicCollage.  In past years, I would have students make a class book of green things, such as "Some grapes are green." and "All peas are green."  It was a great brainstorming session, reinforcing some sight words.  Actually, I did still have students write a list of a few green ideas in their journals that day.  But you may recall that I'm trying to find ways to use the iPad instead of paper.... so then we got creative and produced some fantastic photo collages.

Students were sent around the school to take photos of green things - backpacks, hats, artwork, signs, and more.  Then they made a collage of the photos they collected, and used their phonetic spelling to label their photos.  I was so impressed! Here you see one of my students with his "hall pass" around his neck, that read "I'm looking for 5 green things", and another boy labeling and arranging his photos back in the computer lab.   NOTE: it worked best to turn off Spell Checker (in the general iPad settings area, in "keyboard"), otherwise their phonetic spelling changed into something that didn't make sense at all. . . .

 This activity was done in 2 - forty minute periods, during my computer lab time on Thursday and Friday.  I borrowed some iPads from the teacher next door, but still only had 7 devices.  Before students set off through the school, I set the timer on the iPad for 10 minutes so that they'd come back to work on their typing, and let the next students get started.  Students chose a green background, and took a "selfie" so I'd know whose work was whose!  Take a look at student work below:

I loaded all collages from devices into my Dropbox account so I could share them here, as well as with parents.  I look forward to students doing more scavenger hunts around the school, such as:
  • 3D shape hunt
  • Things that start with a certain letter
  • Photos of students following rules
  • Favorite Books in the library
  • Different ways to show a number 
  • More colors!
The green idea was found when I was looking for ideas to share with my district colleagues the day I shared my favorite creation apps.  You can see other PicCollage ideas on that post.  What other ideas do you have?  Will you please share?

By the way, here's a great article about the benefits of phonetic (or inventive) spelling.  It's an important part of the developmental process of learning to write.  Parents often wonder if their child will ever learn to spell correctly.  YES, they will!  My students' writing is becoming so much easier to read these days, which is awesome!  "Single instruments first, then the whole orchestra."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Reading with QR code readers

I had been wanting to find ways to use QR codes (Quick response codes) in our learning.  I must admit, I had seen QR codes before but never really knew why or how to use them.  After my success with teen numbers around the room, I wanted to make more!

I use this activity in my word work center. Students use an iPad (or my iPhone, if needed), scan the code, and a sight word appears in their browser!  Each card they scan has a number, and students write the word in the corresponding numbered box on their recording sheet.

I was fortunate to find the cute iPad template on Teachers Pay Teachers, and I created the codes using  The site is easy to use!  I found the images online for some of our Journeys sight words, saved the link to the image, and pasted it in the QR code maker.  An image is created for each code, which I then inserted into the template.

If your iPads or phones don't have a QR code reader, try Kutar QR Reader.  It's free, and really easy for students to use, because the entire screen can scan, and kids don't have to hold super still.  There are other great free code readers, too.
Click HERE to download my sight word center from my Dropbox folder.  The words included are:  all, and, are, can, come, down, for, go, good, have, help, how, like, look, make, me, off, play, said, she, the, what, with, you.  The QR codes can be changed for words you want to use, if you make your own codes.  Please see the last page for credit for the original template.  

I know your kids will love using these codes!  Please comment if you use them and let me know how it went.  Enjoy!