First Grade: Australian Animals

Over the last couple of weeks, the 1st graders have been busy researchers.  They each chose an animal native to Australia and used two websites to gather information about what their animal.  Everything from their animal’s habitat, to their food habits, to unusual habits.

After gathering their information, they were ready to create a project to share their knowledge with their classmates.  Each student was given an iPad and we discussed how we could find a picture for their animal.  Most of the kids knew that they could “GOOGLE IT”, but none knew that many of the images found on the internet are copyrighted. So, I started with a mini-lesson on how to use search tools to make sure they are finding free to use images.  We started by googling our animal.  Ishowed them that we could modify our search so that we were only seeing images, by clicking the IMAGES button below the search bar.  I then introduced them to the button SEARCH TOOLS, which allowed the kids to see the choice USAGE RIGHTS.  The first graders needed a picture that they were allowed to reuse and MODIFY.  We learned that modify means to make changes and since we were going to make our animals talk and be a little silly, we needed to choose images we are allowed to reuse with modification.  After clicking on this option we now were able to choose the picture we wanted and add it to our camera roll.

Next we opened a new tool on the iPad, called Chatterpix.  The kids inserted their saved image into this tool, added a mouth and recorded their animal’s script.  Note, before they were allowed to start using Chatterpix they had to have a completed script with factual information about their animal.  I hope you enjoy their work below.

Quokkas by Jovanah

Goannas by Trevor

Marsupial Moles by Aubrey

Tasmanian Tiger by Emily

Tasmanian Tiger by Ethan

Tasmanian Devil by Hudson

Tasmanian Devil by Justin


Cuscus by Sofia

Dreaming with Fifth Grade

Hold fast to dreams 

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly

-Langston Hughes

The fifth graders were asked to unscramble the words to this poem and consider what they thought the big idea of the poem was prior to our first class. The students share presented their ideas to the class and participated in a Socratic Dialogue about Hughes’ poem.  Following our discussion, the students paired up and rewrote Langston Hughes’ poem from two different perspective.  They used two apps to create their finished products, PicCollage and Educreations.  Below you can enjoy their finish projects.

By Tanner and Liam

By Alondra and Sofia

By Josie

By Miguel, Adrian, and Sydney

By Nic and Christian

By Spencer and Nick H.

By Preston and Luke

Here is an image of Tanner’s Interactive Journal in response to his work on the Hughes’ rewrite above.  Before the kids dove into the rewrite they did research on the mind behind this great poem.

 This week we continued to dig into the idea of dreams and how it connects to our essential question, What is My Responsibility to the World Around Me?  We read and participated in a Socratic Dialogue on another of Hughes’ poems, What Happens to a Dream Deferred?  We compared and contrasted the poem to Hughes’ other poem.  Following our Socratic Dialogue, students created an origami dream star to hold all of their dreams.  When they were done with their star they created a PicCollage to share their star.  They also created two similes about dreams living and dying.  Enjoy the work below.

If Dreams… on PhotoPeach

Below are pictures from Liam and Preston’s Interactive Journal.

2nd Grade Fun!

Well, we hit the ground running our first week in GT and this week was no different.  This year we are diving into the world of Structures, both man-made and natural, and even the more abstract concepts of structure(s).

I started by giving each table a bag of cards to sort.  I didn’t give them any parameters, just told them to look at the cards and think about how they should be sorted.  They were unaware that all of these cards held examples of structure(s).  After they sorted they took a picture of their sort and we shared the various categories whole class.  I then told the kids that I wanted them to sort the cards again, but that they could only use two categories.  Again they took a picture of their completed sort and we discussed the categories.  The kids noticed that our categories were more closely aligned when I put the 2 category rule in place. Below are the Educreations the kids created to share their sorts.

This week I introduced the word Structures.  I had the kids brainstorm everything they thought they knew about structures.  I had some kids with one thing on their paper and others with a 10-15 things written down.  It really helped me to see where all of my student were coming from. I gave the kids the same bag of cards. This time I told them that ALL of the items fit the definition of structure.  I once again had them sort into two categories.  This time all of the tables realized that they could sort them into man-made and natural structures.  Below you will find a Padlet. Please help us by double clicking on the wall and adding examples of man-made and natural structures.  We want help from parents, grandparents. etc.

After our pre-test, sort, and discussion, the kids created a DETAILS flower to share the facts and features related to their understanding of STRUCTURE so far.  Here are some of their images.

In addition to structures, we have been doing an activity called X Tiles We use clues and math to figure our mystery number.  The kids are getting better at reading and understanding the clues every day.

The second graders were introduced to a new way of thinking called Six Hats thinking.  We will learn to use these hats as we encounter various problems in our learning.  Next week you should see our first finished project related to the hats.

This week the kids were given some new vocabulary words to add to their vernacular.  We talked about ways to use the word so that it became a part of our day to day conversations and writing.  The kids were encouraged to get their siblings and friends to use the words as well.  I hope you will help encourage their vocabulary development.  Each week they should have new words that are tied to our novel, Walls Within Walls.

THIS WEEKS WORDS: grumbled, anxious, deferential  modernize, chivalry

Wow, that was a long post.  That reminds me of why I like to do them each week.  🙂

Catching Up With Kinder

It has been far too long since I have posted, but rest assured that we have been hard at work in GT. Friday mornings, with my kindergartners, have been especially busy.

Two weeks ago we worked on learning how to amp up a simple sentence into a POWER sentence. After reading The Alphabet Tree the kids learned the strength that words can have when we connect them with other words to make sentences. We then learned how to take the simple subject-verb sentences and make them stronger through adjectives and using more vivid verbs. The kindergartners used a cool web tool called Google Story Builder and worked to move a sentence from the simple to the powerful. I hope you will enjoy the samples below. Just click on the links below to watch their sentences evolve.

Justin, Jovanah, Alena

Ethan and Emily

Jovanah and Mrs. G.

After spending time thinking about how words play an important role in communication we did an activity called Which Face?  This activity allowed the kids to realize that our facial expressions and body language can communicate just as clearly as our words…sometimes more clearly than words. The kids had 9 faces on a piece of paper.  I would read a sentence and they had to match my sentence to the correct expression.  After they were finished, they chose one of the faces to create a nonverbal story.  Enjoy their interpretations below.

This past week we finished up facial expressions by having each kid choose 4 feeling words (from a list we brainstormed) and they used the iPads to take their pictures demonstrating each feeling.  The kids labeled each of their feelings.  As you can imagine I got a lot of HAPPY, SAD, MAD, etc.  I wanted to encourage the kids to develop their vocabulary, to use stronger words. I introduced them to the term synonym and to a thesaurus.   Each student had to  find a synonym for each of their 4 original feelings words.  It was a lot of fun.  We ended up with words like MELANCHOLY  SPIRITED, APPREHENSIVE, FEROCIOUS, GLUM.  The kids inserted their 4 pictures into an app called PicCollage to create a poster of their four facial expressions.  They then inserted their PicCollage into another fun app called Wordfoto.  They typed their original feeling words along with their new synonyms.  I think the finished products are awesome.

Which Face? on PhotoPeach

Continuing with our theme of nonverbal communication, I had the kids watch a beautiful silent movie called Monster Box.  It was created by 4 french graduate students at Bellecour Ecoles D’Art.  After watching the video the kindergartners used oil pastels and watercolors to create their own monsters.  They wrote a cinquain poem about their monster and used an app called Videolicious to record themselves reading their poem as the audience enjoys their monster art.

Marvelous Monday by Carly

Today in GT kids made signs for friendship.  We also kept researching Australia.  We saw lots of places that are in Australia.  We did lots of cool things in GT.  We had so much fun with our wonderful GT teacher, Mrs. Germadnik.  We can’t wait until next week to do great things again.

By Carly

**And I didn’t even pay her to say such nice things. 🙂

To begin our unit on Talking Walls I introduced the kinds to two new terms: concrete and abstract.  I want the children to understand that some walls are more than just a physical structure, that they can stand for abstract ideas like freedom, power, friendship.  After our lesson on these two terms, we zoomed over to Tasmania and visited The International Wall of Friendship.  The kids discussed that Friendship is an abstract idea…not something we can easily see and touch.  Each student created a symbol that represented the idea of friendship.  They then created similes to help demonstrate what friendship means.   Please enjoy their symbols and similes below.

Cool New Tools in Kinder

With Bike Rodeo taking place today, I wasn’t sure how much we would accomplish, but boy did the kids surprise me.  They were here ready to work.

Convergent Thinking and Mystery Creatures

Last time we met I introduced the kindergartners to Convergent Thinking.  We became detectives and put on our convergent thinking caps to examine some clues.  The clues were about various mystery creatures.  It was fun to use the clues to try and guess the animal.  It was a challenge for the kids to not jump to conclusions, but rather to go through all of the clues before making their prediction.  They did get better after we had gone through a few examples.

Next I had the kids choose a favorite animal and generate clues that would help us guess their mystery creature.  They used a fun app called TypeDrawing to draw their creature.  They saved it into the photo roll and used Educreations to create a video with their clues.  I hope you enjoy their finished products.






Communicating through Powerful Sentences

We also read a wonderful story today called The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni.  It is a wonderful story about a tree full of letters that learn to work together to make words, sentences, and then more powerful sentences.  It demonstrates the power letters have when they combine together, which fits nicely with our unit on communication.

I introduced the kindergartners to some new language today: NOUNS, VERBS, and ADJECTIVES.  We talked about how these words could help take a simple sentence and turn it into a powerful one.  Below you will see a Google Story Builder that we did as a class that demonstrates how to transition from a simple to a power sentence.  We did this one as a team, but next class they will create one together.  Click on the simple sentence below to see how we changed it.

The dog ran.


First Grade Fun

Today I introduced the first graders to a new concept: Divergent Thinking.  We learned that diverge means to go in different directions and applied that to the concept of brainstorming.  I asked the kids to brainstorm things that are round or go around.  They started with the more obvious like balls and clocks, but they quickly began to delve into more complex ideas like TIME and ILLNESS.  Wow!  We then looked at a cloud shape and the kids brainstormed all of the things that the shape could be.  I had the kids partner up using the an app called Educreations to create shapes and then their buddy had to turn it into something else.  Enjoy the videos below.  I think they did a good job considering it was the first time they used the app, but we do need to work on voice level. 🙂  Also you will notice a LONG pause in some of their videos. We had a fire drill in the middle of their creative process and a couple of the kids forgot to pause their recording.

We made movies that we did with buddies.  And we doodled and the other person added to doodles and we gave them to Mrs. Germadnik to put on her blog.  We read Abel’s Island and we doodled a bunch of things and I did really good.

By Alex W.

By Tyler and Michael

By Dasom and John

By Evan and Sofia

By Isabelle and Alex W.

By Alex P. and Kayla

By Andrew and Quinn

By Abigail, Lillian and Amy


First Day of Kinder GT!

Today was my first day with my incredible kindergartners   We really hit the ground running and these kids were more than ready!  I will let them tell you about our day below.

A.M.: We rot on the tabl.  We got to yoos the iPad and we got to hav fun.

Ethan: We rot on the tabl.  We mad videows and thot of wrds in GT.

Jovanah: We wrote on the table. We made our feelings.

Juliana: We lrnd all ubowt communication.

Justin: We had fun.  And we droo on the tabl.  But we will be puding this on the blog.

E.S.: We rot on the tabl. We got to yooz the iPads.

Today we started by taking a pre-test to show what we know about COMMUNICATION.  The kindergartners had to think about the BIG IDEA, the DETAILS, the RULES, and the LANGUAGE of the DISCIPLINE related to communication.  This is a great way for me to see where every child is starting out.  We then went and brainstormed ideas and words related to communication on one of our tables…yes, we wrote on the tables!  Don’t worry, I explained that we could only do this in GT, with my special markers. 🙂

Following our brainstorm the kids thought about ways they communicate each day.  Each child brainstormed 4 ways they communicate and drew a picture to go with their idea.  I then put the iPads in their hands.  I partnered the kids up and they had to take each others pictures as they acted out the 4 ways they communicate.  We then used an app called SHOW ME to import their pictures and the kids recorded themselves talking about each of their pictures.  While the quality is not perfect, I think they came out perfectly perfect for their first attempt.  We will definitely work on voice level and expression as we do more projects.  However, they each did all of the work themselves, so that is pretty impressive.  I am excited just thinking of all that we can do this year.  I hope you enjoy the movies.







Polygon Riddles

For the last couple of weeks that kids have been spending time getting to know and understand polygons.  They have had the chance to build polygons like squares, pentagons, hexagons, and decagons. They have examined structures searching for examples of polygons, created polygon art, and explained the rules and details related to polygons.  One of their favorite activities was using an app called Sock Puppets to create polygon riddles. They had a good time writing their riddle and acting it out.  Enjoy their videos below.  This was their first attempt at using Sock Puppets.  We will definitely work on voice level and speed for upcoming projects.

The Raven

This week the 4th graders worked with a challenging piece of literature by Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven.   The kids started by looking at an image of a raven and thinking of words connector to mind when they stink about a raven.  They brainstormed words like dark, sad, creepy, and scary.  I then gave them a wordle that contained all of the words to The Raven, but they were mixed up.  The words used more than once in the poem are larger than other words.  Based on the words and their sizes, the students made predictions about the poem and its theme.  The kids made some surprising observations before even reading the poem.  The kids listened to and read the poem.  We discussed and summarized the different stanzas.  The kids then created a visual representation of the poem using pastels.  The children also created 6 word summaries to share the Big Idea of the poem. They used an app called Wordfoto to put their visual image and their 6 word summaries together.  Below are 2 examples.  Once all of the kids are done, I will put together a slideshow of all of their work to share.

Last Week:
Last week we read Blindmen and the Elephant. The kids participated in a Socratic Dialogue to better understand the underlying meaning of the story. Below are a few journal entries showcasing their understanding of the Big Idea of the story.