Digital Recording: Counting Strategies

I shared the story of how we have been counting EVERYTHING in our room this week, but there’s a quick story that actually come just before that, as we started our initial journey into practicing counting and recording our strategies.

Kiddos were given a partner and a “mystery bag,” which was full of between 10-35 of something (bags were differentiated for different counters), and asked to figure out how many things were in it.  They were to use an efficient strategy and somehow capture an image to demonstrate how they counted their item(s).  Partners worked together to determine the most efficient way to count their items, took pictures together, talked about their work and added explanations to their pictures via the Notability app on their iPads.

Through the information I received from seeing their images, as well as through observations and conversations conducted during their work time, I was able to more effectively create pairings for later in the investigation.  Partnerships were formed to best challenge and support mathematicians in their continued learning.

Mathematical strategies and digital tools for the win!


What’s in a Name?

We already have done many interesting and fun things as we’ve started this new year together.  And as we get into more “real” learning (yes, I know all learning is important and in many ways the “soft” skills might be more important, but I digress….had to call it something!), I am looking for ways to continue to stress the themes we’ve started with: everyone is valuable, we are different and we are the same, we support each other, we are all starting in different places and that’s ok–we’re all growing and learning together!

So when I saw this unit shared by our friend and AMAZING coach (and I don’t use the word AMAZING lightly) Amy Wessel, I knew I needed to find a way to use it–it matched up with all of those goals I already had in place.  Plus it was interesting and fun and we LOVE those things!

Ok, so I didn’t follow the unit completely as written, but I did utilize the book list as well as the ideas for “homework” to use with families.

Let me tell you the story…

As you’ve already seen from our #classroombookaday tweets and posts, we are a class the LOVES to read and often bases lessons/discussions on a good book.  So of course as we started to talk about our names, I went to the book list shared by Ms. Wessel, as well as some others I had found on my own at my library (which is another AMAZING thing!).

Together we read Hello, My Name is Octicorn (which isn’t so much about names as it is about accepting those who are different than us and making new friends but has NAME in the name LOL) and Thunder Boy, Jr. (which was surprisingly about a boy who has the same name as his dad and wanted his OWN name that told about him).

Then, since I wanted them to get into those iPads that had shown up in our room, we went on a little letter hunt around our room.  They were supposed to find all the letters of their name, take pictures of them, then crop the images and upload them into Notability to build their name (which is similar to the directions from our Outdoor Adventure Writing Outdoor Adventure Writing from the other day, too).  THEN they were to take a screenshot of that image and later send it to me in eBackpack so I could see it (and share it here!).  Oh, and they were supposed to take a selfie to use as their lock screen (which is how we tell everyone’s iPads apart when they’re laying around).  See?  Told you they know how to do LOADS of things already!!

They’re a little messy, but I did write/draw the directions for them, since it really was a long list of things to remember and do:


They did a great job of following the directions, talking to each other when they needed help (I had to encourage this with some friends, as they are still learning that I am not the only one with the answers!), and sharing things they found out with the rest of the class.   These images will become the Home screen on their iPads for now.   Check out some of our creations!

What a great start!  Can’t wait to share more! 🙂

Screens Arrive in Rm. 202!

Remember back in 2012 when I did an iPad Scout with my 5th graders?  Seems like forever ago, and we’ve come a LONG WAY since then.

For instance, I’ve now taught another 5th grade, as well as 1st and 2nd graders with iPads and it’s amazing how much these kiddos know about how to do things, how to troubleshoot, how to help each other and also what ideas they come up with that I hadn’t even considered!

So as we were ready to pull out our iPads for the first time this year, I was interested in how much I would need to explain before we could get going.  So I asked a simple question as our warm-up this week:


I’m not sure if you can read what’s on that chart, but these kiddos came in to Rm. 202 with some SUPER smart thinking about how to be safe, productive and smart with their iPads.  They told me things like wash your hands, put it on a table when you’re not using it (and not the floor!), use your headphones, be quiet, ask the teacher and do what you’re supposed to do.  I mean come on–those are all the things I was going to say!  It was so easy to begin our work much more quickly since kindy had put in so much time and work previously.  GOTTA APPRECIATE THAT!

When my next question got lots of “yes” hands, I was again super happy.  Aside from just knowing how to take care of their new device, they also knew how to do things with it!  Aside from just knowing basics like being able to turn it on, put it to sleep, swipe the screen to get started (when it is sleeping), etc., they knew about apps that I wanted them to use (for example, Notability and eBackpack–the LMS we use in our district) and how to take pictures and then use those pictures to demonstrate learning.  I’ll give more examples of that in later posts (like how we went on a letter hunt and built our names!), but for now we just have two words for our kindergarten teachers:

I really cannot express my appreciation more for how easy they have made my job of getting starting with iPads this year.  They are ready and they are excited!  And I’M EXCITED to see where we’ll be able to go with this sturdy foundation that’s already been built.  🙂

In Rm. 202, Everyone’s in the Geek Squad!

One thing I love about learning how to use iPads–or anything that is new to most kids in the room– is that we figure things out together!  Sometimes this happens when I teach a new skill, and sometimes it happens when even I don’t know what to do and I simply say, “Let’s figure out how to do….”  Either way, someone becomes the expert and then shares that knowledge with a friend.  Then we all become experts!

It goes right along with the saying we have in Rm. 202–that we are all teachers and we are all learners–and it makes my teacher-heart happy!

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I think my favorite story yet came the other day when I had to step back, get out of teh way and let my firsties do what they know how to do.  Here’s what happened:  we were learning to use Popplet and Diego wanted to put a picture into one of the popples (the circle parts of the web) he was making, but every time he tried, the screen on his camera came up black.  As I walked by and he was trying to figure out what ot do about it, I saw him get into the settings on his iPad and start to tinker.  Now, mostly because I’ve been working with 10-11 YOs for so many years and I know the havoc that can be wreaked when kids are in the settings on their devices, I had red flags coming up when I saw this.  I asked him what he was doing, he said, “Well I remember one time this happened with another app and it was because the app didn’t have permission to use the camera.  I wonder if that’s the problem this time.”  Then he proceeded to find the settings for Popplet and indeed, the app did not have the right settings to use the camera!


WOW–talk about transferring knowledge!!  I had to apologize for my jumping to conclusions, and congratulate him for knowing what to do.  And of course, when 4 more people had that same problem during our work time, he was the expert I sent them to!  WAY TO GO, DIEGO!!  And the best part of this all?  The stories I could tell like this one keep happening every day!  We’re learning many things that we will use for many, many years to come. 🙂

First Grade Bloggers!: Part 5–Teaching the BIG kids!

Alright….one more time…here are the links to the first four parts of the story.  And this one is probably the biggest and best: this part of the story is about how 20 super smart first grade bloggers taught their FIFTH GRADE BUDDIES about how to blog.  Yup–you heard me right: the little kids taught the BIG KIDS something.  Before I even tell you what happened, I feel like I should start with my some of my kiddos’ words about how it felt.  Wait—maybe that will tell the story better than anything else I could say. 🙂

Evan—“It felt spectacular. I felt good teaching a 5th and I’m only a 1st grader. It was hard. He kept on asking me questions and I wasn’t sure how to answer.”

Peyton—”It made me feel happy. It filled up my bucket to be a good teacher to a 5th grader.”

Lauren—“I felt happy because I got to see my buddy and there were words that were popping up that were funny.” (I think this is about the auto-correct feature on their iPads 🙂 ).

Ella Marie—“It felt awesome. I got to make blogs and I like blogs! I saw something new and I told my buddy about it.”

Sara—“I felt happy because we could make a blog together.”

Charlie—“I felt like I was the most important teacher in the world! I like that my buddies are funny!”

Diego—“I felt so happy because usually big kids but usually little kids were the teachers!” (Doesn’t this one just say it all?!)

Kylie—“I felt good because we got to experience new things that I didn’t know about, then I figured out I did know about it.”

Emily—”It felt good because I felt like a teacher and also it felt good to teach a 5th grader!! Little kids usually get taught by bigger ones.” (Again–what an authentic audience!)

Thomas—“I was really excited because it was my first time writing with a 5th grader. It opened up my grit.”

Amelia—“I felt really happy because I didn’t know how to spell a word, and my LB helped me. It filled up my bucket!”

The assessment we used to tell us we did a SUPER JOB of explaining blogs to our buddies?  Their questions to their teacher as they left our room: “Dr. Grayson, can we have our own blogs, too?”  What more could we ask for??  🙂

We’re 1:1!

A few years ago, I was part of an iPad Scout as our school district made decisions about how best to implement a 1:1 initiative.  Since then, they decided to go with iPad Minis for everyone (well, except for K this year, who is utilizing the iPad 2s the teachers used to have), and now it’s finally first grade’s turn!!

Since we’re a little ahead in Rm. 202 technologically speaking (partly because of my scout experience), we were the first class to get our Minis!  Check out the faces here–they say it all!

CAM01515Ok, but I’m getting ahead of myself…there was much work that happened before we could take this picture.  Let me explain.

As a member of our district’s Technology Leadership Group, I have the opportunity to learn and grow with other tech-minded friends, and share resources for our tech-learning journey.  So as I got started with iPads in 1st grade (which is very different than getting started with them in 5th grade!), I was glad to have help from my friend Jen Bartin, who has had several years of experience with using them well in 2nd grade.  She shared her version of iPad Boot Camp, and it was just what we needed.

So before we even THOUGHT about unpacking the box of bright red goodies, we had to talk about the expectations.  More than anything else, these little friends of mine need to be on teh same page as me about why we have them, how we will use them and how we will be safe as we do that.  The first thing we did, then, was read and discuss the student iPad agreement:

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 12.35.26 PMThis conversation was a bit long, and probably one of the most boring things we’ve done in a long time, but SUPER IMPORTANT to our work.  They seemed to get it, and are dedicated to doing the right thing.  That last line seemed to weigh heavily on them.  They understand their choices and consequences are related. 🙂

We spent the rest of the day learning some logistical things, like turning the iPad on and off, using the lock button for the screen, creating shortcuts to some important places on the home screen, and turning off the clickety-click sounds the keyboard makes.  While it is really important to me not to be solely app-focused, there are some good ones that we will use often, like Raz-Kids, which we have been using already on our class iPads and laptops.  This was an easy one to get them going on and is a great way to build our reading skills.  We also learned how to use the Kidblog app (which is a little different than the way the website works) to work on a post related to our history study in Social Studies.  Dreambox–another app we use regularly–is also our iPads and we checked it out before we had choice time.  It’s not usual that we’re all doing the same thing at the same time, but hey, if we want to, now we can!


Kids checking out Raz-Kids on Thursday!

Yeah, but we weren’t finished there.  The last lesson of the day was how to put these little beauties away and how to charge them so they’re ready to use every morning.  We already had the cart (that our laptops used to go in), and just had to figure out how to best organize the iPads inside it.  I had seen a post this summer that used a dish drainer to hold devices and thought we’d give it a try.  I had one on my table (that I was using for something else), but threw it in the cart to see how it would work.  Empty, it looked like this:

CAM01517I know it looks like a big jumble, but the idea is that every cord (which are all already labeled for each kiddo) is in order and will be available for kiddos to pull out easily.  Right now (until I buy another tray) there are 13 on the top and 7 using the dividers that were already there.  It seemed like a great idea.

And then we started putting them away.  I took time to carefully and clearly show each kiddo (two or three at a time) which cord was theirs and where their iPad went in the tray.  It took about 10-15 minutes to get 20 in there, and it looked like this once we filled it all up:

CAM01518And now I’m not so sure.  Now all I see is a big jumble of cords.  It seems like unless I stand there every time with every kid, it will ALWAYS be a headache.  I’m thinking I’m going to scrap the dish drainer idea and install more of those plastic dividers.  Any suggestions, friends who are already doing this?  I want to have a system that is both functional and completely kid-sustainable.  Like with most everything else we do, I don’t want this to be something an adult has to do for them.  I want them to take the lead.  Thoughts?? 🙂

UPDATE:  After a suggestion from Jen Bartin (remember her smart ideas for iPad Boot Camp?) and a reflection on HOW LONG it took to put them away that first time, I decided to chuck the whole “dish drainer” idea and just use the dividers.  And it didn’t actually take as long as I was told to put them in.  It works better and boy is pretty!  What do you think?

CAM01558So much better, no?  This picture makes my heart happy for so many reasons!  It’s weird, but I think my favorite part is the stickers.  Functional and cute:


Rather than labeling with names, I just put numbers that correlate to our class numbers that we use for almost everything else.  This system works so. much. better! 🙂

Into the Woods

We have the most AMAZING woods behind our school, and it’s such an adventure when we get to go out and play (and learn, of course!) out there!  We have gone several times this year, and just the other day we got to explore with our 5th grade learning buddies.  They had a job (which was given by Mrs. Sisul, our principal, and unknown to me!), but I think it has to do with reasons why the woods are such a great place to learn.  We’re working on vamping up our outdoor spaces, and this is a great example of how important they are to the kids of Robinson School.  The “big” kids used their iPads to take pictures and then create a Keynote of slides that capture the essence of what happened on their adventure in just one image.  Check out what they did!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what goes on with our students! They truly never cease to amazing me with their creativity. 🙂

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Book Trailers

We watched our first book trailer together when we read The One and Only Ivan earlier this year.   We were mesmerized by how it drew us in and made us want to read the book–even more than we already did!  Then we went 1:1 with iPads, and I knew that this would be something we’d have to do for ourselves, especially since we had some iMovie experts in our midsts (yes, I’m talking about you, Anna K., Aiden and Jack!).

Then, it was time to start thinking about service learning projects, too, and suddenly it all seemed to fall into place….

I was having a conversation with our librarian, Mrs. Meihaus, about my idea for wanting to learn about  book trailers (and at that point I didn’t really have a direction I wanted to go in, or anything more than a desire to do it), and she told me about an idea she’d just learned about from our Scholastic rep–just the day before!  Talk about good timing.  This idea she’d found out about involved creating cards on the shelves that link QR codes to book talks, to help readers as they make decisions in the library.  Seemed like a perfect fit!

So we just dove right in and started making movies the next day, right? Nope.

We had a TON of work to do first.  And what was great was that my kids knew what that work was without me even telling them.  I just asked the question “What do we need to know before we can start our book trailer project?” and this is what they said:

It's messy because we used it as our checklist to make sure we had done all of the prep work before we go to our movies.  What a great example of kids creating a project--they led us where we needed to go!

It’s messy because we used it as our checklist to make sure we had done all of the prep work before we go to our movies. What a great example of kids creating a project–they led us where we needed to go!

We spent many days together reading book reviews, and learning what was supposed to be included in one.  We read examples of them, and practiced writing our own on books we’d read together and individually.  We watched several examples (both good and bad) of book trailers and kept notes about what made them successful, i.e. which ones made us actually want to read the featured book and why.

About that same time, I came upon a Twitter chat where the topic was book trailers and several teachers were sharing ideas for how they make these productive with their students.  I LOVED the idea that Jenn Fountain (@jennann516) was sharing about how she managed student made book trailers.  The way she used storyboards to help students thoughtfully plan the pictures and the text they wanted to include was the missing piece of the puzzle, and seemed to be just what we needed!


Devan loved this project!


Remember Jack, the iMovie expert? He’s hard at work on his storyboard and book trailer about the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio–a class favorite this year!


Aiden (another in house expert) decides which pictures from The Kissing Hand to include in his video.


Damonte is hard at work on his book trailer for a text about Lamborghinis. Another place we got ideas for books was from Ms. Dale, one of our kindergarten teachers. We made several for some favorites that we knew some of our newest friends at Robinson would want to read in the fall!


Don’s using his storyboard as he creates each scene of his iMovie.


One of Keelan’s videos was from that kindergarten pile–The Hello, Goodbye Window.


Anna K. (on the left) was a wiz at iMovie! I love how kids taught other kids how to do things and answered questions when we needed to troubleshoot why something wasn’t working. Here she helped Sammy figure out how to fix a problem she was having with a picture.


Owen working on a book trailer for Mouse Counts.


Sophia and Jernandra worked together, too. Jernandra’s book trailer was about Super Fudge.


Sometimes the pictures we added were from the internet, and sometimes they were ones we took ourselves.  IMG_0863 IMG_0865See?

So, kids chose books (we started with our favorites, but also brainstormed other ways of choosing like book award lists for the upcoming year, book award lists from previous years, books that are frequently checked out from our library, etc.) and began to create our storyboards.  Once they had an approved storyboard, they went to work in iMovie, which we worked together to figure out—remember those experts I mentioned in the beginning?  They helped lead small groups to coach kids on what to do–and Jack even taught me how to do it!  What a great app, by the way, and on the iPad it’s SUPER SIMPLE to use.  I highly recommend using it if you aren’t already.

But just because our book trailers were finished, that didn’t mean our project was done.  We wanted to then link all of those trailers to QR codes that kiddos in our Robinson library can scan and learn more about the book as they are shopping for books to check out.  That meant we had to answer the “where do we put them when we’re finished making them” question from our original chart.  Many suggested we put them on our blogs, and we already a class YouTube channel, but we had to make sure it was some place that would be able to get through our internet filters at school (so kids could actually watch the videos we were creating!), that would be able to hold a large amount of data, AND that would be online (otherwise we wouldn’t end up with a QR code!).  I decided that SchoolTube was probably our best bet.

It was really great when we finally got to the end of the project and we were working in the library to finally attach all of our QR codes.  (Even this part of the project was kid-led, too, as someone suggested it would be a better idea to attach the code to the actual book, rather than the shelf.  Genius!)  We were super excited to be able to call in Mrs. Sisul, our principal, who supports all of the crazy and fabulous things we want to try with technology, and show her how they work.

Don and Owen showing Mrs. Sisul how to scan our QR codes to get to our videos on School Tube.  She was so excited for us!

Don and Owen showing Mrs. Sisul how to scan our QR codes to get to our videos on School Tube. She was so excited for us!

So at the end of it all, we ended up with over 50 TITLES that now have book trailers, and each copy of each book in our library has a QR code attached to the spine or the cover (depending on where it would fit)!

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I wish that I would have had time to do the last reflection piece after this project, to have my kiddos tell you all that they’d learned throughout the process, but alas, we worked right up to the very last minute–and then it was summer!  So I ask now, to all of my 5th grade friends who worked on this big service-learning project with me: What did you learn from this experience?  What do you know now that you didn’t know when we started? What was your favorite thing?

And now it’s your turn to check out all of our fabulous work!  While I’d love to individually post every trailer here for you to watch, it makes more sense to direct you to our Robinson School Tube channel so you can check them out there! Happy watching and thanks for leaving us your comments about what you think!  We worked so hard and are so proud of what we accomplished!



iPad Scout Reflections Week 3 (and 4): Getting in a Groove

I knew it would happen eventually, and I think during week 3 it happened: we got into an iPad groove.  So in some ways that makes this week’s reflection really fabulous, and in some other ways it might make it really boring.

After the first week of highs and lows, and the second week‘s videos, I was excited to see what Week 3 would bring us.  I was hoping that it would bring some sort of “normalcy,” where we wouldn’t have our noses constantly in our iPads and were somehow thinking of them as tools instead of toys.  And to some extent that’s what happened.

The most exciting part of the week for me, I guess, was how my kids are starting to come up with really great ways to use our iPads to enhance our learning.  We’d already been using Educreations for annotating videos explaining our learning, using Notability to mark up text we were reading and taking pictures to help us save documents we could use later easily in another place.  And up to that point, much of what I was asking them to do with their new tools (outside of the iMovies they’re making for fun, blog posts they write for themselves and some other stuff like Edmodo) had been my idea.  Then we started talking about poetry.

As like with every other unit, they were to publish their pieces, self-evaulate using our writing rubric, and then turn in their work (not rocket-science, I know).  And ZB had a great idea of how to do it.  Just like we had been doing in Educreations to explain our thinking in math, ZB had an idea of how we could do the same thing for writing.

First we published our poems using Pages (the app on our iPads instead of the program on our laptops), which we could now save in our Dropbox folders.  Also in the Dropbox was the rubric, which I could easily share for each kiddo to upload.  Then came ZB’s idea: maybe we could put pictures of them both on a page in Educreations and then explain why we scored ourselves that way.  GENIUS–especially since the “4” on most of our rubrics is to “explain the reasons behind your choices.”    So they took a screen shot of their poem, and laid a screen shot of the rubric right next to it:

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 9.11.23 PM And as they scored themselves on the rubric, they could explain to me why they thought their poem showed that, and could make connections to the text of their poem at the same time.  This type of thing, before we had our iPads, was possible, but would take FOREVER because I’d have to have a separate conversation with each writer in order to gain the information about their thinking.  Great idea, ZB!

Now, I must take a minute to insert a short story of a frustrating “apportunity” we had related to these videos.  It’s related to the fact that Educreations is a GREAT place to create videos, but not such a great app to use if you want to do anything with those videos.  And of course I didn’t know this until after we’d done all kinds of work with it.  As I struggled to find a way for my kids to be able to share their work with me, I found this FAQ on the Educreations website that helped me find an answer to my problem.  A negative answer.

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 9.29.44 PM

Lame, right?  Yeah…great information I wish I’d had before we started.  And so this meant that what I had thought were great opportunities for my students to share their thinking with me were now just stuck on their iPads.  Well, unless I wanted to lug them all home.  Which was kind of not the point of going 1:1 and being electronic and such, you know?

Well, since then, I have learned a couple of things that solved our problems:

1.  You can get around the exporting problem if you sign up for an Educreations account.  That way you have the option of emailing your video to someone or copying the URL link of to post or use.   I found out I can also give my students a course code that will allow me to have access to their videos via the website.  They don’t even have to send them to me now; I can just click on each students’ file from one screen at the same time.

2. Notability also works in a similar way, and can be more easily shared or saved in Dropbox, Evernote, or a variety of other ways.

3. Explain Everything is a great app that combines all of the things that both Educreations and Notability can do, and has many other great options that will grow with your students as they get older and/or learn to do new things with their devices.  Downside?  It costs $2.99, but does offer a volume discount if you buy in bulk.  We’re considering this one as an option to Educreations.    Doodlecast Pro could do the same thing, and might be great for younger students (it’s also $2.99). 

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 9.43.11 PM               Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 9.44.08 PM


So this past week was technically Week 4, but with MAP testing taking up much of our time and energy, there is not a lot of iPad news to share.  The one thing I will mention, though, which I guess fits in the “high” category, came from our class meeting today.

As always, the last question we answered before we started our discussion was “What do you want to talk about from the week?”  As you can see, man people had the same idea:

The red dots mention are what kiddos wanted to talk about.  Their conversations could be positive or negative, but these are the pressing issues of the week.

The red dots mention are what kiddos wanted to talk about. Their conversations could be positive or negative, but these are the pressing issues of the week.

Ok, so I know Don’s birthday was a big topic of conversation (because many people wanted to wish him well and tell him how awesome he is), but they also wanted to talk about iPads.  What I loved was that unlike past weeks conversations when there was a lot of discussion about what NOT to do, today they wanted to talk about how great it’s going!  The discussion was about how we’ve all figured out how to do things, aren’t playing around so much anymore, and how they’re helping us as learners.  Of course I was interested in hearing more about that last thing, so I dug for evidence.  They mentioned things like being able to get and send documents to me electronically instead of having to always get papers, as well as how easily they can look up answers to things they’re wondering about and just how much more interesting doing their work on the iPads has been.  And I’ve been excited at how much more collaboration there has been in spite of everyone being 1:1; many people worry that kids will be “plugged in” constantly and not interact with other students.  I’m happy to see that this hasn’t been the case in our room so far.  We’re just finding better ways to collaborate, communicate and curate.


Don and Ames look at a common text on Educreations as we practice editing together.


Anna and Fiona can look at the same text on their separate devices as they discuss how they’d improve the paragraph to make it easier for the reader to understand.  Since they’d uploaded the picture into Educreations, they can mark on the text right on their iPads and then save their thoughts to come back to later.


Devan and Peter work to edit punctuation and capitalization in a text uploaded from our shared Dropbox folder.


iPad minis make it easy to have everyone look at the same text at the same time, but then interact with it in whatever way works for them as a learner.


And they’re portable and small, making them easy to go anywhere–even the rug–unlike when we were only using our laptops for these kinds of things.


So we’re about halfway home.  4 weeks in and 4 weeks to go in the Scout.  And with MAP finishing up this next week, we’ll have some more time in our schedule to explore what our iPads will help us do.  Stay tuned for more on the book trailer project we’re in the middle of.  That is definitely something that would have been inconceivable before we were 1:1.  Exciting times ahead!

Just like always, it’s your turn now.  Thoughts? Suggestions? We’d love your feedback on what’s going on in our room! 🙂


iPad Scout Reflections Week 2: Math Revisions and Video Thoughts

So I realize it’s really only been a couple of days since I posted my Week 1 Reflections, but since today was technically the end of Week 2 and we had such a fabulous tech day, I thought I’d tell the story today.

Since our horrible experience last Friday trying to get our Dropboxes all figured out, we’ve had some pretty successful days with our iPads.  Today was a particularly great day, with many great ideas flowing about how we could enhance our learning by using our iPads to record our thinking.

On Monday, we started an investigation in math that was focused around my son, Riley’s, allowance.

Riley's Allowance Problem

Riley’s Allowance Problem

Now, the math involved in this problem was not difficult; the focus here was on using clear and concise notation to record thinking, as well as revising your work before “publishing” it for others to see.  We focused on making sure we followed all of the directions and did the whole problem (which is a great skill to review since we’re doing state testing starting in about a week and a half. 🙂 )

Kiddos spent two days working on the problem and then creating their posters.  After everyone had a poster, we did a gallery walk where groups were responsible for leaving feedback for others related to how well they accomplished each of those goals.  They left plusses and deltas for the group to consider as they revised their poster later.


Revising based on what classmates said about their poster.


One of their “deltas” was that they had too much white space and not enough numbers. They added in equations to show how they got their answers.


Creative use of paper scraps as “white out” to cover parts they needed to change.


Don’t you just love the combination of “old school” and “new school” here? IPads right alongside big ‘ole paper and markers. 🙂  They’re using one as a calculator and the other has a screenshot of the original directions where they did their draft work before the poster.


Adding headings to each section (which classmates thought included too much writing) helped their thinking make more sense.

Then, I gave them one more direction: make a video to summarize your post-its, share your revisions and explain why they would help learners better understand your poster.  Pretty cool, huh?  Here’s what they did next:

I’m trying to decide when to mention that it took SIX STEPS to get those videos from where they were recording to being able to embed them on this blog post!!  WHAT?  I’m sure some of it was me not knowing some details about Dropbox (where I was hoping to be able to upload the videos so I could have access to them on my computer after school), but honestly, some of our biggest problems come from the filter that our Minis have embedded on them.  Obviously an internet filter is a necessary thing to have, but so often it also keeps us from efficiently doing what we need to do as learners.  So…the videos went from kiddo iPads where they were recorded——–>they were sent to me through iMessage (which ended up being the only way we could figure out to export them, and by the way, we had to set up before we could use today)——-> then I learned how to upload them to the Dropbox app on my Mini so I could access them———>then I had to download them to my computer, since the Dropbox they were in is not the same as my personal Dropbox linked to my computer—–> then they were uploaded to YouTube——-> and THEN they could be added to my blog.  Are you tired yet?

That definitely wore me out a little.  Surprised I had any energy left to even write all these words!  Is that crazy to anyone but me?  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE tell me if you know an easier way to get video from kid iPads to a usable form for me.  I want to use them more often for things like this, but I’d love to be able to do it without so much work. 🙂

(And so here I was going to add a really SUPER idea that my friend ZB had today about how to show our thinking about poetry, but surprisingly the examples I wanted to share are still on the iPads where we recorded them today.  Just didn’t have enough hours in the day to figure that one out.  Hopefully tomorrow. 🙂 )