Check out the link to episode 77 of the Flipped Learning Podcast, starring Mr. A! 🙂 It turned out pretty well, and the audio can be downloaded off of the iTunes store very soon. Enjoy learning more about EdPuzzle, which as you know, has become an important part of our class. Thanks for all of the support!
Dear Parents and Guardians,
It’s hard to believe, but we are are halfway through with fifth grade! Today is the last day of the second quarter. Time has flown by, but it’s been a wonderful semester, and I’m very appreciative of your support. There are many exciting moments still to come!
HOUR OF CODE
Many of you viewed the Hour of Code Animoto Video that I sent out last week. If you didn’t, please watch by clicking THIS. For those who don’t know, the Hour of Code is a nationwide initiative to expose all kids to an hour of writing code. This is important because there are not enough skilled computer programmers to fill the open jobs today, and this gap is increasing by the minute. Also, women and minorities of color are vastly under-represented in this field, and we want to change that!
We kicked off the Hour of Code, with a Skype chat with my friend Kevin, a coder for Twitter. He took time out of his workday and chatted with his office about what it’s like to be a coder. Here’s a bit of advice he gave during the Skype chat.
As you can see from the video, our students were VERY excited and motivated by the opportunity to learn code. Many students have expressed a desire to continue learning! On the site, code.org, students can complete various other free tutorials, just like the Angry Birds lesson from the Hour of Code. On the code.org site, students can create a free account and it helps the students track their progress as they learn to code. Another free way to learn to code is through an Edmodo App I provided the students called Learn Street. For the class’ Holiday Gift, I purchased several Edmodo Apps that students from our class can use through the Edmodo site. One of these apps, Learn Street, offers many tutorials for computer programming. Ask your child about the other engaging apps they received today!
We concluded our Fantasy Football season this week. It was so much fun to draft players and track their progress. Best of all, it was incredible math review of division, place value, decimals, and fractions. The students really had to apply these skills and more, and they were able to use the school’s new iPad cart to research their players’ statistics. Check out the Animoto video that shows you a sneak peak of how we used Fantasy Football in the classroom. Congrats to our league champs, the Chicken Wings!!
Have a safe and enjoyable break and enjoy the holiday season! See you in 2014!
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First, a few reminders…
We go to JA Biztown tomorrow. Please encourage your child to dress nicely/professionally. Students will experience a real world simulation, and they’ll be working a job, writing checks, paying taxes, etc. I’ll make an animoto video and send it out sometime tomorrow so you’ll feel like you were there. It’s probably my favorite field trip of the year, and your child will be buzzing about it for days.
Awards Day is Thursday, 10/31 at 11:00 a.m. Students who earned an award received a letter inviting you to attend. We shuffle up the classes, so students not receiving awards do not stick out.
Explorers Project/Living Museum
Tomorrow, following our field trip, students will select their explorer for their research project/Living Museum. Here is the link for our wiki page, where you can find the directions, and the list of recommended explorers from which to choose. Feel free to look over the list and talk to your child about various explorers. We checked off the names of explorers that can be found in our textbooks. The others can be researched in other books, web sources, etc. I borrowed 20+ explorer books from the Carmel Library that students can use during class. Also, a great site to use to research explorers is Enchanted Learning. Let me know if you have any questions, and I may create a video about the project to help keep students on the right path. The project is due Wednesday, 11/20, and the Living Museum will be on Friday, 11/22 at 10:30. If you can make it, you won’t want to miss out!!
Writing/The Dead Words
Today, I had a little fun with the kids to kick off our study of the Word Choice writing trait. I told them the overused words, like “big”, “good”, etc died of exhaustion. They were simply used too much by young writers. Today we compiled a list of better synonyms to use instead of these “dead words”. On Thursday (Halloween Day), we are going to have a Dead Words Funeral, where students will write and give eulogies for these overused words. For example, I’ll miss my friend big. His massive smile and enormous heart will never be forgotten. Big is survived by his wife “Massive”, and his children, “Humongous”, “Gigantic”, and “Immense”. On Friday, we’ll use Garage Band to record our eulogies, set to somber music, and maybe even post them to our blogs. We’ll decorate little tombstones, too. It’ll be a fun way to help bump up students writing in a memorable and engaging Halloween inspired way.
If you could please send in shoeboxes for the caskets, I’d really appreciate it.
Last, in Math we are beginning to work with fractions! We’ve learned about Equivalent Fractions (ask your child about the Mr. A-LO song about Equivalent Fractions – it’s to the tune of J-LO’s “Jenny from the Block”). Today we took copious notes on Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions. Students are encouraged to use those notes on homework. Also, I’ve included a video tutorial on their homework. Students may use QR Reader to view the video OR they can simply visit our Wiki Page and click on “Flipped Classroom/Tutorial Videos”
I’ve played around with a super innovative app called Aurasma. Aurasma is Augmented Reality. Basically, I can tag any image and link it to a 3D video. I tagged tonight’s homework. If your child wants to try Aurasma, they will need to create a free account. Then, you will have to “follow” me on Aurasma. My username is Mralo. Then, your child will show you the magic of Aurasma! Disclaimer – it tends to work about 50% of the time. If it doesn’t work, you can try to move to a different location. Sometimes that helps. Again, remember that the same tutorial video can viewed using QR or the Wiki instead. If you have no idea what I just wrote about Aurasma, your child should be able to explain it. It’s a very exciting technology that I am motivated to use more in the future.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. If you would like to reschedule a conference, please let me know as well, and we can make that happen.
Today is an exciting time in education, as there are so many exciting resources available to us to engage our students. Here are a few of my favorites, and hopefully some will become your favorites, too.
1) Wiki Pages
First, it’s really helpful to have a home base for links, information, videos, etc. There are many options, and they are free!
a) MSDWT’s Wiki Pages: (but you need to call help desk first)
2) Flipped Classroom
This isn’t a resource, but it’s a buzzy concept in education today. Basically, it’s the teacher creating a quick video for the student to view from home. My favorite tools creating my videos are Quicktime (Apple) and Schooltube.
Quicktime comes standard on all of the MSDWT laptops and desktops (it’s available with the newer OS).
Schooltube is a great tube site that will have more appropriate content than Youtube. All videos on Schooltube have been approved first by a teacher. You must first create an account on Schooltube, but it’s totally free!
QR Codes are like barcodes. Many students and their families have access to a smartphone, and all smartphones have access to free QR Readers. Once you upload a video to Schooltube, you can easily turn it into a QR Code.
Just google, “QR code generator” and several come up.
4) Collaboration Sites:
My favorite is Edmodo. It is an amazing FREE site that allows for class collaboration, free cloud storage for students, and much more!
More Digital Tools
5) Kidblog.org – Kidblog gives your students a real voice that can be heard by readers all over the world!
Tips: When setting up your class’ blog, go to “settings”, and make sure that no posts or comments get posted without your approval (moderator).
6) Garage Band
7) Voki – Talking avatars
10) Class Dojo
12) GREAT APPS:
Sock Puppets, Story Kit, Tellagami, Quizlet, Socrative
Hopefully your child has spoken to you about KidBlog! KidBlog is an amazing and SAFE way for students to have a real voice. It is a classroom blog site. Here’s how it works:
I created an account for each student. Then, they can share any of their stories, thoughts, etc with the world. Before any post gets published, I have to give approval. This ensures that only appropriate blog posts get published. Then, anyone with access to our Class KidBlog URL can comment on the students’ writing. Again, as moderator of the blog, I will only approve appropriate comments. Last year, students had positive comments from folks around the country. This will really motivate our talented writers by giving them an authentic purpose for writing!
Here’s the class blog site: http://kidblog.org/MrAuslandersClass13-14/
We first introduced KidBlog on Friday, and we already have several incredible posts. Check it out and give our young authors some comments! Feel free to please pass the link, too. Remember, as moderator, I will keep it safe!!
Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding this awesome writing tool! We’ll be using it often. Some assignments will be graded, but most will just be to share great writing with the world.
Also, as you hopefully know, our A-LO’s Arcade will take place on Thursday, 10/3 at 2:30 p.m. We will be selling Fun Passes (an all you can play ticket) for $1 each. We voted to support the Indianapolis Humane Society. We’d love you to come and play, but I know how hard it can be to come to a school event during the day when you have to work. It will be a ton of fun if you can swing it.
Speaking of the Cardboard Challenge (A-LO’s Arcade), you can start sending in cardboard, egg cartons, etc. now. Items that will really come in handy on building day (10/2) will be packing tape and scissors. Students also will be providing their own rewards for their arcade games. Some students are making wristbands, bookmarks, etc. Please talk to your child about what they would like to give out as their “prizes” for their arcade game. Also, I’m thrilled to share that we won a building kit from an Australian company called Makedo. It’s worth $600 and it’s reusable. This should help our students even more as they attempt build whatever arcade game they can imagine.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Remember to please turn in the $10 for the Children’s Museum by Friday and let me know if you are interested in chaperoning. We have four right now, which is great, and I can take one more!
The past school year was the most exciting of my career. Here is quick look back at some of the most memorable highlights from the 2012-2013 school year.
1. Supt. Scoop from my classroom!
I implemented a BYOD policy midway through the school year. BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. This means that students can bring their Ipod touch, Smart phone, or tablet to school, and use them to enhance their learning. In fact, Dr. Woodson, our township superintendent, filmed her May 2013 “Supt Scoop” from my classroom. Click here to view the Supt. Scoop Video.
2. Our Math Arcade
Last year, for homework, I assigned the viewing of an inspirational video about a fourth grade boy who constructed his very own arcade in the garage of his father’s store. The video, Caine’s Arcade, inspired my students to campaign to allow us to build our very own cardboard arcade games. Of course, I agreed, and we created an elaborate arcade out of cardboard and tape!
We connected the cardboard arcades to ISTEP, our state standardized testing. Students created ISTEP questions on index cards. In order to play one of the games, instead of inserting tokens, students needed to answer one of the ISTEP question cards. We invited a fellow fifth grade class to play our arcade, and we had a ball!
Afterwards, we skyped with Alice Lin from the Imagination Foundation (Caine’s Foundation), and she wrote this awesome piece about our class.
Click here to enjoy the neat video I created showcasing our creative Math Arcade.
3. Pen Pals with G’vanim School in Israel
Many of you who are reading this may know that this summer I traveled to Israel to meet the Rachel, my pen pal partner, and her amazing students. Last year, both classes corresponded through letter exchanges, but the most exciting moment of the pen pal partnership had to be during a lively Skype chat, when we spontaneously broke out into a One Direction jam session. Luckily, Mrs. Golder was in the room, and she caught that magical moment. Check it out here.
4. A Visit from a REAL Author (and Allisonville Alum)
Christine Johnson is a close friend of my wife. She is also an accomplished author of teen literature. She penned Claire De Lune and Nocturne, novels about Werewolves, from the same literary genre of the popular Twilight series. Christine visited my classroom and spoke about the her experiences as a writer. My students were captivated. The best part was after her talk, when she stayed and conferred with ALL of my students about their own writing! Here’s the video of Christine’s memorable visit.
There were so many more awesome moments from the 2012-2013 school year! I hope you enjoyed the reflection of my most exciting year in teaching, and here’s to a new year filled with possibilities! I can’t wait to get started!
In under 4 minutes, you can get a nice flavor of my once in a lifetime trip. Unfortunately, only one school gave permission to use the students’ pics/videos on my blog, and it doesn’t include my students’ pen pals. On one of my posts you can hear the Gvanim School Pen Pals on audio, and hopefully you’ll be able to feel their enthusiasm.
Enjoy the Animoto video. I wanted to use Phillip Phillips “Home” as the background music, but the video was too long and I didn’t want to take any more out. I plan to write more about my trip on this blog, even though my stay in Israel is winding down. Thanks for reading, following, and/or commenting on my blog.