Saturday, February 15, 2014

Real world experience--Comparison Matrix

School Garden in Disarray

From the first month of school when we began studying plants, the students have just soaked up all the information that has been taught and they continue to ask questions and question each other about plants. They also realized that the school grounds had a garden that was in disarray. It had not been planted for some time and was mainly overgrown.

We decided to do something about it. They wanted to plant the garden. Now, what kind of plants would be the perfect plant? They wanted to plant tomatoes. I then bought different tomato seed packets and the students had to decide what seeds would be the best to plant for our school garden.

It would have been easy for me to pick out seed packets and have the students plant them. I decided to let them make that decision. I bought 3 different kind of tomato seed plants: an organic tomato, a heirloom tomato, and a very inexpensive seed plant. The cost of the 3 seed plants ranged from $0.59 to $2.99. I created a video (using Doceri and then uploaded to Dropbox) for each seed packet that read the front and back side of the seed packet for the students. I underlined and circled different information on the seed packet. This allowed all students to have access to this information, even though students with limited reading ability. I also copied the front and back side of the seed packet for students to reference. I created a worksheet that had the different criteria to make the decision of the best tomato plant. They were cost, organic or not organic, amount of sun, amount of water, and special features.

The students then listened to each video and identified the criteria information for each seed packet. I also included information on the sheet for them to make judgements about the different seed packet.

All students were engaged in this activity. I think I would assign students different seed packets to listen to or at least start listening to. I found that some students could listen to all three in the same amount of time it took other students to listen to 1 or 2. Because of this, when we went to complete the comparison matrix, not all students could participate in sharing information of all seeds. But I didn't really know who had information about which seeds and called on some students who had information about all three and then I had to call on them again when they were the only ones who had information about the last seed packet. I would have liked to include more students in each seed packet sharing.

On the next day of instruction, we sat on the rug with our informational sheets and filled in the comparison matrix together as a class. Once the comparison matrix was filled out, students did a Think Pair Share with a small group of students. (I do not do pairs but rather triads or quads for richer discussion opportunities.) Students then had opportunity to get up in front of the class and try to influence their classmates in choosing a certain seed packet.

Then they had to vote for their seed packet and explain the reason(s) why for their choice. The concept of organic was one reason that influenced decisions as well as cost factor and what I call marketing (words like tasty and juicy). We then are planting the seed packet of choice.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kindergarten students blogging

Three days ago my students were introduced to blogging, using the Kidblog app. It is one of my new favorite things and now theirs too!

I think their blogs and comments on each other blogs speak for themselves! Here is one of my favorites about Macarena's goal for 2014 and her classmates response. Macarena blogs "My goal is to be at school every day and on time."

Corene comments (below) "Wow, I ges you want to ern the i pad" ("Wow, I guess you want to earn the iPad." She is referencing an attendance incentive we have at school).
Ella then comments (below) "Maybe you should wake up early."

The students are really excited to read each other's posts and then comment on them. One of my student's parents came up to me and told me after school that she asked her son how the field trip was. He said, "Read the blog." She prompted again. He said "You can read my blog to find out." She read the blog and commented on his post.

I truly believe that the power of peers promotes strong academic improvement and achievement. Students want to perform for and like their peers. When I use the iPad or introduce new apps, my focus is on higher order thinking skills (Blooms) and peer interaction. I know this focus is paying off because academically students are making large (bigger than normal) gains per quarter.

Here is some information that I have learned while beginning kidblog. Hopefully this will help you too.
1.  Currently, I must approve all comments that are made by students or adults. I can also choose to trash it, edit it or unapprove it if needed based on content. Right now, I want to make sure the students use the blog appropriately so having the control over this feature is really nice.
2.  The teacher can edit the students' blogs. I do not change the content and I let the students write phonetically but I have added the topic of the blog if it is not written in. I may change the spelling of one or two words if the word is sounded out incorrectly and makes it difficult to read. I am not changing words because of spelling but rather for students to understand other's writing.
3.  For children to read a child's blog they have to click on the title (topic) of the blog. This can be difficult if the screen is very small. I have taught them to increase the size of the screen and showed them how to click on the topic.
4. When giving access to the parents, I gave them instructions to write their username as child's mom or child's dad (i.e. Carrie's mom, Carrie's dad, Carrie's grandma, etc.). The username is what is seen by the students and if parents use their first names, the students will not know who is commenting on their blog. You have the control to edit their names if need be.
5. I have had students comment on the teacher's blog. For example, I asked the students a question from our social studies unit, "What traditions do you follow in your family?" Then the students responded to my blog through writing a comment. OR. I also have given the students the topic written on the board and they blog independently (not comment) on their blog. They retype the topic and begin their blog. Other students then comment on their blog. So there may be 28 blogs with the same title.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Same Test-Different level of Students-Ensuring all students can do their best!

The math test! How do you give a math test to all your students without dragging it out for those students that can quickly complete any task or for those students who just need to take their time to get it right? What about those students that can read and understand every word? What about those students that can't read the math test completely and you know that you can be testing reading on the math test?

Well, a video is the answer! We created a video that focused on each question. The video is created on the Doceri app but the Educreations app would work as well. We read each question and the multiple choice answers (where applicable). We taught the students how to pause and work the problem and then touch play when they were ready to go on. This provided students the ability to work at their own pace. My residents and I went around to the different tables of students as they were working. At times, we provided moral support and assistance. This also allowed my two students that were absent to take it without my assistance or reading of the test when they returned the next day. It allowed me to continue instruction for the rest of the class. This video can be used year after year as well.

So we checked and/or graded all the tests.

Here are the results. Each question is listed and the students that missed the questions or did not complete the question. We found that some students didn't complete the whole problem. A few students answered the first part of the question and not the second part. I wanted the students to complete each problem before grading the test.

 Now I need to go back and make sure each of those students finished the test. This could take a long time to individually call or pull in small groups for a few missing questions.

We also noticed that some students made simple errors that were not characteristic of their previous work and knowledge of math. Some students made errors that we wanted to go back and reteach. I planned the day after the test to go back and reteach what the students missed. BUT, I didn't want to reteach to students that did not miss that concept. It didn't make sense to do a whole class reteach when not every student needed the reteaching. I wanted to target JUST those students that needed assistance with each concept.

Therefore, I created individual videos for each child. Here you can see dropbox where all the girl's videos are located on folder B. The boy's videos are located on folder A. (The only reason they are located on two different folders is to make it easier for students to find their names; i.e. find their name out of 14 names compared to 28 names.)

The students then went to their own video and listened to their personalized video. The videos had the following purposes:
  • Reteach specific concept(s)
  • Guide them to finish a question(s)
  • Explain how to tackle a problem
  • Teach students how to exceed expectation (and not just meet the standard) on specific questions
Each student had the opportunity to work with me (via the video) and to reteach and learn something they had missed or didn't know.

4 examples of videos

I found that this helped the students with the concepts that they had missed or did incorrectly. We saw results in future math work that the students did.

Even though this was a lot of work creating videos for each student, I really BELIEVE this was the best thing to do to meet each student's individual needs. The videos ranged from 1 minute to a couple of minutes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Students at different levels--assessing what they know

Like in all of our classrooms, we have many students at many different levels. They have different strengths and different weaknesses. They know different things. How do we assess what they know? I find it a very overwhelming task to be able to sit with each child (that 28 this year!) and have them explain their work. Instead, they can actually explain their work to me all at the same time. I still sit with the students and listen to as many as I can while they are actively doing this activity and I come back to the lesson if I need to with individual students. We are able to listen to what they recorded and that student can add or explain their thinking to me. They use the app Educreations. I have talked about this app many times and it is one of my favorites. In this activity, the students were identifying their every day needs. We were learning about needs and wants in this unit. The three children below are at different levels.

Leilani-Things I need
Claire-Things I need
Macarena-Things I need

Because of the way I have linked up educreations, the students are also able to listen to each other and learn from their friends.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Close Reading in Kindergarten

With the new Common Core Standards, I feel like my discussions with my colleagues echo around my school building, my city, my state, and my country. How does this look? How do I make sure the students are using text evidence? How can I get little students (kindergartners) to do this too.

Here is one of my close reads. I think I had done lessons in the past that were close reads, yet I never called it a close read. I read text multiple times and we really went in depth at the text. Now that I have to do a close read I sometimes feel like I am not as confident.

I used the book Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter. It is a story based on a true account of Beatrice Biira, an impoverished Ugandan girl whose life is transformed by the gift of a goat from the nonprofit world hunger organization Heifer International.

My essential question of the story is "What did the goat mean to Beatrice and her family?" On the first day, I decided to give some background knowledge so my students could understand where Beatrice lived and how she lived. I had a powerpoint of what Uganda looked like where Beatrice lived and how they lived. I chose to do the powerpoint and have a brief discussion to compare and contrast how Beatrice lived and how they lived because even though my students attend a school where 95% of the students receive free or reduced lunch, they do not experience the poverty that Beatrice experiences. This was also evident when I read Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and they did not understand the meaning of the duct tape on the shoe of one of the characters. 

We began reading the story and the students used their iPads and educrations to "take notes" while I was reading. They drew pictures, labeled pictures, and wrote words that were important to the story. I stopped at every page or every other  page for the students to finish what they drew. I had the students record while I was reading.  They will be able to review their work prior to discussion and still listen to the story and see their work. 

Here are a few examples. I was not able to finish the book in the first reading. It took us two days to read the whole book. They took notes on both days.

On the third day, I reread the story. The students had the opportunity to relisten to the educreations note taking so they reviewed what they had found important in the story. I had multiple questions that they had to use to break down the story. Then we focused on the essential question: What does the goat mean to Beatrice's family?

Here is the transcript of the discussion. It was presented similar to a Socratic Seminar (as close as we could get for the first time and doing this with kindergartners). The students all wrote sticky notes of what the goat meant to Beatrice as the exit slip.

Beatrice’s Goat Transcript
Teacher: On page 8, it states that she will never have enough money to go to school. Why does Beatrice think this?
SH: She didn’t have Magisca so she didn’t think she would have enough money.
ER: She didn’t have Magisca and Magisca was part of the way that she earned money.
MC: The goat produces milk.
Teacher: Can you elaborate further.
MC: She sells the milk.
Teacher: Anything else.
MC: She sells the milk to make money so she can go to school.
CB: I agree with MC because when she has Magisca she has more money.

On page 9: Mama says we will get a goat. …. Mama says “Good things take time.” What does it mean when Mama says good things take time.
KS: It means it takes time which means it take a little while.
Teacher: Why does it take time for good things.
KS: It takes a while.
SH: I think Beatrice wanted the goat and she wanted to take care of it.
MP: It takes time.
Teacher: I think this question could be tripping us up so let’s look at the question. Mama says “Good things take time.” What are the good things that they are talking about?
ER: Money so she can go school.
JN: The opportunity to go to school and to learn and to get smarter.
LF: Things take time and they can arrive some day.
Teacher: So what things could arrive?
LF: Other stuff that they can get from different countries.
Teacher: What opportunities did they get from other countries?
LF: They didn’t get anything.
Teacher: So what did they get.
LF: They got a goat
Teacher: Ella said that goat gave us money so Beatrice could go to school.
CM: The goat provided them with money so they could get a new house.
MUB: The goat provided them with a new roof.

Teacher: So let’s go back to Why she longed to go to school.
NW: She wanted to learn.
AnS: She wanted to flip the book.
Teacher: Can you elaborate on what you mean?
AnS: She wanted to turn the pages. She wanted to read.
Teacher: Can you elaborate on what it means to be able to read?
Ans: It will make you smarter.
MP: She wanted to sit on the bench.
Teacher: Give me more details.
MP: She wanted to learn to read and to learn.
PM: She wanted to go to school.
Teacher: Why did she want to go to school?
KK: She wanted to have fun. She wanted to learn to read books.
MUB: She wanted to learn to write.
JN: She wanted to go to school so she could learn to read.

Teacher: What does the goat mean for Beatrice’s family?
Write on your sticky note what the goat means for Beatrice’s family.
LG: So you can’t write it in Japanese because some people can’t read it.
AG: Time.
Teacher: What do you mean time?
Milk for her family.
Teacher: What does the milk provide them?
PM: The milk provides them with energy.
MM: It provides them with a pet.
Teacher: What does it mean that they have a pet?
MM: They feel happy to have a pet. They love their pet. They feel happy about Magisca.
AdS: Money and Milk.
KS: Milk for the family.
LG: Provides them 2 milks.
Teacher: What do you mean about that? Can you elaborate.
LG: It gets them really healthy.
Teacher: What is the other?
LG: I don’t know.
MUB: School
MC: Money and milk. The money is used for school.
LG: To bring the old house down and to get a new house. So the roof won’t leak.
ER: Milk, money, a new house and school.
DB: Money
LS: A new house. The goat provided them a new house.
AL: More money so they could do things with it.
CB: Giving milk to others.
Teacher: What does that provide?
CB: Giving it to others.
Teacher: Where are those people?
CB: People in the village.
CM: It gave them more money for a new roof. It provided them a dry place.
LF: Gave them good stuff.
Teacher: What is the good stuff?
LF: Good stuff so Beatrice could live.
CL: Money to buy a new house.
Teacher: What else?
CL: School
MP: Milk, money and a new house
SH: The goat provided Beatrice with a school. It provided her with another goat which she sold for money.
KK: House, food  and milk.

So it provided them with opportunity the family with many opportunities. If they are healthier what is going to happen to them?
They are going to get healthier and they will grow up.
It helped people in their village  get healthier too.

What do you think happened to Benane when his family got a goat?
SH: The same thing.
MUB: He will get to go to school, to learn.
LG: His family will get healthier. They will get a new house too.
End of transcript

At the end of the discussion, we watched the video (edited for kindergartners) of the interview on CBS with Beatrice. It really brought the story to life for the students. They really loved the story and they made connections to other stories we had read and how they see poor people living in their city.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two digit addition in kindergarten? Well, yes!

What do you do when you have 10 kids in your kindergarten class that have mastered addition and subtraction facts to 18 and yet some students have never seen a plus or minus sign and know limited numbers? Well, you differentiate! However, being 28 places at once is not easy. I still need to teach the basics of number concept to 10 too.

I made a video for these students that need to start 2 digit addition. I needed to make sure they understand the concept place value first. Then I can go from there by teaching them to add 2 two-digit numbers and eventually regrouping.

Here is the video. Nothing fancy and easy to make. I referenced the straws that we use in our calendar math as well to tie in the "old" piece with the "new"piece. This is made with an ipevo camera and quicktime. Don't be intimidated. They are super easy and fun to make and you can use them year after year.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Introduction to taking notes in kindergarten-using text evidence

Today when I read the nonfiction text from the FOSS Plants kit, I had a set of students model how to take notes during a read aloud. This text was about 5 pages long about what plants need to survive. On each page I had one student draw. I gave some guidance. We did talk about what we should put on each page after this educreations recording.

Model taking notes on educreations

Then I had the students all get their iPads and I reread it while they drew on their iPad on the rug.