Sunday, October 27, 2013

All About Us!

This year I wanted to "freshen up" our All About Me projects. This is also the first year that I will be blogging with my class from the BEGINNING of the year. (Last year, we didn't get started until about March.) I went to EdCampSC in the beginning of September and heard about an app called PixNTell that allows you to take pictures and record voice over them. I immediately thought of our All About Me projects and our class blog. BINGO! 

During the All About Me projects students are given a blank person poster. They take it home and decorate it as they want and return it to school. I choose a different student each day and they are given an opportunity to tell all about themselves. The other students are then given a chance to ask questions and interview them. When the speaking presentation is finished, the children then create and publish a book all about the presenter. 

Poster Presentation
All About Me Poster

                   Student Writing for the Class Book

Front Cover

I also decided to map our connections across the globe through our class blog, visitors, Google Hangouts, etc. I put up a map of the world and purchased colored pins. A few teachers down the hall thought that they would get a local map and use it to map where all the students lived, and... I totally stole this idea! (Thank you, Ms. Shirley and Ms. Greene!) I thought it was a great idea to map where we live on a local map before we started make global connections. My hope was to make location and mapping a little more concrete for my students. Fingers crossed.

Our Local Map

I wanted to capture this All About Me project process and this is where PixNTell came into play. At the conclusion of the presentation, I took each presenter to the side and made a short video using the PixNTell app. SUPER QUICK AND EASY! I then uploaded the video to the blog and Voila! - great way to preserve the projects for the blog. If a teacher was going to use a class blog for a digital portfolio, this is a great way to include student products AND reflection. I will be using this FREE app for other projects as well! 
Here are a few examples and don't forget to check out this year's class blog!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our School Tour... in the 21st century!

Every year within the first few days of school we gather all the children up and venture outside the classroom. Any Kindergarten teacher will tell you that this alone can be quite an adventure! You must remember, some of the children have never been in school. This doesn't sound like a big deal until you want everybody to line up and follow you around. You envision yourself as the mother duck and all your little ducklings are happily following behind you... And then you turn around! Kids everywhere. Some are over at the water fountain, others are marching on the wrong side of the hall, a couple are over at the bulletin board pulling on the other students' work. You just hope there aren't some still back in the classroom!
Only in my dreams!
So, a few of us decided that we would take our school tour into the 21st century. Shout out to Mrs. AltmanMrs. Cook, Mrs. Paulson, and Mrs. Faith! We created a school tour that could be navigated with QR codes!

Ready to head out for our adventure!
Our ducks in a row :) 
Scanning QR Codes
Watching Video Interview
Scanning QR Codes

Watching Video Interview
I know what you are thinking... too much work! But really it was not that much. Mrs. Altman, Mrs. Cook and I split the work and now we have something we can use again next year with just a few adjustments. The little bit of extra work was worth the payback of a meaningful school tour. Students this year seemed to be able to recall and recognize members of our school family easier than previous years. We also reference our school tour during our Off to School unit (15 days), so it was nice to have those interviews to playback if we needed. Trust me - this is an upgrade :)

Want to try it? Here you go:

1. Decide who or what will be included on the school tour. We included places like the cafeteria, the nurse's office, Principal's office, etc., but we also wanted to include people that the children see throughout the building like the custodial staff and curriculum coach.

2. Record a video interview of the school family member or footage of the place you want to explore. Upload them to YouTube. You can choose to leave your video public, private, or only accessible to those who have the link. You may want to get permission from your colleagues before you post them publicly. Also, if you are sharing the tour with other teachers you will need to at least make it accessible to those who have the link. If it is private and you do not share an account, they will not be able to view it.

3. Create QR codes linking to the interview or location. We used QR Stuff. It is a simple, free QR generator. *I recently heard of VisuaLead at EdCampSC. It is a free QR generator that creates codes over/in pictures. I may try this next year.

4. Create posters with the QR codes and picture of person or place. We created posters on card stock that had a picture of the person we interviewed and the QR code. The posters were hung in the locations we would explore. For example, the Principal's poster was right outside the door of her office. This was really helpful because often times when you go on the tour the school family member may not be there. Having the video allowed us to still complete the tour and revisit the interview for other projects. We have also left the posters up for other classes or visitors.

5. Obtain a QR reader and organize the tour. You will need a digital device (phone, tablet, etc) to install the QR reader and give to the students. We used iPads with Unirac QR Code Reader, but there are tons of free readers. With working with younger students, it is helpful to choose a reader that does not include a bunch of ads. Students always seem to click on them instead :) You may want to think about splitting a large group up, especially if you do not have enough devices. The major obstacle we found was sound. It was hard to hear in some heavy traffic areas. In a perfect world we would have had an iPad with headphones for every student... maybe. Small speakers may be a better plan. I'll let you know after next year's tour.

6. OPTIONAL: We really wanted to expand on the traveling and adventure theme, so we had a pith helmet for each student and a passport. Inside the passport we put labels that had the picture of the person interviewed and the QR code. After each interview we stamped their passport :) The students were able to take their passport home and share the code and interview with their family at home.

Passports from Oriental Trading

Labels inside passport

The students did a great job scanning the codes and completing the tour :) It was a success and I am looking forward to using QR codes for other projects!

Kindergarten is an Adventure... Join us on our Journey!

It has been an exciting start to a new school year. Mrs. Long and I have teamed up with Mrs. Altman's class to provide a true adventure in Kindergarten. Our goal this year is to make each and every day "The Best Day of Kindergarten Ever!" So far... I think we have done well :)

Mrs. Long and Mrs. Bodkins

Our Corner of the Earth :)
We started off by welcoming our students on their journey with a ticket to board and an in-flight snack! They were pretzels of course! Gone are the days of peanuts, on airlines and classrooms too - too many peanut allergies! We had these sitting at their tables for Meet the Teacher day. It was cute to see how many students brought the tickets with them for the first day of school. I am pretty sure some of them really thought they had to have those tickets to get in the door :)

Ticket and In-Flight Snack

Mrs. Long and I got the students involved in the adventure by having them parachute out of a plane! Not a real plane of course, but judging by all the excitement, you would of that it was a real airplane :) 


We look forward to continuing our journey... I hope you will join us!