In social studies class, my 2nd grade students learned about immigration. With help from their parents, they created family trees, discovering that their ancestors immigrated from different Eastern and Western European countries and even from as far away as Taiwan. … Continue reading
My second-grade students recently learned all about alliterations and then created their own digital versions, which we compiled in a book. We started by reading Maurice Sendak’s Alligators All Around and defining alliteration. We thought about the purpose of alliterations … Continue reading
I love my job as a teacher librarian at a private school. I have had the freedom create my own lessons–shaping and reshaping them, while trying new ideas or adapting old ones or just sticking with the tried and true. … Continue reading
App Smashing Biography Research My 2nd grade students did some biography research this spring. The first challenge was to find biographies they could actually read. While we had enough books for each of the students, I wish we had … Continue reading
Students are always eager to get hands-on training in how to use new tools. In this exercise, I was inspired by the “Cool Word Vocabulary” activity published by Tech4Learning to create an opportunity to use the company’s software, Pixie, with my 2nd grade students. I love using Pixie with my students (see, for example, biography research, how-to tutorials, and states research) as it allows them to be creative while also exploring the features of a great digital tool.
Using an organizer, students each chose a word from their current spelling lists and wrote a sentence or two using the word in context.
In Pixie, students searched the copyright-friendly images available from Pics4Learning for images that represented the meaning of their chosen word. In some instances, this required them to think more broadly. For example, one student’s word was “stirrup”. Since there were no pictures of a stirrup, he had to think of other pictures that represent the meaning of the word and settled on “horse”.
Before students began working in Pixie, I modeled the steps and showed them an example. I also gave them the step-by-step instructions in writing. Most students did very well working independently to create their cool word vocabulary words.
As Pixie was new to this group, they really enjoyed playing with some of the software’s creative features, including the paint can tool. Some of the background students created were quite amazing. The finished products were exported as image (.jpeg) files. In sum, this exercise expanded both traditional and digital literacies. Liquid Literacy at work! And we had fun.
My 2nd grade students celebrated National Poetry Month by showing off their poetry writing skills. I already wrote about their Haiku Passover poetry using the BookCreator app. This week, they finished sensory poems using the Haiku Deck app for iPad.
We began by talking about the five senses, reading some examples of sensory poems, and discussing their format (consists of six lines, emotion is stated in the first line and described by a color, uses lots of adjectives). We then brainstormed a long list of emotions and chose the word “surprised” to write a sensory poem together. When it was the students’ turn, they each used a template for drafting.
My Grade 2 students LOVE to write. They used lots of great adjectives and metaphors in their poems. While I don’t expect perfect spelling, I wanted to at least encourage the students to check the spelling of those “harder” words they used. So before moving on to the final phase, the students used dictionaries to look up words they themselves had identified as possibly misspelled.
To create a final product, I chose Haiku Deck for iPad. Not only is this app very user-friendly, but it also provides access to high-resolution, Creative Commons licensed photographs–the perfect match for our sensory poems!
I showed the students a couple of examples I had created and then very briefly demonstrated the steps to find an image (we searched by our chosen color), to select the best text layout for our purposes, and then to share the final product.
In all, we spent two 40-minute lessons writing and creating our sensory poems. The students are incredible writers–but their products speak for themselves!
My 2nd grade students wrote and illustrated Haiku poems! In celebration of National Poetry Month, I chose to expose my students to Haiku poetry–mainly to reinforce syllabication with words. We recently created I SPY riddles, which are written in a 4-beats per line rhythm, requiring parsing of words into syllables. As some students found this difficult, writing Haiku poems seemed the perfect reinforcement activity. While traditional Haiku is about nature, I’ve changed our topic up a little bit. Since I teach at a Jewish day school and Passover is right around the corner, I wanted my students to write Haiku poems about Passover.
Introduction to Haiku
We began by reading lots of examples and counting the syllables in each line (traditional Haiku consist of 17 syllables–five in the first line, seven in the second line, and again five in the third line, are non-rhyming, and written in the present tense). Using the topic “Spring” as a whole group activity, we brainstormed any related words and recorded them in a web organizer. My original plan was to then write a Spring Haiku together, but the students were eager to get started and work on their Passover poems. So we did.
Creating Passover Haiku Poems
Armed with a graphic organizer, the students began brainstorming and then drafting their poems. They did a wonderful job incorporating everything they have learned about Passover in their Jewish Studies classes.
The next lesson, we used the BookCreator app for iPad to type the poems and draw an image to illustrate them.
Check out some of their beautiful creations!
“This project just keeps on giving” was my colleague’s, Arlene Yegelwel, comment on the second blog post about our 2nd grade students’ I SPY project. Arlene is right! After working hard on creating our class I SPY book and then on perfecting our interviewing skills as a means of project reflection, we enjoyed a fabulous virtual visit with Jean Marzollo, author of the I SPY book series, today. It was Jean’s challenge that inspired our own class book and resulted in about 20 minutes of insights and learning from the author herself.
As new experts in the process of creating an I SPY book, our students were especially curious about Ms. Marzollo’s process. They wanted to know how she finds the items for her collages (turns out most are selected by the I SPY photographer, Walter Wick), how she creates the rhymes (as this was not always easy for our kids), and why she chose a 4-beat rhythm for her riddles (we did a lot of clapping to practice). Lots of great questions!
At our school, we talk a lot about “reflecting” as a means of self-assessment and thinking more deeply about learning. Faculty write weekly reflections on our faculty Ning and our students write on their blogfolios. So in order to provide our 2nd grade students with a form of reflection after the completion of their I SPY class book, I decided to have them interview each other.
We first talked about the concept of an interview: What is it? What is it’s purpose? Rather than just letting them loose, I felt it important to provide students with some potential interview questions. So we brainstormed:
The students were paired up, provided with an iPad and a printout of the questions, and instructed to take turns interviewing each other–where the interviewer was also the videographer. The only requirement was to ask at least three of the brainstormed questions.
The interviews turned out great. Definitely listen to the kids reflecting on their learning:
Teacher Learning: 2nd Graders LOVE I SPY Books
It all began one Friday morning when I found my 2nd grade students sitting comfortably together in the library looking at I SPY and Where’s Waldo books. I thought: I must do something with those kids and those books! Turns out that Jean Marzollo, author of the I SPY series has a fantastic website. There she posted this challenge: A free 15- to 30-minute Skype visit with any class that creates “their own original beautiful I SPY pictures and write their own fantastic I SPY riddles.” I presented the idea to the kids and they were ready to take on this challenge!
Student Learning: Media Literacy
We spent our first lesson looking more closely at a number of different I SPY books, paying special attention to the image collages (choice of items displayed, arrangement of items, photographer perspective) and noting the beat and rhyme of the riddles.
To help students begin thinking about their individual pages for our class I SPY book, I created an organizer. It outlines the steps to create a page in the book as well as provides a space for writing the riddle. I wanted them to just brainstorm some ideas. Several kids knew exactly what items they wanted in their collages and drafted their ideas on the back of the paper. Other kids already practiced writing riddles.
Student Learning: Visual Literacy
Our next lessons were all about creating the image collages. We began by talking about what to look for when creating a collage using some examples I had prepared: not crowding the picture to make sure we can identify all items, taking the photo from a bird’s eye view, leaving a two-finger-spaces border, making sure to take a straight not crooked picture. Students used poster board as background. They were free to choose any items they found in the library for their collages. However, the big hit were the two bins of toys our 2nd grade teaching assistant, DeeAnn Wulbern, supplied on loan from her two sons.
Student Learning: Problem Solving
Some students worked in pairs, others preferred to create a collage on their own. We actually had two “gos” at this: our first attempt taught us that the white poster board worked better as background than any of the other colors. Also, its larger size provided more space for more creative creations. While I had mentioned to students that they should think of the riddles while creating their collages, none really did and were stuck when DeeAnn and I asked which items in their collages rhymed.
Finally, when the students returned the following week, we emphasized that in each collage there needed to be at least two rhyming items. Several students quickly figured out how to best approach this issue by first finding the “just right” item and then searching for something else that rhymes with it. Only then do you look for other things to add to the collage. Watch our student Talia explain the process of creating an image collage.
Once the collages were created, students took pictures using the iPad. It was not always easy holding the iPad perfectly straight and still, or even be up high enough to get the full bird’s eye view. Multiple pictures were taken and the best selected.
Student Learning: Rhythm and Rhyme
I SPY riddles are written in a 4-beats per line rhythm and an aabb rhyme format. Our students wrote 2-line riddles. To better grasp the rhythm, we listened to some examples of student-created I SPY raps on Jean Marzollo’s website. We also clapped with the beat using some example riddles. If you’d like more information on her riddles, see Jean Marzollo’s brief video on “How to Write an I Spy Riddle”. The students then got to work using the following template:
Student Learning: Digital Literacy
Each student created an I SPY page using the BookCreator app for iPad. They imported their images into the app and then typed their riddles, choosing legible fonts and using the dictionaries to ensure correct grammar and spelling–because, remember, Jean Marzollo is looking for quality work!
Teacher Learning: A Project Worth Repeating
The students and their teachers LOVED this hands-on project. It highlights the four Cs of modern learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creation. But best of all, it is an extremely engaging project. Now we are ready to visit with Jean Marzollo via Skype for her feedback on our great product. Take a look!
Download on the iBooks store: