Sunday, January 12, 2014

3rd Round of Kindergarten & First Grade Centers

By now, my kindergarteners and first graders are old pros at library centers.  Despite the increasing complexity of what they're doing, when I stop by their centers to give them brief instructions, I usually get comments like "We already know what to do!" and "Don't worry, we've got this!".  I've kept some of the activities fairly consistent, and have tried to add in a few new activities, especially in the Computer and Words center to mix things up for them.

As with previous rounds of centers, students rotate through a series of six centers, completing a different center each week with their assigned group.  This way I know that they have likely had a chance to practice the skills at each of the centers in the six week rotation.  Each of the centers connect to Common Core Standards or AASL standards in some way, but up until this point, I haven't consistently identified "I can" statements for the centers, in the future my goal is to make sure I put "I can" statements on each of the center direction sets.

Library time, for first grade and full day kindergarten classes, is 45 minutes with about 25 minutes being dedicated towards a lesson and 20 minutes for centers and checkout.  As part of the lesson, students are often given some sort of practice to complete.  Students complete the practice before moving on to the center work. With practice and time the transition from the lesson to the center work has really has become quite seamless, and students understand that the expectation is that they finish their lesson practice before they have release time to do the center work.  

While the center work, by design, is good practice, if kids don't finish, they understand that it's ok; the work they are doing in the center is more for enrichment and fun. 

Kindergarten Centers 

  • Computer - Kindergarten students are still really learning how to log into the computer.  Kids are practicing logging on and clicking on our Destiny link, which is on the desktops.  I created a Symbaloo, which I embedded on our Destiny home page, and students can choose a link from the bottom left hand corner. The kindergarten favorite is the Junie B. Jones link.  
  • Explore - Students can choose from a variety of winter themed books from a reserve crate to explore.  The crate includes picture books, poetry, drawing books, and an assortment of nonfiction.
  • Read - In this center, students have the opportunity to look at the books they checked out or choose a magazine from our collection to explore.  Favorite magazines are Ranger Rick, American Girl and Looney Tunes.
  • Retell - Students use small stuffed animals to retell the story that we read together for our lesson.
  • Words - I got this idea from Kathy Mansfield who shared the idea with me on my first blog post about centers and the kids love this center.  For Words this month, I bought some cheap flashlights from the dollar store and students use them with a Big Book.  When they see a word that they know from their sight words list, they shine their light on it and then write the word on a white board.  They are excited each week at the number of words that they know.  Check out the center directions.
Words - Big Books & Flashlights
  • Writing for writing this time around, kids are being asked to choose their favorite season and write it down.  I've been trying to encourage them to write more than one word about their season, and they also draw a picture. Be sure to check out the center directions.  Students use a Seasons word wall with pictures and words to help.

First Grade Centers

  • Computers - For computers in this round, I'm getting a little more directed with students and requiring them to practice shelving books using Mrs. Lodge's Library Shelve It game. In their center folders, I gave them directions that include picture steps of what they should click on.  I was a little worried the kids would have trouble figuring out the directions, which are with the center directions, but they have consistently figured things out with very little direction from me.
  • Explore - as with kindergarten, first graders are also exploring a variety of books with a winter theme.
  • Read- First graders also have the chance to read choice materials independently.  They have a choice between reading the book they check out or a magazine, and at times they will ask if they can read with a partner, and this ha been working out well too.
  • Retell - Students are retelling, with small stuffed animals, the story that they hear with the lesson.
  • Words - For the Words center, first graders are using the magnet words that the second graders are using with their centers. The center is based on the Boggle Words center found in the Library Centers Starter Kit by [Jessica Lodge], [Carolyn Vibbert] and [Carrie Young]. For this center, the directions are simplified so that they don't have to keep track of points, but they are having a lot of fun working with the dollar store cookie sheets and letter magnets. 
  • Writing- Similar to kindergarteners, first graders are using word walls to write winter themed stories.  The writing center is really starting to pick up for the first graders and they are writing stories that are multiple pages with dialogue and real problems.  At times they've even collaborated with each other on stories. I've been very impressed with their work, and often at the end of class, the kids are begging to share their stories with their class.
Writing & Word Walls
If you're using centers, what centers are the most loved in your library?  As I start planning for our next round, are there any that I should work into my rotation?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Teacher Tips January 7, 2014 - Intro to Augmented Reality, Genius Files, & Screencasts for Office 365

These were the tips I sent out to my faculty today. The Augmented Reality discussion is fairly specific to a display in our building, but may be useful in generating ideas for using Aurasma.  For the Office 365 screencasts, they will be part of a series of screencasts I do to help both teachers and students in my building learn how to work with features of our new Office 365 accounts.

Digital Citizenship  Gallery & Aurasma

During the first semester in the library, students in grades 3-5 worked very hard at exercising a number of skills through Project Based Learning.  They practiced research skills, persistence in the use of technology, and learned about many concepts that will hopefully help make them better digital citizens.  Students made videos using iPads & iMove or Puppet Pals and Flip cameras and Microsoft Movie Maker, they created posters and made presentations to the class that we recorded live. 

You can view the videos students made on the library website under each grade level and teacher’s name.  To view the poster presentations, you can catch the recordings by using the Aurasma app on your classroom iPad or on your personal device.  Download the app from your device’s app store. 

Once you have the app on your device, in order to view the presentations, do the following: 

  • Scan the Aurasma QR codes posted  on the instruction sheet near the different galleries of posters.  The QR code will automatically allow you to follow the private “channel” I created  for the presentations. 
  • Once you are following the channel, a series of “trigger images” - images of the posters, will appear in the channel.
  • Now, hold your device, with the app open in front of the poster, you may have to tilt it and vary the angle, until you see a purple swirl, hold the device steady and a video will begin playing.  Make sure your volume is on!

You only have to scan the QR code once to view all of the presentations.  

Aurasma in the Classroom

For teachers with iPads, you can use the Aurasma app to create auras—interactive content - for your students, or better yet, to have your students generate their own interactive content. 

Aurasma uses Augmented Reality—which makes use of technology to “augment” real world images and things. You can create augmented reality handouts that give students tips or directions for completing their work, or create augmented reality displays of student work with recordings of them giving an explanation of their own work.

To learn more about how it works, check out my longer blog entry on it [here]
In addition to the digital citizenship projects, In the library, we have successfully used Aurasma to generate book talks.  Students in 3-5 grades have picked up very quickly on the process to create an aura using the app. 

While the app is incredibly easy to use to generate content, you may want some help setting up your account and creating and sharing channels, as I have done.  Send me an email and we can set up a time to meet to go over ideas.

Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable

In Mission Unstoppable, the first book of the Genius Files series, Dan Gutman, intro­duces readers to soon to be 13 year old, twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald.
The twins’ father, a history professor, and mother, web­site author of “Amazing but True” or getting ready to take their children on a cross country tour of the United States.

But, before they can set foot in the RV, the twins find themselves facing assassi­nation by poisoned darts and cliff jumping to survive.

The book is not only filled with adventure and sus­pense, but also excellent historical references and allusions to famous Ameri­can locations, and some of the more idiosyncratic loca­tions you can visit around the US, including features like the giant ball of twine.

Check out the book trailer [here].  

And, follow Dan Gut­man on Twitter [here].

You can also find teacher resources at  the blog: Con­versation Pieces: Building Bright Ideas [here]. 

You also may want to check out Harper Collins excerpt with discussion questions [here].

Office 365—Screencast Tutorials—Logging on, Overview and Creating a Word Document

Our new Office 365 accounts give us access to many important web-based features like webmail, SkyDrive and web apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  Create, edit and share documents from your computer, tablet or smart phone.  

To learn how to log on to your Office 365 account and about the basic features click [here] for a screencast tutorial.

To learn about Office 365 and your digital footprint click [here].  This one is especially important to view and to eventually share with students, as it addresses some of the public features of Office 365.


To learn how to create and edit a Word document using the Microsoft Word Web App click [here].

The screencast tutorials are each around 4 minutes long.  
Currently, the tutorials are on YouTube, if you would like a school & student friendly video source, please let me know, and I will send you a different link.   

As always, if you have questions, let me know.  I’m happy to help!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Intro to Augmented Reality & Aurasma

Introductory Prezi

I first started playing around with Augmented Reality (AR) and the Aurasma app a few months ago, and have been totally blown away by the possibilities that the app and the Aurasma Studio offer for a classroom teacher or teacher librarian, like me.

The best way I can think of to describe Augmented Reality is that it's like a suped up QR code that combines a "trigger image," which is a static image, with an "overlay" of the creator's choice (I'm pretty sure someone else explained it in the exact same way, I just can't remember where I read it!). Trigger images can really be anything: a logo, a photo, a poster, a book cover, handout, etc). Overlays could really be anything - another image, an article, a video, a 3D component that brings the trigger to life.  When you hold a device that has the Aurasma app open over the "trigger image", the overlay automatically is called up and is in view, as long as you hold the device over the trigger image.  

To use Aurasma, you have to follow user created "Channels".  Auras are organized into the Channels, and when you follow a channel, you can see a preview of the the trigger images, so that you know what to look for to scan, so that you can view the content.  You can follow Aurasma's Popular Auras channel to test it out (look for a common trigger image and then Google the image), or you can see how it works below.

Give it a Try

  1. Download the Aurasma app from your device's app store
  2. The first time you open the app, you may have to set up an account, it's free to do.
  3. Using a QR Code reader like Kaywa, which can also be downloaded in your device's app store, scan the QR Code - this will open up the Aurasma app on your device and bring you to the heidinelt channel.
  4. If you have successfully scanned, a purple speech bubble should pop up that says that you have successfully followed the channel and it may take a few minutes to get the data.

  5. Once you are following the channel, you're ready to scan one of the trigger images.  To get ready, with the app open, press the center icon on the bottom of the screen that looks like photo corners.
  6. For this particular example, I created an aura to help students fill in a research sheet. Make sure your sound is on, and hold your device, with Aurasma open over the image below:

You may have to slowly tilt the device around a little to get the image to scan.  When you have successfully scanned, a purple swirl will appear, and then the overlay video will begin.  As long as you hold the device over the trigger image, the video will play.

Pretty slick, huh?

How I'm Using it

I've been using the Aurasma app, and recently the Aurasma studio in a number of ways in the library. 
  • Book talks- when students finish work they are allowed to write up a book talk and create their own using a recording station I've set up in the library.  Here's the book talk template kids are using. It's so easy, the kids are able to follow the directions and make book talks with very little direction from me.  I often have a student who has already made a book talk captain the station and help kids who need it.  I have a private channel for this since the students often record themselves.
  • Digital Citizenship Projects Students made posters and presented information about digital citizenship to the class.  I recorded their presentations using the iPad, then used the poster as the trigger image.  When we return from winter break, I'm going to hang the posters around the school, and visitors will be able to follow a private channel to view the presentations.

Trigger Images in the private channel
  • Handout help I'm working on a series of screencasts, like the one you saw above, to help give students tips to do research.  I'm not exactly sure how this is going to work out for the kids, so we're going to play around with it when school is back in session.

Getting Started

There are some very incredible Augmented Reality and Aursama resources that you can check out to help get you started.

Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Engage their Minds: Two More Fabulous Ways to Use Aurasma for Education - by Terri Eichholz was the first blog entry I read about Aurasma and really is what convinced me to give it a try. The example videos in this blog post are incredible, I really wanted to try out some of the techniques here.  It took me a while to get around to creating things, but once I did, I was hooked.
  • Two Guys and Some iPads - Brad Waid and Drew Minock there is a TON here.  You really need to spend some time clicking through the tabs to view their Augmented Reality info, AR Tutorials and Integration of AR for lots of ideas
  • Kleinspiration: Tons of Classroom Examples using Augmented Reality with @Aurasma - A Complete How-To Guide - Erin Klein really hits a home run with these resources.  I love her ideas for using it with books, and it really could be a huge motivator for kids to create their own.
  •  Adjusting Course - by Brad Gustafson includes some great resources and ideas.  For a teacher librarian, encouraging kids to participate in World Book Talk, might be the perfect way to start with AR.

Are you using Augmented Reality?  If so how?  I would love to see more examples! Be on the lookout for future how to posts.