Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fantasy Learning Models

Whew! That was fun! We just wrapped up our absolutely amazing Fantasy Unit of Study in Reader's Workshop! The kids learned and grew so much as readers. Kate and I are SO proud of their efforts, discussions, and excitement!

Now that we are done, it is time to assess their understanding. While we have our pre and post assessments and Fantasy Packet Rubric, we still want to give our students ownership over their learning. As we have mentioned in other blogposts, we LOVE using "Learning Models" to assess our student learning. We find them to be more authentic, our students love them because they are in charge, and they really raise the depth of knowledge levels!

Here is our Fantasy Learning Model:
Click image to be taken to our TpT store!

This time around, we really wanted to explore some new tools! Our students are kind of "done" with Google Presentations. They have done SO many in their 2 years with us. We are always looking to "mix it up". They love to help with this, too! One of our very "with it" students, introduced us to:
Click to go to the emaze site!

Now, prepared to be "emazed" :) This tool is so cool! It is a great new way for students to present their information. They love the options and the 3-D effects that they offer! There is a paid component to this for educators that we will be exploring next year. Being so late into the year, we are testing it out using the "free version" for now! We had so much fun learning how to use it. We decided to complete our "mentor learning model" using it, too!
Click to go to our "Emazing" example!

As is typical in our environment, lots of kids chose to use this new tool once it was introduced. But we still had a few that chose to go with other options (one even chose to CODE his learning model using Khan Academy! #mindblown!!!)

Here are a couple of fun examples for you to check out!

STUDENT #1 (Prezi link)
STUDENT #2 (Emaze link)
STUDENT #3 (Emaze link)

Like I said, we couldn't be prouder of their work! We even had a few groups that chose to continue on with their series outside of our Reader's Workshop block (wowsers!). Up next?-Historical Fiction! We have a fun spin on how to run these book clubs, so please check back soon to read all about it!

What fun tech tools have you used for student work? Do you know of other fun presentation tools? Feel free to sound off below! We would love to grow and learn with you!

Happy Teaching,

~Angela :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Technology Thursday Link Up-Weebly

Link Up Party Hosted By Teaching Trio
Okay, friends, this is our first attempt at a "link up party"! We recently found the Teaching Trio blog (linked above), and were excited due to the multiple teacher view points they provide! They offer a weekly "link up party", so we decided to try it out and see how this goes!!

For our Technology Thursday Link Up, we wanted to share more about Weebly For Education. We've blogged about this amazing tool before HERE, but it is so awesome, it is definitely worth sharing again!

So, why this tool??--It is great for anything that requires a website or a house/hub for information. The number one way we use it, is for our student's digital portfolios! Last year, we utilized Google Sites for our digital portfolios, and we found the tool to be clumsy and definitely no where near as user-friendly as other Google Tools! When we looped up to 5th grade with these amazing kiddos, we were on the hunt for a better resource!

Enter...WEEBLY for Education! Our students have a page for each subject area, as well as an "All About Me" page. Each page houses artifacts and reflections that they feel demonstrate proficiency in different standards. They also keep track of the weekly goals, actions steps, and reflections in a blog-style posting under their "All About Me" tab! 

Besides the digital portfolio use, there are many reasons we absolutely LOVE this tech tool. Here are just a few:

  • It is so incredibly user-friendly! Everything is "drag and drop", which makes it really manageable for kids!
  • It is extremely easy to personalize each page. The kids love messing with the hundreds of themes, fonts, styles, etc.
  • You can control your class sites! Which gives you easy access to each one (super beneficial for us with a class of 53!), rather than hunting or trying to find links you saved.
  • It can be password protected
  • It can be free (although, we paid the extra money for the upgraded version and found it to be completely worth it!)
Another way that we utilize this great resource is as a "hub" for information for our students. We can make as many different sites as we want! This makes it really easy to update or change them in a unit of study! Here are a few that we have made for various inquiry units:

Age of Exploration Weebly Site: We used this as our main hub for our social studies unit on early explorers! We were able to update resources as kids found them, they had tools at their fingertips (docs we created), and more! We "married" reading (nonfiction), writing (informational text) and social studies for this great unit!

Genius Hour Weebly Site: Like many other personalized learning environments, we also have "Genius Hour" every week, where our students explore topics of their choosing and interest (see link to previous blogpost). It is one of my favorite times of the week! They get SO excited about the different things they are learning about, from interior design to robotics and everything in between! We also try to connect our learners to members of the community that work in the field or have expertise on their topic! Truly magical learning! This site helped launch and give ideas for our kids (and parents!) 

Next year, we plan on using Weebly for Education for our classroom site, as well! We had to keep our classroom Google site this year, since we looped with our class and our families were already familiar with our old one! The ease of Weebly makes it easy to switch!

Hope this helps you on your own "site-building" journey!

Happy Teaching,