January 29, 2016

Removing Background Noise When Recording on iPad

Hopefully we all have discovered the power of the audio recording feature on the iPad. This feature gives students’ the ability to reflect on what they’ve learned or explain how they reached an answer verbally. Many applications require this record feature. In my first grade classroom this has been game changing for students who have a hard time communicating their thoughts in written words. But, we have also all discovered the poor recording quality of the built in microphone if there is any type of background noise in the classroom. During playback, the background noise sounds just as loud as the person’s recorded voice. This can become frustrating for the student and their audience.
After trying different microphones and recording locations, our solution was simple; mini-recording studios. Our mini-recording studios are inexpensive storage stools from Target. As you can see in the picture, students place their iPad in the back of the storage stool. They then lay with their head in the mini-recording studio. This set-up helps prevent unwanted sounds and room chatter from ruining students’ recordings. You can still hear the background noise, but it is truly muffled and the recorded voice stands out more clearly. Egg-crate foam or acoustic foam can also be attached to the inside walls of the stool to increase the sound blocking effect.
There are many other advantage of these mini-recording studios. They provide privacy for students who are wary of recording in front of other people. We have heard much better audio “performances” from students who were once shy to record. Also, before using the mini-recording studios, students would seek a quiet place to record in the hall. This was challenging because for a short time these students were not under direct teacher supervision. Also, the hall would have unexpected noise occur as a student was recording. Now, because we already had several storage stools in the class many students can record IN the classroom at the same time. Students really feel professional having their own recording studio just like Justin Bieber.

March 8, 2015

A Digital Story Map

I tried my hand at a website called Smore. It is a website used to design online flyers. I thought it would be a great way for students to share their thinking and learning. I used it to make a story map of a first grade favorite, The Escape of Marvin the Ape. I would love to see how students could use this to present something they have learned in a content area, share a book response or to persuade. Smore works on a desktop computer or a tablet. It is web-based. The downfall is that free users only get 5 flyers with no renewal. Educators can get an account for $59 a year. This includes unlimited flyers.

April 9, 2014

Getting Ready to Write Leads for our Informational Essays

I have always thought teaching students how to write powerful leads for their personal narratives was easier than teaching them to write them for informational text. This year using the iPad camera transformed the quality of  the students' non-fiction leads. After a mini-lesson on the importance of hooking your reader with a great lead, the students and I headed for the library to search through mentor text for such leads. I provided them with questions to help them critique the leads they found. On the way out the door I had an idea. I asked the kids to grab an iPad. As students found leads they thought were good they took pictures of them. That night I loaded the pictures into Showbie and  shared the pictures of leads to all the students.The next day I did a mini-lesson on different types of leads that can be used for informational text.  In teams the students discussed the mentor text leads and using Notability to annotate the pictures by highlighting the lead and including a text box on the picture stating what type of lead they found. All this was worth it, the leads they wrote for their Personalized Learning Essays are amazing. Here are a few examples. These paragraph  include their leads and their focus statements or thesis.

Brooke: As the train rolls away you see the last of your home town. You smell the smoky air from the train. You snuggle close to your older sister and wonder if you will be split apart. What is happening? In the 1800s if you had no parents you would be sent on a train to find a new home. If you had a sibling you would often get spit up. When orphans rode the orphan trains some orphans had special ways to get adopted to a nice family.

Loyal: Cutler steps back, goes to the left,throws a long bomb to Marshall.The ball went so high  it could have hit a bird.TOUCHDOWN!  This is the 2014 Bears. The Chicago Bears are special for many reasons. The 1985 Bears team was special.  There have been many amazing players and the team holds many records.

Emily: Imagine you are a child sitting at home watching the twin towers going down in smoke and flames. You know your parent(s) went to work their in one of those buildings. You are praying and hoping you will see your parent again. You see people are running and crying trying to save their own lives. As scary as this may sound many children of 9-11 are having a good life now and still remember the parent(s) that they had lost on the day of September 11 2001.

Kiefer: In 2013 the fox river overflowed.Our third grade class went on a field trip. We could not go in the water,the lady in charge fell in the water because the current was so strong. There are many ways to keep your house from getting hit by a flood. Three ways are making barriers,building dams and planting trees.

Students know their leads are great!!! As the students were reading different Time For Kids articles, one student commented that our leads were better than the ones in the magazine. Awesome!

April 6, 2014

Getting Started With the Google Drive iPad App

This is a nice tutorial about how to use Google Documents on an iPad. There are some different ways to access the features you use on a desktop version. 

April 4, 2014

QR Codes Can Help with In Class Flipped Instruction or...... A New Spin on Centers

I had several Take It to Your Seat Folder Literacy Centers. They had been sitting around all year ready to go, but I had yet to teach the skills they are meant to review. Then one night I had a brilliant idea.  I decided to find videos that gave "mini-lessons" on each skill connected to each center and then create QR codes linking back to the video. I would clear tape the QR code to the front of each folder. Well, here is where this idea grew into something even better. Of course, as teachers, we have many responsibilities and I didn't get to my project as soon as I would have liked. Then I realized the students could help me out. I have some students that are really fast learners with technology.  I set them off looking for instructional videos related to the center skills. I told the students they needed to watch 3 videos and pick the best one for that skill. I gave them a quick lesson in making QR codes and off they went. They did a fabulous job. The QR codes  for each center were ready in 45 minutes.This would have taken me days!!! Now  students will be able to take the center and an iPad to their seat and have a "mini-lesson" and an opportunity to practice the skill. They will turn in work from the Take It to Your Seat folder and turn it in as a formative assessment. In every folder I have a review sheet and the rest of the students will be letting me know if the video  connected to that learning center was a good tool for their learning.  If they felt there was a better video available, they would let me know. Talk about students being in charge of their own learning!!!!!!!!!  You can check out these links for instructional videos: Learnzillion,  WatchKnowLearn,  BrainPop,  YouTubeTeacher Tube .   You can also make your own screen-cast. screencast-o-matic or Videolicious