Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Creating Videos on the Chromebook

An important part of Writing Workshop is for the students to see themselves as writers; therefore, it is important for the students to publish their writing in a meaningful way.  My first grade students wrote their first book, and we celebrated their writing by creating a video on the Chromebook.

The video captured the students as authors reading their published book.  The students used the video recorder on 123apps.  123apps is free and allows students to download their recorded video to Google Drive.  I assigned the link to the video recorder through Google Classroom. 

The students loved everything about this assignment.  They felt like real authors because they were creating a video about a book they wrote.  As you can see from the videos below, student personalities emerged when they were creating the videos.

When students start to record the video, the program asks for permission to allow access to the camera and microphone.  Students have to choose the green allow button for the video recorder to work properly.  Some of the students had trouble with hearing the sound when they watched the video. After troubleshooting the problem, I realized that they did not grant access for the microphone.  Make sure the students complete this step carefully, or the video recorder will not work properly. 

Before recording their published writing, allow the students to make a test video.  This allows the students to check the volume level and make sure that everything is working properly before they put all of their effort into recording the perfect video.  We learned that students can talk in a quiet voice while recording and turn the volume up with their headphones on when they watch the video.

When students are finished recording, ask them to watch their video to make sure it is just how they like it.  They can always record it again if needed.  Sometimes it takes the video recorder a long time to process while it is saving the video, especially if the video is long.  The students need to be patient because it will finish processing eventually.

Once the students are happy with their video, they can push the green save button and select Google Drive to download the video.  When the video is safely stored in their Google Drive, I ask the students to share their video with a partner.  

Please note that 123apps is a free website and contains ads.  One of the ads was for a dating site that used an image of a woman that was not appropriate for school.  The instructional technologist on our campus installed an ad blocker on the student computers so the students could not see the ads when using the video recorder.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!  This is a classic example of taking a project that you are already teaching in the classroom and adding a component of technology into the lesson.  For Mother's Day, my students always write an acrostic poem for their mothers as a present.  We use the following template below:

Usually, the students write their poem in their best handwriting on the template above.  I take a nice picture of each student outside, and they glue everything on a large piece of colored construction paper and add decorations with markers.  

This year, the students wrote a rough draft using the template above.  I assigned a blank Google Drawings Document through Google Classroom and allowed the students to design their poem however they wanted.  See an example of their work below:

I assigned the Google Drawing as a landscape document.  Some of the students struggled with fitting the whole poem on the page.  Next year, I will assign the project as a portrait so that the students have more room.  Even if the student did not fit the poem on the page, their project still turned out great.  I think it added a special artistic touch.  

For the finished gift, I asked the students to glue their poem along with their picture on a large sheet of colored construction paper and decorate the paper with markers.  Yes, I could have allowed the students to insert the picture into the Google Drawings Project and kept the project completely digital.  However, I wanted to allow the students to showcase their drawings which added a personal touch.  I hope this gift becomes a treasured keepsake for the mothers.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

HyperDocs in the Elementary Classroom

Happy Earth Day!  This week my class explored how to reduce, reuse, and recycle through a HyperDoc created in Google Slides.  The document contained links that took the students to different YouTube videos that explained about reducing, reusing, and recycling.  After viewing the videos, the students returned to the HyperDoc to display what they learned and explain the topic to others.  Here is the blank HyperDoc assigned to the students.

What is a HyperDoc?
A HyperDoc is a document that contains links for the students to access information to learn more about a topic.  The HyperDoc also contains a space in which the students can interact with the information and display their learning.  HyperDocs can be created using any program in which a link can be inserted; therefore, Google Docs, Google Drawings, Google Slides, and Google Sheets are great resources to create HyperDocs.

Lesson Learned from Using HyperDocs
Not every lesson that I share with the students work as planned.  I copied the links used in the HyprDoc from the share tab on YouTube.  All of the links worked on my computer, but when the students tried the links on their own, they were not able to access the videos.  Something was blocking the videos.  I decided to show the first video whole group while I investigated the problem.

After problem solving with the Digital Learning Coach on campus, we changed the links in the HyperDoc to match the links in the Omnibox (address bar).  Thank you @richesonemily for your help.  I learned the lesson to always check your links under a student login before assigning the project to the students.

Benefits of Using HyperDocs in the Classroom
First, using HyperDocs increases student engagement.  Students enjoy watching the YouTube videos about various topics.  From the moment we started the HyperDoc project, the students were glued to their Chromebooks learning and sharing the information that they learned.

HyperDocs also allows students to work at their own pace.  We all know that students work at different speeds.  When a student completes one page, they are able to move onto the next page and watch the next video without waiting for the rest of the class.  Students can also watch the video again if they need to see the information more than once.  

Students are working independently.  All of the information that they need is in the HyperDoc.  Therefore, students are able to collect the information on their own and share what they learn through the project.

Overall, the students did a great job learning about ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Check out the completed project below.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Storytelling with Osmo Monster

Osmo Monster is a perfect example of combining creativity and technology.  My students absolutely love storytelling with Monster on the Osmo Gaming System.  In fact, they constantly ask when we are going to work with Monster again in the classroom.

Osmo Monster is simple for the students to use.  Mo the Monster leads the students while he tells a story.  He asks the students to draw pictures, and he magically pulls their drawings onto the screen.  The students love working together with Mo to tell a story.

Students work collaboratively in partners while working on Osmo Monster.  Osmo suggests using a special draw erase board or blank paper.  We did not have access to clean dry erase boards, so our class used blank paper.  At first, I was concerned about how much paper the students were using.  Only one picture is drawn per paper; therefore, we were going through a lot of paper even when the students drew on both sides.  We finally decided to cut the paper in half.  A half sheet of paper was big enough for the students' drawings, but allowed us to save paper.  Thank you @RichesonEmily for the suggestion.

I love watching the students work together.  Some students chose to take turns drawing the pictures while other students actually drew the pictures together.  One group even asked if they could color their pictures, and sure enough, their drawings came to life on the screen in color.  The next thing you knew, everyone had their crayons out so that they could color the picture too.

To use Osmo Monster, you only need the Osmo Game System.  The Osmo Game System includes the base that the iPad sits in as well as the red reflector piece that attaches to the top of the iPad.  The Osmo Game System sells for $19, making it a very affordable option for the classroom.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

10 Makerspace Tips for the Elementary Classroom

This year, my first grade class started creating projects in Makerspace to display their thinking about a topic.  Here are some tips for incorporating Makerspace into the elementary classroom.

Students create a slushy machine for their house. 

1. It Is All About the Conversations, Not the Product
Sometimes you look at a student's project and think, what is that?  However, when you ask the students about their project, all of a sudden, what you are looking at makes sense.  The students are able to explain the process that they used to create the project and their thinking behind the project.  This is the goal of Makerspace: students working together to make a creation to display their thinking.

2. Planning Is Important
I like to give my students time to think about their task before they start building their creation in Makerspace.  Planning can be completed on a sheet of paper or a computer.  In my classroom, students work collaboratively to make plans in Google Drawings.  It is amazing to see how much their finish product resembles their plan.

3. Utilize a Parent Volunteer to Help with the Hot Glue Gun and Sharp Scissors
Have you ever tried to glue anything to a tin can or cut the top off a plastic milk jug?  Asking a parent to help with the hot glue gun and sharp scissors may sound silly, but theses tasks are important when working with young students in Makerspace.  Allowing a volunteer to help with these tasks frees the teacher to roam around the room and have those meaningful conversations with students about what they are thinking as they create their projects.

4.  Students Need to Try Before They Ask for Help
Some students become dependent on the teacher or parent volunteer to complete simple tasks.  Therefore, our class has incorporated the rule that students need to try first before asking the volunteer (or anyone) for help.  This helps the students develop independence and increase problem solving skills.

5. Have Something for Students to Complete When They Finish
I've learned this one the hard way, twice.  I have been deep in conversation with students about their creation.  All of a sudden, I look up and a lot of the students in the room are in mass chaos.  Students are finished with their creation and roaming around the bothering other students and hindering progress.  Students need an assignment when they finish their Makerspace project.  Some ideas are writing about their creation, making an advertisement for their creation, or explaining the process they used to make their creation with a storyboard.

6. Be Prepared to Be Messy and Allow Time for Clean Up
Creating projects in Makerspace is messy.  It seems that all of the materials available to the students either end up on the tables or on the floor.  However, it is the students' responsibility to clean up.  Make sure to plan 10 to 15 minutes for clean up.

7. Reserve Time for Plussing and Revision
Plussing is an opportunity for students to receive feedback about their creation.  In our classroom, we complete plussing as a whole group but other teachers do this activity in small groups.  Students bring their project to the group, and students tell the creator something that they like about the project and something that they wish the creator would improve.  It is important for students to hear the constructive criticism and use these ideas to make their project better.  After plussing, students are given 20 minutes to revise their project.  They are required to pick one idea that they received during plussing to improve their creation during revision.

This is a rechargeable light bulb for when the electricity goes out.  Before plussing, the students held the light bulb upside down.  During revision, the students made a stand for the light bulb so that it could hang upside down on its own. 

8.  Students Will Use What You Have to Create Their Projects

When collecting items for Makerspace, I was worried about having the "right stuff" for the students to create their projects.  However, I learned that students have an idea in their head, and they will use the items around them to make their creation.  Students do not mind using the box with Amazon Prime tape across the front.  They will adapt and use what is available to them.

9. Teach Students to Only Use What They Need
Sometimes the students' eyes get too big for the task that they need to accomplish.  They will always want to pick the biggest box and the coolest design items.  However, it is important to remind students to use only what is important to their project.  I also teach students to return any pieces that they do not use so that others can use them in their project.  Makerspace is all about reusing and recycling.

10.  Makerspace Looks Different in Every Classroom
Right now, there are three first grade teachers piloting Makerspace in our school.  Makerspace looks different in all three classrooms.  Therefore, it is important to customize Makerspace for your classroom.  Jump in and see what works for you.

Thank you to Amber Dixon and Teresa Jay for going on the Makerspace journey with me.  They have spent countless hours reflecting and revising the Makerspace process with me for our classrooms.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Working Collaboratively with Google Drawings

This week the students were asked to identify a problem and create an invention to solve the problem.  The students worked collaboratively in partners to make a plan for their invention in Google Drawings.

The students worked on the same Google Drawings document.  They were excited to see how when they changed something on their screen, it also changed on their partner's screen.  This was a great way for the students to share their knowledge of using the Chromebooks with others.

A few of the groups struggled with working on the same document.  It was important for both students to agree on the same vision for their invention before they started working together on the collaborative document.  When some of the students became frustrated with their partner, we took a quick break from the project and had a conversation about respecting one another's work.

Each group was assigned a blank Google Drawings document in Google Classroom.  I had ten different groups; therefore, I had ten different assignments.  I used the differentiation feature in Google Classroom to assign partners to the same assignment.  When the Google Drawings document was attached, I choose the option for students to edit the file so that both of the students could work on the same document. 

The plan created by the students was going to be used the next day to build the invention in Makerspace.  It is amazing to see how some of the students followed the plan to build their invention.  Below are a few of the plans with the finished product.  The first invention is a snow machine (to be used in the summer of course), and the second invention is a toy for a child who does not have any toys. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Collaborative Learning with Osmo on the iPad

My teaching goal this year is to increase collaboration among students by using technology.  The Osmo Gaming System is the perfect solution to help me reach this goal.  Students work in partners during math workshop and reading workstations.  The students love working together on the Osmo.

Here is the story that made me fall in love with the Osmo Gaming System.  On the day before Christmas break when half of the class had already left, I decided to test Osmo with a few of the students.  I paired up two boys to play Osmo Words.  These two boys are often rough and difficult to get along with, but there were not many students left in the classroom.  To my amazement, they started working together building words based on the picture clues, and believe it or not, they actually got along and worked well together.  In my experience with Osmo, I have found that even the most challenging students work well together because they are challenged and actively engaged.

I use three of the Osmo Gaming Systems for collaborative learning during workstation time.  During math workshop, I switch between Osmo Numbers and Osmo Coding.  For reading workstations, my students work together to practice their spelling words with Osmo Words.  Below are descriptions of each game.

Osmo Numbers asks students to combine numbers in order to reach a target number (see picture above).  There are dot tiles (up to 5) and number tiles (1-9).  Osmo Numbers is perfect for collaboration between partners because each partner has a their own set of numbers; therefore, if the students want to make 10 using a double, they both have to use their own 5 tile.

Osmo Coding is a favorite among students because it is presented like a video game.  Students use tiles to write code for Awbie, a marshmallow looking character who loves to eat strawberries.  After students create the code for Awbie to complete a task, they push play to see if their directions were correct.  If there is a mistake in the code, students have to rethink and rewrite their code which promotes problem solving.

Osmo Words is similar to hangman but with picture clues.  Each student has a set of letter tiles from A to Z.  A picture is displayed on the screen with blanks representing each letter in the word.  Students have a given number of guesses until the game is over.  What I love about Osmo Numbers is that the picture clues are not obvious.  For example, there might be a picture of an adorable puppy, but the missing word is four letters long (cute).  The students have to problem solve together to figure out the word.

It is very easy to create your own word albums on MyOsmo, and there are a lot of already pre-made word albums for you to choose from.  I create my own word albums for the students to practice their spelling words.

Some of the game sets have a lot of pieces, and the game pieces are easily lost.  I have trained my students to clean up the pieces with caution, checking the floor and desks to make sure that they have put all of the pieces away.  There have been numerous times when I have found a missing tile on the floor.

The good news is Osmo will replace missing tiles according to their website.  I have not tried to replace any tiles yet, but it gives me an added piece of mind when the students use the Osmo Gaming System in the classroom.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Practical Application of Google Classroom

I love using Google Classroom as a platform for my students to access their assignments.  It is quick to set up and easy for students to use.  Here is an example of a lesson in which I use a digital worksheet and assign it through Google Classroom.

Our topic in math focused on the relationships between coins.  The lesson started with a YouTube video reviewing the value and relationships of different coins.  After the video, the students completed the digital worksheet below.  All components of the lesson were assigned to the students using Google Classroom.

This digital worksheet was created using Google Drawings.  On the left, the images of coins are piled up on top of one another.  The student drags the equivalent amount of coins to each box.  Below is the original worksheet in which students drew pennies, nickels, and dimes to show equivalent amounts that inspired the creation of the digital worksheet above.  

Here are the steps I used for creating the lesson in Google Classroom.  Make sure that you assign the components of the lesson in the order that you want the students to complete the activities.  

First, I assigned the YouTube video with the insert video link.  Then, I assigned the coin sorter activity from Google Drive.  Make sure to pick the option Make a copy for each student.  This will assign each student's name to a different file and allow students to work independently on their own document.  

When students have completed the assignment, they have the option to Turn It In.  This feature alerts the teacher that the student has completed their assignment, and gives the teacher access to the finished product to assign a grade if desired.  

Below is the coin sorter activity completed by a student.  A big thank you to Emily Turner for creating the digital worksheet used in this lesson.  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Makerspace in First Grade

After exploring landforms with Google Streetview, the next step of our exploration was to create a project using Makerspace to show the connection between how a person lives and their environment.

Makerspace is an opportunity for students to create something to display their understanding of a topic.  Students work together in partners or groups to create a Make, and after listening to the feedback of their peers, the students are given a chance to revise their creation.  The purpose of Maskerspace is to foster collaboration among students and promote higher level thinking.

Students were allowed to pick their own partners (with my approval of course) for this project.  Then they drew a card that displayed a landform and a component of human life (shelter, food, clothing, and activities).  Below is an example of one of the cards for the project.  Click here for the complete set.

Students were allowed to use anything and everything to create their project.  For the past few weeks, we asked our parents to collect recyclable items such as small boxes, toilet paper rolls, tin cans, etc. as well as craft items such as yarn, ribbon, pieces of fabric, craft sticks, and the list goes on.  This gave parents the perfect opportunity to clean out their closets.  Click here to see a more comprehensive list of suggested items for Makerspace.

The materials needed for Makerspace are stored on a cart in the hallway.  Students are allowed to go to the cart during the Make to get the items that they need for their project.  Craft items are spread out on my teacher table for student use.  Students are encouraged to use only what they need and return the rest for someone else to use for their project.

The outcome of Makerspace is not the project that the students create; it is the conversations that students have during the making of their creation.  For this project, students not only have to be able to know what landform they are creating, but they have to connect the landform to a certain aspect of human life.  They have to work together to display their thinking about this topic.  See below the project about a person fishing in the ocean.  Would someone be able to do the same activity in the desert?

I am still discovering how Makerspace and technology fit together.  Makerspace works best when students work together to create a project.  When students work together, more ideas are shared and the product of their collaboration is improved.  We know that we want our students to learn to work collaboratively together in order to prepare them for the workplace, especially STEM jobs.  Makerspace offers a place for students to use their creativity to solve problems.  Perhaps Makerspace is a beginning playground to prepare our students for the real world.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Exploring Landforms with Google Street View

Today my students went swimming with turtles in the ocean, running with zebras on the plains, walking with camels in the desert, hiking with llamas in the mountains, and exploring with penguins on the polar ice caps.  My students went to all of these places in our classroom using technology on the Chromebook.

My students enjoy any type of project on the Chromebook, but they absolutely loved exploring different types of landforms with Google Street View.  The room was full of excitement as the students looked for examples of shelter, food, and clothing at different places around the world.  The students were eager to share what they found with their friends, and they made many connections on how a human's environment affects the way they live.

I created a Hyperdoc for the lesson (see below) and assigned it to the students in Google Classroom.  Each landform is numbered and labeled with a picture so that the students can easily follow along with the lesson.  Next to the landform is a link to Google Street View where the students can explore the landform in a virtual environment.  When students are done exploring, there is an empty box available for the students to respond to their virtual experience and write notes about what they encountered.  

One thing to be careful about when using Google Street View is that some links have trouble loading.  I knew this might be a problem because the page did not always load correctly when I was exploring Google Street View.  It is obvious when the page does not load correctly because there is a black screen.  Therefore, I taught the students that if the link did not load, they needed to close their tab and try again.  This required a lot of patience for the students because they were eager to explore each new landform.

If my class had access to Chromebooks everyday, I would break this lesson down into exploring one landform each day.  Sometimes all of the elements that the students were looking for (shelter, food, and clothing) were not in the given link that I assigned.  For the lesson, I would explore the assigned link for the landform together, and then give the students time to explore other destinations of the same landform in order to find more elements on how humans lives are different based on their environment.

After our virtual landform exploration, each student choose a landform and wrote about it in a collaborative Google Slide.  Check out our class eBook about landforms.  You can learn more about collaborative Google Slides here.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Creating Books with Google Slides

Today the students created their own book in Google Slides.  Each slide was a separate page in their book.  We researched information about groundhogs all week long, and this was a great opportunity for the students to share the information they learned.

I assigned each student a Google Slide Presentation with four blank slides through Google Classroom.  I only assigned four slides because I didn't want the students to become overwhelmed, and if a student needed more pages, it was the perfect opportunity to teach them how to insert a slide into their presentation.

The students were excited to make their own book.  The first slide was the title page.  The rest of the slides contained information about what they had learned about groundhogs.

It seems that there were two type of books that emerged from this project based on the type of background the student picked.  When inserting a background into Google Slides, you have the option to pick a solid color or insert an image.  (Please note: There is a background button on the toolbar in Google Slides.  This makes inserting a background very easy for the students because it eliminates the need to right click.)

When students choose a solid color background, they had to insert more images and add more details to make the page look complete.  However, when the students inserted an image as the background, the presentation looked more professional (in my opinion) and the student only had to add the words.  Check out the two slides below.  Perhaps less is better when it comes to professional design. 

Here are the links to the completed Groundhog books: solid color background and images as background.  Overall, the students did an awesome job, and I am very proud of their work.  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Chatting with Students on Google Slides (Using the Comment Feature)

Chatting with students is the most fun that I have had with a Chromebook project so far.  My students are working independently now, so I have the opportunity to sit back and give them feedback.  Through this activity, I really saw some of their personalities come out.

Google Slides does not really have a chat feature, but the program does allow you to comment on a student's slide, and the student can send a comment back to you.  This is a great opportunity to give positive feedback to the students as well as offer suggestions for improvement.  The students loved it when I sent them a message and were eager to reply back to me.  

The students would tell me when they sent me a message back.  Usually it would be a thank you or an ok like the picture above.  I would read these messages and move on without an reply; however, my students were disappointed when there was not a reply to their simple message.  Therefore, if Google is reading my post, I think it would be a good idea to add a like feature to the comment box so that a student's comment can be acknowledged easily.  This would make many of my students very happy.  Until then, it is best to acknowledge all of the students' messages with a simple reply or they will continue pestering you until you do.

I also liked to drop a few inside jokes in the comments for the students to enjoy (even though the students often didn't get my humor).  One of the students always used speech call-outs in her projects.  I was very surprised that she didn't use one in her project about the groundhog.  I nicely made the suggestion, and she revised her work.

Commenting with students works best with Google Slides.  Everyone is working on the same presentation, and it is easy to move back and forth between all of the students.  The commenting feature also works in Google Drawings, but it is hard to maintain because you have to open up each student's project individually.  I probably had a least 15 tabs opened at once, and my computer froze.

My next step in using the comment feature in Google Slides is to have students look at a completed presentation and give each other positive feedback through comments.  I think the students will enjoy chatting with each other, but I will have to closely monitor the conversations to make sure that they are treating each other with respect.  I will update you on how the it goes after I have the opportunity to test it out.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Using Google Slides to Publish Student Work

I really enjoy using Google Slides with students to publish their work and make class books.  It is nice to have all of the students working on one project together, and there is only one file that contains all of the students' work.  You can also watch the students work from your computer and give students feedback as needed.  Click here to see a class book that my students made about weather.

Working in Google Slides is a lot like working in Google Drawings.  Both programs have the same toolbar and share a lot of the same features.  Google Drawings is a great program to use to train your students on the features of Google because they are working on their own individual projects.  Click here to see a previous post in which I describe the steps that I take in training my students to use Google Drawings.  Once students are proficient with Google Drawings, they are ready to work collaboratively in Google Slides.

When your students begin working on a Google Slide presentation, it is important to assign them a number so they know which slide to begin working on.  The students in my class  are already assigned class numbers, and they know they start working on the slide that corresponds to their number.  There are a few exceptions.  Number 1 and number 2 are assigned different slide numbers because there is a title page and example page at the beginning of the presentation.

The first thing that students need to do when they find their slide is to type their name on the slide immediately.  Once the student types their name, they know that they are now working on the slide with their name on it, and the slide number no longer matters.  This is important when slides are accidentally deleted and the slide numbers change.  

While students are working, it is very important for them to stay on their own slide.  This is not the time for students to be messing with other student's work and changing things on someone else's slide.  My class knows that if they are working on someone else's slide beside their own, they will loose their Chromebook privileges for the day.

I do think that when students are more advanced and mature in their knowledge of technology, there will be great advantages in students working together on the same slides and helping each other.  However, while students are still in the early stages of learning about Google Slides, I think it is best for them to stay on their own slide for now.

With that being said, there are a few ways to monitor students and catch students who are being sneaky and changing things on someone else's slide.  I suggest teaching your students these collaborative features of Google so that they are aware if someone else is working on their slide, and they can help you monitor students who might be off task.

At the top of Google Slides, you can see who is working in the presentation.  If you click on a person's icon, it will immediately take you to where the person is working in the presentation.  This is a quick way to monitor if a person is working in the right place.

You can also move your mouse over the slides on the left side of the screen.  The slide will show who is currently working on that slide.  If there is only supposed to be one person working on each slide, then there should only be one icon on each slide.
The students really enjoy working together in Google Slides.  They also enjoy reading the other students' pages.  I usually print out the slides and put them in a binder for students to read in the classroom.  You can also assign the finished presentation as view only in Google Classroom if you want the students to view the presentation electronically without being able to change any of the presentation.  

I would love to see what you are doing in your classroom.  Please share any projects that you have created with your students using Google Slides. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Google Slide Project

When I started this blog, I promised to share the good things that happen when teaching with technology as well as the bad.  Here is a chance for me to share a lesson that went horribly wrong.  Luckily, my mistakes will help you teach your collaborative learning lessons better.

Last week, we completed our first collaborative Google Slide Presentation making a class book entitled Snowman Building.  Each student created a snowman and wrote at least 3 sentences about their snowman.  The students started with a slide that looked like this:

The Google Slide Presentation was assigned using Google Classroom.  This time, instead of making a copy of the presentation for each student, each student was allowed to edit the same presentation.  Therefore, all of the students were working on one Google Slide Presentation at the same time.

The students in my classroom are assigned numbers.  I told the students to work on the slide that corresponded with their number.  The only exception to this rule were numbers 1 and 2.  I assigned these students numbers at the end of the presentation because slide one was the title page and slide two was the page that I used to model the project.

Once everyone had found their slide, they were allowed to move the different shapes around to build their snowman.  The students were given strict instructions to only work on their slide.  Once their snowman was built, the students were supposed to delete the snowman parts they did not use.  This is where the problems started.

If a student did not select an item correctly when they were deleting the snowman parts, they would delete the entire slide.  This would cause a panic in the classroom because not only did a student loose their work but all of the slide numbers changed; therefore, some of the students were no longer working on the slide number that they were assigned.  The deleted slide can be easily fixed with an undo as long as you can figure out who deleted the slide.  However, once a slide is deleted, it is best to have all students stop working until you can fix the problem.

The instructional technologist on my campus completed this same project with another first grade teacher's class.  Her solution for recovering a deleted slide was to have all of the students stop and press undo (control + z).  The missing slide would reappear, and it saved her from having to find the student who deleted the slide.  Thanks @RichesonEmily for this quick tip.

Another thing I would do differently to help ease student panic when a slide is deleted is for each student to type their name on their slide as soon as they start working.  With their name on the slide, the student is no longer depending on the slide number to identify their slide.  I would only use the slide number as a tool to help each student know which slide to begin working on.

Another problem that arose was a mischievous student who thought it would be funny to change another student's work.  At first, I heard some students complaining that things were happening on their slide that they did not do.  It is hard to catch a student who is being sneaky by just walking around the room.  Luckily, Google has built in ways in which you can see where other collaborators in the document are working and what they are doing.  Here are some tips on how to monitor your students in Google Slides:

1.  At the top of each page, there is a list of who is working in the presentation.  When you select a collaborator, it takes you to the place in the document where the person is working.  Therefore, you can quickly see if the student is working in the right place.

2.  You can also move your mouse over the slides to see who is working on what slide.  In the image below, you can quickly see that Student H is working on slide 5.  It sticks out like a sore thumb if more than one student is working on the same slide.

Even though this lesson caused a lot of frustration for me, it still turned out to be a very positive lesson.  Not only did the students learn something new, but I also learned a lot of things about working collaboratively on the same Google Slide Presentation together.  I hope you can benefit from my mistakes.  Here is a finished slide completed by a student:

Click here to see the completed class book.

*I would like to give credit to whoever created the original snowman presentation, but I cannot find the source on the internet.  I will continue to look and update this post when I find it.*

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Creating a Project with Google Drawings

Google Drawings is my favorite program to use for students to create projects because the possibilities are endless.  Basically anything that you create with a blank sheet of paper, can be created using Google Drawings.  Here are the steps that I give students when creating a project with Google Drawings:

These directions do not happen overnight.  I teach each direction as a different project until the students become more familiar with the program.  The idea behind teaching with technology is not to invent new lessons, but to incorporate technology into lessons that you are already teaching.  Remember, add a little at a time and build on the last piece of technology taught.

I introduce Google Drawings with a blank graphic organizer like this one.  This is a great opportunity to teach the students to double click on the shapes and practice typing.  I even teach students how to change the font and font color when they are ready.

Next, I teach students how to insert an image.  I use a lesson about schema in which students insert images to show their interests.  Inserting an image is easy in Google Drawings because you can search for images within the program.  When inserting images, it is important for students to spell the words correctly during their image search.

On another project, I focus my lesson on inserting shapes and typing sentences.  Google is flexible and allows you to type directly into a shape.  Here is an example of a student project when the class was working on adding text.

The last step is to teach the students how to add a background.  There are two ways in which students can add a background.  To add a single color background, right click anywhere on the page.  On the right click menu, choose the background option.  From there, a variety of solid colors will be available.  When you choose a color, the color will cover the entire canvas.

Students can also insert any image and enlarge the image to fit the whole page as a background.  This is a great way for students to illustrate the setting of a story.  I tell students to do this step first because of layering.  When students insert the background last, they panic because the background covers up all of their work.  Of course this can be fixed by sending the image to the back, but the whole catastrophe can be avoided if the students insert the background first.    

Remember, when you teach lessons with technology, you add technology into lessons that you are already teaching.  I take paper projects that the students have completed in previous years, and restructure the same projects utilizing Google Drawings.  What are some projects that your students can create using Google Drawings?