Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Favorite Digital Storytelling App


Digital storytelling is becoming quite popular in my classroom with my favorite app that I use in all subject areas. I love using the "Write About This" app for reluctant writers who struggle with getting started with writing. Last week, I introduced the math stations using student iPads. The students played their game in their station for that day. They were to take a picture of the math game after they finished playing it and write anything they could tell me about that game. Then they recorded their voice from the writing they had done and shared their movie with me via email. This app also helps with fluency and vocabulary recognition of certain words we study in math, science or language arts. As the year goes on, students can create their own stories and write about them. Here are some student samples from that math lesson. 










Monday, September 2, 2013

Oh What Have I Done?

My first week of school is under my belt and I have to say that it was a bit challenging with no desks and no chairs that I started to think to myself, "what have I done?" Like any other new tool, schedule, rule or even an increase in student enrollment, trying new and innovative ideas can be a challenge with younger students. This year when I returned from ISTE 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, I was surrounded by greatness, educators who ignited my passion for teaching, sharing their ideas, success stories and so much more in a 21st century world! So when I returned to Midlothian Texas the end of June, I decided to take on the biggest challenge I would ever take in my 23 years of educating children....no desks and no chairs in a 2nd grade classroom!! You see, I am a 1:1 ipad classroom so the inspiration behind such a classroom came from a blog post that I had read this summer. Erin Klein, who I met this year at ISTE 2013, had designed her classroom to have no desks and no chairs. I immediately fell in love with this idea and the way she had "transformed' her classroom into an environment that would change the way students collaborate, think and learn creatively!

I had heard success stories from a few of my very close friends and educators like Todd Nesloney, Jake Duncan, Wendy Sanders, Rafranz Davis and many more on various topics and the new things they had tried in their classroom. I was instantly inspired by their passions and wanted to have this kind of passion myself. You see, these educators are all about innovating the minds of young and older students in a way that will challenge them beyond their imagination! So the challenges became very evident as they had no desks to store their supplies, journals, pencils, etc. The hardest challenge was the "traffic flow" from one transition to the next as they had no place to put their ipads, clipboards for writing, assignments that were not finished. I thought I was prepared as I had created "community sharing buckets" where students placed their scissors, crayons, glue sticks to share. A friend of mine once shared this quote with me, "you will always be prepared, never ready"! Boy was that a true statement last week. Heaven forbid an ipad would be stepped on or left just lying there on the floor. Each day posed a new challenge and I changed my structure everyday to help with the "flow" of the classroom. Thank goodness for cubbies in the classroom. These would become my life saviors for quick storage places. I'm still tweaking and tweaking until we do get somewhat of a structured schedule. It's only the second week of school and already I'm expecting things to flow. What am I thinking? They are only in 2nd grade for crying out loud!! But here's the good news, next year they will be in 3rd as I loop with them so that is what I will be looking forwards too.

I'm reminded by my dear friends mentioned above that taking risks are the reasons why I do what I do....teach with PASSION! Challenges will come and go but I will choose not to let this challenge bring anxiety, maybe a little frustration or even change my mind. Not once did my students feel like they were tired or lost but inspired by the new challenges to learn in an environment that would bring innovative learning and a whole lot more collaboration amongst each other. My successes and failures are what inspire me to try new and innovative ways to change the minds of young learners. This WILL work and we will have our success story to share with the world. I am thankful for those educators before me who have taken risks and continue to take those risks and NEVER give up no matter what. After all, I would not be where I am today if it were not for them! I look up to them and their passion is contagious and so inspiring. So here is a sneak peek of our first week of school in a classroom with no desks and no chairs! Thank you Todd, Wendy, Jake, Erin and Rafranz for your friendship, but most of all, your eagerness to change the minds of young children in a 21st century world that is constantly changing at the speed of light! I'm going to "teach like a pirate" and soar beyond new adventures! Please feel free to leave a comment or share any ideas you may in making this challenge a success!!