Thursday, December 17, 2015

Elf Yourself with Draw with Us!

We did this fun activity in Mrs. Bishop's kindergarten this morning, and I wanted to share in case any of you have time to try it!  We used the app Draw with Us (it's $2.99) to have the kids "elf themselves" and then post their drawings to Seesaw, along with a sentence.  They turned out so cute!

Using the Draw with Us app, students opened the camera area and took a picture of their face. This app allows you to change the outline of the photo from just a face, to a heart, to a star and a whole photo.  I love this feature!  After they took their photos, they used the drawing tools to add details - elf costume, Christmas trees, presents, sleigh, etc.
Once their drawings were finished and saved to the camera roll, they opened Seesaw, uploaded the drawing, and wrote a sentence.  Most wrote simple sentences utilizing World Wall Words.  We modeled some ideas beforehand.  Some examples are: "I can help Santa."  "I see a reindeer."  "I see a Christmas tree."  Once they wrote, they used the microphone tool in Seesaw to record their sentences.
When the students were done, they were encouraged to view classmates' work and "like" or post comments that were about the drawings.  I also love how Mrs. Bishop shows the work whole class, and in this way models positive comments.  Students need to learn to be good digital citizens from an early age!

Here are some finished projects ... so cute!  Merry Christmas!

Amy Westrope used this same app in her 1st grade class, and shared some examples with me.  I love this idea!  Thanks, Amy!

We used the Draw With Us app for holiday stroll art - pretty much like the elf yourself post, except they got to turn themselves into any Christmas character. I printed the pics out at Costco and hung them in the hall. Now we're using them for their Christmas cards to go home with their parent gift. They turned out so so cute! 



I just posted my first lesson on the site Common Sense Graphite, a wonderful resource for teachers to discover digital tools.  It offers reviews of tools, as well as lesson ideas that will help you use these tools in your classrooms.  You can check out Graphite and create a free account by clicking the image below.

And you can view my first lesson (about Book Creator Christmas eBooks) by clicking here.  :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

January 27th iPad Workshop

January 27th from 3:00-5:00pm I will be holding another workshop about iPad apps.  The next few workshops I do will focus on creation apps.  The topic for January is Traci's Top Three for Free and will feature Pic Collage Kids, Tellagami & Stop Motion.  If you'd like to sign up, please complete the form below.

Remember, these are geared toward primary teachers but anyone is welcome to attend.  If you attend the entire two hours you can receive OPI credit.  You can also receive step-up credit for the 4:00-5:00pm hour, but only if you complete a credit approval form beforehand.  Thank you!

Story Problems with Make a Scene & Seesaw

Today in Mr. Anderson's first grade, we used Mrs. Bishop's idea to create some math stories, then load them to Seesaw but leave them UNSOLVED, so friends could get on, listen to the video, and then solve the problem on their own.  Since the first graders are working on addition and subtraction to 20, these are the parameters we set for their story problems.

We used the app Make a Scene: Christmas, but Mrs. Bishop used the app Superhero Comic Book Maker when she did this project with her kindergartners.  You could also use the app Draw & Tell. The benefit of using either the superhero or draw and tell app would be that the students could manipulate the stickers within the app (i.e. make their video more animated, remove items if they're subtracting, etc).  However ... it's Christmas and so we decided to use this Christmas app for today.  :)

The students created images in the app, then loaded to Seesaw and used the record while drawing feature to tell their math story.  They were to use the pen tool to annotate their drawing while talking, adding an equation and/or crossing out items if it was a subtraction problem.   The students were asked to post at least one addition and one subtraction problem.

Here are a couple of examples:
Here she wrote: there were 4 family members, and then 4 more came.  How many in all?

Here she wrote: there were 17 reindeer, and 4 ran away (so she circled those 4).  How many were left?

Here are some video examples: (click the links to view)

This project turned out great, and is a wonderful way for students to practice problem solving, both by writing the stories and by solving their friends' stories.  To solve them, we asked students to view their friends' folders and choose some story problems to view.  They could leave their answer in the comments area of their friends' posts.  Throughout the course of the 45 minutes they worked on this, they developed much better problems, and became skilled at using the "record while draw" tool within Seesaw.  I am excited to go back to Mr. A's room after Christmas and try this activity again, to build fluency in these problem solving abilities.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

WonderBox EDU

I am lucky enough to be working with WonderBox as a beta tester for the EDU version of their app (coming soon)!  Yesterday I used this app in Mrs. Chase's 2nd grade, and it was so.  much.  fun. Wonderbox gives students a variety of activities they can choose from, to explore a topic and then use their imagination and creativity to create a project.  The teacher can send a specific assignment to students, or students can explore options and choose what they'd like to work on.

Students and teachers can also view each other's work and comment back and forth.  Yesterday, we were just learning the app, so students weren't given many instructions.  I assigned them all a Make a Snowflake project, and then let them explore.  They had to submit what they had done to me so I can view their work.  In the future, I would ask students to be sure to add some writing to their project before it's submitted (there is an area that says "write about your project here" before they submit anything).  I am also unsure how to save the projects, so I had to take screenshots of their work.  But I wanted to give you some examples because I thought they turned out so fun!

When I know the release date and cost, I will pass it along!  Happy wondering!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy Snow Day!
In honor of our day at home, today I am sharing one of my favorite digital resources, Wonderopolis. 
Wonderopolis is an amazing site for kids to explore wonders and ask questions. In kindergarten, we kept a Wonder Journal.  Each morning I would display a photo from Wonderopolis, and ask kids to write their wonders about the photo into their journal.  We then spent some time exploring the Wonderopolis site to learn more about the topic and answer some of our wonders.  I absolutely loved this activity, and was really impressed by how good the kindergartners became at asking questions.
The Wonder I wanted to share with you today is What's the Best Thing to do on a Snow Day?  I thought this would be a fun way to greet your students when they return, and talk about snow days and why they happen.  There are also lots of other great wonders about snow, snowflakes and winter.

Julie Dannenberg had a great idea to have her students graph what they did during their snow day. You could do this on chart paper, or to "tech it up a notch", try one of these options:

  • If you have a Mimio interactive projector (this will also work on a Hitachi), you are welcome to download this graph I made and use it with your students.
  • If your students use their D2 apps, you can use a form to collect their data. I made a very simple one-if you'd like to use it, CLICK HERE to make a copy, and then distribute to your students to complete.  It will auto-magically (as Ann likes to say) create a spreadsheet for you! Wahoo!  You can make this into a graph by clicking the "insert chart" button in the toolbar.
If you have another idea, leave it in the comments!

Christmas Books Using Book Creator

Hello!  I started posting a week or so ago about using Book Creator to create some cool eBooks that can be shared on Seesaw.  However, we didn't have a "finished product" to share.  This project does take a bit of time - about an hour for creating illustrations and to begin the cover of the book, and another hour to add the rest of the illustrations, type their sentences and record their sentences to make it an audio book.

This morning I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours in Mrs. Brammer's first grade, and we were able to work on books from start to finish.  They turned out great!  Here was our process:

1) Mrs. Brammer had her students write two sentences beforehand.  That way, all they needed to do was type the sentences into their books.  This really sped up the typing process!  Mrs. Brammer had her kids write about Christmas traditions in their homes.  She helped edit the sentences before the kids published into Book Creator.

2) We used the app Make a Scene: Christmas and had the students create three illustrations, then save to their camera rolls.  I have posted about this app before, if you need help using it, scroll down and read some of my more detailed posts.
3) We opened the app Book Creator and started creating a new book.  If you need help with this, view one of my previous posts, or visit the Book Creator support page.  They have some great tutorials!
4) Students began by inserting their cover illustration picture, then adding a title and making it "fancy" using the formatting options.  They then added a new page, added another illustration and typed in one of their sentences.  They added one more page, added their last illustration, and typed their last sentence.

5) Students used the "Add a Sound" feature to record themselves reading each sentence.  This will allow us to export the book as a video that can be viewed and listened to from Seesaw!

6) To send the book to Seesaw, first make sure the students are logged into their Seesaw account. Students need to be back on the main screen (Click "My Books" to return there).  They need to click the sharing button (the little rectangle with the arrow in it) and then "Export as Video".

Once they click this button, Seesaw should come up as an option.  IF IT'S NOT: click the three little dots that say "more" and toggle Seesaw to "on".  (You should only have to do this one time and then it will always show up.)  

Once it gets to Seesaw, they should just have to choose their name and post! Wahoo!  Here are some examples.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

QR Code Wonders

Love this idea for using QR codes to promote wonder and inquiry. Mrs. Caskey's library features QR codes stuck on foam snowflakes around her room. When students scan, they're taken to a site or video that answers the question on the snowflake, or encourages them to think and wonder about the question. These are changed throughout the year with different topics and themes.

QR codes can be made so easily. I like using or the Google URL Shortener extension. This is such a simple and fun idea! Thanks, Mrs. Caskey!

Friday, December 11, 2015

25 Completely FREE Christmas Apps

In case you missed this great post from Smart Apps for Kids, here is a list of the top 25 Christmas apps that are completely FREE!  Click the image below to view the post. Once on their site, you can also subscribe for their weekly emails, featuring Free App Friday and other alerts.

Another great resource for free apps is Fun Educational Apps.  You can sign up for email alerts by CLICKING HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Traditions Collaboration

I am Geeking out in the House at McKinley all day, and I got to join in on this awesome activity with Ms. Lambert's 3rd graders and Ms. Ketterling's 1st graders.  They are collaborating by sharing Christmas traditions with one another.  They began by connecting using the site  This allows the students to see and chat with one another.

They then open a collaborative Google doc that looks like this:
The 1st graders worked whole group with Ms. Ketterling doing the typing.  The 3rd graders logged into their D2 apps and were able to work individually.  You will notice that the 3rd grade spots in the document are numbered - Ms. Lambert assigned each student a number so they know which square to begin typing in.  The 1st graders then asked questions that the 3rd graders could answer.  What a fun way to collaborate, and allow students to share special family traditions that happen in their homes during the holidays!

At the end of the activity, they checked in with each other again using the tool.  This is a simple, free tool to use.  I like how it allows multiple people to access your "room", so you could collaborate with more than one classroom at one time.

Ms. K & Ms. L thought of this idea last year when Ms. Lambert's room was located in Lincoln Center during construction.  But it was still fun even though they are in the same building. And I love the idea of using this to connect with other classrooms across the district - or even outside of Billings! Thanks for the awesome idea, ladies!

Technology Rocks. Seriously.

If you haven't checked out this awesome blog, you definitely should!  This amazing woman always puts together the coolest seasonal posts, with collections of digital tools and activities for your students to use.  Her latest post is about reindeer, and features Santa's official Live Reindeer Cam, as well as tons of Christmas-themed learning games for your students.  If you haven't checked it out before, definitely take some time to do so!  I would often utilize her collections of computer activities when my kindergartners had "computer time", either from a lab or during centers.  They loved these activities!  Click the image below to view her Reindeer Fun post.

Last year, Mrs. Bishop and I had each of our kindergarten classes study reindeer, and then view the reindeer on the reindeer cam.  We used our class Twitter accounts to share information and questions about reindeer back and forth between our classes.  It was such a fun activity!  Here is a little snippet ... 
Getting your kids started using social media like Twitter in the classroom can be really fun and rewarding.  Students can share their learning, and discover how to use social media as a tool.  It also helps us create a positive message about what is happening in our awesome #BPSclassrooms!  If you're interested in starting, but don't know how ... let me know!  I'd love to come help.  @TraciPiltz @MrsPiltzK

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hour of Code in Kindergarten

This week is Hour of Code Week, which is simply a wonderful excuse to give your kids the opportunity to try coding.  In my classroom, we participated in the Hour of Code each year, and some of the kids loved it and some didn't.  But all were exposed to coding, and that's what matters!  Coding teaches some incredibly valuable skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and perseverance.

Don't think that YOU need to know how to code in order to let your kiddos code!  You don't!  I have NO STINKING IDEA how to code, and had many kindergartners who became more skilled than I was. They were our classroom experts and other kids could go to them for help.  There are so many awesome websites, programs and apps that do the work for you.  Just give your kids access!  I was at Eagle Cliffs today, and Mrs. Scheafer talked about how she uses the coding apps right along with her 2nd graders.  Many have passed her on "levels" but they love playing along with her and showing her the new things they are learning.

Check out, the Hour of Code, Tynker, Khan Academy, or Google Computer Science First. These are all awesome resources to get your kids started, and help you learn the ropes.  The Google CS First program even sends you a free kit!

In Mrs. Bishop's kindergarten this morning, we spent the first 30 minutes of our "Hour of Code" introducing the VERY basics of coding (Mrs. Bishop described them as "directions" to make the character move, and they need to be done in the right order) and using the app Daisy the Dinosaur. We used Air Server to reflect the iPad onto her screen and show them how to use Daisy the Dinosaur. We then had them go to their seats and get started.  They worked on Daisy the Dinosaur for 10-15 minutes, then Mrs. Bishop had them take a screenshot of their work and post to Seesaw, writing a sentence about what they had Daisy do with their coding directions (i.e. "She spun."  "She jumped", etc).

The second thirty minutes of our Hour of Code was spent BRIEFLY introducing the app Kodable, then letting the kids worked.  They REALLY loved this app, and it kept them busy for the 30 minutes and beyond.  Mrs. Bishop does a wonderful job of only helping her kids a little tiny bit - they need to persevere through the challenges and figure out where mistakes are happening.  This is the real value of learning to code in kindergarten!  I also loved how they would help each other out when someone got stuck.  Anyone who thinks that 1:1 iPads make for a non-collaborative classroom should observe kids when they are learning to code!  They worked together so well.

Thanks for inviting me in, Mrs. Bishop!  I loved watching your kindergartners celebrate when they finally made it through a challenging level!

A couple other teacher fave apps are:
Most are free apps, but Lightbot is $2.99.  Happy coding!