Creative Writing with Emoji Prompts

Creative writing copy

What kid does not love emojis? I came across this website byrdseed.com/emoji and thought this would be a great lesson for my students. I feel strongly that our kids don’t have enough creative writing time, so I wanted to give them time to dig deep into their creativty. I recently introduced my students to their Google accounts, so I thought this would be a great way for them to explore writing in Google Docs. I instructed students to open their documents and then create a new tab so they could go back and forth from the emoji prompts to their document. The kids absolutely loved this project and the stories they wrote were creative, witty, and fun to read.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 8.41.33 AM

This is what the emoji prompts look like once you start clicking “and then”

How It Works:

Each time you click “and then” users get a new emoji to include in their story. I had my students take screenshots of their emojis when they were finished and include them in their document under their title. Additionally, I had the students underline the word that corresponded to the emoji they used. I found it interesting how students interpret what the emojis are…because they certainly are open for interpretation! Here are a few samples (screenshots) from some of my students! Super fun writing activity and they all gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up! This lesson combines lots of useful technology techniques with creative writing.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 9.31.00 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 10.36.01 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 10.37.57 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 8.50.05 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 9.25.38 AM

😀<<<<<<
;

Advertisements

Audio Alphabet Books in Keynote & Clips

cover.001

My name is April and I am a Keynote junkie. There, I said it. I feel better already. 😜

Anyone who knows my work, knows that I love to use Keynote to do just about anything creative. I love finding workarounds and new ways to use an old favorite tool. When Apple updated Keynote this summer, I was instantly engaged with all of the new shapes and all the things you could do with them. You can easily break apart the complex shapes and come up with your own creations. Before the addition of all these new shapes, I would draw my own shapes with the pen tool, so this is definitely a time saver and a great way to add creativity to projects.

This particular project focuses in on vocabulary, letter sounds, phonics, shape recognition, and organization. Students will open the Keynote template and insert shapes inside each of the block letters. What I noticed when I had students complete this assignment was the time they took to go through each shape and say the shape’s name out loud and determine if the shape started with that letter (even older kids did this). It’s also important to note that some shapes have multiple meanings, for example, the party hat could be viewed as hat, party, or birthday. Once they have filled their shape, then I told them the trick to see how many shapes they may have missed. This is always a great “gotcha.” If you click on the search bar in the shape tool, just type in the letter and you will see all the shapes that begin with that letter or are associated with that letter. For this project, I gave students one to two letters to work on, I do not have them create all letters of the alphabet. You will see the template I’ve created down below.

I also really love it when important learning and technology come together. This project takes students down a powerful path in using Keynote to change slide background colors, insert shapes, change a shape’s color, size, and rotation as well as exporting slides as images. I love a good work flow and this project turned out to be really fun.

This project is suited for elementary aged students and would be particularly helpful for our ELL students. However, think about ways to stretch this type of project to suit the needs of older students in language arts classes or to accompany literature unit when studying the main character’s traits. I could see this same type of idea used for science classes when studying the periodic table of elements. I challenge you to think about how you could create your own Keynote slides to use in conjunction with shapes, words, letters, or other elements.

This project can range from complex to simple depending on grade level, user experience, and time. Here’s some ideas from simple to complex:

  • Using the template provided, create an alphabet book in Keynote and fill each outlined letter with shapes that begin with that letter. To take this further, if you are using Keynote for Mac, students can record narration on their slides.
  • Using the template provided, create an alphabet book in Keynote. Use animations to bring their letters and shapes to life. Export this as a movie.
  • Using the template, each student in the class creates one slide with one letter using their iPad. Once all students have completed their slides, they can take a screen shot of their picture (only once they press play in Keynote) crop the black out of the picture and use the picture to create one big class book in Book Creator or iBooks Author. To do this, I’d select one iPad as the master iPad and have students Airdrop their photo to the one iPad to create one book. Additionally, if photos are on one iPad, you can select all photos and tap share and send them to iBooks. This is a great option for those using iPad and don’t have Book Creator.
  • Finally, for this project example I share below, students used the template. Each student had one or two letters to complete. Once they were finished, they exported their slide as an image (Mac). They used Airdrop to send it to one iPad in the classroom. Once all slides were collected, we opened Clips and each student added and narrated on their slide. Then, this becomes a whole class published project.

If you create your own slides, here are some tips and some workarounds I went through when creating this project:

I searched for fonts that were outlined. I downloaded the font to my computer. I created all of the slides and then using Airdrop, I sent the files to my student’s computers. What I didn’t initially think of was that they would be missing the font. So, my workaround was to create the slides and export the slides as images. I created a new Keynote presentation and imported my newly created images on each slide. I used Instant Alpha to create transparent letters. Then, I saved those files and used Airdrop to resend to my students. You will be able to download the Keynote file with no workaround! YAY!

Here’s an example from one of my classes (4th grade): https://vimeo.com/239898222

Download the Keynote file HERE

Hope you have as much fun as I did with this little project! Cheers! 😀

Swift Playgrounds: Learn to Code 1 & 2 Vocab Cards

 

coding vocab.001“Everyone should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”–Steve Jobs

Swift Playgrounds is an amazing app developed by Apple that can teach anyone the concepts of coding. The great part is that you don’t need any prior experience before diving in…I promise! 😀 As a teacher and professional development leader, I absolutely LOVE that Apple has given us many resources to be able to teach this to our students because it’s true…EVERYONE CAN CODE!

So…What is Swift?

Swift is a coding language meant to be easy to use so that anyone can learn coding and app development. Some of the world’s most popular apps were created in Swift.

So…What is Swift Playgrounds?

Swift Playgrounds is fun, engaging, and interactive. In Swift Playgrounds, students use real code to solve puzzles and interact with characters.  To explore more complex coding concepts, there are lots of challenges for which to build skills. Finally, students can make their codes come to life by programming robots and drones. Talk about cool!

Learn to Code 1 & 2 in Swift Playgrounds

Learn how to code in a fun 3D world with your new pal, Byte! At first, students will guide Byte through the 3D world and then they will move on to more advanced lessons. I love the teacher guides that come along with this because it lays out for you the lessons to teach coding concepts so there is a clear connection between real life and the code they use within the app. After all, coding is following a set of commands or instructions to accomplish a goal. In this case, it’s to get Byte through the 3D world.

Coding Vocabulary (aka: Coding Lingo) 😀

The vocabulary used to understand code can be tricky at first. I find it helpful to really have students learn the vocabulary so that they understand the concepts one needs to fully understand the code they are writing. This also allows students to build on each skill as they go through the lessons. I created vocabulary cards that go with the teacher guides for Learn to Code 1 & 2. Learn to Code 3 will be coming soon. I created these cards to print and display on the wall space in my room. Students can refer back to the vocabulary as they complete each lesson. Additionally, I created a Quizlet with the same vocabulary words for students to practice. I created these for my students and I thought yours would equally benefit! Hope they help you out! The only thing left is to get out there and get started!

Click Swift Playgrounds to download the vocabulary cards.

Click here for the Quizlet link.

Resources from Apple:

 

 

 

 

Digital Skills Learning Badges

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 12.14.00 PMHappy back to school! If you’re like me, I have loved the #AppleTeacher movement to encourage teachers to learn more about using Apple tools in the classroom! What I love about it is that teachers can learn new skills in utilizing the most powerful technology tools for learning and teaching all at their own time! I thought, why not make this same concept available for my students? I have created digital skills badges for all of the Apple applications I use in my classroom as well as other applications that we use frequently. Additionally, I created badges for skills such as Internet Safety and Keyboarding. Here’s what you need to know to create your own Digital Skills Badges!

  1. Think about what skills are most important for your students to master. You can create skills on just about anything and you can use my template or create your own. My template is broken down into skills using a variety of applications and included are both iPad and Mac versions.
  2. I created a website where students can take the skills quiz to earn their badge once they are finished with a final project within that application or learning component. For example, our first learning module is on Internet Safety. Once students have learned about Internet Safety, they will work in teams to create a project. Once their project is finished, they will take the quiz and upload their final project. I felt that taking a quiz wasn’t enough…I wanted to see the projects attached to the skill so that I could understand the creative process students went through to finish their badge.
  3. All of the apps I have listed involve creation. To me, it’s not about how well you know the tool, but what you can do with the tool AFTER you’ve learned the skill. (Can I get an AMEN???) 😜
  4. I put all of my quizzes in Google Forms so that I can view or grade them once they are turned into me, but you could easily use something such as Quizlet, Quizizz, Go Formative, Survey Monkey, Socrative, Padlet, Flip Grid, Answer Garden, or Wizer.
  5. Once students earn their badge, then, I will add their name to two different versions of “shout outs!” First one is I have a bulletin board outside my room where I have each badge and I will add student’s names as they earn their badge (coming soon!) The second one is a Padlet where I have each badge with student names as they earn them. Adults love to earn badges, so why not give kids this same experience!

RESOURCES:

I will post more resources and examples of student work once I kick this off with students, but I just couldn’t wait to share it with all of you!

For more information on the Apple Teacher program: https://appleteacher.apple.com

Cheers!

 

Parental Power with Our Pact


I am the mom of two heavy technology users (ages 11 and 14). They love surfing the web, playing games, being social, texting friends, and watching videos. They are active boys, but during these summer days, they can become quite lazy and at times they want to do nothing but be on their devices. I take the devices away, hide them, you name it. Until now. Now I hold all the power. Is it bad that I secretly love this? “You want me to give you your apps? Take out the trash, wash the dishes, make your bed, brush your teeth, then I’ll grant you access for 45 minutes.” It’s amazing how all of these daily chores are magically completed if they want to use their device. What’s even better is that I can control their iPad and iPhone ANYWHERE! Let me say that again…anywhere! It’s parental bliss! If I sound somewhat evil, it’s because I totally am! 😜

Here’s the first text I received from my youngest son once he figured out what was going on! I almost wish I would have taken video of the reaction I received from my 14 year old. I think there was a “you’re ruining my life” thrown in there!  It was then that I realized I was doing my job as a mom to find a sustainable way to limit their screen time, especially with social media. However, now they’ve come to terms with this new sheriff in town and they’ve accepted the rules. 

My son’s first encounter with Our Pact 😜

All joking aside, I think this is by far the best parental control of any app that I’ve tried. You can put restrictions on your child’s iOS device, but you can’t limit their time like this. I like the ability to grant or block them from being able to use their devices…anytime, anywhere.

What happens when you block their access?

Well, it’s like magic! All of their purchased apps, including Safari, go away. Only the native iOS apps remain. I’d assume it works the same way on an Android device. You can grant or block them access “until I say so” or for a set amount of time. Additionally, you can set rules for bedtime so that your kid isn’t Snapchatting until 2 AM on a school night! 

Here’s how to set it up:

Download the app onto your phone. Click here for the link to the iOS App Store.

Once you download the app, then create a profile for each of your children, or if they have multiple devices, create a profile for each device.

Then, you go to this address on your child’s device and follow the instructions to install a device profile on their phone. This is what manages the device and allows you to grant or block access. There are some paid features, which I have yet to explore, but I did upgrade so that I can have more access. I’d recommend upgrading because the free subscription only allows for a set number of blocks/grants. The premium features look really great and include blocking specific apps, including text messages. 

Hope Our Pact will be as useful for your family as it has been for mine so far! Happy summer!! 🏖

Exploring Quick Draw

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 9.42.32 AM

A neural network is described as a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system.

Google recently introduced a pretty awesome tool called Quick Draw! If you’ve ever wanted to play dictionary against your computer, you will love this! It’s a game that uses a neural network to guess your drawings. The more you play, the more the computer learns. It’s a really interesting concept…the computer learns what you are drawing by the way you drew it. The computer analyzes how many strokes you make and the sequence of those strokes as well as the direction in which you drew your strokes. The computer will not always guess your drawings, but it will eventually learn the patterns of all the different ways we draw various objects.

This brings up some great conversations with kids. Here’s some great talking points:

  • Neural network
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Algorithm
  • Patterns
  • Additionally, some of the drawings are objects that kids have never heard of, so it’s a great vocabulary building tool as well!

Here’s a video from the creators of Quick Draw that helps explain how it works!

IMG_3178

 

 

Creating a Student Film Festival

NS Swat film festival

This year, I really wanted my SWAT Team students (Students Working to Advance Technology) to help create an event to reach out to other students. We decided on creating a film festival to promote video creation. At first our goals were quite high and I knew that our first year we needed to start small and build on what we learn in year one. So, that’s just what we did. We decided to create a completely online film festival and we opened the application process to students in grades K-5 in our local school district. We marketed our event, gathered sponsors to award the winners with great prizes (a wonderful incentive to get student participation), and we advertised through our school district and various social media outlets. The films were due on March 3. We received 7 submissions and although I was initially disappointed by the lack of participation, I realized that this year was completely focused around the learning process in order to make next year’s event even better. As I look back, I now understand how this event taught my SWAT Team students so much more than I initally thought! They learned how to create and market an event, how to reach out to our school district, how to create a site where students can upload their videos, and how to gain sponsors. Once the submissions came in,  my students learned the true art of critiquing the videos which were submitted. We talked about various film elements to look and listen for as they watched the videos. We had great discussions after we viewed the videos about what was good about each and what could be improved. We talked about using various filming techniques and camera shots. We talked about how using apps such as Puppet Pals and Drawing Pad within iMovie could enhance films that were created using other methods. I was proud at how my students viewed the videos and how mindful they were to celebrate the risk each of these students took to put their work out there for the world to see. We celebrate the creation of each of these films!

Here’s the video we made to promote the film festival:

North Star SWAT TEAM Film Festival 2017 from April Requard on Vimeo.

Here is a video we made to announce the winners of our first film festival:

2017 Film Festival Results by the North Star SWAT Team from April Requard on Vimeo.

Here are the top three films:

Here is a list of all of the films!

Thank you to all who participated!! We look forward to next year’s Film Festival!