The Power in Educreations

I’m a huge fan of apps on the iPad that allow students and teachers the opportunity to record their thinking and share it with others. I love Explain Everything, Screen Chomp, Doceri, and Educreations. My top two are Explain Everything ($2.99) and Educreations (Free). In this post, I’d like to specifically focus on Educreations as a powerful tool in reaching goals to meet Common Core Standards. Here’s what I love about this app:

-If you visit http://www.educreations.com, you can view free lessons that other teachers and students have created. For example, if you are looking for a lesson on equivalent fractions for 4th grade, you can search for that and learn from someone else.  Here is an example.

-It allows you to turn your iPad into a recordable whiteboard.

-You can insert photos directly from your camera or camera roll and annotate onto the photos while recording your voice. Additionally, you can move photos around and place them in various places on your screen all while recording.

-You can easily email recordings to parents, teachers, and students. You can also share these to the “public” on the Educreations site.


 

Here’s some ideas in supporting the CCSS:

-Screen recordings allow students to share information on topics in a way that is completely unique to them. For example, a student might have a difficult time conveying his or her knowledge on equivalent fractions in written form, but might find it particularly easier to “teach” it to his or her teacher via screen recording. Students will find different ways to answer questions in ways others may not have thought about.

-Screen recordings give the teacher an advantage to really “get inside a student’s head” and listen to them explain a concept or problem.

-Screen recordings aren’t just for students. Screen recordings are a powerful tool for a teacher to record lessons on content and share it with students who are absent or need a review.

-Think about using screen recordings for an assessment tool. Play their assessment for parents at P/T conferences.

-Use screen recordings as an “Exit Ticket” in making sure standards have been met and understanding has set in.

-Share a student’s creative and powerful work with others by sharing their recording on your blog, wiki, or to your class Edmodo page, to name a few.

-Use Educreations as a weekly assessment in math or reading. Think of the great digital portfolio you could build to document student’s growth.

-Have students record oral descriptions for something they’ve created on the iPad. For example, my students recently created faces using the app, Faces iMake, and I had them create screen recordings to orally describe what they had created.

-Have students practice reading text aloud and talking about key vocabulary while recording.

If you haven’t had your students participate in screen recordings, you will be amazed at the power in these tools. I encourage you to check it out…create an account on educreations.com and begin the next school year by recording your student’s as they think aloud and see how it deepens your understanding about their knowledge.

A few examples:

Click here for a math example

Click here for an example of practicing oral descriptions

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Keyboarding and the Common Core

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As a technology teacher, teaching younger students keyboarding is something I’ve considered a best practice for many years. I’ve always thought that technology wasn’t “going anywhere”, so kids better learn how to be as productive as possible with technology tools, keyboarding being one of them. I believe students as early as kindergarten should be learning the basics of the keyboard as well as basic shortcut keys to increase productivity. When I mention to my students that we are practicing keyboarding, it is unlikely that I will hear a loud cheer from them because naturally, it is not the most fun thing to do. However, you can make it fun and create an environment where your students really love to challenge themselves and they want to go home and practice. That’s the key here…practice. Expecting a student to achieve great results in typing accuracy when they only get to practice an hour a week is really setting them up for failure. Kids need to be doing drills at home and at school as well as typing within applications to create a meaningful learning experience. The upcoming PARCC exams will be used in our district to assess students’ mastery of Common Core State Standards. The PARCC will be given to students in grades 3 and up, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. The PARCC exams will be administered digitally, with students completing the tests on computers. You can read more at PARCConline.org. Since the PARCC’s ELA test will be taken on computers, students will need to type their written answers. While examples of type-written questions have yet to be released, we can draw conclusions about the rigor of these writing tasks from the Common Core State Standards. According to CCSS w.4.6, fourth graders must be able to type “a minimum of one page in a single sitting.” CCSS w.5.6 requires fifth graders to type “a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.” Here are some ideas to try out when you are using laptops or a computer lab with your kiddos in preparation of the PARCC as well as meeting critical Common Core Standards.

-Make a fun theme for the beginning of your big focus on keyboarding! Some examples I’ve used in the past: ‘Keyboarding Survivor’, ‘Are You Ready for Some Keyboarding?’, ‘Keyboarding Olympics’, and ‘Keyboarding Bootcamp’…you get the idea. It just sets the kids up to have some fun.

Keyboarding Boot Camp from April Requard on Vimeo.

 

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Keyboarding Boot Camp

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Are You Ready for Some Keyboarding?

Keyboarding Survivor

Keyboarding Survivor

-Go over proper typing technique (I call it the Important 4)

1. Sit up straight

2. Feet flat on the floor in front of you

3. Look up more than down

4. Hands on the home row keys

-Do a pre and post assessment on your students so you can measure their growth.

-Have your students participate in many free web-based learning games for keyboarding (I’ll list them at the bottom).

-Have your students participate in frequent timed tests to assess their growth. Create a spreadsheet to record the data.

-Have your students do this exercise: Pick a topic and have your students type for one minute. Time will be called after one minute. Have them count their words and type it next to their paragraph. Repeat this exercise a total of three times and see if their accuracy and or speed improved.

-Stress the fact that accuracy and proper typing technique is more important than speed!

Those are some ideas to try out! Now, let’s put those ideas to use with some practice for your students!

My favorite web-based program where you can track your students’ progress is Typing Web. You will have to make them an account, but it’s really great for going in and looking at how many exercises they’ve completed and if they are completing their assigned homework. Also, it gives great pre and post data to how your student is progressing. I use this will all students in grades 2-5.

Dance Mat Typing is another favorite because kids love it and it really goes through all of the steps in correct finger placement and it is quite interactive. I got this awesome idea from another teacher to create “punch cards” for students to get punched after they finished a level in Dance Mat Typing. Here is the website this teacher created with “stages” that correspond with the punch cards. You can download the cards here.

Here is another list of keyboarding links: (some may be repeated, as these lists have been grabbed from multiple lists on my computer)

 

 

 

 

Writing with Technology

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Writing Prompt with Common Core Writing Anchor Standard

Writing Prompt with Common Core Writing Anchor Standard

I love the Write About This app and the students really enjoy using the iPads in writing. Here’s what I really like about using this app:

1. You can customize the levels (Levels 1-3) for the writing prompt (great for differentiation among students).

2. You can add a custom writing prompt (only one per device for the free version).

3. Students can directly email their finished writing prompt to their teacher.

4. Students can practice their oral reading fluency by recording their voice as they read the story and can make changes as needed.

5. Students can save their writing with audio to the iPad camera roll and export that video to YouTube, website, student blog, etc.

What I LOVE to do is to have my students use this amazing website, which has a TON of awesome writing prompts. Students may choose their own writing prompt that interests them, or I can provide them with the prompt for them to use. Another feature I love about these writing prompts is they have the CCSS listed on most of the writing prompts. These prompts are geared for older elementary students (4th & 5th) and up. Click here to see these amazing writing prompts. Here is a list of 28 tried and true writing prompts from this site.

Below are some other fabulous sites that either has video writing prompts, picture writing prompts, or written writing prompts that you can use in conjunction with the Write About This app, for student typing practice with laptops or in computer lab, or journal writing. You could easily just project one of these prompts onto your Promethean Board and have students write from there. My favorite is using the Write About This app because it is real data with their recorded voice and it would be a great artifact to have when speaking to parents at conferences as well as a wonderful component to digital portfolios.

 Nice Collection of Video Writing Prompts

Pinterest Page on Writing Prompts

Pinterest Page on Picture Writing Prompts

Pictures for Writing Prompts

Here’s a few samples that two of my students created using the writing prompts that they selected.