Monday, September 30, 2013

Mystery Skype- Connecting with Classrooms Around the World

This week I arranged a Mystery Skype for one of my 3rd grade classes.  A Mystery Skype is a game played over Skype where the classes take turns asking one another yes or no questions to try to guess the state, province, or city that the other class lives in.  We played with Mrs. Abernathy's 5th grade class in Pennsylania.

Our class had teams that had designated jobs during the Skype.  These jobs included:

Greeters- introduce the class and tell something about the class without giving away location
• Inquirers – ask the questions
• Question Keepers – keep track of the questions and answers
• Question Answerers - responsible for giving accurate answers about our state (South Carolina)
• Mappers- keep track of clues on a map and help the Inquirers ask the right questions (paper map, Google map, wall map, etc.)
and everyone in the class had a paper map to keep track of the possible location and to rule out states that the class was not located.
Prior to the Skype, the class brainstormed some good questions to ask that would help them to quickly narrow down the opposing team's location.  Some of their questions included:
1. Does your state border the Pacific Ocean?
2.  Does your state border the Atlantic Ocean?
3. Is your state big?
4. Is your state small?
5. Is it very hot in summer and cold in winter/Do you have seasons?
6. Is it north/south/east/west of __________?
7. Does your state border Canada?
8. Does your state border Mexico?
9. Does your state border __________?
10. Is your state in the Eastern part of the United States?
11.  Is your state in the Western part of the United States?
12.  Does your state name start with the letter _____?
After about 10 minutes of back and forth asking great questions, Mrs. Abernathy's students guessed that we were from South Carolina (they got a big clue when a student said "y'all").  But in the very next turn, my students guessed that they were from Pennsylvania!  So both teams guessed each other's location in the same number of questions.  Next, Mrs. Abernathy's class shared their class pets with us- some lizards, a few chinchillas (including an adorable baby), and a ferret.  That was a true highlight as we are not allowed classroom pets in our school district.
So, what did our students learn from the Mystery Skype?  Obviously they learned about geography, but more importantly they learned problem solving, communication skills, about the culture of another classroom in another part of the world and they learned that learning is fun!

Do you want to try a Mystery Skype?  Connect with other educators on the Skype in the Classroom- Mystery Skype page or search for the hashtag #mysteryskype on Twitter.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Challenge Based Learning- Take Action and Make a Difference!

I recently learned about the Challenge Based Learning site through a STEMx course I am taking.  What is Challenge Based Learning?  It is "an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Challenge Based Learning is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work with peers, teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world to ask good questions, develop deep subject area knowledge, identify and solve challenges, take action, and share their experience."
The lessons/challenges provided on the Challenge Based Learning site come from schools as well as professional organizations and ask classrooms to help solve real-world problems such as hunger, poverty, global warming, pollution, nutrition, health, and student apathy.  The challenges are a great way to integrate Common Core standards and to prepare students to succeed in future carreer choices.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Klikaklu Pirate Math Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunts are a fun way for students to use problem solving skills, to work in teams, to practice comprehensions skills, and to use technology resources all while practicing subject matter.  For "Talk Like A Pirate Day" (September 19th), I arranged a fun math treasure hunt for the second grade classes.  It was a perfect opportunity to pull in the theme of the day with a fun learning activity.

For the treasure hunt, I used an iPad app called Klikaklu.  Klikaklu allows you to create a treasure hunt based on images.  The students would have to locate places in the common areas of the school, by picture provided to them in the app, to find the hidden treasure chests and directions that held math activities for them.  The students had a great time using the app because it was a true treasure hunt to find the hidden locations.  They also enjoyed the math activities which were all pirate themed.  For example, one treasure chest contained many strands of different length beads and the students needed to measure out strands that were 9 inches and 17 centimeters and place them in their loot bag.

The Klikaklu app was perfect for this activity.  The app is free or you can pay to upgrade.  The free app will give you everything you need to create a treasure hunt and to allow your students to play the hunt.  However, with the free account the students will see advertisements.  I opted to pay $4.99 to upgrade my Klikaklu account.  This allowed me to create a treasure hunt with more options and my students would be able to play without seeing ads.  I like that the upgrade only needs to be paid for the person creating the scavenger hunts.  The students can still use the free version of the app. Once I created the treasure hunt, I shared it publicly and the other iPad apps were able to find the shared hunt by location.  Your treasure hunts can also be kept private, shared by email, by QR code, or by number code that can be provided to your players.  The app worked great for our indoor treasure hunt and can be used outside as well.  There is a GPS location feature embedded in the app to assist with outdoor hunts, but this can be turned off for inside hunts.  There are so many options you can use within the app with each location to make your treasure hunt fun and engaging.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Screencasting in Your Classroom

What is a screencast?  It is a digital, narrated recording of what is happening on your screen.

What can you do with screencasting software?
-Create training videos for your staff or students.  Show them how to use a software, a website, or an app on the iPad.
-Take screen captures for training documents or web sites.
-Flip your classroom.  Create content videos for your students.
-Have students record themselves solving problems on an educational website and then post them on your teacher site or blog.
-Do you have a student presentation that you would like in video format to publish on your site?  Make a screencast of it! 
-Digital storytelling.  Students can voice-over images or videos to tell a story.

Screencasts are easy to create with some FREE software.  Here are my favorites:

-Download the free software or record directly from the site.
-Record up to 15 minutes.
-Allows web cam picture in recording.
-Can save to local computer in .MP4, .FLV, or .AVI format or upload to YouTube.

-Record directly from the site.
-Record up to 5 minutes.
-Log in with your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or other Social Network logins.
-Once saved to Screenr's server, you can download in .MP4 format or upload to YouTube.
-Embed code is also provided so you can embed the video in your site or blog.

-Download the software to your computer.
-Record up to 5 minutes.
-Has a Screen Capture tool for capturing still images instead of video.
-Host your videos free online (up to 2G) or save to your computer.
-Videos are saved to your computer in .SWF (Shockwave Flash) format.
-The standard Jing buttons alow you to upload your video to the server and provides you with a URL that you can share.
-By editing the standard Jing buttons, you can also get an embed code, upload to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.  Here is a video on how to edit the standard buttons.

Screencasting an iPad app:
When I want to to screencast from my iPad, I first mirror my iPad on my computer using Air Server.  With the Air Server receiver I am able to see and interact with my iPad screen on my computer.  Then I just use any screencasting tool to capture my video.

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