Sunday, September 28, 2014

3 Meaningful Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom!

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)


Let's be honest...technology can be a pain in the "you-know-what" sometimes!  It always seems to stop working the minute you are about to start an important lesson, or even worse, about to get an observation...Yikes!  I have had these experiences in the past, yet I strongly believe technology has an important place in the classroom.  Technology in my classroom has done way more than just make learning more interactive and engaging.  It has significantly contributed to my students' success in reading, writing, and math.

Here are 3 of my favorite ways to use technology in any upper elementary classroom...

1. Blogging


Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)

Since the day I found it, I have been in love with Kidblog.org.  Kidblog is a website that allows teachers to create a free blog for their class.  Students and teachers have their own blog within the class blog where they can write and comment on posts.

I am sure there are tons of ways to use this glorious website, but I love using it for a few key activities in my classroom.  

Social Studies and Science Discussions - This is where I ask a question related to daily lessons, and the students respond to the question.  This activity requires my student to reflect on their learning, and demonstrate their understanding of a given topic.  Plus, they get to practice their writing & typing skills. My students are eager to participate, and give their opinions and thoughts on any topic I present.

Reading Responses - Every time my students finish reading a book, they write a review for the book on their own blog.  Other students can then go and read the reviews, and comment on them.  You would not believe how motivated my students are to finish their books and write their reviews.

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)


Check out my other post on blogging in the classroom, where you can get a FREE complete walk-through guide for setting up and using your classroom blog.


2. Research Projects/Inquiry Circles


On any given topic, usually related to Science or Social Studies, my students generate questions they may still have after a lesson.  I then place them into groups where they use a class set of laptops to conduct research in order to answer their question.  Once students have found all the information they need, they put together a presentation for the class.  I have had students create PowerPoints, Prezi's, and movies to present their research.  

Here are some snapshots of a video I took of my students presenting.

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)
This group of girls pretended to interview the historical women they researched.

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)
This group created a presentation about specific abolitionists, and a jeopardy game as a review at the end.
You can check out my blog post about Inquiry Circles  to learn more and pick up a FREE work plan to help keep your students organized while researching.


3. QR Codes

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)
Not sure what a QR Code is?  Well, you have probably seen them a million times while shopping at stores, eating at restaurants, or even visiting a museum.  They are everywhere, and for good reason.  QR codes can make anything interactive.  For example, just recently I was shopping for a vacuum cleaner at a big name store.  There wasn't a whole lot of information on the product tags, but there were little QR codes on each one.  I took out my smart phone, opened up my free scanning app, and PRESTO...I was now linked to a website that had all the information I needed about the vacuum cleaner I was considering.  

This same idea can be used in the classroom!  You can use a free QR code generator to create QR codes that will link to websites, online videos, or even customized information from you!  Your students can use any device with a camera (smart phones & tablets) to scan the QR code, and get the information!


Quick Tutorial
Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)
1. Choose the type of information you want to use (website, video, plain text, etc.).
2.  Enter the link or info.
3. Download your QR code.


Here is an example of a game I made for my classroom where students scan QR codes to check their answers.

Technology in the classroom doesn't have to be difficult.  Check out these simple ways to integrate technology in your classroom. (number 3 is newer to me, but my fav)


If you are interested, you can check out these games for grades K-9 right HERE!


I hope this post has inspired you to try out some of these ideas.  I would love to hear how you are using technology in your classroom!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Upper Elementary Snapshots Kickoff GIVEAWAY!

Three... two... one.... BLASTOFF!

We are thrilled to be officially launching our new collaborative blog today!  We hope you will visit often to take a peek at the snapshots taking place in our classrooms (and to see what you might want to bring into your classroom)!


While you are here, we invite you to take a look around!
...Get to know all twelve of us!
...Check out our freebie page to find some resources to use in your classroom!
...Follow our Pinterest board and Facebook page to see more daily snapshots!
...Keep reading to see our first two blog posts!

Finally, don't forget to enter our first giveaway for the opportunity to win oodles of useful upper elementary resources!





Thanks for stopping by!  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Teaching Points of View through Role Play (FREE lesson to download!)

Hello!  I'm Deb from Crafting Connections! Do you know how you have favorite lessons that you look forward to teaching each year? Today, I'm going to share with you my favorite lesson in my Teaching Points of View reading unit! 

Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.


Rewind two years.  I'm sitting in my closet- as an ELL teacher who spent most of her day coteaching in upper elementary classrooms, I was fortunate to have my own tiny windowless room that was just big enough to house my desk, a table, and a few filing cabinets- racking my brain trying to think of a point of view activity that would be meaningful for our fifth graders.  We had introduced the concept a few days earlier, but some of the students were still struggling to fully grasp it.  On top of that, I could see that they were pretty bored by the whole topic.  I knew we needed to do something to engage them in the content... to help them view the content as somewhat relevant and not just something that might be on an upcoming standardized test.

Have students work with partners?  Possibly, but I felt they still needed some direct teacher instruction for this to be totally worthwhile.

Do a shared writing activity, in which we work as a class to write in each main point of view?  Yes, that would certainly help some students!  After all, students often learn best by doing.

A role play?  I knew that idea had some potential... the last time the teacher and I did a role play, it was a hit!  But we needed students to differentiate between 3rd person limited (where readers know the thoughts of one character), and 3rd person omniscient (where the readers know the thoughts of all of the characters).  How would that work in a role play??

Ultimately, I combined the role play and the shared writing activity into one lesson, and WOW!  Did it ever work!!  Those kiddos were engaged!  This was the activity that really made the concept of Point of View click with the students who were struggling.

First of all, we had presented a flow chart (similar to this anchor chart) the day before, so students had already been exposed to the skills required to identify the point of view of a piece of writing:
Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.

Since I was in a coteaching situation, the fifth grade teacher and I took on the two roles for the role play.  However, you could easily enlist the help of a student to role play with you.  For this blog post, I asked my daughter to be my fellow actor in order to record the video below.  I played the role of Teacher and Kayla played the role of Student (Jill).
Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.

This video shows my daughter and I performing the skit.

After the teacher and I performed the skit in front of our fifth grade audience TWICE, I told our students that we would now write this role play as a story three times.  Each time, however, we would write using a different point of view.  

They got out their notebooks and wrote "FIRST PERSON" at the top of the page.  (I modeled all of the writing by using the document camera.)  I asked them which pronouns we needed to use for 1st person narration, and they answered "I", "me", and "we".  I told them that we would be writing from the student's perspective.  By asking some leading questions, we ended up with this final paragraph.
Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.
(I reminded students that we would have to underline Jill's thoughts.  If we were typing this, we would be able to put her thoughts in italics like real authors do.)


Then they turned their notebook page and labeled it "THIRD PERSON LIMITED".  I asked them which pronouns we needed to use for 3rd person narration, and they responded, "she" and "her".  We quickly came to the conclusion that the story was about the same, only the pronouns were different!
Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.



Finally, they turned their notebook page one last time and labeled it "THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT".  We reviewed the difference between third person limited and third person omniscient, and quickly realized that we could write nearly the same story, but we just needed to add in the thoughts of the teacher.
Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.

If you want a free copy of this entire lesson, you can download it HERE.
Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.
Clip art by From the Pond.

You will just need to do a little prep work of printing out the two scripts and the thought bubbles.  I tape the thought bubbles to paint sticks or rulers.  When you begin the script, the Student and Teacher characters need to have their thought bubbles in front of themselves. (I simply place them on a desk or table so that the one I need to display first is on top).

Point of View Activity and Anchor Chart- Are you looking for classroom ideas that will help you teach students how to identify which point of view was used by an author? Check out this FREE activity that includes a role play and writing from each point of view: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient.

Feel free to check out my related post about Points of View on my own blog, Crafting Connections.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Best Way to Teach the Writing Process

Welcome to our new blog!  Upper Elementary peeps have gathered together to share each of our unique ideas to bring you amazing ideas to use in your classroom!  This will be the first of many posts so make sure to follow us!  

With Common Core Standards so prevalent in most states, the writing process becomes a focus in the upper elementary classrooms.  The standards state, "With guidance and support from our peers and adults, we can develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing."  One of our SNAPSHOT experts has found a way to perfect this standard so read on!

First, prepare your classroom for the writing process by placing posters vertically in your classroom.  Then, write each student's name on a clothespin.  Students will move their clothespin as they progress to each step of the process.  This will allow you to quickly glance to see who may need help.



Pam from Rockin Resources has graciously offered free Writing Process posters in her store.  There are two versions.  One has young students featured as the graphics and below you will see the tween version which works well for the older students.







Click Here for the free posters!

What do the students do with each of the steps?

1.  Prewriting –
     Brainstorm a list of ideas for the topic using background knowledge and interest.   
     Choose one of the ideas, then complete a Graphic Organizer. 
a.    Introduction  In Narrative Writing, it is the beginning of the story where you introduce the narrator and/or characters, setting and the plot.  In other types of writing, restate the prompt without detailed examples or experiences. 
b.     Body  In Narrative Writing, it is the middle of the story where characters are  developed and events show sequence with heightened suspense and climax.  In other types of writing, choose 3 examples, reasons or subtopics related to the prompt; then provide details or personal experiences for each one. 
c.    Conclusion  In Narrative Writing, it is the end of the story or solution to the problem.  In other types, wrap up the essay and be creative so the reader wants to read more!  Remind the reader of the central idea!

2.   Rough Draft- Just write.  Don't worry about misspelled words!  Indent each paragraph and skip lines so you can make changes later.


3.   READ to Revise  Read your writing out loud to “listen” for story fluency.  Use a color pen and thesaurus to make changes. 
         Rearrange items to make sure you stick to the topic of each paragraph
         Exchange words for stronger ones (Million Dollar words and figurative language)
         Add more detail, transition words and topic sentence
         Delete unnecessary information

4.    CUPS to Edit.  ”Look” for errors.  Use another color pen and a dictionary.  
          Capitals- beginning of the sentence, I, proper nouns, titles, inside quotes. 
          Usage-Subject-Verb Agreement, Double Negatives, Sentence Fragments, Run-on
                                      Sentences, Verb Forms and Tenses, Pronoun Case Forms 
          Punctuation- End of sentences, commas in a series, quotations, combine 
                                      sentences. 
          Spelling- Look over spelling rules!

5.    Peer Reflection- Read your writing to a peer and go over checklist together.  Make more changes to your paper.

6.    Final copy- Make it neat!  Whether you are handwriting or typing, it should be   
       your best work and error free!

I hope you found this post useful!  Do you have ideas to add to this post?  Please leave us feedback!  Happy Writing!