Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Catching up with Common Craft and Thinglink.

I know its been about 6/7 months since my last post and I've basically neglected my blogging goal of the academic year. So trying to get back on the blogging path, I'm going to go over a few digital tools I used to extend my Science classes.

Last year, I used Common Craft with my thirds with my Sadako unit. They had to make a common craft about her character. This year in fourth, we decided to use the same technique but they had to explain what they learnt in their Matter Unit. If you are not familiar with common craft, it is a form of movie making in which the story is told in a paper-slide video project.
Phase Changes by Austin Andrea Kleio from Constance Leung on Vimeo.

As you can see, this is a very low-tech way to do a video project. We also used the web based application Thinglink. Thinglink allows you to make your images interactive through putting different media on it such as sound clips, video clips, text, images, social media and website links.

We did an integrated unit on animal adaptations with writing an informational compare/contrast text on two animals - one real and one made up. As part of the digital integration, they used Paint to digitally draw their made up animal. We then used Thinglink to upload the image and the students attached different media explaining the different adaptations of their animals.

As the students become more digitally fluent through continuously using the same few applications for different extension exercises, students are able to show their learning through both traditional and digital mediums.

Currently, my students are working on Stop-Motion animations to wrap up their Heat Energy unit. I will upload a post in the next few days as I document my fourths navigating their way through both the planning process as well as learning how to use iMovie for voice-overs...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Using Popplet in Content Areas

I love integrating IT across the curriculum. I believe that it is important that the kids are able to apply 21st century IT skills both at school and at home rather than just "IT class". This year in Grade 4, the kids are more computer savvy. They come with a wealth of computer knowledge - appropriate to the grade level rather than last year where a lot of the first half of the year was dedicated to typing skills.

Having said that, the third graders were able to produce some green screen and common craft pieces towards the end of the year.

In Science, we have been regulated to the Scott Foresman series which I find particularly dry. We are learning about classifying plants. In Hong Kong, it is difficult to find certain species of common North American plants due to the climate of our country. I decided to use Popplet  as an activity to classify different plants. This also linked in nicely with our Reading Street comprehension skill, graphic sources.

First, I divided up my class into five groups. Each group was assigned a plant classification : vascular, non-vascular, spores, cones and seeds and flowering plans. Then, within each group, they paired up.
I told my students I was grading them on individual participation and on team work. This is the rubric I used.
In our school, we are aligned with the IB curriculum, so our rubrics are out a scale of 7. It easily adaptable. You can get it here.

Once the kids are logged in, they started working on their Popplets.  I went through a demonstration with the students. We talked about how the diagram should start from the relevant kingdom. In my demonstration, I chose to use animals, vertebrates and invertebrates.

The final product looked like this:

 This website can translate to pretty much anything and kids are super proud when they are done with it! So many reasons why students should use Popplet!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 2, What we have been up too...

Hi there friends! Its been a while since I last posted and I do apologise for that. The start up of the year is always a crazy time at The Academy, and I've pretty much lost a lot of sleep and grew a few grey hairs. Now that we have delved into the second week of school, it's good to see the school year starting to meld together.

This is my first year back in fourth grade after being in third for four years. I'm pretty excited as it means I have more teaching time in English and Science.

Our first back mainly consisted of back to school stuff, but I was really eager to get that past so I can get into the nitty gritty of teaching.

I'm definitely loving my new class this year. They are extraordinarily calm and insightful and its great going up a grade with them.

This week, we started off our Reading Street unit, Patterns of Nature. We only picked selected stories from each unit.

The kiddos read the selection in two lessons. Since our comprehension skill is fact and opinion, we did a lot of work on differentiating the two. Afterwards, we made a fact map about what we learnt on Grey Whales and listed the facts and opinions from the story.

If you would like a copy of the worksheet, you can download it here. 

In Science, we have started looking at cells and classification. We are also using the Scotts Foresman Science books which I find a bit dry. I managed to get the Senior School to allow us to use the video microscope to look at plant and animal cells.

The kiddos really enjoyed this as it was the first time they got to use a microscope.  I projected a sample of the onion cell and an animal cell on the board and the kids made some observations.

Before they started, we talked about using our five senses to make observations in Science. I posted an anchor chart on making observations to help them with their write-up.

I hope you are all have a good week at your schools! Happy Days! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Currently August and Made it Monday...on Wednesday...

Hello Bloggy friends! Sorry I've been a bit MIA recently, but it's been a bit hectic over her in Bonkers Honkers! School started today, well meetings - the kids are not due for another fortnight. Well - here is my first stab at Currently, the August edition, so hear goes!!

Listening/Loving: My Aaron Sorkin addiction, The Newsroom. I love the writing, the banter and the characters!

Thinking: Since I'm moving up with my grade, I decided on a new theme in my classroom so the students that are in my class this year would have something new to look forward to. This, however means I need to print, cut and laminate again. Ew.

Wanting: Apple TV! I've been hearing a lot about the use of Apple TV in the classroom, so I am very tempted to purchase this next month and try it out with my devices.

Needing: After attending the TCRWP's Reading Institute at Columbia University, I feel inspired to level my classroom library. Arduous.

B2S must haves: Blu tack. Laminating Film. Unlimited Colour Printing. No explanation needed.

And for What I made this past Monday... 

Banoffie Pie! - This classic British dessert is a childhood favourite of mine and is always a crowd pleaser. For those who don't know what Banoffie is, it's banana toffee pie. So here is my recipe.

100g butter melted
250g Digestive biscuits - crushed


100g butter
100g dark sugar
350g condensed milk
4 ripe bananas


300g carton whipped cream
grated chocolate
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Step 1:

Melt the butter into the pan, spoon in the crumble and mix. Scoop the mixture into your pie pan and spread the mixture onto the pan and halfway upwards to create the shell. Chill for 15 minutes.

Step 2:

Melt the butter in the pan. Add the dark sugar and condensed milk. Stir continuously and bring it into a rapid boil. Keep the mixture boiling for a minute, stirring continuously. Pour the mixture into the crust and chill for about an hour.

Step 3:

Chop the banana and put it on top of the squidgy caramel. In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the vanilla essence and add the whip cream on the pie. Garnish the pie with the grated chocolate.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

My first blog nomination: The Liebster Award!

What a pleasant surprise!  Ali from Teaching (Powered by Caffeine) has nominated me for my first bloggy award!  So a massive thank you to Ali! 

Whilst I was doing this, I also got nominated from Deb at Crafting Connections, so really many thanks to the both you !

I've seen these awards on other teacher blogs and I find it with great interest reading about my fellow teachers across the globe!

Here are the rules to the Liebster Award:

• Link back to the blog that nominated me

• Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers 
• Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator 
• Share 11 random facts about yourself 
• Create 11 questions for your nominees 
• Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

Ali's Questions:

1. What do you dread the most about starting the school year?
The one thing I dread the most is assessing the children. It is such a tedious task assessing 36 students .

2. What excites you the most about starting the school year?
Lots of things! Setting up my classroom, getting to know my students. This year, I got to attend the Reading Institute at the TCWRP, so i'm excited about implementing my newly learnt strategies into my class! 

3. What would you be doing if you weren't a teacher?
I would probably be a lawyer or doctor. 

4. What's the best advice someone gave you before or just after becoming a teacher?
If in doubt, pop into another teacher's classroom. When I first became a teacher, I learnt a lot from observing other teacher. So observe, learn and adapt 

5. Greatest vacation you ever had?
Greatest vacation... hmmm... recently, it would be my trip to Europe. 6 weeks in France, Spain and Italy. It was pretty amazing. 

6. The TV show you'd cry the most over if they took it off the air tomorrow?
Games of Thrones

7. If you had to choose, dogs or cats?
Dogs! My best friend has this amazing Golden doodle Sambal. And I'm positively dying to have one!!

8. If you could meet anyone famous living in the world today, who would it be and why?
Hilary Clinton.  She's been through so much, yet she still as so much poise and success. I think she would be fascinating to talk to. 

9.  Tell the funniest moment you can remember that happened in your classroom. 
There are so many hysterical moments in my classroom. I actually cant think of one right now.  

10. Got a weird talent?  What is it?
I can... play dodgeball?

11. And here's your pageant question: There are a myriad of problems our world faces today.  Of all the problems in this world, which one would you most want to solve and why?
Poverty.  Living conditions, food, money or the lack thereof is in my belief the reason why there is so much crime in the world. People often do things out of desperation. If poverty could be solved, then maybe the other problems could also be alleviated. 

Deb's Questions: 
1. What grades/subjects have you taught, and which is your favourite?
I have taught grade 6th and 7th English and Humanities, 9th grade History, 3rd grade Science, Maths, English and IT, and 4th grade Science and English. 
I have to say teaching history and science have been my favourites so far. I love doing hands on work with the kids in science. In history, I taught it through the IB curriculum, and I found that challenging  in a good way because it required a lot of out of the box thinking when planning the lessons. 

2.  What vacation destination was your favourite of all time?
Paris. I grew up in London - so popping over to Paris was just a skip and a hop. I love Paris, because not only it it a fantastic getaway with friends but I also love doing solo trips there. 

3.  What would you be doing if you weren't teaching?

I'd probably be a lawyer or a doctor.

4.  If you had to move, what state/country would you choose?

5.  Why did you start blogging?
Few weeks ago.

6.  Who is/was the teacher you find most inspiring, and why?
There's a fellow teacher at my school who I find particularly inspiring because she's super creative within her lessons. She's a bit of a dragon lady but the kids love her. 

7.  How long have you been teaching?
5 years

8.  What jobs did you have before you started teaching?
I worked at Abercrombie (LOL), was a nanny and spent 4 years as a publicist in Hollywood

9.  If you could teach any grade level or subject, what would you choose?
Grade 5-7, I like that age group.

10.  What is your favourite food?
Korean and Mexican. But not together. 

11.  What is your greatest accomplishment?
Finding the job that I love. 

11 Random Facts about Myself

1. I'm a gypsy. I've lived in 3 continents, 6 cities all before I was 25. 

2. I have two degrees, none in teaching. My BA was in Mass Communication and Journalism and French, and my MA was in Political Science - Public Diplomacy. 

3. I was an accidental teacher. I fell into teaching when I moved to Hong Kong, loved it and got my diploma in Education at Hong Kong University. I've now been teaching for 5 years.

4. I was on the equestrian team for 10 years. I miss riding a lot! 

5. I LOVE country music.  Yes, I'm that girl who loves to belt out a good country song at Karaoke. 

6. I used to be a publicist in LA. 

7. I can bake the best banana bread in the world. In my opinion anyways... 

8. I also make a pretty bad ass banoffie pie. 

9. I never played netball in school but now I play in adult league and I piloted/coach the netball team at my school, which is currently the most successful sport at the Academy. 

10. My two favourite foods are Mexican and Korean. 

11. I'm super accident prone. My best friend wanted to dress me up as bubble wrap for Halloween one year. 

Blogs I am nominating with the Liebster Award
  1. Mary at Fit to Be Fourth 
  2. Mrs. Monroe at School is a Happy Place
  3. Lori at  Owl in a Vowel Tree
  4. Tessa at Funnies in Fourth Grade
  5. Mrs H @ Just a Primary Girl 

And my 11 questions: 

1. What was the most important book you have read to date and why?
2. What is your favourite read aloud and why?
3. What is your favourite unit to teach and why?
4. What is one item in your classroom that you could not live without?
5. If you could teach one extra curricular of your choice, what would it be? 
6. Your favourite literary character. 
7. If you could move to another country, where would it be and why?
8. What is your favourite TV show to wind down to?
9. Your favourite cuisine.
10. If you could teach any grade level, what would it be?
11. What is or are your teaching goal(s) this year? 

That was a long post! Thanks again Ali and Deb! :) 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Advice for New Teachers!

 Flying into First Grade is having a linky regarding advice for new teachers... so here goes: 

Buy: Clorox wipes (and Febreeze air freshener). They make any situation cleaner and fresher.

Always: Plan ahead. I'm a stickler for forward planning. Some teachers like to teach on the fly, but planning ahead gives you a clear vision of your goals ahead. Of course, with this you should also be flexible for changes as they arise. I do my planning at the beginning of the week every week and I try to look forward to two weeks at at time. Understanding by Design is a great framework to help you plan your work.

Never: Lose faith in yourself. There will always be toxic parents, colleagues, admin who has something negative to say to you or about your craft. Just don't let them affect you.

Find: Good teacher friends. You can learn a lot from them.

Make: Friends with your I.T. techs. You need them to come quickly and promptly when one of your 21st century devices need troubleshooting. My IT tech team are always on call and arrive within minutes of my tech problems. I always send cookies at the end of the school year to show appreciation.

Be: Confident!

Must Read Mentor Texts with Collaboration Cuties

The girls over at Collaboration Cuties  are doing a linky on Science mentor texts, so I decided to link up! During my NYC adventure, I popped into Bankstreet Bookstore on 112th and Broadway. Bankstreet has an extensive selection of children's books and of course I had to pick some out for my kiddos.

I picked out this fantastic book called 11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter.

Each experiment goes through each step of the scientific in great hilarity but in terms in which the reader can understand each step of the scientific experiment.  This is going to be an excellent read with the kids!

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