Tuesday, May 28, 2013

5th Graders Enjoy Interactive Writing on KidBlog

For the second year, fifth grade students in Mrs. Sue Hooge's classes at Independence Elementary School have had the opportunity to share their writing projects online using the free website KidBlog. Mrs. Hooge setup three different KidBlog sites for the 5th grade writing students she taught last year in her homeroom, Mrs. Cromwell's class, and Mrs. Burgess' class. Here are some of the comments 5th graders wrote at the end of the year about their experiences with interactive writing and KidBlog.

This year, I thought it was exciting to use Kidblog. I thought it helped me a little because it helped me learn to blog if someday I wanted to blog on something else. It also helped me because it has spell check and it helped me learn how to spell and remember the words that I type. It was also a little fun because I could blog at home about what I did during the weekend or during spring break. Also, at the beginning of the year, we got to do our first blog about the book that we read from the library so it was kind of new to me when it first introduced to me. I really liked Kidblog and I thought it was very fun to experience it.
To access their class' Kidblog website from home, in the school computer lab, in the classroom, or anywhere else, students learned to visit www.yukonps.com and click the top tab for OUR STAFF. Then students (and other web visitors) can click INTERACTIVE TEACHER SITES in the right sidebar of the page. That page lists links to individual teacher KidBlog sites and other interactive media sites, like YouTube and AudioBoo channels.

In reflecting about her experiences with KidBlog, Ashlee wrote:
I think kid blog is like Facebook but much safer and better for kids! It is really fun to type stories, advice, or just because you want to tell kids about something you did. I also like to comment on people’s post to tell them what I liked about it or tell them if they misspelled a word or something like that. It is great to see what other people are doing or to see how their stories are different from yours! I had a fantastic experience with kid blog and I hope you did too!
It is not only important for our students to learn to practice good digital citizenship and the responsibility which comes with access to digital resources online, it's also required by the new Common Core State Standards. Students are required to both read and write with different kinds media, and using digital text on a classroom site like KidBlog is an excellent way to practice these skills.

Not all the 5th grade students were excited to use a public, interactive website for writing, however. Landon wrote:
I don’t really like Kid Blog that much but it was kind of fun. I’m not really in to the websites where you type things and people comment on your opinion.
It's true not all students are fond of writing or enthusiastic about writing in a public forum where other people can see their work. Since we live in a world increasingly filled with digital information, however, it's more important than ever that we help students learn to wisely and responsibly navigate the choices which face them when it comes to writing and sharing ideas online. It's important to note Mrs. Hooge MODERATED all the posts and comments which students and others submitted to their Kidblog sites during the year. This ability for the teacher to filter and approve posts before they are seen by other students as well as the public is critical, and helped Mrs. Hooge facilitate positive writing experiences for her students online this year.

While blogging in class wasn't the highlight of the year for every student, it definitely was for some in YPS. Natalie, a student at Lakeview Elementary School, joined the after-school club "Storychasers" last semester. In a recent post on the LES Storychasers site, she wrote:
My half year in story chasers has been the best thing of the whole year. It was great if you are in 4th grade and you are not in story chasers you sure try as hard as you possibly can no matter if you don’t want to be a journalist. My favorite thing in story chasers was when we first started and the things we learned. We learned how to do audio boo, articles, and how to do a lot of things.
 It's wonderful to see teachers and students in YPS embracing digital writing and the opportunities it affords for students to both develop their literacy skills as well as meet Common Core State Standards. Check out more YPS student work on the Interactive Teacher Websites page.

Poems with Prezi

Seventh grade students of Mrs. Ricki Robertson at Yukon Middle School used the website Prezi last semester to create interactive presentations for poems they created for class. Here are five examples Way to go Mrs. Robertson and 7th (now 8th) grade YMS students!

Steve Jobs by Judy

Lincoln Poem by Brandon

Jesus Christ by Summer

Martin Luther King Jr by Joey

Abraham Lincoln by Austin

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Your School Needs a Scratch Club [VIDEO]

This past year, fourth and fifth grade students at Independence Elementary School in Yukon, Oklahoma, have had the opportunity to participate in an after-school Scratch Club led by STEM teacher Chris Simon. Scratch is a free program from the MIT Media Lab, which permits learners of any age to create games, tell stories, make animations, and much more. In its new 2.0 version, Scratch is entirely web-based, so it can even run on a Chromebook! Yesterday was the final day of "Scratch Club" for students at Independence Elementary this year, and several students shared the reasons why they enjoy Scratch and have loved the Scratch Club. In this five minute video compilation of their ideas, pay attention to how several students mention the importance of "agency" and choice. Many report how they love the opportunity to be self-directed in their learning and to have opportunities to use their imaginations to create. Also notice the way one student references the "hard fun" of programming, which is something Gary Stager talks about often in the context of students learning to code.


Many thanks to Chris Simon as well as Cecil Bowles, the principal of Independence Elementary, for supporting this Scratch Club experience for fourth and fifth grade students. All students at IES were introduced to the Scratch program in the fall, and many chose to attend the Spring Break "Scratch Camp" Chris Simon helped facilitate in March. Scratch Club, however, has provided weekly opportunities for students to not only "go deeper" with their knowledge of programming in Scratch. Perhaps more importantly, Scratch Club has provided a space for students to be encouraged and recognized for their "geek skills" in creating programs, making videos and telling stories with computers. It will be exciting to see where these students choose to apply these skills in the years ahead!

Check out Code.org for more information about getting an after-school computer programming club like the IES Scratch Club going at your school!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Using Student Videos on YouTube to Demonstrate Proper School Procedures

Jennie Wilmes, the K-3 librarian at Shedeck Elementary School, has been working with teachers this semester on a new "digital way" to help students learn proper procedures at school. Using some very talented student actors, Mrs. Wilmes created and published six short videos to her Library YouTube channel which showcase proper procedures for using the bathroom, walking in the hallway, attending the morning "sunrise" assembly, eating in the cafeteria, staying safe on the playground, and checking out books from the library. Mrs. Wilmes collected all six videos in a single YouTube playlist, so teachers at Shedeck (as well as parents and students, with assistance) can access these terrific videos. They range in duration from 37 seconds to 1 minute and 57 seconds each. Mrs. Wilmes recorded, edited and published these videos to YouTube using an iPad and the iPad app, iMovie. Gayla Pounds, the literacy coach at Shedeck, also assisted with the video recording. Check out these super videos featuring Shedeck students!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Developing Communication Skills With YouTube & iPad Videos

Ginger Gregory is the Gifted Resource Teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Yukon, and currently has 117 videos on her classroom YouTube channel. Ginger has used the six iPads in her classroom and her free, district-provided YouTube channel (since our district participates in the Google Apps for Education program) to help her students develop oral communication skills, oral fluency, as well as digital literacy skills this semester. In the following six minute video, Mrs. Gregory and eight of her students explain what they have learned as a result of their assignments this year using iPad videos and YouTube.


It's exciting to hear about these positive ways Lakeview students and teachers are not only meeting the new Common Core State Standards, which include requirements for students to both use and create information in multimedia formats, but also how students are having opportunities to discuss and practice the responsible use of digital media tools like YouTube. Mrs. Gregory is doing a great job finding ways to not only engage students through technology, but also prepare students to make good choices with technology tools. This "digital literacy" training and practice is more important than ever in our hyper-connected world. Way to go, Mrs. Gregory and Lakeview Elementary students!

While Yukon Schools also participates in the free "YouTube for Schools" filtering program which limits student access at school to only "approved" YouTube videos, it's very important to prepare students to make good digital choices when they access the Internet OFF the school network. This happens regularly when students use cell phones with data plans or go online at home or other places where Internet content is not filtered.

As of April 30, 2013, teachers and staff in Yukon Public Schools had created 24 different YouTube channels. YPS has over 500 certified teachers, but most do not yet have YouTube channels. YPS teachers were first able to create district-administered YouTube channels a year ago, in the spring of 2012. Teachers like Mrs. Gregory who are exploring the use of YouTube for educational purposes are blazing an important trail as digital learning pioneers for other educators around our district, throughout Oklahoma, and around the world.

If you're interested in seeing other creative ways Yukon teachers are using YouTube to share student work and "flip their classrooms," check out the channels of high school trigonometry teacher Jim Drummond (25 videos, math problem tutorials), 7th grade geography teacher Phillip Ward (42 videos, student "paper-slide video" reports about Africa), 6th grade social studies teacher Kayleen Browning (6 videos, student skits about ancient Rome), and professional development coordinator Adam Zodrow (7 videos: screencasts about Common Core, TLE and more). If you're interested in creating a free YouTube channel, check out these instructions on the YPS Instructional FAQs site.

Many thanks to Jake Heister, who taught a wonderful professional development workshop earlier this semester at Canadian Valley Technology Center about instructional uses of YouTube, which Mrs. Gregory attended.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

3rd Graders Research Animals with 4 iPads, AudioBoo and PebbleGo

This spring semester, 3rd grade students at Shedeck Elementary School in Yukon, Oklahoma, worked with their librarian, Jeannie Wilmes, to conduct "blended research" about different kinds of animals. Their research was "blended" because students used both library books as well as electronic resources like the PebbleGo website and database. Mrs. Wilmes worked with students twice a week for two weeks in this project, which culminated in students audio recording their research using the free iPad app AudioBoo. Students were then able to share their recordings with classmates and with parents online. In this five minute interview video, Mrs. Wilmes and some of the Shedeck third graders describe their project, what they enjoyed and some of their lessons learned.


Check out more of the students' recordings on the AudioBoo channels for Mrs. Doran's class, Mrs. Filyukova's class, and Mrs. Forga's class. It's wonderful to see and hear the great work that Mrs. Wilmes is able to do with students as a full-time library media specialist. Way to go Shedeck students and educators!


Do you know about mudpuppies, which are sometimes called water dogs? If not, you better check out Cynthia's report!