Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Teacher Organization using TES Teach with Blendspace!

What is TES Teach with Blendspace?
TES Teach with Blendspace is a free, fun, and intuitive app for creating and delivering interactive lessons, projects, presentations, and more.  

How can it be used by Teachers?

For me, TES Teach is a way to organize materials by grouping them into a "lesson" on the TES Teach website.  What I love about TES Teach is that the board looks like a bulletin board and I can place all the materials I wish to teach together.  In this example, I organized all my Veteran's Day materials together, I even found new materials using the TES Teach search.

Help me make my own TES Teach with Blendspace!
Start by setting up an account with TES Teach.  You can set up a free account.  Once you have an account you will start on the Dashboard page.  

On that page, select + New Lesson, the green button. The next page you will name your Blendspace.  

On the right hand side of the page, you will type in what you are searching for and start searching for materials to fill your space. You can search the TES site, YouTube, Google, Google Images, Flicker and any website, or downloaded items to fill your space. There is no limit to your Blendspace, you can keep adding more rows to add materials. 

Once you have finished you can share your Blendspace.  It's easy to share and make a QR code for students to us.

With the QR code it is easy for students to access the information on their iPads.

QR codes are a First Graders Best Friend!

What is a QR code?
QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. A barcode is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached.  QR codes now are used in the education setting in many different ways. 

Why QR code websites?
This November I decided I was spending too much time helping my first graders type in web addresses to get to commonly used websites in the classroom.  I decided to create an easy QR code poster so my students can scan the website they wish to visit and get to work immediately.  Also, I was able to share these QR codes with parents so students have access to technology we are using in the classroom at home.

How do you make QR codes?
I used QRstuff.com.  I thought this website was so easy to use.  On the home page, you start with selecting the Data Type.  For me, all mine were web addresses but you have so many options to choose from as shown in this first image...

Next, based on your data type, you add the content.  For mine, I pasted in the website address.

Then, you select your color.  I selected orange since I decided to make a QR Code for my ThingLink.

Finally, I can see the QR code in the preview screen and can select Download QR Code.  My QR codes are downloaded to my computer under downloads.  I rename the QR code and then I move the file to my QR code file on my desktop to keep them organized.

What do students think of the QR codes?
Students love to can scan the QR code on their iPads and explore the ThingLink, websites and books I have made QR codes for.  It is so easy for them to get to where they need to be and it eliminates wasted time on finding the right website and asking for help.  Definitely something my students and I will keep on using!
Thanksgiving ThingLink for First Grade

Fun Ways to Thinglink your Teaching Materials


Before Thanksgiving I had time to develop a Thinglink for my Thanksgiving materials.  I used to store all my materials in different places, sometimes, not remembering where I saved an image or a song.  This year I used Thinglink to help organize all those materials into one fun place, on the Thanksgiving Turkey.

What is ThinkLink?
According to their website, ThingLink is the leading platform for creating interactive images and videos for web, social, advertising, and educational channels. It helps you make your images come alive with video, text, images, shops, music and more! 

How to make your own ThinkgLink?
Some beginning basics for ThingLink are
1. Have all your materials ready and accessible when you are ready to start
2. Create a ThingLink account
3. Press the Create (+) button at the top of the page
4. Import your image from your computer or from the internet
5. Tag items on the image and link the tag to websites, Youtube and other images.
6. Share your ThingLink with others.

Below is a Youtube video to help you understand how to make a ThingLink in more detail.

This is very simple to make and use in the classroom.  Each day I would display the Thanksgiving ThingLink and my students were able to press the buttons and listen to stories or songs of Thanksgiving.  Here's a video of the class taking a brain break and doing the Turkey Shuffle.
I hope you enjoy using ThingLink and if you wish to access my ThingLink for my Thanksgiving Turkey, here's the link Thanksgiving for First Graders.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

To read or not to read? That is the question! 
Image Source

It's a great question, especially in today's busy world that provides several other options for entertainment. After reading a recent research article on Common Sense Media Research on the devastating decline of our children time reading, frequency of reading, and what those predictors mean.

Based on what I read, I ask the question... could our trends in the decline of reading be linked to our use of technology, or is simple a lack of knowledge of where to access to good age appropriate reading materials?

In 2006, Early Kaiser Foundation found that children ages 6 months to 6 years spend 5 minutes a day on electronic books, such as LeapPads.  In 2009, after Kindles, iPads and other electronic reading devices were introduced, the results came back that only 2 minutes were being spend on reading. According to a Common Sense study, today over 75% of families own some type of "smart" electronic device.  Out of these families, less than 28% had used them for reading at home.  The devices are used for playing games, watching TV or movies or using apps.

Based on the same study, only 4% of 8 year olds and under use ebooks on a daily basis, either reading by themselves or being read to by their parents.  Learning this statistic, I was puzzled. Why wouldn't parents take advantage of all the wonderful apps and websites available for reading.  After combing through the study, it appears that at a young age, parents like to flip pages of a book.  I get it, I love the feel of books in my hands.  The second is that they don't have good sources for knowing where to get access to millions of books for their electronic devices.

Knowing what I know now, I need to determine how to further integrate technology in my classroom. Currently, we use RAZ-Kids in the classroom for reading. Based on the statistics in the article, most of my students do not use an electronic devices for reading at home. Providing parents with access and logon information at home would give the students the ability to access their ebooks and reading level anywhere. Also, exposing parents to Tumblebooks and Epic would give parents and students access to a library of books. Instead of handing their child their phone to play an app or watch a movie, maybe we can move to...
"Would you like to read a book?"