Rootstown Elementary Mrs. Svenson- Grade 2 Kent State AT&T Classroom Highlights February 2017

We are so happy to welcome another class from Rootstown Elementary to the AT&T Classroom. Over the next two weeks Mrs. Alison Svenson and her second graders will be exploring a variety of digital tools to support their learning.

Over the past week the second graders were introduced to tools and apps that they can use during their Daily 5™ rotations. Daily 5™ is a framework for structuring classroom literacy instruction so students develop lifelong habits of reading, writing, and working independently. During the Daily 5™ time block students select from five authentic reading and writing choices to work independently toward personalized goals while the teacher meets individual needs through whole-group and small-group instruction, as well as one-on-one conferring. The reading and writing choices include: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, and Word Work.

As part of their Daily 5™, the students were introduced to a set of tools to use for Work on Writing. Buncee EDU is a free multiplatform tool that students can use to create multimedia projects. The platform offers an interactive digital canvas with thematic background templates that can be used to create stories, books, presentations, pamphlets, posters, etc. Students are able to customize the templates by adding animations, pictures, text, drawings, and videos. The Buncee platform also offers a very large gallery of searchable media that students can use in their projects or students have the option to import external media from their computers or other websites. Completed Buncee projects can be viewed online and/or saved as PDFs. The second graders are using Buncee EDU to create animal cartoons to share the facts they learned from their science research.

This past week the second graders were also introduced to Toontastic 3D to use for Work on Writing. Recently released by Google, Toontastic 3D builds upon the original Toontastic iOS app released in 2011. Toontastic 3D offers newly designed characters and expanded templates and backgrounds that students can use to draw, animate and share 3D stories and cartoons. Students are also able to add audio to their story by recording their own voices. Toontastic 3D is available as a free app for iOS and Android tablets as well as some Chromebook models.

An additional writing tool the second graders are using is Book Creator, a tablet tool that for creating digital stories and ebooks. Students can add text choosing from over 50 fonts within the tool. Children can draw images using the pen tool or photos and images can be added to a project from the tablet’s photo library, from the web, or captured and inserted using the tablet’s camera. Books can also include video, music, and recorded narration. Finished books can be shared via email or uploaded for cloud storage via Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud. Currently available as an iOS or Android app, a new web-based version of Book Creator is targeted for release Summer 2017 that will work in the Chrome browser of all devices and platforms.

At the end of the week the students were introduced to ABCya Story Maker, a free web-based tool that students can use for writing and illustration. The program offers a variety of drawing tools that can be used for creating pictures and scenes. Story projects can encompass one page or multiple pages. Finished story projects can be saved and/or printed. Building from Friday’s Career Dress-Up Day theme at Rootstown Elementary, the second graders used ABCya Story Maker to write about a future career they wish to pursue as an adult.

During their Daily 5™ rotation for Word Work, the second graders are using Vocabulary-Spelling City and Word Ball Free. Vocabulary-Spelling City is a multi-platform tool available for PCs/desktops, Chromebooks, iOS and Android tablets and Kindles. The tool is based on best practices research in education and uses a game-based approach to target important skills for mastering vocabulary terms and spelling rules. Teachers are able to create word lists that students can access for both skill practice and assessment. Word Ball Free is an iOS app that builds from the original Scrabble game. The game presents moving, bouncing, and shrinking letters and challenges the student to use the letters quickly to correctly spell a word.

The students’ Daily 5™ rotations include web-based tools for reading practice. Storyline Online is a free reading website sponsored by the Actors Guild. The website offers numerous children’s stories that are read aloud by famous actors with accompanying text. BookFLIX is a reading website offered through INFOhio and provides free access to classic video storybooks with related nonfiction e-books. Many of the nonfiction titles focus on concepts in social studies and/or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). The sites is designed to provide engaging fiction and nonfiction reading opportunities that help to build children’s phonemic awareness and phonics decoding skills while also strengthening vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The students are also using EPIC! is an ebook library designed for students ages 12 and under. EPIC! is accessible on all platforms and devices giving students access to thousands of books straight from their device. Paid subscriptions allow for student profiles to be created for tracking readers’ progress and offering personalized recommendations based upon the reading level and interests of the student.

The second graders are also learning to coding by working with the Daisy the Dinosaur iPad app. Daisy the Dinosaur is designed to introduce children to the basic elements of coding through a challenge mode and a free play mode. The challenge mode tutorial shows the student how to use drag-and-drop steps to make the dinosaur move, jump, shrink and grow. There is also a free play mode in which children can design their own program to animate Daisy.

The Rootstown second graders ended their week by taking a photo walk on the Kent State campus, using the camera feature on the iPads. Back in the AT&T Classroom the students were introduced to Pic Collage for Kids to create a collage of their photos. Also known as Pic Kids for short, Pic Collage for Kids is a free app for creating scenes and collages with photos taken with an iOS device. The app was designed specifically for students of elementary and middle school ages as an alternative to the original PicCollage app. Both apps offer access to a tremendous gallery of backgrounds, stickers and customizable fonts for creating photo projects. With Pic Kids, students are able to conduct safe-filter Internet image searches and social media sharing features are removed. The second graders enjoyed using the tools within the app to create their own unique collage that included one photo of nature, one photo of architecture, one photo with people, and a favorite photo of their choice. Students used the app’s customized fonts and text features to write sentences to add as a caption describing each photo.

While in the AT&T Classroom the Rootstown second graders have access to ewriters as part of their classroom toolkit. Within their work space, each of the students has a Scribble n’ Play ewriter tablet. The Scribble n’ Play utilizes liquid crystal display (LCD) technology to provide a digital tool for all writing and creativity tasks such as drawing, text writing/notes, mathematical calculations and mathematical writing. Students are to able to choose from the tablet’s four unique stylus tools to write and draw in multiple colors to create different visual effects that promote students’ engagement, motivation and creativity as they approach their work and projects. This past week the second graders used the Scribble n’ Plays for math practice.

The Rootstown second graders are also field-testing a new ewriter standing board in the AT&T Classroom. The ewriter board utilizes the same reflective, pressure-sensitive, plastic liquid crystal display (LCD) to provide a digital writing and drawing experience. The board also offers a save function so that teacher and student work can be saved and uploaded for cloud storage. An accompanying app to the board allows for real-time observation of students and teachers using the board within classroom activities. Both the Scribble n’ Play and the ewriter board in the AT&T Classroom are manufactured by Kent Displays, Inc. (KDI) a local company who is a global leader in manufacturing ewriter display technology.

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