Let’s Get Creative With Educreations

  In the planning stage of a book, don’t plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it. -Rose Tremain

With only 74 days of school remaining in this year, (wow, that totally seems like I’m counting) I’m feeling the urge to mix things up a bit and try some different things.  I’m a self-confessed organization evangelist and I don’t like messy things (no glitter, ever).  I’m also a big planner and to-do list person.  Call it our ridiculously warm winter this year or perhaps early, early spring, but I’m up for a bit of whimsy.  A bit of spontaneity.

unpacked standardsThis week, our unpacked standard in math, is addition is putting things together and subtraction is taking things apart.  Another kindergarten teacher and I thought it would be fun to put 2 groups of our children together and let them come up with a number story with a partner from the other class.  They would plan together and write it out on paper first.  The partners would decide if it was an addition story or a subtraction story first, then they would decide what object(s) would be used in the number story.  One of the stories went like this: We had 4 flowers.  We gave 2 flowers away.  We had 2 flowers left.

After the story was written out and illustrated on paper, the pair opened their Educreations app.  Educreations is a free interactive whiteboard for iPad. Students can create a video tutorial, record and play their voice, add photos from the camera or their own drawings,  and can animate their images by dragging them around the screen while recording.  planningEach pair of students, decided who would read the story problem first and who would illustrate the story problem while it was being read.  Then they reversed roles and recorded it on the other student’s iPad.  This way both students had their work to show.

My planning only went as far as the partners working on the story problems together and then recording. These students took this assignment and ran with it.  The partners came up with great story problem ideas and did a wonderful job collaborating and taking turns. They loved taking turns and putting the story problem on each iPad.  I’ve mentioned how much they love to talk!

This app has so many possibilities and is so easy to use.  I can even create lessons on the app and have students watch it as needed to work on a skill.  Lessons can be shared via email, Facebook and Twitter if needed.  By having a target plan in place, but allowing the students to take charge and turn it into their own, I find the results usually far exceed even my high expectations…and THAT is definitely a happy ending!

boys planning

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A Reading Buffet with iPads

Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.  -Stephen Fry

Sunday potluck dinners in the South are awesome.  There is always a huge array of church- lady food.  You know the kind I’m talking about…Miss Ruby’s secret recipe sweet potato casserole, or Miss Ethel’s homemade from scratch coconut cake.  You look down the long table filled with amazing choices and hope the blessing is said quickly and that you’ve got enough space in your stomach to hold a little bit of all of it. You walk away with a plate piled high of a little of this and a little of that.  So much better is this than going to a restaurant where you may have a menu full of choices, but you must settle on only one entree.  Invariably, I always look around once the food arrives and wish I had ordered what someone else ordered.

reading choicesHaving choices in reading is no different than that Sunday covered dish luncheon.  My students have the choice of reading regular books, and they can also read from their iPads.  They have many books both hard copy and electronic to choose from.  They can read from a variety of genres and from a variety of topics on a variety of reading levels.  This is a time when more is definitely…well…more.  Already my kindergarten students are referencing author styles, comparing illustrations, and making connections to other texts with their reading partners.  One student recently asked another, “Do you like Eric Carle’s illustrations better than Dr. Seuss?”

Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer states: “People who lose the ability to make choices become disempowered. This is true for adults, and it is true for young readers. When every book a child reads is chosen for them — by parents or teachers — children lose self-motivation to read and interest in reading. Children should choose their own reading material most of the time, but they need exposure to a book flood to determine what books they like and learn how to choose their own books. ”

Choices encourage engagement, engagement encourages stamina and stamina teaches the curriculum of time.  Children need to learn to read by reading.  By offering them a veritable table of “covered dish” choices, they don’t have to decide between the sweet potatoes and the mashed potatoes…they can have both.  And isn’t that the best of both worlds?  Pass the gravy y’all…

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