Friday, April 25, 2014

iPads in First Grade?

Be Careful for What you Wish For!

At the end of last year I applied (wished) to have ipads in my classroom for this year.  At the end of last year I was teaching third grade.  I found out at the end of summer that I would be teaching first grade this year.  I was really nervous about moving to a new grade with such little people and on top of it having ipads in my classroom!  It has definitely been a learning process, but with a lot of help from colleagues, I did find fun and engaging ways to implement ipads in my classroom.  I am amazed at how quickly the students learn how to use the apps and I am so glad that I did "wish" for the ipads after all!
Whole Group Lessons

I have used the nearpod app this year for several math lessons.  I take the information from our Math Expressions teacher manual and implement it into my nearpod lesson. What has been great about nearpod is that I can use examples from the teacher manual to see how my students work them out. Since they must share an ipad, they also have to collaborate before they submit their work. I love being able to pull up students work for the class to see.  It really lends to the “math talk” that we encourage so much with common core.  Students can comment on the work of other students by sharing if they “agree or disagree”.  It is such a learning tool for students to be able to explain how he or she came to a solution, or even where a mistake was made.


I have also used  Kahoot! this year. Kahoot is a game based classroom response system which is very engaging! It reminds me a lot of the “clickers” I used to use for whole group review.  Students in my classroom have to be partners, but they love creating a team name.  Once all students have submitted their team name, they put in a pin number and the Kahoot begins. With Kahoot, you can create questions for a quiz or as a survey.  In the survey format, it shows how many “teams” chose a certain answer and it lets me know if the majority of my class is familiar or unfamiliar with a certain topic. I have created a survey in Kahoot as a pre-assessment before a lesson on telling time. I have also used Kahoot in the quiz form for a science review.  It is time based and it has fun music that gets the kids really excited. Kahoot is not an app, but I turned it into a QR code and students can just scan the code to take them right to Kahoot!


Small Group Lessons and Stations

In small group lessons, such as guided reading, I like to use edmodo to upload books for a couple of my reading groups.  The students amaze me at how quickly they go get their ipad for guided reading time and log in to get to their book.  I also have used educreations to follow up on guided reading activities by uploading some of the Reading A to Z graphic organizers, such as the Venn diagrams and the cause and effect boxes.  It saves paper and copies and the kids love it!  It is a bit time consuming for them as they learn how to insert the text box and type, but they are getting faster!

In stations, I love, love love using QR codes!  I have created many math stations with QR codes.  Again, since I don’t have enough ipads to go around, they must share which means a lot of collaborating!  My students know they still have to work out their problems in their math journals before scanning the QR code to check their answers.

During the reading stations, one rotation is to read a book, take an AR quiz (also on ipads), RAZ kids or go to Scootpad reading.  I have recently found “free” QR codes for online reading books.  Once a week, I allow them to scan what looks like a little iphone and it takes them to some online reading sources.  I have them differentiated for students.  One of the resources takes them to articles and stories from the Highlights magazine. They can choose to read it on their own or use headphones and it will read it aloud to them.  If time permits, they are asked to fill in a story summarizer to keep them accountable for their reading.

It has been an amazing year of learning how to implement the ipads, I feel the biggest impact the ipads have made in my classroom, is the ability to differentiate for my students.  If I have a student who is really struggling in an area, I can find something or create something that can give that student extra practice during his/her station time.  Everyone is so busy working on “what is best for their own learning” that students respect what each other is doing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

First Grade IPad Happenings

First Grade IPad Happenings

    In my first grade classroom I am lucky enough to have a 1:1 IPad ratio.  This is my first year with an Ipad classroom and it has been such a wonderful learning experience for me!  In the classroom we use the throughout the day in all subject areas.  Below I have highlighted some of the Ipad happenings in first grade!

    Edmodo has become my best friend for guided reading!  The program allows me to set up an account for every student in my class.  The students are organized within the program into their guided reading groups.  Each group has their own leveled reader for the week on the program. After working with the students throughout the week, they take a reading comprehension quiz on Edmodo. 

    While I am meeting with guided reading groups’ students rotate through reading centers.  Three of the centers I use most often are Scootpad, Raz Kids, and Accelerated Reader.  The Scootpad program is Common Core aligned and the students have their own sign in and account in which they can work on particular reading (and math) objectives. 
    In the Raz Kids program students also have their own sign in and  account in which they read books on their assigned reading level.  I use my Mclass data to assign the child’s current reading level within the program.  The students sign into their account and they have a “bookroom” in which they select a book on their level to read, listen to, and complete a comprehension skill activity. 

    The Accelerated Reader App and program has helped my tremendously this year.  Every year, the number one issue within the classroom has been that there were never enough computers for students to take their AR tests.  However, this year students have their own Ipads to take tests as often as they would like.  I have seen a significant increase in not only their reading levels but their attitude toward reading and taking AR tests!


     North Newton has adopted the Math Expressions math program this school year so we are following the program cover to cover.  However, I have had the opportunity to enrich the students learning experiences by incorporating several math apps throughout lessons. Here are a few math apps I use in my classroom: 

        One App I have my students use is Mad Math Lite.  This app allows students to practice their addition and subtraction facts.  It is so important for students to be able to answer simple addition and subtraction facts automatically and this resource allows them to practice this skill.  

        In the Math Expressions program we just finished teaching the students about ½ and ¼.  The math app Pizza Fractions 1 has helped my students practice the skills they have just learned and it has allowed math enrichment opportunities.  The students work with pizza fractions such as 4/5 , ¾, etc. The students love the interactive “shaking” of the pizzas to identify new fractions!

   I have found my students love playing Rocket Math.  This app allows students to practice many different math skills such as identifying numbers, telling time, identifying amounts of money, etc., while they get parts of a rocket to build. 


        All of the information above explains currently how my students are involved with technology within my classroom.  One of my ambitions with my students is to connect with another elementary school classroom from another country. I am just starting to gather information on how to organize this and go about coordinating it with my students.  So far I have found the Skype in the classroom to be one of the most promising options. I will keep you updated on the progress of our new adventure!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Math App for Fractions

If you are working on fractions I highly suggest the app (Thinking Blocks Model and Solve Word Problems, Practice with Fractions). This app provides students with a word problem and they are working with thinking blocks to help them solve the problem.  It does a great job of walking students through the process of solving a complicated problem.  Many times with students visualizing different fraction amounts is difficult, and now with the complexity of word problems they are asked to solve; it is essential that students have a clear understanding of fractions.  Another aspect to the problems that students will be solving is fractions of a whole number.  Believe me when I say this can be extremely frustrating to students.  However with these visuals my students are getting better at solving these problems.  This app would benefit 3-6 graders.  Also online there are other concepts that use thinking blocks.  Just go to