Thursday, June 19, 2014

Funtastic End of the Year

Every year, I have students write letters to next year students and grade me on a report card.  I wanted this exciting year to end with a "WOW" so I started my search on TPT ( for anything that was free.  I found many great ideas.  The first one I used was The Final Countdown.  I used it as a brainstorm for the letter to their locker pal who is the student who gets their locker next year.  I will tape their letters in the lockers before the new students are assigned their lockers.  I had student make a summer bucket list bookmark of all the things they hoped to do in the next two months.

I find that having my students grading me throughout the year and at the end gives me amazing feedback on how to improve next year.  This year I used SurveyMonkey.  I've used this website for years and love it so I don't know why I never thought to use it for this before.  As students wrote their letters, I had students complete the survey using the computer area in my classroom.

On our second to the last day, I decided to do a Minute to Win It competition.  On YouTube, you can get all the blueprints from the show, but I decided to use the written ones from Tonya's Treats for Teachers.  If you use YouTube and you have a Mac, you can download the blueprints and put them all together as one video.  I plan to make this during the summer for next year.  I chose 7 out of 25 games from the written ones.  I was able to get all the supplies for under $30 for four classes.  

All year I've wanted to do a lip sync battle like Jimmy Fallon! I borrowed a microphone and stand from the chorus teacher.  I showed the clip of Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd competing. I had students write down their favorite one to two songs so that we had a playlist for the day.  I put the song titles on strips of paper for students to randomly pick out.  I made the playlist using Grooveshark and listened to the songs to double check that they were appropriate for school.

To really get the students pumped, the co-teacher and I battled each other.  We cheated by choosing our songs.  I did Bust a Move by Young MC.  When it came time to bust a move, I danced like Elaine from Seinfield.  The co-teacher did the snowman song from Frozen since she has all the songs memorized thanks to her three-year-old daughter's infatuation with the movie.

As students left at the final dismissal bell of the year, I gave them all one of these to make a "Kool" treat for themselves.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Animal Research Infographics

In order to make research exciting for students, they were able to choose the animal they wanted to learn more about.  Students choices were limited to the animal books in our library, but we have a huge amount of books.  

To make the research easier, I had students use a gathering grid.  To have more than enough room to write, each student was given a file folder.  On the front, I stapled the directions for the Piktochart part of the project.  The back was for words that students didn't know and needed to define.  With each class, we decided what the most important questions were to guide our research.  the grid on the inside has the guiding questions on the left, the sources used on the top, and inside each box students jotted down their notes.

I found Piktochart to be the most user-friendly and had the most options for the creation.  I made all the students accounts ahead of time.  I highly suggest you getting a gmail account if you don't have one especially if you work with students under 14.  With gmail, you can sign up and create emails that all go back to your main account without students having to have emails.  To make the accounts, you use your gmail account name and +(a number).  For example,  I made all the passwords the same.  Piktochart only asked for a username, email, and password.  I made the username the email account so that I could copy and paste to make the accounts faster.  In order to understand how the site works, I researched about vultures and made my own infographic.  I showed my example to students so that I could explain my thought process when I made it and what it should look like.

Students had to use a book, a specialized encyclopedia, and at least one web site.  Once they gathered their facts and pictures, students logged into Piktochart.  I had students choose the infographic tab and the make your own choice.  The most important parts students need to use on the web site were the text boxes, uploading pictures, changing background, graphics, and knowing how to add another block.

I was amazed at what the students created.  The second student (Jackals) was homebound due to a broken foot and through Edmodo and Piktochart, she was able to still participate in class and do the project.

Tree Kangaroos:


If you decide to do this project and need help or have questions, don't hesitate to ask for help in the comments.  The most important thing is to have fun while learning!