Thursday, December 18, 2014

Students L-O-V-E Hour of Code!

Students participated in Hour of Code from December 8-18, and whether they were first graders or fifth graders or in-between, they LOVED coding! Teachers, including Mrs. Key, Mrs. Nerhood, Ms. Price, and Mrs. Salvati, set up classes at the Code.Org web site. Their students accessed their accounts and worked through various coding exercises, which start with simple solutions and get progressively more difficult. The site includes instructional videos and plenty of help, so students can learn to code successfully.

Here's the link to the site:

See the smiles as another level is completed! The
students were so proud to show off their work.

Concentration-  serious concentration - trying to finish
the coding and get the completion certificate.

Third Graders Use Typing Club Chrome App

Most students don't know how to type. That's a roadblock that slows students down and makes their computer work time less effective. So, third graders added a Chrome App called Typing Club and learned how to "link data" so that they will see their apps whenever they log on to their Google accounts. This is a free app, so students also got some guidance on identifying the ads that support the program. The third grade teachers and I are hoping that students with home internet access will be able to practice Typing Club over the two-week winter holiday.

Directions were sent home in Thursday folders about how to access Google Accounts from home and how to access Typing Club. Here's a link to the directions:

This screen shows the basic format of the app. A green
highlight shows that the student pressed the key correctly.
A pink highlight shows mistakes.

Stephanie and Ben in Ms. Pinali's class work on Typing Club.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Word Processing with Microsoft Word

Word processing is a life skill, one that's used not only for publishing school work but also for texting, emailing, and completing work projects. In preparation for publishing their "Small Moments" writing pieces next week, all first graders have been learning the basics of word processing. They learned how to create a document and save it to their folder on the server. They learned how to make capital letters using the shift key. They learned where to find the period key so their sentences could be punctuated properly. The students learned how to center their titles, and they had some fun experimenting with changing the font, color, and size of their titles.

Madison and Jenelle work on their stories, titled My
Thanksgiving. The girls are in Mr. Klaverweiden's
first grade class.
Word processing is an important building block for technology skills!

Grayson is in Ms. Grondin's first grade class, and this
is his amusing story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Programming with Scratch

George and Daniel work to complete their mazes in Scratch.
Students in Herrington's after-school Scratch programming club completed a a successful, enjoyable fall session this week. Mr. Manny Castro, a parent volunteer, taught a group of students how to program using Scratch, which is provided free of charge by the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab. He was assisted by second grade teachers Celina Lewis and Alessandro Romano.

Aidan shows Mr. Castro how his characters can
navigate the maze he created in Scratch.
Scratch allows users to program stories, games, and animations. Programming is valuable for students because it helps them to solve problems and to communicate ideas. It also encourages logical thinking.

You can learn more about the program by clicking on the link below. It's easy for students to sign up for a free, online account - only a parent's email address is required.


This is the code for George's maze.

Henry, Joaquin, and Giancarlo concentrate on their
programming work.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Communicating and Collaborating in Google Docs

Students in Ms. Key's fifth grade class worked on Attitude of Gratitude writing pieces in Google Docs during the week before Thanksgiving. Google Docs allows teachers to read and comment on student work during the writing process, so that feedback for revisions is truly timely and helpful.

In the screen shot pictured above, notice Ms. Key's suggestions for McKenzie.
After McKenzie made the corrections, she was able to mark the issues
as resolved. 

Students also participated in peer editing for this assignment. They shared their documents with several classmates, who were able to comment on their work and make suggestions for improvement.

Gabriel and Emily both helped Brianna with revising
her piece.

Another perk of Google Docs is that students are able to share their work with parents, if their parents have Google accounts. McKenzie's mom was able to read and comment on her work.

In the comments to the right in this screen shot, the "Melanie" who  is
commenting is McKenzie's mother.

Google Docs are helping students with the 4C's skills for 21st century learners - communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Showing Off the Chromebooks! NGDC Open House

Vivien and her family.
Ms. Price hosted an Open House on November 19 so that her fifth graders could show their families everything they've done with their Chromebooks so far. She began the evening with a brief presentation recapping the Next Generation Digital Classroom goals and expectations. Then students logged on to their Google Apps for Education accounts. They showed their parents the projects they've completed and how they are creating digital portfolios of their work. Students also demonstrated the various web sites, apps, and extensions that are used in class, including STEMscopes, Think Through Math, Edmodo, Newsela, PicMonkey, and more.

Aairah and her dad.
Alex and his family.
Jude and his family.
Sephanit and her dad.
Julian and his family.

The students led enthusiastic conversations with their families about their work. They also earned special Edmodo badges for sharing their Chromebook work with their families. Best of all, pride in their technology accomplishments was clear!

Padlet App Adds Variety

Students in Mrs. Street's second grade class have been learning to identify main characters and settings in their books. Mrs. Street created a shared document on an app called Padlet that allowed the students to share information about characters and settings. Multiple users can work on the page at the same time, and they can see changes by refreshing the page. Students enjoyed sharing in a new and different way!

Boys working on adding their information to the Characters
and Settings Padlet.

This is a screen shot of the finished Padlet page.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fourth Graders Practice Presentations

Fourth graders have been learning about the water cycle in science. To review and reinforce their learning, the students have created presentations that summarize the water cycle. Students in Mrs. Viloria's class used Microsoft PowerPoint's drawing tools and clip art to illustrate their work. This is a dual language class, so the students receive science instruction in Spanish. Their text about the water cycle - El Ciclo de Agua - was written in Spanish, and they also shared their presentations by speaking in Spanish, too.

Alyssa and Estafania work on their presentation.

David checks facts in the STEMscopedia reference guide
while Gianluca updates the information in their presentation.

Anna and Nicole discuss their presentation with their classmates.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Flora & Ulysses: Learning Word Processing Skills

Word processing is a technical skill that gets taken for granted. It doesn't exactly SEEM hard to write a story or a poem on a computer . . . until you think of the details. Besides typing the words, there's capitalization, punctuation, and spacing, not to mention font choice, size, and color. There are titles to be centered and sometimes images to be added. Word processing is a skill that most adults use every day when they email or text, and that's why it's necessary that students master word processing.

Third graders in Ms. Salvati's TAG language arts class wrote poems (and practiced word processing!) in response to reading Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo. This funny and touching book was the 2014 Newbery Award winner and is also a nominee for the 2014-15 Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Here are some screen shots of some of the students' poems:

Words for Flora's Mother was written by Elaina.

Ulysses was written by Abby.

Ulysses the Hero was written by Diego.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spanish Club Creates Día de los Muertos Video

Students in Ms. Gines' fifth grade Spanish Club created a video explaining the Día de los Muertos celebration for KLHE Morning News Broadcast. They collaborated on the script using a Google Doc. Several students worked simultaneously on perfecting the script, and Ms. Gines was also able to add comments as they worked. The video was uploaded to Windows Movie Maker, where students edited the footage. They also added captions listing the Spanish words. The title and credits pages were created using PowerPoint and saved as .jpg images to import into the video.

Enjoy watching this excellent video!

Rebecca works on adding Spanish captions to the video.

Tiernee and Lexi create a PowerPoint for the title and credits.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Skype Visit with Famous Author Avi

A group of fourth graders visited with the famous Newbery Medal winning author, Avi, through a Skype online event on October 21. Students have been reading Avi's book Poppy, which is an engaging animal fantasy. Four students from each class were chosen for the visit, based on the questions that they generated to ask Avi.

Milo shows his surprise during his conversation with Avi.
Milo asked, "Is the process of your story making very long? If so, tell us about it." Avi answered that he worked on one story for over eight years!

Breno has a nice conversation with Avi.
Breno asked, "Did you want to be a writer when you were a kid?" Avi answered that he was more interested in machines and motors and airplanes and that he loved machinery when he was Breno's age. When Avi asked Breno what he wanted to be when he grows up, Breno said a soccer player. Then Avi shared the story of playing on his high school soccer team and losing every game!

Hayden asked,  "What advice do you have for young authors like myself? What could I do to make my books better?" Listen to this one minute video with Avi's answer:

You may also view the video on YouTube (if you are reading this outside the RRISD network.)

Finally, here's a photo of the happy fourth graders who got to interact with Avi via Skype, while he was at home in Colorado and they were at school in Round Rock!

NGDC: Learning about Chromebooks with "Selfies"

The Chromebooks in Ms. Price's Next Generation Digital Classroom (NGDC) are devices that are new to Round Rock ISD. So students, teachers, tech support, and I have all been experimenting with and learning about the Chromebooks. On Friday, September 19, students used the built-in webcams to take "selfies" - photos of themselves. Students were instructed to take one nice, normal portrait for use in classroom activities. But they were also encouraged to explore the more then twenty different special effects that are built into the Chromebook web cam app.

Preston plays with the big head special effect.

The swirl special effect made Olivia grin at her image.
Learning to save and manage digital files is a critical skill. So, this lesson also included learning how to create folders within Google Drive and how to save the photos into the Picture folders that were created.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Virtual Field Trip to Learn About the U.S. Constitution

Third graders in Mrs. Pinali's class went on a virtual field trip to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on Constitution Day - September 17. The field trip included a tour of the rotunda of the National Archives, which displays the original Constitution of the United States. Students learned how the Constitution has been preserved, why the lighting is very dim,  and why the special glass protecting the document is so thick. This was a live event that students were able to view due to the robust Internet service provided by Round Rock ISD.

A photo of third grade students viewing the U.S. Constitution in the National Archives.
The image projected on the screen shows the actual Constitution
of the United States in its protected environment.

Students prepared for this educational experience by reading about and researching the Constitution. The class made a KWL chart before the field trip, showing what they knew and what they wanted to learn.

A photo of the KWL chart generated by third graders.
Students wanted to know what an archivist does.
Their question was answered during the virtual field trip.

To sum up their learning, students discussed their questions and the answers that were given by the hosts and experts during the field trip.

A photo of Mrs. Pinali recording the answers that students discovered during their virtual field trip to the National Archives.
Mrs. Pinali jots down answers about what the students learned
on this virtual field trip.

This virtual field trip was a valuable way to provide a real-world experience for our Central Texas students.

AUP - Required Acceptable Use Policy

Mr. Olson teaches Acceptable Use Policy to third graders in early September.
Before using technology in a new school year, all students are required to participate in Acceptable Use Policy training. This training varies a bit, depending on grade level, but students learn ways they can stay safe online. They also learn which web sites are acceptable for school work and where to find links to recommended sites. The prevention of cyberbullying is also covered.

A federal government web site called explains cyberbullying. It also presents several ways that parents can help their students stay safe online and prevent cyberbullying when students use technology at home. I encourage parents to educate themselves about cyberbullying and to pay careful attention to what children are doing online, on cell phones, and on other digital devices.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NGDC? What's That?

NGDC stands for Next Generation Digital Classroom, which is a Round Rock ISD pilot project for 2014-15. Dr. Steve Flores, the Round Rock ISD superintendent, is an enthusiastic proponent of technology in schools. He and his team planned NGDC and garnered the support of the school board, who allocated funding for the project.

Through an application process, one teacher at EACH school in RRISD was selected as a NGDC teacher. Herrington had a number of strong applicants, and Becki Price, fifth grade teacher, was selected.

Ms. Price shows off the Dell Chromebook cart.

Ms. Price and I attended two days of training in the summer and another day in September. We will participate in additional training throughout the year. We are learning how to use technology to help students with the 4 C's: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. Since this is a pilot project, Ms. Price will be sharing her classroom experiences with RRISD through weekly reflections. She also has to create two lessons integrating technology each semester, and she will have frequent observers in her classroom.

Ms. Edwards teaches the NGDC fifth graders about their Google Apps for Education Accounts. Note the new projector, which is part of the NGDC equipment, which makes the regular white board interactive.
After permission forms were returned, students began using their Dell Chromebook devices on August 28. Chromebooks connect to the internet quickly and work well with Google Apps for Education (GAFE.) Students can use GAFE to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and more. They can also use web sites like STEMscopes for science and Think Through Math on their Chromebooks.

The photos below show how much the students enjoyed their first day with the Chromebooks!

Getting I.T. Right @ Herrington 2014-15

I.T. stands for Instructional Technology, and at Herrington in 2014-15, the teachers, students, and I are working hard to use technology in meaningful ways.

Let me introduce myself. I am Carol Edwards, Instructional Technology Specialist for Herrington. I am a certified teacher and librarian with many years of experience, and I love teaching about and using technology! The most important part of my job is to help teachers and students use technology effectively and efficiently.

I'll be using this blog to feature some of the lessons, learning, and activities that involve technology. We've been busy, and I have some catching up to do. Once I'm caught up, my goal is to share something interesting on this blog every week or two.

I'd love for my readers to comment on my posts, and please feel free to email me if you have questions. Thank you for reading my blog!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Using Comments to Provide Feedback on Student Writing

Fourth graders are using Google Docs to compose and edit personal narratives. Their stories are shared with their teachers, so teachers can evaluate them from any computer with internet access. Teachers like this tool, for several reasons. One is that they don't have to take home a pile of papers to grade; they can just log into their Google accounts. Another nifty feature of Google Docs is the ability to leave comments right on the documents. Teachers can highlight areas of concern or just leave broader comments. This can be a faster way of providing feedback, because teachers can type faster than they can hand write comments.  And students don't have any trouble reading the comments left by their teachers! Also, students can respond to comments with their thoughts or ideas. Corrections and revisions are made simply by editing the document online. Later, when the problem or concern is resolved, then the comment can be closed. Google Docs offers many positive opportunities for changing the way writing is evaluated.

Notice that Ms. Figueroa's first comment asks Erika to work on adding a space after every punctuation mark. In the draft that you see, Erika has made those corrections and Ms. Figueroa has checked the work again and marked that issue as resolved.

Ms. Figueroa has added several comments to Tiernee's personal narrative, noting that her story has a "great hook" and also noting word choice and asking for more detail in part of her story.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Google Tools Speed Test Taking, Test Grading

Fourth grade students took their social studies test on the Mexican Revolution this afternoon online, via a Google form. Their teachers then used a Google script/add-on called Flubaroo to grade all 109 tests in just a couple of minutes.

Paige, in Ms. Cline's class, works on her Mexican Revolution Test.
How did this process work? First, Teacher Jackie Choudhry wrote the multiple choice test. Then she and teacher Betty Patten worked together to create the test as a multiple choice Google form, along with an electronic answer key.

Ms. Choudhry then emailed the link to the Mexican Revolution test to all Herrington fourth graders. When it was time to take the test, students logged into their Gmail accounts, opened the email from Ms. Choudhry, and clicked on the link to the test.

The test was "open note", so students were allowed to use their work from this week to answer test questions. After completing the test, students then clicked "submit" to turn it in. The online test was even set up so that if students skipped a question, they were required to go back and answer it before they could submit their tests.

How were the tests graded? When student answers are submitted, they feed into a Google spreadsheet. Teachers ran a Google script/add-on called Flubaroo on the data in the spreadsheet, which compares student answers to the answer key and returns student grades along with data on what percentage of students got each question wrong.

Benefits of online tests and grading include eliminating paper/copying costs and saving teacher time on grading tests. Drawbacks are that test questions are limited to multiple choice, true-false, and short answer, where spelling must also match the answer key. However, one fourth grader in Ms. Jones' class, Dylann, said, "This was a fun way to take a test!"

Brennan works on his online test.
Elijah also works on his online test.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Second Graders Work on Hour of Code

Second graders in Ms. Salvati's second grade class worked on computer coding this week, using the Tutorials for Beginners at Hour of Code. Students begin by dragging and dropping code sequences onto a board, and then they run the program they've created. If there are problems, they receive hints about what needs to be changed. The programs, which begin with Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, begin very simply and then progress in difficulty, building on skills already learned.

Notable tech gurus like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates offer tips and encouragement in videos that are included in the programming.

Aidan said, "We're learning how to move forward and which way is left and right. We're learning how to make it repeat." Liam said he liked programming because "You get to do the maze."

Check out the site and give it try - programming can be lots of fun!

Tierra watches Abby A. navigate using repeating code for hints on how to complete her own program. 

Jaiden works on one of the beginning mazes.

Students work on coding puzzles as teachers observe and help as needed; from left are Chris, Ms. Krix, Elaina, Tierra, Ms. Hanna, and Abby A.