Monday, February 27, 2012

ipads anyone??? Day One!

I always have an excuse for not blogging more and I swear there are blog posts not quite finished still  to be posted.  The excuse this weekend was ipads.  I spent Saturday "programming", downloading apps onto our ten new ipads.  Eventually I figured out how to download them quickly but there was also the choosing.  One useful link was the following one and I tried out all the recommended apps.  I had borrowed ipads from our school board this summer so remembered ones that were there and ones I had found at that time.  One of my friends was a great source as she is going to be getting the school board's bank of 30 ipads in April at her school and had visited MacKenzie School that currently has this bank.

I am impressed with some of the features that the ipad 2's have compared to the ipad 1's I used in the summer.
Today I decided that a good place to start with them was in my classroom.  How can we use ten ipads?  In summer school I had an ipad station.  Students rotated through four stations and ipads were one. 

This time I decided today to divide the class into three.  The grade sevens were off to a special class so for half a period each half of the grade six class was able to try out the ipads while the others did math.  Later I gave the seventh graders 20 minutes as well (one was away in the morning).  It was interesting to see what they chose to do and I really think we have a great collection of apps.  I also was able to see which apps I forgot to download to an ipad or two.  They are giving me feedback about which apps they like using and which they think we should get the full versions that we have to pay for.  All the apps I currently have on are free.

At lunch we had a union meeting and watched the BCTF president on the projector via an ipad!

In the afternoon, I was doing a math period with the grade sevens while the grade six students were in the library doing a Social Studies lesson.  The grade seven students  were able to use the nifty calculator app pcalc,  and a neat app called infoCircle to do help them do their geometry problems. 

Last period was a work period and students were working on French projects and Social Studies projects. Students wanted to go to the computer lab but only six could go unsupervised and then I remembered, ipads.  It was really neat to see how they were able to engage and collaborate researching their projects using their ipads.

Just as I found in the summer, having the ipads in the classroom really motivated the students.  I am also excited about the new possibilities, for example, making short videos with videolicious.
This week I am going to look at different ways to use the ipads in the classroom that I can share with others.  One fun adventure will be using them with our grade one buddies.  

I look forward to seeing how we can use them throughout the school.   I am going to do a workshop with teachers but with so many of the kids used to using ipods they often surpass me.  So far it's very exciting to get them into the classroom.   Please note these ipods have not been funded not by the government but our Parents' Advisory Committee!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Busy weeks

Once again I feel as if I am behind on blogging -this one, my class one.. What can I say?  It was a four day week but many things occurred.  Monday afternoon the students were busy glazing clay.  Some are already talking about missing Phyllis after our last session next week.  It's been so much fun for everyone.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day and even in Grade Six and Seven you want to have fun with this.  Our fundraising for Me to We was selling candygrams and many deliveries were made.  We also had a valentine making session with the grade one buddies.  We all love these these times together. The junior girls' basketball team had a very exciting game after school, almost winning but the game ended before the ball landed in the basket. 

Wednesday we had the first of four workshops on storytelling at the nearby Moberly Arts Centre.  We are taking part in a neat project in the city with the Vancouver Society of Storytellers.  Our element is fire.  This was really exciting and we are all looking forward to the session this week.  Bonus was it was a lovely day to walk over there.  The centre was rebuilt or built just as I finished teaching at Moberly and I had never actually been in this lovely space although my class a couple of years ago participated in a digital story telling project facilitated through the centre's wonderful director, Cyndy Chwelos. 

Thursday morning the students presented their British Columbia native species projects.  Most did a very good job with only a week to prepare.  Here's a link to Rajveer's project we had a great time in the afternoon at  a mock trial on internet bullying.  Three students from each of our four grade five-seven classes, even were in the jury.  This project was only posted online on our moodle site.  They can't say they lost the instructions or criteria that way! 

And yes, I did manage to squeeze in a bit of math and other academic subjects, but it so great to give my students some of these experiences and have this sense of community and shared goals.  Friday was a Professional Day.  Our ten new ipads and new Mac Pro computer arrived (fund raised by our PAC committee) so I have been a work this week adding apps to demonstrate to other teachers.  We have to figure out the best way to organize their use!  If you haven't seen this link it's very helpful re ways to use ipads effectively.  Last summer I borrowed six ipad 1's to use with my summer school class, which was a good learning experience for all of us, so I am looking forward to getting our lovely new ipad 2's into operation. 
And now to another week!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading a series...

This morning I just finished the last Miss Zukas mystery.  Last weekend I was in Seattle thanks to the Vancouver School Board's long weekend and an obliging friend.  I am sad that the great Elliott Bay Bookstore no longer exists in Pioneer Square but as we were driving over to Bellevue I spotted the Mystery Bookstore and my friend and I walked over there later in the day.  I hadn't been there in ages so was happy to visit this great bookstore and their knowledgeable staff.  And then I remembered Miss Zukas and that I hadn't read any of Jo Dereske's mysteries for awhile.  Apparently she had difficulty getting the last one published due to changes in the publishing industry and self published Farewell, Miss Zukas for her loyal readers.  They also told me about her website so you have that link as well under her name.

Probably because I could never say I was an organized or neat person I really do admire those who have these qualities and have a certain almost fascination how they do it. Miss Zukas is the epitome of neatness and organization, even fastidiousness.  And for Miss Zukas, this is both a blessing and sometimes a curse.  It is also unsettling how crime seems to come her way but of course what makes her an excellent librarian also makes her an excellent detective.  And it was also of course rather nice that she not only solves a mystery in this book but also finally touches her reluctantly owned cat, Boy Cat Zukas, and marries her long time suitor, the Chief of Police, and sets off for a Lithuanian honeymoon.  That was a long sentence!  An added bonus is the books are set in Bellehaven, a thinly veiled Bellingham, Washington (an hour from here and a very lovely place).  All her books now our e-books as well so if you have missed them it isn't too late to start reading this series.

As I was reading, I was reminded of how much many of the kids in the class love series.  One girl has read every Roald Dahl book and now she is into the Dorky Diary series.  Other girls are reading every Kit Pearson book.  Another reader loves the Amulet series.  There are many kids still loving Geronimo Stilton and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  Rick Riordan continues to be a favorite author of the kids and mine.  To hook a kid on reading you often have to find the right book, and it's a bonus if there are more about their favorite characters.  Our trip to the Writers' Festival this year introduced us all to Alan Cumyn and many of the kids love his books now.  Another author, Wendy Mass  hooked the kids in with her title, The Candymakers, just as I discovered a couple of her other books so she has become another favorite author.  Just as my friends and I share our favorite books and authors so do the kids.  As a young reader I, of course, loved the Anne of Green Gables books and mysteries, especially Trixie Belden and Donna Parker and shared them with my friends.  A few years ago when I drove through the Hudson Valley I kept remembering Trixie's adventures.  Books open so many new worlds.  I mean Miss Zukas, for instance, has taught be a bit about Lithuanian culture.  Series aren't always "serious books" but once you start reading you keep reading.

I also just finished a P.D James mystery, featuring a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, Death Comes to Pemberley.  I guess P. D. James, another of my favorite mystery writers is a Jane Austin fan, just as I am, and must have had a desire to have a continuation of the Darcys' life.  I have to say that I loved the first six Trixie Belden books but didn't like the ones that followed written by different authors nearly as much.  I think  P. D. James is more successful with her own characters.   I just read she wasn't sure at 91, if she was up for a longer project an Adam Dalgleish mystery would involve.

It is a joy to find a series that you love, heartbreak when the series ends, and then joy again when you find your next favorite author.  Happy reading!