The Power of Creativity

Yesterday was International Dot Day and my class eagerly participated in the event. We began the morning by reading the story, The Dot, by Peter Reynolds. We discussed what the book meant, and the power of creativity and believing in yourself. Students were then given the opportunity to create their own dots. Using the app DooDoo Lite, students were thoroughly engaged in the work that they were completing. They were all unique and meant something to the individual student. Students then wrote a blog entry about what their dot represented, or what it meant to them, and their responses were incredibly powerful. Here are a couple examples:

Today was international dot day . My dot {shown below} is a meaning of Peace . A world without pain or sorrow nor is anyone unhappy. The world I just described below Is a happy world that my dot resembles. The lines are laughter waves.

Today is International Dot Day! My dot is about happiness. Also It is about the colorfulness in the world. I want people to be inspired by this dot to never think negative but positive. Well that’s all I have to say. Bye- Bye for now!

All too often it is easy to underestimate the power of art and the abilities of students to share their thoughts. I think at times because they are so young, we question whether students can really understand a concept or make it their own. This task proved to me that when students are given the freedom to express themselves and their thoughts, their responses can be more powerful than ever imagined.

If you want to read more of my students responses check out their blogs.

Below is a compiled video of their dot creations for International Dot Day.

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Who Knew 9 Year Olds Would Love to Tweet?

photo (4)

For the past year I have solidly become an addict of twitter to build a professional network, and have experienced first hand the great abilities of it, the connections one can make, and the endless learning that is present. This year I decided to create a twitter account for my class, as a way for my students to share their learning and make learning “real.”

As I took on this endeavor of tweeting for the first time today I was amazed with the level of engagement and excitement in my students and thought I would share a little advice and observations that I saw in my class:

The Process: I opened our class twitter account on the smartboard, gave a quick low-down on what twitter is and our account, and then began to explain how to tweet. For our first tweet, I wanted the students to work together in their groups to collectively figure out how they would decide what to tweet and come up with a precise 140 character phrase. I provided them with this tweet form as a way to organize their thoughts.
It was great to watch them working together, debating the “best” way to say something, erasing their sentence when they realized they missed a word, and observing the general excitement among them.

Once each group had a finalized idea of what they would share, they came up to my class computer and typed out their tweet together. Most of them didn’t know how to make the hashtag (#) symbol, but besides that it was relatively painless. Their faces beamed as they watched in real-time, their tweets appear on the smartboard. It was like they were performing magic!

Where to go from here? My plan from here on is to start small with a “tweet of a day,” which will occur at morning and lunch recess, and the end of the day. I want the students to use their tweets as a way to reflect on the things that they have learned and also to share exciting things that are happening in their school life. I have left the sheets out for the students to use whenever they would like, on their own, with a partner, or in a group.

I initially questioned how to get my students excited about twitter and the idea of tweeting, but as I began talking to them about it, it became apparent to me that I didn’t need to at all. Kids love using technology! They love to teach their parents about it, love using the tools their older siblings use, and love things that are current in society. Why not allow the classroom to be the platform where all these tools can come to life and students can experience learning in a whole new way?

Please follow our classroom @mspetleysclass

Chatting the #ffcaedu Way

phonto

On Monday night, my district hosted our first ever twitter chat, run by our fabulous Director of Technology, Salima. For some, it was their first twitter chat to date, others were solely lurkers, more active twitters participants, and several new to chatting but participated. Overall, it was a great learning experience for everyone involved.

Our topic for the evening was technology integration in the 21st century. Here’s a brief summary of our discussion:

Question #1: What technology can you never live without (in the classroom)? Why? Examples?

Question #2: Do you think technology motivates students? Why/why not?

Question #3: How do students benefit when given the opportunity to use technology to create-when technology is in their hands?

Question #4: How do we help students become “ethical citizens” when using technology? Tips? Tricks? Suggestions?

Question #5: Why is twitter a powerful tool for educators? What are the benefits? How has twitter helped you professionally?

As you can see, there was lots of good discussion going on during this chat, and a few things that stood out for me:
1) As teachers highlight their favourite technology tool, the thing they couldn’t live without in the classroom, I always wonder how it’s used. For example, I have a document camera and use it several times a week, but it wouldn’t be a go-to-tool for me. How does another teacher feel that tool is essential for instruction? What am I missing?
Education is a field that is constantly evolving, and now with technology, things seem endless. But the great thing about it is learning is also continual. There’s never a time when teaching should be repetitive, or stagnant. We can always learn from one another, and always improve how we teach or the way we teach.

2) Technology must be used as a tool to enhance learning, support instruction, and allow students to create masterpieces. If it’s used solely to replace a pen and paper, then the motivation and engagement may not always be there. Students need to be excited about their learning. They live in a world where technology is always at their fingertips. We can’t ignore that, but instead need to support it, and teach children that they too can be creative geniuses.
Traveling hand-in-hand with the use of technology, comes digital citizenship. It is key that as teachers we model what it looks like, but also provide students with the knowledge to be responsible digital citizens. Equally as important, is the need to educate parents. Parents need to be on board with this, and speak that same language at home. Parents are just as important role models as teachers, and should be setting that example for their children as well. It’s our job to provide them with the tools necessary for this to happen.

3) Twitter continues to be an extremely powerful tool for educators. Time and time again, every tweeter you talk to will reinforce this. It’s an amazing tool to connect with others around the globe, access experts, be supported in learning, and build a powerful PLN. For those who are “anti-twitter” I would challenge you to try it again. Dedicating some time will prove to be more rewarding than one may think.

Here are a couple resources discussed during our chat:
Book – It’s Complicated
Storify Summary

Creating Comic Masterpieces

Comics are a great way for students to show their learning in a concise manner. They are limited to the speech/thought bubbles, but still allow for creativity and appeal to a variety of learning styles. Today I used Comic Life with my beginner Spanish class, and loved the creations that they came up with. Without being taught explicit instructions, they were able to take pictures, type words, change templates and styles, and create a wonderful, polished product.

Student Spanish Comics Using "Estar."

Student Spanish Comics Using “Estar.”

From this assignment I was able to see who grasped the concepts and who still needed assistance. It provided me with addition information about creativity and knowledge about the students. Due to the ease of use, it allowed me to assist those who needed extra help with the app or with creating Spanish phrases. Additionally, exporting to another platform was easy for the students to do. Comic Life allowed for creativity, knowledge to be shared, engagement with students, and a seamless ability to create projects. My students loved using it!

It made me think about other ways in which it could be used in the classroom. Here were a few examples that I was able to find online:

Math Class

Science Class

Social Studies

The ways in which you can use this app in the classroom are endless. I’m only just scratching the surface!

Here are a few links/tips on using Comic Life in the classroom:
How to Use Comic Life in the Classroom
Comic Life
School Examples

Tellagami: The Voice of Reason

Recently, I had my students use the app Tellagami to complete an assignment and was blown away by their abilities and the ease of use of the app. For those of you who don’t know Tellagami, it’s an app where you create an avatar, design their hair, clothes, etc…, as well as the background. You have the option to type in your text and choose a voice, or can use your own personal voice. Here’s a few reasons why everyone needs this app for their students:

1) It’s free!! It will cost you nothing and the abilities are endless.
2) The ease of use is amazing and is intuitive to the kids. I pulled out the iPads, told my students to click on the app, and the worked away on their assignments.
3) It saves to your camera roll so you can easily upload into another platform, or use in another program.
4) It’s a great way to provide students with a way to express themselves, especially for the more introverted students.
5) Although the app is limited to 30 seconds, it does require the students to be precise in their explainations. They must be straight and to the point!

My student’s assignment was to explain the difference between transparent, translucent, and opaque objects. Here are two examples of the work they completed:

I think this app could be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. Besides having the students explain what they’ve learned in another way, it could be used as an activity it to provide feedback on reading (i.e. if you had them focus on expression), and could also be used to combined several Tellagamis together to create an iMovie. Here’s an example:

If you haven’t checked it out, or are unfamiliar with it, I highly recommend trying Tellagami with your students today, and would love to hear of other ways that you use it in your classroom.