Thursday, December 19, 2013

Descriptive Winter Writing (Good for any Season)

Even though this type of project has been around for some time, it is worth a mention for extended ideas or for teachers that may have not experienced this type of descriptive writing project.

In this case the classroom teacher, Suzanna Pinette - 2nd grade, had her students draw a picture of a snowman on plain white paper. After the students created their drawing, they were to write a detailed description of their snowman, keeping in mind that the more detailed their description was, the better chance that whoever was going to draw the picture would be able to recreate the snowman by reading the description. Then Ms. Pinette mailed the descriptions to her twin sister who also teaches second grade. Each student in the other second grade class received a description and tried to recreate the snowman according to the description they were given. Next both classes took part in a video chat where a teacher read descriptions and students compared the snowmen from the two different classrooms. Students learned that the better the description, the closer that the two snowmen looked alike. In some cases there were three snowmen, since the number of students from each classroom is not the same.

The next step for these two classrooms is for the students from the opposite class to write a descriptive writing piece and do a role reversal. Paying closer attention to details each time the students engage in this project will allow students to get a better sense of descriptive writing.

Other teachers have done this type of project with jack-o-lanterns, Christmas ornaments, monsters, etc. This wonderful descriptive writing challenge can really be used in about any setting to fit with current curriculum or fun around different holidays. Other options are to use an art app on an iPad and create the artwork via technology. Descriptions could be typed up in a doc and sent via email rather than snail mail. This project could also be done real time using apps like BaiBoard. There are many many possibilities with the technology we have available to us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hour of Code

This week is a very exciting week for students and teachers alike across the nation. Yesterday, Monday December 9th, was the Hour of Code Kick-off and what a day it was! After the morning assembly at George E Jack School, students got right to work learning to code with simulations from and Apps like Kodable and Light-bot loaded onto iPads. I heard stories from teachers who noticed how students that don't normally shine during a school day were helping classmates figure out the solutions. It was amazing to witness how engaged the students were. At about 10:30 we learned that students would be going home at 1:00 due to a snowstorm. Yikes! We were planning on watching the live streaming with Gabe Newell at 1:00 and then be involved in the Bill Gates Live Video Chat at 3:30. Then the Jack Dorsey Video Chat at 3:50. What is a technology integrator to do except invite the students that were going to stay after school for the live chats over to her home? That is exactly what I did and fortunately most students lived close by to my home. We had a wonderful chat with Bill Gates and Jack Dorsey. 

The video chat with Jack Dorsey is embedded below and the Bill Gates video is not yet available. There is still time for you to get your students involved. Visit for more information on bringing Hour of Code to your school.

Highlights from Hour of Code at George E Jack School

Highlights from Hour of Code at HB Emery School

Highlights from Hour of Code at Edna Libby School

Highlights from Hour of Code at Steep Falls School

Presentation for the Kick-off Assembly
(Feel free to use the Prezi.)