Saturday, December 28, 2013

Character Study

We are (supposed to be) using Oakland Schools Units of Study for Reading and Writing this year.  The idea behind said units is fantastic - they are aligned with common core, provide anchor charts and step by step lessons.  They go into minute details of what should be included, and how to deliver the instruction.

That's all the detail I'm going to go into about the units.  You can read into it as much or little as you'd like!

What I am going to share is the Character Study unit we did.  I really, really enjoyed this unit, and so did the Thinkers.

Working in partners, the kids read different books that had a strong lead character.  They set their page schedule in their work booklet, and used the mini lessons to learn more about characters and character development.  One thing was missing from the unit, though, and that was a culminating project.

Hence, the "wanted" posters were born.

Now, ideally, these posters were going to be blabberized, and then used as an AR trigger image so that anyone could "hear" the characters "speak" but alas, the flu took me, and we lost time.  Maybe next year.  The posters still turned out really neat, though!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hour Of Code

Teaching our 2nd grade buddies!
Coding.  Computer programming.  Not something you'd think that elementary aged kids could do.  If that's the case, you'd be wrong.

My class participated in something called Hour of Code, sponsored by Computer Science Education Week.  What started out as something just my class was doing, happily spread to the other fourth grades.  And, even more exciting, once my class completed their "training hour" we collaborated with our second grade buddies so THEY also experienced hour of code.  Second graders!

Teamwork and patience were needed.
But it doesn't stop there, no, it kept spreading, and we ended up collaborating with our Kindergarten buddies too, who had a blast telling the computer what to do during their coding time!  That was one of my favorite things about the Hour of Code - how, once my class started, it organically spread where it needed to go.

Exploring Scratch.
Coding.  Basically it is telling the computer what to do.  In the case of the tutorials set up for this experience, the kids started with something familiar - Angry Birds - and were able to manipulate several levels of code there.  The tutorials (which are still up, by the way!) walked kids from Kindergarten through High School through the basics of coding.  It was so neat seeing how some of my kids really, really clicked (pun intended!) with the coding concept, and went on to try other tutorials, and taught each other the more complicated programs, such as scratch, which we'll be using later in the year (hopefully!) when we play with the MaKey MaKey….. but that is a whole different post!

Anyway, I highly encourage you to take an hour out of your week, sit down with your class (we started whole class before moving to individual laptops) and play around with coding.  This is one of those skills that I don't think we realize how much it will be used in the future!
video
A mash-up of Vines taken during our class coding experience!