Featured Post

How to make a 2 computer classroom work for you: tech integration and

I often get asked how I managed to integrate technology into my classroom before I was a technology teacher teaching computer classes in a lab (with every child on a computer).  I must preface this post with: I am not an expert.  I taught second grade for one year and had two computers in my classroom and no computer lab for the school.  I used what I had and found a system that worked for me.  With that in mind here is how I made my 2 computer classroom work: My goal as a teacher is to individualize instruction whenever possible.  I am very aware that each of my students comes with different strengths and weaknesses, learns differently, at different rates, and with different interests.  I remember looking at the curriculum I was provided with by the school and feeling a distinct disappointment in it.  I knew as I read through the lessons each week that some of my students just weren’t going to get it.  I knew that some of them would love the subject if it was approached in a different way. I knew that some would just need it at a different pace.  With this in mind, a few weeks into my first year, I decided to structure my class around centers. My problem: space was an issue.  With 26 seven and eight year olds, supplies, and 26 desks, there was little room left for individual center areas.  Since I couldn’t have my students physically moving around from center to center, I decided that I would create a system where the centers came to them.  With 26 students and five days in a week, I split my students into five groups for each subject.  These groups were created by grouping students by similar ability levels.  Throughout the day the groupings would change (I used colors because it made sense to me).  For example: one student might be in the blue group for language arts/reading, red group for math, and green group for science.  I saw every single one of my students in their small group of 5 in what I would call my “conference” center for every subject, every week. At the beginning of every week I would introduce the whole class to the concepts we would be learning over the course of the week.  I introduced students to their “tubs” (colored plastic tubs that were full of necessary supplies for each center) and we discussed the “big ideas” of the week.  I had 4 tubs (and my conference center) so that each day my student groups were working on a different task but by the end of the week all of my students had completed the learning for the week.  My desks were grouped into 5 clumps in the room.  Because the groupings changed, a group of desks didn’t necessarily equate to all of the group member sitting at the work space.  For each subject we usually started class as a whole group, we would play a game as a class, watch a video clip, do an experiment, or learning something new together.  After the initial introduction, I had a leader from each table pick up that table’s tub for the day.  I met with the fifth group in my conference center where I could work with students in a 5 to 1 grouping.  If you aren’t doing something like this, I HIGHLY recommend it. Meeting with my students in smaller groups several times throughout the week gave me huge insights into my students and made me a better teacher. Tubs had a variety of activities and prompts in them.  All activities were designed for self-guided learning and flexibility.  I had a rule that unless someone was barfing or bleeding (the 2 b’s…if you’re in elementary you know what I am talking about) they were not allowed to disturb my conference group.  This cut down on the distractions and let students know it was okay to make mistakes in their learning.  One of my “tubs” always held instructions for a computer center.  With two computers and 5 students, this meant I could find activities that were short enough for each student to successfully complete them in the time they had, or I could find activities that they could complete together.  For skill building games and activities, students usually held a mini relay race.  The first student would complete a level or set number of problems and pass play to the next student.  This worked really well and kept students from getting too out of control because the wait time was minimal and they were “silent cheering” the other students on.  (I had “Go Team” signs that they could hold up next to each computer so they could cheer without disturbing anyone else).  For activities that needed to be completed by each individual student, I added a secondary game or activity to the tub that could be completed while students waited.  For example, if it was a skill building game or activity, I had students who weren’t at the computer play a file folder game together while they waited for their turn within their small group. For writing activities or activities where students were going to use the computer to create something, I made another tub activity that would prepare them for their computer time.  For example, if they were going to create an animation on something like The Zimmer Twins, I would use another tub for them where they would prepare by writing a script and planning the storyboard.  Because of the way the tubs rotate, it was easy to ensure that every student had done the prep activity before the computer center. My other tubs had a variety of activities in them, each one of them was flexible in the way it worked.  Students might perform an experiment and write/draw/discuss as a group, practice their spelling words in a way that made sense to them, play a math game, write, etc.  For each subject I had a standard tub where the activity didn’t really change from week to week.  For example, language arts had a spelling practice tub every single week.  Math had a fact practice tub every week.  In the standard tubs I included a Tic-Tac-Toe activity board where students could choose which activity they would complete to practice.  This let students practice basic skills in a way that was fun and made sense to them. At the end of every day, I would re-fill each tub with the necessary resources and supplies so that it was ready for the next day. On Friday afternoon I would fill all of the tubs up for the following week.  At the beginning of the year the tubs were extremely time-consuming to keep up with.  I got smart second semester and enlisted my students in helping me create the tubs for the following week on Friday afternoons.  (duh!)  By the end of the year it was part of our routine and didn’t require so much prep on my part. Because I was working with second graders, I knew that not all of my students would be able to read directions for the tub or remember the directions from the beginning of the week.  For detailed tubs, I included a tape recorder (iPod, what was that?) with recorded audio instructions for the tub.  This helped tremendously when their were multiple steps involved.  Students knew where they could help themselves to extra supplies like paper, crayons, books, scissors, dictionaries, etc. On Friday I spent some time at the end of the day to meet with each group so they could show me their mini portfolio of learning for the week.  This gave me a chance to do some formative assessment and plan any adjustments that were needed for the following week. I didn’t have the luxury of a projector that first year of teaching.  If I had a projector, it would have opened up the learning opportunities greatly! I am a big believer in playing to learn and technology lends itself so nicely to both.  When I help teachers integrate technology into their lessons I often recommend creating a game where a game wasn’t meant to be played.  For example, when we were studying paleontology and dinosaurs, my students and I went on a virtual dinosaur dig.  I found a great virtual dig that we could do as a class.  We pretended to get in our jeeps and travel to the dig site. Each student received a “special” paleontologist journal where they could record observations.  Students took turns coming to the board during the dig and helping unearth the dinosaur.  The other students sketched what they saw and took careful notes so the dinosaur could be reassembled later.  This was a grand adventure for my students that made for a fun day (digging M&M’s out of cookies didn’t hurt either.)  I look for opportunities to play with my students whenever possible.  Even older students love this (anyone want to solve a forensic case as a class?).  Play and learning are closely connected. I am always looking for ways to make learning fun and engaging whether we are limited to a class of 26 and one projector, or 26 students and 2 computers.  You can do it! Using the tub system meant that I got to spend a lot of time with my students. That conference time was so valuable. It let me meet all of my students exactly where they were at and provided the opportunity to work with them on a more individual basis.  As I said before, if you don’t have something like this in place, I highly recommend it! After I developed my Bloom’s re-imagines, I started including them in the tubs.  As part of the tub work, students could talk about the learning they were doing and what categories it fell into in Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Back then my Bloom’s wasn’t as fancy as it is today, it was hand drawn and copied :)  My how times have changed!  I find that students learning is even richer when they are thinking about their learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy gives students a nice framework to do this in. How about you all? What technology resources do you have available to you and how do you utilize them?

Read More

Interactive Advent Calendars

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive book, Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 01-12-2009

Tags: , , , ,

8

What it is: It is December!  This means the beginning of Advent along with the anticipation and excitement that it brings.  The Internet is full of interactive advent calendars that you can use in your classroom to teach about how the Christmas season is celebrated all around the world.  These advent calendars reveal fun facts, interactive activities, and stories.


Santa’s House Advent Calendar- This advent calendar tells a fun story.  Each day reveals another secret about what goes on inside Santa’s home on the 24 days leading up to Christmas.  In each picture, there is a little mouse hiding.  When students click on his ears, he jumps out.

Picture 1

Christmas Around the World Advent Calendar- Each day students click on the date to reveal a fun fact about how countries around the world celebrate Christmas.  The facts are accompanied by great illustrations and pictures.  This site shows up very small inside my Internet browser (Firefox).  To remedy this problem, click on “view” in your menu bar and choose “zoom”.  You may need to zoom in several times.

Picture 2

Christmas Mice Advent Calendar- This calendar tells the story about a mouse family who celebrates Christmas.  Each day a little more of the story is revealed.  Each picture includes some animation.

Picture 3

Santa’s Advent Calendar- On this advent calendar, each day reveals a new song or activity for students to complete. There are some fun Christmas themed mysteries to solve, stories to read, and activities to work through.

Picture 4French Carols Advent Calendar-  This is a French advent calendar.  Each day contains a new French Christmas carol sung by children.  This advent calendar would be a fun one to include in a study of Christmas around the world.

Picture 5

Christmas Around the World Advent Calendar Quiz-  This advent calendar tests students knowledge about how other cultures celebrate Christmas.  Each day students are asked a question and given hints to help them answer.  When the answer is revealed, students can click on links to learn more about the Christmas celebrations in that country.  This site also includes great activities and teaching resources for Christmas.

Picture 6

Christmas Advent Calendar- Follow the adventures of Zac the elf as he tries to find a Christmas present for Santa.  Each day a little more of the story is revealed.

Picture 7

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar-  This advent calendar has fun little games and activities to play each day.  The games and activities are quick and easy to complete, building mouse and keyboard skills.  This advent calendar would be a good one for the classroom computers as a center activity.

Picture 8


How to integrate Interactive Advent Calendars into the classroom: The season of Advent is always filled with eagerness and expectancy. Build some of that anticipation into your school day by allowing students to unlock a new secret on the advent calendar each day.  Use these advent calendars with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard or projector, or set them up as a quick center activity that students can visit.  Use the advent calendars that reveal a story to practice looking for foreshadowing clues, using context clues to guess what will happen next, or as story starters for students own stories.  The Christmas around the world advent calendars are wonderful for teaching students some of the history of Christmas and the way that other cultures celebrate the familiar holiday.


Tips: Each of these advent calendars has some fun goodies and hidden surprises, find the one that best fits your classroom needs.


Leave a comment and share how you are using Interactive Advent Calendars  in your classroom.

Comments (8)

Here is an Advent Calendar for teachers, created by Mary Fraizer, Tech Integration Specialist in the Buhler, Ks School District. Check it out and Join the fun.

This Countdown to Christmas wiki, an advent calendar for teachers, is my Christmas gift to you this year. I hope you experience the thrill of clicking on each page as a new link becomes active each day and seeing something new (or maybe something old) that you’ll be able to use in your classroom and in your home!
You will be able to respond to each topic by clicking on the Discussion Tab on each page. Please share how you might use this in your classroom. We’ll learn so much from each other by sharing in this manner!
Join the wiki and you’ll be able to upload photos of any of your projects. You should see the words Join This Wiki in the upper left hand corner. Further instructions are on the first page of the wiki.
http://christmascountdown.wikispaces.com/

These are great! Thanks for sharing! :)

Very useful, thanks. I always wonder if there’s a tool out there to make these interactive advent calendars?
Johanna

thanks for the great selection of calenders i use them at the start of the day with my year 7 class, problem is they get toooooooo excited!!!! thanks again.
Ian

[...] Tenkely has written a post on interactive Advent calendars which would be great to use with children on an IWB on the countdown to [...]

[...] iLearn Technology » Blog Archive » Interactive Advent Calendars “The Internet is full of interactive advent calendars that you can use in your classroom to teach about how the Christmas season is celebrated all around the world. These advent calendars reveal fun facts, interactive activities, and stories.” tags: Christmas, interactive, calendars, advent, technology, ilearn [...]

Awesome collection of calendar. Thx 4 ur posting

These are fantastic activities; great for both interactive whiteboard and also individual classroom computers. Definately part of my classroom work for December!

Write a comment

*