Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spreadsheet Fun in First Grade

First grade math standards ask students to organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another. CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.MD.C.4

Recently, I visited a first grade class where we worked on some graphing and data fun using Google Sheets!


We started by taking a whole-class poll through a Google Form, through which we learned that CHOCOLATE was the favorite flavor. The students each used their Chromebook to vote on the form, which had been posted in their Google Classroom.

 

The students were excited to see their results instantly! Because they had voted, the data was meaningful and relevant to them! We had a discussion to dive into the results just a little deeper. We discussed a friend who was absent, and what the implications for the data would be depending on his vote. “What if Miguel voted for….?”

Next, I modeled how to enter our ice cream data into this spreadsheet template that is already set up to show results as both a bar graph and a pie chart. I showed how I could enter our vote totals into each of the cells, and how the charts adjusted automatically. Modeling is essential when working with little learners. They CAN do it! It just takes practice!

Blank Template

Our Ice Cream Data

Once I had modeled the process, we shared the template to Google Classroom. First the students replicated the model by using our class ice cream data. Then we started experimenting with the numbers. For example, I asked, “What if 100 people voted for chocolate? Predict how that graphs will change.” This kiddos enjoyed playing with the numbers and watching the data adjust on the graphs. This allowed them to further develop number sense as they witnessed that bigger numbers make the graphs grow larger.

Now YOU try it!

Pairs of students were tasked to develop a unique question to ask their peers. Some examples of the questions they created:

  • What is your favorite pet?
  • What is your favorite Pokemon Character?
  • Which is your favorite Superhero?

ELA Standards, including writing and speaking, were reinforced in this Math activity, as students had to develop their own questions and ask them aloud to their classmates.

Once we had all voted on each other’s survey, the students entered the data they collected and created their own graphs using templates linked in their Google Classroom. Because they are naturally curious, it didn’t take long for the students to click around to customize colors and other settings in their charts.






The kids had so much fun. The math conversations were amazing! I can’t wait to see what else these little learners will do with spreadsheets as they continue to develop their skills.



Tips for Little Learners:

  • Don’t hesitate to use proper spreadsheet vocabulary, including “rows”, “columns”, and “cells.”
  • Model, model, model! 
  • Use Google Classroom to distribute the templates.
  • Pair students up as necessary to maximize success for all! 


The links below will create your OWN copy of the templates we used. Feel free to use, modify, and share!

Google Forms and Spreadsheets with Second Graders: Representing Data

The Second Grade Common Core Math standards ask students to create picture and bar graphs to represent data sets with up to four categories. (CCSS MATH 2.MD.D.10)

Drawing bar graphs is plenty fun, but we decided to kick it up a notch and create some bar graphs in Google Spreadsheets!



We started with a simple question from the whole class:

What is your favorite color?

All students voted by hand and then we worked together to make a bar graph of the results on the Promethean board.

The students then logged into their Chromebooks and used the same data to create a graph on their own spreadsheet.




Here are the steps for creating a bar graph in Google Spreadsheets:










So that was all fun, but now it was time to go even further! Students each wrote their own survey question and then created a one-question Google Form to collect their data. They pasted their form links into a Google Classroom announcement so all students could fill out each others' forms. After, they used their survey data to create individual bar graphs in Google Spreadsheets.





The students learned so much! And guess what? They wanted to repeat this project over and over again. Oh darn, the students want to take surveys and make graphs to represent data. I suppose we can let them!



So many people are terrified of spreadsheets, but this project proved that everyone has to start somewhere, and why not in second grade?!?!  By giving students a relevant purpose and some basic guidance through the tools, they can accomplish amazing things!

Even our youngest students can create using Google!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dr. Seuss, BreakoutEDU, Chromebooks, and First Grade... OH MY!

My title in my school district is technically "Instructional Technology Coach." But based on how I've spent a lot of my time this year, I should probably be called the #BreakoutEDU Coach. I've now had the pleasure of sharing BreakoutEDU with over 1400 different students, and many more than once!

Really though, I do want to retitle myself as the "Innovative Learning Specialist," because it covers all the random things I do and because it certainly doesn't always take a computer to innovate in the classroom! #jobgoals

Since I am the Tech Coach, I often do feel like I need to try and spread technology fairy dust everywhere I go. This week, I worked up some puzzles and clues for a Dr. Seuss-inspired, technology-enhanced BreakoutEDU game for Read Across America next week. I included multiple activities that would require the students, even kinders and first graders, to log into their Chromebooks to solve their puzzles and clues.

Some of the tasks for this game were inspired by or copied from the existing Dr. Seuss Breakouts In the BreakoutEDU collection by both Knela Newton and Patti Harju. This Breakout we are doing is the ULTIMATE Dr. Seuss mashup! I love how willingly everyone in the BreakoutEDU Facebook community shares their resources! I will try my best to give credit to the borrowed items.


It all starts with this letter from Thing One and Thing Two:

Letter by Knela Newton

Those silly little dudes STOLE the Cat's Hat and LOCKED it in the Breakout Box! We have to get it back to him!

The QR code leads to a YouTube read aloud that isn't necessary for the game, but is a good distractor :)

I changed up one of the tasks from the original lost hat game to include these apples in honor of the Seuss book, Ten Apples up on Top. I cut the apples out individually and spread them around the table. The number of apples indicated the 3-digit combo to the small lock box. For the first graders, I also included the three colored circles and taped them to the box as a hint for the order of the apple numbers.



Inside the small lock box, there was a UV flashlight, a strip of paper with a website link for a later task, and a Seuss ABC chart to solve the next puzzle, which was inspired by a couple of Patti Harju's games. 

Inspired by the "old snowman" puzzle by Patti Harju. 

I wanted to make sure the text and task were appropriate for the little ones, so I only had them decode part of this message: Oh a place you should look... is in a book! I put a key to a key lock inside of a copy of The Cat in the Hat which was hidden nearby.

Also inspired by Patti Harju

To bring in some technology, I put an image of the Google Classroom logo on the table to indicate there would be a clue linked from Google Classroom. 



Those first graders sure knew what that symbol meant! When they got to their Google Classroom, they found a link to this puzzle at Jigsaw Planet. Find it here: goo.gl/TFNfgq

From jigsawplanet.com

The first graders frequently use the website PebbleGo.com for researching everything! This is a paid subscription, but it's a great, safe place where little ones can search and learn. The first graders knew that Pebble Go would be the perfect place to find the answer to the question on the Jigsaw Planet puzzle. Those first graders browsed to that familiar website, typed in the keyword SEUSS, and found the information they needed about when Dr. Seuss was born! The year of his birth opened a 4-digit lock.

Screenshot of Pebble Go by Capstone


For the answer to the directional lock, students had to solve this maze. I made this puzzle some time ago and don't remember if the maze came from another Breakout. I can't seem to find it anywhere to give it credit! I know I added the Seuss images. This maze requires seven directions, so the new multilock won't work. You'll either need a regular directional lock, or perhaps you can adapt the maze? Maybe you can start the students off by drawing in the first two legs of the route, and then they need to draw the other five. Their drawings would be five directions, which would fit on the multilock.



We used one of the posters from Patti Harju's game, Oh the Places You Will Go! I wrote the word AUTHOR on the poster in invisible ink. Without fail, the students always first try to spell out AUTHOR on the 5-letter lock. Once they realize they don't have enough letters to spell out that word, they usually come to realize WHICH author we are talking about!

Poster and task by Patti Harju
I put this crossword puzzle out on the table as a distractor with some kids, and had to use it as an alternative task for the older kids because many of them had already played Oh the Places You Will Go. I highlighted five random letters from the puzzle solutions as the combination for the five-letter lock.



Since we have played so much BreakoutEDU this year, I have purchased some additional locks along the way. One of those locks is a 4-letter lock. I used the copy of a page from Knela Newton's game and highlighted the letters R-E-A-D randomly on the page. Even the little ones were able to put them together to open that 4-letter lock!

Clue by by Knela Newton

The last puzzle is for our 5-digit locks, but could easily be adapted to be used with a 4-digit lock. The website link that was in the small lock box reads http://tinyurl.com/SSseuss and will take students to a force-copy link of a Google Drawing. If kiddos are logged into a Google account, the item below will appear, and they can drag the character images into the table. The students should use the rainbow clue on the page to determine the order of the numbers. So far, the rainbow hasn't been anyone's first guess! They usually try to put them in by value from smallest to largest. I added a sixth unnecessary image to keep the students on their toes!

Google Drawings Rainbow Sequence

This Breakout has SEVEN LOCKS! The kids did amazing though, and all of the groups broke out in under 45 minutes. I tried this game with first graders, fourth graders, and with kindergarteners this week, and have a long list of classroom visits planned for our Read Across America celebration next week! 



My messy collection of resources for this version of the Dr. Seuss games can be found in one doc here: goo.gl/j0PYDJ. Find Patti Harju and Knela Newton's original games at BreakoutEDU.com.

See my previous post, Little Learners Love BreakoutEDU, for tips and tricks about using BreakoutEDU with primary-aged students.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Little Learners LOVE BreakoutEDU!

We’ve been having so much fun playing Breakout EDU in our classrooms!  Many people wonder if this exciting game can be used with primary-aged students. It certainly can! Breakout EDU is a great way to get our littlest learners communicating, collaborating, and thinking critically!



What is Breakout EDU?

If you’re not yet familiar with it, Breakout EDU is a fun way to get your students out of their seats to try, as the Breakout EDU creators say, something different!  In this game-based learning activity, students work together to find clues and solve puzzles.


Where to begin with young students?

As with any activity with little learners, there are unique considerations that have to be factored into the planning of your Breakout EDU:

  • How do I keep the little ones engaged and on-task?
  • What scaffolds can be embedded?
  • What if the students aren't yet readers?


For your first experience, you may want to try browsing through the shared games on the Breakout EDU website. The games can be filtered by age and subject area. There are a number of great games designed with young students in mind, and are 100% ready to go with primary-aged kiddos.


These are just a few of the games I’ve had a chance to run with little learners, all found on the Breakout EDU website:


If you Take a Mouse to School - Patti Harju

Puzzles, colors, sorting manipulatives, and a fun, familiar text make this a great first game for little ones!

Help the Cat Get Back His Hat by Knela Newton

Thing One and Thing Two stole The Cat’s Hat! Can you help him get it back? The puzzles and clues in this game are appropriate for K-2 students. This game also offers a few challenges for ramping up the difficulty.





Turkey Trouble by Patti Harju


This game is masterfully designed! There are multiple variations of some of the tasks so the game can be adapted for early or non-readers. We played in First Grade and had a blast!






Run Turkey Run by By Ann Kozma and Cari Baylie - Found Here




Using Technology and Google Tools with Breakout EDU


When playing Breakout EDU with students of ALL ages, I often use various apps from the Google Suite to supplement the games, increase engagement, and incorporate modern tools into the various Breakout EDU scenarios:


In this sample, students used a QR code to open a force-copy link of a Google Drawing. (goo.gl/ZnEZpJ) When the images are arranged in the correct food chain order, directional letters reveal the combination to the directional lock.  

Google Forms are another great way to include technology in your Breakout! Use a QR Code, Short URL or Google Classroom to send students to a Google Form to get a clue! Using page breaks, data validation, and customized response pages, students can answer questions and solve problems! Here are a couple short YouTube tutorials by Mike Nye on how to do this:




Many games in the Breakout EDU collection use Jigsaw Planet, which is an online puzzle tool that can be accessed with a laptop, Chromebook, iPad or other tablet. Students arrange puzzle pieces like this one by Patti Harju, often to reveal a clue or lock combo. Little learners love puzzles!


Productive Struggle

As an instructional coach, I get to play this game with students, but the core of my role includes supporting the teachers! Since Breakout EDU is new, this year I bring the boxes and games into the classrooms and co-facilitate with the teachers.

I love the moment when a teacher realizes that it’s okay to NOT help their students. That it’s okay to let even the little ones get frustrated and struggle! Hyperdocs Co-Creator Lisa Highfill sometimes shares this video when she speaks. It (adorably) illustrates the power of letting students learn on their own.



It’s so easy to give our kiddos a gentle nudge, because we feel like they could reach success with just a little help. What we often don’t realize is that usually, NOT helping our students is the best way to lead them. Let the grow and shine and figure it out on their own!

Jo Boaler, author and Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, speaks on this topic as well. Her research shows that in the human brain, more growth occurs when a person gets something wrong and then figures out, than if he or she just answered correctly the first time. Are we allowing our students enough opportunities to struggle? Are we giving them safe spaces to fail? We have to provide our students with opportunities to try, fail, and learn on their own to NOT give up. Breakout EDU is a great opportunity to teach even our youngest students these important learning skills, especially perseverance!

It is my hope that the Breakout EDU experience leads teachers toward giving their students more opportunities to take risks in all content areas throughout their day. Let them have fun, let them struggle, and give them a chance to learn and experience trials of failure and the thrill of success!





Some Tips for Little Learners:

Model, model, model.
If it’s your first time playing Breakout EDU with little ones, take a few minutes to show them some basics of how the locks work. I’ve seen many students spell out the correct letters or combination on a lock, but didn’t realize there was a specific place/mark on the lock where the dials should be lined up. The directional lock can be a challenge for learners of all ages! It’s a good idea to show the kiddos the mechanics of how to make the lock work!
Small groups work well!
I prefer to have the students work in small groups, and usually bring three boxes to the primary classrooms. If you don’t have access to multiple boxes, consider using a lock combo recording sheet with each team. Many of the games on the Breakout EDU website include some variation of this recording sheet for playing with teams:




You could also run the game like you would centers. Have a different puzzle/clue/task lock at each station. Either have each group work on a separate lock, or have groups rotate through the clues and reset the lock or puzzle when the groups move to the next table.

Get help, especially the first time!
It might be a good idea to plan your Breakout at a time when you have an aide or parent helper in the room. Consider inviting instructional coaches or administrators in for the fun, too!  
Everyone plays! 
To maximize engagement and keep kiddos on-task, include some activities that EVERY student needs to accomplish (a great example of this would be an instructional video on how to draw the Cat in the Hat, and when ALL members of the team share the drawing to the Breakout Facilitator, the team gets a key, hint, or clue!)


Most Importantly, Have Fun!

Breakout EDU is a fun, active way to learn, especially with primary aged students! Give them a chance to show you what they CAN do! And then try your hand at designing your own Breakout EDU games!

Have you played Breakout EDU with little learners? Please share tips and tricks you've learned or links to your favorite blogs or games in the comments below!






Monday, December 19, 2016

If at First You Don't Succeed...

It's been quiet here on the Primarily Google Blog, but I promise that I've been using this downtime to work on something huge!  


In a couple weeks, some friends and I will be hosting the first-ever #K2CanToo Conference, promoting Innovative Learning in the Primary Classroom. 

This event brings together an EdTech All-Star team of presenters, many of whom specialize in Early Childhood technology integration. 

And the even bigger stars are the teachers and leaders who have signed up to attend to this amazing learning event! We have people from across California heading to Fresno for this weekend of learning. Teachers who are eager to improve their practice, try new things, and who know that there's always room to grow! 

At the conference, we'll be talking coding, robots, inquiry, and design thinking! We'll have sessions on STEM, NGSS, the Google Suite, and an all-conference game of BreakoutEDU! It's going to be a weekend-long primary learning party!

Here's the thing - teaching little learners does have some challenges, but there is nothing those kiddos can't do! We just have to put the tools into their hands! In the primary grades, we set foundations for a lifetime of education. Those foundations NEED to include access to meaningful learning opportunities using modern tools. 

Professional learning for the teachers of our youngest students has to specifically address the unique needs of little learners. I'm so excited by our quality conference program that has been assembled to do just that.

---

So, I'll be honest and share that this whole idea stemmed from a failure.

You see, twice last year I applied to the Google for Education Innovator Academy. And twice, I did not make the cut. This highly-competitive program asks applicants to create and submit their vision for making an impact toward improving education. 

What is my Vision? 
  • Infuse meaningful, relevant, modern learning opportunities into primary classrooms. 
  • Bring primary teachers together to celebrate what our littlest learners can create when we give them access to modern tools.
  • Share and build on existing networks, including the Teachers Give Teachers movement, (#TsGiveTs) to identify quality training opportunities and resources for primary teachers - it's not about starting from scratch - it's finding what's already being done and connecting, because we really are #bettertogether.

My vision hasn't been accepted to the Google Innovator program yet, but I've realized that I don't need a badge to Innovate! I decided it was time to start working on this vision now, because our littlest learners deserve it! 
Many thanks go out to Jason Borgen and the DigitalEdAlliance for partnering with me on this new idea. HUGE thanks go out to the presenters and friends traveling from near and far to add their expertise and passion to this event. Additional gratitude goes out to my #TOSAchat pals who worked hard within their districts to secure funding to send their teachers to Fresno - many from hours and hours away!

I can't wait for the day that I do get accepted into a Google for Education Innovator Academy. But until then, I will continue working on my Vision - planning, testing, and reiterating. This event will be great, and the next one will be even better!

It's not too late to join us! Visit K2CanToo.com for more information! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

More Google Forms Little Learners!

Check out this Google Form listening center activity designed for primary-aged students! 


Why use digital listening centers? Here are a few reasons:

  • Students get opportunities to practice listening skills while hearing a wide variety of literature read aloud by fluent models.
  • Forms work on most any device and don't require login.
  • Little learners get watch YouTube videos without actually having to navigate through the YouTube website and all of its (sometimes questionable) distractions.
  • This can be an independent, yet still meaningful learning activity during your Literacy Centers - allowing you time to work with other small groups.

In this example using the story Halloween Mice, by Bethany Roberts, even very young students can offer a quick "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" opinion of the story. 




After the students listen to the story and vote, the class can examine and discuss the results:




Here is another sample using the story "Yoko" by Rosemary Wells. It goes a little further by adding some questions about the story to the end. The use of images as answer options keeps the activity accessible to early or non-readers.



Want to learn how to do this yourself? Here's a quick YouTube tutorial:




Tips for little learners:

  • Keep it simple! Use just 1-3 response questions!
  • Use the shorter videos - 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Use images as your answer options.
  • Deliver the form in Google Classroom or with a QR Code.
  • Including a short-answer question/prompt allows for authentic writing opportunities and practice at the keyboard.
  • The website JustBooksReadAloud.com has curated over 700 YouTube read-aloud videos, which can be sorted by author, length, reading level, and topic. 
  • Using a headphone splitter, multiple students can listen, even if you have just one device!