Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Testing out our new Makerspace!

For the past month, I have been secretly working to transform the library into a space to play and create.  I f you look into the back room, you will notice that shelves have disappeared and a green screen studio has been added. You may have also noticed the boxes of gadgets that are regularly delivered to the library.  It is now time for the big reveal!  Beginning January 5, come into the library during lunch and play around in our new Makerspace.

What is a Makerspace?

A Makerspace is simply a place to play, explore, create, and experiment.  Are you interested in learning how to make a green screen movie?  We have a space for you.  Do you want to learn more about robotics?  Give Sphero a test run.  Do you love building things?  Try out our new K'nex sets.  As the year progresses, we will continue to add more things for you to try.

Today fifth graders had a chance to be the first to try our new space.  Here they are in action.

Controlling Sphero, our new robotic toy
Making green screen videos
Learning how to code  

Making music with Makey Makey    

Building with K'nex
Making a K'nex bridge
Are you interested in learning more about the items in our Makerspace?  Come into the library after break and test them out for yourself.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Packers and Patriots Fans Unite for One Huddle

Today Integrated Technology students participated in a very fun Mystery Skype.  After guessing one another's respective locations, each school took time to share some information about their state's NFL team.  On our end we shared information about the Green Bay Packers, including the team's history, record, and famous players. 

Once our Mystery Skype revealed that we were speaking with students from Foxborough, MA, we discovered that they were New England Patriots fans.  This Skype was set-up as part of their One Huddle program.  One Huddle was designed to connect young Patriots fans with students living near where the Patriots' opposing teams play.  This gives students an opportunity to learn more about different US regions and the NFL teams in that area.  Despite the fact that football fans can be very passionate about their teams, through our conversation today, we learned that we actually have much in common.  (Our teams even currently have the same record right now!) 

Thanks to Mrs. Clements' fourth graders for doing such a great job today!  We are hoping for a potential Packers-Patriots Superbowl match-up so that we have the chance to meet with one another again.

Learning About a Career in Computer Programming

I am so excited about Skype in the Classroom's Hour of Code speaker series!  They have put together an excellent group of talented technology professionals who are willing to speak with classrooms to share their experiences and advice for students dreaming of a related career.  Yesterday, fifth graders in Integrated Technology listened to our special guest speaker, Sanjay Raghani, Software Development Engineer at Skype, share his advice for success in a computer programming career.  His biggest advice? Work hard in your math and science classes, and find any opportunity that you can to reinforce your skills.  He suggested that students join school math and science competitions and robotics teams.  He also explained the tasks that he must complete everyday at his job and shared some of the skills that were essential to success in his career.  The students were especially entertained when he gave them a problem to solve: what if a money broke into the room where the server that hosts their school district's website is housed?  Students had to share some different solutions that would help solve this problem.  He stressed that at his job this is how his team needs to think; they need to always figure out multiple solutions to a problem before they even happen to be prepared for any situation that may occur.

At the end of the presentation, students had a chance to ask their questions.  They were curious about college classes that prepared him, whether or not he liked using computers and electronics when he was younger (He did!), and what were some of his job perks (no set schedule!).  Before we said goodbye, we posed for a group photo.

Thanks to Sanjay Raghani for a great learning opportunity.  Thanks also to Skype in the Classroom for putting together such a great group of speakers.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Peek Inside a Career at Xbox

This summer I had the chance to speak one-on-one with a few people responsible for the awesome space that is Skype in the Classroom about a new computer science related speaker series.  I was very excited about the potential to have these speakers talk with my students and open them up to careers that they may have never considered possible.  I was pleasantly surprised this month when I visited Skype in the Classroom's website to find a section entitled "Hour of Code," featuring technology professionals volunteering to speak with students about their careers.  I jumped on this opportunity and sent messages to several speakers who I thought would be of interest to 5th graders in Integrated Technology.

John Solaro, Principal Design Manager for Xbox, graciously volunteered to be our first guest.

Prior to our session, students worked to brainstorm questions that would help them learn more about John's career.  Questions ranged from "What college classes did you take?" to "What are some of the perks of your job?"  Throughout the Skype session, students also learned more about the process involved in making an actual Xbox system and the tremendous amount of time and people it takes to create one gaming system.  John also stressed the importance of collaboration and taking classes in a variety of subjects.  Although we were not able to touch the surface of the 33 questions students had prepared, we were able to learn a lot about the skills and education necessary to work in a similar career.

After the presentation, students shared some of their favorite highlights.  Among them included:
"I can't believe that he gets free Xboxes and games!"
"That's so cool that real kids test out the games before they are made."
"I never knew that it takes years to actually make an Xbox."
"You need a lot of people to make an Xbox.  I was surprised that there are so many people working on it."
"He played a lot of video games too when he was a kid!"

Skype in the Classroom has organized an amazing opportunity for students.  Not only do students get to meet some very cool people, but now they have a chance to ask pertinent questions of the people who work in a career that may have seemed out of reach for some students.  This program is going to open up doors.  Take a look at what Skype has to offer by visiting their site and then clicking on the "Hour of Code" section. 

We look forward to our next speaker, Sanjay Raghani, Software Development Engineer at Skype on December 4.

Around the World in One Day

It still amazes me sometimes how easy it is to connect with other classrooms as far away as the opposite end of the Earth with simply a click of a button.  On Tuesday, our students had the chance to travel the world using Skype.  Within hours Mrs. Berglund's students connected with schools in France and Spain.  Fifth grade Integrated Technology students also did a Mystery Skype with a class from St. Angela School in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Our day began with a planned Mystery Skype with students located in Lyon, France.  Technical difficulties in France forced us change our plan to a simple question-and-answer session.  This turned out to be even more exciting for students in both locations as they were very anxious to learn more about one another and their respective cultures.  The students in France were especially surprised to learn that students here were allowed to chew gum at school and carry cell phones.

Our next stop took us to Cuenca, Spain.  This time Mrs. Berglund's 7th graders engaged in a traditional Mystery Skype.  It took us awhile to figure out the other class's location, but our students' diligence using Google Maps paid off with a successful ending.

Our final tour took my 5th grade Integrated Technology class to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  My students quickly guessed our partner's location, but the extra time allowed for us to ask Mr. Wasik's class questions about what life was like there.  The -5 below zero temperature and the snow piled up on the ground did not slow this class down! (Thanks, Mr. Wasik for a peek outside of your window).

In today's world students can do more than just read about other cultures.  Skype, and Skype in the Classroom in particular, has made it possible for students to easily virtually connect with someone living in a different country.  The connections that we experienced on this day gave all students a peek into daily life that no textbook could give.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Thanks for our best book fair yet!

Wow!  New London Intermediate Middle School you have risen to the challenge once again!  We are awed by your support and generosity. This was our most successful book fair ever!  We not only exceeded our sales goal, but we also collected the most All for Books donations EVER!  This year through our All for Books classroom competition, you donated $837.05 to our school library.  This money was not only used to purchase additional books for our school library, but Scholastic is also matching the amount that we collected and donating that money to schools in need.  We are so lucky to have such generous students at our school.  Here is a peek at what we were able to add to our library with your All for Books donations and our book fair sales profit.

A special thank you goes out to the following classrooms that collected the most money during our All for Books competition.  The top three classrooms earned a doughnut party, and the remaining classrooms received some special Halloween treats.  
     Mrs. Keach's class- $152.40
     Mr. Shepard's class- $138.78
     Mrs. Yeager's class- $124.17
     Mrs. Friemark's class- $104.23
     Mrs. Casey's class- $77.19
     Mrs. Smith's class- $72.17
     Mrs. Wilson's class- $70.76

Once again, we appreciate all of your support!  We look forward to seeing you in the library to check out all of our great new books.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Go back in time to the prehistoric days with our 7th grade tour guides!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and live during the age of the dinosaurs or Earth's first species?  Our 7th grade tour guides can help you have this experience.  After learning about several prehistoric eras, Mrs. Winton's Science classes used Adobe Voice on the iPads to create a virtual tour of these eras.  Learn from them what you would need to survive during this time.  What life existed then?  What would you need to bring with you to safely survive your journey?  View their tours below to find out.

Molly and Sage's tour of the Paleozoic Era
Maddie and Sydney's tour of the Cenozoic Era
Paloma and Faith's tour of the Mesozoic Era
Kaden and Liam's tour of the Cenozoic Era

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We are digital citizens!

I cannot believe that the end of the first quarter is almost here!  Students in Integrated Technology have spent the quarter learning about digital citizenship.  Lessons have included everything from Internet safety to cyberbullying to website evaluation.  As a culminating activity, students designed their own project to showcase what they have learned about digital citizenship.  Students used a variety of tools to share their knowledge including Go Animate to create animated videos, Google Sites to create websites, Bitstrips to create online comics, Adobe Voice to create a digital story, and iMovie to edit their own live videos.  Here is a sampling of products from our new digital citizenship experts.

Ally and Hayley's website


Friday, October 17, 2014

Explorer App Smash with Photo Mapo, Pic Collage, and Thinglink

After learning about explorers in Social Studies, Mr. Wegner's 5th graders were excited to show everyone what they know.  Mr. Wegner and I developed a fun project that allowed students to share their knowledge and gave them a chance to play around with smashing the apps Photo Mapo, Pic Collage, and Thinglink.

First, students used the app Photo Mapo to create a map collage of the place that their assigned explorer discovered.  They also included some information about the route that the explorer took and the place of discovery.

Next, students used Image Quest to find copyright-free images that represented their explorers.  They then created a collage in the app Pic Collage.  They also added their image created in Photo Mapo to their Pic Collage, giving them the chance to see how easy it is to smash these two apps together.

Once the collage was complete, students uploaded this image to Thinglink to create an "interactive image."  In Thinglink, students were able to add "hotspots" to each image to highlight information that was important about the explorer.  Their hotspots included videos of themselves describing the explorer, links to relevant websites, other images, and text comments.

Here are some of the 5th graders' finished products.  They had a blast doing their first app smash!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Teen Read Week has officially begun!

Today marks day one of our Teen Read Week celebration.  We will be connecting Teen Read Week this year to our Scholastic Book fair and celebrate both special events at once!  Below you will find a complete list of our fun activities.  Participate throughout the week to win some great prizes.  Check out the bulletin board outside of the library to see if you can unmask the teachers hiding behind the knight masks.

Another one of our activities is to guess how many mints it takes to freshen a dragon's breath.  Find the bucket of mints and guessing sheets on the circulation desk.  Beware the dragon!

Here is a complete list of our Teen Read Week activities.  Remember the Scholastic Book Fair will start beginning Tuesday, October 21 at 4pm and run through Friday, October 31.  We look forward to seeing you in the library!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Global Read Aloud Begins!

From October 6-November 14, students in Mrs. Pritchard's 5th grade class will be talking a lot about goldfish.  No, they are not doing any crazy science experiments or bringing in a class pet.  These students are just a few of the over 300,000 students worldwide taking part in The Global Read Aloud.  Mrs. Pritchard has chosen to read aloud The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm.  Today she officially began the read aloud.  Before starting, the class checked out the posts that have been added to Twitter using the hashtag #GRAGoldfish.  Students were able to view the predictions made by other classrooms and see some photos of how others are beginning the project.  We added our own predictions using Mrs. Young's Twitter handle @donnalynnyoung.  This activity created a lot of anticipation, and the students were anxious for the read aloud to start.

Next, it was time to jump right in and begin reading.  Students gathered around Mrs. Pritchard as she started. 

While Mrs. Pritchard read, students grabbed sticky notes and added what they wondered, felt, and thought about during the reading.

At the end of chapter two, when Mrs. Pritchard announced that she would stop there for the day, students BEGGED for just ONE MORE CHAPTER!  I think that this is definitely a sign that they are very excited about participating in this year's Global Read Aloud and can't wait for tomorrow to hear more!  We also cannot wait to hear the reactions from students at our partner school in Duxbury, MA, when we Skype with them soon.

You can follow @donnalynnyoung on Twitter to read our thoughts and watch our progress during this six-week project. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Leaping into the Global Read Aloud

Next week marks the beginning of a world-wide read aloud initiative known as the Global Read Aloud.  Between October 6 and November 14, participating teachers from all over the world will choose from one of four books to read aloud to their students.  During the six designated weeks, classrooms from all over the world will collaborate with one another through various electronic means to discuss their chosen books and share their excitement for reading.

This year Mrs. Pritchard's 5th grade students will be participating in the project.  Each week we will Skype with a partner school to talk about our chosen book, The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm.  

Today, Mrs. Pritchard's students had a chance to meet students from our partner school through a Mystery Skype.  During the Mystery Skype, students took turns asking yes/no questions to narrow down the location of the partner school with the goal of figuring out exactly where in the world they are located.  To make the questioning and guessing easier, students used Google Maps to zoom in on and pinpoint specific locations.

While it was a challenge guessing the specific city where our partners live, with a little hint from them, we were able to figure out that our partners are from Duxbury, MA!  

We were so excited to meet them, but we are even more excited to begin collaborating with them beginning next week to discuss our reactions to The Fourteenth Goldfish.  We look forward to our next Skype with Mrs. Burns' class of 5th graders.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Digital footprints: how does what you post today affect your future?

What is a digital footprint?  Why is it important?  How can my digital footprint affect me in the future?  These are all important questions that students in Integrated Technology have been exploring this past week.  After watching several videos and reading several articles explaining the idea of a digital footprint, students formed production companies and had to make a decision about which host to hire for a new TV show in development. Students had to make this decision solely after reading the online profiles found for the two candidates being considered for the job.  The profiles were found through an online search of social networking sites, newspaper articles, and blog posts.

Within their production companies, students carefully scanned the candidates' profiles for any information that suggested that he or she would not be an ideal hire.  For example, they looked for discrepancies in information, analyzed uploaded photos, and made judgments about what type of worker the candidates might be based on how they presented themselves online.

After carefully reviewing the profiles, students had to make a decision as a team about which candidate they should hire and why.  This decision was a tough one and created great debate among team members.  One candidate appeared to come across as more favorable than the other, but questions such as "Is it fair to judge someone for something that happened years ago?" and "What if this person has changed?" created great -and very real-world- conversations.

Finally, each production company had to make a presentation to the entire class about which candidate would make the best hire and why.  Once again, debate followed as the entire class shared their different thoughts about what they discovered.

Ultimately, the class agreed that NEITHER candidate would make a good hire.  While one candidate appeared to present herself more favorably online, both included information and photos that made us question their credibility.  Was it fair to judge someone based on what they posted online?  Some students didn't think that it was since they argued people change, and they should not be judged based on their past mistakes.  Most students, though, thought that is was fair and believed that a person's digital footprint could help employers learn more about a person than what can be gleaned from an interview. 

This full lesson entitled "Trillion Dollar Footprint" is one of Common Sense Media's fantastic lessons.  This lesson gives students the opportunity to not only work in teams and understand the process of hiring someone in the 21st century, but students also really learn how important it is to carefully consider how they present themselves online.  Our digital footprints stay with us forever, and they can have a huge impact on how others view us. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting to know one another AND students from our partner school in Kansas

Students in Integrated Technology have been busy, busy, busy.  We are ready to begin our first digital partnership with Mr. Kessler's 5th graders at Morse Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas.  During this quarter, we will be using Edmodo to converse about ourselves, our digital lives, and what we are learning in the core curriculum.  In addition, IT students will have the opportunity to practice what they are learning about digital citizenship in our face-to-face class sessions by talking virtually with a remote group of students.

To get our collaboration started, and learn new things about one another, IT students used the iPads and the app Adobe Voice to create a video about themselves.  They were able to add images, text, and record their voices by using this app.  Students posted their videos to Edmodo to help students in New London and Overland Park get to know them a little better.  Check out some of our highlights.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New year, new students, new LIBRARY!

Welcome back!  We have had an extremely busy first two weeks.  It has been exciting to get to know the new 5th graders. This past week I have been giving all 5th grade classes a library orientation to help familiarize them with where materials and located and the digital resources available to them.  During orientation, students used the iPads to complete a QR code scavenger hunt.  Working in teams, they had to use Destiny, library materials, and search the library stacks to locate different items.  It was awesome to see the teamwork they displayed and their excitement over using a technology that is new to most of them.

We also changed the entire look of the library.  We are excited that we were able to use profits from last year's book fair to purchase new sofas and loveseats!  Your book fair purchases have really helped us modernize the look and feel of the library.  In addition, we extended the computer lab and added a "genius bar" or charging station.  Bring in your devices and plug them in during the day.

We look forward to seeing you in the library often this year.  We are just getting started, but so many exciting things are already happening.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reading Across the Continents

Earlier in the year, my 5th hour, Day 1 Integrated Technology students began a collaboration with Constantia Waldorf School in in Cape Town, South Africa.  Due to timezone differences, we were unable to Skype with one another.  Still we felt that a connection between our students would be so powerful and meaningful.  We decided instead to exchange videos of our students reading aloud a favorite title and then sharing a little bit about our respective schools.  

In small groups, our New London students had to make a few important decisions: What books would they read and what aspects of our school and community did they want to share with other students across an entire ocean?  Once these decisions were made, each group went to work reading a favorite children's book and deciding how they wanted to share more about New London.  To give you an idea of our exchange, here is one group's video.


Unfortunately, time moved too quickly, and our friends in South Africa were not able to get their videos to us in time. Today, though, they did send us a fun surprise- a few pictures of the class with hand-made thank yous for sharing our videos.  We were so excited to see the faces of the students for whom we created our videos.

Regardless of geographic and timezone differences, collaboration with students from different parts of the world is possible through creative uses of technology.  We can't wait to come back to school this fall to finally see the videos that our Cape Town partners have created. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jump Start your Battle of the Books Reading

The official 2014-15 Battle of the Books list has been published.  Battle of the Books is a statewide reading competition sponsored by WEMTA.  Students form teams of 2-4 students and read all of the books on the list.  In February, teams compete in the statewide competition where they will answer questions about the books.  Get a jump start on this competition by beginning to read this summer.  Below are the lists for both the elementary division and the middle division.  The elementary division is open to all students in grade 5.  Happy summer reading!

Elementary Division List

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Big Nate Flips Out by Lincoln Peirce
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Killer Species: Out for Blood by Michael P. Spradlin
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Loser by Jerry Spinelli
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
The Nazi Invasion, 1944 (I Survived series #9) by Lauren Tarshis
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Oh, No! by Candace Fleming
Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean
Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

 Middle Division List

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Doll Bones by Holly Black
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
Jinx by Sage Blackwood
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
March. Book One by John Lewis
Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
One for the Murphys by Linda Mullaly Hunt
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics by John Feinstein
Serafina’s Promise by Anne Burg
Truce by Jim Murphy
Tunnels by Roderick Gordon
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt


100 Nights of Reading End-of-the-Year Celebration

This year we decided to try a new challenge with our students.  We challenged them to read 100 nights this school year.  Students kept reading logs to document that they read at least 20 minutes per night.  After completing 25 nights of reading, students were able to choose a prize from the prize box.  Upon completion of 100 nights, they received an invitation to our end-of-the-year celebration that included a build-your-own ice cream sundae station.

Congratulations to all students who participated this year and successfully met the challenge! 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Booktrailers using iMovie

Eighth graders in Mrs. Koshollek's Language Arts class have just completed reading utopian/dystopian novels of their choice following their study of The Giver by Lois Lowry. To celebrate and share what they have read, they created booktrailers using iMovie. Students had the choice to use the movie option or the trailer option. They used a mix of video and photos as well. Check out a sampling of some of their creativity.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Legos come to Life with Stop Motion Animation

Our Bullodog Time is one of my favorite times to experiment with new ideas and tools.  The 5th grade group of students that I have is willing to try just about anything.  For the past few weeks, we have been using an iPad app called iStopMotion to make simple stop motion animation videos.  The students thought that it would be fun to use their Legos to create videos after first developing a story.  Using the app, they gradually built their creations and took pictures of each step.

Once the pictures were taken, they were arranged in a timeline, and a stop motion animation video was made!  The students were so proud of what they created.  Some of them got very creative with how they arranged their characters and moved them inch by inch.  This app was definitely very easy to use and user friendly!

Check out some of their final products below.