5th Grade Hurricane Hypothesis

Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about the scientific method: forming a hypothesis, collecting data, taking measurements, graphing information, and analyzing the results (SOL5.1). Since Virginia is currently facing the threat of Hurricane Florence, and since the 5th graders need to review weather (SOL4.6), we decided to research hurricanes using the scientific method. First, I showed them some photos of past hurricanes and identified the eye of the hurricane. If the “eye” is the center, then the “eyelid” can be the area near the eye, and the “eyebrow” can be a bit further out. What part of the hurricane has the strongest winds? We made a copy of this spreadsheet, and I asked the students to write their hypothesis in the purple box. For example: If the distance from the eye increases, the windspeed will increase (or decrease). Now it was time to make some measurements and collect data. We went to Windy and Earth which show live storms on the Earth. You can click anywhere in the storm to get the windspeed (you may need to go to settings to change the units to mph). We used Accuweather or the National Hurricane Center to get the names of the hurricanes. The students could measure the winds in any hurricane they wanted, and I pointed out that the more data they collect, the more reliable their conclusions will be. They recorded the information in their spreadsheet, including the name of the hurricane and the windspeed measured at the eye, eyelid, eyebrow, and maximum (found by just searching around the storm for the biggest number). Finally, I showed them how to graph the data and customize the colors. We analyzed the results to confirm or revise our hypothesis. Most of us discovered that the strongest winds were in the eyebrow area, so as the distance from the eye increased, the windspeed increased. You can take a look at some student samples here. UPDATE: Schools closed the next day, 9/14, due to Hurricane Florence, and on 9/17 we had tornados!

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5th Grade Hurricane Hypothesis

Fifth graders at Varina Elementary have been learning about the scientific method: forming a hypothesis, collecting data, taking measurements, graphing information, and analyzing the results (SOL5.1). Since Virginia is currently facing the threat of Hurricane Florence, and since the 5th graders need to review weather (SOL4.6), we decided to research hurricanes using the scientific method. First, I showed them some photos of past hurricanes and identified the eye of the hurricane. If the “eye” is the center, then the “eyelid” can be the area near the eye, and the “eyebrow” can be a bit further out. What part of the hurricane has the strongest winds? We made a copy of this spreadsheet, and I asked the students to write their hypothesis in the purple box. For example: If the distance from the eye increases, the windspeed will increase (or decrease). Now it was time to make some measurements and collect data. We went to Windy and Earth which show live storms on the Earth. You can click anywhere in the storm to get the windspeed (you may need to go to settings to change the units to mph). We used Accuweather or the National Hurricane Center to get the names of the hurricanes. The students could measure the winds in any hurricane they wanted, and I pointed out that the more data they collect, the more reliable their conclusions will be. They recorded the information in their spreadsheet, including the name of the hurricane and the windspeed measured at the eye, eyelid, eyebrow, and maximum (found by just searching around the storm for the biggest number). Finally, I showed them how to graph the data and customize the colors. We analyzed the results to confirm or revise our hypothesis. Most of us discovered that the strongest winds were in the eyebrow area, so as the distance from the eye increased, the windspeed increased. You can take a look at some student samples here. UPDATE: Schools closed the next day, 9/14, due to Hurricane Florence, and on 9/17 we had tornados!

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1st Grade Ordinal Numbers

First graders at Laburnum Elementary have been learning about ordinal numbers (SOL1.3). Today, students in Ms. Leibowitz’s class identified the ordinal numbers of objects in a drawing they created. First, we helped the students log into the computers, since they haven’t had much experience with them. Then we went to Kleki, a free drawing site I like because it’s simple to access and use. We started off just scribbling in order to practice using the click and drag technique. This, in itself, is a challenge for young students developing their fine motor skills. Once they got the hang of it, I showed them the Undo button, and we undid all the scribbles. Now it was time to start drawing pictures. I demonstrated how they could change colors using the rainbow. They could draw anything they wanted, as long as the objects were in a row, since we would be identifying their ordinal positions. Some first graders get very concerned if their pictures are not perfect, so I let them know that their pictures could be messy (I did a few messy examples). Even a squiggle could be a snake or a worm. Their drawings could be simple (circles, squares, triangles), or, if they wanted a challenge, they could make them more complex (trees, houses, cars), by combining shapes together. But, I explained, the most important thing was for them to enjoy the process. As they finished, I went around and saved their work (File > Export Image). I also uploaded the pictures to a shared Google doc, accessed with a link shortener so I could navigate to it quickly from each student’s computer. Finally, once all the students’ artwork was uploaded, we looked at the pictures and identified the ordinal position of different objects. For example, what is the position of the flower? What is in third place? You can see their pictures here. UPDATE: I have used Kleki to teach lessons in other first grade classes for shapes (SOL1.11a) Ms. Spencer & Ms. Milteer and patterns (SOL1.14) Ms. Sunseri & Ms. Burnett.

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5th Grade Classifying Our Classmates

Fifth graders at Holladay Elementary have been learning about classifying objects (SOL5.1a) and organisms (SOL5.5b) using various characteristics. Today, students in Ms. Haislip’s class practiced this skill by classifying their classmates. First, we went to AvatarMaker and created an avatar that looked like us–same hair style, eye color, etc. We downloaded the image as a 200×200 png file (click “Download”). Then we uploaded it to a shared Google slideshow so everyone could see each other’s avatars. Once all the avatars were uploaded, I turned off file sharing so no one would accidentally move or delete the images. I arranged the avatars neatly on the slide then instructed the students to make a copy of the slideshow (File > Make a copy). On their own copies, they duplicated the class slide (Right click > Duplicate slide), and we discussed ways to classify the students into groups with common characteristics. The students had many great ideas: gender, hair color, eye color, glasses, facial expression, etc. They chose a characteristic and typed it in the top of the slide. Next, they clicked and dragged the images to sort them into groups. As an option for making the groups clearer, I demonstrated how to create shapes with the Shapes tool and send them to the back (Arrange > Order > Send to Back). If students finished, they could make additional copies of the slide and create different sorts. You can see some student examples here.

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4th Grade Predicting and Graphing Virginia Rivers

Fourth graders at Trevvett Elementary have been learning how to make graphs in Math (SOL4.14), and they have been studying the major rivers of Virginia in Social Studies (VS.2). Today, students in Ms. Catlett’s class predicted and graphed the lengths and discharge rates of the rivers. First we located the rivers on Google Maps. I created the map with different layers so that you can click the check boxes on the side of the map to turn on/off the rivers and/or the Virginia border as you discuss each one. We looked at the map scale at the bottom to try to predict the lengths of each river. If you wanted to show your students the watershed for each river (Science SOL4.9a), a great research tool is Streamer. Click the “Trace Upstream” button at the top, then click on a river, and the entire watershed will show up in red. I was amazed at how big the Potomac watershed was and how far it reached into Virginia! After discussing the lengths of the rivers, we tried to predict the discharge. Discharge is the volume of water flowing out the end of the river, measured in cubic feet per second (cu.ft./s). A cubic foot is about 7.5 gallons. We estimated the discharge rate of each river, taking into account their total length, watershed area, and size of the mouth (where it empties into the bay or ocean). Many students automatically assumed that longer rivers would have greater discharge rates, so I asked them a question to help clarify this misunderstanding. Does a longer hose have more water coming out the end than a shorter hose? What does affect how much water flows out the end of the hose? (Water volume, speed and the width of the hose). Does the discharge rate stay the same for each river, like its length? What would make the discharge rate change? (Amount of rainfall). Students recorded their predictions on this spreadsheet. Then they did some research to find the answers. Wikipedia has the information as well as simply asking Google, “What is the length/discharge of the ___ River?” The students entered the correct data into their spreadsheet and compared it to their predictions. Finally, I showed them how to highlight the data and graph it. The graph makes it very easy to see relationships between the rivers. You can see a few student examples here and in the screenshot above.

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2nd Grade “Mystery Me” Introductions

Second graders at Laburnum Elementary got to know each other better today with a fun “Mystery Me” activity. First, they went to Pixect and took a photo of themselves. Pixect is a great tool for taking quick webcam photos. It has an array of filters and timers available to use, but we just saved the photo and uploaded it to FacePixelizer, where the real magic happens. FacePixelizer is another great tool with many instructional uses. We used it today to pixelate our faces, but it can be used to make anything in a photo unidentifiable and mysterious: pixelate a book title, a weather instrument, or an animal, and students can try to guess what it is from various clues. It’s simple to use. Just click and drag across the area you want to pixelate. The amount of pixelation can be adjusted with a slider. Once we pixelated our faces, we downloaded the images and added them to a Google slideshow template that I gave them. The first slide was titled “Who Am I?” with two sentence starters: “I like…” and “I have….” The students completed the sentences with clues about themselves. On the next page they typed “I’m (Name)” and uploaded their original photo from Pixect. When they were finished, I combined all their slideshows together and added a Dissolve transition between them, so the pixelated photo gradually revealed the mystery student. You can see a few student samples here.

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2nd Grade “Mystery Me” Introductions

Second graders at Laburnum Elementary got to know each other better today with a fun “Mystery Me” activity. First, they went to Pixect and took a photo of themselves. Pixect is a great tool for taking quick webcam photos. It has an array of filters and timers available to use, but we just saved the photo and uploaded it to FacePixelizer, where the real magic happens. FacePixelizer is another great tool with many instructional uses. We used it today to pixelate our faces, but it can be used to make anything in a photo unidentifiable and mysterious: pixelate a book title, a weather instrument, or an animal, and students can try to guess what it is from various clues. It’s simple to use. Just click and drag across the area you want to pixelate. The amount of pixelation can be adjusted with a slider. Once we pixelated our faces, we downloaded the images and added them to a Google slideshow template that I gave them. The first slide was titled “Who Am I?” with two sentence starters: “I like…” and “I have….” The students completed the sentences with clues about themselves. On the next page they typed “I’m (Name)” and uploaded their original photo from Pixect. When they were finished, I combined all their slideshows together and added a Dissolve transition between them, so the pixelated photo gradually revealed the mystery student. You can see a few student samples here.

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5th Grade Green Screen Graffiti Introductions

Today was the first day of school at Trevvett Elementary, and the 5th grade classes wanted to start right off with a green screen project! The teachers were looking for a new, creative way for their students to introduce themselves. They thought a graffiti wall with each student’s name and photo would be cool. So we used PosterGen Grafitti Creator to make the wall and added their photos with a green screen app on the iPads called DoInk. First, the students designed their graffiti wall on PosterGen. This free resource allows you to edit all the parts of the graffiti–the font, the outline, the fill color, the glow, and more! Once the students had created their graffiti name on the virtual brick wall, we took a screenshot and saved it to Google Drive. Then we opened the DoInk app on our iPad, stood in front of a green screen, and uploaded the image to replace the background. Our green screen was simply a sheet of green bulletin board paper. Since some students were wearing green (which wouldn’t work on a green screen), we also had a sheet of orange paper as an alternative. The DoInk app can replace any color background, not just green. When we took the photo in DoInk, it looked like they were standing in front of their graffiti wall. You can see a few students samples here.

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5th Grade Green Screen Graffiti Introductions

Today was the first day of school at Trevvett Elementary, and the 5th grade classes wanted to start right off with a green screen project! The teachers were looking for a new, creative way for their students to introduce themselves. They thought a graffiti wall with each student’s name and photo would be cool. So we used PosterGen Grafitti Creator to make the wall and added their photos with a green screen app on the iPads called DoInk. First, the students designed their graffiti wall on PosterGen. This free resource allows you to edit all the parts of the graffiti–the font, the outline, the fill color, the glow, and more! Once the students had created their graffiti name on the virtual brick wall, we took a screenshot and saved it to Google Drive. Then we opened the DoInk app on our iPad, stood in front of a green screen, and uploaded the image to replace the background. Our green screen was simply a sheet of green bulletin board paper. Since some students were wearing green (which wouldn’t work on a green screen), we also had a sheet of orange paper as an alternative. The DoInk app can replace any color background, not just green. When we took the photo in DoInk, it looked like they were standing in front of their graffiti wall. You can see a few students samples here.

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2018 Summer Elementary Conference

Today we had our 2018 summer elementary conference. Our theme was “Dive into Deeper Learning” because we wanted to focus on the four principles of deeper learning: learning is anytime/ anywhere, student-owned, authentic and connected, and community supported. Along with this focus, we revealed our newly developed Henrico Learner Profile (HLP) which will prepare our students to be #lifeready. We know that successful graduates demonstrate six traits: Quality Character, Global Citizenship, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication. So each session of our conference included one or more of these elements. Lastly, we wanted to train our teachers how to use the new technologies they would be receiving this Fall: new iPads in grades K-1, new Chromebooks for students in grades 2-5, and new teacher laptops with Windows 10. Since teachers from across the county were taking a day of their vacation to attend this conference, we tried to make it fun and informative. We played games, gave away prizes, invited food trucks, and had a DJ playing music! Our “deeper learning” cruise launched with a Love Boat intro video starring the technology instructors, who are now called Innovative Learning Coaches. Then the teachers attended four sessions, or cruise destinations. Alfonso and I taught sessions on: (1) Windows 10 Tips; (2) Civil Debate in the Classroom; (3) Video & Animation; and (4) Blogging with Google Sites. It was a great day of learning from each other! We look forward to doing it again next summer.

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