Tag Archives: Lower School

Coding (Social Studies+Spanish) = Amazing Learning for ALL!

As part of the third grade social studies curriculum, the girls learn about Central and South America and the people and animals that live in those countries. This year, the Third Grade Teachers worked with Spanish Teacher Kate McGinnis and STEM Teacher Caroline Windell as they combined their social studies, Spanish, and coding knowledge into one amazing online project.

They girls researched a specific rainforest animal and then wrote an interview between their animal and another character using common Spanish phrases such as ¿Dónde vives? and ¿Qué comes? They then used the block-based coding language in Scratch to animate their interviews, record their animations, and then save their animations as a stand-alone videos.

Here is a sample by Sophia:

As more projects like this one are successfully completed (and shared) – we look forward to seeing the robust learning and iterative design processes inherent in coding instruction – reaching students and faculty in a variety of subject areas.

WordPress for Education – A Solution for Younger Students

Untitled 4When I read about Ed Tech solutions for the classroom I often get the impression that the concepts are only applicable to older students. Lower School students sometimes get left out, and the more interesting Ed Tech work is integrated in the upper school levels.

This is partially because many lessons are designed to integrate multiple basic concepts, which are taught in the younger grades. But, there are lots of tech tasks that younger students are capable of managing if given the ability. For example, even the youngest students can use an iPad to record a video. However, posting that video for private classroom display is a challenge – most media sharing apps (YouTube, Vimeo, etc…) will only allow users 13+ years to register. This means that either the teacher needs to make an account, which she then shares with the students, or the teacher collects all the videos and posts them herself…not an ideal solution.

We’ve come up with a pretty nifty solution here at Hamlin! WordPress + the Jetpack plugin + VideoPress upgrade.

Hamlin’s WordPress.org Set-Up

  •  Our Learning Management System (LMS), Blackbaud K-12 (aka Whipple Hill), offers a version of WordPress.org called SchoolPress.
  • SchoolPress allows the school to create blogs and assign the Author role based on the class rosters. In other words, if I create a blog for the Grade 2 class, I can simply import the Grade 2 class roster and easily make each student a blog editor (and the teacher the blog admin).
  • The blog is also tied to our LMS, so if the blog is password protected (which all our classroom blogs are), there is a single sign on feature – the students must log into our LMS before taken to the blog.

WordPress.org Integration via the Jetpack plugin – VideoPress

    • The Jetpack plugin is available to all WordPress.org sites (i.e.: a self-hosted WordPress site).
    • Jetpack requires that you have a WordPress.com login. Once this is created, you can connect your .org site to your .com account, and get access to several features and upgrades available through WordPress.com.
    • Enabling Jetpack, allows you to purchase and upgraded version of Jetpack that includes VideoPress.
    • VideoPress allows anyone with an Author, Editor, or Admin role to post videos to their blog from their computer, tablet or mobile device. Since students (no matter what age) can be assigned any role, students can independently post their work to the class blog!

Note: you can attach your WordPress.com account (upgrade and all!) to multiple .org sites. This is a HUGE money saver!

Success story from the classroom, written by Ms. Andrews (Grade 2 teacher)

Background: The girls started their Family Field Trips around San Francisco. For this project, the girls create a presentation using PowerPoint/Keynote/Google Slides etc…, which  they present to the class.

After A. presented her slides to the class, she went home and: took a screenshot of each slide to input the images into the Book Creator app, cropped each photo in Photos prior to putting it into Book Creator, and made a new book in Book Creator of her slide images. She used the sound recording tool to record herself reading her slides saved her project as a video. Then, she uploaded the recorded version as a video to the Blog and wrote a description about her work…all on her own! 🙂

A. said she did this because, “I wanted to be able to share it with my grandparents and other people who live far away, and with people that came over to my house. The steps just seemed to make sense to me, so I did it and it worked.”

I love how confident she felt to problem solve and explore these tech tools in order to create a project that fit her needs for communication, despite it not being a requirement of the project. She shows ownership of her learning and pride in the work she has done on this project!

The ability for the girls to connect school to home and home to school via the Blog, is so exciting and gives me ideas about future projects/uses! To see the girls take what we have done in class and use it independently to communicate their work highlights the value of this tool and why I love having a Class Blog!

Lower School iPad expansion

We are very excited to add a class set of iPads to our classroom’s tools for teaching and learning this school year.  Our curriculum has not changed, it is not about the iPad – but is enhanced bScreen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.23.42 AMy the ability for every girl to use an iPad to integrate and individualize their learning through a variety of applications, readers, and tools.  We also believe this type of digital tool is, and will continue to be, an important skill for Hamlin girls to master in order to meet the challenges of their technologically rich time.

Technology, like the iPad, encourages educational independence, responsibility, teamwork skills, engaged learning, creativity, quality output and personal ownership.  We are encouraging and teaching the girls to be innovators with the iPad in what they are learning.  The Hamlin community is committed to supporting the girls in learning to use new technology while simultaneously teaching the skills necessary to navigate an increasingly digital world.  This happens with intention; under the watch of caring educators who value the rich array of teaching & learning tools at their disposal.  The Hamlin community is excited to embrace yet another tool that will enhance the experience of today’s learner.

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