Another Adventure

Written on February 8, 2014 – 10:00 pm | by Catina Chapman

My last blog post was from last school year.  This school year is halfway over.  Why has it taken so long to write a post?

I’ve gone back into the classroom.

I missed teaching.  I loved working with colleagues, but after eight years out of the classroom, the pull to return was too strong.  So now I teach seventh grade English.

When I returned,  I wasn’t sure what direction this blog would take.  I’m still not sure.  I have to share what my students did this past week, though.

Our students learned about text features this week.  They have to “use textual features to make predictions and enhance comprehension, including boldface and/or italics type;  type set in color; underlining; indentation; sidebars; illustrations, graphics, and photographs; headings and subheadings; and footnotes and annotations” according to Virginia’s Curriculum Framework.   My colleagues and I started by having students identify each; next week, we will read a section from their history book and a section on sharks from their literature book and use the text features to aid comprehension.

First, we took some notes on what each was.  Then, students tried to find them in print at home or a Scholastic Book order (not the best example of nonfiction, but it did have many of the features) for homework.  Many brought in books with sticky notes labeling their text.  A couple others messaged me pictures of text features on My Big Campus.  They only had to find three.

The next day, I showed them examples and they jotted down what they thought each was.  We checked their answers as a class.  The following day, my librarian and I cotaught on a lesson in textmapping.  Students were put into pairs and were given a key of how to mark a laminated Time for Kids article with dry erase markers.   Students collaborated, and with some prodding, were able to find many, if not all, text features.  They then read the article.

TextMap3Text Map

Then I modeled how to take notes in bullet form from the beginning of the article.  In a couple weeks, we’ll refer back to it as an example of enumeration.  They also answered questions that came with the edition of Time for Kids.  Each answer came from the captions, map, or sidebar in the article.

The following day, students went on a “Text Feature Scavenger Hunt” type test where they found each and uploaded it into My Big Campus using our school’s iPads.  Originally, it was a cut and paste from periodicals activity, but I modified it a bit.  Using the iPads meant less little snippets all over the room, meant they could use books as well, and also meant I could grade them from my phone that evening.  I panicked too early in my first class, thinking that the pictures were not really showing.  It turns out they show up on my account after students hit “submit”.  Another tidbit: some students hit “Don’t Allow” when MyBigCampus asked if it was allowed access to photos, so the ITRT and I had to go to Settings and allow them.  Another tidbit: the ITRT suggested students take the photograph with their pencils pointing to the word(s) with the text feature.  This proved to be really helpful in assessing.  I had some very good grades on this assignment, and look forward to applying how those text features help authors create meaning.

Copy of DSCF7932

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First Grade “Story Problems” with Qwizdom

Written on May 20, 2013 – 2:40 pm | by Catina Chapman

First grade students in Virginia work single step word problems with addition and subtraction.  I had made a Qwizdom activity two winters ago: Winter Word Problems Action Point.  I like using ActionPoint for Qwizdom because PowerPoint is second nature to most teachers.  Also, if anything goes wrong with Qwizdom, they can use the file without the clickers.  I discovered last year that I could push the circle on in the middle of the arrow buttons on the teacher remote to bring in transitions.  My ActionPoint presents questions, then shows an animation with transitions.   This allows students to count along.

One of my first grade classes liked the Winter Word Problems ActionPoint so much, their teacher asked if they could make up their own questions.  I created a simple five question example, modeling my questions after the VDOE Curriculum Framework for first grade.  This Story Problems ActionPoint used photographs to transition to a photograph after.  It is not as animated as the other one because it is later in the school year.


The teacher handed each student objects to use for his or her story.  Each student created and wrote out a word problem, using all their objects.  She then took the corresponding photograph for each.  The final ActionPoint: First Grade Story Problems ActionPoint.


I later revised this, since there are actually 17 animals in the picture.


Interactive Bulletin Board: Multiple Meaning Words

Written on April 26, 2013 – 11:09 am | by Catina Chapman

At one of my schools, teachers take turns providing “interactive bulletin boards” in the hallways.  April was my month!  My boards in the past have been “searching” our library’s online database and using QR codes to check answers on identifying narrators.

This time, I used an X-acto knife to cut out a large rectangle from the middle of black construction paper.  I used a black sharpie to make a camera “dot” at the top and circle for the “power button” on the bottom.  I used  a silver sharpie to draw a rounded-edged square in the middle of the power button square.  I then had each laminated…blank.  They came out like little windows so I can resuse them!

Next, I opened a book from Scholastic Storia on my iPad.  I chose Storia because it has “kid friendly” dictionary entries.  I selected some of my son’s ebooks and used the snapshot tool on my iPad to take a picture of a few pages in each.  After each snapshot, I clicked on a word on the page that had multiple definitions, and took a snapshot of that as well.  I hooked my iPad up to my laptop and copied all pictures into a folder.  Then I cropped out the “dictionary entries”.  I”d share those files, but I’m sure there are copyrighting issues.

I printed the page snapshots as 8×10′s, and printed the dictionary entries 2/page.  Each definition card has a paper clip to act as a sliding “answer selector”.  Then I created these  Directions:  Look at the dictionary definitions next to each ebook page.  Place the paperclip next to the definition of the word as it is used on that page.

I hope that while practicing selecting meanings, students and teachers alike will become more aware of the “Look Up” feature ebooks provide.


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Advertising: Commercials and QR Codes

Written on March 12, 2013 – 11:06 pm | by Catina Chapman

Last week and the week before, a colleague and I tested a lesson we designed for a STEM class we took last summer.  We began the fourth grade electricity with this plan: STEM_lesson_August_2012[1].  To clarify: the second column is not taught simultaneously; it’s side by side to stress how integral the hands on engineering piece is.  Begin at the top left, work your way down to step 2 of the Elaborate Step, then begin the Engineering column.   That was the template we were to use. 

Students created a toy that used a circuit they built, then created a commercial to advertise it.  Their peers in the other fourth grade classes at our school will watch the commercials and vote for their favorite.  Commercials are linked here if you want to see what they created and how they market their creations.  Here’s the ToyEngineeringRubric we designed to grade their creations.  You can see the creators of the Best Toy as voted by their peers will earn five bonus points.


Also on that page, you can see three of the QR codes that are now hanging on artwork displayed in our community.  I recently attended a session by Tammy Worcester at the VSTE conference and saw how to easily create Audio QR Codes.  I created a shortcut Tammy’s directions in the Staff networked folder at our school.  The art teacher walked a student through the process while I was present.  She was then comfortable enough to get many of Sutherland’s artists to create a QR code introducing themselves and their pieces.  The codes accompany the displayed artwork in the community for Youth Art Month.


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A Little Seasonal Fun

Written on December 12, 2012 – 10:53 am | by Catina Chapman

Superthanks to the author of the blog Technology Rocks. Seriously. who shared a post of Christmas themed games.  I previewed each and dumped the shorcut to each game in the appropriate networked gradelevel folder for students at each of my schools.  There is a lot of drill in each of these games, and some strategy and logic.  Today, second graders practiced their basic addition facts, subtraction facts, and place value skills using these games. 

In January, I’ll move the games from student folders to a shared staff folder.  Once the second graders heard that, several jotted down the url to the ABCya Math Christmas Lights activity.  They’d loved decorating houses and sky with the lights they’d earned for the facts they’d answered correctly.   

Next December, I’ll put them in student folders again.  Drill in different ways can sharpen skills!  If you want your students to practice before the holiday, the Technology Rocks. Seriously. author has since created a website of the links here.  Enjoy!

Online Database Searching Practice–Offline

Written on December 7, 2012 – 7:34 pm | by Catina Chapman

It was my turn again to design an interactive bulletin board for the fourth and fifth grade hallway.   This time, the librarian and I collaborated.   Fourth and fifth graders had been working on searching Destiny during their library time.

The Final Product

We created ten Searching Questions in PowerPoint.  PowerPoint is great because the presentation can be easily printed as fliers.  The first slide of the PowerPoint is a snapshot of the online card catolog screen, which I exported as a .pdf, then printed as a Poster and taped together.  The second slide has the icons which one would click after typing in a search term.  This slide was printed in color, five times.

The next ten slides are question slides.  After constructing a question, th slide was be copied and pasted, then the text altered.  This kept the format of fonts and organization consistent for each question.  I’d suggest you make your life easier and do the same thing if you download our activity and tweak it!

The final two slides were tbe search terms one might type for each question.  Using a paper cutter, they were cut into 5.5′x1′ strips and placed in a blue construction paper envelope.

The “icons” were glued to black construction paper and laminated, then hole punched.  They hung from the poster, on pushpins.   Students tacked the slips of “typing” into the Find field on each question page, then hung the icon they’d click on the pushpin underneath the search term.


I added a few tricky questions.  Can you find the one that has stumped several students so far?



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Picture Graph in Doodle Buddy

Written on November 20, 2012 – 9:06 pm | by Catina Chapman

One of the second grade teachers I work used the iLearn Continents app with her students today.  She put them in partners and had each play on ”Game” mode, since that mode both keeps track of number correct and incorrect as well as times them.  As each finished his or her initial round, we recorded their number correct and incorrect.  They then competed for best time.  The class “high score” for time was 45.  While I collected the ipads, she hooked her ipad to the projector and opened Doodle Buddy.  The class helped her construct a picture graph number of students who scored which number incorrect.  Although the key did not fit on the screen, students helped her decide that each Earth symbol would represent 2 students since ten students had perfect scores.  The teacher used the eraser tool to erase half of an Earth when the number of students for a particular category was odd.

She finished with some analytical questions.  She asked which category had the most students.  She asked which had the least.  We could also have figured out how many students were in the class, then checked it by counting students in the room.  This lesson reviewed continents and ocean labeling as well as graphing.

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Math Centers in Third Grade

Written on October 12, 2012 – 11:35 am | by Catina Chapman

One of my teachers set up centers for her third grade math class.  It was so wonderful, I had to share!

Station 1: Flashcards.  Students took turns being the quizzer for the other students. 

Station 2: Worksheet.  She had originally planned for it to be a site on Ncomputing stations, but they did’t work.  She went with the backup plan.

Station 3: Dice.  Students took turns rolling two dice, then recording their digits as tens and ones.  Later, they rolled one of the dice twice so they could record a three digit number.  The rounded each number. 

Station 4: Place Value QR Code game, using an iPad to check their answers.  This game was a freebie from Katie Jonees, and it was well aligned to what our third graders are learning.  Although every member of the group answered each on his or her paper, students took turns using Qrafter to check after each problem.

Station 5: 3rd Grade Splash Math.  Again, all students thought through each problem, but they took turns clicking on one iPad. 

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iPads for Letters in Kindergarten: Instant Differentiation

Written on October 12, 2012 – 10:55 am | by Catina Chapman

My kindergarteners at one of my elementary schools began using iPads this week.  Several free apps concerning Letters had been downloaded and grouped in a folder on the second screen of the iPads.  Those apps are:  ABC Phonics,  Little Matchups ABC, ABC Alphabet, Beginning Sounds, and Spelling Bug.

Students began in Little Matchups ABC by matching uppercase, lowercase letters, sounds and pictures with beginning sounds together.   In that app and ABC Phonics, the more answer students answer correctly, the more choices appear on the screen.  This means that a teacher walking around can see who needs help and who is ready for the next level. 

Little Matchups: Match upper- and lowercase letters, sounds, clipart with beginning sounds.

 There were two students whose teachers realized knew all their letters and sounds, and could probably begin building words.  Those two students used Spelling Bug to create three and four letter words.  Students were directed to whichever app that seemed to be on their current level.  ABC Alphabet Phonics asks students to identify letters by name. Little Sorter is even lower:  students discriminate between several letters, puzzle style.  As they matched each shape to it’s spot, the app announces the letter name.   Beginning Sounds allows users to choose three letter sounds by picture: we chose monkey, rainbow, and sun since they have covered those three letters sounds so far this year. 

ABC Alphabet Phonics

Beginning Sounds

Our most interesting learner of the day cannot identify letters by name, but could match as a puzzle.  Interesting part: she could hear beginning sounds of letters learned.  She did really well with the Beginning Sounds app.  Her teacher decided to make flashcards for her and send them home with Mom during Parent-Teacher conferences that night. 

The best part about the time with individual iPads was that each student got immediate feedback in a “just-right” app for them.  


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Adjusting to First Grade Again

Written on October 3, 2012 – 1:09 pm | by Catina Chapman

Last year was my fourteenth year teaching, but my first year in elementary schools.  I’d spent the first thirteen years of my career teaching middle school.  I’m still learning that little kids are not just smaller versions of  tweens and teens.

Last week, I made an interactive flipchart in ActivInspire.  It is only four slides, meant as an assessment students in the grammar they’d learned so far this year.  Because Virginia is using technology-enhanced items in their standardized tests, I want to mimic “drag and drop” type questions, and ActivInspire and SMART Notebook 10 offer these possiblilities easily.  Every laptop in our computer labs has both of these programs.  Students can open my file via the server, manipulate, and print.  Teachers can then grade these assignments. 

Here is a student paper:

The first slide has a text box that says ”Name:”.  Originally, I wanted students to type their name.  I wanted them to start using the keyboard, and this seemed like a good way for them to practice. 

The second slide was is  a straightforward drag and drop activity on Concept of Word.  I was proud of myself for changing color of each option.  My reasoning was so that students could ask for “the red one” or “the brown one” to be read.  

The third slide’s directions tell students to click on the highlighter and highlight the letters to be capitalized.  It then says to drag punctuation marks where they are needed.  The sentences consist of  pretty small words, each in a differently colored box so that students could request for which one to be read. 

My last slide is really just an enrichment slide.  I wrote four sentences, each with at least one spelling word from this school year.  There are three mispelled words, so I provided three draggable red x’s.  The directions tell students to drag an x to each mispelled word.  There is clipart next to each sentence to aid in comprehension.  This time, I numbered sentences in case students needed them read.  The bottom part of the slide has directions saying to type each mispelled word correctly in the box.  Since they’d used a textbox on the firs slide, I’d expected this to be simple. 

In reality, students did really well until the third slide.  There, several would move the highlighter instead of click it to turn their mouse into a highlighter.  They could highlight without trouble, but then needed help changing back to a mouse to grab punctuation marks.  On the fourth slide, they could move the red x’s easily, but had a horrible time with the typing.  Of course they were slow keyboarding, but they could find the letters–except for I because several thought it was a lowercase L.  The big issue was text boxes in general.   If they clicked outside the text box, their word’s letters weren’t connected (pi  g).   Some did not space at all.  Some typed the word incorrectly again.  Some had text boxes that were too big, or off the slide. 

I tried the file with another class.  I showed them how to use the tools on the first three slides, but then I could sense that several of them would not be able to process another slide’s worth of different tools.  I have two more “guinea pig classes”, so I’ve considered using the file whole class via an interactive whiteboard, then having them complete the activity individually, with different letters, words, and sentences. 

Instead, I’ve revamped the file.  The new one has them drag ovals over the letters that should be capitalized.  On the text box slides, I’ve infinitely cloned every letter of the alpabet so they can drag to the box.  I may try to organize the letters QWERTY style in later flipcharts, and integrate a tool or two in individual activities as the year progresses.