Sunday, August 25, 2019

Building Communities: Books and Apps to Amplify and Capture Learning




It's the time of year when you have twenty-some new friends to shape and mold into a learning community.  And when I say learning community, I mean a group of kids from varying and similar backgrounds who live together inside roughly 400 square feet, six hours a day, five days a week, who all come for the same purpose, and yet with very distinct and different needs.  

It is our privilege (and yes, challenge) to develop a relationship with these children that will allow us to see their likes, their dislikes, their motivations, and their limits. All the while weaving together the needs of all students so the classroom can learn and live together, respectfully, and with purpose. 

In this post I am sharing a book title that will open windows to your students and bridge connections between students and worlds that are new to them. A title that will help you establish procedures and routines that are essential as we learn to live and learn in one space. And a title that will teach learners to face their limits and be fierce! 

I am also sharing apps to help you show your students your creativity, and how learning can be amplified and captured through photos and video when we work first with purpose in 
mind. 

I recommend using this time to model for your students how to use the iPad as a tool for learning. Show students how an iPad can:

  • Capture experiences
  • Share experiences with others
  • Help you remember what happened
  • Share your voice 
  • Type, cut, paste, revise
  • Save experiences for ever
  • Create photos and videos
  • And offer many, many other possibilities!
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Daniel sets off on a walk through his neighborhood and learns about all the simple things that bring the people of his community joy. 

In The Classroom

I see this book pairing well with a building tour and practicing hallway procedures:
  • lining up 
  • walking in the hall
  • volume level in the hall
  • how to greet someone in the hall
  • meeting our building staff
as students search for what brings their community joy. 

Show Your Creativity and AMPLIFY Learning

Take along your iPad, snap photos of students demonstrating agreed upon expectations (see above), the staff members you meet, and the things you see that bring joy to your students. 

(Note this is the time for you to model how you can use the iPad as a tool for learning. You're using the iPad in your lesson in front of your students.)
  • Print photos and use these for interactive writing. 
  • Send photos to Pixie or Draw and Tell and use them for interactive digital writing.
  • Motivative a child to share or get involved by sending the photo to Chatterpix, and invite a student to voice the the picture! 
  • Send the photo to Explain Everything and work together to make a screencast or interactive writing about the photo. 
  • Share the photo (or the projects created from the photo as mentioned above) with the building via Flipgrid, Padlet, Kidblog, email, or hang it out in the hall! 
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The smell of Omu's stew wafts down the street and one by one everyone in Omu's neighborhood knocks on her door until the stew is gone. The way this community comes together to take care of Omu will make even the most brazen student pause and say awe... 

In The Classroom 

I see this book pairing well with building promise- taking care of others, thinking "we not me". Taking time to really dig in and discuss what it means to take care of others and think "we not me" will help students take ownership of the school promise.  


Show Your Creativity and AMPLIFY Learning 

Keep your iPad handy, snap photos of students demonstrating we not me and taking care of others.

(Note this the time for you to model how you can use the iPad as a tool for learning. You're using the iPad in your lesson in front of your students.)

  • Print photos and use these for interactive writing. 
  • Send photos to Pixie or Draw and Tell and use them for interactive digital writing.
  • Motivative a child to share, or get involved by sending the photo to Chatterpix and invite a student to voice the the picture! 
  • Send the photo to Explain Everything and work together to make a screencast or interactive writing about the photo. 
  • Share the photo (or the projects created from the photo as mentioned above) with the building via Flipgrid, Padlet, Kidblog, email, or hang it out in the hall! 
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In The Classroom 

I see this book pairing well with goal setting- early in the year is good time to practice goal setting by working together to practice transitioning procedures, responding to quiet signals, lining up quietly, or any other procedures you want to nail down! 


Show Your Creativity and AMPLIFY Learning 

Keep your iPad handy, snap photos of students being fierce and working to meet classroom goals! 
(Note this the time for you to model how you can use the iPad as a tool for learning. You're using the iPad in your lesson in front of your students.)

  • Use your iPad to record transitions. Watch with the class and discuss what went well and what could be improved. 
  • Use chart paper to list student ideas for improvement and adjust goals. Demonstrating to students goals are monitored and adjusted as needed. 
  • Print photos and use these for interactive writing. 
  • Send photos to Pixie or Draw and Tell and use them for interactive digital writing.
  • Motivative a child to share, or get involved by sending the photo to Chatterpix and invite a student to voice the the picture! 
  • Send the photo to Explain Everything and work together to make a screencast or interactive writing about the photo. 
  • Share the photo (or the projects created from the photo as mentioned above) with the building via Flipgrid, Padlet, Kidblog, email, or hang it out in the hall! 
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Bilal Cooks Daal 
by @MsAishaK 

In The Classroom 

I see this book pairing well with getting to know students outside of the classroom. Ask students to share family traditions, favorite foods, games they play outside. Kids will love watching Bilal and his friends ride their bikes, jump on the trampoline, and swim! While also taking a peek into Bilal's culture as they step into his house, slip off their shoes and help prepare this delicious dish! 

Show Your Creativity and AMPLIFY Learning 

Maybe this time you want to start releasing more responsibility to the students. 

Set up a screen on your iPad with a choice of 1-3 apps and allow students to choose how they they'd like to share family traditions, favorite foods, and games they play outside.
Set up a timer and a system where kids can take a turn on the iPad over the day or two as they share and create. 


  • Consider an app that will allow your students to record a video.
      • Explain Everything, Camera, Photobooth
  • Consider an app that will allow students to illustrate and write. 
      • Draw and Tell, Notes, Explain Everything, Pages, Pixie
Once all students have completed their work, model how the work can be uploaded to Flipgrid, Padlet, Kidblog, or Canvas. Show students how these tools allow us to see everyones work! 

When possible, model how students can comment to students. 

Be Fierce, share the link on Twitter, email it to parents! 

Be mindful of your students [if any] who can't be photographed. Edit these students out, blur their faces, or password protect their work. See your ed. tech. coach for help if needed.

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