Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Which Pet Should We Get? Common Core Persuasive Writing Unit

This writing project is a perfect way to incorporate Common Core writing standards into our classrooms! Students are introduced to opinion writing, and given the prompt, "Which pet should our class get?" 

Students research each pet (hamster, fish, and hermits crab) in order to make an informed decision about which pet they feel would be best for their classroom. They research using QR codes that take them to teacher-chosen websites and videos where they can learn about each pet. 

After many discussions as a class and with one another, students choose the pet they want for the classroom and complete a persuasive writing piece. 

The teacher models each step of the writing process through think alouds and shared writing. 

Check out a quick video of how we started this unit here: 

Common Core Anchor Standards included in this project are: 

Writing (1) Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant, sufficient evidence. 

Writing (4) Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 

Writing (5) Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. 

Writing (8) Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. 

Writing (9) Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. 

The apps included in this project are: is another kid-friendly search engine website! 

A QR code scanner like Qrafter 

Or Redlaser 

Here are some student samples of the final projects! 

You can find all of the QR codes and resources to complete this project with your class {HERE}! 

Let us know which pet your class ends up getting! 

Class Elves Spark Common Core Writing

During the month of December, two elves visit our classes!

The elves provide a lot of excitement because every day they are in a different place, and they always have a note for us.  Students are motivated to write about their experiences with the elves, which they do using the Book Creator app, and our Kidblog class blogs.

The elves create their own page on our class blogs!

The elves provide an opportunity to work on math skills using place value blocks to tell us how many miles it is from our city to the North Pole!

Students come early to school and peek in the windows to be the first ones to discover where they are hiding.

Using the Book Creator app on their iPads, students keep track of the elves activities each day.  They take pictures and add them to their daily writing. 

It is a sad day when the elves leave to go back to the North Pole!

The Common Core Anchor Standards in this project are:

Range of Writing:  Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Text Types and Purposes:  Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Production and Distribution of writing:  Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. 

Apps Used in this Project:

Book Creator
Time Lapse (To record one of the elves movement at night!)

Vocabulary Videos

Vocabulary videos are the perfect way to incorporate academic vocabulary into instruction!

Students either choose words they want to learn more about from a text, or are given a list of important vocabulary words from the text. Keep in mind, this vocabulary project can be done before reading to front-load, and even during reading or after! 

Student use the Dictionary app to learn more about each word. They then fill out an outline like the one below to help prepare them for when they start recording. 

Here is an example of a basic vocabulary outline you might use at the beginning of the school year! (Click to download!)  

Students then use the Drawing Pad app to create a picture of each vocabulary word. Keep in mind any drawing app will work! We time the students for 3 minutes for each drawing in order to keep them on track and moving forward with their projects. Don't forget to remind students to save their final vocabulary drawing to their camera roll! 

Students then import their pictures into iMovie. After each picture, students read their definition of the vocabulary word into iMovie and record themselves reading it using the video camera! 

We always allow students to share their final projects with the class! With that said, it might be fun to do a jigsaw vocabulary movie where each student has one word to "teach" their group using a vocabulary video. Or, you could even create a class vocabulary video in which each student is responsible for a word, and then all the vocabulary words are complied into one iMovie. The possibilities are endless! 

Common Core anchor standards include: 

ELA (4) Interpret words and phrases as they are used in text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. 

Apps used in this project include: 

Drawing Pad (Any drawing/art app will work!) 

Check out one student's final vocabulary video project here!

Summarize It Videos

These summarization videos are a wonderful way to pull apart text, read deeply, and determine importance! 

Students are to read a text, and then break the text down into beginning/middle/end with important events. We always have students fill out some sort of graphic organizer while reading to help organize their thoughts. The app Popplet can also help students to organize their thoughts as they are reading! We require students students to write a minimum of 1-2 complete and thoughtful sentences for each part of the story.  

Students then use the app Drawing Pad (although any drawing app will do) to create a picture of each scene or topic they've decided is important from the story. For example, one picture for the important events at the beginning of the story, one for the middle, and one for the end. Students should save these completed pictures to their camera rolls.

Students then import their pictures into iMovie in the correct sequence. Before each picture shows in iMovie, students use the record function on the iPad to record themselves reading their summary of the story. 

In this example, the story the students were working on was about a young boy who was deaf, but learned to play percussion instruments (Moses Goes to a Concert). Our classes learned about percussion instruments, and students used GarageBand in order to create their own track of music using percussion instruments for the background music of their movie. 

Check out one student's final Summarize It video here! The summary, pictures, and background music track were all created by the student. 

The Common Core Anchor Standards included in this project are: 

Reading (1) Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it.

Reading (2) Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; Summarize the ket supporting details and ideas. 

Reading (3) Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. 

And the apps used are:


Happy creating!!!

Science and the Common Core

How would you design a habitat for a Painted Lady Butterfly?

How would you write a song about the life cycle of the butterfly?

Can you compare and contrast the metamorphosis of the Monarch Butterfly and the Painted Lady Butterfly?

These are just a few of the higher level questions that students choose to investigate during this unit on the life cycle of the Painted Lady Butterfly. 

Painted Lady Butterfly caterpillars are ordered, and come complete with the food necessary for their nutrition as they go through the process of metamorphosis right before our eyes.

Using the HD Timelapse app, we made a time lapse of the changes they went through.

Time Lapse of the Painted Lady Butterfly

Time Lapse of the Monarch Butterfly

After viewing the changes of the Painted Lady Butterfly, compare their life cycle with the Monarch butterfly.

Common Core Anchor Standards Include:
CCR Anchor Standard 5 for Writing: 
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
CCR Anchor Standard 5 for Speaking and Listening:
Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

Butterfly Kits