Monday, October 15, 2018

October '18: Student Blogging Challenge #2: Writing quality comments

My two classes are enjoying participating in the free Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge.  This is a great way to learn about Internet safety and blogging at the same time. If you would like to add some students from your class to this challenge it is not too late! Find out more at:

We are in week two of the challenge and this week’s post is all about writing quality blog comments. I am adding some of the highlights in this post.

Benefits of commenting
This is taken from the Week 2 Blogging Challenge post found at:  

"Here are ten reasons why comments are important:
  1. Comments turn your blog from a static space to an interactive space. This means it’s not just you talking. There is interaction. 
  2. Back and forth conversations are fun and you can learn a lot. 
  3. Because comments are not instantaneous (like online chat or text messaging), you can have more time to reflect, research, or think about your response. 
  4. When someone leaves a comment, they can leave feedback, constructive criticism, or give you new ideas. This can help you grow and learn. 
  5. A commenter might suggest something that you didn’t include in your post. You can learn new perspectives. 
  6. When you have an authentic (real) audience, it’s more motivating! You know someone will read your post, so you will probably put more effort into it than if you were just writing something in a notebook. 
  7. Commenting can be an ideal way for busy parents to get involved in the classroom. 
  8. You can learn how to interact politely and how to have conversations. 
  9. You can meet new people and form friendships. 
  10. Students who don’t have their own blogs can enjoy the benefits of blogging by being a participant in the comment section.” 
How to comment
Week 2's tasks included discussing good commenting skills, creating a ‘How to comment’ page' on their blog and making a set of commenting guidelines, time permitting of course. Kathleen Morris from Australia, who is running the challenge, added this lovely commenting image this week,

A video on how to commentThis video is featured on the Edublogs page. I like it! Sling’s class in Canada has completed this must-watch video on commenting.

Interesting pointers from this week's Student Blogging Challenge post
1. Each week the best posts from the previous week's Student Blogging Challenge are featured in the 2018 Student Blogging Challenge Flipboard Since I only see my classes once a week, we won't have time to do all the lovely activities. We plan to dip in and take out what is important for us.

2. Some teachers like their students to make screencast videos about commenting. This is what Kathleen says about making your own video. "To make the video you could use a free Chrome extension called Screencastify . Loom is another good tool for making screencast videos if you use the Chrome browser. If you use an iPad you can make a screencast without any special app. Tony Vincent shows us how to do that in this graphically."

I had no idea you could do this on an iPad. How awesome!

This week's task for my classes
Write an encouraging post on four blogs from another country. Use this frame:
Hello. My name is (use your online name)
I like this post because...........
Ask a question OR add some new thoughts about the post
I think your blog.......
Please visit my blog (add your blog address)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October '18: Student Blogging Challenge #1: Introductions, online safety and avatars

I have joined two classes to this year's free Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge. It is the 21st Student Blogging Challenge - two a year for the last ten years You can join your students individually which is what I have done or you can join as a class. It is a great way to learn about Internet safety along with 1550 other students from 27 countries and six continents around the world. My two classes are very excited about it.

This week's post is all about Introductions. We will be creating poems about ourselves using our online names. I gave my two classes this poem outline to complete:

Online Name
Three descriptive traits
Who lives in Cape Town
Who enjoys…… (at school)
Whose hobbies are….
Who likes... (food)
Who thinks….
Who loves…
Online name

Instead of adding a photo we use an avatar. An avatar is an image that you use to represent yourself on the internet. It’s like a character that represents your online identity. In the past we have made different avatars - I rather like the way does their avatars so we will use that site to create ours. 

The other things we learn about this week is online safety. We are introducing ourselves online in a safe way - not revealing too much about ourselves. I like the poster that Kathleen Morris from Australia (who is running the Blogging Challenge) has added to the post.

This week's tasks for my classes
  1. Register for the Blogging Challenge
  2. Add the Blogging Challenge badge to your blog
  3. Create an avatar using and add it to your blog.
  4. Make sure you have an introductory poem about yourself on the blog
  5. Add your avatar and poem to a collaborative slide show. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Stories inspired by the Quiver app for International Dot Day

My Grade 1-3 classes have thoroughly enjoyed being part of a team blog doing activities together for International Dot Day on the 15th September 2018. The lesson I am going to describe now is possibly the last activity we'll do for Dot Day seeing that today is already the 13th September! Dot Day is based on the inspiring children's book written by Peter Reynolds. You can find it on YouTube here.

On our collaborative team blog the Australian classes formed themselves into teams. Each team wrote some words on dots and challenged us to make a story with the words. They called this activity 'Connect the Dots'.  Here is one of the Australian teams:

Team Shark
pen, splash, China, shark, potato

This is what today's activity sets out to do - create those stories. However, in a previous lesson we used the wonderful AR app called Quiver and those 3D balls that my class loved viewing through the app led to the inspiration for the following stories.

The task:
  • Using the provided world map (which is royalty free map) write a quick imaginative story about the journey of your dot as it comes alive and leaves the classroom taking you with it.
  • Make sure you use the words from your assigned Australian team. Underline or colour the words that they ask you to use.
The result

I was really pleased with the outome. The class wrote some imaginative stories showing the dots travels, I have embedded them below using PowerPoint online.

Write some amusing 'dotty' rhymes for International Dot Day with grade 3

We are loving our Dot Day activities in preparation for International Dot Day on 15th September. We love being part of the collaborative Dot Day project with three other countries (see

We had a fun, dotty lesson recently that involved grade 3. What happened is… the Grade 3’s wrote some DOTTY RHYMES!  Let’s say it another way - amusing nonsensical rhymes!

This is how Google defines 'dotty':

This is what happened in the lesson.

In a previous lesson the grade 1s listened to the Dot Day story by Peter Reynolds found on this page. They each had to think of two or three words, which I then wrote lightly in pencil on their coloured dots and they traced over the writing in khoki pen.

The Grade 3s then chose one of these coloured dots and created a dotty rhyme from the two or three words on the dot.   They wrote their dotty rhymes in PowerPoint. You’ll see, in the example below, that the two or three words on the dots they chose are underlined in each dotty word.

Here are the dotty words:

What I did after they wrote their rhymes is I copied and pasted them all into one PowerPoint. PowerPoint is great for this because it allows you to keep the original formatting. I then uploaded the PowerPoint file to Microsoft OneDrive where it became a PowerPoint Online document. PowerPoint Online can be embedded into a blog or website so it was easy to embed into this post.

Here are the dotty rhymes.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Dot Day fun with the Quiver App in Grades 1, 2 and 3

Do you know the Quiver app? It is a 3D colouring-in application based on augmented reality technology. It is available on both the Apple and the Android store. My Grade 1-3 classes have had a lot of fun with this app as part of our International Dot Day Global connection via a collaborative blog with three classes in Australia, the United States and Canada. QuiverVision has partnered with Dot Day, so it is added as an activity on our 'International Dot Day project' blog.

My Grade 1 lesson using Quiver
We used Quiver in conjunction with Paint 3D. My Grade 1s created colourful dots on our Windows 10 computers and watched them come alive. My students were amazed to see what they saw! I loved the shouts of excitement

This is what happened in our lesson.
  • I downloaded and imported the Dot Page from the Quiver site and converted it into a JPG image. (This sheet is also available for download from our International Dot Day project blog).
  • The students imported this image into Paint 3D. It was the first time that we had used Paint 3D so that was a fun experience as well. In this instance we used it as a 2D application.
  • The students coloured in their dots using Paint 3D.
  • We then looked at them using the Quiver app on my cell phone.
Importing the Quiver dot image into Paint 3D
Viewing the dot on the computer screen through the Quiver app.
The dots come to life!

The brief video below shows the ball 'quivering'.

When using the selfie mode on the app, the ball became small. I was amused at the way some of the grade 1s tried to get the ball into their mouths!

Our Grade 2 and 3 lesson using Quiver
In this lesson I printed the downloaded Quiver Dot Day PDFs and we coloured them in during our computer lesson. We then used the Quiver app to make the dots come alive. The Grade 2s and 3s hadn’t used Quiver yet and they were very excited about their dots that turning into 3D balls. Here are some pictures with their comments:

This is amazing!
The ball keeps growing!
It is bigger than my head
I wonder if this is a chocolate
This is such fun
I have got to get this in my mouth

Here is a video I found on Vimeo showing Tina Schmidt's class colouring in Quiver dots and then using the app to create 3D images. This will show you more or less what my class experienced.

Celebrating Dot Day 2014 from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.

How to use the Quiver app for educational purposes
The Quiver website has a number of different drawings that can be downloaded and transformed into 3D drawings for different subjects. I thought I would use the photos of my students with their 3D dot day balls in one of the following ways:
  • as a story prompt for a quick imaginative story about a dot that came alive. 
  • for a guided poetry-writing activity.
  • as a mapping adventure showing the journey of the ball as it leaves the classroom.
  • to create a story by selecting from a number of headings such as:
    "The princess's magic ball''
    "A trip to China with a magic ball'
    "Travelling in a hot balloon''
    "The day my team won the soccer match"
    'Flying around with my magic ball"
    ...along with any other headings that the class suggests
Could you think of any further ideas?