As much as we have been busy developing new features for Frolyc and Activity Spot, we are seeing teachers busy with preparing for the new school year.
1. Teacher workshops
In TX, teachers who have used Frolyc & Activity Spot, this past school year are conducting workshops for other teachers. The pioneering teachers are sharing with others the possibilities of the Frolyc platform and Activity Spot app. We are thrilled to share this quote about Frolyc & Activity Spot from two 5th Grade teachers:
2. Planning, Creating & Organizing
Teachers are spending their summer in preparation for the new school year by creating activities that their students will use. Organizing, planning and executing are critically important tasks for every teacher. We are proud to help teachers in this process.
3. Creating premium activities
Frolyc helps teachers create activities, differentiate instruction and inspire learning. We also want teacher’s work to be valued and compensated for. It takes hours to think, curate and create high-quality activities. Teacher-authors on Frolyc can now earn by placing their activities for purchase. Other teachers, tutors and even parents can purchase these activities for their students/kids. Explore some premium activities in the activity catalog.
Frolyc and Activity Spot are great tools for helping students to recognize characteristics of persuasive texts.
Build a Butterfly Garden: In this activity, students will learn about characteristics of persuasive text. Then, they will read a persuasive essay, answer questions, and view a related video. After comparing the essay and video, students will explain whether or not they would like to build a butterfly garden. (Grades 4, 5)
Daylight Savings Time: This activity presents two different viewpoints on daylight savings time. After reading the texts and answering questions, students are asked to explain their own point of view. (Grades 3, 4, 5)
Persuasive Writing: Older students can review the basics of persuasive writing with this activity. (Grades 9 and 10)
With Frolyc and Activity Spot, you can present students with lots of examples of persuasive texts—essays, advertisements, and more. What activities can you create?
It is so important for students to write open-ended responses! Whether they are responding to text, writing about a picture, or recoding ideas, students learn how to grapple with ideas and put thoughts into words by writing open-ended responses.
Of course, lugging piles of responses back and forth to school can be tough. This is why I’m enjoying experimenting with student responses on the iPad. Through Frolyc and Activity Spot, students and teachers can write and read open-ended responses from anywhere.
The first step is to create an activity. You can include text and video if you like. You could also just make a single-page activity.
Once you have your pages set up, you will type in your prompt. You can add a picture as well. In my example below, you can see that students are writing about a body of water.
Once you publish the activity to the iPad, you can assign it to students. Students can interact with the activity and try out all of the features.
This is what the open-ended response screen looks like for students.
They can click on the image to see a larger version if needed.
After they have written, you can see their work back on the text assignment page. Simply click “View Student Performance”.
You will see students who have completed the activity. Then, you can see what they have written.
I love this response and how it asks more questions. What great information for me as a teacher!
The next step will be adding features for rubrics and feedback. What kinds of feedback would you like to see? How would you like to respond to these responses?
Learning isn’t neat and tidy. Although I like to believe that students attain all of the expected concepts from a lesson, I know that the reality is quite different. Some students learn easily and quickly connect one day’s instruction to the next. Others remember bits and pieces of lessons but have trouble putting concepts together.
While learning isn’t neat and tidy, I have to create a report card that looks neat and tidy. This can be hard as I am often reporting on units and concepts that are still in progress for many students. From a practical standpoint, when I finish a unit, I give an assessment to see what students know.
But I can’t just stop there. What can I do to promote and enhance learning even after the unit is over? And how can I do this in a sustainable way, a way that is possible to manage even after the class is two, three, or four units on?
As we finished our unit about bodies of water in science class, I realized that Activity Spot is a great tool for this. Not only can students revisit important information, but they can manipulate ideas. I can see their responses and see if they have progressed. Even better, I don’t even need to visit the poor photocopier as this can all be paperless.
One student was working on a water pollution activity. Here is an image of one of the activities that a student completed. It’s hard to see, but he actually used the device to take a photo of the tadpoles in our classroom, and then drew over it to show water pollution. Looking at his response helped me to see that he knows about source point pollution, like oil, but still needs some work on nonpoint source pollution.
This summer, I plan to create some more activities to become second chance learning opportunities for my students. These activities will help me to see what kind of learning happens even after a unit is over. After all, my goal is for students to learn. Technological tools can help me to make sure this happens!
It’s fun to try using digital texts and traditional texts alongside each other. Seeing how students interact with the same text presented in different ways is fascinating!
I tried using digital and traditional texts together while teaching about text structure this week. After an introduction to chronological order text, students read a text about how peregrine falcons raise their young. As they read, students circled the chronological order transition words they saw in the text.
We split the class into small groups to create a graphic organizer about the text. This was another pencil and paper activity.
Then, I worked individually with some students to revisit the text in digital form. (I wrote the text, so it was easy for me to add it to Frolyc.) The iPad offers some different affordances than the paper version, including the ability to hear the text read aloud.
Another affordance of the app Activity Spot is the easy addition of video. There is a detail in the text about how some fledgling peregrine falcons have to be rescued when they fly down from their nests and can’t find their way back home. A video showing a rescue highlights this detail and offers elaboration beyond what could be included in print.
Finally, students can answer multiple choice questions after reading the text on Activity Spot. These questions offer instant feedback and my students take them seriously. “Can I see my copy of the text again?” one struggling reader asked as she peered at a question. Now, this particular reader has a habit of answering multiple choice questions with careless, almost joyful abandon. A request to look back to the text was pretty amazing! I pointed out that she could get back to the text from the activity on the iPad. “I know, but I want to see what I underlined on my paper,” she said. When she fished out her paper text, she used the transitions to navigate to the exact place in the text where the answer could be found.
With a few other students, viewing the digital text became social. “Remember how they had to rescue the babies?” one student said. “Look at how they actually do that!” Then she pulled over some other students who had been in the small group and told them to watch the video.
”That reminds me of another book that I read in your room,” one quiet student said. “Where they have to go out at night and get the baby birds.” This student was remembering Nights of the Pufflings and was making a neat connection between the texts.
What I noticed is that there is no need to choose between digital texts or traditional texts. Each can help the other. In fact, experiencing the same text in multiple formats can help students to make richer connections and become aware of the affordances of each. As I continue with text structure, I can’t wait to add our core texts to Frolyc so that students can continue having experiences with both traditional and digital texts.
Frolyc is about empowering classroom teachers with tools to create lesson-based activities for their students. Our belief is that classroom teachers know their students the best, can differentiate and foster learning in ways that pre-made content cannot.
(Photo: Kyla Uribe’s class using Activity Spot app. Thank you, Kyla, for sharing this!)
In this post, we put the spotlight on five awe-inspiring teachers who are actively creating activities for their students and have integrated Activity Spot iPad app into their daily teaching routines.
Emily Kissner: 4th Grade teacher in PA
Sharla Wieting: 5th Grade teacher in TX
Melissa Vandermolen: Technology teacher & tutor in CA
Kyla Uribe: 1st Grade teacher in CO
Donna Miller: Librarian teacher in MA
Click on the links below the teacher’s info to view the activities they have created. Are you inspired?
Yes, you can create activities too! Here is how you can get started:
1. Think of a topic you are teaching.
2. Think of a question on the topic that involves writing or drawing.
3. Create an activity by using this question as the basis. It is as simple as typing the question into a form.
4. Publish to student iPads and have your students interact
5. Experiment, explore and see what you can do with Frolyc’s authoring tool.
Get started today!
Over the past three years, I have become convinced that short video clips (1-4 minutes) can be highly effective in helping students to learn new concepts. These clips can be as simple as time lapse videos of different locations or as complex as a highly produced educational song. Sometimes, I use a short video to start a lesson; at other times, I use video playlists related to a topic that I am teaching during transition times in the classroom.
I love using Activity Spot as a way to share videos. Students can view the videos that I have selected within the Activity Spot app on the iPad. Connecting the video to text helps students to make connections between what they read and what they see. I can also add questions to guide students to make connections between two different videos or between videos and text.
This week, students enjoyed these Activity Spot creations that include video, text, and questions.
Vernal Pool or Puddle?
Bodies of Water
Build a Butterfly Garden
When my students and I explore poetry, I love to go back and forth between whole-class experiences and individualized learning. When we read poems as a whole class, all students can join in the conversation and learning. When students read on their own, they have a more personal experience.
The Activity Spot app is a great way to structure individualized poetry experiences. Teachers can blend poems with questions, concept maps, and videos. These activities can be assigned to individual students, or become engaging partner and collaborative activities.
Here are ready-made poetry activities for Activity Spot. But don’t stop with these! With Frolyc, you can create your own activities to publish to student iPads. You can publish the activity to share only with your own students, or with others.
This grade 7 activity builds background knowledge about Emily Dickinson’s life and her poetry. It’s more of an invitation to reading poetry and may help some reluctant readers to see the value in Emily Dickinson’s works.
Poetry: Comparing Texts
This grade 5 activity includes 3 texts about the northern cardinal.
Comparing Texts: Poetry and Informational Text
This grade 5 activity includes a classic poem and a new informational text. Questions focus on interpreting metaphors and comparing texts.
Written for students in grades 3-4, this activity introduces similes and has students read and interpret similes in isolation and in connected texts.
Speaker in Poetry
The speaker in a poem is the individual who seems to be saying the lines. In this activity for readers in grades 3-4, readers will learn how to use text clues to find the speaker in a poem, listen to a classic poem read aloud, and compare the speakers in two poems.
What is the speaker’s attitude in a poem? This follow-up to “Speaker in Poetry” for students in grades 3-4 helps readers to use text clues to identify the speaker’s attitude.
Sound Devices in Poetry
Help readers in grades 4-5 understand the sound devices of rhyme scheme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Students will see examples in poems and videos.
Looking to see what students can do on their own? This poetry assessment for students in grades 4-5 includes three poems with questions related to figurative language, topics, and inferences.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Written for readers in grade 8, this activity includes a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson, a video of one of his poems, and questions to help readers analyze the similarities between one of Stevenson’s poems and essays.
You have assigned activities to your students to work on Activity Spot. Now, is there a simple way to view student interactions and responses for an activity? Can you gather all their written answers & drawings in one place? Can you take a step forward towards a student portfolio using their work on iPads? Yes!
This is how you access reports & responses:
- Login to Frolyc.
- Click on “Manage Activities”.
- Select the activity you want to view reports on and click on “View Student Performance”.
- Step #3 will take you into the reporting view for the activity.
- For each page in an activity, you will see reports or responses. Select the activity page and click “Show Reports” to see the responses.
Here are some screenshots of the types of reports you will see.
Activities that are automatically graded: You will see percentage correct for all activities that can be auto-graded. Example below:
For open-ended answers and drawings, you will see the actual response from the student. Examples below:
In summary, Frolyc makes it incredibly simple to
- assign iPad-based activities to students
- inspire them to learn, demonstrate & create
- and view reports & student responses in real-time.
My oldest son was not an avid reader at first. We went to the library every week, and he picked halfheartedly among the shelves. I love books, so imagine my chagrin when we would get to the end of a library visit (and at least five supportive book talks from me!) and he would say, “I didn’t find any books that I liked.”
In the middle of second grade, something changed. We found the airplane and flight section of the library. My son started checking out books—books that I was pretty sure were too hard for him, but books! I wasn’t sure how everything was going to turn out until one day he said, “Do you know the three basic principles of flight?”
"No," I said. "Do you?"
"Yes," he replied, and he went on to talk about what makes powered flight possible. Something was working! Even though I hadn’t been confident that he could understand the books he had chosen, motivation and background knowledge pulled him through. And we started to see a snowball effect—his reading about flight impacted his overall reading, and he transformed from a reluctant reader into a student who is never without a book.
The power of related texts
Related texts help readers to develop vocabulary and content knowledge. When readers see the same ideas presented in different ways and across different media, they build strong connections. For young readers, the power to follow personal interests can create a lifelong love of reading.
As it turned out, my younger son followed a similar reading trajectory—he didn’t want to spend any time or effort reading the primer books. Instead, he wanted big cat books with new information and interesting details. Reading about cheetahs and their spots helped him to learn the concept of camouflage; reading about how lions live in prides helped him to understand social groups.
With Activity Spot, you can create informational text sets and send them to student iPads. Connect text, videos, and activities like drawing and graphic organizers. Students can hear text read aloud for them, which makes this a great tool for readers who long for more complex text than what they can decode on their own.
You can create text sets for students or small groups, or create a text set for a class to share. It’s amazing to hear students talk about ideas that they have seen, and the different ways that these ideas are presented.
Here are some texts sets that are already created:
Polar Bears and Black Bears
Digging Mole Crabs
Exploring Tide Pools
The Mimic Octopus
Cheetah Cubs in Zoos
What Is a Creek?