When I was first introduced to Activity Spot I was enthralled with its capability and was eager to get started. After all I have been writing lessons for over 30 years and I prided myself in trying to make them constructivist, fun and engaging. I quickly registered and opened my first authoring link. But something happened. I became paralyzed. I couldn’t decide what to do next. I wanted to make a lesson for fifth graders but couldn’t conceive how to lay out my six pages. How could this happen? I have written for Scholastic, Pearson, Learning A-Z and the state of Texas yet I found myself with a huge writers block. I could not get off square one when this was something I was so motivated to do.
A voice inside my head said simplify, simplify. Make it easy Di something even a kindergartner could do. So, instead of making the best interactive plan in the whole creation I started thinking what was the easiest most needed lesson I could make? You see I ha made the classic mistake of not reading the direction first. In this case I had not familiarized myself with the systems tools. I just assumed it would come to me, or I could figure it out as I went. For me, this approach wasn’t working.
So I thought, “What is something every kindergarten teacher teaches at the beginning of the year and so would love an interactive lesson for her students to do?” I came up with numbers and letters. Finding 4 was my very first Activity Spot lesson. It only uses one template - the drawing template. I found the drawing template to be the most versatile, constructivist and easiest to use. I wanted the students to “show what they know” and the drawing template allows for this.
So I had up to six pages to fill and I started thinking, “What do you want children to know about four? What opportunities for learning do you want to open?” I found that putting information in a table helped me organize my thoughts.
Once I got my flow down this simple procedure made it easy for me to explore the other templates. My second lesson was “I Know the Sound of B”. In this lesson I was ready to explore using the capability of linking to videos to build background. Next, I wanted the children to be able to show me what they learned, that they indeed listened to the video so I added the concept map, multiple choice and word search templates. I discovered that I could drag the pages on the sides and reorder them. That was great because I made mistakes and changed my mind about the sequencing.
I would periodically go ahead and published my activity and view it through the test ID that the system gives you even though I was not completely done. I did not care that the activity was not complete as I thought the odds of anyone finding it right away and using it were slim. It was more important to me that the activity actually played out how I envisioned it.
Once I like the flow, I published my first activity and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I was stoked now and went on to create three more lessons that sitting.
So, my advice in making your first activity:
- Start with a very easy concept that you know well (it is OK the topic matches content in grades below where you teach)
- Limit your activity to one or two templates.
- Make a concept map, a page flow, of how you are going to execute your lesson.
- Publish it a couple of times to check that the flow is what you envisioned.
- PUBLISH IT!
Once you have done one lesson, the second is a breeze and you can start right away making lessons targeting the needs of your students and your classroom.
Happy lesson making!
- By Katherine Burdick
First appeared on Kathy Burdick’s blog.
To view all of Kathy Burdick’s interactive activity creations for Activity Spot iPad app, click here.
Students have different needs and abilities. The more you differentiate and address a student’s needs, the more engaged a student is in class. One way to do this is to setup student groups based on a certain criteria. E.g. group by reading level, group by quickness in grasping mathematical concepts, group by need for repetitive exercises etc. Once you have these groups, you can tailor and assign content that works well for each student group.
In this post, we show you how to you can achieve this using Frolyc website & Activity Spot iPad app.
Step 1: Setup student groups
Step 2: Create or search the activity catalog for content that addresses a differentiated criteria.
If you look at the details of each activity, you will see that they differ only in the reading level.
Step 3: Assign each activity to specific student groups. Or, assign each activity to specific students.
Your task is now done.
When your students enter their access code(s) on Activity Spot iPad app, they will only see the activities assigned to them.
That’s it. Hope this mechanism comes of use to you as you try to engage every learner in your classroom.
Also click here to read a teacher’s post on poetry activities for differentiated learning.
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