Category Archives: Where Technology & Creativity Collide

Day 5: Strategies for Working Together

This is the fifth post in a series about launching the use of the app Book Creator in a kindergarten classroom.  You can read the first three posts by clicking on the links below.

Today’s blog post is written by guest blogger Laura Meehan.  Laura is an Instructional Digital Age Learning Coach with a specialty in math and science. You can follow her on Twitter @LauraMeehan04


IMG_5198.JPGNext up in the “Katie & Laura are overwhelmed by kindergarteners” series…Strategies for Working Together!

We’ve been noticing over the past four days that our kindergarten friends are so excited to work on their devices that they are forgetting the basic rules of working with a friend kindly. Sometimes it’s just instinct for a five or six-year-old to grab an iPad from their partner and hurt a heart along the way so we felt like today was the day to bring back some reminders about collaborating on our devices.

We started with an anchor chart with three strategies for working together:
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We shared each strategy and then provided some dramatic interpretation of the strategy, performed by me and Katie. While the kids were quick to point out that we weren’t actually making a book on our screen during our performance, they were also quick to pick out that we were being kind, making compromises, and sharing. Before leaving the rug, each set of partners chose a strategy for working together and then head out to their iPads to get started.

The students found so much value in their work today. Their partnerships created a system of checks and balances that provided some needed accountability in this process. They identified the features of their science books that were missing because they were focused on what they would do when it was their turn. Also, Katie stopped them for a mid workshop teaching point to share her own science book about chicks. This check-in prompted the students to push their own thinking by adding audio buttons when they couldn’t express themselves effectively enough through writing, and to vary the size and quantity of photos for different purposes. To wrap up, we had kids complete a short Google Form to reflect on their work and choose the working together strategy that was their favorite using the stick figures from our anchor chart. So far, they like “talk & type” the most.

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My super favorite part was when some little guys who struggled earlier this week with partner work found comfort in the structures provided. The “stop, think, agree” strategy gave them the right to say, “We are arguing too much and we should stop touching our iPad and talk it out.” The “talk & type” strategy gave them permission to speak up to help with spelling and creativity. The “I do, you do” strategy gave them each a chance to have their voice heard 100% without the partner squashing their thoughts.

We’re going home this weekend feeling like a million dollars. P.S. Kindergarten teachers deserve a triple salary, a personal massage therapist, and bottomless Starbucks.IMG_5184.JPG

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Day 2: Create a Cover

This is the second post in a series about launching the use of the app Book Creator in a kindergarten classroom.  You an read the first two posts by clicking on the links below.

We had a lot that we wanted to teach kids today and perhaps we tried to take on too much-but each of the micro lessons we taught seemed so essential!  We ended up breaking it down into three charts.

First….review the most important icons from book creator.  This was a chart we created ahead of time and used simply to review things that kids had discovered the day before.  I ran through it quickly asking kids to give a thumbs up for each item they had used the day before and look around so they could see who might be a specialist in the room. We guided students to refer back to it as needed during the creation time and it was very helpful for a few kids who had not been there for yesterday’s lesson.


Next and probably MOST IMPORTANT…Establish explicit guidelines for HOW to work on a book with a partner.  This was a really vital collaboration and social emotional lesson that needed to be done up front so that their time together could be kind, helpful, and productive.

Laura and I went back and forth about this chart during the morning.  She ended up “winning” and we used photos of kids in action instead of doing the drawings ourselves.  A few willing students from an older grade helped out.  We co-created this chart with the class as they noticed what they saw the students doing in the photos and talked through what this might look like.

Reflection: Most of our friends did really, really well with this today.  A testament to the great instruction they’ve been getting all year, the value of explicit guidelines in how to collaborate, and the importance of thoughtful pairing.  A few friends struggled and I wondered about other strategies we might use in this scenerio to help.


The task…Create a book cover for your informational book about chicks.  We took a quick look at some mentor covers before heading off to do work.  Students identified that we needed to include a picture, the title, and their names.  I hung a small page I had made as a digital reminder on the bottom of the chart.  We had intended for students to be given a copy of this at their tables and then it didn’t happen, I wished that it had.  It would have been helpful to have a visual reminder of their three tasks as some groups went down the rabbit hole of drawing and started to run out of time.  You can visit this link to view the document I created.

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Like I mentioned.  It was a lot to take in, but they rose to the challenge and most groups were able to create their covers, play with some features of the app, and demonstrate thoughtful partner skills as they worked.  I am continually impressed and amazed with the thoughtful energy that Kinder kids give to their work.  #powertothelittlepeople

Day 1: Let’s Play

This is the second post in a series about launching the use of the app Book Creator in a kindergarten classroom.  You can read the first post about our planning here.

So there I was…standing in front of a group of small people, armpits sweating, my eye twitching.  Well, not really.  Because today I knew they would be great, today we were going to PLAY!  Plus, Laura my co-coach would be there to have my back.  (A luxury we usually can’t afford, but when working with Kindergarten special arrangements have to be made.)

Before the lesson we talked through what supports students would need to play.  As strange as that sounds sometimes kids need permission to just dig in and try things out.  So we created this chart to help us focus our lesson.

Chart creation is credited to Laura and her very neat handwriting.

For this lesson we brought all of the ipads to one room so students would have a 1:1 ratio for play.  We felt like this was important so that each child could develop a sense of independence with the tool.  (For all lessons to follow kids will be sharing iPads.)

After a very short lesson and some turn and talks we let kids get started and just play. Here’s what we noticed;

  • About half of students in each class were able to get started right away.  The other half were hesitant at first but after some encouragement that they could do whatever they wanted they were able to get going.
  • Many students went right for the draw function or taking photos and stayed with that one part of the app instead of exploring all of the different things they could do.  We addressed this through a mid-workshop teaching point and asking students to share things at their tables.  (mostly effective)
  • Several students showed transfer of learning from Writers Workshop, including drawings, text, and photos on one page.
  • One students asked permission to take another student’s photo and Laura stopped the class to have a great teachable moment about photography and respect.
  • At the end of class we revealed our big project and let the kids know they would be authors and they were ecstatic!

This last part is where the real value is in my mind!  Real purpose, real audience, excited kiddos.  I can’t wait to see how this project unfolds.