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PicCollage and Daily Goals

Monday, February 25, 2013

I am very excited to be writing this post not only because it has been a while since I sat down and shared some of our classroom learning, but because it is a true celebration of some of the risk-taking my DECE and I have been doing in our classroom and we are thrilled to see the results!

Throughout this school year, we have been using technology to enhance our practice and programming but most importantly we've been experimenting with how it can truly push our students' thinking and learning. After being introduced to PicCollage by our friend and colleague Angie Harrison (@TechieAng), we have been finding new ways of embedding this incredible app into our classroom!

As the company description outlines, PicCollage lets you instantly arrange your photos into frames - or get creative with freeform collages, cutouts, filters, borders, stickers, and text. It's like photoshop with your fingers! That being said, I felt inspired to share some of how we've been using PicCollage on my blog with hopes to inspire others.

Since before the Holiday Break, my DECE and I have been chatting about ways we can use technology to support student reflection, sharing of ongoing learning, and act as a medium for celebrating our successes. After seeing examples of how PicCollage could be used on Angie's blog (http://techieang.edublogs.org) as a way of documenting learning, showcasing problem-solving, and illustrating observations and recordings, I was instantly inspired!


To begin, we decided to create something called a "Learning Collage." This collage is created using pictures (approximately 5) that have been used to document a day's learning and embeds simple sentences to describe each learning moment.






Once put together, we showcase our Learning Collage the following morning by hooking our iPad up to our SmartBoard. We use this framework as a way to build dialogue during our Morning Meetings and it gives students a chance to think back to the previous day's learning, make connections, ask questions and give compliments.


Using different strategies like "Talking Partners," "Think-Pair-Shares," and independent think time, our students have blown us away with how they're able to articulate what they see, think, and wonder based on the images shown on our learning collage! Once we share our thinking back as a whole group, we turn to our "Daily Goals" for the day. We decided to use "2 Stars and a Wish" as a framework for our goal-setting since this strategy allows us to give ourselves two stars for yesterday's learning based on what our students think is worth celebrating, highlighting, or something we're proud of (e.g. "We did a good job drawing pictures and writing our words"), and one wish to pursue for the day (e.g. "We can use a book to learn more about ice") - something we would like to continue investigating, learning more about, explore and/or practice.


At first, we used this strategy as an opportunity to model how to give compliments, think-aloud about our classroom environment and make a plan for the day. For example, we used "stars" like, "We can share our materials" and "We can clean up our classroom when we're finished" to reinforce classroom expectations and to have students recognize them in pictures. This eventually evolved as students began to creatively come up with many goals that have inspired new learning to happen within the walls of our classroom. Here are a few examples of some of the daily goals that have come out of our Learning Collages and morning reflection:


We did a good job writing words.
We did a good job using the scrapers to make art. 
We can make a plan using a picture and words.




We liked how we measured our towers using blocks.
We worked hard on making different patterns.
We can make a pattern for a friend.

Furthermore, our students have used our Learning Collages as a springboard for learning by looking to their peers as a form of inspiration! We have noticed them approaching each other to ask questions, practice learned skills and challenge themselves by trying something new that they saw on the Learning Collage from the morning.



Witnessing their independence, self-regulation, and pride in their learning has been more than we had hoped for when we first started this idea! To top it off, we used our students' interest and engagement with the app to introduce "PicCollage Teachers" within our classroom. After exploring the app with a small group, three SK's have taken on quite the leadership role within our classroom and have been teaching their peers how to use the app in order to create their very own Learning Collages! Safe to say, this idea has gone above and beyond what we had anticipated and we couldn't be happier! Our students are able to utilize this technology by documenting the learning of their peers, talking to them about what they are doing, and using such a user-friendly app to record their thoughts in simple sentences.


We are thrilled that our professional planning and exploration has reached new heights within our classroom and we truly look forward to seeing where it takes us next! We welcome any comments, questions or suggestions so feel free to leave me a note below! Here's to new adventures and happy learning!

Feel free to visit PicCollage's website to learn more: http://pic-collage.com
You can also follow them on twitter: @PicCollage

Part 7: "What Can You See?" and China!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

As part of this amazing project, we have been encouraging our families to bring in pictures or create their own "What Can You See?" books to share with our classroom and other participants! We have been overwhelmed with such a positive response (comments, questions, connections, family vacation photos, etc) because this is actually where we hoped this project would go!

One of our student's (A.C.) has made connections to her own culture in China and with her parents, they contacted their family overseas to see if they would be interested in sending us pictures from her cousin's school!

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We are so excited to be sharing this incredible addition to the "What Can You See?" project! We thank A.C. and her family for collecting these wonderful photographs and for letting us put them together into a digital book to share with all of you!

This video has generated lots of discussion in our classroom and has certainly made A.C. very proud of where she comes from, her family, and her ability to teach us new things about her culture at school! She has recently been teaching all of us Chinese, Chinese writing and how to count!

We continue to encourage our families to participate in this wonderful learning opportunity by commenting, asking questions, making connections or by creating their very own "What Can You See?" book with your child! We look forward to sharing more of this journey with you as it unfolds!



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