Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stability Balls in the Classroom! EVEN WITH TECHNOLOGY!

Bounce While Learning in Team Newell
Team Newell students say goodbye to regular classroom chairs, and they say hello to twenty new stability balls.
Super Writers wearing Super Writer capes while taking the Ohio Diagnostic Writing Test!


What is a stability ball?         
            A stability ball is a large inflatable ball usually used for yoga and exercise, but it can also be used in classrooms in place of chairs. The ball isn’t used for fun, but rather to help students sit up straight and engage the muscles and the parts of their brains needed to remain balanced on the stability ball. Brain research has shown that there is a link between movement and positive academic performance. 


How do they work?
            When students sit on stability balls, both sides of their brains are engaged in keeping their bodies centered on the balls. And when the brain is stimulated, it's more focused on learning. Not only is the brain better suited to processing new information, young minds are also better able to concentrate on exams, note-taking, class discussions, and other aspects of classroom learning.

            A study published in the October 2003 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that students with attention challenges, such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder, tended to focus better when using stability balls instead of chairs. The study revealed that students behaved better and that language skills improved, and that students and teachers preferred the use of stability balls in the classroom instead of chairs. Fidgeting helps children with ADHD concentrate, and just a little movement on the stability balls can meet their demands for expelling excess energy.

How do stability balls improve posture?
            Without a back, stability balls force children to sit up straight and engage in better posture than they might ordinarily in a standard school chair and desk. When students are sitting up straight, they're more likely to pay attention.  A study on the positive effects of students using stability balls in the classroom in the February 2009 issue of Chronicle of Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education noted, however, that a stability ball is not a long-term cure-all for posture, and that bad habits can return because there's no back support to take pressure off the tailbone.  Proper posture at a young age is important because this is when bodies are growing the most. When a child has poor posture, they are increasing their chances of developing spinal deformities. Using a stability ball decreases a child's chance of developing these deformities by forcing them to maintain good posture. The use of stability balls can also help students to become more physically fit because core muscles are engaged and strengthened.

How is it going in Team Newell?
             Just in two months, I have noticed “active sitting” has improved focus, flexibility, coordination, balance and handwriting. The stability balls give students the opportunity to direct their natural kinesthetic energy in a positive way rather than me squashing their need for movement. We incorporated stability ball rules that have allowed movement in a controlled manner without causing disturbance in our classroom. When the novelty wears off, I am hoping our overall performance continues to improve. It is an expensive investigation, but it is worth every penny to try to help students reach their full potential as learners.  
The stability balls have worked great while using Chromebooks, Nexus Tablets, iPods, iPads. Students have been stable while using technology items, and they have shown great concentration! 

When we had chairs.... I had a student who tipped and fell off his chair and a Chromebook flew across the room. Luckily I saw it happen, and I ran to catch it!



For more information about stability balls, visit: http://tinyurl.com/bounce4bettergrades


We have 6 students in our room who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and who are currently taking medication. The stability balls are very helpful!!!
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Icon-apalooza

Last week I saw a post on A Trendy Teacher's blog that made me {oh-so-happy}!! So today I am doing some Spring Cleaning on my desktop and getting digitally organized!

I always used the colored labels for my Mac folders... and then they just turned into a dot. Boring! But now, my desktop folders can go from this:


to this!!!

Yes, you too can organize your desktop with any icon you want... And it is SO EASY!!

I started the same way that A Trendy Teacher did, with a blank slide in Keynote (she used PowerPoint). I inserted a circle shape and then just put a text box over it with the name of the folder. 


Then, select both items that you want (so they are grouped together). You can do this by clicking and dragging to select everything, or by holding the Command key as you select each item. Press command-c to copy the images. 


Next, click on the folder you want to change the icon of. Click on Command-I to get Info on the folder, or control-click and select Get Info. 


Next, click on the folder icon:


And then click on command-v to paste! 


Congrats, you now have the prettiest icons in all the land! 

If you don't want to make personalized icons, you can use ANY IMAGE you want. Find the images you want from Google (or any clipart), and put them into a Keynote or document. 
Copy/Paste the same way above under "Get Info", and BAM! Personalized folders in just a few moments!


Have fun!
-Lauren


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Friday, March 6, 2015

AirDrop Awesomeness

All my hopes and dreams came true when I updated to Yosemite... or at least one of them.

Yes, in Yosemite, you can now AirDrop between your MacBook and an iOS device! I've already used it twice this week to get pictures from my phone to my laptop wirelessly! Brilliant! 

To use AirDrop on an iPhone or iPad, swipe up from the bottom to get the Control Center:


Click on AirDrop, and then Everyone (I had to do everyone to see my laptop as an option).

Then, on your laptop, go to AirDrop from Finder:


Since I've been using this to share Photos, I've been going into my Photo Album, selecting the photo I want, and then click the share button:


Once AirDrop comes up, I just click on where I want it shared to in AirDrop, and it shows up on my laptop in the downloads folder! 

You can also share the opposite way, from your Mac to iPad/iPhone. Also, you can AirDrop more than just photos - Keynotes, videos, webpages.. the list goes on!

For more info, check out  Apple's support page.

Or, check out this video tutorial.


-Lauren

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bam!! There it is!

Almost 2 years ago, I blogged about a 5th grade project on App Smashing…Well, this is worth repeating but this time with another grade level. Third graders researched about a particular planet and created a Wordfoto. Then they added the Wordfoto graphic into the Phoster app. The Phoster was inserted as the background for their Tellagami.  (Bam!! There it is…the three apps, my friends!) Please see the below example:


The lead teacher for this project is phenomenal and always has specific directives and rubrics for the students to follow. Below is a snapshot of the directions and rubric she used. She also gave me permission to share the doc - should you wish to use it. http://goo.gl/tXIXnl

Lastly......
When I was at TCEA in February, a presenter had used a Symbaloo as a way to showcase the student’s final product. I had already uploaded the Tellegamis to a YouTube playlist but never considered using a Symboloo as showcasing the final products. How is cool is that? What is even neater??? There are no suggested videos....anywhere.



Peace,
Kiki


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Friday, February 20, 2015

Indoor Recess, Compound Sentences and Art for Kids You Tube Hub

    Are you looking for a new indoor recess idea?


Visit the You Tube Channel- Art for Kids Hub! It's a great resource to use to teach your students how to draw, paint, and sculpt! I absolutely love it!
                         
      It's created by a Dad, named Rob. He loves doing art with his children and sharing it with others. His love for art is contagious!     

      My second graders love to draw! These videos not only engage my students, but they also inspire writing in our classroom! 
There are many awesome videos!
           
















     When you teach in Ohio. You spend many months with no recess or indoor recess! We are only permitted to play outside if the REAL FEEL temperature is 20+ degrees. 

We have missed 8 days of school this year due to snow, ice or wind chill! We have probably only been outside for recess 2 or 3 times since we came back from Christmas. Tomorrow, we are already on a 2 hour delay. 

We use our Nintendo Wii for indoor recess.
We exercise using Go Noodle.
We play with toys.
Thank you to Art for Kids for giving us another great option for indoor learning! 
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Do Your Students Create Their Own Video Games?

Do Your Students Create Their Own  Video Games?  Stop by Raki's Rad Resources to find out why the should be and explore an easy iPad app called Game Press to make it happen in your classroom.

 Last trimester, my kiddos created their own vocabulary games with my Vocabulary Game Creation Project to work on key math vocabulary.  It was such an amazing experience that it has made me a major proponent of video game creation in the classroom.  Stop by my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources – to find out why your students should be creating video games and find out a useful iPad app that makes it easy to do.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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