Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Grade Two Presentation Activity

Working In Meteghan Presentation

My students created a Google Presentation about working in Meteghan, Nova Scotia.

Background Information

This is a lesson that I did in March 2013. My students had created a number of Google Presentations already. They had also learned the terms natural resources, wildlife, goods and services as they related to Iqaluit. In this activity, they reviewed these terms and applied them to Meteghan. They also reviewed how to use keywords to search for images.

What We Did

Each day we did one slide and one term.

  1. We would read about the topic. Sometimes together and sometime in partners. (My school uses Pearson's Many Voices.)
  2. We would review what the term for the day meant.
  3. I would have students list examples for that term specific to Meteghan.
  4. Then students would create a slide for that term. This was guided.
    • We came up with the definition for the term and that was the title for our slide.
    • Then students had to search for images to represent examples for Meteghan.
    • For goods and for services they also typed examples.
  5. After students had a sufficient amount of working time, we'd review what they came up with and I used that to create an example slide on the Smartboard. 
  6. On the last day they shared it with me.

An Example of One Day - Goods

  1. Students logged onto Google Apps and then set their netbooks aside.
  2. We reviewed what goods were. Students were able to look at a glossary before answering if needed.
  3. Half the class read one page out loud. The other half had to identify three goods that were shared on that page. Then they switched roles. Half the class read a second page out loud. The other half had to identify three goods that were shared on that page.
  4. I reviewed how to create a new slide that had a 'title and body'. 
  5. We reviewed what goods were again and I typed a student's answer as the title.
  6. I reviewed how to create bullets. 
  7. I asked for one example of a good and used that to demonstrate that I wanted a list.
  8. Then students opened their presentation (they had already started the presentation) and created the new slide.
  9. After students had a sufficient amount of working time, I had them share what goods they added to their list (I had said they needed a minimum of six) and added what they shared to my example on the Smartboard. 
  10. I then explained they needed three images for this slide. We reviewed what some good keywords might be.
  11. I had them working time to add their images.

No Assessment

This activity was intended to support the students learning about working in Meteghan, therefore it was not taken in for assessment.


Here is the presentation I created as a summary of what my students did (step 5) - Working In Meteghan. Here is an example of a student's presentation - Example of Working In Meteghan.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bringing Canada Into the Classrom with Google Earth and Maps

I frequently use Google Earth in my social lessons. I wanted to share some simple ways I use Google Earth in my division one class!

You Should Know

As a grade two teacher, I will be giving grade two examples. Grade one teachers might also want to check out Google Earth in Grade 1.

Also, it is useful to know the difference between using Google Earth and Google Maps. Google Maps are more collaborative. Also note maps can be viewed in Google Earth and vice versa.

Take Time To Play Yourself aka Learn the Resource Before Teaching It

The basics of Google Earth and Maps are fairly intuitive, however, like any resource, it is worth familiarizing yourself with the basics before you use it with your class. As I am writing this in March, planning a dream vacation to Mexico sounds like a fun way to spend some time learning about the different features of Google maps.

Google maps is a part of the Google Apps we have for EPSB staff and students. You can access it in the "more" section. However you will need to download Google Earth.

You can change to Street View by dragging the pegman (the yellow man) onto the map. Streets that you can view in this way will show up as blue when you do this.

If nothing else, play around for a bit to get to know how to navigate. Google has Basics and Help with Google Earth and TutorialsYou may want to also reference this Google Earth tip sheet.

Whole Class Use

I have only ever used Google Earth as a whole class device. It's great for things like discussing Chinese New Year and then showing the students China. I also use it when I introduce a new community in social studies. I try to always start in Edmonton and then have the students direct me with NESW or once we start 'moving' on Google Earth, have them describe what direction we are going.

Grade Two Specific Examples

Please note while we love readers from anywhere, our specific audience is EPSB teachers, so the examples will be based on the Alberta curriculum


At the beginning of the year I use Google Earth to show students where we are within Edmonton. I zoom out from our school and show them how big Edmonton is. I point out the squiggly line running through our city and ask students what it maybe. Then using Street View, I go to a bridge (or two) and show students the river. I use Google Earth to locate and discuss the other various land and water features of our city.

Then I zoom out from Edmonton to show the students where the city is within Alberta. I continue to zoom out and show them where Edmonton is within Canada. 


I start with reviewing where we live - Edmonton. I review the size of Edmonton, discussing the grey area is the city (when zoomed out far enough to see this). I usually circle the area I am talking about on the Smartboard. 

Then I ask students to direct me to Iqaluit (north and east). I stay zoomed out to discuss/review where Iqaluit is in relation to Edmonton.  Once zoomed in closer, I point out that it is a much smaller city. Typically, I will then go to street view so students can see the difference in the buildings, roads and landscape. 

When I have zoomed out more, I direct the conversation around the land and water around Iqaluit including: the inlet, the river, the lakes and the coastline. 


As with Iqaluit, I start with review of where we live. I review the size of Edmonton and emphasis how big of a city it is. I review where Edmonton is in context of all of Canada and point out we are landlocked. 

Then I ask students to direct me to Meteghan (east). I stay zoomed out to discuss/review where Meteghan is in relation to Edmonton.  Once zoomed in closer, I point out that it is a village. I draw their attention to the fact that there are really two visible main roads.

Then I take students on a street view 'drive'. I enter street view at the southwest end of the village and drive/click through town. I stop every now and then to look left and right and point out that we can sea the bay on the left. I engage students in a discussion about what else they notice (no fences, houses are spread out, the joining roads are gravel/dirt.)


As with Iqaluit and Meteghan, I start with a review of our city and province. I tell them we are going to drive to Saskatoon. I ask students help me get started by pointing me in the correct direction (east). Using street view, I drive from our school (which is on the southeastern edge of the city) out of the city. I point out the difference between the urban and rural elements as we leave the city. 

I do not 'drive' all the way to Saskatoon. I do skip ahead on the highway a few times until we are just outside of Saskatoon (Trans Canada Highway) so we can enter the city with street view. I ask students to share what they notice. Without prompting I usually get 'very flat' and 'no trees'. 

Making a Connection to Climate

One thing I like to point out is when the images we are looking at in street view are from. This is usually found at the bottom left corner of the images. Not only do students need to be reminded it is not real time but it can lead to questions like, 'what would it look like in the different seasons?' Or you might have discussions around what might change over time. 

Your Turn

I'd love to hear how others use Google Maps and Google Earth in their classroom! Please share in the comment section.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Read Around the Planet

  Read Around the Planet

The name alone is enticing to any literacy teacher.

Imagine, a video conference with another English speaking classroom somewhere on the planet in celebration of reading. This was a chance to give my students a global perspective and connection with other literacy learners.  Very appealing indeed!

In Alberta, grade three social studies students are introduced to global citizenship and this was the opportunity to build on that understanding.

Where to Begin

Registration for Read Around the Planet (RAP) opened in December and the event was held February 25 to March 8, 2013.  In order to participate, teachers create a profile on a site called: Collaborations Around the Planet or CAPspace,  a social networking tool for educational video conferencing. 

Once a profile is created on CAPspace, school video conference equipment needs to be verified and you are then ready to sign up for RAP.  I depended on our reliable technical support at Argyll Centre to help with the equipment details and verification. This process involves registering your equipment on the website; its not hard to do. Jocelyn Littlefair at the Education Society is a volunteer site verifier for Canadian teachers in preparation for Read Around the Planet. She was a great contact and very helpful in sorting out the details.

The Read Around the Planet website provides step by step instructions, a teacher training video and inspiring ideas. 

What Next?

Once verification of equipment and registration was completed we waited eagerly to find out who our RAP partners might be.  Would they be English speaking students in South Africa, or India or some other exotic and far away place? Would it be another classroom in Edmonton?  I have since discovered that this could have been a real possibility and not quite as exciting.

RAP Partners!

Our partners were grade four students at Carver-Lyon Elementary school in Columbia, South Carolina. Our students, home based learners from grade one to six at Argyll Centre, eagerly started preparing. To ensure that all would go smoothly on the day of the event, our preparation included a test video conference call with our RAP partners in South Carolina. 

Wednesday,  February 27 Reading Around The Planet

Excitement buzzed in the air as students arrived for their classes, an eagerly anticipated day had arrived. This was the day, Literacy Lift Off students in grades 1 to 6 would participate in, “Read Around the Planet”. (RAP)

 A happy group gathered in the music room ready to share, ‘An Alberta Alphabet’ with our RAP partners and at 10:30 we linked via a video conference call with grade 4 students in South Carolina. There they were….. our RAP partners, kids like us with a love of literacy and ideas to share.

We learned many things from our RAP partners that day, as they told us about South Carolina sweet tea, tea plantations, indigo, juicy peaches, baseball teams, their love of basketball, the peaceful Congaree River and their first female state governor.  

Our students shared beautiful posters carefully prepared with a wealth of information about Alberta’s geography, climate and culture.

During our question and answer time one of my students quietly asked if these children in the southern USA had ever seen snow, and in a moment of inspiration she dashed outside to scoop up a bowl of snow for our South Carolina friends to see.

The conversation became animated when we discovered that our new friends loved reading many of the same books we did.

After an hour of sharing and conversation we closed with a farewell song and waved good-bye to our fellow literacy learners. We discovered that when it comes to literacy it is a small world after all.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Google Art Project Reflections


I had heard about Google Art Project but I had never really taken the time to sit down and play with it. I had a chance to learn more about Google Art Project at a Google Apps Summit. All the ideas I am sharing in this post are a result of the workshop I went to run by Jim Sill.  As with many things, it is something that older students could be taught how to use and then be set free with. However, as a grade two teacher, I did find some useful applications.

Teaching Art

The most obvious application is to use Google Art Project when teaching art. In my grade two class, I have an artist of the month that is connected in some way to the type of art the students will be creating that month. For example, in September, I teach students about line and so the artist of the month is M. C. Escher (who is NOT in the Google Art Project).

One of the activities I have the students do is experiment with their pencils what kinds of lines they can make- thin, thick, squiggly, straight, light, dark, etc.  Next year I plan to use this pencil drawing, An Elephant, to illustrate using a variety of lines in one drawing. I would use the cool zoom feature (discussed more below) of Google Art Project to zoom in to take a closer look at the lines that make up the elephant. 


You can zoom into artwork. Very cool for encouraging/teaching art appreciation. You can a create a link to a particular part zoomed in. To do this you have to be signed in (EPSB staff automatically have an account through Google Apps) and you have to add the image you want to zoom into to YOUR gallery. It will prompt you to create a gallery if you do not have any set up. For example, I created a link to the image on the left to show my class. When you mouse over the image you will see another image appear in a black box on the right hand side. It will allow you to zoom in further or zoom out to the entire picture. You could use this as a whole class experience on the Smartboard or you could have students explore art more deeply on their own individually. With grade two students, I would recommend providing them with the links/images you want to explore (you could post these on SchoolZone).

There is a user-created gallery within Google Art Projected titled Zoom In Thinking Routine. "The purpose is to get students to focus on the detail of the images and then gradually reveal the greater context of the image as the students discuss their thinking. Thus stimulating thinking and ultimately activating their creative thought processes." I love this idea! It could be used when learning about an art technique or to inspire more detailed writing. Perhaps even giving the zoomed in shot to inspire creative writing and then only show them the full picture after! 

Street View and a Virtual Field Trip

You can visit art galleries using Street View. The 'peg man' allows users to walk through parts of major art galleries. It also may be worth discussing with students how these things are available on the Internet. People have to take pictures of them. 

I do a Van Gogh unit each year to teach oil pastels and texture. This year my students will be going to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam! Not only will students have an opportunity to see what the inside of a famous art gallery/museum looks like and how they are set up, but they will be able to explore the artwork as described above. When a piece of artwork in a museum has a black and white icon near it (like the example on the left), users can select it to explore the artwork. 


Another cool feature is the ability to compare two pieces of famous art side-by-side (notice the yellow compare icon in the screenshot to the left). This is not something I might use regularly with my grade twos. However, I teach pointillism and then impressionism. I think showing a zoomed in side-by-side comparison would be a great segue between the two projects. 

Search and Refine

The tools for navigating around Google Art Project are fairly simple to learn. They have a search function and a refine function to help the user find what they are looking for.

The search function will bring up not just the artwork or artist you are looking for but the collections they might be stored in and user generated galleries. 

This is not a database of every famous work of art. There are many artists you will not find.

Limitations and Cautions

As a Canadian educator, one limitation of the Google Art Project currently is the limited number of Canadian collections it currently offers. Hopefully in the future this will be expanded. For example, I would love to see an Inuit art collection!

As well, as mentioned above, it does not include every famous artist. It also does not include the entire body of work for each artist within its database. For example, this is not the website to use to research Picasso. 

As with many art history books or art gallery field trips in general, you need to be aware that art contains nudity. Therefore the Google Art Project contains nudity. Like any resource, on the Internet or otherwise, you need to use at your own discretion  The better familiar you are about a resource, the more you are able to mitigate any potential issues. 

Learn Yourself

Want to sound like an expert on a particular piece of art? Press the details button. As you might have guessed, you will get the details of the artwork, including viewing notes. 

Other Links