Web Safety at School

GES12On top of the powerful web filters that HSE Schools has in place to protect our students, our schools use many additional strategies to streamline web access in order to keep our students safe. Thanks to Geist Elementary School for sharing these tips!

As we begin our second year with iPads in the elementary schools, the GES staff is more dedicated than ever to keeping students safe as they use the web. One way we do this is through the use of QR codes.


QR Code to San Diego Zoo Kids  

Teachers create QR codes often to provide students with a way to go directly to one particular web page – no ‘searching’ necessary. For example, Krista Beck’s first grade students recently used QR codes to travel directly and link to two websites they’ll be visiting all year.

The students first scanned a QR code that took them directly to the GES Student Links web page; then they created a shortcut to this page for their iPad home screens. The first graders will use this shortcut to directly access approved sites throughout the year. Next, Mrs. Beck’s class used a QR code to connect to the GES Library’s Symbaloo, an icon-based collection of curated web links that students will also use in first grade. A shortcut to the Symbaloo was added to iPad home screens for future reference as well.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 4.06.44 PM

The GES Symbaloo provides safe access to approved websites.

QR codes and Symbaloos are two easy safeguards to make it less likely that a student will arrive at the wrong destination, and they eliminate the need to enter long or complicated web addresses – sometimes time-consuming with our youngest learners. With less time spent on typing addresses and finding particular websites, more time is devoted to the real task at hand: learning!

QR codes can be created through sites like www.the-qrcode-generator.com or www.qrstuff.com and then printed or projected on to a screen for easy access. Symbaloos can be built by anyone. A free account is available at www.symbalooedu.com .

March 2nd, aka…?

Dr. Seuss’ birthday, of course! At Harrison Parkway Elementary, the birthday of the beloved rhyming genius and children’s author is celebrated yearly in a big way. At HPE, March 2nd is Seussical Day! As part of her commitment to Read Across America, HPE Media Specialist Kristin Sager rolls out the red carpet every March 2nd, inviting family and community readers to come share a Seuss title. First and second grade students rotate through a half day of Seussical experiences, all designed to encourage the love of literature and reading.

Enjoy the slide show below of this year’s Seussical Day! (If reading via email distribution, click on post title to view slide show.)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

An Eagle’s Nest is HOW big???

How does a first grade class come to understand literally how big a bald eagle’s nest really is? Build a nest in the classroom, of course!

If you’ve been following HSE21 Shorts, you’ll know that Mrs. Vogel’s first grade class at Sand Creek Elementary began watching the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam in December 2016, right as eaglet E-9 was making his/her entry to the world. Watching the Eagle Cam led to lots of eagle questions – which led to research, the creation of some very authentic projects, and the sharing of learning!

How did the project unfold?  The class spent several days observing and monitoring the nest – as questions arose, the students wrote them on post-it notes. With Mrs. Vogel’s help, the class categorized their post-its and created four research groups.  Each student joined a group and became an expert on one area of eagle life. The students consulted library books, digital resources (like World Book Online), and even visited with experts from the Indianapolis Zoo via Skype to find reliable answers to their research questions.

HSE21 Shorts was thrilled to receive this invitation recently from Mrs. Vogel:

We have been researching and creating and are ready to share our learning.  We
have a life sized nest, 3D models, a video, and much more!  On Friday we are hosting
an open house for classes to come and see our project and learn about eagles. 

Check out the image gallery and video below of eagle projects and scenes from this awesome open house of learning. Mrs. Vogel’s students shared with kindergarteners and fourth graders, with administrators, parents, and teachers. All the while, of course, E-9 was on the big screen. As of this writing, E-9 has gone from a fuzz ball to feathered bird and is growing fast! He’s testing out his wings often, and should be fledging very soon. You, too, can live stream the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam here.

Thanks to the students who have taught HSE21 Shorts a great deal about bald eagles! First graders CAN, and DO!

First Grade Photographers: Solving the “iPads on Study Trips” Dilemma

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-4-02-35-pmPersonal digital tools have opened up a plethora of creative possibilities for HSE’s youngest learners this year. Among them is the ability to document discoveries on class study trips (aka, field trips). Instead of just telling mom or granddad what we learned at the farm, we can now take photos, record audio, and research our wonderings on the spot – then share everything we learned with friends and relatives! And yet…for six-year-olds, some study trips just don’t lend easily themselves to carrying iPads around all day. What’s a 21st-century educator to do?

Mrs. Vogel, first grade teacher Sand Creek Elementary, has come up with a splendid idea for these hike-intensive adventures: Study Trip Photographers! SCE’s first grade team had two study trips planned this fall, both of which would [and did] require lots of walking. In fact,  last week’s trip to Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve involved hiking through muddy and swampy woods – not the place to drop an iPad (even one in a protective case)! Instead of having every student carry their iPad on the two fall study trips, though, Mrs. Vogel had designated trip ‘photographers’ – five students who brought their iPads and were responsible for documenting the day’s learning with media. Each study trip had different photographers; by year’s end each student in Mrs. Vogel’s class will have had the opportunity to play this role.

Once back at school, trip photographers worked together in a small group (with adult assistance) to combine their images and produce one class movie of the adventure. Both fall trip flicks have been shared online and have been a catalyst for continued learning. The Ritchey Woods study trip production is shared below.

Note:  Yes, Mrs. Vogel did hang onto the iPads through the swamp – but instead of 28, she only had to carry 5!

Snapshots of Learning: Research in First Grade

Think back to your own first grade experience. Was the term research a part of your vocabulary? Did your teacher ever refer to you as a researcher? An inquirer? For my part, I’m fairly certain that at age six I had no idea what research and/or inquiry meant. These terms…well, they just never came up in class conversation.

Not so in HSE primary classrooms today. Check out this 2-minute example from TCE teacher Courtney Gibson’s class. The first-graders’ curiosity about geodes has led to exploration, discovery, and the sharing of new knowledge. According to TCE Principal Sara Curran, these young investigators “are still sharing what they are learning, as I heard more about geodes yesterday in the hallway!”