Saturday, October 15, 2016

Baby Steps to Paperless

When I was in the classroom about the first of the year we would all get an email from the principal letting us know that we were making too many copies and using up too much paper. 

This message appears universal as most of my teacher friends from other schools would get the same email from their administrators. 

Some schools, at that point, would put a limitation on the amount of copies you can make per month on the fancy programmable copier machines....and then you would have to ask other teachers on your team with lower copier counts to make copies for you until the first of the month kicked in (I always felt it was really unfair that your unused copies don't roll over to the next month!).

Now that each student has a device in our district there has been a greater push for teachers to go paperless (as much as possible) but a lot of teachers don't know where to start. 

I met with one of those teachers a few weeks ago and recommended she put together a list of everything she makes copies of and then mark if it was non-negotiable or not (in the paperless realm). She did a pretty good job. It was clear anything math related was a non-negotiable for her. She liked the students to have room to work out their answers. She couldn't have cared less about the Words their Way papers...but needed some help moving them to a paperless format (which I helped her using Google Classroom). 

We talked about her science curriculum and one thing she gives her students is a weekly quiz (ten questions just to make sure they were understanding the weekly lessons and were prepared for the end of unit test). I showed her how to make those quizzes in ClassFlow using their stand alone assessment feature (one of my favorites). She liked the variety of assessment types (not just multiple choice).

My favorite question types are:

Cloze - You write a short couple of sentences and then remove some key words (using the [P] in the picture below) and then students can drag and drop the right answer in the missing space.

Creative Response - I gave students a picture of the solar system and asked them to circle certain plants

You can also have them label an image, sort things in order, and match items.

I gave her students a pre-test on planet identification to show her how easy it was for the students to take on their iPad (or any device) and for the teacher to grade (items like circle the right planet and short answer questions have to be independently graded by the teacher). I have the Planet Identification assessment uploaded to the ClassFlow marketplace for free if anyone wants to use it with their students.

ClassFlow has lots of help videos and here are the ones I felt were useful when making assessments

- Creating an Assessment
- Delivering an Assessment
- Reports

Even before our 1:1 days of iPads and tablets I could get creative becoming paperless, We had a set of four classroom computers that I could have rotated students through taking the quiz. The media center had a bank of computers students could use and our computer lab had some open slots that I could book if I needed to.

Becoming paperless doesn't have to be overwhelming. Look at what you currently make copies of, see what resources you have, and find ways you can make your first baby steps!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

My First Mystery Skype - Review and Resources

This week I tried a Mystery Skype for the first time with at 2nd grade class.They have a serious amount of mapping skills in their standards...and the teacher asked for a tech project tie in. I first wrote about Mystery Skype in this post.

In preparation for the activity I had my super nice boss order these place mat maps on Amazon (we ordered 12 based on a class size of 24 so that students could pair up).

This was a two day lesson (the class has a 40 minute Social Studies block and I took two days of it). The first day was reviewing what the class had learned and then (focusing solely on the United States) we taught them the four regions of the U.S. (NW, SW, NE, SE). We had them draw it out multiple times on their map. Once we did that we played a mystery state game. I left the classroom and the students came up with a state I had to guess when I came back in. This was done so that I could model questions a couple of times (crossing out states that I had projected on the interactive white board - Promethean for us). Then I flipped it so the kids had to guess my state a couple of times.

Some of the questions:

- Does your state border Canada?
- Does your state border an ocean?
- Does your state border Mexico?
- Is your state in the South East region?

The second day I had arranged for my mom to Skype in and and they had to ask her questions to find out where she lived (Utah). They did a really good job with the questions and crossing out the states on their map (and they got it).

The students really enjoyed it, and my mom did a great job with the kids.

Next time I would choose another class, that way the students can ask questions back and forth.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Parent Teacher Conference Resources

With parent/teacher conferences coming up, you can use to manage your conference schedule (and it is FREE!!!). Using Calendly will allow you to create a calendar where parents can view and sign up for available time slots online (none of that dreaded paper and shuffling of time slots).  Parents receive email confirmations and have the option to add the appointment to their personal calendar. For an overview of how to set up a calendar in Calendly for parent conferences, please watch this short, step-by-step video (please note that I used the dates of Oct. 20 and 21st as a reference point since those are the dates for our district) -

Looking for a quick parent/teacher conference checklist? Check out this form on Google Docs. The list is a reminder of what might be covered during a conference; please feel free to change the form to meet your needs.

Have student’s evaluate themselves and use the information to share with parents at your conference with this Student Self Assessment Form.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Google - Force Users to "Make a Copy"

I often make presentations and want to share my resources with teachers. I tend to put a lot of speaker notes on my google slides and I wanted the participants to have access to them but I didn't want them edit my original document. In the past I just put a STOP slide first and gave instructions on how to make a copy so they didn't unintentionally write over the master document.

At a conference I was at this summer a teacher said there was a way to force users to make a copy. After a short internet search I came across this blog post - force users to make a copy of a Google doc on a website called Shake Up Learning. It was exactly what I needed!

As an added bonus..the blog is really good and focuses on all things Google in education (I would definitely recommend following or subscribing). I also follow the owner Kasey Bell on twitter as well @shakeuplearning.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Art and Craft of Selling in a Teacher Marketplace

On my radar this year is putting together work to sell in teacher marketplaces. I tried it “back in the day” when Teachers Pay Teachers were turning out millionaires like Deanna Jump.

In my exploratory phase (July 2012) I made an account and put up eight items (five free items and three paid items) with the last thing posted being (July 2014) – as you can see I haven’t really tackled it in a while (and I will go into the reasons why). My total earnings for my three paid items have been to date: $618.

Most of my items have to do with science notebooking in one way or another.

I gave up, or put it on hold in 2014, for several reasons…I was starting a second master’s program, I was raising a son, I switched jobs, etc. The real reason I gave up is that it is HARD and TIME CONSUMING (two of my least favorite adjectives).

The main reason why it is HARD and TIME CONSUMING is that the work has to be original (or at least labeled for commercial reselling) – from wording, to clipart, and fonts. 

As a teacher I can honestly tell you that most of the resources I use in my classroom has been pirated in one form or another. I take an idea from Pinterest, I get cute fonts from different sites, I add pictures to my presentations from google images…without a care or worry in the world! Now I am trying to enter a world where I can make money from these things…but they aren’t my things (so I could be sued…and I don’t want to be sued).

I managed to come up with three original ideas from 2012-2014 and putting those together took some time. When it came to deciding if I wanted to spend my nights putting together things to sell or watching Dancing with the Stars. I have to say Dancing with the Stars won.

I’ve kept my “store” open on TpT and always had it in the back of my mind to (when my life settled down) give it another go.

Well this year I am giving it another go. This is in large part to becoming a ClassFlow Ambassador. ClassFlow has opened up a Teacher Marketplace and part of my Ambassador requirements is to post two items in the marketplace each month (either paid or free). I don’t mind the obligation because it is “forcing” me to do something I have wanted to get back into and it is helping me really get to know the ClassFlow software. Although not as established as TpT, I feel their Marketplace has potential (because this month the Promethean Planet websitemerges with the ClassFlow website directing thousands of new users to the Marketplace). I also really like having a deadline (two products a month…it is a lot more specific then “I want to sell stuff”).

So now I am back to my original problem of creating work using resources labeled for commercial reuse. I started doing some research on how other sellers go about finding their resources. I started at the top with advice from Deanna Jump. I found the advice too generic. I need SPECIFICS. Luckily I came across this post which had some really good practical advice, which I used in my first product – Site Word Bingo Cards. I used font from a seller she suggested and I used images from (which someone in a chat room suggested).  I modified that first product and made a second completely digital product – Site Word Gaming.

My big AHA moment, as I put together these two products, is that I am not graphically creative (I actually knew that but this was more of a harsh reminder). If you are one of these graphically challenged people you can do what I did…look at graphic design elements from other sellers. You can’t outright copy but I found I liked a color blocking idea in one and the use of circles and the placement of words in another. I sort of combined those into a something that looked somewhat creative.

Bottom line my advice in the art and craft of selling in a teacher marketplace is:

1.       Know how to get items that you can reuse commercially
2.       Tweak graphic design elements if you aren’t creative
3.       Give yourself a monthly goal
4.       Find ways to re-purpose similar ideas

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cool Things in Schools

I love my job...I get to go to a bunch of different schools and I always like checking out what other teachers have posted or have done in their classroom. Here are some of my back-to-school finds.

1. The "You Decide" poster. It was located outside a nurses office and when I saw it, I stopped to look at it (which is always a mark of a good display). I loved its simplicity and message.

2. The "stage". I delivered a class set of iPads in this classroom and and literally said, "Shut the front door! You have a STAGE?!?! With a RUNWAY?!?! Can I walk it?!?!?". It was ridiculously cool (#everyoneshouldhaveastage). The teacher made it over the summer after visiting the Ron Clark Academy last year and he did an awesome job (side note: visiting the Ron Clark Academy is on my bucket list). There were other Ron Clark touches that I need to take pictures of but it is the stage that I really loved (the kids loved it as well and laughed when made a big deal of walking it). I told the teacher that I need to come back and model a lesson JUST to be on the stage :)

3. The "Cafe Room". I was doing iPad rollouts at this school when someone told me about their Cafe Room. The media assistant, who had gotten the grant and did the bulk of the decorating, was happy to show it off. It was seriously cool. It was in their old drama room that had been painted black (walls and ceilings). The media assistant hung empty frames around, had brick wall decals, the room had painted iron tables and chairs, cool curtains around the Promethean board with paintings behind it, and a faux chandelier in the center. The room is available for teachers to book with their students. I would definitely find excuses to use it as much as possible!  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back-to-School Activity - Twist on a Pair/Share

I was recently in a training class where the trainer used a “divide and slide” activity to get us up, moving, and sharing. It was a lot of fun. I thought it could be used for a back-to-school activity along with another strategy I’ve used with students before called a “Six Word Story” (this strategy is part of the Discovery Education Spotlight on Strategies series).

In this activity students would come up with a six words sentence to highlight something they did over the summer. They would then share with their classmates during the “divide and slide”.

As a teacher, you might need to model writing a six-word sentence (this type of writing is also referred to as micro-writing). So on the board I might model writing a six-word story:

- I worked to rescue sea turtles.
- I geocached in five different states.
- My mother-in-law fell breaking her hip.

Give students a reasonable amount of time to write their story (I would cut up paper in fourths and give each child a sheet to write on. Once they were done have them get in the “divide and slide” lines to share. They have to introduce themselves to the person across from them before starting (i.e. “Hi, my name is Eve”…then they share. When it is the next person’s turn they will say “Hi, my name is Jason”…then they share. This way they start to get to know each other’s names.) If a child says they did “nothing” over the summer…challenge them to come up with a six-word story that indicates they did nothing.

You can even grade it as an easy ELA/Writing grade. To get a perfect score the story has to have six words (no more/no less). It would be fun for the kids to go home and say they got an “A” in a writing assignment the first day of school.

If you have time, have students share the most interesting/attention grabbing six-word story they heard (it can’t be their own!).

I use to keep short stories (similar to this) in the student’s writing folder because it can be used later as a jumping off point for longer writing pieces. 

If you try it...let me know how it goes!