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Showing posts from 2015

Snowflake Matter Activity (and Video)

Yesterday I worked with two groups of third graders at the end of their matter unit. The teacher and I are working together to try and incorporate a tech project at the end of each of her science units. 
I would like to claim this snowflake idea...but I got it from a friend of mine who is a science lab teacher at another school. She was showing me how she had her third graders make dipped wax snowflakes as part of their study of matter. She awesomely lent me all her supplies so I could do it with the students I had. The tech component was they had to make an iMovie (new skill for them) explaining what they did (in the iMovie they had to have one definition, they had to use at least two unit vocabulary words, and have a safety tip...we kept it pretty basic because we had to finish it that day but the requirements could certainly be increased based on grade and available time). 
The teacher very nicely gave up a large chunk of time for this. She teaches math and science and we used bot…

Touchcast (Green Screen) Video Entry

I worked with a class of 5th graders last week making green screen videos with their TouchCast app related to Westward Expansion. The one featured above was the "best of the best" and was entered into a video contest put on by TouchCast (fingers crossed they win). The teacher will win a Studio in a Box to use with future classes.

It was the largest project I have done with students with the app. I have played around with it on my own but organizing and executing a script based project definitely was more time consuming then I originally thought. I now have a better idea of how I would go about planning it next time. I am hoping to get the app added to all 3-5 iPads in the district next year (I wish they had a web version as well for our middle/high students who use Dell tablets). The only problem is that the app is rated for ages 12 and up so principals have to agree/sign a waiver to have it added to iPads. I'm hoping that if I have more student samples that it will be…

Modeling "Call Back" Chant

I was in a classroom the other day helping with something TOTALLY unrelated to the teachers lesson. As I was working I was listening to the teacher teach math to her 1st graders. She did such an awesome job (I mean I stopped what I was doing to see what she was doing...teaching 1st graders is a rough subgroup for me...control wise). Anyway, we had to test out what I was helping her with (signing 1st graders into our science tech book) and I asked her to repeat this "call back" she used with her students as she modeled how to use the shortcut we set up. I video taped it because it was too cute not to.
I tried it today in a 3rd grade classroom and they picked it up pretty quickly. I would like to say I was as successful as the teacher in the video but alas I failed to model what "watching" looked like first (my mistake).
So, if you are going to use this call back make sure students know and practice what "watching" looks like before introducing it.

Christmas Music Composition Recommendation

Last night I attended a Christmas concert put on by the Marine Corps Band and it was...as always..outstanding. My favorite piece was the one above called Minor Alterations - Christmas Through the Looking Glass composed by David Lovrien. It made me think of a Christmas themed circus (dark and light) as I was listening to it. The unusual remake or remix of all these iconic Christmas songs made it on my December music list for the classroom (for sale on iTunes for .99).

I thought I would share...since I had never heard of it until last night.

Technology Newsletter - November and December 2015

Each month I work on our department's monthly tech newsletter. It gets compiled from a variety of sources...resources/ideas from other tech coaches, upcoming technology support activities, blogs I follow, etc.

Just recently I added a project corner where I highlight three or so tech projects that either I have done with students, seen teachers do with students, or other coaches have done with students. It is definitely worth a look if you need any ideas for incorporating technology within the curriculum.

A lot of items are relevant to our district only but you should be able to skim and scan quickly to find items that might appeal to a wider audience.

Click on the following following newsletter links to view -

November 2015 Elementary Tech Newsletter
December 2015 Elementary Tech Newletter

Student Peer Feedback

I was in a training class today where we were talking about how to teach students to give feedback. The instructor showed this video which features the evolution of a butterfly drawing a student completed after receiving peer feedback at various stages. The difference from start to finish was impressive! I loved the video and thought it would be something I would share with students (when teaching them the importance of feedback).

The instructor then had us go around the room and provide feedback on group projects. She had us use sticky notes BUT we had to write on the sticky side so that when we left the note it was face down as opposed to face up...so that way people walking around couldn't copy each other's responses and the feedback was private. That was pretty awesome (yet another idea I would copy).




The feedback we left was "Praise, Question, Polish" - something you liked, a question you had, and a suggestion for improvement or something to think about. I made…

Keynote - Magic Move Lesson

I was working with fourth graders teaching them how to use their Keynote app prior to a big project they are going to be working on. I was looking up different ways to use Keynote and I came across the magic move feature on this YouTube video.  It was a feature I hadn't used before so I applied it to a mini lesson on pluralizing words that end in -f and -fe to -ves. The video above is one of the student's finished product. The only problem is sharing it loses the motion (darn!). We had to grade it by having students come up to us and showing us that they got the words correct and the motions to work. 

Persuasive/Argumentative Writing - 5th Grade

The other day I taught a persuasive/argumentative writing lesson...using technology...to three fifth grade classes. I was modeling how to integrate technology into a writing lesson. For the technology piece I used the new Promethean Classflow to deliver the lesson, I used getkahoot.com to hook and engage the students, and I had students take a picture of the anchor charts I made (see pictures above) and taught them how to create an anchor chart album in their photos.
The lesson I taught was modified from a middle school lesson I found in the Classflow community on the topic that I thought was really good. The lesson can be found on Promethean Planet if you CLICK HERE.  The anchor charts were basically a play on four square writing (which the students were familiar with). I could have created the anchor charts on Classflow and had the students take pictures from that but I wanted to enter the Zaner-Bloser writing anchor chart contest I saw on We are Teachers on Facebook hence the abov…

My First Green Screen Video

I finally figured out how to do a Touchcast video...after lots of practice...and attending a webinar put on by the company. I used my Studio in a Box green screen to film it. After watching it learned I definitely won't be a YouTube star, and I need some lipstick, but it was pretty easy...once I had storyboarded the whole thing out (I used the remote app on my phone to control the camera...filming it by myself...I really like that feature!). Students would really have to plan out any video they made (not a strong suit for a lot of students but this would be good practice).

Now that I have an academic sample and worked through how to put it together I think I can train students. I would like to try something "bigger" like a morning show and I have one school that wants to try it.

Right now my only two questions I have (that I need to email the company) are: (1) Why isn't the poll at the end interactive? I tried clicking it and voting but nothing happened and (2) The …

Best "You're Late" Sign

I saw this at a school and thought it was a great way to keep children from walking in late by themselves.

The school blocks off the driveway forcing parents to pull into the parking lot and bring their child in.

Halloween Costume - Ms. Frizzle

We have a new local children's librarian who came as a guest judge for a Book-o-Ween costume party at one of our schools. I loved her Ms. Frizzle costume! I asked her how she made it and she said she found a blue dress at a Goodwill shop and then cut up a ocean themed shower curtain and used fabric glue to adhere it to the dress (she bought the lizard on Amazon...I forgot to ask her how she attached it). It was so cute I decided that this is my next craft project!

Space Camp for Teachers

In 2009, when I was teaching fourth grade math and science, I applied for, and got, a scholarship to attend Space Camp in Alabama. I had a great time (read my post in 2009 here) and used a lot of resources in my classroom. I even planned a potluck space night for parents (click here to read my post on a separate blog I kept up during my years as a classroom teacher) and got a grant for "build it yourself" telescopes. I love studying space and being able to go to Space Camp...for free...was a unbelievable PD opportunity. I made a video of all my pictures to share with folks who were in the program with me (click on the link above...or here if you want to see what it was like).

I'm writing a post about it because it is that time...time to apply for a scholarship! Each scholarship covers the following: tuition for the 5-day program at U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama; round trip airfare; meals and double occupancy accommodations; program materials; and...wait for it.…

Studio in a Box

I am super excited...I finally got my Studio in a Box by TouchCast. I ordered it this past summer when I went to the ISTE conference in Philadelphia and attended a TouchCast session (read my rave review of that session HERE).

The session attendees were offered "Early Bird" pricing for this product with the understanding that they weren't finished in production yet (hence why it took awhile to get). The "Early Bird" price was $59 (fabulous price). I was hoping that my department would reimburse me for the purchase but apparently it is easier to get permission to buy something then it is to get reimbursed for something. I purchased it at the time knowing that I might have to absorb the cost and I was fine with that.

I bought it to evaluate it for school/teacher purchasing purposes. A lot of our schools and classrooms want to set up green screen rooms for projects and morning new programs and this looked like an inexpensive way to make that happen (in conjunction…

Art Project/Report Presentation Idea

I saw these outside an art room in one of the schools I visit. I thought they were super adorable. The art teacher, Mrs. Thomas, incorporated large notecards into a project where students expressed their goals for the new school year. I loved the faces, the notecards, and the drawn hands on the side making them appear like they are being held.

I was thinking anything could go on those cards (they are much larger then the standard 4x6 notecards). Maybe a short report or book review? I was also wondering if the cards could be switched out throughout the year (the fingers on the cards were throwing me off when I started thinking along those lines). I thought I would pass the idea on in case some enterprising teacher wanted to try it out!

Green Screen App and Science

Today I worked with a Lego Lab teacher introducing the Green Screen App by Doink ($2.99) to students in grades 3-5. All of the iPads in this particular school have the app and are testing it for possible purchase on all our 3-5 iPads in the district.

Since today was an intro day we didn't get a lot of finished projects but the Lego Lab teacher and I created a sample project using content covered in the 4th grade (Solar System). To view the project CLICK HERE. One fourth grader did finish one project about going to Egypt that turned out pretty cute. To view that project CLICK HERE. I got silly with my sample project and became a reporter viewing the destruction of the Eiffel Tower. To view that project CLICK HERE.

The project idea came from the school's media specialist who saw it presented at ISTE this summer. She forwarded the Wiki site to us and we ran with it. The teacher got pizza boxes donated that we covered with green contact paper...until we ran out of it and then swi…

Science Center Rotations

Each summer our district puts on a three day Summer Institute for teachers. Those who attend get a $100/day stipend and re-certification credits. We have trainers across the district, the state, and consultants come in for those three days who run various classes. As tech coaches we are required to present at least two out of the three days. This year our training focus was to target technology integration into specific curriculum areas. Surprise, surprise...I choose science as my curriculum area.

I decided to train on Science Centers in the Classroom. I used the S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) as the model for my rotations (with each letter being the focus of a rotation).

For a complete copy of the presentation click HERE.  For a copy of the science center rotation instructions for each center click HERE.

If you are interested in adding science centers to your classroom you might want to consider a rotation focus (like the STEAM model). It really helps w…

Glue in the Notebooks

This idea came across my news feed on Facebook and I loved the literacy connection to notebooking. Gluing is always an issue in the notebooks and this is a great way to introduce the problem of "too much glue". See the entire blog post about it HERE.

I am passing it along in the hopes someone finds it as helpful as I did.

ISTE Idea #1 - TouchCast

This was my "WOW" moment at ISTE and to think I might have missed it! 
When you sign up for an ISTE conference you register for three ticketed sessions. I didn't get any of the three I wanted (or any at all). Not sure why considering the rest of the people I was with got theirs. If you don't get a ticket to a session you can stand in a "wait list" line outside of the room and they open it up five minutes prior to people without tickets (if there is room - learned that lesson the hard way at ISTE in Atlanta last year). Anyway I lucked out on this trip and a random person gave me one of her tickets to a session that she couldn't go to and then my friend Beth gave me hers to this one - "TouchCast How to Make Interactive Touchable Videos"...she had opted for a different session offered at the same time...BIG MISTAKE (which being the good friend that I am texted that to her :).
Touchcast is a FREE app. It allows the user to:
Create an interactive p…

ISTE Idea #2 - Random Poster Session Ideas

Before I get to the #1 ISTE Idea I was looking at my notes and ran across a few random ideas I got from the Poster Sessions (which is basically a walk around showcase environment where you can see a lot of projects in a short amount of time). None of them were giant IDEAS more like small ideas and thoughts about other people's projects that I wanted to look into and see how it could work in our schools (modifying as necessary).


OUT MY WINDOW PROJECT


One poster session hosted by Connecting Creativity had an "Out My Window" project that I really liked. Essentially students took a picture out their window...put it in some design app...they used PicMonkey...and wrote a poem based on the five themes of geography (they had to explain what those were to me...having never taught geography). I'm not sure I could sell that exact project to the teachers I work with but I definitely felt like it had modification potential. Several of our schools are allowing students to take hom…

ISTE Idea #3 - Google Translate

I attend a Google Apps for the iPad at ISTE (click for full presentation) mainly because my boss asked me to. This year I have had a love/hate relationship with Google apps on the iPad (up until recently...it was hate) and I think she was trying to turn my thinking around mainly because we are a GAFE (Google Apps For Education) school district. However last year it seemed everything I wanted to do using Google with the iPads has been troublesome. For example, the Google Slides app wouldn't allow you to put in pictures. WHAT?!?!...You can imagine the four letter words I was thinking when I discovered THAT!. I couldn't get Google Classroom to play with the other apps (like Notability...which we use a lot with students). I pretty much gave up and have been promoting Edomodo as our classroom management platform, at least in our iPad classrooms (grades 3-5).
Thankfully I ran into several teachers/presenters at ISTE that assured me that these problems have been addressed and fixed …

ISTE Idea #4 - Text to Table (and Wordle)

This idea was presented at a Poster session titled "Unleash Cool Unknown Tools with Microsoft Word and OneNote." It wasn't on my list of Poster sessions to check out but I stopped in my tracks when I passed by her table and saw the presenter go over this Word feature I never knew existed and then she showed how it can be used in the classroom.
It is a feature in Word which is called Text-to-Table and it allows students, after typing their draft copy of a writing piece, to look at their document (for revision purposes) in a different way - by changing their paragraphs into single rows of text in a table.
Anyone who has taught children know that they HATE to review and revise their writing. They always think it is good on the first go round. I thought this was a unique way to teach students how to look at their writing line by line (in a table format), make their changes, and then revert it back to the paragraph form. 
The presenter (Gwynn Moore - click for her ISTE prese…

ISTE Idea - #5 - 100 Word Challenge

I saw this at a poster session and am very excited about getting some classrooms to try this 100 Word Challenge this coming year.

In a nutshell The 100 Word Challenge is for children under the age of 16. They are given a prompt and are allowed to use 100 words to produce a creative piece of writing (there is a 5 sentence challenge for younger writers). Prompts are given which can be anything from an image to a series of individual words. Students receive encouraging comments from their dedicated 100 Word Challenge Team and Peers.

It looks like in the past you had to have a blog and link back to the 100 Word Challenge but they posted this on their site:

"The new 100WC will launch in September 2015.  It will still be free to enter but you won’t have to have a blog to take part and for those of you who comment, all the posts will be in one place! So much easier! "

Not having to have a blog is definitely a big help in selling it to teachers...we don't have many dedicated cla…

ISTE Idea - #6 - Shutterfly Photo Story in the Classroom

This idea came from a Poster Session led by folks at Shutterfly. They have a Photo Story in the Classroom app for iPad and had several student sample book projects on hand to look through. 
I liked this much better then the Book Creator app we currently use. I've found the Book Creator app very difficult when it comes to sharing. You can upload it to Google Drive but it becomes a PDF with no fun book features (like flipping pages) and in order to share or purchase a book using Book Creator you have to download a secondary app (iBooks).
The Shutterfly app is much easier to use. Students can insert pictures, text, audio and easily share with an email address. If a parent or teacher wants to print out a project it is easy to order one through their program as low as $10 (the books pictured above were the 8x8 softcover books) or they can simply share for free with email.
The students will need an email address to signup but it can be a made up one because there is no email verificati…

ISTE Idea - #7 - Padcaster

This was by far the coolest "tech tool" on the Expo Hall. The tool is called The Padcaster and it turns your iPad into a video recording studio. My friend Beth (in the first picture) and I were fascinated by it because we both are interested in starting up/improving student morning shows and find ways that students can record "out in the field" with their iPads more professionally. Basically you get the frame and the hardware to mount accessories - like an external mike, lights, etc. There are lots of video on YouTube that review the Padcaster (although they really need one demonstrating its use in a school). The cost was doable - $399 with the understanding that you have to buy the auxiliary equipment (i.e. the tripod).

Beth got her principal to purchase two of them and they bought The Newscaster Bundle. They got a discount so I believe the total for the two was in the $800 range. They are going to need to get two tripods to get started.

The folks that were there…

ISTE Idea - #8 - Quizizz

Kahoot! was the most popular and used tool this year for classroom assessment. Students and teachers loved it. When I was at ISTE one of the sessions (Gifted Resources - @MrsMHenning) featured a similar product called Quizizz.

I liked that it didn't emphasize answering questions quickly like Kahoot but also gave you a FULL leader board - not just the top few students. It also allowed for a self-paced option for those children who need more time to look at their answer choices.

In an effort to "sell" it to my tech team I looked up the differences between Kahoot and Quizizz and came across this great blog post on the topic. Since we also have Pear Deck in our district it was a nice comparison.

I think teachers will still like to use to Kahoot! but it is nice that we have other options to share.

ISTE Idea - #9 - Mystery Skype

Last year I did my first Mystery Skype in the Classroom. I did a Mystery Number Skype with two first grade classrooms in my district (second picture). I first saw the idea on THIS BLOG and managed to talk two first grade teacher into trying it in their classrooms as part of their tech requirements for the district (our district requires 30 hours of tech training over a five year recertification cycle and documented proof of tech integration in the classroom). Since it was a first for everyone involved - both first grade teachers and myself - we thought this was the perfect starter project.
Everyone involved loved it...the teachers, the students, and us (the two tech coaches involved). The success of the experience made me want to try other Mystery Skyping sessions in the coming year so I was excited to attended a session on the topic at ISTE. 
The session was led by Katrina Keene (@teachintechgal and www.teachintechgal.com). The presentation was outstanding (Here is a LINK to the pre…

ISTE Idea - #10 - BrainPop Concept Mapping

I used to use BrainPop a lot when I was in the classroom. Mainly I used it whole group as part of a lesson. I would show a video and then students would answer the questions on an erasable white board (and then later with our ActivExpressions). We had a classroom subscription at our grade level (we had three 4th grade teachers at the time). In our district BrainPop is not a district "given". If a school wants to purchase BrainPop they have to do it on their own. In my case we (our grade level) was given a certain amount of money to spend and this was one of the ways we chose to spend it (classroom subscription is $220).

At this time we were not 1:1 with our devices so a classroom subscription was sufficient.

The BrainPop workshop I attended was definitely eye opening because it is no longer the "old" BrainPop I was used to using. There is a lot more student interactivity, high order questioning, and tools built into the program that allow students to engage and us…

ISTE - Tech Conference - The Rule of 10

I am very fortunate that I got to to attend the ISTE conference in Philadelphia this summer (International Society of Technology Educators). Whenever I go to a conference, depending on the size and length, I try to find at least ten usable ideas that I can bring back. A lot of times I "forget" the ideas once school/life gets going. In an attempt to remember I am going to write a series of posts 1 through 10...so this is my warning post :)