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Showing posts from 2017

Websites to PDF's (Chrome Extension)

One of my favorite sites to use with students is duckster.com. It is a great site that has lots of student friendly articles (I use it mostly for the history articles). It is a free site, and as such, has a lot of distracting ads and sidebar information making it easy for students to click out of the intended article.


In order to keep students focused on the information I need them to be I use a Google Chrome extension called Print Friendly & PDF.

The extension allows you to make a downloadable PDF of the website and delete any extraneous information you don't want. This way the PDF can be shared with students via Google Classroom without sending them to a website, or it can be printed for their Social Studies or Science notebooks. It also works great if you need the information for a lesson but the website is blocked for students.

To add the extension simply follow the steps below:



To use the extension:




Secret Santa Goes High Tech

I just noticed some schools are preparing to start their staff Secret Santa. Last year our supervisor organized our departments Secret Santa using https://www.elfster.com/.

It was a nice technology twist on something that typically is done, in a very confusing manner, by paper and pencil.

The site is free to use and participants sign up, if they are participating, and they can add what they like as far as drinks, snacks, etc. to help out the person they get paired with. The system then randomly pairs people up so you don't have to do it. It is pretty cool and something you might want to pass on to whoever handles your school's Secret Santa sign up.

My supervisor has a large extended family and she uses it with them as well. It is very easy to use and would save your organizer man hours as well as help keep the copies down at your school.

Have a great holiday season everyone!

Parent/Teacher Conference Scheduling

If you are looking for a techie way to schedule parent/teacher conferences, instead of sending home slips of paper asking parents to choose a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice, try using the free site https://calendly.com/

The site (which I only use for this purpose) lets you adjust your time in whatever increments you want, as soon as parent books a spot they get an email confirmation, and then the time slot disappears so other parents can't see it. 

I made a 6 minute video (above and linked HERE) walking you through how to set up an account, create a parent/teacher calendar, what the parent sees and what you see when your times start booking up. 

I shared this with our teachers but I thought it might help others as well. 

Morning News Shows and How To Create Video Overlays with a Windows Device

This week I have been working with several schools as they start putting together their morning news program for the school year.
Almost exclusively schools are using Touchcast to produce their morning show. It is super cool free software with lots of templates and green screen capability (plus so much more...really I need to apply to become an ambassador!). The only downfall is that it is an app and software only for Apple devices (most schools have bought an iPad to record their shows...it is that good!).

We have one school that just started their morning show and the person in charge (Mr. Blaine Peltier at Robert Smalls International Academy)  has done an OUTSTANDING job. I went in to see how he is doing some of his graphics and learned he has been doing them on his personal Mac at home (which, sadly, I do not have).

My favorite effect on his video is the Pledge of Allegiance where he has a two video overlays with words scrolling on the screen.

I was determined to figure out a Win…

Eclipse Activity Book and Badge

The Planetary Society has partnered with the U.S. National Park Service to create an Junior Ranger Eclipse Explorer activity book.

You can download the PDF for free of the book. It is pretty colorful so you may want to print it in black and white.

If you have classes tomorrow (Monday, August 21st) you might want to consider that as an activity for the day. Parents can then take their child to the nearest National Park to get their badge for completing the activities in the book.

Definitely call ahead though to make sure they have badges. The program is only offered at NATIONAL parks not STATE ones (I called our State Park without thinking but they pointed me in the right direction).

Happy Eclipse!



FREE Eclipse Resource - REGISTER NOW (8 day waiting period)

Here in South Carolina we will be in the path of a full eclipse on Monday, August 21st. Many schools in the state have pushed their start date for students to Tuesday, August 22nd, as the eclipse is due to occur at dismissal time for many of the schools and their is concern about walk/biking home in the dark as well as curious students looking directly at the sun.

In our district students will be going back-to-school two days earlier (17th/18th) with the 21st off for teacher PD. Our district science coordinator has arranged for free solar eclipse classes to be given to all students K-12 and has put together resources for teachers to use during lesson planning.

Just about every grade level will get a lesson on what an eclipse is and how it occurs, as well as general safety tips.

With that said, I have been on the look out for science resources related to the eclipse as well. Today one from Mystery Science came up on my Twitter feed.

Mystery Science is a subscription based service that…

Free'ish Test Review Idea (it's Good!)

Our district just purchased a subscription to Flocabulary this school year. Flocabulary is a website that creates educational rap and material for teachers to use in the classroom across a variety of subject areas.

I jumped on the Ambassador band wagon this year and signed up to be an Ambassador with Flocabulary (along with Discovery EducationClassFlow and Seesaw...all sites and companies I use and love in the classroom). This is me sporting my Flocabulary Ambassador shirt :)


I love Flocabulary...and so do our students...it's rap...what's not to love! Sadly it is subscription based and I try not to promote anything too subscription based on my blog because I know most of my readers have no control over budgets. However, I feel there is a slight loop hole.
As an Ambassador we are given a 45 day free trial code we can share with teachers at conferences when presenting. I asked if I could share with blog readers and I was given the thumbs up. 
The 45 day free trial includes th…

How to Survive End of Year Testing

I have been working as a ClassFlow Ambassador over the past year and I have really enjoyed how much it has pushed me to find ways to incorporate ClassFlow in the classroom in different ways. We have so many teachers using it now and it has quickly become my "go to" resource for delivering interactive content to students.

One of my requirements as an Ambassador is to write a monthly blog post for their ClassFlow Blog (they have a bunch of teacher Ambassadors from across grade levels and disciplines who also write articles...and I find them super helpful). In this month's blog post I wrote about ways you can survive testing season. I tried to put in some useful tips, tricks, and links that I used in the classroom when I hit testing season (for us in SC we have five days spread over two weeks). To make it fun I used the words in R.E.L.A.X and C.H.I.L.L to highlight ten ideas worth considering.

How do you relax and chill during testing season?


Blackout Poetry - Update

Earlier I wrote about how to do Blackout Poetry using Google Docs. I was dying to try it! A friend, who teaches 4th and 5th grade ELA to gifted and talented students, was all over it and invited me into the classroom. 
We all did a poem together so students got an idea of how the tech worked. Then they were on their own for their poem. 
The fourth graders struggled with what made a poem (many of them just picked words that summarized the article they were using) however the fifth graders did such a good job! The pictures above are a sample of some of the really outstanding poems.
I would definitely do it again! 

Jazz Appreciation Month - StoryLine Online

StoryLine Online just released a new book just in time Jazz Appreciation Month (April). It is called Rent Party Jazz and is read by Viola Davis (of "How to Getaway with Murder" fame).

Rent Party Jazz tells the story of: "Sonny Comeaux, a young boy living in New Orleans during the 1930’s. Sonny works before school and during the weekends to help his mother make ends meet, but they continuously struggle to make the monthly rent. When Sonny’s mother loses her job, all seems lost – until Sonny encounters and befriends jazz trumpeter Smilin’ Jack. When Jack hears about Sonny’s troubles, the musician offers to help Sonny and his mother put on a party consisting of tasty food, good company and great music in order to raise the rent money."

There is an activity guide for teachers as well. The activity guide is recommended for grades 2/3. 

Enjoy! For an additional jazz tie in type in "jazz for kids" on YouTube for music that you can play in the classroom.

Test Prep Practice - 3rd Grade Math

I have been working as a ClassFlow Ambassador this year which means I have been getting a lot of practice using the site to make lessons!

I have been working with some of the teachers in my district helping with test prep. I just finished putting together a series of five "lessons" that are designed to be test prep practice for our third graders. Each "lesson" has 12 test like questions which gives students practice in subtraction with regrouping, rounding, multiplication, measurement, and fractions. All together there are 60 practice questions.

The reason for this push is that our state will be going to mandatory computerized state testing next year with the option to begin this year. We took that option (as we are a 1:1 district). These "lessons" (I am putting quotes around them because they are more practice then lesson...but the system calls them lessons) are designed to expose students to computerized test questions in math.

ClassFlow is free to use…

Blackout Poetry with Google Docs and Drawings

I love the idea of Blackout Poetry. The basic premise is using existing text and finding words within the text to create a poem...then blacking out what you don't need. There are many internet posts, pictures, and videos on creating Blackout Poetry for those interested in looking into this cool genre. Many years ago I tried it with a Girl Scout troop of fourth and fifth graders and they found the concept difficult..and I have to admit that I probably didn't do a good job of explaining it.

I tried a variation of it using magazines where students cut out words and created a poem using their "found" words. That went a little better (maybe because they can tangibly rearrange the words?).

Anyway...I haven't had much of an opportunity to work with students and poetry in several years and then this video came across my Pinterest feed and I got excited about using technology with blackout poetry.



The video was super easy to follow and I created a blackout poem using his…

Black History Month - Video/Story

On my news feed at the beginning of the month StoryLine Online posted that a new book was added to their growing library of videos where celebrities read books online.

This one is called As Fast As Words Could Fly written by Pamela M. Tuck and read by Dule Hill.

The video tells the story of Mason Steel, a young African-American boy living in the south during the civil rights movement, who supports his activist father with the help of a typewriting in the fight for racial equality and ending segregation.

According to the press release the video comes with supplemental activity guides for both home and school, aimed at students in 3rd - 5th grades.

Since February is Black History month it would make an excellent read aloud (that you don't actually have to read aloud) in the classroom.




7 Sneaky Ways to Get Students Reading Using Technology - Article

Super excited to find out an educational article I wrote was published today in eschoolnews.com.

The article was inspired by a training class I conducted during our district's summer institute. As a mom of a boy I am well versed in getting my own child to read using sneaky and underhanded ways and this article highlights a few of those I think would work in the classroom.

The article was not a paying article...more of a contribution to the world of educational articles. Even though I write this blog and our district's newsletter (both of which I love to do!) it is nice to be published outside something I somewhat control.

I hope you enjoy!

Presidential Inauguration - Word Search

This week, Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our new President. Many teachers across the nation will be showing the event live in their classroom. Unfortunately while teachers are tuning in students may tune out. I developed a "Word Search" strategy that I modified from a teacher on how to engage students while listening to speeches and public addresses.

Prior to the speech ask students what kinds of words they think might come up in the President's speech. Brainstorm 10-20 words and then make a list (i.e. future, working together, hope, jobs). Have them try and think like the President. What might he say to try to motivate Americans from all levels and backgrounds? Have students copy that list on a piece of paper. During the speech have them listen carefully and put a check next to any word that the President uses that is on the list. If he uses it it more then once the word gets checked again. Note any words that seem to come up a lot that you did…

Two New (and exciting) Technology Upgrades

Exciting Technology Upgrade #1 - Google Classroom




This week Google Classroom announced that they have added a way to assign work to individuals, or groups of students, within Classroom. This is a HUGE deal, as it has been an issue of complaint not only in our district but also in the Classroom community forms. They have a couple of other upgrades as well (but this is the one that made the teachers I work with jump for joy!). You can read about the updates HERE.

What we would love Google Classroom to add is an inking feature for our touch screen tablet users (that would be users in grades 6-12 this year and 3-5 next year).

Right now our 3-5 users have iPads and Google Classroom allows students to open assignments and use the inking tool to write on documents with their finger (very handy!). However this isn't a feature available on our touch screen tablets.


The Classroom developers do allow for teacher feedback and I definitely submitted the suggestion (and asked a bunch of teacher…