Monday, April 24, 2017

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'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 the ability to make a class and have students join so you can assign work and they can use the resources too (great if you are in a 1:1 environment but even if you are not you can use it for whole class review).

While 45 days does not seem like a lot IT IS enough to get you through any end-of-year testing you are reviewing for (see where the loop hole is helpful?). 

They have a ton of resources that support their raps so it isn't just showing them a cool educational music video. I use the "lyrics" first to make sure the song supports instruction (or to see if I need to fill in any instructional gaps). I then play it for students using the "fill in the blanks" activity. By doing this first I know they have at least heard the song and have followed along with the lyrics (I print out this activity so it is in their science notebook). Then I show the video and do the quick review (and have students make connections to our learning). Since I do work with 1:1 devices I then assign the students the rap and quiz and have them listen to the song on their own and take the quiz (for a grade!). 

My favorite feature is the Lyric Lab where students can create their own content specific rap. The system gives them keywords to choose from and will provide students with a list of rhyming words based on the last word they type. Once they are done they can choose from a ton of different beats to perform to (my favorite is "Climbing Trees"). 

Obviously the intent is that you will love Flocabulary so much that you will want to purchase a subscription (even if you can't purchase it you can still use the 45 day free trial). 

Here are your purchasing options and some tips to pay for it:

- There is an individual classroom plan (only for front of the classroom use) for $96/year. Our State Department gives teachers a $250 stipend at the beginning of the school year to use in the classroom at their discretion. If your state does that you can use the money toward a subscription. In my last school our grade level was given money and we have used that money before to purchase subscriptions as well. 
- You can talk to your principal about getting a school subscription (which they can call and get pricing is listed as $2,000/year for every teacher and student in the school...which is a pretty good deal). This is the time of year principals have to USE UP THEIR BUDGET MONEY so if anytime was good to approach a principal now would be it. 
- If you teach in a Title 1 school you can approach the district's Title 1 Coordinator (they have me!). He (or she) usually has money and if you make a compelling case they can release funds for a subscription purpose. To make the case...highlight that Flocabulary is across all grade levels and subject areas so there is a lot of bang for your buck (it isn't "just" for math or "just" for ELA). You can add that rap music is more likely to engage children and help them remember content. 

If you have any questions about Flocabulary feel free to leave a comment. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

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?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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! 

Monday, April 17, 2017

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. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

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 (you have to make an account) and allows you to deliver interactive lessons to students on their devices (so they can respond on their tablets and iPads). If you are a 1:1 district I would definitely check it out.

Here is a link to all 5 math practice sets for anyone wanting to check them out and use them.