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Showing posts from 2016

FREE - 2017 New Year Goal Foldable

I made one of these foldables years ago when I was in the classroom and thought I would give it another try. Normally under the last flap it reads "list the titles of X amount of books you will read this year" but I thought that would be difficult for children who aren't sitting around with a list of book titles they are dying to read. So instead I used the "7" to indicate the amount of months left before school starts in August. Under that flap I am encouraging students to set a goal of reading one chapter book a month. Of course I would love for students to read more then that but I thought it was a "doable" goal, particularly for the reluctant readers. I uploaded the foldable to the ClassFlow Marketplace . If you aren't a member you will need to make a free account. The foldable packet comes with two different layouts. One is better for three hole punching and keeping in a binder. The other is better if you plan to hang the foldab

Family Code Night

Join millions of classrooms around the world December 5 - 11 as they celebrate and highlight an hour of code in the classroom. To find out more go to the Hour of Code website at h ttps:// There are a lot of free resources across multiple grade levels as well on the website. Last year, in many of our schools, the Hour of Code was worked into students computer lab specials rotation but I have also seen it worked into science lab times, as well as during math blocks. Recently I found out about a website dedicated to helping schools host a Family Code Night . You can sign up for a free family code night event kit on their site and use that as a tech night focus. Since the Hour of Code runs in December consider combining it with a holiday night with families (getting the PTO involved to serve cookies and hot chocolate). At a recent conference, I heard of one school hosting a Tech the Halls night where teachers decorated the halls with a technology th

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

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 projecte

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 sha

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.

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

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 wal

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 ch

Educational Ambassador Programs

I recently applied and was selected to be a ClassFlow ambassador for the coming school year. I heard about the position when I attended ISTE and volunteered to be a part of their focus group (see blog post HERE ). I have done numerous training within our district on how to use ClassFlow (we went 1:1 with devices in all grade levels last year) and for the most part I was self taught (they have a lot of great getting started videos). I applied hoping to get more detailed training with all their new changes (which I will) and first dibs on any new product launches (and I also have secret fantasy that I will get to visit the Ron Clark academy since they are a large word on that happening but my fingers are crossed). Apparently there are a lot of Ambassador programs with various educational companies...because I heard of two others while I was at ISTE. I'm actually shocked this was the first year I heard of these types of programs. ClassFlow is free (you can si

Making Snap Chat Filters

Recently at a conference the sponsoring company (Discovery Education) posted some fun snap chat filters. This lead to the "How did you do that?" question from many of the teachers in attendance. Lindsey Hopkins, the DE employee who created the filters on the above pictures, lead an unconference class on how she created them. It was very good! The discussion in the session also focused on how to use them in schools and there were a lot of good ideas -  Spirit Week - Homecoming - Prom - Back to School Nights - Professional Development Training or Seminars. People also make them for events like weddings and parties. NOTE - These aren't the crazy filters with rainbows coming out of your mouth and giant eyes these are more like branding and location filters. I went ahead and made a test filter for a meeting with my supervisor to discuss possibly using it at one of our summer institutes (and to see how easy or hard it was to set up). It takes about 2 days to be

Chrome Extension - CraftyText

I am currently at a conference specific to users of the Discovery Education website and I have been going to a number of classes. In yesterday's class, how to use green screen with DE resources, the instructor Dave. T. showed us this fun chrome extension. The extension basically lets you display text (in this case his website address) in a huge banner like format across your screen (see last picture). This is a great tool for directing students to websites that they normally couldn't see on your screen (in the past I just copied and pasted web addresses to a Word document and blew it up - this is much better!).  Below are screen shots on how to get the extension and how to use it. 

ISTE 2016 - Honorable Mentions or for Further Research

As always there is way too much information at tech conferences to the point of shutting down (that happened to me in Atlanta at my first ISTE conference). Focusing on trying to get a specific number of ideas/tools has really helped keep me grounded (make no mistake though... I am still overwhelmed but at least I come back with things to focus on). I have to prioritize my notes but there are always items that are left over that deserve an honorable mention...or at least a  blog note so I don't forget them. These are: -  A FREE web tool for teachers to create games to be used in the classroom You can create your own games or use premade ones. The site allows the teacher to associate their own voice with correct answers. - I heard Buncee mentioned enough times that I made a star next to it in my notes to explore when I have time. It looks like it is a place to make and store lessons to share. https:

ISTE Top 10 - #1 - Seesaw

There were several hot topics at ISTE this year (gamifying collaboration...coding...micro-credentialing ) but one tool that kept coming up (even before I got to ISTE) was Seesaw . So in all fairness it was on my radar prior to going to ISTE but it just seemed to pop up EVERYWHERE during the conference (which I'm hoping is the universes way of screaming TRY IT). Seesaw is a student driven digital portfolio website where students can upload pictures of their work, videos, add links, etc. To see an overview of the product CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video. It reminds me a lot of Easy Blogger Jr . which I had explored a couple of years ago, which at the time was free in the app store. I just checked today and it is now $5.99. Seesaw is FREE (there are some pricing options for more functionality) but I think the basic version is enough for simple classroom use. I like that it works over multiple platforms (we have tablets in our 6-12 classrooms with the po

ISTE Top 10 - #2 - Amazing Race Challenge Using MyMaps

I went to a ticketed session titled " Challenge Students (or Staff) to Google MyMaps Amazing Race ." (click on the link to view the presentation and resources). I was lucky to get into the session since I didn't have a ticket! They have a non-ticket line that I got into early so I was the first person they let in after everyone else. It was shockingly popular at 8:30 a.m. The presenters had us get into groups and we were given a series of challenges that made us use Google products in order to complete the various activities (we used MyMaps, Forms, Drawings, Tour Builder, Slides). I liked the team building aspect of it...we are currently doing Escape the Classroom for team building but this seemed a bit easier (not sure in terms of set up though...that seemed multi-layered with MyMaps and Forms but doable without buying locks and boxes that are needed for Escape the Classroom). This was another example of gamifying professional development. If I had to describ

ISTE Top 10 - #3 - Challenges and Badges

At ISTE they have a series of sessions known as Snap Shots. It is where you get two sessions in an hour verses one. I like the format mainly because you get more information and ideas for your hour of time. The ISTE organizers try to relate the two snap shots so they sort of match. For example, I presented a snapshot about ideas for using digital cameras in the classroom (look at the presenter notes to see an explanation of each project) along side a group of teachers presenting about movie making in the classroom. One snapshot session I went to featured ways to engage teacher learners using challenges and another focused on engaging learners using badges  (click on the links to be taken to their presentations). The idea was part of a larger concept of using the challenges and badges as a way of providing micro-credentials for teachers (to read an interesting article on the topic CLICK HERE ). To earn micro-credentials, teachers follow activities to demonstrate mastery in a

ISTE Top 10 - #4 - Zaption (?)

This WAS my favorite thing at ISTE but I just found out the company sold and is closing on September 30th. WHAT?!?!  It is a lot like EdPuzzle  (a site where you can embed questions in YouTube videos) with the exception that there is a "presentation mode". With EdPuzzle you can have students join your class and assign them YouTube videos, with questions to answer embedded in the video...this works well if YouTube isn't blocked and you don't have buffering issues. What I liked about Zaption is the presentation mode (which EdPuzzle doesn't have). Basically a teacher can show the YouTube video (with questions) on their interactive white board (in a lot of schools YouTube is not blocked for teachers). Students would join the presentation with their device. As soon as a question pops up within the video it gets pushed out to students to answer (so they aren't watching the video on their device just answering questions). The only reason why I am

ISTE Top 10 - #5 - More Google Extensions...for YouTube

I took a Straight Outta of YouTube class put on by the Google Education folks (click on the link to see the slides of extensions that were highlighted). The two extensions that I thought I would use is Floating For YouTube and the GIFit extension.  Floating for YouTube allows you to float a YouTube video on the screen and work within another program at the same time. I thought this would be good for students if you ask them to take notes on a video. They could "float" the it...while taking notes in Word or Google Docs.  The other extension, GIFit, allows users to make a GIFs from a section of a YouTube video. I was playing with the idea of students creating stories using GIF's. I used this site to get free GIFs  for my sample project but started running out of GIF's that would work. The idea of creating my own GIF's that I could use was appealing and something I plan to play with.