Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Google Teacher Academy: What I Learned

I recently had the honor of attending Google's Teacher Academy in Mountain View, California.  It was the most amazing professional development that I have ever been to, and I had the opportunity to connect with some superstar educators from all over the globe.

Here are my first two tips:

1. Primary Articles

You can  use an advance Google search to find primary documents from a long time ago!  Imagine reading a newspaper from 1850 with your students.
Mark Warner explains how in this Youtube video.

2. Editing Online Websites

This is one of the neatest tools that I have found for reading strategies!  You can practice summarizing, main idea, generalizations and more by exploring expository text online and customizing your own content!  Student engagement was also increased when they saw their name "added" to the National Geographic Kids News site.
Check out this one minute video to learn more:

Here's an example from my classroom:

See it on Google Drive

I will be doing an entire series of Google Tips and Classroom Tricks, so stay tuned!

What innovative technology are you using in the classroom?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holidays Around The World

This holiday season, all 8 third grade classes will be participating in a multicultural research project!
Each class will pick one country to research, and then every student will research a specific topic about that country.  They will create a 1-2 minute speech and a trifold board about their topic.  Sample project: Country- Australia.  Topic- The Great Barrier Reef
While holidays are mentioned, it's not really the focus.  We study all different aspects of their culture!

Next, all the classes will rotate in sharing their projects.  One class will be presenting while the other class observes.  The interesting part is that all the students are standing by their projects (let's just say the desks are configured in an open "U" shape for example, with the posters on top of the desks).  As the observing class files in, they may chose to approach any student who is available to hear their project.  Then they rotate, hearing about as many projects as they can in the allotted time.  We do the rotations over two days.

Printable Mexico Project & Rubric

Country Topics

Mexico Project

For the next three weeks each third grade class will be learning about the customs and culture of another country.  The country our class will focus on is Mexico. As part of our multicultural unit, each student will be required to research and make a project about one aspect of the Mexican culture. Your child’s topic will be on _______________________________________________________________________.  
All projects should be completed on a tri-fold presentation board.  These boards can be purchased at Staples, Office Depot, Parent-Teacher Store, and often at             Wal-mart for around $3.00.  If you would like to cut the board in half, you may do so. (We may use the other half in the spring.) Each student must be able to give a 1 to 2 minute speech about their topic.  All speeches should be hand written by the student and on note cards.  Students may also want to refer to pictures or information on their presentation board during their speech. Parents are encouraged to work with their child in preparing both project and presentation information.  However, all handwriting must be completed by your child. 
I will be looking for neat, informative, and creative presentations.  The students will be graded on their knowledge of their topic.  This will be worth two test grades in Social Studies.  All projects are due on Friday, December 14th.  This will give students at least two weeks to complete the project at home.  Please plan ahead and do not wait until the last minute.  If students finish their projects early, it will give them more time to practice their speeches at home.  Projects should be turned in on time! If a project is turned in late, there will be 15 points deducted for each day it’s late. 
 I hope the students learn a lot of new information and enjoy completing their projects.   I can’t wait to see them!!!!  Thanks so much for your help!
Presentation Checklist:
____Display (tri-fold board, etc.)
____Topic should be clearly stated on project (like a title)
____Pictures are used and labeled
____Able to explain topic and give 1 to 2 minute speech
____Due on December 14 th.


I have read the directions for the above assignment and realize that it is due on Dec. 14th.

____________________________  __________________________
Parent’s Signature            Student Signature

Please write questions on the back of this piece and return this part of the form to school.  Thanks!

Mexico Project Scoring Rubric

Point Value
Handwritten by the student.
Speech included correct punctuation/capitalization.
Presentation  board
Title is written clearly on the board.
Pictures are used and  labeled
The board is neat and creative.

Presentation to class on Dec.14th

Presentation to other third grade classes.
(Student is paying attention, well-behaved, and presents his/her project to the other students clearly.)

Total Grade for Assignment:

**Remember, this grade is doubled and counts as two test grades in Social Studies.

I LOVE Edmodo, and this will be a really useful resource for my class.  I posted links, videos, pictures and other resources for them to explore at home.  They can earn special badges for completing assignments, and my students are on there ALL the time!  "It's Kid-Facebook!"- my students

If you would like to learn more about these projects (including pictures!) check out my class blog here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reader's Theater + Technology

We used the AudioBoo app on the iPad to record our Reader's Theater session.  It's a great resource to create podcasts, but also to share with family members what we are doing at school.

listen to ‘Reader's theater: A Story, A Story. Part 1’ on Audioboo

listen to ‘Reader's theater: Part 4’ on Audioboo

View our class production of "A Story, A Story".  This is a Reader's Theater, where each student reads from a part.  It is similar to a play, but there is reading in the place of acting.  They did a wonderful job!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Google Teacher Academy, Global Education Conference

I'm presenting Tuesday, November 13th at 10:00 p.m. (central time) at the Global Education Conference and you can tune in here for free!  My topic is: 

Collaborating Globally: How to connect your class to the world

This session will take attendees step by step through completing a global collaborative project.  First, they will learn how to utilize Twitter to connect with other classes.  Edmodo and Google Docs will be used for collaboration tools.  Next, we will explore how to use a Google Hangout including video chat, screen sharing, and special effects.  Voicethreads and Livebinder will also be discussed.  All technology experience levels welcome!  
coming soon...

Also, I haven't officially shared this on my blog, but I've had a lot of exciting things happening lately- including being accepted into Google's Teacher Academy!  I will be flying to Mountain View, CA to Google Headquarters this December for some intensive PD with an amazing group of 50 educators from all over the world!  After this training, I will be a Google Certified Teacher!

I've also decided to take the GRE and apply to doctoral programs in Educational Technology, which is why my posts have become much less frequent.  My test is this upcoming Saturday. You can still keep up with me over at my classroom blog, where I have pictures of our daily activities and lesson ideas.  I should resume my normal posting schedule around January.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What is a flipped classroom? How do you flip a classroom?

Flipped Classroom

A "flipped" classroom is where the students receive instruction at home by watching video lessons, and then they come to school to ready to apply the concepts.  
When I first heard about this, I thought "Wow, that's great for the older students... but not so much for our little elementary kids."  I couldn't have been more wrong.


This year I really started using Edmodo.  I've been a member for several years but I didn't quite understand what to "do" with it.   This year while participating in the Global Read Aloud with my third graders, it finally clicked!

My students describe it as "Kid Facebook".  Here's what a student profile looks like: 

They create a generic Avatar (profile picture), earn badges, list a favorite quote, as well as display their favorite learning style and career goals.


I give Khan Academy videos for them to review at home.  In my class, I'm still teaching during the school day.  However, my students come to class more prepared, and we can dive into deeper topics.  In the upcoming future, I plan on creating my own videos as well.   

They are working for badges that stay on their profile- bragging rights.  No punishment for not completing things- this is all enrichment- above and beyond.  Most (of my) students have access to technology- a smartphone, ipod/ipad, or computer can work.  Even my student that doesn't have a computer at home somehow finds a way to log in frequently!

I also post a link to PearsonSuccessNet (Part of Scott Foresman/Reading Street/Envision Math) for them to work at home.


The students cannot directly contact one another.  I have the setting adjusted so that ALL posts have to be approved by me before they show up.  

Edmodo Parent Permission Letter

Before you have your students on websites, you need a parent letter.  Here is a link to a generic parent permission letter than you can customize and use.

Teacher Resources

One feature that I LOVE is how you can do a search for the topics that you are teaching.  Other people post online resources that you can add to your library.  Next, I add those resources to Claco:


I have been really enjoying the new website, Claco.  I usually work from home finding my Smartboard resources and plan for the upcoming week.  I also wanted to share this with my team, so I used to email my resources out weekly.  Now, I use Claco to create online folders.  My favorite feature is that you are sharing resources online with other educators.   You can search by teaching topic, which makes this an incredibly useful site!  Check out my Claco resources here! I love that it is so organized- I have a Reading Folder broken down by units and then individual weeks so I can refer to my digital resources year after year.

What technology is helping you connect with students?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Useful Tech Tools + Global Read Aloud 2012

The Global Read Aloud kicks off this week.  This year one of the books is Charlotte's Web, which our class will be participating in.  We are connecting with other classes through Skype, Edmodo and voicethread to discuss the book together and do projects with a global audience.  You can still sign up to participate!

Here are a few tech tools I've found very useful lately:

*Trackstar- This website allows you to quickly and easily create a webquest for your class.  Here is my trackstar on Apples, which we used on Johnny Appleseed day.  

*Voicethread-  One this site you can take a picture of student work and then record them explaining it.  My favorite feature is the social aspect- other students can comment.  Also, you make want to check out  Screenchomp App if you are just interested in the voiceover and picture- it does the same thing.

*MasteryConnect- I'm thinking of signing up for the paid version of this and I would love feedback from people who already have it!  There is also Gradecam, but with MasteryConnect, you get the same features for a little less.

*KeepVid- Want to show that amazing educational video, but your school blocks YouTube?  Here's your solution!  Thanks to the Darling Liberian for her always fabulous comic tutorials:

An upcoming great resource that you should watch for:
Claco- This website is currently in Beta testing.
You can upload all your lesson files to share with others.  I'm planning on having all of my content on here week by week so all my digital files will be ready to go- plus my team and global users can share and collaborate together!  If you are teaching a certain topic, there is a search engine that finds lessons for you!  Love it!  Check out my profile here.  Want in?  Leave me a comment with your email!

What tools are you using in your classroom?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Infographic for the Chicago Teacher Strike

Chicago Teachers Strike By the Numbers
Presented By:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

My Something Good from School:
Two things:  Tomorrow we are starting our Daily 5 rotations for real!!!!!!!!!  Woohoo!
I've been holding off because I didn't have all the equipment I needed for Listen To Reading (aka Ipads).  I didn't have any headphone splitters.  I was planning on purchasing the Belkin Rockstar.  However, I found out today that our library has headphone splitters!  For free!  Two sets!  Stop. the. world.  {abby moment!}  :)

With this setup you can actually have up to five kiddos listening to one device, but I'm keeping it limited to pairs.  I am very ready to have a normal rotation schedule up and running!  Whole group stuff was driving me crazy!

My Something Good from home:

Well, lots!  My husband has a new job where just works 9-5, which is a real blessing for us.  He was working seasonal part time jobs that usually involved holidays, weekends....  I love having him home on the weekend!
We are constantly planning our future vacations :) and we are thinking about going to L.A. & San Diego this summer.  <3

Take a moment and share some of your good news with Rowdy in First Grade!

Discovery Educator STAR

Do you like: 
  • getting free educational resources?
  • growing your PLN and connecting with inspiring educators?
  • attending useful PD like virtual conferences from your couch (for free)?
  • access to lesson plans and common core resources?
Discovery Educator's Network (DEN) is a really great online resource that I recently found out about.  If you use any of their products (like United Streaming) than you are eligible to join.  

I'm really looking forward to their upcoming Fall Virtcon, and their are constantly things going on.  This week they have 7 webinars!  

I recently became a STAR Discovery educator (this is the more active position of the DEN), and look what came for me in the mail today:

Things included in my free welcome pack: Acrylic STAR (this thing looks so cool!), USB Hub, Pin & Sticker, Lanyard, Luggage Tag and trading cards.  The trading cards have the contact info of a few other STARs (like their website & twitter handle).  

I've got a training kit ordered as well, which comes with a bunch of free stuff for my co-workers if they come to a brief meeting about DEN.  

If you are looking for more ways to connect, or you want a leadership role in your school than I would highly recommend checking out Discovery Educator Network!  I know I could use a lot more help in the upcoming months with transitioning to Common Core, and I will be relying on DEN to help me out.  See ya there!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Everything September!

Interactive Math Journals, New Anchor Charts & Bulletin Boards, and a brand new Reading Assessment Notebook are all included in this post!

Anchor charts really show what we are working on in class and we refer to them often.  The Metacognition chart comes from Tammy McGregor, ThinkMarks from Fontas and Pinnell, and Writing from Lucy Calkins and The Sisters.  I love being surrounded by the gurus!  :)

I am absolutely in love with our Math Notebooks this year!  I had a lot of inspiration from Runde's Room and Yvonne Crawford's presentation at the Back To School Expo.  I LOVE the left hand side thinking page for our math journals!!! 

 Notice the big green dot?  That is the student's self assessment based on a traffic light- red: still needs work; yellow: starting to get it; green: understands and could teach it to a friend.

Reflection: It help(ed) me out because when you choose a number do it goes "Whoo" or "Whee" 

hahahaha! We made  number line Roller Coaster for Rounding... complete with sound effects, as evident in this student's reflection!

I love glueing the foldables into the math notebook.  Author Dinah Zike has some amazing resources you should check out if you haven't already!

Here is a peak into our math notebooks.  The money printables come from Tales of a Traveling Teacher.  She has a whole section of Math Notebook printables and Literacy Journals.  Great idea!  Check out all of her TPT notebook resources here.

Sorting & creating charts

Word Problems
Sorting by addition property

I've been trying to get my reading system down for a while now.  We FINALLY got the ok from our new curriculum instructor that we didn't have to follow the basal so strictly!  My county was big on that for a while- remember when I had to get rid of the Daily 5?
Well, I'm bringing it back!  (WOOHOO!) Plus, I'm really teaching flexible strategy groups this year!  I'm so excited about it!

One of my FAVORITE teaching bloggers, Beth Newingham, inspired this binder.  She has lots of great freebies for you to create your own assessment binder!
This little chart is how I plan to keep up with my strategy groups.  Strips of velcro allow me to easily move the groups.  It's on a laminated piece of scrapbook paper, so I can write on it with dry erase markers!

What are YOU doing in your class that is new this year?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Open House Night: A Step By Step Guide With Free Resources

Today we had open house.  Here's a step-by-step guide to everything that I do:

I stand at the door and greet parents.  I have a podium outside the door with a framed 8 x 10 class picture, a sign in sheet/volunteer sheet, and a plant.

I have a powerpoint rolling when the parents walk in the room.  It's class pictures on a loop.  I used this Powerpoint background:
This background came somewhere from the site Brainy Betty, but I can't find the exact link.  If someone has it, send it to me!

How to Loop a Powerpoint slide show:

  1. On the Slide Show menu, click Set Up Show.
  2. Select the Loop continuously until 'Esc' check box.

The parents would enter the room, look around, and find their child's desk with their letter on it.  This year I had the parents reply, but I only had 11/18 parents show... so next year I'm ditching the parent's reply portion.  Third grade is a little different... less parent participation than 1st.

When everyone arrives, I start a formal presentation with Prezi.  Prezi is a free, beautiful and easy to use site!  I highly recommend it if you haven't tried it yet.  They have a really cute owl design too!  The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes- don't ramble on and on!  Short, sweet and to the point.

Back to School Prezi

You can click here to get your own editable version.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back To School Expo FREE TICKET!

Have you entered the giveaway for your FREE ticket to the Back To School Expo presented by Teacher's Notebook?

I snagged one, and I received INSTANT access to the presentations and all the goodies!   I downloaded TWENTY NINE freebies today!  They were all really great things that I needed like: math journal prompts, a sub folder, inspirational print, reading connection posters, back to school organizational forms, newsletter/lesson plan templates, center activities and much more!

The presentations are also great!  I learned more about Math Journals (my big goal for the year is to really get these going!), Reading Success with Annie Moffatt (love her!) and I'm currently viewing Schoolgirl Style's presentation.

Join me by getting your free ticket now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First day of school classroom layout

The "Classroom Promise" posters are $5 on TPT.  The Vinyl Clip Chart is $20 from New Management (Rick Morris).  You can order one here.
Yea, that's me and Rick Morris!  :)  Gotta love conferences.

I LOVE my "Don't forget the table washers" sign!  To the right of that is the reminder board for crazy last minute dismissal changes. 

 These are Jenny's Blooms Taxonomy Posters for $1.00 on TPT! (Please ignore the fact that my last two are out of order.... lol it's on my to do list)

The classroom clock labels are free here.  The bulletin board is from Mountain Math... I will probably change it soon.  The Aquarium came from a grant from Pets In The Classroom.

The genre posters come from Beth Newingham.  You can print them for free!

The Hand Signals are $4 from TPT.  The white shelves are only $19 from Walmart; I purchased the 2 of the three tier shelves and spread them out across the room.  The book bins are from Really Good Stuff.

This is my Money & Notes collection bin.  It's a plain black stackable bin, but I added scrapbook paper to make it stand out.

I'm linking up with Beg Borrow Steal to see other classroom layouts!