Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Thematic Units: Gingerbread Day, Grinch Day, Reindeer Day

Here is my planning guide for my Thematic Units: Gingerbread Day, Grinch Day, Reindeer Day

Note: Some items must be purchased on TPT.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Global Education Conference

I'm presenting at the Global Education Conference in 10 minutes!  The session will be on Twitter for Educators.
Join in the session by clicking here!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mystery Number Video Chat

Our class has had the opportunity to connect with other classes from around the United States with video chat.  While we meetup online, we have a fun math challenge for the other class: guess our mystery number!

Today our largest number went up to the billions in place value!
We have played the game with two variations.  The first time we played Mrs. Egesdal's class (@4Begesdal) from Forest City, Iowa.  We challenged her fourth grade class by answering yes or no questions to discover the mystery number.
We had great problem solvers ask questions like:
  • Is your number greater than 50?
  • Is your number a multiple of 10?
  • Is your number even?

Today we challenged Mrs. Naugle's fourth grade class (@plnaugle) from Louisiana.  In this game, the students wrote down clues that the other class had to solve in order to find out the mystery number.
Clues included questions like:
  • It is a seven digit number.
  • The number in the tens place is 2.  The number in the thousands place is 3 times this number.
  • The number in the ones place is an even number less than three.

If you would like to participate in a Mystery Number Google Hangout or Skype Chat, sign up here!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Worldwide Communities Project

We are looking for classes all around the world to post pictures of their school & communities to Instagram using the hashtag #ourcommunityed
In this project, we will explore Rural, Urban and Suburban settings while interacting with real classes from around the world.
There is also a Google form for teachers to fill out if they would like to participate.  Here is a link: 
Could you help us spread the word?

Connected-worldBy Junior Melo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gamification in the Classroom

Gamification has been on my mind lately.  One of my goals for this school year is to include more gamified learning in my classroom.

Maybe you saw Jane McGonigal's inspiring Keynote at ISTE?  I think the potential for games in education is limitless!

Today I watched Alice Keeler's fantastic video on Gamification (see below).  She explains the difference between games and gamification.  I love that there were immediate takeaways: in my math lesson on estimating differences today, I created many more interesting "epic" story problems to correlate with the math.  My students loved it- we had a great lesson today in part due to this video!

Sidenote: I came across this video through the Innovative Learning Technologies Special Interest Group (SIG) from ISTE.  Check out a list of all the SIGs here.  Excellent resource!

I also came across the website Educade, which is devoted to gamification in the classroom.  I love that it includes lesson plans with gaming ideas!  This would be a great resource to gather your lesson "hooks".  I also would like to incorporate Minecraft and MakeyMakey into the curriculum this year, so this site offers guidance from educators who have completed projects.

Class Dojo

In the past, I have used Edmodo. My students gave it the moniker "Kid Facebook", and they seemed to enjoy it.  I liked the badges.
This year I think I will rely more heavily on Class Dojo.  I like the avatars, and I plan to use this abundantly for positive behavior rewards.  I also like that you can automatically email parent reports!  I would also like to utilize this resource to track skills- not just behavior.  I like the idea of leveling up and competing against themselves.

How are you using gamification in the classroom?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Google Tools for Educators

As a google certified teacher, I present frequently on Google Tools for Educators.  Check out my presentation from Lipscomb University's Ignite Session and learn new simple tricks that will make your life much easier!

Click here for the handouts that go with this presentation.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Creating a Webquest

Have you used Trackstar to create a webquest for your class?  You can also search for webquests that other educators have already created!
It's simple to insert a few websites.  I like that the students explore ALL the sites in one window.  It doesn't open multiple browsers or tabs.
We have some time at computer lab, so I want my students to explore plants.  You could also use this during center time.  
If you want to use my webquest on plants you can check it out here.
I also have a webquest on Johnny Appleseed if you would like to use it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Creating Inventors

I've been selected to participate in "MakeWithMOTO".  This is an exciting high-tech weekend of inventing!  They bring amazing tools including 3d printers, laser cutters, robots and more!  If you could credit anything you could imagine, what would you make?  I'd love some ideas to present this weekend!  If you have a product or app that needs creating, let me know about it!

I'm looking forward to bringing what I learn back to the classroom.  I'd also like to hear what type of robotics program you have at your school!  Hopefully, my third graders will be presenting at the Maker Faire coming up in a few months.  Have you checked out Maker Faires in your area yet?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Maker Faire

Want a great way to get your kids involved in hands-on STEM projects?  You should check for local mini-Maker Faires in your area!  Described as the World's Greatest Show-and-Tell, maker faires are a gathering of minds... minds that are fascinated with inventing and creating.  Personally, I think it's a great tie-in to STEM projects.

Also, check out things like SparkTruck that will come to you!

Check out this link to find a Mini-Maker Faire near you!

Google map from

Possible ideas for Maker Faire... Robotics?

I had an opportunity to play with the Lego Mindstorm kit at ISTE this year.  I really enjoyed their product, and I would love to get it into the hands of my students!  I'm debated exactly which product to delve into- I would love to hear what you are using! Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter!

Today we had our district tech conference.  I played with littleBits. I like that they are magnetic and $149 for a starter kit.  I like and dislike that there is no software component; I think it is easier to use, but they aren't learning a software program like Scratch.

Steve Dembo (@teach42) was our Keynote today!  He works for Discovery Education, and he is also a co-author (with Adam Bellow) of:  
Me & Steve Dembo @ our local tech conference

Adam explains Google Glass to me @ ISTE

Have you watched this yet?  It's a must-do before the new school year!  Get ready to change the world!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A new mindset for teaching Math CC

I have a confession: I haven't felt supremely confident about teaching math common core style.  It feels... messy.  And I'm ok with messy in a hands-on way: my concern was our messy work never matching "the answer" in the back of the book.
I'm having to rethink my preconceived notions, and it's entirely due to Dan Meyer's amazing TED talk. I love the idea of creating multimedia to intrigue students and draw them into the mathematical thinking process.  Having those grand math conversations and really having them get it- isn't that the point?  Deeper concept knowledge?  Real world applications?
I'm in.
Are you?

Check out this amazing website, NextVista, where students and teachers can submit educational videos.  I also love that they have video contests!

PS I would sooooo love to share the multimedia and problems that I'm doing in my class... if you will share yours too!  Promise?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Twitter for Educators

Are you still trying to figure out what Twitter is all about?  Maybe your colleagues need some inspiration?  Check out my new video to explain what Twitter is all about and how you can expand your professional learning network!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Meet me at ISTE 13!

Hello friends!
So... I registered THIS MORNING for #ISTE13!  Will you be there?  Leave a comment or send me a tweet!  I'd love to meet up!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Google Tools For Teachers: Easy Technology To Help Make Your Life Better!

This post will introduce you to an entire suite of educational tools offered by Google.

Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

Google Drive

I LOVE Google Drive.  You can create or upload documents, spreadsheets, forms (surveys) and much more.  It's also a great way to backup your important files for free.  It's also collaborative, so you can easily share a file and work on it instantaneously with others.

Create Surveys with Google Forms

This is a survey I created to get a feel of what type of PD our faculty wanted to see.  They can also be used to create quizes, and you can use scripts like Flubaroo (see video below) to automatically score them for you!  I use the often.  I like getting date this way from the kids and then doing graphing activities with them.

Here is a video to get you started.



I love that Chrome saves all of my passwords across every device that I have: multiple computers (mac and PC), my iPhone and my iPads!  It's also fast and efficient.   I like that you can do a google search in the address bar.  Another great feature: apps and extensions.

Think you can't have any fun without an iPad?  Think again!  The Chrome store gives you access to a myriad of free educational apps that your students can use on any computer.

Chrome Extensions

The extension "Webpage Screenshot" is an incredible tool.  First off, you can of course take screenshots and annotate them.  But wait- there's more!  You can click "Edit Content" and change what is on the webpage!!!!  This is amazingly fun.  I use this on sites like Scholastic News, and the students type in a summary of the article or re-write a sentence focusing on exciting verbs or whatever we are studying.  You can save a picture of your work (it doesn't really edit the original website) and post it on your class website or include it in an email.

Here are a list of extension and apps that I personally use:
  • Tweetdeck
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia Companion
  • Amazon
  • Translator
  • KeyRocket (Hotkeys for Gmail)
  • Wise Stamp (Adds a sophisticated signature to your gmail)
  • Gmail
  • Diggit
  • Session Manager (Saves open tabs for later!)

Google Reader (R.I.P.) replacement: Feedly (Chrome App, also available on iTunes)

Create a custom Google Search

Did you know that you can create a custom Google search that will only pull resources from the sites that you specify?  It's very easy to do!  Click here to get started!  You can also add it to your class webpage or create a new Google Site of your own.

This example pulls from sites like Time for Kids and Smithsonian Education.  Photo Credit

Searching: News Archives and Google Scholar

Did you know that Google has archives of newspapers going back to the 1800's?  Imagine a history lesson where students can actually see the front page headlines!  
Created with Comic Life ($4.99 for the app or $19 for educational license on a computer)

Google Scholar is more important for the upper grades, but also extremely useful if you are in grad school!  Find scholarly articles, abstracts and citations easily.

Customize the Reading Level of your Google Searches

How to modify your search results by reading level

  1. Click Search tools at the top of the search results page.
  2. Click All Results.
  3. Click Reading level. You'll now see results annotated with reading levels as well as a percentage breakdown of results by reading level.
  4. To filter your results by a specific reading level, select your desired level (Basic,Intermediate, or Advanced).
  5. At any time, you can click View results for all reading levels to go back to seeing all results.

Google Hangout: A better alternative to video chatting

You can join events and listen to broadcasts.  Today the White House sponsored a "We The Geeks" session that featured scientists, including Bill Nye, to discuss asteroids.   

My 3rd graders video chat with my Mom's class in Mississippi.  I love that we can write on our Smartboard in Tennessee, and they can see it instantly in Mississippi!  My mom and I had the opportunity to co-teach a math lesson, even though we are in different states.  We can even open up apps on the side and work on them together (like a Google Doc).  It is an incredibly powerful tool!

Cool Things in Google Earth/Maps

Old maps... like the Lewis Clark Map from 1814

Under the Ocean in 3d

If you can't download Google Earth, you can use the online version of Google Maps.

The following are a copy of the notes from GTA MTV taken by Craig Statucki. While they are not conclusive, you may find ideas or topic to research more on your own, or leave a specific question for me to answer!

Engaging Students with Google Apps

  • Start portfolios in K
  • Purchase domain names for every student
  • "Technology is whatever was invented after you are born."
  • Students already have global networks - Xbox
  • Printing the NY Times costs twice as much as sending every subscriber a free Kindle.
  • It is for everybody or it isn't worth while

Google Drive

  • 200 email addresses per document have access
  • 50 email addresses at a time
  • Google groups can increase that amount
  • Mouse expose
  • Districtwide to increase the amount of max storage
  • Sync specific folders - preferences
  • Search within Docs for images - results shown are available for commercial use
  • Research = CTRL + CMD + I
    • Insert images, quotes, citations directly from the research section
  • Settings change for MLA, APA, etc
  • Right + Click - select all matching type
  • YouTube video to Google Drive
  • Apps
    • Geogbra incorporates into Drive
    • MindMeister
    • WeVideo
    • Gantter
  • Scripts
      • Google Apps for Education only
    • Flubaroo
    • Mirror Docs by Chris Bell
      • Publishes documents as a file cabinet
    • Story Builder - Docs Story Creator

Drive Team Demo

  • NDA


  • Youtube Education Channels
  • YouTube's 7th Birthday video
  • GTA 10 Ways for teachers to use YouTube
    • Hooks and Discussion Starters
    • Save the videos you find
      • Playlists
    • Archive Your Work
      • Find Toy Story video
    • Extension Opportunities
      • Personalize Your Classroom
        • Find Blackboard TV video
    • Exam Review
    • YouTube Center/Station
    • Video Messages to Your Students
    • Create Interactive Videos
    • Extranormal
    • Create creative commons playlists
  • Creators and Partners link at the bottom
Sketch Up
3D Tours: Art Museums & Great Barrier Reef

Since you have made it this far, I'm leaving you with some pictures of my time at Google!

Google Teacher Academy on PhotoPeach

I hope you have learned a few new tips and tricks.  I would also encourage you to expand your knowledge and apply to become a Google Certified Teacher!  

Leave a comment: What is YOUR favorite Google tool?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Apps In Education

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to make a class website

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HearAll Assessment Recorder... Why YOU need one!

As an educator, do you ever wish you could duplicate yourself?  Wouldn't it be nice to monitor that group in workstations at the same time you are conducting a reading conference with another student?   Speaking of students, do your students need to improve their fluency?  What if there was a product that could help you accomplish all of those things without breaking your classroom budget?  

There is!

Learning Resources sent me a HearAll Assessment Recorder to review.  This nifty product has various microphones to pick up many sounds at once.  That means you can record a group at work and hear everything that is happening.  I really enjoyed using the HearAll for Reader's Theater.  The quality of the recordings were good for classroom use, and the device is incredibly easy to operate.  I also love that it can record up to 64 tracks at one time, no matter how long they are!  
Here are a few ways that I am using the device in my classroom:
We record group work to share on our class website.  Students were very engaged and motivated when the HearAll Assessment Recorder was around!

Students record themselves reading and then listen to the playback.  They rate their own fluency.  We can also create class audiobooks that will be transferred to the Listening Station.

Math Workstations & Literacy Workstations

The HearAll Assessment Recorder improves classroom management.  By providing more accountability in small groups, students stay on task and more focused.

Overall, I think this product could be an asset in any classroom.  I particularly like the students'  awareness of fluency when they use the device.  I think it would be interesting to record a student throughout the year and create a digital portfolio utilizing the HearAll Recorder.  I have taught a student in the past that had Selective Mutism; this device would be ideal for assistive communication.

My students were using the recorder independently with ease after a quick modeling lesson.  It is very lightweight and made of plastic; it also appears to be very durable.  I also like that it has built-in rechargeable batteries, and that it plugs into your USB drive.  I think the price is a little steep, but I do believe that it is a good, quality product that would be helpful in any classroom.

You can visit Learning Resources at any of their social media sites:


Or you can order your HearAll Assessment Recorder on Amazon (currently on sale!).

Thanks, Learning Resources!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pintrest Inspired Lessons Linky: Fractions

This week I am teaching fractions.  The internet is always a huge source of inspiration, so I would like to showcase a few of the great teachers who provided me inspiration this week.  Kuddos to everyone featured; I would not be able to teach fractions without all of you!  Learning in Wonderland is hosting a Linky Party of your Pinterest Inspired Lessons.

Runde's Room Interactive Math Journals have been a HUGE inspiration to my teaching this year.  I've actually been doing math & science journals, and I LOVE them!  Check out this brillant way to document equivalent fractions:
photo of Fraction math journal entry @ Runde's Room
Photo Credit: Runde's Room

Photo Credit: Here is a picture of a fraction game freebie from Math Coach's Corner
Math Coach's Corner has several posts on fractions that have been a huge help!  I'm looking forward to using her Fraction Games (Free!!!)

Comparing Fractions Poster Credit: Math Coach's Corner

Check out her comparing Fractions poster; it's another freebie!  She has an entire wonderful post on comparing fractions you can find here.  And then she has a great building fractions number sense post/game for the younger kids!  Love it!  Math Coach's Corner has been a wonderful resource for me this week; I feel like I have a personal math coach (which I desperately needed this week!).

Photo Credit: Chef's Hat from First Grade Parade
Adorable Cara over at First Grade Parade posted how to make these chef hats.  This would be a fun twist to do with fractions when talking about "Pizza" or "Pie"!

I didn't want to jump into equivalent fraction by just cross multiplying.  I love this video from MathMammoth that explains the visual models and moves into the more abstract concepts later.  Here is a worksheet that goes with it.

Photo Credit: Interactive Tool from NCTM Illuminations

Photo Credit: The Loco Teacher has a great Fraction Map for free that you can snag at her blog!

Anchor Charts

I LOVE anchor charts in my classroom.  I'm not super creative with the design, so I checked out The Hanley's wonderful blog for great anchor charts!  
Fractions---Probably my favorite thing to teach!

Your turn to link up!  Create your own post and join Learning in Wonderland to share!

Talent Show Idea For Teachers: Glowstick Dancers

Last year our PTO started a student talent show.  It has been a huge success, and the teachers have even gotten in on the act.  Read on to find out how to transform your team into Glowstick Dancing Divas!

The "Before" Pictures!  Here is a sneak peek of us getting ready:
Hmmm... Layers and layers of frumpy clothes + fluoresce lights = not cute! 

I haven't found any great videos of our performance (the person who filmed ours was waaaay back in the gym, and you can't really see anything), but here are some examples of other people on Youtube:

To create this look you will need 4 packs of neckless glowsticks (2 neckless in a pack).  Use LOTS of clear packing tape; make sure it goes all the way around your legs/arms.

Does YOUR school have a talent show?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

$$ Fundraising: How to get donations from corporations for silent auctions

Fundraising: How to get a ton of money for YOUR classroom today!

If your school is like mine, we are always doing fundraisers.  I am very grateful for the resources that this brings to our school, but I hate constantly asking the parents for money.  Read on to find out how to get big corporations to help YOU!

Silent Auction

Every spring our school has a Bazaar.  Each classroom puts together a basket to auction off.  Normally, we ask the parents to donate the items for the baskets (ranging from gift card baskets to spa baskets to legos...).  Then, we invite them in to bid on the baskets and give us more of their money. (Are you seeing a trend?)

This year, everything clicked!  I discovered that there are a plethora of companies out there that will DONATE items for you to auction off (instead of asking parents), and you can put in your request online with a few simple steps!

Staycation and Vacation Baskets

The theme of my basket this year is "Staycation"!  I love this idea because their are so many amazing things to see right here in Nashville.  I'm thinking that they might could use these resources to take their kids around town, a special date night for just the parents, or they could also purchase them to treat out of town vistors!

Where to get started

For me, I actually started on pages like Tripadvisor or local websites that review local attractions and restaurants.  Local news sites and newspapers often review these as well.  After finding inspiration on the top attractions in the area, I went directly to their webpages.  Scroll to the bottom and look for "Community Relations" or "Contact Us".  Most had a form for a donation request; it only took a few seconds to fill out!


I started with:
  • Sports: Major/minor teams including football, hockey, baseball, basketball, etc.
  • Zoos
  • Children's Attractions: Science Museums, Water Parks, Minigolf...
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Spas
  • Concerts
  • Unique Attractions to Your Area: Tours

Breaking it down

If your basket is worth a huge amount, you may want to split it up into smaller themed baskets to ensure that they sell for the maximum amount.

Continuing with the Staycation Theme, I'm going to break it down into: 
  • Romantic Staycation- I'm going to include gift certificates to: a performance at the Symphony, a local hotel, a fancy restaurant, and a trip to the spa
  • Ultimate Kid's Staycation- Zoo, Science Museum, Minigolf...
  • Sports Staycation- Any donated sports memorabilia, tickets to games
  • Staycation with Company- any leftover items that could be added to this basket 

THEN I found THIS!

Did you know that MAJOR companies all over the country will donate items for you to auction off?
I'm putting in a request for DISNEY TICKETS (4 four day park hoppers!).  
You can get donations from: Walmart, Royal Caribbean, Universal...  But you may want to get started really early!  Most companies want at least 6 weeks to process your request; some want as much as 6 months!  You will need your school tax exempt number to fill out most forms; sometimes you may have to fax them your request on official school letterhead.
The National Center For Education Statistics can give you demographics on your school that you may find helpful when filling out the forms.
An example of a community outreach page (Photocredit Titans Website)

PTO Today Forum included the Ultimate Donation List of 2013 that lists pretty much every corporation that gives to education along with a direct link to their site.  Great timesaver!

Staying Organized

I use Google Forms, specifically, Google Spreadsheet to keep all of my information.  I love that it is collaborative, so if I need to send it to a parent they can edit the document in real time.  I can color code my donations: who has sent in their item, who needs more information from me, who has declined, etc. Get started using Google Drive today by clicking here.
A screenshot of my Google Spreadsheet

More Inspiration

Check out these Pinboards for more inspiration!