Friday, May 31, 2013

Big News!

My iPad proposal was accepted! So...

I will have a 1:1 iPad classroom next year!!!
:)


I really couldn't be happier right now. Well, maybe that's not true. I would be happier if they would share the details with us. We don't know anything about a timeline or the amount of resources we were granted. Oh well, at least I know I will have them at some point next year!

If you are interested in looking at our proposal, here is a link.

I am looking forward to sharing the day-to-day triumphs and struggles on turning my paper and pencil classroom into a 1:1 classroom. It should be interesting...

Also, today was Play Day. Here are a few pictures of my kids having fun.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Field Trip to the Dallas Zoo


We had a good time today. It does make me want to take my students to public places more often so I can teach them manners. They need to be more considerate to other people...

I do have to say that my kids were a little old for the zoo, as a field trip. We went because of a grant the third grade did last year. It was a two year thing. Many of the kids had been to the zoo and were not very interested any more. Oh well.

Next year I want to plan our field trip for Nov. or Dec. That way we are not as tired. I want to take them to a place they more than likely haven't been before. I would love to take them to the Frontiers of Flight Museum. It seems really cool. I am planning on visiting this summer to check it out.

It is only $6 for admission and an educational program. There are a few to choose from, click here.

Friday is Play Day, so I will have more pictures to share this weekend.



Happy Wednesday!

Remind 101

I could have sworn I posted about Remind 101. I searched, but I guess I didn't...

Weird.

Anyway, I want to share this amazing resource with all of you.

I know that some teachers give our their cell numbers to parents, but I am not one of those teachers. I just don't feel comfortable. The downside of that is I can't text parents. So many people respond to texting quicker and more often than phone calls. I'm not talking about sending tons on random texts to parents, either.

I wanted a way to send out reminders in a way that I know parents will receive them. I get the feeling that many of my notes home do not make it into their hands. :) You know how it is. So here is the solution!


Remind101 from remind101 on Vimeo.

I really like using this, but there are a few downsides:

  • You have to keep it short.
  • You don't have the ability to send individual texts, what you send goes to everyone.
I do like that it is one-way communication. This is exclusively for reminders. I have used it for:

  • parent conferences
  • field trips
  • testing days
  • early release
  • holidays
  • homework reminders
  • tutoring
  • STAAR camp reminders
  • clubs
All in all, it is a great resource for every teacher.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Next school year... (linky party)

Finding Joy in 6th Grade is hosting a linky party! One of my favorite things about summer is joining in all the fun linky parties.

joyin6th Homepage

Here are a few of my goals for next year:
I want to keep all of my professional development paperwork in an Evernote Notebook. I will scan or take a photo of all those important papers from the office so I can find them when I need to. 

This was my first year in 4th and therefore with the intense writing curriculum. This summer I am going to really plan how I am going to implement a more focused and intentional writing process. We need MUCH more grammar help than I had anticipated. We will be doing a lot of spiral review to keep all those pesky rules fresh in our minds.

I don't like where my desk is placed right now. I feel like it is taking up space close to the Promethean board that should be utilized by students. I know where I want to put my desk and computer, but I don't know if the computer cords are long enough...

After the STAAR test, we began reading the City of Ember as a class. We loved it and I saw major improvement in their fluency. I had big plans to read novels this past year with my class, but... real life hit. Next year I am going to make the time because I think it builds community and really helps with their reading skills. We will still follow the curriculum, but I am going to add in this daily reading.

This is going to be the most difficult goal for me. I am a horrible blogger during the school year. It just falls by the wayside. Here's to keeping up with the blog world!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I.P.A.D.S. Initiative

So I have been preoccupied lately with our proposal and presentation for a chance at a 1:1 iPad classroom next year. Our school district received some money from the government that was earmarked for technology and they have to spend it before next year.

Our technology department decided to use this money for some 1:1 classrooms. They opened up a proposal process for all elementary and middle schools in our district. We have 32 elementary schools and 8 middle schools, so we knew there would be a lot of competition.

This was a two-part process. First you had to submit a written proposal answering questions they committee supplied to us, if they rated your proposal high enough, they asked you to present your ideas to a panel.

We had two weeks to prepare a proposal. Here is what we created.



I also created a website with more information: iCrave iPads

We turned in our proposal and began the wait. :) God has really been teaching me to wait patiently this past year. We got the exciting email last Monday (May 20) that we were chosen to give a presentation! Our presentation would be in 3 days. We presented at 8:00am on Thursday (May 23) morning.

We began with a video made by another teacher who was presenting with me. Here is part of our presentation that we made on Thursday morning. These slides were in Nearpod. We provided each panel member with an iPad mini from our campus.


The presentation went well. The committee has until the beginning of June to make their selections. We can't wait to hear! If we are chosen, I am planning on sharing my day-to-day success and failures on here. I know that many of us are beginning to make the transition to technology rich classrooms, so I want to share the inner workings of a 1:1 classroom.  :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Organize Everything with Evernote

Do you use this resource?

Evernote is a multi-faceted, organizational tool that is free! It is easily accessed from any computer or mobile device. You have plenty of data storage and it is easily customizable.

Watch this quick video for an introduction to Evernote and what it has to offer.



I haven't really used this so far this year. I know that I will be using it next year. I am going to create student portfolios within my Evernote account. I am also going to use it these last few weeks of school to organize my papers. As I come across professional development papers, I am going to collect them and use the camera feature to add it to a notebook. That way I can recycle the papers and have a searchable set of images that I can really use!

I can just imagine how powerful my parent-teacher conferences will be next year with this tool!

This guy has some great ideas to share! It is worth watching the entire video.



As I start to use this more, I know I will have more to share. Please let me know of any ways you use this, personally or professionally.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer Bucket List Linky Party

It has been so long since I have participated in a linky party! This is a great one to restart the blog jumping! Three lovely ladies are hosting this party.


I am ready for summer! We are so close! So here it goes...

#1     Plan for a 1:1 iPad classroom (we won't know until the beginning of June)
      I really hope we get it. I am super pumped to dive into 1:1 instruction.

 

#2     Get some rest!

#3     Go on a mini-vacation. My husband is a youth minister, so he is busy in the summer. He will be gone for church camp, work camp, and a 2 week trip to climb a mountain in Colorado. I am hoping we can take several days to escape to the wilderness.

#4     Go through our writing curriculum and make a detailed plan for next year. I have learned a lot this year, so I have some ideas for when I am going to start teaching concepts and how were are going to constantly review.

#5     BLOG! I am going to return to the blogging world!

What are you doing this summer? Go link up and share!






Monday, May 20, 2013

myHistro - an interactive timeline

It's Monday! I know that most of us are so close to summer that we can almost taste the lemonade, smell the chlorine, and feel the sunshine, but (at least for me) I am not quite there yet.

Here is my FUN schedule for the next three weeks:
May 20-24
     Monday: Watch for an email to see if we are chosen to make a presentation in the hopes of being chosen for 1:1 iPads for next year.
     Tuesday: Visit from the district photographer, cooking club for students after school, and Family Education Night from 6-7pm.
     Wednesday: STAAR scores are hopefully in and a baby shower after school.
     Thursday: iPad presentation??????
     Friday: iPad presentation???????? Social Studies CBA (curriculum based assessment)

May 27-31
     Monday: Memorial Day Holiday and announcements of our district web awards
     Tuesday: Reading CBA and cooking club after school
     Wednesday: Field trip to the Dallas Zoo
     Thursday: Math CBA and Science CBA
     Friday: Play Day!

June 3-7
     Monday: iPad announcements?????????
     Tuesday: iPad announcements?????????
     Wednesday: early release, organizing room, and sister-in-law's bridal shower
     Thursday: early release, last day of school, organizing like crazy
     Friday: Faculty work day and organizing like crazy

I am sure your schedule looks similar. I am planning on tackling the organization parts a little at a time. Organizing makes me happy, so I will probably get started this week after school. I like doing it that way because if I don't it overwhelms me at the end and I just shove things in weird places and worry about it all summer. Not good.

********

Now for the real post...

I noticed that my kids were having difficulty remembering the flow of events in our history lessons. They would ask me, "Was that before we were a state or before we were a country?" I could tell that things were fuzzy in their minds, so I began searching the internet for something that would help.

I found myHistro. There are some things I don't like, but overall it is a good resource.

Here is one I have made as a review for my students. I still want to add to it.


Some good features:

You can:

  • add pictures and videos
  • add plenty of text
  • add links to websites
If you have found a better interactive timeline, let me know.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Nearpod- stream information directly to student devices

Happy Saturday!

I have 3 weeks left of school this year. I am ready for a summer break that will be full of planning for next year. I am not 100% sure of my placement yet, so I am limited in what I can start planning right now. We won't know until our STAAR scores come in, which should be any day now. That's ok with me, because we are working on wrapping up our year.

I have really enjoyed my groups of kids this year. They can cause gigantic headaches, but they all are special to me.

Anyway...

I want to share with you an awesome tool for any teacher who has technology in your room. This works with desktop computers, laptops, tablets, or iPods. It is called Nearpod.
Watch this video I created...

video

There are several options. I have the free version right now, which is good. There is a school edition that your district can purchase, too.

Here is a breakdown of the different versions and what they offer.
Click to view on their website.
I am hoping to try it out this week. I am working on a few lessons this weekend. I will let you know how it goes.  :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

City of Ember Comic Strips

We are reading The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau in my class. All my students are loving it! You know it is a hit when you finish a chapter and they beg to read the next.  :)  Success!!!

I have to say that reading a novel with my students has been a revelation. They are really enjoying the shared experience and I have noticed an improvement in their fluency over the past 2 weeks. They want to read aloud. They are reading more intently during their silent reading time.

I am so happy about this. We haven't really spent time reading together this year, and I regret it. It seemed like we had so many other things to do that were more important. I was wrong about that. I am wondering if their comprehension and enjoyment of reading would have improved more this year if we had been sharing a book throughout the year. Hmmmm.

They have been journaling throughout the book pretending to be a part of the city of Ember. Some of them are being very creative in their entries. I will try to scan some of their entries to share with you.

Last week I had them create a comic strip illustrating a scene from the story. Here are a few of my favorites.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Planbook = Awesome Lesson Planning

Lesson planning...

It's a love/hate relationship isn't it? We all have to do them. Some of us enjoy planning, while others suffer through it and then fly by the seat of their pants. I say, to each his own.

I am a planner. This means that I love doing lesson plans in theory. I usually try to spend more than one day on my plans for the upcoming week. I tend to make flip charts for my Promethean board, find videos, incorporate Edmodo, and think of ways to engage students with interactive journal activities while I am doing my lesson plans. This tends to drag out the process...

I have struggled the past two years on the format of my lesson plans. First I bought the normal lesson plan book from Mardel. I used that for several months. Then I decided to switch to the online lesson plan book on Eduphoria since that is where our curriculum is stored. The format wasn't pretty enough for me, so I starting doing some internet research.

Have you ever heard of Erin Condren? All I can say is, "WOW." I want one of everything. Check our her lesson plan book HERE. It's a little bit of heaven. I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much money on a lesson plan book. Boo.

So I decided I would try to make my own. I was pretty successful...


I do share these, so if you want the file email me at rmorris@mesquiteisd.org
I used those during the fall of this year. I did like it, but I guess I just don't like writing things anymore. I am a huge fan of technology, so I really wanted an online planbook that I could customize. I was doing some searching over Christmas break and I finally found one!


For 12 dollars a year you get a fully customizable planbook that is available from anywhere! I LOVE it!

My favorite features:
  • Customization: You can add up to 8 sections per day that can be labeled whatever you would like. You can add times and color codes to each.
  • There are many views: week, day, month, class, etc.
  • You can share the link or print your plans.
  • You can attach files, add standards (with just a click of your mouse), bump forward or backward, extend the lesson for more than a day, and cancel a class for a single day.
  • You can add events and no school days.
  • Within each class these are your options: Lesson, Homework, Notes, My List, and Standards.

This is the class editor. Very simple!
I will be using this planner for the rest of my teaching career. I love that I don't have to carry around a planbook anymore. It is available to me on my iPad or phone. They do not have an app, but I think one is in the works.

What do you think? Will you join me on Planbook?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Edcanvas

Do you want a self-paced, interactive web-tool for your students to use in the classroom, computer lab, or at home? I found one!

I would like to introduce you to Edcanvas!

This is the first one I made:


Isn't that awesome!?

Here is a simple video that explains the process and features.



This is what the current screen looks like:


The options along the side are:
  • YouTube
  • Google
  • Flickr
  • Educreations
  • Gooru
  • Insert webpage
  • Insert audio/media file
  • Insert from Dropbox
  • Insert from Google Drive
  • Insert bookmark
The options allow you to easily search for content. Then you just drag and drop the resource into a box.

You can create classes and add students to your classes. This allows students to create canvases and to view yours and their classmates canvases if you allow them. Your students can add audio comments or you can use the audio feature to read the instructions to your students. Edcanvas provides a tracking feature to see how many views your canvases are getting. They are continually working to improve this resource. Check out their blog for updates and how-to videos.

It is so easy to create a canvas. There is also a vast library of canvases for you to peruse and borrow! So many wonderful teachers are making and sharing their work.  :)

As a teacher, I think this is a great resource. I can see myself using this in all my content areas.

Do you think you will use this?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Educreations

So I am happy to announce that Educreations has recently fixed my two complaints! Now I completely love it. I wanted an eraser tool and the ability to rerecord if I made a mistake. It was very frustrating for the students to have to start completely over if they messed up their voice recording.

Now on to an explanation of Educreations.

This is best used as an iPad app. You can also use the website to make videos, but it isn't as easy.

Educreations is the perfect resource for kids to showcase their learning. You have the ability to add photos, text, drawings, annotations, and finally a voice recording. Here are some examples of videos my students have made. (Keep in mind these were made before you could redo the recording. When we made these, you just had one chance to record.)

This one is a review of time. We are going to share some of these with lower grade students.



We watched a video over the history of transportation and the students took notes. We used Britannica Image Quest to find images  (I let them choose their own), and then they added their information and recorded.






We did a little bit of state research and here is one of our products.



This was the first video we made. I had the students take a picture of a simple graphing problem. They were told to make a video of their step-by-step problem solving.



This is a very user friendly, free app. Go download it and have fun!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Edmodo = Tons of Educational Fun



This is a great introduction video to Edmodo!
When I first introduced the kids to Edmodo at the beginning of the school year, all they could say was, "It's just like Facebook!" I had to make sure they knew it was called Edmodo, so their parents wouldn't be wondering why we were on Facebook at school.  :)


This was the first assignment we did with Edmodo. Until this point I had just let my kids get on and talk. I wanted to let them have fun with it first.


Then I wanted to have my students learn how to manipulate and create flip charts. So I created one that went over the basics of the toolbar and gave them a chance to practice downloading a document, opening it, manipulating it, and then uploading back to Edmodo. It took a little white, but they got it. It helped that I had a small class that day. 

I knew that I wanted to use technology in my evaluation, so I decided to use Edmodo. 

I created a simple flip chart as a template for my students. We had been learning about solution sentences, so I decided to have my students create story problems for a solution sentence. They had to do 5 in all and then upload their completed flip chart back to Edmodo. Pairs of students worked together and I think they did a great job. My principal enjoyed the lesson and I go high marks! 

Happy, happy, happy!

Here is what we have been doing lately:


FYI That Machu Picchu link is AWESOME!
There are many aspects of Edmodo that I am not utilizing this year. The calendar, apps, networking, and small groups for example. I have plans for fully integrating Edmodo into my class next year if I get 1:1 iPads. If I don't have a 1:1 classroom, I am hoping to do more of a small scale version. I want to invite parents to join the parent version of our class, so that they can view our events calendar and other things I send them.

I know there are many more wonderful things to do on and with Edmodo that I haven't found yet. I am looking forward to learning more!

Do you use Edmodo? What do you think?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Chance for a 1:1 iPad Classroom!!!!!

I am super excited about the opportunity to have a 1:1 iPad class next year. My school district has earmarked a large sum of money for just this purpose. They have opened it up to all elementary and middle schools in our district to apply in a proposal process.

That means that 32 elementary and 8 middle schools have teachers that are eligible for this grant money. Talk about competitive! I want a 1:1 classroom more than anything in the world! I love teaching, learning, and playing with technology. So I wanted to share some things I have done with iPads in my classroom so far. My principal bought us a class set (for the entire building) this spring, so I have had a chance to do a few things...

Home screen
Let's start with my personal iPad. I got it this past Christmas from my loving husband, who puts up with my school/technology obsession.

 I am a huge fan of Pinterest, so that is on my dock. I keep track of everything with my calendar and email. I will share more about my lesson planning tool later, but I also have that in my dock for easy access.

Flipboard is a great app for viewing RSS feeds, blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and websites. I love it! It feels like you are flipping through a magazine and of course it is a FREE app! I don't buy apps unless I have a gift card.

I keep all my immediate apps on the home screen, but I don't like it to be cluttered. (I have issues, I
know.) I use Dropbox, Google Drive, and Remind 101 regularly. The only games I ever play are SuDoKu, Reversi, and Spades, so they are located here.

In my School Apps folder I keep apps that I am trying out for my class. My favorite right now are Educreations, Edmodo, and FrameArtist.


I really like having my kids use Educreations to showcase their learning. Here are a few examples. Please keep in mind that they are not perfect. I haven't had kids write scripts, but they do have fun recording themeselves. The downside of this app is that once you start recording, you have to see it through. It doesn't let you rewind, so you have to start completely over. Boo.








We also did a little bit of work in Frame Artist at the end of our state research.



I absolutely love using Edmodo with my class. It is a great meeting place. I can post assignment, links, videos, and Google Docs. The kids love to get on and post their ideas and thoughts. Here is an example of an assignment for my class. This is what I gave them to make the postcards above.


Do you have any great iPad ideas to share with me?


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Evolution of my Classroom Economy

You can read about my initial plans HERE.

We started the year off strong, you know how it is! The kids filled out job applications and were ready to tackle their jobs. I handed out paychecks for jobs well done, assessed fines, took up rent, and held auctions. The kids loved the auctions. Sometimes a dry erase marker would go for $3,000! It was tons of fun.

Then the second semester hit. Why does that have to happen? I stopped putting as much emphasis on fines and bonuses. I noticed that student behavior was taking a turn for the worse. Could those be connected?  :)

So I tried this:
I attached them with velcro to students desks and used a dry erase marker to give bonus money. This didn't work out.  :/
Then I tried to do a modified clip chart. The kids could move up or down depending on their choices. This didn't work either.  :(

So I did some research on the internet. I love finding new websites, and that is exactly what happened. I found a website called MyKidsBank.org. If you are using a classroom economy, this is the ultimate tool. Plus it is FREE!

You set up your class and each kid gets a login and password, just like all other sites. Then they have access to an online banking experience. I was really tired of making copies of cash for the students, so this is a perfect solution. I keep the website open on my iPad so I can make deposits and withdrawals during the day.

This is what my banker page looks like. It is set up so that I can make group transactions. That makes it easy to deposit bonus money for multiple kids at a time.

This is working wonderfully right now! We will be having another auction soon. We have Play Day and a field trip to the Dallas Zoo coming up. My students have to pay to participate in both events. Talk about real incentive to earn bonus money and stay away from fines!

Resources for you!



Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Currently

It has been months since I participated in one of these!!!!


Go link up!

So... I'm still here!

I confess...

I am a horrible blogger during the school year. It just slips to the bottom of my priority list. No excuses! I do want to share some highs and lows of this year, though.

This has been my first year in 4th grade and I L.O.V.E. it! I was really apprehensive at the beginning of the year, but I am so glad I made the move. My team is fabulous and the age is perfect for me.

Do you remember all the great ideas I had this summer? Do you wonder how they worked out?

Classroom Economy
This is one of the best things I have done this year. The kids love it. It really works as a classroom management tool. I am going to dedicate an entire post about how my classroom economy has evolved this year in the next few days.

I have found an awesome tool that I want to share now. It is called MyKidsBank.org. It is a FREE fake online bank that you can set up for your class. It is amazing! The students really feel like they have an official account.

This is a screenshot of what my view of their account looks like. It is very user friendly.
STAR Binders
We relied heavily on our STAR binders the first semester, but then it tapered off. I won't be using them next year. It was an unnecessary expense. I will encourage all my students to use a binder to organize their papers, but we will be mostly using folders, which are on their school supply lists.

Turning in Papers
So this is something that never happened. I do want to give this another try next year. I didn't make this a student job, so it was never taken care of. Oh well. I do use the baskets for the kids to turn their work in daily. I won't be using the clips. Too much work.

Hand Signs
These signals have been wonderful! I will always use them. When a student has to use the restroom during silent work, they just raise their hand and show me the sign. I nod at them and they quietly leave the room. No big deal. No distractions for the rest of the class. Perfect!

Whole Brain Teaching
I started the year off strong with WBT, but I didn't stick with it. It is a work in progress, but I still love it when I use it. WBT increases student participation and retention of concepts being taught. Hopefully one day I will use it the way it should be used.

Birthday Bags
These have been a life saver! Now I don't have to scramble on student birthdays. I will be doing this every year!

I will be posting soon about:

  • working on an iPad proposal for 1:1 next year (I want it more than anything!)
  • the awesomeness of Edmodo
  • our enjoyment of EduCreations
  • some great technology resources I have found and used this year
  • evolution of my classroom economy
  • my lesson plan journey
:)