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03 November 2013

Using Evernote for Digital Portfolios

   A while ago, I came across a great post on using Evernote for Digital Portfolios in the classroom. As I am always looking for ways to limit paper use and make organization easier for me, I thought I would try and implement in my class this year.  We are just getting underway and I have explained to the class why it's important to keep a progress of their work over the course of a school year.  By storing it digitally we eliminate unnecessary paper clutter. This also helps with organization as everything is stored in individual "notebooks" within Evernote.

It was pretty simple to set up. I set up one Evernote account and then an individual notebook for each student in the class. We have access to two Ipads in the classroom so the children can easily take photos of the work they want to post and "pop" it right into their Evernote account. If you only have access to a laptop or desktop, you will have to either scan the images or take a photo and then upload to Evernote.( In the link to the article below, this is explained.) I explained to the students that sometimes I would post work to their notebook and other times, they would choose at least 2/3 pieces a month that they wanted to put into their portfolio to share with their families.  During parent conferences, I can show parents their child's portfolio. Later on, I will show the students how they can share their portfolio from their home. The only downside with this is, there is only one password for the class account so everyone can access each other's notebooks. However, for primary grades it shouldn't be an issue.

I don't keep any annecdotal records in the portfolios. I have a separate Evernote account that I only have access to in which to write comments. At the end of the year, the children will have various stages of progress of their work that they can take with them to wherever. The best part, no loose papers or bulky boxes - viva the paperless portfolio!

Here is the post on using Evernote for Digital Portfolios written by Rob Van Nood. Rob does an excellent job of explaining how to implement Evernote in the classroom.

16 October 2013

Quad Blogging

Quad blogging is a blogging platform whereby you, as a teacher sign-up your class and are grouped with 3 other grade-level classes from anywhere in the world. (You can specify countries) The premise is that one school is in the "blogging spotlight" while the other 3 schools comment on the "spotlighted" school's students' blogs. The next week, it's repeated with a new school and so on. You are able to go through a few rotations as it runs quarterly. It is very manageable this way and as a teacher, you don't feel like you need to have your students respond to so many blogs at one time. The focus is just one each week.  My students are first grade and yes, they need help with their writings, but they are so excited to write to children in another part of the world and share their thoughts and feelings with others. They can hardly wait to read other students' comments about what they wrote as well as get responses back from a comment they made.

This is an excellent way to give your class an authentic audience for their writings. It is also a way to teach your class how to write meaningful, kind comments about someone else's work.  Dialogue, exchange of ideas, and friendships are formed in a safe, non-threatening way. For more information on quad blogging, visit this link here.

15 September 2013

New School Year and blogging begins!

We're rolling into our third week of school and as teachers we forget how difficult the "rentrée" is. New routines, new children, different levels. I look to my now second graders to get inspiration that it does get easier and to see how far they do progress by the end of the school year.  

We have started on Kid Blogs again this year. All parents are on board and the class is already eager to blog.  We started slow, but this class has caught on very quickly and want to post their thoughts all the time! I am excited about this. If you are not familiar with Kid Blogs, please see my old post from last year on this topic.

I am also going to start "tweeting" with my class. We have an account but haven't begun yet. I found this great post of how teachers are creating a "pretend tweet wall" in their classroom to teach the children how and what to tweet before they even start the real thing.  I love this idea as this introduces the children to social media and gets them comfortable about what things they should be tweeting. Here   is an interesting article from Beth Holland on this topic.

Here also is a great post from Mrs. Wideen's class about how she uses Twitter in her classroom. As you can see from Mrs. Wideen's class, social media, when used correctly and safely can be a powerful learning tool.

25 August 2013

Global Read Aloud

   Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Calling all readers to the great global read aloud. If you have not heard of this yet, be sure to check out the global read aloud site which outlines this fabulous program. The program is grouped by grade levels so each reads a book designated for their level. The book for the K-2 group is Marty Mcguire by Kate Messner. I can't wait to share this story with my class and have some interesting discussions with other schools around the globe.  This is a great way for classes to connect with other classrooms around the world and participate in dialogue and genuine conversations about books. Click on the links below to learn more about this program and the book.

   HI All,  I am guest blogging over at Rachel Lynette's Minds in Bloom site. Be sure to hop on over to read about using Bucket Fillers in the classroom.

13 August 2013

Final Reflections- Thing 23

   Well, I have finally reached the end of my Web 2.0 Class!! Along the way, I learned, discovered, been challenged, and shared many ideas. Some days I just wanted to throw in the towel and say not another blog post!! ARRGH! All in all, I really did enjoy all the "Things" and found the course so much more worthwhile because it was so hands-on.  By becoming active participants within each Web 2.0 tool we got to see how each tool works and if we want to try and use it in our classroom. Sometimes, things work, and sometimes they don't. That's the fun of trying different ideas out.

I anticipate trying many of these tools in my classroom this fall.  I know it's not easy to continue....we get pumped up after attending a class, webinar, or taking a course and then ideas fall to the wayside as we plow into our school year. I sincerely hope to try many of these ideas, and I know I will. A great course!! Thank you! As I begin to implement some of these tools, I'll blog about it and see how it rolls.

12 August 2013

Evernote - Thing 21

    I haven't much used Evernote in the classroom so I cannot say for sure if I would use it. I do use it sporadically for writing down notes and ideas for my blog when I am on the train. I do like that you can take pictures and embed directly to your blog. This link will take you directly to an interesting post - I think it sums up how I feel about Evernote at this point - I am sure I am not utilizing it to its' capacity, however I wonder if it is just another organizing app in a long list. At some point I will have to choose the best one for me, and I think that is what is most important. We try out these different apps and we pick the one that best utilizes our needs.

A blog written by Rob van Nood provides some great insight into using Evernote in the classroom - here is link to his blog. After reading Rob's blog, I am going to give Evernote a shot in my classroom and try to set up digital portfolios for my student's.  When I return to the classroom in September and set this up, I will blog about it and let you know how it goes.

11 August 2013

Google Drive - Thing 20

Google Drive can make your life so much more efficient. Forget sending out multiple emails to colleagues or sending email attachments. Streamline your efficiency and create a document in Google Drive and easily share it with whomever you like.  The document can be edited in real-time so everyone can see the updates as they are happening.

Three ways to use Google Drive in your classroom

 1. Have your class set up a form to create a survey of some sort. Within the Google Doc form, click Create, then Form. It will then take you through some steps to set up your form. Once that is done, share it and your class could then collect the data from the survey and create a spreadsheet of the responses.

2. Another way is sharing ideas with others. Create a spreadsheet and have co-workers fill in the spreadsheet with their responses/ideas. As I have done for this course,  I created a spreadsheet for this particular "Thing 20" so all course participants could fill-in the form and we would then have a sharing of some great first week ideas of integrating a Web 2.0 Tool the first week of school. Here is a link  to that document.

3.  Sharing a file with another person. Because the file is editable and each of the "shared" participants can add to the file it is immediately updated. This would be great for sharing resources for a topic of study.

However you use Google Drive, I am sure it will make your life even more efficient.

YouTube - Thing 19

    I currently use YouTube in the context of searching for a "how to" video- since I am a hands-on person, I find a visual explanation is much easier for me to understand. For this Web 2.0 Class, we had to search for a few different videos. Two of the videos had to relate to education. I am particularly interested in how to use Symbaloo in my classroom so I searched for a "What is it" video and found this particular video. It gives a good, basic introduction to using Symbaloo. Here it is for you to have a look:

The other video I found was a Livebinder -  "what is it and how to use it" video. I found this helpful as well as I think this would be a great way to organize lesson plans, units etc. and get rid of all the paper! Yes! Here is this video:

I also had to search for a student-produced video. I found this one done by first graders. It was done over 3 years ago - which shows how behind I am!! It is so great! I loved hearing the enthusiasm of these first graders and they set out to show that anyone, even 6/7 year olds can do a podcast! I have embedded it here as well to give you a bit of inspiration to try podcasting if you have not as yet:

YouTube can be a yet another great tool in your belt for not only a teachers PLN but for student uploading of videos as well.

09 August 2013

Twitter - Thing 22

I have been on Twitter for about 3 months now, but I still consider myself a lurker.  I read alot of my follower's posts, make some comments, and do some tweets, but I still have not amped it up yet. I participated in my first chat last weekend - and I tell you it was something.  Just trying to keep up with the tweets is a bit daunting.  I have to admit though, it was fun. I loved reading other comments coming in thru real time and trying to quickly type mine in as well.

Building a personal learning network (PLN) is very important. No where will you find real-time learning than through social connections. Twitter is a great way to become engaged - learn what others are doing. Start slow, connect with a few, read what they have to say, and before you know it, you will be commenting, retweeting, etc. If you are interested in connecting your classroom with another, Twitter is a great place to find a connection. Tweet with your class - why not!! I am going to have a Twitter account for my grade one class this year so we can connect with others, share what we have learned and let our families know what we are learning in the classroom. No need to make it an extra part of your classroom day - it should be incorporated as part of your classroom teaching.

Below are some links pertaining to Twitter:

Here is an awesome easy to follow guide on using Twitter in the Classroom from Langwitches Blog.

Here is a link to educational hashtags from Cyberyman. Find one you like and join a chat. It's a great way to see what other teachers are doing that maybe specific to your interests.

Here is a link to 35 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom. There are some great ideas and can be tweaked for any year level.

Tweet away!!

06 August 2013

ScreenCasting - Thing 18

   We've all been hearing plenty of information on the flipped classroom as an innovative way to teach students that may not respond to traditional classroom teaching or even as a way to differentiate your teaching. Screencasts make this easy to do. There are quite a few apps out there that allow you to easily create a screencast and upload or embed into a blog post. Even better, students can do the teaching and have them upload it to their blog. Using Educreations allows you to turn your IPad into a white board. Students can use this for peer-to-peer teaching, explanations of a topic learned, summary of a lesson - the list is endless. Here is a link to some examples of screencast apps and a brief description of each app. Here is another link to more screencast apps and a good explanation of each I found on Pinterest.

I could see using screencasts many ways in the classroom. I like that the students can embed their video into Kidblogs so others can see their explanations and offer comments.

I will be implementing this awesome tool in the fall with my first graders. My brain is already spinning the many ways it could be used. Here is a my very brief hand at using Educreations. I think it's best to have a pre-written script so you are not fumbling over words.

02 August 2013

Podcasting - Thing 17

   As I plod along in my Classroom Web 2.0 Tools online class, I am amazed at all the tools I do not know about for creating a more innovative classroom.  I understood what a podcast was, but never thought about using it in my classroom. One can find many podcasts on all sorts of topics on iTunes. After scrolling around a bit listening to different podcasts, I then typed in Google to see how other teachers were using podcasts in their room. What I found was amazing. From broadcasting a topic to reading a story to telling about their daily learning, the children were the ones doing the creating and speaking. Classrooms were creating their own podcasts and uploading them - another great example of sharing your classroom via social networking and breaking down the walls and having your students realize they are creating digital footprints for the world to view.

I am already thinking of how to best utilize podcasts in my classroom this fall and will continue to search the web for other classrooms already using this fabulous tool and the ideas they have implemented.

29 July 2013

Curation - Thing 16

Here's a new topic - at least for me - allowing students to curate content to enable them to find the most relevant information on a particular topic. Of course, as teachers we need to provide our students with open-ended questions that encourage them to research and look further. As a child, everytime I asked my parents the meaning of a word or wanted to understand something more, they told me to "go look it up" or "find the information in a book"- they said if I wanted to know the answer, I had to find it myself. At the time I thought this was harsh, but today, the same ideals remain - we cannot spoon-feed children - they have to seek and learn to find the best response and follow-up to make sure the information they find is true. As teachers and parents we have to guide students in learning how to curate the abundance of information on the web.

There are some curating sites many of us are already familiar with - Pinterest being a very popular one. This site allow you to choose and curate the information you are most interested in and pinning it to a page. I explored some new curating sites - one being Livebinders which was very interesting. It is basically a virtual notebook. Imagine no more searching for papers for an old math lesson or finding exercises to go with a particular topic. Livebinders allows you to curate all your information in one place - imagine having all the information you need to teach a complete unit and not using a single sheet of paper! You could even bypass Diigo and bookmark specific lesson ideas and websites directly to Livebinders.  I think this site would be very handy for teachers or anyone needing to organize papers. Say au revoir to all those stacks of paper. Click here for the best Livebinders of 2012.

Another site I had a chance to check out was Storify. I get it, but I am not sure I like it. Storify can be used as a digital storyteller and pulls in information from many social bookmarking sites. You drag the information you deem most relevant and pop it in to the sidebar. When finished, hit publish and you have created a digital story. One can add sentences to each social bookmarking item you choose. The reason I didn't like it as I thought Storify would put everything together as a mini video. You will need to click on each link to view each part of the story. Done this way, the story still seemed a bit choppy, but maybe I am not just seeing it correctly. I played around with Storify for a bit and created a short story on Life in Paris.

In any case, have a look at some of these Curation Tools and let me know what you think.

A New Kid on the Block - Diigo - Thing 15

Do you Diigo? This is a new social bookmarking tool that allows you to do some awesome things with articles you have read or interested in sharing. In the past I would either email myself a site or a link I was interested in or bookmark it with Safari. This lead only to the link buried in my emails or the bookmark somewhere in my bookmark link. With the Diigo tool bar button, you can bookmark directly to your Diigo account, highlight information or even add a sticky note that is pertinent and collaborate on an interesting post by sending directly to Twitter or email.

I also like the "save for later" feature as well so you can read off-line if you don't have a connection.They also have a feature to send bookmark information directly to one's blog, but I cannot seem to get this feature to work for me. I am still playing with the ins and outs of Diigo. Sometimes I cannot get it to do exactly what I want but I think that is because I am using Safari for my browser. You get more features with Goggle Chrome.

If you have not already signed up, you can do it here. Request an educator account by following this link here which will allow you to do even more things with things that interest you on the web.

Click here to follow my Diigo library. It is still a work on progress, but as you can see it is quite easy to share articles you think others might find interesting or useful.

21 July 2013

Blogs vs. Wikis - What's the difference?

What is a blog? What is a wiki? They both are great for disseminating information, but there is a bit of difference between the two. Both are excellent for communication tools whether you are in a classroom or have a joint project you are working on.

If you are new to any of these tools for sharing, read on for the best uses - here is a great little article complete with video for a simple, quick explanation. Before you know it, you will be blogging and setting up that wiki for your school or business project.

18 July 2013

Social Media in a Classroom - Thing 14

   After reading the interesting article How Should Social Media be Taught in Schools by Matt Renwick  I found what he says to be very true. If teachers model appropriate behavior when using social media in front of their students, students will realize the value of an audience with regard to posting their projects. This value allows for a purpose to their writing. The students begin to take ownership of their work when they see that others are reading and commenting on their writing. This gives them a motivation to publish their best work. After all, we are often our own worst critics.

I introduced KidBlog to my class rather late in the school year, but I was very interested in implementing it and I knew my class was ready. I read what others had done to introduce blogging to their primary students and modeled how to do write an appropriate blog post. We discussed etiquette, writing kind comments and purposeful comments to others - ask questions, show you are interested. By modeling this on a whole class blog post a couple of times a week, the class slowly understand what was expected of them.

At first, I just didn't get Twitter. I thought it was just social media for friends. However, I started to read various articles about expanding my PLN (Personal Learning Network  -which at first I had no earthly idea what these 3 letters meant!) for education purposes.  Then, in the Spring, I decided to see what all the hubbub about Twitter was - I  joined and began connecting with other teachers slowly and since, have learned amazing things about opening up my classroom, making connections with other teachers, learning about what others are doing. I also saw that classrooms actually had their own Twitter accounts. At first I wasn't sure, but after reading how other classrooms in grade one were using Twitter, I thought, why not? So, come this fall, I will set up a Twitter account for my classroom.  I will model and explain to my students why we will use Twitter and how we will use it to communicate with not only our families about what we are learning and sharing our work, but also to other classrooms around the world that may be interested in reading what we are doing and maybe even want to connect with us in some way.

Classroom 2.0 is incredible site where educators can connect with each other within specific topics of interest.  I have only just joined, but already I am excited to browse through and read about some of the topics.

Again, when we use social media appropriately, it is such a powerhouse of a tool.  I strongly encourage you to try it out, if you have not yet taken the plunge.

15 July 2013

Using Videos to Tell a Story - Thing 12

   In our Web Tools 2.0 Class, we are learning how to use video to tell a story. What a great way for children to share their knowledge and creativity.  There are many apps and sites for children to use to create their own story. Most recently, I used IStory App in my classroom with my first graders to write their informational text stories.  They they used the built in microphone to record their stories.  The smiles on the childrens' faces as they heard their voices reading the stories was priceless. Unfortunately there is no widget to upload to my blog so I can share with you what my class created.

However, in this 2.0 class,  I created this 30 second video using images I found searching Flicker's Creative Commons site and made a little blurb about mail art.

Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.

This would be a fun way for students to explain any topic they have learned in 30 seconds. I say 30 seconds, as that is the free version length.  You will need to subscribe to have additional video time. Using video to explain or tell a story reaches all learning styles and is fun and creative. Give it a try!

Here is a link to an interesting article about using video in the classroom by Richard Byrne.

12 July 2013

Flicker - Thing 12

A great new Web 2.0 Tool I have learned about in this course is Flicker. While I normally search for photos in google to use for various lessons, I never really thought about using Flicker to find the particular photo I need. Now I realize Goggle images are not always the best as often times they are small and not clear. With Flicker, you can choose to download different sizes of the image and the images are quite clear.  The original owner of the photo also tags the photo to make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for. I use Flicker to upload my personal photos to assure there is a second location to save all my near and dear photos, but have never used it to search for images for classroom lessons.

I search a lot on Goggle for artists' paintings to jump start a writing activity for my class. This is a fun activity for children to really stretch their imagination.  Normally I show them a photo, and piggybacking on the idea of Katie Meets the Impressionists story, I tell the class to imagine they jump into the photo and have an adventure within the painting.

 I encourage them to look at the people in the paintings, their faces, what they are doing, and imagine they are standing there - they can begin to write their own imaginative story.  Showing a image doesn't deter from the writing process, it jump starts the creative juices in writing an original story.  I showed this Monet Painting to my class for a writing activity.  We talked about the people, time of day, shadows in the photo. They imagined themselves in the painting and wrote some really original stories. I wish I had kept some to show an example.

Photo Credit: Monet - le déjeuner by Richard White

Now that I know how to use Flicker better, I can think of many more ways to incorporate images into lessons.  Have a look at David Jakes' link of ways to use flicker in the classroom.

07 July 2013

Thing 13 - PLD in your PJ's

   I just watched 2 great PD videos on the K12 Online Conference site. One was Creative Learning Experiences without Textbooks by Wesley Freyer. This PD outlined specific tools a school district in Alabama was using to limit its use of textbooks. What I really enjoyed hearing was that the schools gave teaches extra time during their day or before their day started for PD opportunities without adding to their day.The teachers were allotted time to discuss and bounce ideas off each other.  This is especially important when integrating tech and moving away from textbooks. The technology sounds and looks great, but if teachers are not taught how to integrate the tech in a meaningful way, all will be for nought. Just listening to what other teachers are doing is so rich in itself and can provide a whole new door opening for opportunity.

Another PD video I watched was 7 Degrees of Connectedness by Rod Lucia. I really enjoyed this presentation. Rod talked about using different tools to connect and that one needs to take risks, start small, but the relationships you create will become invaluable. He touched on a few different tools, but mentioned that voice itself, is very important. It adds a more authentic connection to the tweet, blog, podcast, whatever you do.

I recommend connecting on the K12 Online Conference site for some invaluable PD in your pj's!

Thing 8 - Wiki, Wiki, Wiki

Wikis are great for collaborative projects or when you don't want to send the same email to all individuals, or planning an event, community happenings, really for anything.  I don't know why my administration doesn't use Wiki's more to disseminate information - it would be so much easier.  It surely make more sense to have the information all in one place so you can easily go back and verify what has been written. I know with emails it's more difficult as you have to search for the email and often times it has already been deleted or way down at the bottom of your inbox.

I had a look at the Flat Classroom Project Wiki and found it stock full of information. While I am not a member of this wiki, I could take a peek into how the project works and how information is shared among group members. Lots of good sharing ideas here.

Another wiki I had a look at was the Global Read Aloud Wiki. Since I will be doing this with my class in the fall, I was very interested in reading what has been done before.  I found it very helpful and full of information. It gives a participant list to you can easily find other classes to connect with and suggestions for how to connect with others and how to post projects.

Another wiki I had a look at was Schools in the Past Wiki. The wiki itself had some good information in terms of the information the students had collected, but I found it very hard to follow as the sentences were all grouped together under different headings nor was a Table of Contents. There wasn't any summary of the information gathered nor did it have any photos. There was one link to an external site for a museum, but no direct link to a school house so one would have to search the site. Maybe this one was more bling-bling....

If Wikis are used in a useful way to enhance collaboration, there is no bling-bling about that -just teachers and students sharing what they have learned or worked on so others can hopefully benefit from their work.

30 June 2013

Creative Commons - Thing 10

Creative Commons has opened up the potential for quality learning for everyone. If a lesson or idea or project is licensed under Creative Commons, anyone can use those ideas in their classroom, even tweaking it to make it their own - with permission from author. This open learning module has the potential to give every student equal access to bonafide materials. As teachers we first need to do our research to make sure the material is authentic. Once that has been assessed, teachers can provide real-time projects to their lessons - studying whales? Finding a scientist that has done authentic research and even connecting with them will provide a much richer experience for your classroom. MOOCS as well are becoming ever popular. With open-ended course study, there is nothing one cannot learn.  As teachers, we should be taking advantage of this open-ended learning and passing it down to our classroom to enrich and broaden classroom projects.

Social Networking - Thing 6

 In this age of digital media, we must teach our children to be first and foremost good digital citizens. Of course, we must practice what we preach. Anything posted on the internet is there for the whole world to view whether we like it or not. Have you "googled" your name lately? One does want their name out there to show they are connected global educators, but we need to choose carefully what is posted and who is posting things about you. Remember, you need to ask before you post that photo of your teacher friend hamming it up for the camera after a late bar night. This goes the same for our students. We need to remind them to be careful what they post as words and photos on a screen will be long visible after you have forgotten. We must all teach them that you cannot just steal others' works. One needs to give credit where credit is due - the Creative Commons Licensing is a great site for explaining to students how to go about giving proper credit and using materials from others. Here is a link to an article worth reading.

With that said, I came across a great post on 3 Social Networks teachers should try out. Linked In  for building professional contacts, Goggle + Communities for collaborations and hangouts, and Twitter for building your PLN as well great collaboration. Click on the image to take you directly to the article.

26 June 2013

RSS Feed - Thing 5

   Subscribing to a RSS Feed can be overwhelming. You start reading one blog post, then another and before long you have spend an hour reading information - all good information to help you try innovative ideas in your classroom.  There are so many ideas out there, it's hard to choose just one, but I will. I found the idea of using Thinglink on the Free Tech Ideas for Teachers site and I found it fascinating.  I tried this app out this week with my class using their class photo. We created individual audios on Soundcloud and then I uploaded to Thinglink. I am thinking ahead to all the creative and interesting ways children can use this in the classroom to do presentations, create cool links and really make their projects individualized.  Here is a link to the article, 65 Ways to Use ThingLink in the Classroom.

22 June 2013

Blogging - Thing 4

Well, I got lost in the blogosphere once again. As soon as I see something interesting on one blog, there is a link to connect to another, then another and before you know it, you have jotted down a bunch of new ideas to try out in your classroom not to mention added to your PLN. There are so many interesting people out there with great ideas, one can learn something new every day! This is blogging at it's best. Not only is it a place for you to write your thoughts and ideas down on paper, but an opportunity to peek inside other "virtual" classrooms to see what other teachers are doing around the globe to facilitate learning. Blogging has important implications for students as well. They begin to realize they have opinions and comments others want to read and in turn, they can learn from others. This helps accelerate their knowledge and in turn, will search for more information as it starts to ignite the learning process.  We only started blogging in our first grade classroom about a month ago, and my only regret is we didn't start it sooner. Blogging has taken off like wildfire in my classroom and I love it!  The children can't wait to get on the blog and read what others have written and comment on a post.  We have also connected with another class and learning to make valuable comments to others as well. Children begin to realize their world suddenly is alot smaller when they start to make these connections.

I just want to share one new thing I came across reading these different blogs - an application called ThingLink. I haven't tried it yet, but will surely give it a go next school year. Here is a great link to 23 Ways to use ThingLink in your classroom.

17 June 2013

Web 2.0 Tools - Thing 2

I am for sure a digital novice, however I am a novice who wants to learn as much as possible in order to give my students the inquiry and know-how of digital technology and turn it from a learning process to knowledge gained.  A little more than a month ago, I joined twitter and the knowledge I have learned in one month has been amazing. Not in any classroom or listening to a long lecture with a professional in the front would I have learned as much as I have. Social networking is hot! and it will continue to get hotter as more people join, collaborate and share ideas to help each other learn. With limited quality professional learning, teachers need to seek out connections and take control of their own learning. Connecting to other teacher blogs, one can find new technology ideas to try in the classroom, ways to handle classroom discipline, difficult parents. The teachers are the ones in the trenches, not administrators - we know best what works and doesn't work successfully in the classroom. Take it slow, and try out a few new ideas in your classroom to see how it might work. Sometimes, I want to try so many new ideas, that it becomes overload and difficult for me to focus on one really good idea.

Building a personal learning network (PLN) is so important. No where will you find real-time learning than through social connections. So, jump on the band wagon, start out slow. Connect with a few, read what they have to say, and before you know it, you will be commenting, retweeting, etc. Here is a great link to a beginner's guide to Twitter from Edudemic.

If we want our students to have a growth mindset, as teachers we must learn all we can about digital technology and how to best infuse it into our daily lessons. Just handing a child an IPAD is not enough - and if teacher's don't know how to incorporate the technology in the classroom, it will all be for nought. I encourage myself and you to learn all you can, seek out questions, answers, ideas from colleagues, and you will be amazed at what is out there -  all for you. It's exciting.....

09 June 2013

Awesome Blog Giveaway!

Head on over to Miss V's Busy Bees for a great giveaway. Each day, she is giving away different products that teachers have donated. Click on the link below. 

One IPAD Continued.....

As the children are busy finishing their stories on StoryCreator, I had them also create Wordles for their animals using ABCYA Wordle.  I wrote about this site last week. My class is having a ball with making up their own Wordles. They can't get enough of them. We post a lot of them to Kidblog for people to guess. Come on over and have a go. Click here to go to our blog.

We then uploaded their wordles into the Storycreator App. The stories are coming along, but with one IPAD finding the time for each group is a bit challenging.

This week we will work on recording our stories and hopefully sharing them here if possible.  Have a great week!

02 June 2013

ABCya! Word Clouds for Kids - Thing 7


If you love using Wordle, try this wordle site for kids. They will have a ball with it. It's kid-friendly so much easier to work with than standard Wordle site.

My class is loving using ABCya Word Clouds for Kids! Click here to go directly to site.

Check out some of our wordles:

25 May 2013

One IPAD Classroom

  Week One 

For the last 6 weeks of school, we are working on Information Texts and will turn our reports into Digital books using a free app called Story Creator. Following in the faint footsteps of a great teacher blog  Mrs. Lirenman I decided to take the plunge with my one IPad (mine in fact) and do digital books with my first graders. I highly recommend following her, she does some really wonderful things in her classroom. Here is a link to her blog,  Mrs. Lirenman suggested I do as much as I can on paper so when the children get to the writing on the IPAD part, they will have much of their work already planned out - great idea!

I first had them read their books with their partner and gather ideas about the topic they chose. I would like to show them some supplemental videos to complement their topics, but I haven't as yet. They then wrote down 5 facts about their topic.  I then had them use Popplet LIte - another free app to create a diagram of their ideas. This app is so easy to use. The only downsize is with the free version, once you save, you cannot edit it, so I had to have each one finish their Popplet in its entirety. Lucky for this part, I asked for Parent Volunteers and they BYOD to the classroom - very helpful!

Tune in next week for the next step.

23 May 2013

Big Giveaway!!

   There is a big giveaway going on over at My Kinder-Garden - click here to enter. There are many products to win so have a go!

19 May 2013

Kid Blog

We only have 5 weeks of school left but I wanted to introduce blogging to my first graders before the year was out. I have been doing a lot of researching over at Twitter to gain my PLN and have found invaluable information regarding technology use in the classroom.  I decided to jump full steam ahead with Kid Blogs and love it!...and so does my class. It is a very protected blog for students. Teachers can decide if they want to only have their classroom interact with each other or open for all comments. In any case, the teacher has to approve all comments before they are posted for the children to see. The other great thing about kid blogs is you can connect with other classes who are on KidBlogs - you have a link with a class that you add to your blog roll.

We talked about internet safety and how we write posts and making comments on other people's posts and what kind of etiquette we need to have when responding to a post.  We discussed how we don't put photos of ourselves up unless our families say it is okay. I don't allow the children to post photos of themselves if they are working on their blog in the classroom. They are learning to upload photos, make comments, assign themselves avatars, create drafts. A whole new world of vocabulary has opened up to these children.

A few  times a week we do a whole class post - we decide on a topic to write and the students tell me what to write and I write it on our blog.  I purposefully leave out full stops and capital letters only to hear -  "you forgot full stop" or "that needs a capital letter". Finally.... it's sinking in!

I love reading their comments to each other. One really gets a new insight into a child.  I love that they are interacting with each other on a different level and are creating a digital footprint of themselves.

Please feel free to leave us a comment on our blog. We would love to hear from you! It's easy: Click here for link. Then click on a comment and post. You are always a "guest" and it will list you as a guest. All comments have to be approved by me before they go "live" so no risk of anything inappropriate.

We do not have 1:1 Ipads in our class, nor unlimited access to laptops, but blogging can still work in your classroom - you just have to be flexible.  The only regret I have is I wish I started this earlier in the year, but I will have a whole new class next year and we'll start in the Fall. Maybe we will be able to connect with some of your classes!

13 May 2013

Spring Poetry Unit

   I love poetry and it is such a fun unit to teach to children.  Especially when you can tell your students, words don't have to rhyme, you don't even need full stops or full sentences. I purchased this Spring Poetry Unit from Happily Ever After Education and my class has really enjoyed the activities. This unit came with planning sheet ideas which helped the children plan their poems before they wrote them.  There were alot of activities in this unit. This is just a sampling of some of students' work.

Spring Acrostic Poem - courtesy of The Happy Teacher

07 May 2013

More QR Codes and freebies!


I found these great freebie with QR Code Riddles over at Class Techie. Click here to get them.

 Also Table Talk with C and C has a QR Code Linky Party going on - click here to check out all the QR Code Activities.

I created a QR Code 2D/3D Shape Hunt for my first graders to use. Here is a link to the QR Code Shape Hunt Activity in my store and a blog link here to an earlier post about QR Codes including apps to download.

2D/3D Shape Hunt  - get it at my TPT Store!!

06 May 2013

Teacher Appreciation Sale!

   Don't forget! Teacher Appreciation Sale starts tomorrow!! Get up to 28% off all products in my store!

05 May 2013

Symmetry Ideas

Here is a fun way for young ones to explore symmetry using 2D shapes and desks lined up side to side or head to head - makes for a great line of symmetry! In groups of 4, I gave each pair the same 2D shapes. Each pair then designed what they wanted along one side of the desk. The other pair had to create the same pattern on the other side of the line of symmetry. Check out these symmetrical formations.

Intricate design here

24 April 2013

Earth Day Activities

We did some fun Earth Day Activities. Since we are currently doing a poem unit - we tried our hand at a List Poem for Earth Day. I love this type of poem, and for first graders, it is so simple to create. It is really amazing the insight that a 6/7 year old can have about their Earth.... I love the "tooth fairy" on the list.....

We also made some cool recycled art from bottle caps - I just love this racing car.

21 April 2013

Padlet (Wallwisher) - Thing 7

I have been using Padlet (formally Wallwisher) in my classroom since discovering it on Heidi Raki's Resources Blog and I love it!

This is literally a "virtual wall" where students can write and collaborate on anything. The teacher can set up the "wall" and assign tasks for the students to do. In my first grade classroom, I have been using it to help with writing basic sentences. I have been assigning a "word of the day" and the children come up with a sentence. The students then create their sentence or whatever you have asked them to do. The children in my class are so excited to write their sentences - they are literally clamoring at the bit to get to our computer to type a sentence. It is also great for our non-English students as it helps them with sentence structure as well.  We then take a look at the sentences and correct for spelling, verbs, and punctuation.This also allows me to do a quick assessment on capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

Search the internet for other uses of Padlet in your classroom - you will find many creative ideas.

07 April 2013



Adjectives can be a bit tricky for first graders. Explaining it as they can "brag" about themselves gets the comprehension rolling. This is an activity that I found on Pinterest and use each year to teach adjectives in a fun way! Here are some of our "Describing Myself Using Adjectives" pictures:

Giveaway for 1000 Followers!!

Goodies galore over at Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade Blog. She has over 100 products for K-4 that were donated for her giveway.  Hop on over to  Mrs. Rios's site and join the fun. The giveaway runs through 13 April!!

31 March 2013

Spring Cleaning Sale - Me Too!

I am so late with this, so my Spring Cleaning Sale is today through Tuesday - everything is 20% off!! Have a look! Happy Shopping!!

30 March 2013

Global Collaborative Project


Reaching out to classes all over the world is so easy now thanks to the internet, blogs, and collaborative projects. The Flat Stanley Project has been around for ages, but it is still a fun activity to learn about where other people come from, and how they spend their day, foods they eat....  To collaborate on a Flat Stanley Project you can sign up directly on their site here and you will be contacted (I guarantee it) to do a writing exchange project. At this site, you will also find FS templates to use for your project. This is the second year in a row I am pairing up with a school in New York. Last year, I also paired up with a school in Japan.  There are schools all over the world looking for partners. I recommend reading the FS stories in advance so the children understand the concept before beginning the project. We started reading the stories in the Fall and begin the project now. This way the children have also developed good writing skills.   Yes, you do need parent participation, but this is a fun project for all involved. Parents always have alot of fun with this project and this is a way for them to get involved in their child's school activities.  We always culminate this activity with a Skype visit so we can see how our partners look - this is always a big curiousity -  and share questions with each other.

Here is the link to the free Flat Stanley App from the ITunes Store. I also found a link to a simple FS reader's theatre which I was very excited to find. Get it here.

24 March 2013

More Center Idea Freebies

I found some great freebies for centers last week while on Pinterest so I thought I would share with you.

Rounding is a bit difficult for first graders, but I managed to find a great rounding game. The children had to choose two numbers from their stack of number cards, then put their chip on the two multiples of 10 their number came in between. They then determined which multiple of 10 it was closest to. This freebie came with a worksheet which was even better.Get this rounding activity here from the Classroom Game Nook.

The next freebie I found was a noun/verb/adjective sort. These grammar activities are on going so anytime I can find a fun center activity based on word structure, I use it. Here, the children sorted the words in the appropriate column, then wrote their words out on the included worksheet. Get this activity here from 2nd Grade Stuff Blogspot.

This next one uses QR Codes and the QR App reader which is easily downloaded.  See my earlier blog post on QR Codes to download this free app.

The children had to sort the numbers according to whether they were even or odd. Then using the QR code reader app, they checked their work. Get this activity here from iTeach 1:1. I had them complete a simple activity sheet that I created as there wasn't one included. Click here to download this sheet.

Hope you all enjoyed these freebie ideas. Be sure and leave some love for the teachers who created these great products!!