Showing posts from 2013


This is the time of the year when people begin to think about changes they want to make in their lives.  People make resolutions, break resolutions, and some avoid resolutions altogether. I don't even want to talk about my resolutions to live a healthier life and loose weight. After reading a blog post from Pernille Ripp, I was was inspired to reflect on my changes for the next year.  For some reason I am better at making changes related to my classroom routines. So I'd like to share two changes in my class that I will begin once we get back to school.  The changes I am implementing involve classroom management and writing workshop.

Classroom Management
I have used "Class - Yes!" from Chris Biffle's Whole Brain Teaching for several years as a way to get my students' attention.  Basically whenever I need to get their attention I say a version of  "class" and the students respond by mimicking my tone with a "yes". The kids love it!  I try to…

What's the Matter?

We are studying matter this nine weeks.  Instead of using valuable class time to watch a Brain Pop video, Property Changes,  and a Bill Nye video States of Matter, the students watched them independently. If you have a  subscription your students could alsowatch Flocabulary's  States of Matter. Students were able to watch the videos at their own pace on their iPads. Then we were able to take time to complete these two labs.

For the first lab we were investigating that mass of an object is equal to the mass of the sum of its parts.  The students used Legos to construct different objects. What fun!  

They found the mass of their total object.  Next they separated their objects into smaller parts and weighed the individual parts.  Then they compared the total mass to the mass of the sum of the smaller parts.

The students took pictures of their work in progress and used PicCollage to share their finished work.  Thanks to our wonderful Science Mom, Mrs. Carter, for bringing in tons …

Every Child Deserves 1 Hour!

Coding.  It is at its basic root a 4 letter word! But it doesn't have to be.  
December 9-15 is Computer Science Education Week.  Sign up to host an Hour of Code.  There are self-guided video lessons that you can use with laptops, tablets, and smart phones. You can even use the Smartboard for whole group instruction if you prefer. No technology? No problem. There are lesson that you can use without computer access.  I tried some of the lessons. They are really fun!  Oh, Did I mention the first 100,000 educators who sign up to host an hour of code will receive 10GB of free DropBox storage?

Make sure you have a DropBox account before your sign up for the Hour of Code.  So sign up to participate. No one is paying me to promote this.  I just think that every student deserves at least 1 hour!  Don't you?


I was reviewing the basic Order of Operations with a group of students who were still having a little trouble.  When I initially taught the lesson I used a video, a rap by Ron Clark, and a model of a hop scotch board to teach the order.  Still they needed more.  One thing I had neglected to do was to actually have them jump on the board.  So I used painter's tape to make the hop scotch board on the floor.  The students had to say the operation and the part of the written expression that correlated to the step. We talked about why multiplication and division as well as addition and subtraction were on the same level. When they reached the end of the board they gave their answer. 
Even though we used the board on paper to learn the order of operation, it wasn't enough for some students.  They actually needed the experience jumping on the board. Now whenever they walk across the board they can hop as long as they whisper the order of operations that go along with it. You try: W…

"Ask 3 before me" - There's an app for that!


If you follow my blog, then you probably already know I got a class set of iPads this year!  And when I find something great I just can't help but share it. Well this time I have found a great FREE app that  encourages collaboration among peers.  It can be used for homework, classwork, in just about any subject area.  So what is it? Glad you asked.  It's Ask 3!   How many times have you found yourself saying "Ask 3 before me"?  Well now there's an app for that!

This app allows students (or teachers for that matter) to post questions on a class bulletin board and then other class members (or the teacher) can leave a text response, a drawing, or a video to explain the answer. It's great for a flipped classroom or any classroom where collaboration is valued.  You sign-up and are given a class code.  Students join your class using the code and the fun learning begins!  

The only concern I have is that you cannot …

Making Connections

I recently connected with some awesome teachers through Edmodo. Yes, Edmodo.  I signed up to participate in The Global Read Aloud this year for the first time. It seems I am experiencing a lot of "firsts" at this late stage in the game of teaching, which proves that you are never too old to change or should I say grow and learn!

So, I will be reading the book Out of My Mind along with several thousands of other teachers all across the globe. Yes! The globe!  There are other titles you can choose from depending on the level of your students.  You choose the book you want to share with your students and then connect with other teachers who are reading the same book. Students can comment on each others posts using Kidblog or collaborate using Padlet or TodaysMeet to discuss the book.  You can read my post on using TodaysMeet in my math class here.  Some classes even use Skype and Twitter or have set up student groups on Edmodo for book discussions.  The sky's the limit whe…

PDF Split

I was smack dab in the middle of working on my plans for the upcoming week when I had to stop and share this.  I wanted to assign a math Exemplars to my students.  I figured I would post the page on Edmodo or I could try using Evernote.  I am working out the whole process of sharing files and notebooks with my students and having them write on it using their iPads, then resubmit it to me to grade. All using the iPad.

The problem was I only needed my students to see the first page of the PDF file not the entire document.  If you know Exemplars, each problem also has possible students solutions and other teacher resources attached to the PDF.  Then I remembered reading somewhere about a PDF splitter.  So I thought I would give it a try.  I went online and searched "PDF splitter" and there it was.  It was so easy to do.  You don't have to download or join to use it.  Oh, did I mention it was FREE!

Step 1:  Save the original file to your desktop.
Step 2: Browse and locate …

Place Value and TodaysMeet


My Top Ten Takeaways from iSummit 2013

There were so many fabulous presenters at the iSummit 2013 Conference. 
Unfortunately I could not attend every session . . .
Fortunately there is a wiki for the conference and I can check out all the wonderful resources.  You can too!!  What I can do however, is highlight what resonated with me. 

The iPad is not:
for everything in the classroomthe driver of instructiona device for practicing basic skills. . . if that's all you do with ita reward for completing classroom instruction iPads are:
toolsused to meet goals when appropriateuseful when you begin with the goal in mind (iPad + IPedagogy = iLearn, Julia Osteen)  Here are my Top Ten Takeaways from the conference (in no particular order):

10. Private schools have a lot more money to spend on technology.

 9.  Are students spending time engaged in investigating "Googleable" or "Un-Googleable" questions? (Keynote Speaker, Ewan McIntosh)

 8.  The most important predictor of student success IS NOT their socioec…

iSummit 2013: How Do You Handle Workflow?

I know I've mentioned before that I will have a class set of iPads next year!  Exciting!   I was excited about the possibilities this new technology would offer but was also a little nervous about transitioning to a class with a full set of iPads.   Would I be successful?  How would I manage this new technology? What activities will my students complete using the iPad?  Will my classroom be completely paperless?  Is that even realistic?   Probably the most pressing decision I needed to make was how would I manage the work flow in my classroom.  You know getting work to the students, turning work in, grading work that the students have turned in, and returning it to them.  All done electronically. So when my principal asked if I would like to attend iSummit, I immediately said "Yes"! What a great opportunity to learn from other professionals who were already using this technology in their classes.

I realize students need to use their iPads to learn and create meaning (I…

Shift Happens!

Even though school does not officially begin for another two weeks I have been working in my class, as I am sure a lot of you have.  Today I took some time to just sit and reflect on a few things.  These are some of the questions I am trying to work out. Maybe you can help. 

This year I will have a class set of iPads.  Will I really need all of these dictionaries?  There are more on the table.  Students can use use instead of the actual dictionary.  Or do they need to have "real" dictionaries?  I won't even mention that I inherited 2 sets of encyclopedias last year.  Yes encyclopedias!   I thought the students could use them to research topics in social studies (that information does not change).  For that matter do I even need to make room for my textbooks?  We really don't use them a lot (said in a whisper voice).  If I needed to use them, we could use the online version. Side note:  I think I might have some hoarding tendencies.

I have used tables …

Liebster Blog Award

Wow! I just found out that my blog was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award for new blogs by Verena from Diary of a 5th Grade Teacher.  Thank you Verena!  According to Kristen at Aspire to Inspire "the Liebster Award is a way bloggers spread the word about fellow bloggers whose blogs have fewer than 200 followers".  When I started my blog, I wanted it to be a place to record my thoughts and I also hoped that it would be helpful to others that wanted to begin flipping their class.  Since I began blogging just over a year ago, I have found inspiration and so many wonderful teaching ideas from other bloggers. I am humbled to think that others have found my blog to be a source of inspiration as well.
Now, to accept this award, I need to . . .
1.  Link back to who nominated me, Verena from Diary of a 5th Grade Teacher.
2.  Nominate 5 blogs that have fewer than 200 followers. 3.  Answer 11 questions created by the person who nominated me. 4.  List 11 random facts about myself. 5.  Cre…

Tune into Technology Linky: iPads

OK . . . This is my very first time participating in a Linky Party.  I hope I do this right! So . . .here goes . . . I am linking up with Kristin at  iTeach1:1 and Learning to the Core for Tune into Technology to share how I use iPads in my classroom. I think I should tell you that I only had 1 iPad in my class last year.  My students would sign up on the board to reserve the iPad when they needed to work on something.  I also participated in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) so a few other students had devices they could use.  Next year I will have a class set of iPads.  I am sooo excited!!

1.  Educreations -  I had a few students that needed to work on fluency.  They simply took a screen shot of a reading passage and then recorded themselves reading.  By doing this 2 or 3 times a week they could track their rate of reading and check their fluency. I also had a recording of their reading to refer to for conferences and next teaching steps. My students also used Educreations to creat…

Back to School!

I've been searching for some new ideas for my classroom.  Yes, already!  It seems like we just got out of school just a few weeks ago... oh wait... we did!  Anyway, next year I will have a class set of iPads! Yea!! Doing my happy dance!   I will be posting more about how I use them in my flipped class. 

But back to why I'm writing... Guess what I found on Pinterest?  This adorable iPod themed bulletin board by Kristen.  Love it!  Be sure to stop by and check out her blog iTeach 1:1.  If you go to her blog NOW, you can earn $10 to spend in her TPT store.  I'm going shopping! :-)

What's Next? I have made some videos and uploaded them to Edmodo. Granted, I do need to tweek some of them and redo some others. I would love to have Camtasia and be able to add the "picture-in-a-picture" or even some "callouts" to make the videos more engaging for my students.  Aww  . . . .  (a girl can dream...)

I also used Google Documents, WSQ charts, and chats to keep my students accountable and to check on their comprehension of the concepts. I'm thinking about creating tutorials for a complete unit and then embedding that onto Edmodo.  That will really allow my students to move at their own pace. 

Last year I used K-5 Math Teaching Resources  a lot for activities to help my students practice the skills they learned while watching the videos.  My students really liked working with partners and in small groups.  To them it was more like playing a game than doing math.  They also created their own videos using Educreations to explain concepts. 

So . . . next …

TLC Conference ~ June 12-13

I just finished working on my flipping presentation for Teachers Leading Cobb Summer Conference (Yes, I know how that sounds).  I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because I get to share what I believe is a tremendous opportunity for teachers to improve their craft.  Nervous because I want to make sure people come away from my session with the tools they need to be successful in their classes next year.

This was my first year flipping and I have learned so much!  Everything (with the exception of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every day) I have learned about flipping has been online.  Through the internet I have been able to peek into the classrooms of some great teachers who are flipping their classes.  I have been able to learn from the comfort of my home while reading their blog posts and watching their videos showing their classes in action.  I have even had an opportunity to chat online and get clarification when things weren't goin…

They're Back!

Test scores are back ...100% of my students met or exceeded standards in math! Whoo-hoo! This year I was able to spend more time working with individuals and small groups. I could direct students to specific videos to review concepts when necessary.  My students worked cooperatively with each other and learned from each other.  They even had fun working in partner groups on games designed to strengthen their math skills. All things considered, I would definitely say my first year flipping was a success! (Insert smiley face)

Some of my students put together a video (completely made and edited by them) about their thoughts on our flipped class. You can watch it here.

Finding Gems


While reading literature in our class, we are always on the lookout for GEMS: sentences that catch our attention, sentences we would love to imitate in our own writing. Basically we are looking for great examples of writing.  I started doing this in my class after reading Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson.

Well, just recently I have found another GEM, something worthy of imitation, The Teaching Channel.  Here you can find actual videos of classroom teachers who are masters at their craft.  You can find videos by subject, grade level, or topic.  If you are confused about the Common Core, there are videos to help you sort through that as well. 

Someone once said:  "The best teachers are made by the teacher next door".  When I first started teaching more than 30 years ago, that teacher for me was right across the hall, JoEllen French.  Whatever she did in her class, I did in mine.  She was a GEM! 

Now we can find GEMS who are literally thousands of miles away. If y…

The Unknown

Tomorrow my students will take their end-of-the-year state test for math. This is our first year implementing Common Core Standards and this is my first year flipping. Everything boils down to this one test.  Are they prepared? I think so. Will they be successful?  I hope so!

Time will tell.

Edmodo and Washington, DC

 This was the third year we have taken a group of fifth graders to Washington, DC for Spring Break.  The trip was wonderful, as usual.  We visited monuments and memorials for just about everything we have learned about in social studies this year:  Vietnam Memorial, WWII, Iwo Jima, Holocaust Museum, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial, Pentagon Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and more.  We also managed to spend a little time at the zoo, visit the Nation's Capitol and still had an entire day to explore the Smithsonian Museums. You name it, it's there. 

However, this year was a little different.  This year we had Edmodo.  I posted photographs throughout our trip along with trivia questions for the students to answer.  Not only could the students on the trip respond but students that did not travel with us were able to "see" some of the sites we visited.

As usual, it was a great trip.  I'm already looking forward to next year's tr…

Let it Flow, Let it Flow, Let it Flow!

Have you heard about Flocabulary?  If you grew up singing along to School House Rock then you will love Flocabulary and your kids will too!  It's a great site that uses Hip Hop beats to teach everything from grammar to science to math.  They even have A week in Review, a weekly current events sung to Hip Hop.  My kids can't get enough of the grammar songs and videos. I know, right! Right now you can get a free subscription for the rest of this school year for your entire school.  Your students will also get their own personal user name and password so they can listen to the songs "till their heart's content.  I promise, I am not getting paid to say this.  I just think it is a great way to reinforce those skills. I wish I had told you about this sooner.  But think of it as a great way to review before those End-of-the-Year Tests roll around. I guess what they say is true: "Better late than never"! Check it out!

It's a "Cell-ebration"



Today we made incredible, edible cells.  I found a great video on School Tube, "The Cell is Like a City", which compares cell organelles and their functions to the different parts of a city.  The students watched the video at home while completing their graphic organizer for cells.  While making our cells we listened to "Parts of the Cell Rap".  After making their edible cells in class, they drew a diagram and labeled the different organelles.  In the words of Rachael Ray, "Yum-o"!