Saturday, July 27, 2013

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 classroom
  • the driver of instruction
  • a device for practicing basic skills. . . if that's all you do with it
  • a reward for completing classroom instruction
iPads are:
  • tools
  • used to meet goals when appropriate
  • useful 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 socioeconomic level nor their parent's education or school involvement;  It is their teacher.  (I already knew that but it was nice to hear someone else say it!) Neurons GROW as we work.  The more we work them, the stronger they get! What a student thinks their teacher thinks about them influences their performance.(Technology Meets the Brain, Connie White)

 7.  FAIL= First Attempt In Learning  (Ewan McIntosh)

 6.  Include the 3 Cs and 3 Rs (Challenge, Collaborate, Responsibility, Respect, Real things, Choice) in everything you do.  (Ewan McIntosh)

 5.  Children should compose, edit, revise, and publish using technology.  (Toss Out the Pen - Pick up the Apple, Lisa Kelly)

 4.  In writing, "don't count off for things you have not specifically taught!"  Correct them but don't count off for them. (Toss Out the Pen - Pick up the Apple, Lisa Kelly) Kind of like: "if you consequate you must educate".

 3. When using Evernote, the teacher should set up the notebooks and share with students.  That way you retain control. (Evernote in Education, Mark Labourchere)

 2. Showbie or ebackpack?? I'm still trying to decide. Click here to read my post.

 1.  "It's a behavior problem, not a technology problem!" Actually I was reflecting on this when I decided to write this post and I can't for the life of me remember who said it. (If I find it in my notes, I will post later) Basically, would you take away a child's pencil and paper or textbook if they were using it improperly?  Probably not.  So then why would you even consider taking away technology  an appropriate consequence?  *I believe this was from the Keynote speaker, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. 

There were so many other great things I learned I couldn't possible include them all.  I will leave you with this funny.

"Real Question:  Are we willing to change - to risk change - to meet the needs of the precious folks we serve?"  (8 Steps to Do-It-Yourself PD, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)  
The dates for iSummit 2014 are June 10-12.

iSummit 2013: How Do You Handle Workflow?

Image from Showbie

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 will post more about that as time goes on) but before I start passing out iPads, I needed to work out in my mind the management part. So I attended 2 sessions on managing workflow: Showbie and ebackpack.  Both allow you to assign, collect, and review student work.  Showbie is free but for an additional cost you can upgrade to the pro version which will allow you to grade and write comments on assignments.  Ebackpack is a paid service that offers the same features as Showbie; however, ebackpack  also has a parent communication component. Basically, if you want to be able to annotate student assignments you will have to pay in either case.   I am going to play around with both applications to see which one I like best.  Decisions. . .decisions! If anyone has used either (or used something completely different) please share your thoughts.  I would love to hear your comments! Once I have made up my mind I will post an update.  I think I should create a chart comparing both.  Maybe I should do that on the iPad.  Hummm....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

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.

Flipping in Fifth
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 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.

Flipping in Fifth
I have used tables instead of desks in my class forever.  It makes it easier for students to collaborate and it promotes the type of environment I want in my classroom.  Do I really need all of these tables?  Does everyone have to have an assigned seat? Or can I just make sure I have a place where everyone can work?  It could be on the carpet with a clipboard, on the low table in front of the couch, or on a couch.  I was reading Flipped Teacher's post, Setting the Scene, it really sounds like the type of environment I want to have.

Flipping in Fifth
  This year I will have 29 students (that's 7 more students than I had last year).  That means I need to make my whole group area larger.  I like the students to come to the carpet for whole group instruction and discussions. Yes, even in 5th grade they sit on the carpet!

Flipping in Fifth
  I had to make my class library a little smaller. There's a single black chair behind the couch for one person to sit and read.  Students can also sit on the carpet and on floor pillows.  Back to the tables thing.  Each student has a blue book box (on top of the bookcases) where they keep their independent reading books, writer's notebooks, poetry notebooks, and reader's notebooks.  And will they still need those or will they keep them on their iPads?  So I'll ask again, do I need a traditional table and chair (or stability ball) seat for everyone? Some of my students use stability balls instead of chairs.  I wish I had balls for everyone.  In case you're wondering why, here is the page from my class website explaining why we use stability balls.

Next question...What am I going to do about their other notebooks. . .  their social studies and science interactive notebooks and math journals.  If I have a class set of iPads do they need to keep these notebooks or should they set up notebooks on their iPads?  Will they take their iPads home?  If not, they won't they need these notebooks?  And won't they need to still have a math journal?  That's what they use to take notes while watching their videos at home.  Then they use their notes for their WSQ chats.

I'm thinking it's time to shift how we do school.  If we are changing our delivery of instruction and how students show what they have learned, then shouldn't the environment in which we teach and learn change as well?  These are some of the things I am trying to work out.

How do you organize your class environment?  Do you have a class set of iPads?  If so, what do you do about interactive notebooks and journals? Any thoughts are appreciated!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

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.  Create 11 questions for my nominees to answer. 
6.  Contact my nominees to let them know they have been nominated.

So, here goes . . .

      1.  What is your classroom theme? My classroom theme is fish for Fisher. 

 2.  Who inspired you when you were a child? My math teacher, Mrs. Winnie Pone

 3.  What is your least favorite subject to teach? I hate to admit it but it's social studies

 4.  How do you spend your summers? I spend too much time on the internet finding wonderful new ideas for my class.  I try to take a little time to enjoy the beach!

 5.  If you could do something else other than teaching, what would it be?  I would love to be a lawyer.  I ask so many questions.

 6.  If you had three wishes what would they be? (1) That each of my three sons would be happy, safe and healthy (does that count as 3?) (2) that my husband and I had a house on the beach and (3) people would have respect and agape love for one another in spite of their differences.

 7.  Target or Walmart?  Target although my husband is a true Walmart shopper.

 8.  How often do you blog?  I probably blog every other week.

 9.  What is the last movie you’ve seen?  If you count the movie I rented on television the other day, it would be Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor by Tyler Perry but the last move I saw in the theater was Man of Steel (with my husband).

10.  What is one word you would use to describe your first day of school?  Hopeful!

11.   What motivates you?  Helping others.

11 Random Facts about Myself 
  1. I am very passionate when I believe in something.
  2. I love animals.  I have had rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, parakeets, finches, and now a snake and fish as class pets.  
  3. When I was little, I was afraid of the dark.
  4. I love the beach.
  5. I love teaching.  
  6. I have taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, and fifth grades.
  7. I have 3 sons.
  8. I am from North Carolina but have lived in Georgia for 29 years.
  9. I have been married to the same man for 29 years!
  10. Basketball is my favorite sport.
  11. I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

I would love to nominate the following bloggers for this award: 
  1. Deliah Bush at My Flipped Classroom.
  2. Marc at A Flipped Approach
  3. Michelle at Mrs. White's 5th Grade Class 
  4. Charlotte at Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun.  
  5. David at iPads in Primary Education

Questions for My Nominees 
  1. What made you decide to become a teacher?
  2.  How long have you been teaching?
  3. What is your least favorite subject to teach?
  4. What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
  5. What are you passionate about?
  6. What are you afraid of?
  7. What was the best book you read to your students?
  8. What is the best book/website you have found for professional development?
  9. What is your favorite restaurant?
  10. Do you have any pets?
  11. How often do you blog?

 I'm looking forward to learning more about some of my favorite bloggers.

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 create videos modeling how to solve math problems.

I love Educreations because it's easy to use.  These one-take videos were perfect to show their understanding of math concepts.  I posted their videos on Edmodo for other students to watch to help them review concepts.  

 2.  Pinnacle Studio - My students used this app to create a movie about our flipped classroom.  Aside from loading app, my students did everything . . . from the filming to editing and adding subtitles.    It's amazing what kids can do when you give them the tools and the freedom. 

3.  Students also used the camera to take pictures of real world examples of fractions around our school.  They used the pictures to describe the fractional pieces and create equations for addition and subtraction of fractions.

I can't wait to try many of the suggestions from other teachers in this Linky Party. Make sure you follow the Link to check out some of the other great ideas.


Wow! I can’t believe I have not posted anything this entire school year! I’m not sure what that means. I have decided that I will be retir...