Sunday, October 4, 2015

Organizing with WSQ

Note: This is a repost of a previous page.

My WSQ chart has changed throughout the years.  This was the latest version I used as a fifth-grade teacher.  Even with the form, I would get a message on Edmodo every day from at least one student asking "Mrs. Fisher, do we have to do a WSQ?" UGH!  Are you kidding me? What was I doing wrong?

After chatting with Crystal Kirch online, I realized what I was doing wrong. The WSQ (watch, summarize, question) is the format for watching the videos. It's not what you do after you watch the video! That simple change in thinking made a huge difference! Thanks Crystal!

After completing their summary, the students answered questions about the video on a Google Document. I could quickly check before class to see who understood the material on the video.

Then I switched to using the calendars you see below.  The chart would let them know when their video responses were due.  I stapled the chart into each child's math folder. This really helped the students stay on track with their assignments.  I got the idea for using the folders after reading Deliah Bush's blog post, "How Am I Making This Work?"

Next year I hope to have most of the guided questions filled in before giving these to the students. If your students need a template to help them summarize, they could still use the form and just paste it into their math notebooks. You can see initially I wanted to include the class activities we would do to practice the skill we learned in the video. Then later I switched to including the Learning Goal. I'm sure it will look a little different next year. It's a work in progress!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Microsoft Office 365, Oh My!

I've been missing in action for a minute.  This has been a busy year to say the least!   Last year, without being a Google classroom, I used Google Docs, and Google Drive with my students.  This year our county began using Microsoft Office 365, so that meant learning something new - ah-gain! I must say that OneNote has great professional development videos to help you set up your class notebooks.  But I tend to like the personal touch.

In walks Sandra.  Our school was chosen to begin taking quarterly tests online this year.  The good thing about that is we have a tech consultant based at our school for the first part of the year. How sweet is that? Sandra has been sooo helpful.  Whenever she comes in our class, the kids give her a round of applause! She was there to help me walk my students through the process of logging on to their OneNote accounts. Now instead of 6 notebooks, there's just One Notebook . . . OneNote... Get it! :-)

Flipping with Fisher
I still use interactive notebooks; I haven't figured out to make digital foldables. But the more we use OneNote, the more I'm starting to see the power behind it. 

My students are learning to highlight the main idea (and the important information) in a passage. That's a skill I wish I had learned earlier in life. I used to highlight everything while I was reading as opposed to read first and then select what is important.  I guess it's not too late to learn a new skill. :-) They can take notes in the margin to summarize what they learn.  Yes, they could do this just as easily on a sheet of paper, but would they be able to find it 3 weeks from now?  

Flipping with Fifth

I just finished adding material in the Content Library for our unit on Rocks & Minerals.  I am making an audio recording for my students that need support reading the text.  And get this, with the click of a button I can record and insert a video recording to introduce the lesson and scaffold the learning for my students.  Talk about flipping a lesson!  

Flipping with Fisher
When we started our multiplication unit, students used the Collaboration Space to create a group chart. For homework, they found things in their environment that came in groups.  Then in class, they worked together to create the chart. This was their first experience using the Collaboration Space in OneNote

Flipping with Fisher

Students without parent permission also worked in groups.  They just used paper and markers to create their chart. Students can use the information in their charts to create a book similar to What Comes in 2's, 3's, and 4's?.

Flipping with Fisher
I only have about 5 more students that need to register for the free subscription.  In the meantime, I am putting the materials on Edmodo for them. I'm hoping to get the remaining parent permissions soon! In the meantime, we'll keep chugging along.

Flipping with Fisher

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Follow Your Gut!

Just this week alone I have read 3 different posts on Twitter about how Minecraft, @MinecraftEdu, has improved students' reading comprehension or math skills. Every time I read one of these posts I can't help but think about Isabel.

To say Isabel LOVED Minecraft would be an understatement.  It was her passion. I don't believe a day went by without her trying to convince me that I should let the class download Minecraft on our iPads. She even enlisted some of the other students to try and convince me. And each day my response was something like "let me look at it" or "we'll see".

If I were to be completely honest I'd have to admit I was afraid.  Yep! I was afraid what other teachers would say if they ever found out I was letting my class play a game on their iPads. I was afraid that I couldn't justify why I was letting students play a game when they should be working. I didn't really understand the game myself. I, I, I . . . I wasn't thinking about the students!

Our class was only 1 of 2 classes in our entire school with a class set of iPads, so I felt like I had a responsibility to make sure the students used them for academics, not playing games. What I failed to realize was that playing games could lead to improved academics.  After all, we played other games in class to learn, didn't we?  How was playing games on a device any different?

I have often regretted not being brave enough to take a chance and follow the passions of my students.  Two years ago my fifth-grade students knew something that I am just now beginning to understand--don't be afraid to be different.  Don't be afraid to listen to your students. More importantly, follow the passions of your students or should I say follow your gut!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Awesome Apps

I wanted to share 3 awesome apps that I started using towards the second half of the school year: Book Creator, Seesaw, and Shadow Puppet EDU. All of these apps were easy for my 3rd grade students to use, but are also appropriate for older students. Basically, I made the apps available and they did the rest! I'm calling them "take it and run with it" apps! I have been able to learn more about the features of each app by following them on Twitter. For that reason, I am including their Twitter handle.

Shadow Puppet EDU
Twitter: @puppet
This app was a great way for my students to share what they learned with others.
The only prep on my part was to give my students a storyboard to help them plan their slideshow. They used the storyboard to record their voice over. At first, they wanted to include a lot of text on their slides, so I had to back up a little to talk about making more effective slideshows.  You can use Shadow Puppet's storyboard or you can easily create your own specific to your task.

Students can easily find photos with the image search options without even leaving the app. We first used Shadow Puppet after our study of Georgia Regions.


Twitter: @Seesaw
Seesaw is a great learning journal.  Students do not need a username or password.  They can simply scan your class QR Code to log in.  As a teacher, you can decide how your kids log in based on the availability of devices in your class.  I have a class set of iPads, so we use the "individual student sign-in" option.  For classes with limited devices, there is a "classroom sign-in" mode.  You can then choose to allow students to view their classmates' journals or just their own. You can add folders for each subject, if you choose, making this the perfect digital notebook.

When I say this is easy for kids to use, I'm not kidding.  When I first met Seesaw, a kindergarten teacher shared it with me and at first glance, I thought it was a little primary for my students.  Boy! Was I wrong!  The expectation of the teacher is what determines the students' end result.
Why aren't these magnets touching?
Student Reflection

Imagine a student showing a solution to a math problem and then explaining how they solved it with a voice recording. Awesome! 
A voice recording explains how they solved the problem
Parents can be invited to join and they can like or leave comments on their child's journal post. This is a great way to share the happenings in your class.  Students and teachers can add videos, files, pictures, audio recordings and drawings with a simple touch! I forgot to mention--Seesaw is now available on Chromebooks and Android devices as well as Chrome and Firefox on desktop computers! Awe--some!

Twitter: @BookCreatorApp 
Both of the apps I just mentioned are free.  Book Creator also has a free version so you can try it out.  But believe me, you will definitely want to purchase the app.  Why?  Students can create an unlimited number of books with the paid version. It is so easy to use this program, even I could do it! My kids were so excited to become real authors and share the books they created with others. Students can upload their books to iBooks or export them as a PDF file to print or as a video to post to the web.


Everyone was busy adding books written by their classmates to their iBooks shelf. The next day it was no surprise that everyone wanted to read books written by their classmates during independent reading.
Sharing Books using AirDrop
I haven't even begun to tap into the power of Book Creator. Students can collaborate on books. They can work on their own section and then combine the books for a collaborative effort.  You can create class books by assigning a section to individuals or small groups. A few weeks ago I realized that I could use this app to write (for lack of a better word) "textbooks" for my class and then share it with them using AirDrop.  Hummm, that sounds like a good summer project!

Like I said before, you will definitely want to follow these apps on Twitter. Just enter their Twitter handle in the search and you will find tons of resources and ideas to help you use these tools in your classrooms.   I'm so excited about the possibilities!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Summer PD

Today was the beginning of my summer break and after I woke up naturally (no alarms going off) and took the dogs out, I sat down at my computer; just to see what was happening in the world. And I am so glad I did. First, I ran across a post about the different types of blended classes, which got me thinking about my flipping experience.

When I first started flipping, I taught fifth grade and I flipped my math class in the traditional way: students watched videos at night, took notes, and completed an online quiz or used Google Doc to show their understanding. Then in class, we were able to spend time doing more hands-on type activities. Later, I added science to the mix.

Flipping math and science gave me so much time in class to do hands-on activities and labs. After doing it this way for a couple of years, I found myself moving to 3rd grade; with a much younger bunch of students. How would this work with 3rd-grade students?  I must admit I was a little worried. But I knew the value of flipping a class so I couldn't give it up!

Moving to 3rd grade meant that I needed to tweak how I flipped my class. Initially, I still assigned videos, but I saw that most of the students ended up watching them in class; which was perfectly fine! Actually, it probably worked out better for this age group. They could watch in class and then work on activities after they finished.  I was also there to immediately address any questions they had.

Next year, it will be that way by design. Of course, students can still review the videos at home,   I've been reading more about in-class flips or in-flip and it seems like that's the direction I'm headed in.  I just read in a newsletter from Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams how Randy Brown flips his 3rd-grade class.  He divides the class into 2 groups.  While 1 group watches the video, he helps the other group complete work. Essentially he lowers his student-teacher ratio by cloning himself!

No, I won't spend my entire summer reading or planning. I will go the beach and be mesmerized by the waves coming and going, but until that happens you can find me online @shefish52.

Do you flip a younger class?  
Please share what you have found to be successful in the comments below.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You Are Awesome!

Someone recently told me I was an awesome teacher.  I said that to say most days I don't feel so awesome! I haven't won any awards, or published any books; which is something I have wanted to do since I was in the fifth grade.  In fact most days I feel overwhelmed.  I feel like there was something else I should have done or could have done to reach my students. It seems there is always a lesson that I didn't get to, something that will have to wait until the next day.  It goes without saying that most teachers probably feel overwhelmed at one time or another.  Don't they?

I also think there are a lot of wonderful teachers who don't hear how awesome they truly are.  So the next time you get a chance, take a moment to tell another teacher how awesome you think they are. They will appreciate it, even if they don't happen to be feeling it at the moment!  

Image Courtesy of Angela Williams

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Biggest Loser

For some strange reason I was laying in bed thinking about dresses.  I don't own many dresses and the few I do own are all different sizes reflective of (how shall I say this?)  how large or small I have been throughout my life. Even though I have donated a lot of my clothes from time to time, for some reason I still have different sized dresses hanging in my closet.  The problem is they simply don't fit.

I'm beginning to think this describes me teaching third grade. Like my dresses, I have taught a lot of different grades. I've actually taught all grades from kindergarten to fifth.  And like my dresses I have loved them all.  Except for this one!

If I may be honest this has been a difficult change for me: moving from fifth to third grade.  When I think about the other times I have switched grades, they were gradual changes.  I didn't notice them as much.  I moved up or down 1 grade at a time.  From first to kindergarten, K back to first, then K-1, even K-1-2, I skipped third, then fourth and fifth before moving down to third.  Without revealing my actual dress size, it was pretty much the same with my dresses.  I moved up or down just a little so the difference wasn't that noticeable.  I transitioned into each new grade level (like my dresses) smoothly.  So when I thought about going down to third grade, I thought that transition would be just as smooth. . . Easy Peasy. . . WRONG!

It's a whole lot harder to move down 2 dress sizes than it is to go up one!  You've got to change things to be successful: your eating habits, exercise more . . . .  And that takes work!  So with third-grade, I have had to change how I do some things.  Nothing drastic, but still changes needed to be made to make that dress fit comfortably.

I've changed things like only eating snacks at tables.  That "working snack" thing did not work! Wrappers were left here and there . . . crumbs on the floor.   And calling one table at a time to come to the carpet instead of the whole group or saying the "Word of the Day" as a signal to move from one place to another.

Maybe I'm thinking about this because it's time to fill out the form to say what position I would love to have next year and it would be so easy to slip back into that larger dress size.  It's so comfy!  But would it be the best?  I must say, there are some days this third-grade dress fits much better than others.

I think I'll keep working out to make it a comfortable fit. . .


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...