Monday, December 9, 2013

Hour of Code is Here
The Hour of Code is here.  I will be posting throughout the week about what we are doing to celebrate the Hour of Code at our school.

Learn what most schools don't teach Video

Friday, November 15, 2013

I Heart Symbaloo

Yes...I love Symbaloo! After having only taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, the transition to teaching all grades, particularly K-2, was a little tough.  They have a smaller attention span, a lot of my K babies had never been to school before, and for the most part they can't read.  I needed to find a way to allow my Kindergarten students to navigate to different pages.  Symbaloo was the answer! I am able to share out my webmixes with students using AB Tutor and then they can follow the various links/tiles to the websites of the day that they get to explore.  With my younger students we spend a lot of time working on closing tabs, exiting out of windows, clicking/double clicking, drag and drop, and problem solving independently.  These Symabloo webmixes have allowed me to do just that while allowing students to move at their own pace changing activities with their attention spans!
I have now created half a dozen Symbaloo pages and wanted to share them with you! Check them out!
Mouse Skills
Sorting Games
Typing Practice
Research Links (3-8)
Halloween Games (K-2) - Kindergarten and 1st grade are limited to the tiles on the left while 2nd graders can go to any of them
Thanksgiving - Its a work in progress since I'm working on it now but it is set up similarly to the Halloween pages...K-1 on left, 2nd on right

You can also search webmixes that have been create by other people.  Check out the ones created by Kinderchat.  He has ones with animal e-books, listen to reading books, letter sound videos, Just Dance videos and more!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Perfect Marriage of History and Common Core

On Friday mornings during planning, the Related Arts team covers different grades so they can have an additional planning period to help collaborate for Common Core.  At first it was very frustrating! I felt like I was a substitute going into classes and trying to teach lessons in which I did not know the background content or how to connect it to their prior learning.  In the past couple weeks I have gotten into a routine with the classroom teachers and turned it into a time to collaborate with them. Most recently I have discovered  This site is a gold mine to provide self directed common core-esque social studies learning.  There are sections on World History, US History, Geography, and Religion.  Each page has a question at the top followed by articles, fact boxes, pictures, maps, videos, and sometimes links to interactive explorations. (A downside is that many of the embedded videos play through YouTube so at my school they are blocked on the student log-on.) In fifth grade we focused on the Industrial Revolution and in fourth grade we focused on Colonial America.  While evaluating the content, students answered the questions from each page in a Google Form that I created.  I made sure that their name and teacher were required questions but the rest were optional to allow them to work at their own pace without being rushed to finish them all.  This allowed some students to really dive deeper into the questions and areas that interested them.  The classroom teachers really appreciated that the students were building on their knowledge from their classroom and then they were able to see their work as well (responses from the Google Form fill a Google Spreadsheet that I share with the teacher).

If you have not checked out this great website, check it out now!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Amazon Boxes Always Bring Kid's Books

One of the things that I immediately began missing was books - mini lesson books, writer's mentor texts, independent chapter books - books. So I went searching on Amazon and found some for the computer lab! I was a giddy school girl when they came..and I still have 2 more shipments :-)  I'm going to use them for early finishers and some read alouds that I'm going to be doing to help classroom teachers with Common Core.

Children's Books for the Computer Lab:

Savvy Cyber Kids: The Defeat of the Cyber Bully
The Computer Teacher from the Black Lagoon
The Berenstain Bear's Computer Trouble
Arthur's Computer Disaster
The Magic Schools Bus Gets Programmed
Faux Paws Dangerous Download

I ordered my books from and from is a site that sells new and used books to keep.  They have free US shipping and support children's literacy programs!

What are your favorite computer lab books?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

It feels like the very first time

So this is my 7th year teaching.....but it feels like the very first year.  In my new role I have to balance helping teachers integrate technology into their instruction, solve teachers' IT problems, update the school website, make decisions regarding the distribution and organization of school wide devices (this year we'll have 150 Chromebooks and 130 iPads to circulate around the school), and plan and prepare lessons for grades K-5 in the computer lab.  I put too much stress on myself and I want to do it all perfectly...well there just isn't enough time in the day and I'm having to learn how to say no.  Everyday has been better and I've felt more comfortable.  However, managing Kindergarten will definitely take the longest to get use to :-)

Here are some pictures of my new space.  I'm excited about some of the areas I have created and I cannot wait to have the kids enjoy it everyday.

I put my mom to work on this when she came in during a teacher workday.  I found it on Pinterest and Tracy over at Creekside Teacher Tales even has the free printable for it!

I've had Cami the camel in my class for 6 years now so I didn't understand why all the teachers were so in love with it all of a sudden.  They kept hollering "What Day Is It?"  Since I don't have cable I hadn't seen the Geico commercial so I didn't quite get it.  They have now enlightened me and even most of my students have seen the commercial so we are all loving Cami this year :-)

This is a "bulletin board" I made at the back of the class with helpful vocabulary "What's you cursor telling you?"  You can download it from my TPT store here.

In the library corner I have this magnetic board where students can change the emoticon to describe how they are feeling.  Just a fun, interactive area!  You can purchase the set on TPT.

I found these NETS standards in student friendly terms online.  Instead of just posting them in the class I am going to use this wall similarly to a Daily 5 or CAFE wall (the classroom teacher in me).  This means when students in any of the grades learn something that falls under a category either one of the students or myself will make a small sign to go under the heading.  For example, during our first and second rotation we are talking about Instagram.  Instagram allows users to share photos so we will make a label for Instagram to go under Share It.

Teaching about 800 students is going to make it near impossible to learn all the students' names.  This is why I think name tags at the computers are imperative.  This year I have to have 2 sets for each computer since the morning classes are on a 6 day rotation and the afternoon classes are on a 7 day rotation.  Confusing..right?!  They are each on a binder ring that can be flipped each day and they hang either on the wall just above the monitors or on the side of the monitors.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Write Stuff (alternate algorithms and writing in math)

At the beginning of the summer I presented at a workshop with a colleague.  I have been wanting to present at a workshop for a while but never wanted to go at it alone and needed a topic that I felt pretty confident at.  When I started at my current school I immediately linked with one of the 4th grade teachers - she is amazing - and we also have similar styles which helps in the sharing ideas.  So for this summer's conference at the local university I convinced her to present with me on writing and alternate algorithms in math.  We both use Everyday Mathematics in our classrooms and believe in the importance of students understanding and explaining the math behind an algorithm.

I pulled together our resources, several research articles, YouTube videos and more into a website to share during our session.  There are some great videos that you can share with your students (and their parents) to help review the alternate strategies and help with homework.  Take a look.... It covers addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division algorithms as well as writing in math.

Do you use alternate algorithms in your class?

What strategies do you use to get students writing in math?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Story Buddy App

This summer I am working with the Lunch and Learn summer school program at my school.  With the K-1 class, I am using an iPad app called Story Buddy.  In class they read Nate the Great and the Monster Mess. Then, students wrote a story and drew a picture about their own monster. I then got to pull small groups of 5 to have them type and illustrate their stories on the iPad. They loved this part. I heard... "I love writing." "I love typing." "Writing on the iPad is so fun."

I had students first type their story into the app. They included a title page and then they typed one sentence per page. Then they got to go back in and add illustrations to each page.  The app also has the option to insert pictures from the Camera Roll so students could have saved pictures from internet research or taken their own with the camera. After I print out their stories then they will be able to staple them together and take the stories home to share with their parents.

Check them out hard at work....

Here are a couple finished works of art...

My Munster (love their spelling/typing)

*Since the school iPads aren't hooked up to print, I saved them as a PDF and opened in my Evernote account to print from the computer.  From Evernote I also have the option to email the stories straight to their parents.

While they really enjoyed using the iPads, the monster cookies that they also made were a huge success :-)
Pre-Icing Cookies.
Our fabulous chef in the kitchen baked them for us!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


So this time last year I left the school, state, and grade level where I was teaching.  This time I'm staying at the same school and only switching positions so in theory it should be easier...right?  I keep telling myself this but a lot is going to be different next year.  For 6 years I have taught in the classroom whether it be grade 3, 4, or 5; inclusion with special education or gifted/talented; math and science or everything.  Now I'm leaving the regular classroom and I will be one of the school's two technology teachers. I will teach grades K-5 as a related arts/specials/elective teacher.  There are lots of good things about this (in no particular order)...

  1. Experience teaching the little ones.  Having only taught grades 3-5 this new position will provide some much needed experience teaching K-2 if I want to move into other positions.  Plus they are just so darn cute :-) ... when they're not having bathroom accidents, their hands aren't in their mouths or up their nose, etc.
  2. Opportunities to lead professional development.  I read blogs and spend way too much time on Pinterest (follow me here) so I have all these ideas swimming around in my head.  I love the opportunity to share them with others - friends, colleagues, new teachers, etc.  I already have the chance to present a session on iPads in Kindergarten with a K teacher at my school this August.  In this role, I should be posting on the blog more regularly.
  3. 1 subject to teach - just at 6 different levels
  4. No homework to assign (or grade)
  5. None of the paperwork that comes from being a homeroom teacher
  6. Only 45 minutes with each class - blessing and a curse
There are also some things that I'm not looking forward to....
  1. Teaching the little ones.  I think it will be a big learning curve on breaking everything down into smaller and slower steps.
  2. Breaking technology down in 6 different levels.  The NETS standards aren't very specific.
  3. Teaching 6 different grades and trying to integrate 6 different reading, math, social studies, and science curriculums.  It is a great opportunity to help support teachers in the implementation of Common Core standards but I just have to learn them all.
  4. I'm packing up my classroom library and math resources.  I love books. I love math. I must find a way to still pass on my joy for these subjects.
  5. Only 45 minutes with each class. Luckily classes come to technology twice in a 6 day rotation so I'm able to see them a bit more than the other related arts teachers.
  6. No kids that are "mine." I realize that I will now get to claim all the students at the school but I won't have the same relationship with them.
  7. Oh and did I mention that as of June I was actually going to change from 5th grade to 4th grade so my students just took stacks of things and put them in my new classroom and now I have to go through everything to decide what to send to storage and what to move to the computer lab?! Ahh!
Wish me luck!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Someone Once Said...

I subscribe to a daily quote from the Happiness Project.  This was today's....

"After all, a vacation is not a matter of place or time. We can take a wonderful vacation in spirit, even though we are obliged to stay at home, if we will only drop our burdens from our minds for a while. But no amount of travel will give us rest and recreation if we carry our work and worries with us."
- Laura Ingalls Wilder, essay September 1919

Teachers are bad about working all summer on professional development, classroom organization, Pinterest-ing, etc.  Make sure you take a break at some point over summer BREAK! :-)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Geometry and Fraction Bulletin Board

I work with the local university to mentor beginning education majors.  One of their assignments is to complete a bulletin board.  Both semesters my mentees have rocked out their bulletin boards.  Since they are in the classroom working with students and observing during math, both have centered around math topics.  In the fall we planned and implemented an art project focused around The Greedy Triangle.  Students then completed artwork and a response that demonstrated their knowledge of similar and congruent shapes.  Check out their work...

 Students hard at work on their works of art.  It was pajama day so you'll have to excuse their jammies.

This week we are deep into our fraction unit.  I didn't have time to break the pacing too much so my mentee went with an instructional bulletin board centered on fractions.  She obviously did her research, and thought it out before working through it.  She left while I was teaching so I didn't have a chance to tell her how amazing it is.  I will be shooting her an email shortly. Check out her work....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Seamless Teaching

 If you do not subscribe to Teaching Tolerance's free should.  (Click here to subscribe!) It comes with great articles, lessons, and resources for immediate use in the classroom.  One article that stuck out to me was Seamless Teaching.  It goes into some detail to help general ed. classroom teachers navigate the world of inclusion and co-teaching.

Illustration by Sunny Paulk

Friday, February 22, 2013

I Care!

I stumbled upon a great article posted onto Character Counts blog called What We Know About Superheroes.  There were some great quotes in the article that I wanted to pull out and share.....a great reminder of how far classroom climate can go.  

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. John C Maxwell