Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Versailles trip - très bien

Nearpod's latest feature - Virtual Field Trips

Students have the opportunity to view the world from their finger tips with the help of Nearpod's Virtual Field Trips and hardware from Unofficial Google Cardboard.  If students are learning about Ancient Greece, they simply grab their togas, google cardboard and nearpod app and off to the Acropolis they go.  Time travel never was easier.  "I can reach out and touch it, as if I was there." - the voice of a 3rd grader.  

How do I launch a Virtual Field Trip in my classroom?  It's simple, follow these steps:

1.  Sign up for a free Nearpod Account
2.  Explore the premade Virtual Field Trips from the Library
3.  Add your own field trips by creating a new presentation, choose My Library, New Presentation.
4.  Select Add Slide, Add Content, Virtual Field Trips.  You will need to upgrade to the Gold Membership for $12 a month or go to the upgrade for free in the top right and share the link with 5 friends to receive the gold membership free for 6 months.
5.  Publish the presentation.
6.  View live, enter the pin in the "join session" box on another computer, ipad, smartphone, or tablet.  7.  To view the virtual field trips on the smartphone, click on the mask looking icon on the top right, put phone inside google cardboard.  The cardboard only works on the smartphones. The tablets and ipads can be moved around and up and down to view the field trip.

Virtual Reality is not only taking the education world by storm, but also the "real" world.  New York Times is parterning with Google to produced the documentary, "Displaced", about uprooted children from the war.

To read more about how Megan, a 4th grade teacher in Fulton County integrates Nearpod Virtual Field Trips with her classroom, check out her blog.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


The MakerMovement is an umbrella term for the independent inventors, rethinkers, and tinkers. Important for our students, teaching them to think outside the box.  Use their imagination.  A project without lines.  Creation only limited to imagination.  A future that is bright for our students.  One that is not consuming, but creating.

Lots of STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, ART and Math

Atlanta has it's Maker Faire this weekend.  The kids and I tinkered, explored, and invented.
Made me think about what kind of maker I am.  What kind of maker are you?

UpCycled CD-Rom Turn Headband Spinners

Planets Bracelet - In order

My super talented and very smart daughter followed the directions on the website to create her very own planets bracelet.  So proud of her.  She worked hard with a set of crimps and pliers.  Well done, HP!

Paper Making

The kids learned how to make paper.  They started with a wire mesh tray in water with loose cotton fibers.  The fibers stuck to the wire mesh.  Next station required vacuuming the excess water.  Last station, iron the paper.  Yes, iron for 10 seconds.  Very cool indeed.  And what is even cooler, Atlanta has it's own world renoun paper museum.  The Georgia Tech Museum of Paper Making.  They have several school programs, from Paper Works, Paper in Our World, Paper Travel to Book Arts.  The standards covered are listed on their website.  They even custom tailor programs, simply contact the Education Curator.

Maker Shed Projects

Brush Bots or moving toothbrush heads really were amusing.  Great for a birthday party or after school club.

MiniMaker Faire coming soon to a Barnes and Noble Near You

Hello, My Name is Chip

My son and I are assembling this little guy tomorrow.  It's one of the several MakerShed projects. When we are done, we will take the challenge to create paper chip.

Up to You After School - Middle School Club

Out of this world, AMAZING!  Incredible.  These words seem to do this club injustice.  This is one club you will want to learn more about.

Droves of middle school students attend the Up to You monthly club meeting to learn more about international injustices such as world hunger, poverty, lack of clean water, and human trafficking.  On this particular Tuesday, the afternoon bell rings, middle school students pile into the gregarious, up-beat, go-getter, Ms. C. Wood's classroom. The mastermind behind the club.  They are learning about social injustices, but not in the typical way.  These students learn by doing.  Ms. Wood and her outstanding team sponsors (Mrs. B. Wood, Mrs. Sexton, Mrs. Connally, Mrs. Maulding, and Mr. Harris) have ingeniously designed tasks for students to complete while learning about social injustices.

Today's Topic:  Rice Field Slaves
On my visit, students began by watching a You Tube Video on a bonded servant (born into slavery) in the rice fields.  For 18 hours a day he works separating rice so we can eat it. Yep, that would be the equivalent of two consecutive school days working - in the heat, with no shoes, and little water. Not to mention the verbal and physically abusive conditions.  You could hear a pin drop as students watch, moved by the words of this slave - longing for freedom.  Eager to learn more. We learn best by doing.  Next step?  Complete four tasks to simulate the environment/conditions of slavery.  Students work in teams of 3 or 4.  They have 30 minutes to complete all four tasks.  Incentives?  Oh yes, Ms. Wood knows how to motivate her middle schoolers if their team is first or second to complete the four tasks they receive a penny necklace.  A necklace to serve as a reminder that everyone has value.  The winning teams earns $5 to go towards a gift basket for a teacher of their choice. Learn more about the End It Movement.

Task 1:  Digging for Dinner

As students enter they read information pertaining to the task in relation slavery. In this task, Student separate rice from sand, shells, rocks, and dirt for their dinner.  A huge bin filled with rice and these other particles are placed on a table, using an aluminium foil pie tin with holes, students sift out rice, enough to make a half cup.  A half cup of clean rice that is.  Once complete students eagerly get the task signed off and zoom to the next station.

Task 2:  Money Talks

At this task, students optimize bartering skills.  In order to receive the ingredients to make dough (salt, flour, water) they have to give something (purse, shoe, phone, etc).  Recipe?  Nope. Students experiment with various amounts until the ingredients form a dough mixture.

Task 3:  Chasing Waterfalls

Clean water.  A luxury we take for granted.  Along with many others - First World Problems, Read by Third World People.  The challenge:  students use a coffee filter to pour dirty water through to get clean water into their water bottle.  They need half a water bottle full of clean water for their check off at this task.

Task 4: Grind it Out

At this task, students are given coffee beans, using lots of creativity and ingenuity they are to quickly make them into coffee grounds.

Meaningful words from teachers/students

A teacher says, "I haven't seen this much passion in teaching in a long time."
A fellow colleague says, "She (Ms. C. Wood) is beyond amazing, she comes up with all these ideas herself."
A 7th graders perspective " Up to You club is an eye opening interactive club.  We do things that other slaves do on a day to day basis.  The first club meeting, we had to go fetch water in huge Home Depot buckets and carry it a long way without spilling very much water. (If we had a certain amount full, we received our club shirt).  It took forever because my team had to keep stopping to re-grip.  I hope that Up to You will continue for a long, long, time."
Oh and all those cute adorable signs?  Yes, Ms. C. Wood is not only brilliant in curriculum development and instruction, but a rockstar DIYer!

We are more than thankful to have her at our middle school.  She is admired by colleagues and treasured by students.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

21st Century Media Center Extraordinaire

Last week, I got to do something that I rarely get an opportunity to do, but is one of my favorite things!  A big thanks to my colleague, Kris, my tour guide.  Visit a neighboring school district.  What a treat!  Wow!  Super Wow!  Triple Wow! Words can't express enough wow factor for Medlock Bridge's Elementary School Media Center. Personalized Learning, Genius Hour, MakerSpace, oh my!  Are just the tip of the iceberg in this media center's digital toolbox. A huge shout out to Mrs. Hutchens, MBES Principal, a strong advocate of transforming today's digital learners.

Ms. Martin, the master mind behind the media center, goes to great lengths to ensure learning for all students. And it doesn't stop there, she ensures teachers are plugged into learning at its fullest potential.  Her mission:  transformational learning.  How?  Glad you asked.  A few of my highlights:

1.  Personalized Learning Spaces
The circle pads were purchased via Scholastic.  Search for carpet squares.

2.  Read Across America Garden
In honor of Dr.Suess's Read Across Amercia Day, MBES hosts Read Across Medlock Day. Utlizing the one book one school concept.  One year they did Tales of Despereaux.  Another year "The World According to Humphrey".  Complete with the media center's very own hamster.  The hamster had his own blog.  Check his blog out on their website.  Ms. Martin, started a Truffula garden. Each student who completed their reading log was given a seed.  Look at their beautiful garden. Look real close and you can see the rocks the book club painted.  Ms. Martin leaves no stone unturned.

3.  Digital Citizenship Station - Jenga Blocks
Before students are able to use the iPads they must complete 2.5 hours of digital citizenship coursework to earn their digital passport.  This station has students trying not to knock the Jenga wall down while carefully taking out a block.  Some blocks have questions about digital citizenship. Some questions are turn and talks, others are tips.  Every so often a brain break video.

4.  Digital Citizenship Station - Graffiti Wall
Students write what they have learned about being safe online.  Each grade will have their graffitti walls displayed in the hallway.

5.  Genius Hour
The entire school participates in the genius hour.  This is during their NBI time each day.  Each grade level has their own variation.  For example, the younger grades may focus on a theme.  One grade focused on character traits.  The first trait:  kindness.  The class brainstormed ways they could show kindness.  With help from various site and resources engaging students in developing deep questions, inquiry based learning and Wondertropolis aided teachers.  Their kindness project,  designing and hiding bookmarks for other students to find in the media center.  Another class used chalk to write positive words on the 4th grade playground.  Older students work on passion projects. Such as learning to knit or one student learned how to shoot a slingshot in hockey just to name a few. A free guide to the first 20 days of Genius Hour with interactives.

The vegetable garden is the product of the 2nd grade genius hour. They researched various gardens, including a sound garden, made with real instruments.  The final step included designing a presentation to the governing PTA board for funding. And this year, the project is underway.

6.  MakerSpace Center

Ms. Martin thinks of everything.  She has a table set up in the media center for students to create. When they finish their lesson and checking out books while in the media center or when finished with class assignments, this space is open for tinkering and creating.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Additions to Bingo Baker - Change Grid Size and Adding Images

New Additions to Bingo Baker

A few posts ago, Bingo Baker was mentioned.  After working with a few primary teachers the topic came up of creating smaller boards and adding images for our "littles."  Mr. Bingo Baker developer was awesome, he heard our request and went to work.  Guess what?  A week later, the option of a 5x5 grid or 3x3 and inserting images.  How's that for customer service?

Here's a board with images and smaller grid size:

It's free and easy to use.  Make a board for your class today!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

TKES TAP Performance Standard 8: Academically Challenging Environment

TKES TAPS Performance Standards

As part of the Race to the Top Initiative (RT3), Georgia, in collaboration with RT3 Districts, educational partners, and the Evaluation Task Force Committee, developed a new effectiveness system for teacher evaluation and professional growth.  It was piloted in 2012 and currently has been launched.

The TAPS consists of five domains and ten standards.  Standard eight, Academically Challenging Environments, characterizes the teacher created a student-centered, academic environment in which teaching and learning occur at high levels and students are self directed learners.  An example, the teacher conveys the message that mistakes should be embraced as a valuable part of learning.  Other wise known in twitter circles, as growth mindsets.  Growth mindsets teach students to persevere through a problem.  These statements are helpful for parents, too.  Thank you, @Primary_Ed for the awesome presentation of self statements.

Larry Ferlazzo's Blog, Websites of the Day, contains movie clips featuring Growth Mindsets.  What relief a student might gain from watching characters find their struggles and failures are okay and of value to the finished product.

We as teachers offer more than education, we offer hope to struggling learners.

Friday, August 21, 2015

TechEds Awarded District of Distinction

TechEds, Innovative Professional Development Initiative Earns
National Recognition
District Administration’s District of Distinction, a national program that honors innovative, problem-solving school districts

Before the Paulding County School District launched the TechEds program in 2014, 33 percent of teachers reported using technology monthly or less frequently in the classroom. The Georgia district was falling behind on technology integration, a problem leaders combatted with a rigorous professional development program that included six days of training, ongoing individual coaching, and continuous virtual learning. The effort was a resounding success. Today, 100 percent of teachers in the district report using technology on a daily or weekly basis, and they say their students are using it, too.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bingo on iPads!

Bingo Baker Generate Random Bingo Cards 

Sitting for long periods of time can be a challenge for our young learners and for us adults, too!  So when given a chance to make learning fun and get the wiggles out, count me in!  Bingo Baker, is an online bingo board creator.  And it's free.  The free option allows you to create as many boards as you would like. If you want to edit your bingo boards or print more than 8 at a time, you can pay to become a member for $9.95 for life.  I am using Bingo Baker Boards for Getting to Know You (G2KU) activities in my trainings.  

Teachers can print the boards as well as print out call lists.

To add an element of technology fun, I have created a QR Code for teachers to scan to play bingo on their iPads or Tablets.  The cool part?  Each time the QR Code is scanned a new Bingo Board is generated.  So no two students have the same board. Students simply tap on the square on their device it turns yellow, if tapped again it will return to white.  Need another board?  Simply refresh.

Check out the great math Bingo Baker connection on @Maththecy's blog.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#throwbackthursday - Databox Flashbacks

Who remembers the old dot matrix printers? ( I am showing my age on this one)  You know the ones we used in college computer labs that required switching the printer to print from Computer A, Computer B, C or D.  Am I getting a few nods?

So why not try this same concept for an iPad and computer?  At the teacher station (hooked to a classroom overhead projector) often switching back and forth between the monitor and iPad can be a bit troublesome taking out the VGA cord from the computer and hooking into the dongel to display the iPad screen on the projector.  I use the dongel below for the iPad2 to project on the screen.

In comes the "old school" data switch box.  By switching from A to B, either the computer screen or the iPad screen is projected on the screen.  Viola!

Simply place the VGA Cable from the computer to the I/O (input/output) of the data switchbox.  Place the pictured cable below in the A or B and connect one to the dongel on the iPad and the other to the computer.

The data switch boxes typically come with 4 of these male to male end cables.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Adding Color to The Noun Project Icons

At the  #ISTE2015 Conference I was introduced to this AMZING noun repository site called The Noun Project.  There are tons of free icon-like clipart.  Create a free login to download.  There are three options for downloading these beauties.  First, free with the credit to the author embedded in the clipart.  Second, purchase single uses of the clipart.  Thirdly, purchase a monthly or yearly license for unlimited clipart downloads. For more details, see the pricing guide.  Below is the free example with image credit.

Another super cool trick I learned from Tony Vincent's session on images was how to recolor the images. Tony shows how to recolor them using Method Draw.  See Tony's step-by-steps here.  I wanted to try recoloring with PicMonkey.  

How cool is this?  Do you know how many times images are used in education?  From teacher presentations, student presentations, digital storytelling, comic strips, book reports, to claymation, and the list goes on and on.  

Steps for Recoloring in PicMonkey:
1.  Choose Design in PicMonkey, select square
2.  Select Overlay on the left (butterfly icon)
3.  Select Choose Your Own at the top
4.  Open clipart from The Noun Project
5.  Recolor with image editing dialogue box
6.  Change translucency if desired.
7.  Add text with the text tool
8. Save, import into another project.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Visual QR Codes with Visualead

Guess what I learned this week?  How to create visual QR Codes with Visualead then edit with PicMonkey.  These could be created for open house with a link to your class website. Imagine the possibilities.  How would you use it with your students?  Parents?  Community? At the time these were created, the free account allowed for 3 visual QR Codes with ads. Really like it?  Want more?  Here is the Pricing guide.


How to Create a QR Code using a photograph: 

1.  Create an account with Visualead.  Easiest to sign in with a Google Acocunt. 
2.  Select Dashboard, Create QR Code 
3.  For the one above, I chose the Website URL QR Code (first one).  Depending on the type of QR code created, choose accordingly. 
4. Copy and paste the URL code into the box. 
5. Upload your photograph - select large pink box at the top of the page. 
6. Edit QR Code - can have some fun with this. 
7. Click on Create QR Code. 
8. Right click, save as, choose folder location and filename 

How to edit in PicMonkey

1.  Go to PicMonkey
2.  Choose Touch Up, Computer 
3.  Select the QR Code image 
4.  Click on frames on the left. 
5.  Select a few borders- Simple Edge, Drop Shadow, etc. 
6.  Test the QR code to be sure it works after frames - it should with no problem, but I always like to test it. 
7.  Select save at the top. 
8.  It's ready to be imported into Word, Powerpoint, etc.  Then printed for distribution. 

Get creative!  If you make one share it with us below in the comments.  We would love to see them.