Flipping for the IceMan...Part I

Flipping for the IceMan...Part I

You may have noticed that technology or using technology in my classroom is my "BEST Practice".    For my entire teaching carrer I've have taught students and staff members technology skills and applications. This year I am adding 6th grade Social Studies to my list.  I spent my entire summer break coming up with a plan to teach a subject I'm not 100% comfortable with, so I've have gone to what I do best teaching with technology.

I have been learning a lot about the "Flipped Classroom".  Since social studies is not my main subject I thought what the heck lets try flipped instruction.  As my class was finishing up with our Culture project I kept planting some seeds that we would be working on a IceMan project.  I divided up the project into "Departments" a art department, a book research department, a teaching department, a online research department, a tech department, a creative writing department, and the science department.  I then had my students pick 3 departments they would like to work in.  After I had my students placed into their departments I did inform them what they were responsible for.  My students got into their departments and then I gave them our project.  The only directions I gave them was "We are going to make a website over the IceMan."  I didn't tell them any information about the IceMan.  I did inform them that my only job was to be a facilitator/moderator.

My jaw dropped when they set to work.  The online researchers in a split second found the IceMan, double checked that was what they needed to be researching and started writing down resources.  The book researchers got together and started in on the books I found.  The art department asked the researches if what they found was the IceMan and started planning how to either draw him or use the pictures they have found.  The scientist started planning on how to make a mummy.  The teachers got busy planning how they would teach everyone.  The tech department started planning out the website.  This team work not only happened once but in both of my social studies classes.  Now I wished I had taken some photos.  My only problem I had was the noise level.  They were all so excited that the noise kept getting louder and louder.

Since this project is just in its infancy you will need to check our progress as we develop our website on the IceMan.

Our Websites:  

Exit Slips in 160 Characters or Less...

Exit Slips in 160 Characters or Less...

For the past week my 6th grade students have been learning about culture.  We brainstormed what culture was and create a collage of items that best represents culture.  Students then had to do an impromptu persuasive speech on why their collage best represented culture.  After the speeches were finished we then voted on which collages best represented culture.  Now it was time to assess if my students understood culture before we head onto the Ancient Civilizations.   I racked my brain trying to figure out how I was going to assess their opinion on what culture means to them.  Then it hit me.  I just used WallWisher which is a free online collaborating tool with my computer apps class to build a technology terminology wall, why can't I use that same tool as an exit slip.

I posted the question and gave instructions to my students to write what culture means to them.  In one glance I can see which students got the concept of culture and which ones did not.  I also can see which students that need more practice in typing compete and proper sentences.

Who would have thought that online sticky notes could be used as an assessment tool?

Tech Tip:

  • Set up the wall before class.
  • If you have a class website or blog embed the wall so it is easier for students to find.
  • When setting up the wall check mark that you want to approve all posts.
  • Have students erase Anonymous and type in their 1st name. 

Online Word Walls

Online Word Walls ...

I attended a webinar over using Wall Wisher which is a free online collaboration tool.  A lightbulb went on and I thought what a great way to get my students thinking and talking about technology terms.  I don't know about you but when someone tells me that thingy or whatchamacallit is not working really is not proper vocabulary or terminology for technology.  I even have adults use that type of terminology when talking anything tech related to me. It only took me two minutes to set up my Technology Word Wall in Wall Wisher and then embed it into my classroom website.  I do have it set up that I must approve each posts.   

Knowing that technology terminology is such a broad topic and having about 80 eighth grade students I decided that we needed to collaborate and everyone needs a hand in creating our "Technology Word Wall". 

The following were the instructions I gave my students.

Part I:

  • You need to research words you think relates to technology.
  • You need to add your word and its definition written in your own words to the wall.
  • You are only allowed 160 characters.

Part II:

  • If another student has copied your idea you will need to comunicate and decide which definition needs to be removed and email me your decision.
  • Find more words.   

Part III: Which they have not done yet.

  • They will be creating a quiz in Google Forms using 10-15 of the technology terms that has been posted to the wall.
  • I will have active links to all of the quizzes created posted on my classroom website for students to access.
  • My students will then have to pick 5 different quizzes.  If they don't receive at least 80% on each quiz then they will have a chance to pick a different quiz and do a retake.
Last year I spent weeks coming up with activities to teach only a handful of technology terms to my kids and most of it went in one ear and out the other.  After just a week of launching this word wall my students are talking and having some meaningful discussions among themselves circling around technology terminology.  

Making Your Mark ...

Making Your Mark ...

Inspired by International Dot Day on September 15th of this year I made it my goal to discover how my students could make their mark in this world.  We brainstormed many ways other people in the world have already made their mark from Justin Bieber being discovered because of his videos on YouTube to random acts of kindness and recycling.  Our discussion lead to me finding classrooms from around the country to connect with. Thanks to Skype in the Classroom my students had a blast connecting with other students thousands of miles away.  We shared some of the ideas we brainstormed on how we can make our mark.  Several of my students now have made a commitment to help out with community service projects as well as helping others.

One of my classes had a surprise when they learned that they may be on the evening news in Green Bay WI.  It turned out the evening news was present when we made our Skype call as we shared ways we could leave our mark.

What made my day was when a few of my students stayed after school to inform me that I had made my mark within them and thanked me for thinking outside the box, that I had inspired them.  They also wanted to know what was next.

Has Your Google Drive Gone Crazy?

Has Your Google Drive Gone Crazy?

Our school has gone to Google Apps for Education and several of my colleagues have asked how do you organize that crazy out of control Google Docs/Drive?  Since I've been using Google Docs for almost 10 years now I learned quickly to stay organized so I don't really think about it any more.  I guess I just think of my online storage as an extension of my hard drive.

I've found a few video clips that I think really explain how you can organize that out of control crazy Google Docs/Drive.

Tech Tip:

  • Make Folders and Sub Folders.
  • Download Google Drive to your Main Computer.
    • This helps so you can create and organize those files a little better.
  • Home has been replaced with "Activity List".
    • Right Click (control + click) on an item you wish not to show in the "Activity List" and click Don't Show in Activity List.  This will remove it from what was the Home.
  • Use the Search features.  This really does help find those files you can't remember where you filed them away.

This is a screen shot of my Google Drive.  As you can see I only show my folders on my Activity List a.k.a. my Home.  I also color code my folders. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Math Fun the Sumdog Way...

Math Fun the Sumdog Way...

Last school year I introduced my students to Sumdog.  Sumdog is a free math site that using fun interactive games to deliver Common Core State Standards.  The games are aimed for students grades 1st through 8th grade.  What makes Sumdog so great is that it is self-paced learning that covers number operations through to simple algebra.  As students answer the math problems Sumdog's learning engine adapts its questions to each student's ability which in turns helps teachers deliver those CCSS and move students to the mastery level.

The games are not tied to specific topics, which I think helps keep kids engaged.  Sumdog holds different contests throughout the year from National Wide contest to State Wide contest.  I did learn that the kids really like to see themselves on the leader board which sparked in house contests.  When school started this year I had several students asked when do we start Sumdog.  They had heard that Sumdog was AWESOME and I was the teacher to see to get connected. 

For more information about Sumdog please visit their website.  



After the tenth student that came and asked me for help with their math homework I realized that I needed to brush up on my math skills.  I also realized that when I see a math problem my mind starts to solve the problem, its like an automatic response.  What I am having trouble with is explaining to the kids the steps my mind went through to solve the problem.  This triggered me to find a resource that the kids can use and will explain the steps.  I searched and discovered StudyJams.

I have to say from a teacher view StudyJams is AWESOME!  StudyJams is by Scholastic and they not only has math topics but also they have science topics.  At this moment I am interested in the math topics.  With each topic they demonstrated step-by-step instructions on how they worked the problem.  The students then get to try it for themselves.  What I love is that they get instant feedback after working the problem.  After they have tried it for themselves they can test themselves.  When they are done testing themselves they can see the problems they missed.  Again they get instant feedback.  If they didn't understand the process on how they solved the problem they can go back and see those steps again.  It's like having a math teacher on demand. 

Tech Tip:

  • Save the StudyJams link to your school or classroom webpage.
  • Walk students through the website the 1st time.
  • Demonstrate how the step-by-step instructions work.

SimpleK12 Ambassador

SimpleK12 Ambassador .....  

I was doing a happy dance this week after I learned that I was picked to be a SimpleK12 Ambassador.  Now I bet you are asking yourself what is SimpleK12 and why would she be so happy being picked to become an Ambassador.  SimpleK12 is a great way to continue your education by professional development in the education world within an online Teacher Learning Community.  This past summer I have connected to educators around the world through this community that have the same interest I have.  Which is to become a Life Long Learner.  

Attending a semester long course to receive professional development or that college credit at this point in my life just doesn't sit well with me.  I don't know about you but I am busy planning my lessons, attending meetings, going to sporting events, cooking dinner for five people, being taxi mom, and tutor mom.  I also live in a small town and if I want to attend a college to get that college credit I would have to drive over an hour away.  Due to my busy life I needed away I could continue to learn but be able to fit it into my life.  SimpleK12 or you may know them as the ladies with the Blue Bunny Slippers was the answer for me.  Thanks to all of their sponsors they are able to offer free Webinars.  Simplek12 also goes beyond just webinars.  They have built a Teacher Learning Community where teachers can share resources, download e-books, watch on demand sessions, forums, and my favorite making connections.  

Below is more information about the Teacher Learning Community.  Click here for a print friendly handout.

Click Here to Join the Community!!  
Find me in the community and connect with me.

Twitting the Low Tech Way

Twitting the Low Tech Way

Our Twitter Door
With common core we are expected to incorporate more writing, technology, and high-order thinking.  I know that lots of classrooms do not 1:1 with computer, so the questions becomes how are we suppose to incorporate technology.  I attended an webinar that demonstrated a low tech twitter wall.  I thought what a great way to demonstrate that any classroom can incorporate this type of social media into their classroom.  

The Assignment:

  • My students where given a question; What are you looking forward to at LMS?
  • They where instructed that they needed to start their response with @LMS since they were replying to LMS.
  • They were instructed that they must write a complete and proper sentence.
  • We talked about what a complete and proper sentence looked like.
  • We even solved a math problem.  In Twitter you are only allowed 140 characters.  We talked about what are characters. 
  • The math problem: If you have to start your Twitter response with @LMS and you are only allowed 140 characters how many do you have left to write your response?
  • We practice writing our responses then each student picked out their avatar and our Twitter door came to life.

I used the mini bulletin board cutouts for our avatars.  We have little monsters, crazy frogs, wacky monkeys, ipods, butterflies, and owls.  They kids had fun picking out their avatars and started planning making plans on who we should do our next Twitter response. 


Before I forget I have the winners of the Socks Rhyming Game.
Congrats to: Learning Fun and lraines78