Saturday, July 30, 2016

Camp Invention 2016....What a Week!

Over the past week I was honored to be the director of the Walled Lake Camp Invention! Camp Invention is a FABULOUS camp for students entering first-sixth grades. Over the week I used Smore to build a newsletter for each day. Take a look at all the fun students had with STEAM and Inventing!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Blended Learning in Elementary

I will be presenting at the My Blend Summer Learning Day Camp in East Lansing on July 12, 2016. Here are some of the resources for my "Blended Learning in Elementary" poster session.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ending the Year with Passion

I have integrated Innovation Days and Genius Hour into my classroom for several years.  This past year, I haven’t been able to have a  consistent time for the kids to work on developing their passions, but I have done a lot of great things involving choice, makerspaces, and STEAM. Even with that, it didn’t feel right ending the school year without having time for passion projects, so I decided to have the last full week of social studies spent on American History Passion Projects.  The students could choose to learn about anything involving American History and create a project about it.  

I tell’s the magic recipe for ending the school year with engaged learners eager to come to school!  I have enjoyed seeing the kids come alive with curiosity and excited to learn.  Teaching three sections of fifth grade Social Studies, each class got 4 hours to work on their projects, however, many decided to work on their projects at home and even during recess.

Interestingly, there were several projects that were themed around September 11. An event that is still so vivid in my mind, was an event they had heard about, but didn’t know many details about.  It was hard to find appropriate information for kids, but we did find a great resource with the 911 Memorial page. Many of my students were interested in learning more about the Twin Towers.  It just so happened that I great up with Minoru Yamasaki’s grandson, Jesse.  I contacted Jesse and asked him if he would video conference with us. He happily agreed, and we had a wonderful time connecting with him over a lunch and recess last week. The kids were able to learn a lot about Min, as his grandfather was commonly called, and the wonderful building her designed...right down to the art he commissioned throughout the building and the 10-foot model that was created when preparing for the build.  Here are some of the projects that were created:

I had the chance to video some of the projects.  Here are our videos.  Enjoy!

On the second day of presentations we did live presentations.  Here is one of the plays that were performed by 2 of my students...believe it or not, these are two of more reserved students.  It brought me to tears to see the risks they took with their comedic performing skills!

If you are interested in ending the year with kids eager to come to school and be engaged, I highly recommend putting the control into their hands. I noticed better behaviors while we were working on the projects, and I enjoyed walking around and seeing the joy in their minds and hearts!  

Friday, February 19, 2016

BloomBoard: A Great Resource for Teachers

After teaching third grade for the past 14 years, I made the switch to fifth grade this school year.  I am truly enjoying getting to know a new curriculum and feeling rejuvenated.  With that being said, I have also spent a TON of time searching for resources to support my curriculum and build background knowledge. As with most things, when you have a question or need ideas, what do you do?  I bet you Google it, which also means, you are probably on a mini-scavenger hunt to scan and search for quality resources.  I recently found out about a great resource for educators that is a huge timesaver!  BloomBoard is a place for educators to learn, share, and discuss educational topics, resources, and ideas!

Instead of digging around the web for quality sites, games, articles, videos, etc., BloomBoard has collections created by educators that focus on topics relevant to education.  There are content-specific categories with awesome resources, but what drew me in even more, was the focus on broader topics like: Educating the Whole Child, Maintaining Professional Happiness, Building Strong School Culture, etc. What’s even cooler is that you can follow certain topics of interests, save and share resources, and even earn micro-credentials, which some school districts are using for PD credits.

I created a collection on Formative Assessment called “Formative Assessment Can Be Fun” highlighting two of my favorite tools, Plickers and Kahoot, as well as several articles and videos showcasing ways students can have fun while being assessed.  Here are some of the highlighted tools.
  • If your students don’t have access to devices, Plickers is the tool for you.  Also, they just launched an amazing new feature with Scoresheet, which makes data collection far more flexible and user-friendly!
  • Kahoot has been a student favorite for several years. My students are now creating their own Kahoots to quiz fellow classmates, as well as lead book club discussions.
  • C. Ross Flatt and his sixth-grade students were featured in an Edutopia video highlighting game-based assessment.  He not only showcases the fun way assessment can be administered, but he also has links to his game for teachers to print off from the main blog post.
  • David Wees, a formative assessment specialist, shared a presentation with 56 ways to assess, complete with visual examples.

Overall, my collection has many great resources featured that will help you in finding the formative assessment tool(s) that are right for you!  Like many of the BloomBoard collections, you can find resources to help you everyday needs in education, connect with like-minded educators, and help improve your practices.

Check out the BloomBoard blog. You can check it out to get links to the blogs that that have already been featured, as well as check out the schedule of featured bloggers for next week that will be posted on Monday. You can also follow along daily on Facebook and Twitter.

Tomorrow's featured blogger is Jennifer Gonzalez. Jennifer Gonzalez is a National Board Certified Teacher, a former middle-school language arts teacher and college-level teacher of teachers, and the creator of Cult of Pedagogy, a website devoted to helping teachers do their work better.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Scoresheet: Plickers Newest Feature!

For the past couple of years, I have used Plickers as a formative assessment tool.  It was one of those tools that hooked me the first time I used it, and I have integrated it into my classroom ever since.  If you are not familiar with Plickers, here is a quick overview.

  • You can print off Plicker cards (or purchase a durable set) for each student in your class. Each card has options for an A-D multiple choice answer. Students make sure the correct answer is pointed up. 
  • You can create questions and answers ahead of time and schedule them for a specific group, or you can create questions on the spot through the app. 
  • Once you communicate the question to your class, you can use the app and your devices camera to scan the cards the students are holding. As you scan, the data pops up on the screen creating a bar graph with the overall progress, but also shows the answers of each student. This allows you to reteach on the spot or spark a conversation for students to explain their thinking. 
The great thing about Plickers is that all of the questions that you assign and scan are archived.  When you go to your account, you are able to see the answers and data collected. I have been able to use the data for report cards, conversations with parents, and for curriculum planning. Last month, Plickers added an awesome new feature called Scoresheet in their reports menu.  This has made Plickers even better! Why you ask?
  1. The data from each question is now displayed in a gradebook format that allows many questions to viewed at the same time and can be customized for date ranges. 
  2. I now have the ability to check the boxes of the questions I would like to use and a total percentage or point value will be calculated.  This is helpful for standards based grading, as I am able to choose the questions that match the standard and see the overall score, regardless if the the questions were all assigned at the same time.
  3. While looking at the Scoresheet, you can still get a view of the question in a sidebar, along with the overall progress of the class displayed in bar graph form. 
  4. Finally, the scores can now be exported into a .csv file and can be used for other gradebook  programs. 

Here is what the gradebook looks like...minus my students' names. 

They have scored big with me in this new update!  Go and check it out for yourself! 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Maker Playground and a Maker Must Resource

Today I spent the day at MSU at their EdTech Conference, and I led a session called The Maker Playground. I have done versions of it at each conference since CUE Rockstar Camp, when I presented The STEAM Playground with the awesome Tammy Lind from Wisconsin. It is one of my favorite sessions to lead, even though it requires to my car to be packed and longer to set-up before and clean-up afterwards. (However, I'm usually pretty lucky to have helpful educators aid in the clean-up mission!) Click here for maker resources.

I received 5 Ozobots this fall, and they have been a hit each time I have brought them out to present, as well as a hit with students!  They have such a wide-variety of applications and can engage learners of all ages! 

 Another robot that is easy to use for all learners is the Ollie!  Angela loved taking Ollie for stroll in the hallway!

Origami was a hit at this conference.  From folding trihexaflexagons to educators challenging themselves with more complex designs, paper making completed by several attendees.  

Some of the other activities included, playing with SumBlox, a newer educational tool to teach number sense!  (Of which I will have to reserve some time to create a separate blog post they are AWESOME!)  We also played with Little Bits and Paper Roller Coasters
The best thing is the conversations that occur while participants are playing!  When I have makerspace time in my classroom, I also enjoy listening to the conversations.  It's nice when we are allowed time to play, connect, and learn! 

Speaking of giving kids time to play, connect, and learn, I am approaching a crazy week in my classroom, as we are building Explorer Coasters! Each student has been researching an explorer for the last 2 weeks.  They created a written report, and now they are going to build a paper roller coaster that represents the life of their explorer.  I am a bit nervous because it will require patience and perseverance, but I am hopeful it will also be EPIC! Stay tuned to by Twitter feed for progress on the project! 

The day ended with a dinner out with some awesome ITG ladies! 
Our fab keynote Sarah, Jen, Amanda, Mary, and I had a great dinner out in Lansing! 

Now for the Maker/Teacher Must Have Resource... NAEIR

I am not sure how I stumbled upon this resource...but I did, and I am hooked.  It is a wonderful site that has products that have been donated by companies, and then non-profits and teachers can purchase them for a price FAR, FAR below the store cost. I was curious when I first put my order in, as it seemed too good to be true, but my shipment came...and I got a lot of awesome things for a super cheap price. I am most excited about the 36 Stomp Rockets I got for $9!  As a teacher, you do have to register and be approved, which can take a bit, but then you are free to shop! There is something for everyone in their catalog!  From tools to craft items and adhesives to office supplies, NAEIR is a wonderful resource for classrooms and makerspaces everywhere! 

Overall it was an AWESOME day of learning!  Great job MSU! Special thanks to Mary Wever (@WeverWorld) who was one of the lead organizers of this conference, as she is the Director of the Master's Educational Technology Certificate Program at MSU.  The entire team of MSU interns, directors, and staff were great hosts!  Thank-you Tech Smith for the yummy coffee and breakfast! 
Also...a special shout out to the wonderful food at Shaw kids have it great these days with dorm food!