Monday, November 16, 2015

Kids Teaching Teachers

Last week Monday started out a little different than any other. 
We participated in a Google Hangout with Mrs. White in Indiana again, but this time we didn't chat with her students, we chatted with about 20 of her colleagues from various grade levels. Mrs. White had asked if our class would be willing to join their professional development day and talk with them about the Hangouts that we have done. We thought it was pretty special that we, as kids could teach teachers about using Google Hangouts! 

We have started a new ongoing project using the BookCreator app. We are using the app to create a digital learning journal of our Google Hangout experiences. With each connection, students are documenting something they learned or found interesting as well as inserting a map and locating our state and the state of each classroom. This will be a great way for us to practice our map skills in an authentic way in addition to creating an informational text that others can read and enjoy. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Authentic Assessment with SeeSaw app

Our school utilizes the PBIS (Positive Behavioral and Interventions and Supports) system. As part of this system, we focus on teaching positive social behaviors.  The way we have our system set up, students are able to earn "Knightly Notes" or tickets for expected behaviors. They are then able to cash their tickets in for classroom rewards (such as sitting at the teacher's desk for the day, lunch in the classroom, choosing something from the prize box, and oh so much more).

Each week when we count our tickets, we put them into piles of 10s and 1s. This has been a great reinforcement of the place value concepts that we are continually working on in math. After putting their tickets in piles, I've been having the kiddos take a picture of their piles using the app, SeeSaw . Once they have their picture, they then use the drawing tool and write the numbers for their piles on their picture to show how many tickets they have. They also record themselves counting their tickets and then send their learning to their parents through the app. This has been a great way for me to authentically evaluate my students' 10s and 1s knowledge and for them to also practice writing 2 digit numbers. You can view a sample of what this looks and sounds like by clicking here

Parents are also loving this as they are getting a glimpse of what we are doing in the classroom in addition to being able to leave written or audio comments for their children.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Reflections from #EdcampGB

Professional development on a Saturday? You bet! I attended my first ever Edcamp yesterday and I'm still so excited about all that I was able to do and experience. If you've never heard of an Edcamp, they are "unconferences" that are participant-driven. Best of all, Edcamps are typically free and most often breakfast and lunch are included in your day thanks to the generosity of sponsors. You can find out more about Edcamps here.

We had over 100 educators from the local area and from around the state join us for a day of learning. We started our morning in the auditorium and pitched our session ideas. Sessions did not have to be technology related, although many were. As sessions were pitched, those ideas were put on post-it notes and then arranged and rearranged on the Smartboard where the session schedule began to take shape.

It wasn't long and we were off! It was hard to choose which sessions to go to as there were so many that were pertinent to my interests and my grade level. The beauty of the Edcamp format though is that if "you're not feeling it" in the session you attend, there are no hard feelings about getting up and moving to a new session. Our organizers also did a fantastic job of setting up a shared doc in which we could take notes in each session as well. I've already taken time to go in and read the notes from the sessions I wasn't able to attend and even added information and resources for others as well. If you're interested in checking out the sessions that were offered and taking a peek at the notes you can click on the picture or on this link- #edcampGB GoogleDoc.

I attended sessions on coding in the elementary level, using the app SeeSaw for digital portfolios (I'm currently using this and will be blogging about it soon- it is absolutely PHENOMENAL!!), using tech in Reader's Workshop, and more. Most importantly, I not only learned FROM others but was able to share my expertise WITH others as well. It was the kind of day that we as teachers are always saying that we want and need- time to talk, share, and network with others. Other bonuses to the day? I was able to help several participants get started on Twitter, was able to answer a boatload of questions about SeeSaw (and saw many already getting their classes set up so they could start using the app this week) and was able to meet a whole bunch of people that I follow on Twitter. (My tech geek side came out with that- meeting Twitter friends face to face is amazing!)

I truly can't say enough about the day. It flew by faster than I thought it would or could and as I said above, I am still pondering, sharing, and reading tweets from #EdcampGB. The learning didn't stop yesterday! 

I'm already wondering when I'll be able to attend another Edcamp and have even checked the official Edcamp calendar in hopes of finding one within a few hours of my home on a weekend that I don't have other obligations. 

If you don't have any Edcamps in your area or if you aren't able to attend, find out what the hashtag is and follow along on Twitter. You will be amazed at what you will learn, even from afar!!!

If you're interested in reading yesterday's #EdcampGB tweets, check out my Storify below.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Mystery Walker Techified

With the beginning of the school year literally right around the corner, I've been combing through my Pinterest boards for a little beginning of the year inspiration. As I was scrolling through my PBIS board, I came across a pin about using a Mystery Walker. Ironically, one of my colleagues had mentioned this idea at our beginning of the year meeting as well and I thought about trying the idea again. If you're not familiar with Mystery Walker you can read about it here on What Happens in First Grade's blog.  I've had varied success with the idea but my biggest issues are:
  • remembering to pulling a chip, 
  • remembering where I set it down, 
  • or worse... leaving it in my pocket only to find it in the lint trap of my dryer on the weekend and then having to remember to bring it back to school. Ugh! 
I like the idea, but the management for me is just one more thing to keep track of. 

Then it dawned on me... I have an app that would work perfectly- Decide Now I downloaded this a couple of years ago just for fun but had since deleted it off my phone but VIOLA it's the perfect fit for this idea so I re-downloaded it. The app is basically a large Wheel of Fortune wheel complete with sound effects. 

All I had to do was give my newly created wheel a title and insert my students' names. To pick a student I just need to touch or spin the wheel. You can also share your wheel via email or Twitter. I thought this would be a great motivator for my students as well. If they are the Mystery Walker and earn the bragging rights of having done a great job, they can tweet out the wheel with a message to their parents!

You could easily use this to randomly pick students for other things as well or program it with rewards or bonus points if you use Class DoJo. The ideas or limitless. Best part though... I don't usually make it a habit to put my iPhone through the wash, so no more chips in the lint trap!!