Monday, August 29, 2011

Beginning of the Year Scavenger Hunt

The beginning of the school year is just around the corner and as my room is beginning take shape, (notice I didn't say it was done ~ is a room ever done?),  I am starting to shift my thinking over to curriculum and first day activities.

One of the things that I have done with my kiddos the past several years is a classroom scavenger hunt. The kids really seem to enjoy this and I have found it to be much more beneficial for helping kids remember where things are located than if I just say, "Here is our recycle bin..." This has also been a great quick assessment tool for me as well. After I've set the expectations and gone over the list with the kiddos, I send them on their way. I am then able to roam the room and observe their interactions with peers, their time on task, and their basic problem solving skills.
This summer with Vistaprint's great 4th of July sale, I put my scavenger hunt on oversized postcards for the kids. They turned out fantastic! To help kiddos tell their parents about their day, I added "homework" to the backside to give students/parents a springboard for conversation. I'm really excited to use the new cards with the kids on Thursday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Computer login cards

This year all students in our district will have computer usernames and passwords. (Last year K/1 used a universal, generic login and password) To help my 1sties make the transition and help them remember their "secret" password, I created login cards for each of them on Vistaprint using the postcard template. On the backside I plan to

Vistaprint, for those of you who don't know,  is an online marketing site where you can create everything from address labels, to postcards, to banners and more and you can customize them to your liking. They often run deals where you can get items for free~ yes, I did say FREE, and you only have to pay shipping which is usually pretty reasonable depending on what you purchase. Once you place an order, you will recieve emails several times a week with bigger and better deals.

If you'd like to see more of what I've made for my classroom click here.

If you're interested in starting a VistaPrint addiction of your own, click on the link below for more information

Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint. Order today!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

21st Century Learners

The post below is part of a presentation that I will be giving to new teachers in my district showing some of the ways in which I integrate technology and 21st century learning skills into my classroom and how it enhances teaching and learning.

"If a child can't learn the way we teach,
maybe we should teach the way they learn." ~Ignacio Estrada

21st century learning skills and technology enhance teaching and learning in even the youngest of learners!!


SMARTboards are  WONDERFUL tools! 
Students are:
- Independent
- Collaborative
-Problem solving
-Critical thinking

The sky's the limit...
Photo from Jessica Meacham's website

* Math lessons
* Word Sorts/ spelling activities
* Attendance/lunch
* Daily 5 check-in
* Calendar Activities
* Handwriting practice
* Student-led conferences 

Great for substitute teachers- lessons can be preplanned

Click here for more SMARTboard files from Jessica Meacham

It's not all about the tools~
you can implement 21st century learning into your rooms with little to no technology.

Learning about life cycles we experienced
real-time integration!

Last year, my students only had access to a SMARTboard, my teacher workstation and my personal iPod touch. We also had access twice a week to our school's computer lab. 

Students used my iPod touch for fluency checks.

* Active learning
* Student-centered
* Media used for learning and assessment
* Self assessment- Huge!!!
* Able to address student diversity



Click image to find out more about how we integrated
technology into our groundhog study

Click image to see how we used this picture
to practice our paragraph format.

Our classroom blog has made our classroom walls transparent for parents but has also been a wonderful tool to integrate 21st century skills into the curriculum with not a whole lot of technology!

Click on image to find out more about our animal research

Our animal research was a fantastic culmination to our year!

It promoted:
* Collaboration
* Information and media literacy
* Creativity
* Active learning
* Student centered learning
* Problem Solving

There are TONS of wonderful, FREE
web 2.0 tools to use

This was part of a project-based writing unit.
Students used the writing process to create their paragraph and then used Microsoft Word to publish their piece. We learned how to change the size, font and color of our writing in addition to printing and saving.

We used digital cameras to take pictures of each other and our projects and made a slideshow to show which we embedded onto our class blog for our family and friends to view.

We also embedded a Wallwisher board (an online board maker) to have others share with us what they would do if they had a shiny red nose like Rudolph's. (*UPDATE- Wallwisher is now Padlet
This project utilized the following skills:
* Collaboration
* Effective communication
* Information and media literacy
* Globally connected
* Authentic writing/ audience

Click here for more ideas on how to use Wallwisher in the classroom.  

Wordle/ Abcya Word Clouds

Skype is another fantastic tool!
We have had buddy classes from Virginia, Iowa, and Kansas. We connected once a month or so and shared information about our cities, our interests, what we were learning at school (both classes used Everyday Math), read books together, shared our research projects and more.

It was a fantastic experience which helped both classes to become:
* effective communicators and collaborators
* globally connected to areas and issues

To find out more about how to connect with a class click go to or the Skype in Schools wiki.

To find out more about this project click on the image
Digital Cameras

We used the cameras after our study of 3D shapes. Students went on a 3D shape hunt with a partner. The pictures were used as part of my assessement of their learning.

To find out more click the image

We also gave our Read Across America door decorating contest a technology twist by using the digital cameras.

Check with your LMS to see what else is available to you on a checkout basis. We were able to check out digital cameras, COWS (computers on wheels), webcams, and microphones to make other project-based learning come to life.

Remember- you have a lot on your plates for this year... choose one thing to start with~ explore and have fun with what you choose!

'There is no risk-less way to the future, we must choose which set of risks we wish to run.'
~Jay Ogilvy

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When do the kids come??

I hate to wish summer away, but seriously, I'm ready to get this tech show on the road!
I've tried to make time this week relax but keep finding myself coming back to thoughts of what I want to accomplish this year with my students, how I want my model technology classroom to function, and how I envision embedding different tech tools and learning styles into my classroom.  I wish I could say I answered all these questions, but I think I've only begun to scratch the surface. C'est la vie!  When faced with the many other tasks that seem to come out of the woodwork this time of year, I've come to conclude that some of these answers will come after the kids show up and I know what their learning styles are and what experience(s) they will bring with them. 

Our Information Technology Vision Statement

I spent time reviewing my district's technology vision statement and am confident that I am on the right track with what I am envsioning for my kiddos. Despite having the youngest learners of all the model technology classrooms, I envision technology integration and 21st century learning skills to be a crucial part of my curriculum. I am bound and determined to show that even 1st graders can effectively and productively utilize these tools, albeit with a bit more guidance and structure. My learners are digital natives to the core and it is my job to adapt my teaching to their learning. I by no means want the extent of our tech integration to be only app based. 

Here's looking forward to a year of technology, adventure, trial and error, excitement, fun, growth, reflection, and lots of learning! Let the journey begin!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

more tech

Another day of tech training.... our morning has been packed full of investigating different sites. In the past hour I've learned about Jaycut, Advanced image searches in Google, creative commons, (cool! Can't wait to start using at conferences and meetings), Skype in the classroom, and more. It is amazing to me how many WONDERFUL resources are out there that I didn't know about.
We are now working to compose a letter to the parents of students in our model technology classrooms to let them know what their children's learning environment will be like. It is an interesting endeavor as our rooms and how they function and the devices and tools that we use are all so different. The 5 model tech rooms in our district include: my 1st grade room with multiple devices, a 5th grade room with multiple devices, a 7th grade Lang. Arts class which will utilize a class set of web-based netbooks, an 8th grade Math class which will utilize a class set of iPad 2's and a high school Spanish class which will utilize a class set Xoom tablets

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

And the journey begins...

This week I am attending a professional learning academy with other teachers interested in integrating technology in the classroom as part of my model technology classroom journey. It has been a very exciting and yet mind boggling couple of days all wrapped into one. I have been blown away more than once with the knowledge of the people I am attending with. It has definately been a time of growth and reflection.

One of my model tech classroom colleagues summed it up very well yesterday...

Yep, that's about right... Summer brain has had to go out the window in a hurry to keep up with all of the information that we have had thrown at us!

One of the presenters shared this wonderful Technology Integration Matrix

The matrix illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. The matrix shows the five levels of technology integration (entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) along with the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal directed). Each of the 25 cells also includes a math, science, social studies, and language arts video example to illustrate the integration. The videos cover a variety of grade levels including K-2.

Watching some of these videos has my head spinning as to how I can move my teaching along this continuum with our youngest learners. I am bound and determined for my model technology classroom to not be all about "the apps" but rather for it to be a learning environment in which technology is embedded seamlessly into our curriculum as often as possible. Yes, the apps will be there and have their place in our day, but there is so much more out there that even firsties are capable of doing.

I'm looking forward to starting this journey and sharing with you along the way. Stay tuned for details....

Monday, August 1, 2011

New teacher inservice

We have 43 new teachers starting in our district this year! WOW!

I have been asked by our director of curriculum to be part of a technology panel to show and share how I am using 21st tools to reach and teach my young, 21st century learners. Cool! What a great way to get our new staff thinking about how they can incorporate these skills into their teaching!