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One Month Into School

We’ve been in school about a month now.  As is typical of the beginning of the year, it’s been hectic.  Setting up classroom routines and norms takes a lot of time and effort.

One of the things we did the first week was to create affirmations.  We did this activity after reading and discussing an article about brain gardening.  It was such a fabulous piece of text and helped us understand how our brains are physically affected by affirmations and “killer statements,” those things that stymie learning.

The day of our Open House, I finally got around to stapling the affirmations to a bulletin board.

I know the board is a bit of a hot mess.  If you’ve ever studied how boys learn, this sure isn’t the way (they need things framed in an organized manner).

However, I was in a bit of a hurry, and I wanted to get everyone’s statements posted.

Next year, I’ll probably have cutouts of flowers so students can write in the center of them for a more “garden-y” look.

Thank heavens there wasn’t a Bulletin Board 101 class in college.  I fear I would have failed.


Here’s what my guided reading table looked like a couple of hours before Open House.

I had decided to just stay at work when school ended so I could grade MAZE assessments.  Oy vey.  I worked for over two hours and didn’t even finish!


Skipping along a couple of weeks…

On Tuesday, I administered a Text Features summative assessment after spending two and a half weeks on this unit.  To review for the test, I found a Kahoot that was already created and edited it a bit to suit my needs.

I was so excited as students came into class that day because I knew how much fun they were about to have.

It was their first experience using my Chromebooks and their phones (for academic purposes) in my class.

They went crazy over the game; their competitive sides really came out.

They might have made a lot of noise.  Thank heavens for the concrete wall that separates my room from the computer lab next door.

We wound up playing the game again a couple of days later when students asked.  They said it was much better than a standard review.  Can you believe that some students still got some answers wrong on the game?!  It was one last chance to clear up some misunderstandings.

As you can see, we’ve been hard at work and playing a bit (hello Friday night football).

We’re off to a great start, and I couldn’t be happier.

Indulging my Inner Techie

On Saturday, I did what all teachers do.

I slept in.

Oh wait.  I’m LYING!

That’s what I usually do.

This past Saturday, I got up at the same time I do during the week and drove myself to one of our local colleges.  My school district was hosting a technology expo.

Carl Hooker was the keynote speaker, and he was FABULOUS!

Borrowed (I hope he doesn’t mind) from his website.

He’s been involved in education for quite a few years and is very knowledgeable about helping implement technology into classrooms.

He was funny.  His stories were inspiring.

If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, run, don’t walk.  I don’t typically sit and attain well.  The hour during which he spoke flew by.

After his speech, conference attendees had a menu of 45-minute sessions to attend.  We simply picked what we wanted and went to the assigned rooms.  There were five different session groupings with lunch scheduled for halfway through the day (no vegan options though, so I didn’t eat).

I, along with three other reading teachers from my school, presented during the second session.  We demonstrated how we use Google applications (Docs and Forms) in the classroom.  One of the teachers talked about how she uses Chrome Books to access IXL for grammar practice and Vocaroo for fluency practice.

We received a lot of positive responses, which made this experience quite the adrenaline rush.

Most of the sessions were conducted by teachers and other district staff.  I loved this, because we weren’t listening to sales pitches.  We got to hear how our peers are using various applications in the classroom.

My favorite session was the one about TouchCast.  It is a FREE app with which you can create news-types of videos.

Did I mention that it is FREE?  I had taken my iPad to the expo and downloaded the app during the presentation.  Oh word, but I will totally be playing with this when I have time during the summer.  I’ve already decided that I’ll probably use it to create an introduction of myself for the first day of school in August.

One of the neat things about this app is that you can imbed pictures, files, and links that are CLICKABLE and accessible to those who have access to the videos.

Borrowed from a Google search…totally NOT me or my hand pointing in the picture! 🙂


Cool, eh?

I attended a session about using Twitter in an educational environment.  I learned about TweetDeck.  I don’t know if this is available on mobile devices, but it is available on a regular laptop/desktop type of computer.  It allows you to manage multiple user accounts, which I think would help me should I decide to create a classroom Twitter account.  I despise having to log in and out of separate accounts.

The last hour of the expo was spent with District technology personnel sitting as a panel on a stage presenting some of their favorite and most useful apps.

I was downloading like crazy, let me tell you, and by the time this session was over, my phone looked like this…

Plickers is a free app that allows for very fast and fun formative assessments.  You print their FREE cards, laminate, if you want, for longevity, and assign them to students (the same students get the same cards so you’ll know who’s card belongs to whose).  They hold the cards a certain way to answer questions, and you use your device’s camera to scan the cards while they are holding them up.  It’s a very fast process, and you can display the results on a screen for all to see.

I’d heard of this before and read about it, but it looked like too much work to set up.  I’m willing to invest the time after seeing the app in action.  I know my students will LOVE it!

One last app that I found incredibly fun was Kahoot.

It is an interactive response app/site that allows students (or anyone) to answer questions, once they’ve linked to the game via a QR code or the website.  There’s only an Android version of the app right now, but all mobile devices can access the games.  I have an iPhone, and I didn’t have any problems participating.

I could see myself using this for so many things in my classroom…bellwork…vocabulary review…an exit ticket.  The possibilities are endless!

By the time I got home that afternoon, I was whooped and had to take a short nap before dinner…

Learning new things can be exhausting!

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