Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘Technology’

The “Bad Kid” Label Sticks: Let’s Remove It!

bad kid poster

Sometimes, ok many times, she could be loud.
She rolled her eyes and twirled her neck. Often.

Her behavior was everyone else’s fault, never hers.

But as the school year progressed, she changed.
She evolved.
Was she perfect? By, no means.
Did I require perfection from her?

No, why should I?

But I observed waaaaay less yelling, bullying, eye rolling and neck twirling.

Way less.

In my End-of-the-Year card! ūüôā

I never yelled at her.

I ¬†talked to her, not “at” her.

I listened to her.

I would allow her to lead.

Let her use her voice for good.

I resisted the power struggle.

Had to, because sometimes she would take me there.:)

And we grew together throughout the school year.

We grew to understand each other.

She knew I “didn’t play”, but I loved her anyway.

She knew to grab that Ipad, set the timer for 5 minutes, and go to the buddy classroom because¬†I¬†needed a timeout. ūüôā

I learned there was a girl who needed to know she was more than a loud, bullying, eye-rolling, neck twirling child.

We built a relationship.

As the school year ended, I chose her to be the mayor at JA Biztown.

She was amazing!

Everything ran smoothly, she gave her speech to the “citizens.”

I was so proud. What a leader!

But here’s the thing with the “bad” kid.

Some educators don’t want to let go of the label that has followed that student for years.

“I can’t believe out of all the kids in your room, you chose¬†her¬†to be the mayor!”


I have this pesky habit of believing in the “bad” kid, just as I believe in all my kids.

I believe in giving kids a fresh start, and not believing the hype that follows them.

I believe educators should stop chasing down the previous teachers to get the “scoop” on a child and then continue to treat that child the same way they were the previous year.

Thre’s no magic wand to change a child.

And sometimes, what is tried, fails.

This year, give the “bad” kid a chance¬†to be viewed as good, or at least as worthy as everyone else.



“The Marble Run Challenge!”- STEMazing!

Sometimes you get tired of the “new” thing in education.

Well, I was tired of ¬†hearing, reading, and/or discussing “STEM”or “STEAM”, whichever you prefer.
I really didn’t understand what the big deal was until we participated in Jen Wagner’s “Marble Run Challenge.”

Now don’t get me wrong, my kids code, we integrate tech, etc, but I had never done a STEM project.

The concept was simple. The kids had to design a structure for a marble to run through. We started out with time limits, but realized, due to our limited time, we would just concentrate on seeing how long it took the marble to make it through the structure.

Notice the use of the word “we”. This was a project that was guided by the students.

I wish I could teach like this all year. Talk about engagement! Every day, and I literally mean every day, they  BEGGED to work on their structures.

They worked on it during Quiet Time, so essentially it wasn’t Quiet Time anymore, but who cares? They worked on it during… whenever I could sneak some time in.

You know what? More learning went on in those moments…

The conversations.

The research.

The dedication.

The team names. Hilarious!:)

The collaboration.



Getting their own supplies(I was supposed to get the supplies, but they got tired of waiting for me.)

Calling, texting, using Google chat to talk to each other at home.

Resolving problems among themselves.(And calling out the slackers.)

Parents sending in supplies for their kids.

The willingness to try over and over and over.

We had a competition at the end, what they had all worked so hard for. Parents were invited. Some of the marbles went all the way through, some didn’t. But that was okay. They talked about the whys of their design. Ran the marble through their structure.(Or not). They had 3 chances and they could make adjustments. Loved hearing the conversations as they discussed what they could do differently to make it work.

Team Valor won! We all won. An amazing project that made a STEM believer out of me!

Why Run, When You Can, “Jog the Web?”

¬† ¬†Get it?¬†¬† Usually you run around the web looking for websites. With Jog the Web, you bundle what you want in one place and “jog” from site to site,¬†well, sort of. ūüôā

Anyway,  I found out about  Jog the Web  from one of  the wonderful teachers in the Edmodo Language Arts community.  I was really grateful because I am conducting a workshop on some of the websites I use in my classroom.  This came in right on time, and it is very simple to use.

You have to create an account, and then you can get started creating your Jog..¬† There is a section to add the title , the URL, and a page comment(description) of the site, then you hit SAVE.¬† You can add as many sites as you choose.¬† Each site has a page number, and you can change the position of the links you added while you’re creating or editing your jog.¬† I found out that if you click a number of times, it will move your link more than one¬†position at a time.¬† When your jog is displayed, it is¬†a slide show of the sites you added, complete with the attractive¬†title page¬†made from one of their templates.¬†The great part is that the sites can be accessed through the jog, you do not have to leave the jog to get to the sites, unless you want to. AND, not only can you add Internet content, you can also add your own content.¬† There is a chance to purchase a Premium account for those of you who want more.

Don’t want to lose your jog?¬† You can save it to your Favorites.¬†¬†Want to share your jog?¬†¬†¬†Share by email, embed it, use the link URL,¬†or use¬†the Bookmark and Share box which is ¬†filled with a number of ways to share!¬† They even have a Help button which can be turned on and off. One more thing, your jog is public unless you have a premium account.¬† This means others can view your Jog, but by the same token, there are wonderful Jogs that you can view as well!

One small annoying thing, when you go from slide to slide, text pops up that says, “We’re Trying to Load…”. for about 2 seconds.¬†Maybe it won’t happen to you. But, I don’t mind, it’s worth the time!

WONDERFUL WEBSITES! РThis is my Jog that I am using to guide my workshop. (Tools for Integrating Technology in the Classroom)And each teacher walks away with this Jog, which they can access anytime they want!

Using a Glog to Construct Knowledge Рan example of how a teacher used Jog the Web for a class project.

Bag the Web¬†– another tool like Jog the Web, except you “bag” your sites. Very cool!

Glad There’s Google!

“How many of you have been to New York?”

Two students in my group raised¬†their hand. I asked them to name some things they know about New York, and they really couldn’t tell me much.¬† I, of course, knew a lot, because it’s my hometown.¬† But I wanted their knowledge, not mine. This was the third time I had read “Chester Cricket’s Pigeon Ride”, and it needed spicing up!¬† If not for my kids’ sake, then for mine.

Google Maps¬†to the rescue! My ¬†students opened their laptops,logged on,¬†and away we went to New York City!¬† We went to the section where we could look at actual photos of New York City.¬†We viewed the city using Panoramia, the kids¬† took a virtual tour of New York City. It made me homesick.:(¬† They were so excited! As they viewed the photos, they commented on everything. The height of the buildings, how many people there were, the view at night, all those lights! We returned to our list, and I asked the question, “What do you know about New York City?” My list filled up fast.¬† Google Maps helped my kids go where they had never been without leaving their seats. Hopefully, it will give some of them that urge to travel outside their state as they grow,and ¬†allow them to open their minds to other places.

Anyway, we wrapped it all up with a rousing rendition of “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra using an MP3 download found on, what else, Google! Nothing like a classroom full of 5th graders singing a Frank Sinatra song with their teacher the loudest of all. We had fun! Thank goodness, there’s Google!

Google Maps Webinar РTuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Maps Webinar=Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting Animated with GoAnimate4Schools!

I spent part of my Saturday playing around with this site. I discovered GoAnimate a¬†while ago, but with so many things going on, I lost track of it. Basically, it is a site where students and teachers can create animations.¬† They not only have state of the art animation tools, but, they also have a Lesson ¬†gallery where teachers can¬†view ¬†animations created by other teachers or students.¬† I like it because it is so easy to use, really.¬† There is a tutorial on the page to get you started. Each student can have their own account, which can be monitored. I haven’t used it with my students yet, but I am looking forward to it. If anyone has used it, and has any ideas they can share, I would appreciate it!

In order to get the hang of it,  I took one of the ideas from my posts, and made a short video. So cool!
GoAnimate4Schools.com: Give Students a Fresh Start! by Lisa Mims
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate4Schools. It’s free and fun!

Environmentally-friendly lessons!

We just received new copiers. . Big ,big, heavy-duty¬†copiers, meant to run off lots and lots of paper. I have come to the conclusion,¬† that teachers,mind you this opinion is ¬†not based onany ¬†research, use more paper than any other profession.¬† Between assessments, handouts, flyers, and the” 25 pages that were copied 2 sided/2 sided¬†because someone forgot to clear the machine” or “the teacher who used it before you forgot to remove the pink paper,’ we waste a lot of paper!

That being said, I was so proud of myself when I created an environmentally friendly lesson.¬† As a matter of fact, more and more of my lessons are “green.”¬† I owe it all to my friend, technology.¬†¬†I was teaching the skill making inferences and it ¬†was almost completely green. First, my whole group lesson was ¬†obtained from SMART exchange¬†and was shared on the SMARTboard.¬† The students¬†followed and interacted on the board, no paper. Next, they¬†watched the video, “Miss Nelson is Back”, courtesy of Discovery Education’s United Streaming.¬† After viewing the movie, they¬†completed the ¬†“Organizing Inferences” sheet,that was ¬†posted on Edmodo, turned in on Edmodo, graded on Edmodo, AND their grade¬†was viewed¬†on Edmodo. And as an icing on the cake,¬†“Mrs.Nelson is Back”¬†was¬† assessed using the quiz I obtained from United Streaming and¬†typed¬†onto Testmoz.com.¬†¬†The quiz was ¬†taken online, graded online,and¬†the ¬†scores were given to the students instantly! I tell you, how much more “green” could I get?¬†

More and more, because I have access to these tech tools, I have been moving away from the use of paper in my classroom ,and it’s a good thing. My students have begun suggesting lessons where I don’t require the use of paper. Our reading and math program have online assessments where the students’ ¬†grades can be accessed online.¬† I have created an answer key for assessments though, it’s always good to have a hard copy and some parents do not have Internet access at home. Our state testing program is online as well. I’ve found that being “green” is not only good for the environment, but it’s good for my classroom as well!

Smartbored? Never!

I recall years, and I mean years, ago when I was introduced to the Smartboard.  I was excited because this was a board you could touch and make things move! Wow!  First, we had portable Smartboards that were shared by the staff.  I was one of the few who was willing to drag it  into my room,  Eventually, we were able to get mounted Smartboards, and our principal awarded them to us based on the content of a 100 word  essay. That Smartboard is still mounted on my wall,  still waiting for the projector to be mounted, but I digress.

However, ¬† I had come to the point, where, I believe, I was using¬†the Smartboard¬†¬†as a giant projector.¬† The past few weeks I’ve spent my time learning about all the cool features that Notebook 10 software has to offer, and I’ve fallen in love with my IWB again. I’m taking a class where I am learning about features of the Notebook 10 software that I didn’t know existed. How is it possible to have something for so long, yet know so little about it?

¬†Our facilitator is great, and the ideas that are being shared are amazing!¬† I am now at the point where I am creating lessons, even though I still take advantage of SMART Exchange, I mean why reinvent the wheel?¬†¬†¬†One of my homework assignments was to create a list of “Top 10 Cool Tools that I had learned about in this class. What a productive use of my time, all the cool tools have already been applied in my classroom.¬† I have taught them to my students, who are my willing guinea pigs.:)¬†Today, I left my colleague¬†glued to his computer, after sharing the wonders of the IWB.

My favorite new tool is the Random Word Generator. I inserted my students’ name in the generator, press “Generate” and Voila, it selects a student to read, come up to the board, etc…. My kids¬†watch the board as it flicks through their names, “Pick me, pick me”, they chant softly. And when it lands on a name, they all call out the person’s name. It makes me laugh every time. ūüôā

I know there are those who believe this is just another” tech tool”, but it’s not the tool, it’s what you do with it. I know what I do, I engage my students, and involve them in the learning process every day, using my SMARTboard.

Edmodo- Gotta Love It!

I have to admit, I thought I had written a post ¬†about Edmodo. Why wouldn’t I?¬† Ever since I discovered it, it has been a staple in my 5th grade class. However, I realized I didn’t, when I read another post, “Edmodo, yes”!¬†¬†¬†from the blog Technology Chatter.¬† How could I have forgotten to write about Edmodo, which¬† has made my life wonderfully easy.¬† How?¬†¬†¬†When I describe it to colleagues, I call it the “Facebook for Educators”, but it’s¬†more than that.¬† I post assignments on Edmodo¬†every day. Not just “read page 43 in your textbook” assignments either.¬†I can post images, videos, questions, tests, worksheets, polls, have discussions online.¬†Any work I have them “turn in” can be graded online, and their grades are posted privately. No paper! So, it’s environmentally friendly as well. ¬†I have created groups for every subject.¬† It even has communities where teachers can connect, our own little PLN. And now, they have Edmodo for Parents, still unexplored territory for me.

But my favorite part of Edmodo¬†is my Pen Pal group.¬† I joined the Language Arts community and asked if anyone was interested in being pen pals.¬†Mrs.T ¬†and I, not only have our classes write to each other, but we also formed a Pen Pal group on Edmodo.¬† Our classes have shared photos, movie clips, comments, birthday wishes, weekend happenings, weather updates, and¬†our ¬†latest, Voki¬†conversations. I already had a Voki¬†and Mrs.T was kind enough to email me instructions on how to post it. The first thing my kids do in the morning is check Edmodo to see if their pen pals wrote them, they are so excited! Recently Mrs.T sent pics of the beach, after I sent pics of the kids in the snow.:) It’s just a great way for them to communicate with students outside of their school, outside of their state! The students are writing and Mrs. T and I are sharing ideas. I know as the year progresses, I am sure we will discover more ways we can connect our classes.¬† In the meantime, I will continue to use Edmodo¬†in my class, my own little piece of educator heaven.:)

Want a Qwiki?

Before my hubby said hello to me, he said, “There’s a new search engine that they say is going to knock Google out of ¬†the box.” “It’s called¬†Qwiki.”¬† He heard about it on CNN¬†Qwiki video.

“Really?” I replied, not really interested because I had spent the entire day at work, and then an hour reading to 3 and 4 year olds. (Who, by the way,¬†are a joy to read to.) I trudged up the stairs behind him, and watched as he sat down and demonstrated Qwiki. Wow! It was love at first sight!¬† Of course, as an educator, 600 ways to implement this tool rushed through my mind.

When you put your topic in the search bar, you get video, audio clips, and photos about your chosen topic.¬† It speaks to you!¬†Yes, I said, it speaks to you.¬† ¬†The text scrolls below it as it speaks to you! The possibilities are endless! There are “other samples” related to the topic underneath the information provided.¬†As the text scrolls, related links are highlighted in blue.¬†You can sign up, or not, for the Qwiki¬†emails of the day. There are also featured Qwikis.¬†Can you imagine¬†how much easier it will be for your slow readers to¬†complete research projects? Of course, you have to be careful because the info is obtained from Wikipedia, so sources should always be checked.¬† I’m going to introduce this¬†to ¬†my class tomorrow, it’s about that¬†time when we research African Americans,¬†presidents, and Valentine’s Day.¬†¬†¬†The site calls it , “The Information Experience”, and I can’t wait to experience it in my classroom!

“Qwiki, Search Engine Funded byFacebook Co-Founder,Launches”

Twiducastic! Choosing to Chat!

Ok, I made that word up. And yes, I am a big fan of Twiducate! I registered for Twiducate a while ago, but rarely used it.¬† Lately though, I have been coming up with some cool ideas on how to implement it in my classroom.¬† Today we watched the film, “My Friend Martin.” The students watch it every year around King’s birthday, bit it never fails to make an impact. I wanted to do something different, something to make sure my students could talk about what they had seen.Enter ¬†Twiducate Chat! I told my students when the movie was over, we would chat for 15 minutes about what took place in the movie. During the movie, I jotted down questions that I felt would promote critical thinking, I wanted to make sure the chat wasn’t a waste of time. Immediately, after the movie, all laptops opened,¬† ALL my students, even my lowest, contributed to the chat conversation. Most of the comments the students made to each other were thought-provoking and allowed the conversation to continue. When I told them to stop, they begged for more time. Some of my students made a point of using Vocabulary words when writing their comments.¬†The conversations move along quickly, so ¬†I printed the chat so that I could see exactly what was said, and who said it. Wonderful, wonderful activity! It’s a feature of¬†Twiducate I plan to implement more often!

“35 Ways to Use Twiducate for Deeper Learning”

Tag Cloud