Saturday, January 23, 2016

Web 2.0 Tools

The Web 2.0 video by Kathy Schrock, Teaching, Learning, and Creating with Online Tools, provided many digital tools that I was not familiar with, but also affirmed a couple of practices I currently have in place. I was intrigued by the idea of creating a video project using Google Slides and I think it is something my 3rd grade students have the ability to use.

I have used Padlet in my classroom while we brainstorm words with similar spelling patterns, or to record cause and effect relationships from the text they have read. It’s a great tool because everyone’s answer is in one place and the students take help each other correct a misconception they might have.
It’s obvious that whichever tool you decide to use, it’s important that your lessons align to Blooms and the SAMR model. Knowing which HOT skills one wants to target, teachers can then identify the type of technology task that would be best. On the other hand, I think when a teacher has a tech activity that they might already use, they should consider asking themselves where it aligns with SAMR and Bloom's. Although, we want every idea to be the best idea, sometimes it may not produce the best outcome. It may need to be refined, which is ok, as long as we recognize this in the planning stages. The graphic created by Kathy shows how Blooms and SAMR can be used together.

After understanding how to use these models to support your tech lessons, teachers may still wonder where to start. I have seen situations where technology is available, but yet it never gets touched. I have also known of situations where laptops and iPads are used every chance they get! I think the fear that some teachers have is that they believe they need to start with a big bold project or nothing at all.
Do Web 2.0 Right” is an excellent resource for teachers who need the reassurance that they can start small and go from there. The research shows that you will see better results when Web 2.0 tools are used on a daily basis. Through student blogs or classroom blogs, you can get your students writing every day. I started my class on Kidblog when we joined the Global Read Aloud 2015. We connected with a class in New Jersey and although at the time we weren’t able to communicate daily, my students wrote posts on their predictions or favorite characters. They enjoyed having our NJ friends reply to their posts with questions and feedback.

Although Kidblog isn’t free any more, I believe Weebly Education has the same type of options, including privacy controls, for classrooms.

If you have even the slightest desire to try incorporating technology into your lessons, go for it! There are ways to start small and stay within your comfort zone. However small you start, you’re further along than you were yesterday.

Bloom's Taxonomy Digital Skills

Bloom's Taxonomy Digital Skills is what I use to support my technology lessons. I do have to admit that it is a challenging task to design a lesson that could potentially have varied outcomes based on the higher order thinking skills. My first introduction to this task was in a very informative course at Wilkes, Differentiation Supported by Technology. While researching Bloom’s Digital Skills, you begin to internalize how much you can do. In a way, it forces you to dig that much deeper into your lessons and the purpose behind them. Time doesn’t allow for that type of planning on everyday types of assignments, but definitely for larger units. Although, even for a teacher who is just getting started with implementing technology, I feel like Bloom's Taxonomy Digital Skills is a good place to look for ideas. It outlines the key terms and possible activities. For myself, I had to visualize it a little differently. Based on the model, I put the skills into a table which is easier for me to reference when planning.

Take it to the next level!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

QR Codes in Math


Back in April, I bought these Multiplication and Division Task Cards from Ashleigh's Education Journey on TpT. With 36 cards, there were enough to use as a Scoot activity. If you haven't tried Scoot before, you should definitely try it! It's easy and you can pretty much take any worksheet, cut the questions up, and place them on desks. 

Before I talk about the QR codes, here's the gist on how Scoot my room anyway! 

--> QR Codes in Math 

This year, I've been using QR codes more in my classroom. There are a few benefits to using them. QR codes allow my students to be more engaged in their independent practice and they also get immediate feedback when they scan to check their answers! Of course we save some paper and they see this as "more fun" than a printed worksheet!  Using the same task cards, I used QRStuff to create a code for each task card and one for each answer card.
I did have to type the answer cards to reflect what I was looking for in my students' responses. 

It took a little more time to create the question cards shown below. Once I had the template from some spelling cards I made, I just replace the codes and change the cover card when making a new set. Without the cute background, you can just as easily make some simple cards with the question number and QR code...which I will show you how in another post!

The answer sheet has all of the codes on it. I suggest labeling the answer sheet somewhere so that you can be sure to identify the activity it belongs to!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Management Solution for Student Tables

This year, I decided to trade my student desks in for tables! Although I was a bit anxious about making this switch, I was eager to see how they would change the dynamic between my students. 

After scouring the campus for my tables and they were all set up, I had to decide what to do with their materials. Where would they put everything that kids usually put in their desks? Secretly, I was looking forward to not having those messy cluttered desks!

I used these little red baskets on the tables with the day-to-day materials they would need, and these larger baskets with the glue, crayons, markers, and tape. The white baskets landed a spot on the bookshelves at the front of the room. 

**Note, neither of these baskets still look as organized as they did in August. They are pretty much a hot mess...we are working on that!**

Here are the BIG brown shelves at the front of the room. The idea was that each table would have their own materials station. The Team Captain would make a trip over, grab what was needed and return back. You should have seen it in action. I made the rookie mistake of assigning the stations wrong. Table 1 had to cross the room to get to theirs, while table 7 had to do the same. It was a mess to watch and very discouraging. 

Luckily, my student teacher saved my sanity! Thank you, Jordan!! As we talked about how we could implement a procedure that would be more efficient, she recognized that the kids had to cross paths and that was causing a problem. Duh! I didn't even see that. I just saw chaos that lasted five minutes per transition. We assigned the stations more efficiently and shaved down our transition time by at least two minutes - a big deal in the classroom!

Problem solved! Until, I became adamant to have students avoid walking to the front at all. This was a motivation because I started to include more random grouping for some activities. I wanted to allow my kids a chance to move around throughout the day and work with different kids in our class. I began to give them choice in who they wanted to work with, but with that came the tortured task of moving the materials from the stations to the correct student. Welcome, Chaos, we missed you!

I didn't give up. Winter Break was the time I needed to think through this. I found a solution!

 We were all super excited about this! I found these baskets at Dollar Tree and bought some of their zip ties too. I tried one before investing my $40, and with the help of my kids, we decided to attach them under the chairs as opposed to the back. After an evening of driving to two Dollar Trees, I found my 32 trays!

 Using the holes underneath the chairs, we attached the trays with two zip ties on each side.

32 baskets would have taken me forever! So, in an effort to make this happen, the kids were more than willing to help install their trays.  The most exciting part about their new trays is that our transition time, putting away one subject's notebook and taking out another, has drastically decreased.  We had to time ourselves, and we are proud to share that we can do this in 30 seconds or less! Yep, 30 seconds. Can't beat that!

We had a problem, we brainstormed it as a class, and found an efficient solution together!

Next...what to do with the brown bookshelves!?

Take it to the next level!

~ Esperanza

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My One Word

In a Twitter chat, I once read someone's comment that simply said, write! Just write what you're thinking and get it out there. So, here I go. No waiting until tomorrow, just writing.

Over the last couple of days, I've read many blogs, tweets, and other social media posts about resolutions, goals, and getting ready to go back into the classroom. In the past, I've spent the majority of my winter break working on lessons, finding new ideas, checking off the to-do list, and many other "teacher" things. It's always been my time to catch up and clear the slate for a new start. With two children, being able to do that, meant taking my babies to their great grandmother's three days a week. This is where I throw in my "don't judge me" hashtag. So, #dontjudgeme. 

Being a Mama who is also a teacher is rough, especially balancing family and work. This year, 12 days into winter break, I realized I had my children with me every day! It just kinda happened that way, though. Between both of them being sick, family hikes, Christmas, Suns games, a birthday, New Years, sewing projects, and trying to visit as many Pogo Pass venues as possible - I was exhausted! We did a lot and had fun doing it!

I have decided, multiple times, to put my girls first. Every once in a while I have to check myself, put the laptop away and read, dance, color, or sing with them. It must be becoming more of a habit because it just happened this break. Looking back, I remember making the decision to drive to Makutu's Island after filling up at the gas station, just because it was just across the street. I remember getting them dressed and out of the house so we could enjoy a few hours at Enchanted Island. I remember these being split second decisions instead of long mental fights trying to convince myself to put the work away. I truly enjoyed my family over break and am blessed to have had the time to spend with them. I suppose, it's only taken 12 years to get into this mindset, but I'm glad I am here.

My #oneword2016 is present. I will be present when at home with my daughters, at the dinner table with my husband, on the phone with my sister, in the classroom with my students, or in the lounge with my team. Less checking the iPhone or reading emails on the go. More genuine conversations and laughing. I choose to be present and be happy in every moment. 

"Wherever you are - be all there." Jim Elliot

Digital Portfolio

I've wanted to create a digital portfolio for some time now, but haven't had enough to add to it. This is my final course in my ma...