Writing Journals in the Flipped Classroom- Just Imagine

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So at some point in our professional teaching career we have all said, "Get out your journal, write about…. and draw a picture. "  (Elem teachers that is… ) We want our students writing, and putting their vision of their writing into pictures, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. The way we do it, however, can. Now in my visionary world where students come in and grab their wireless tablets to begin the day with digitally logging attendance and lunch count, answering warm up teasers and polls on edmodo and…. OH geez… there I go again… Daydreaming of that perfect 21st century classroom.  None the less, in that classroom I would love to say “Open Kid Blog and write about… then open Sketchup and create your vision."  Wow! Imagine! First and foremost Kid Blog is a safe environment for students to open up and share their writing with not just the teacher, but a class or more of readers. It opens up the door for collaborative discussion, constructive feedback, and a vision of personal strengths and weaknesses in writing. It stays there for as long as the site does and students can go back and see how far they have come in the year.  Sketchup is a fabulous 3D tool that Google offers as a free download to your computer. It allows for a variety skill builders, such as understanding depth, volume, dimensions, and more. Students can make their own virtual 3D landscape to go along with their blog.  It simply is taking what we do in the classroom a step further and differentiating for our students. Sketchup is great for differentiation, as a matter of fact … You can create your own objects or look up and download already created images. You can add depth, dimension, shadows, or simply place objects and move on. Every student could use this to their comfort level with some teacher modeling in advance. So check these two sites out and imagine just how you could make this work in your flipped classroom!

Go On… Strut those Searchy Pants…

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As you are most likely finding out I like to truly gain an understanding of, as well as use, a techy gadget or site before I suggest it to others. I find that the more I get to know a product the better I can “sell” it, and so that is what I am doing here. Today I am transitioning into a new a fabulous search engine that will make “selling” our students parents on opening the doors to the world wide web a bit easier to swallow! www.searchypants.com is an educators dream come true. It’s cute… informative, safe, and best of all customizable. Yep- Google’s safe search is making this whole search world suitable for our kids! You can use the site as is.. OR you can make your own searchy pants domain. I did! You knew that was coming, right? www.searchypants.com/vandergriftj  You can add links you use often, (though only 9 is allowed as of now) and pick a cute background, color theme, and add a message too your browsing folk too! Now to be honest, I have had a few issues with it not saving my sites the first time, as well as it taking a while for the save to show up on the site, but all in all I like it!  Give it a try… and don’t be afraid to show off your searchy pants!  Now to give credit where due… I found this fab site from Edu Techer www.edutecher.net  and YES that is an free app for that 🙂  Adam Bellow is the creator and a very informative education tech guru.  Check him out!

Postering yourself… what could be bettter?

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So forget the days of tearing pictures out of Teen Magazine and thumb tacking them to your wall…  No more will our tweens and teens be buying up the latest and greatest posters of Edward and Jacob, Beiber and more, No… This generation has skills! They can find twenty digital images of Jacob, or Edward, or Beiber and  upload to Glogster. Those images can be turned into a shrine of happiness with text and frames and links…  Yes it is true… Awww the joy of technology! Now being this is an educational blog of sorts, I suppose we have to put the pretty boys aside and think about how this would be effective in the classroom. What ways could this be used with students? Well here are a few ideas I have. While we do have to wait for those darling AUP forms to come rolling back in before we can let students have electronic access, a get to know me Glog would be a great way to start the year off right. Would I model this… UH YES… the first time, we would do it together. Would I prioritize tasks… YUP- My rule… content first… make it pretty second! Then as the year rolls along how about we do a glog on the Life Cycle of A Plant, or Our Holidays glog. In a diverse world our students often have a variety of celebratory events that they would love to share with the class. This is  a perfect tool to use for that. We do an economics unit and students could use the GLOG to produce their advertisement. We do a sound project where students create instruments from everyday items… yep present the instrument in a GLOG…  So will my kids be glogging this year… You betcha… The question is… Will yours?? 🙂  www.glogster.com

Loved Popples as a Kid, Love Popplet now!

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Teaching 8 year olds technology is always a fun experience. They absolutely love getting their hands on something new and engaging. When I introduced SMART response last year I heard “Wow!”, “This is cool!”, and “Awesome”. The last week of school I was still able to pull review lessons off the SMART exchange and keep them engaged in working on the final days of the year! Amazing! So when I plan for next fall I look for things that I can use with the curriculum that will elevate their exposure to technology as well as take learning to a whole new level.  One of my new favorite tech sites is www.popplet.com. This is a fun graphic organizer that you could utilize for a variety of activities in the classroom including, sequencing, story webbing, brainstorming writing prompts, presentation tools, etc. I think my first popplet  of the year may be a family tree that each student makes. It would be a great way to introduce the popplet and let them share their family with one another.   For more on the popplet check out this You Tube video link Popplet. Give it a try… I promise you will be impressed!

Getting “reamed” for wanting to go paperless?

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So with all of this new technology budding inside my head I am already visioning how I can eliminate so much of the paper that crosses my path in a day. I of course would be silly if I for one minute thought there would not be any struggles along the way. First and foremost, I will not have everyone see things the way I see them. Many will be skeptical, fearful, or just plain disinterested. None of that I have control over, but my hope is that instead of questioning my new ideas, maybe just watch and see what I do, and what kind of differences are visible. Additionally there is that little tiny issue of NOT having a wireless lab permanently positioned in the back of my room, so I am going to have to make a plan. With three or more wireless labs for our school to share, I simply have to utilize a great sharing opportunity, but insist that they never sit unused! We have two computer labs, but my first six weeks of school, my scheduled lab time is required for keyboarding…  so I am going to have to use the other lab frequently.  Possibly get at least 30 minutes every day in there.  I am going to have to have all my ducks in a row too…  No paperless plan will work without me being well versed in the usage of each tool I put into their hands.  I am already trying to get a vision in my mind… If  I have to beg, steal, or borrow… well maybe just borrow… I will…  Last year I permanently borrowed a fellow teacher’s SMART response for like six whole weeks… Shout out here to you Venita! I would love to make every weekly vocab test into a SMART response test…  20 kids times 36 weeks of those tests… That is 720 pieces of paper I won’t use! WOW- Perspective!  I can see it… Now I need to do it!

Hmmm Edmodo… how will I use thee?

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With two Edmodo webinars under my belt, I now have some great ideas on how I am going to use Edmodo in the fall.  Let me start with classroom use- As that is the point, right?

Language Arts- Summary of a story, Predict the ending, Give me a sentence with two proper nouns, Team brainstorming of a writing prompt, Sequencing an activity or event….

Math- Write a word problem for others to solve, Tell me somewhere in the real world you would use decimals, Name an object with symmetry, Give examples of somewhere you see parallel lines, What things in our world can you find that are fractions…..

Science- List two living and nonliving things, measure two things around the room and post their measurements, Predict the mass of an object before the lab, Give examples of solids, liquids, gases, Discuss places you find force and motion in the world around us…

Social Studies- Describe in depth the role of any community helpers, Describe in detail any landform and its characteristics, Describe the role of any community leader…

This is simply a short list of things I see working in my 3rd grade class..  Now for parents-

I will have a separate site just for parents… For them I will:

Update on PTA events, Give reminders about upcoming due dates of projects and attach a rubric, Share funny quotes from anonymous kiddos as we learn, Send up to date info for field trips or activities, remind about holidays off, early release times, etc., Remind parents to send back permission slips and progress reports or report cards, etc…

So I have a plan… It is going to be fun for sure…

Next on my agenda to get to know… Livebinders… Can I use with 3rd graders.. Time to find out!

A little late to the game but full of spirit!

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 So I made my way into Twitter about 5 months ago as a way to better connect with my peers in the education industry. I felt I was a very strong teacher with excellent use of technology in the classroom. After all I am a TX teacher with resources galore, so I had to be right there along the best of the best in the industry, right? WRONG! Twitter opened my eyes to what was a non stop, constantly moving, always developing, changing daily technology whirlpool! For weeks I just sat amazed at what “new fangled” thing was coming my way. I began following some amazing leaders in the educational technology world, and found that I had a lot to learn. Luckily my personality is full steam ahead… dive right in… get up to your ears in it… then say.. Geesh… I need a plan! So I made one… Start my PLN- Check- Present using WIKI or Google Docs- Check, Blog-Check… And now the fun begins… I want to share with you things that catch my eye… yes I am late to the game, and even if it is halftime, I plan to play my heart out and get in the game for sure. So here it is… my new happy place- EDMODO!

Edmodo.. check it out… If you have been using it and love it… share with me what you do! I have a head full of plans for the fall but I am always open to suggestions…. I will share my vision of Edmodo.

Edmodo in Your Classroom

WOW.. My first post… of many I foresee!

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Introductions come here I suppose… I am a 3rd grade teacher in Texas – A wife and mommy of two little boys and I do dabble in some craftiness here and there. Educational Technology, however, is my passion.  It all began two years ago when I was granted a SMART board  for my classroom. Before that I had used laptops, School Web Forums, & CPS in my classroom, just to name  a few. All of that had sparked an interest in taking my classroom to a new level with technology, but it truly wasn’t until one spring afternoon in, my then 4th grade classroom that it all just seemed to come together. I had been teaching elapsed time, and reading an analog clock to my class, and as you might imagine it wasn’t exactly the highlight of their day. They were in that spring fever mode and no manipulatives or worksheets were going to do much to change that. Then I found a website with a game called STOP the CLOCK… It was interactive and looked like it might be a great group activity for a culminating activity with our unit on time. The afternoon I introduced this I expected a bit more enthusiasm, but had no idea what I was about to witness. These kids were fascinated! They didn’t want to stop! They wanted to compete against each other to see who could match the digital to the analog time the fastest… I stepped away from the board and watched them and realized I had been missing a big link along the way. These kids responded to learning so very differently than I had ever been taught to deliver. They wanted to move, and interact, and it truly changed my thinking forever.  For weeks after that day my kids would BEG me at the end of the day before dismissal to play STOP the CLOCK… yep… that’s right.. BEG… to practice telling TIME! That was the beginning for me… and after two years of growing and learning I am ready to take the next step. I want to join my peers in education in building my PLN and taking my game to the next level by using social media to enhance what I do, to ensure my students will not just learn, but they will master, and grow, and be ready for the future that waits for them. So here I go! 🙂