Talking Tablets in the Classroom- iPad Style

Well in case you haven’t heard, I am part of what will hopefully be a successful spring #padcampdallas event. I like many educators see value in using IPads in the classroom, and want very much to be a part of bringing together those who also see the value in this wonderful technology opportunity. This seemingly appears to be the best time to showcase some ways I personally use the iPad in my classroom. 
Let’s start with small group… Whether the students work independently on educational apps to reinforce skills, or in a group with me leading the review via the app, it serves as a most captivating tool for my audience. I have all of my 3rd grade apps categorized and grouped for students to have easy access to what skills I need them to review.
Research… There is never ever a question that goes unanswered… When we want to know something… We google it! (Searchy Pants if they are researching.) 
Video and pictures via Science apps… Things seems to come to life on the iPad. It is a opportunity to show my students neat things without searching the Internet and multiple sites for the material.
Show Me App- There are so many ways to use this in whole or small group, but sometimes the little things like modeling cursive letters in different colors makes a big difference for these kids. 
Multiplication Rap Addictions!!! – we started the multiplication raps last month and they are a hit… I used them at first every day, but as they master their facts, I roll them out still a couple of times a week. They love singing their facts to a fun rap tune!
Skype app… No joke, one morning I Skyped with our science discovery teacher down the hall just so the kids could say good morning, and they would see her in a few minutes! You better believe that was a hit!
Daily 5 Listen to Reading centers…. I have two whole groups full of stories that I have downloaded free thanks to TCEA sharing daily free apps! 
Google Earth…. Oh yeah… So much to do here… It sure does help to provide perspective for 8 and 9 year olds who do not have an strong understanding of our world in terms of where they are in relation to other cities, states, and countries. 
This list could most certainly go on, but it serves as a means by which to show that when you bring the power of iPads to the classroom, the possibilities are unlimited!  So if you have the opportunity to participate in iPad professional development opportunities, jump on them! You won’t be disappointed by any means!

Educational Technology…Not so hard, and so worth the reward…


I know that many educators out there look upon educational technology as just another thing they have to learn and do. It seems like just another one of the many “extras” expected of teachers these days. In leading inservice days and networking with other educators, often I get that message loud and clear. Why would they want just another task to take on, when what they have been doing is working? Well I don’t always have the right words to answer this question with, but this week I decided that the right way to answer was through showing a day in my classroom.  It was a normal day for us in 3rd grade, and looked a little like this..

Morning Start- Kids came in and worked on a Pumpkin Graphing page during morning announcements. Upon finishing I projected the page, got out my SMART Slate and using Aver Media I can write with my smart pens on the page from the back of the room 🙂 Sure does let me walk and teach… observe and assess, all at the same time 🙂

Math- Oh here we go starting Multiplication- So I had a nice free app downloaded on my IPad (Thanks to TCEA) called Multiplication Rap x2 HD– So I attached my ipad to my projector, and we jammed to a x2 rap! It taught skip counting, and in the rap you actually sing along to 2×1 is 2, 2×2 is 4… the kids loved it. (So they suckered me into buying the others 🙂 We did the mini quiz at the end and they were stoked!  I followed up with a practice page on arrays (as we just learned days prior)- so YES I do believe in balance.

Prime Time (Small Group) – Circles and Stars SMART Board lesson – we rotated from there to the computers for FAST Math, and also through a facts practice center with fact tests in clear sleeves- perfect to write on with dry erase markers! ( Again— Balance)

Reading- As we were finishing up our Pumpkin unit and comparing and contrasting skill, I used a You Tube clip of  “Spookley The Square Pumpkin”  which was 4 minutes long. It was a cold rainy day outside, so no recess, and with us showing the movie of Spookley within the hour, it allowed me to wrap up how much more in depth characters and settings would be, as well as how much more we would understand about the conflict of the story in the 45 minute movie compared to the 4 minute short.

Social Studies- BrainPop Jr- Communities– It was  great topic starter for us to start talking about rural, suburban, and urban communities.  We took the online quiz as a class, and brainstormed how we could illustrate each community in our spirals.

Science- Force and Motion using Study Jams by Scholastic. They love this site, and in this case the soccer video helped them when we moved to our push and pull sort that we cut and glued in our science spirals.

Wrapping it up– Once my kids have cleaned and packed up, I let them play Sheppard Software math games on the SMART board until the bell rings… 

So now… what in this day took hard work? Finding the material- YES… but we do that anyway when planning a lesson. Instead of going to get your book to copy pages, look online first. Find sites that work for you and use them…  Try a new site once a grading period and don’t overwhelm yourself, but at least give it a try! I promise that the reward you see will make you want to keep looking for ways to inspire and motivate your students!

I get it.. really I do…


So my 3rd graders never cease to amaze me. They come in each day with a desire to learn, and all I have to do is employ my magic teacher powers to find just what it is that brings out that desire in 22 different children. Yup, just another day at the office. Today though, like many I have had this year, I see that what I am doing, really is bringing out a desire to learn. I logged on to Edmodo today, only to find my kids griping… about what you might ask…Well they were griping because I had not given them a new assignment, and they had nothing to complete on there! I really almost had to have a double take. Were 8 year olds really giving me grief because I hadn’t added any new assignments or extension questions on a Sunday night? Yup… appeared so! So I obliged… what else would I do?

So I guess what they have taught me this time is that I really do get what kids these days learn from. I see what excites them, what makes they want to learn. I see it, and I am apparently doing something right. So Thank you @JVand3rd for giving me a big ole pat on the back, just when I needed it most!

Day 5 and Already Learning from my kids…


I am so excited to add this new section to my blog– As teachers we all know that we learn from the kids, just as they learn from us. This blog section is dedicated to just that!

This is how the story begins. After a long week of “AUP stalking” I was finally able to take my kids to the computer lab in our library! They logged in for the first time, changed passwords, as we do every year, and fumbled with multi step directions some too! Then the fun began… My kids logged on to Edmodo for the first time! This is my first year using the program, and I am so excited- and have been since June! Having them all log into my class and begin exploring polls, and free response questions was such a neat experience to witness. Thanks to Venita Jones, our MTA teacher, I also have pictures of them working on this for the first time. 

Edmodo, if you are unfamiliar, is the equivalent to facebook, but in the classroom form with safety and security built in! Students and thier parents will both be a part of this experience this year, and I am thrilled to be part of it!

So you are probably wondering what I could have learned from them by simply taking them to the lab and logging onto a program. Well…. TONS… First what I saw was the tiny little eight year old bodies as big grown up minds! I didn’t have to tell them anything once they logged on… They did it all alone, UNLIKE the whole changing your password extravaganza that took about 20 minutes and millions of questions along the way. Hmmm.. So lets see… these kids can get onto a social media type site and navigate independently… Guess maybe we are underestimating our students a bit eh! I rarely give a task the first month of school that doesn’t require a great deal of very detailed instruction, but Edmodo (a site they have NEVER been to before) is no problem at all. Tech savvy maybe? Ok that that was lesson ONE…

Lesson two from my kiddos looks like this… I arrived home, pretty excited about the experience and wanting to reminisce so I pull up Edmodo through the app on my Ipad. Guess what I see? Two of my kids have gone home on a FRIDAY night, with no direction to do so, logged on, added a profile picture, and answered questions on the page! Yes, you read that right… they went home and did something for school that was not asked of them…  Then this morning I see a third student has been on this weekend. All of this as self directed activity! WOW!

My final plug for this site is simply this… Social Media takes a lot of hits in this world, with one being a disconnect from face to face interaction. Let me say I have spent five 7 hour days with these kids, and in simply reading their responses on Edmodo, I learned more about who they are, what kind of personality they have, and how they communicate. Powerful ? I would say so!

I am so excited to see this in action… What a fun kick off to our year!

Leadership Day 11 – What Should You See?


With today being Leadership Day 11, I made an executive decision to combine my original blog idea on adding IPad classroom teaching to the question of what I think should be witnessed in my classroom through the eyes of an administrator. It actually provides a very easy meshing of ideas, surprisingly, and so I should easily be able to share that with you.

The IPad 2 will join a long list of technology components you would find in my classroom in use daily. I am pretty sure I would shrivel up and wilt if you took my SMART board away from me. Then at the end of last year I nearly became as addicted to my SMART airliner. I could still use my board and facilitate learning, but I could be among the “masses” and get a much better scope of what each child was grasping as I navigated the lesson. SMART response became a vital part of my assessment process last spring, even though I did not have my own. A colleague of mine is overly welcoming of her technology and shares with me whenever I ask! I use a voice amplification system in my room as well. I no longer raise my voice over a group of kiddos- and I have it for those kiddos who speak quietly but still need to be heard my peers. So bringing an Ipad to small group activities excites me. It is going to be so fulfilling to see my students learning via this fabulous tool, and in my mind it will teach them that the Ipad or Ipod is far more than a social networking and game playing tool. It will teach them that it is a fabulous tool for learning and sharing. That is a TEK that I am not required to teach, but feel it ranks among the most important of TEKS in the education of these kids. Of course as educators we know that we teach well more than what the state tells us to teach. We do that because we truly do want the best future for the kids we spend our year with!

So with all that being said, what is it that I would like my administrators to see upon entering my room? What is it that I would like to them to communicate to me in regards to their vision of my classroom as they come in and join us from time to time? Those are quite honestly two very simple questions to answer!

With walk throughs becoming a large part of what administrators are doing for PDAS purposes, what I want witnessed at these times is simple. I want them to see students working on a variety of tasks, many of which revolve around technology integration. I want them to see my students using technology for something other than social networking and game playing, rather they will be using them to learn and share. I want them to see our community of learners working with other communities of learners around the world to better facilitate how we learn and grow. I want them to see a 21st century classroom full of the future leaders of our world, using advancing technology to change their world! That seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

The latter part of this of question is the part that too often is missing in our field. The communication part of our job. Wouldn’t it be great to hear your administrator say ~ Wow I see that Bobby’s group is very engaged with that Math App. I like how they are working together using technology to facilitate each of their strengths and struggles! Have you thought about maybe also trying…. I bet that would be a success as well! Great job!~  Moral- Tell me what you see– Stick around and watch how this works and tell me that you see what I see. Certainly share a suggestion or two with me…. and then let me know you are happy with what you see happening.  That is to me the most critical missing piece, especially with those of us who are heavily changing the way we teach through the growth in our PLN. We are doing new and innovative things, and more than ever we need to know our administrators get “it” and see value in this change. With not every classroom at the same place in technology integration, it can be challenging when you make giant leaps and get little or no feedback. You have to rely on student, parent, and peers to share their feedback, or turn to your PLN. All of those will be vital in helping us to make integration changes, but administrators are a vital piece of the puzzle.  It takes a village…. Right?

Wallwisher – Ways To Use In Your Classroom.


So this is my first post in the “How would I use that?” category of my blog. It is designed to take a simple site or app and give you some suggestions for how to make that work in the classroom setting. This post in particular will center around a site called WallWisher. It is literally a virtual bulletin board that you set up, invite people to, and watch as it becomes a public forum of sorts. The question of course is, how can you use this in a school setting… well I have a few ideas.

First I am thinking of ways to boost communication between home and school. What if every week you put up wall and during that week family members could post a note to their child, or the whole class and pump up moral. They could post any positive message that would show the students they had cheerleaders outside of the classroom. Then on Friday morning, you could pull up the wall and let the students read what had been sent to them. Now knowing that not all families would do this, I would of course go in before I posted on Friday and leave a message for any student who did not have one from a family member. It literally takes a minute to post a note to a child, and I see it as a valuable way to show support from home, which many children really do need to see!

It would also be a great place for parents to post what they might be bringing to a class party or field trip. This would let everyone have the ability to see what was needed, and what was not…. As well as who might be volunteering to help for such events. It is a simple, easy communication tool for sure.

Now in the classroom I have some different ideas about how I see this working with students. First I see it as a great place to make book suggestions. Students could share a favorite book title, author, and short sentence with an introduction to the story. This might be a great way for students to find books they might enjoy as well as some friends that might like the same kinds of books they they like.

It could be a place where students share a favorite scene from a story we read aloud. It could be a place where students practice a skill – perhaps post a cause, and the effect it might have. It could be a place to make a hypothesis about a science lab we would start in class that day, or a place to list a community helper and one job they do to help the community. It doesn’t have to be a huge project, simply a place where they can post ideas, and see what their peers are posting too. It also gives them yet another tech tool that they can become familiar with during the year. It might even be a site they could use in a class project along the way!

I chose to make a wall for this particular occasion and I would love for you to go and post one or two things… One if you have learned something from me and plan to use it in your classroom- tell me what that might be… and Two- If there is a tech topic you want to know more about- post that too! I will see what I can do for you!  Below is the sample greeting that will be sent to your email once you create your first wallwisher… Click on the link to post on my wall!

Hi Guys n Gals
I have created a Wallwisher wall. It is a simple webpage where we all can post our messages easily.
So simply go to  and post your message there.
Happy Posting!


Seriously? Homework Reform? No Way!


Well in the days past I have found myself processing a lot of what I learned through attending my first ever EdCamp! If you are unfamiliar- It is essentially the un- conference … no agenda- simply educators who meet, talk, establish things that they want to learn and an agenda arises with educators who are willing to share some expertise on particular novelties. You can sit through a whole session or literally walk in and out, trying each session on for size. They are particularly inclined to teach educational technology and how to apply that in the classroom, so as you can imagine, I was more than stoked to attend! I could go on an on about all the things I took away that day, but I will simply try to hit on a couple big ideas and how they will shape some much needed changes in my classroom this fall.

My superintendent, who will be entering his first full year in our district, spoke to the crowd of nearly 200 at lunch that day. He, unlike many in the upper echelons of education, gets it! He had so many poignant thoughts, but one in particular really just solidified my passion for encouraging other educators into educational technology. He stated that last year’s senior class would be the very last group of kiddos we would teach that had been born prior to the world wide web. That being said… every single child we teach today and into the future will have been alive during an alarmingly fast moving information age. That sparked something even bigger in me for sure. If the world we are teaching in is moving and changing every day, can we justify doing the exact same lessons the exact same way year after year? Can we use the same materials and methods, year after year? Well I suppose we CAN… but should we? My thoughts.. NO! We should be growing and changing how we teach weekly, if not daily. After all, isn’t there something new daily? Now by no means am I suggesting that I will do every single thing differently in the year to come. I am realistic and know that you have to take this one tech step at a time. However I have started making a list of the things I plan to change from the beginning. Homework is first…  But how will I change something like homework? Here are my thoughts…

Drill and practice… worksheets… worksheets.. worksheets….  We have administered homework this way forever, and honestly is there a single shred of evidence that this works? The reality… the kids who got it in class will get it at home… and it probably wasn’t necessary to make them do the extra 15 problems. The kids who either got it a little, or didn’t get it at all, now fall to the mercy of their family for help. If they get that help, wonderful… If not…  well they don’t do it, or do it poorly, and in most cases serve a penalty for not following through with a task. Does any of that sound logical when written down? Hey- I am not here to judge… I have been the person dishing this out for years… but I plan to do it no more…  I plan to make sure my students are accountable for tasks outside the classroom, YES… but how I do that will change.  As I have talked about in earlier posts, I will use Edmodo this year in my classroom. My homework questions will be posted there daily… as for any student who does not have access to a computer or a parent who is skeptical- I will also have a homework spiral where they can answer the questions as well. I will not be giving drill and practice- rather critical thinking, problem solving, analyzing, summarizing, etc., as a way to make them think- yet reduce the right and wrong, yes and no, and true or false type of activity.  We can pull up Edmodo at the end of the day- make sure that they understand the task and let them think on it before they do it…  Is this full proof? Don’t know…  Will there be issues… Sure… Tech fails- I know that for sure… but working out the kinks this year will make one more change that I feel is necessary for my students to move at the pace of the world they live in…  Food for thought…. That’s what I am here for! 🙂

#3rdChat – Making the best of that!


So in case you have not heard yet, #3rdchat is going to join a long list of spin offs from the #edchat growth in the Twitterverse. If you are not familiar with Twitter, the pound sign at the beginning of any word makes it a hastag- a topic to post relevant ideas regarding that topic under. #Edchat is simply where educators meet, hash out ideas, pose insightful questions, share links, etc., to discuss among the communty of educators who follow. Many different areas of education have added hashtags and created chat opportunites as a way to connect with educators across the WORLD to better what we all do each day in the classroom. So as I started getting involved with a variety of chats under various hastags I realized I was not seeing a #3rdchat- Other grade levels had chats that were ongoing, but sad little 3rd grade sat with no talk! So I sent a message to Tyler Hart who teaches 3rd grade in Virginia… He suggested that together we create #3rdchat for our grade level– and I thought that was a fabulous idea. Within days… #3rdchat was born. So that is the back story… but what does that mean for you… especially if you aren’t on Twitter, or you are on Twitter, but do not use it as a professional resource as of now…. Well here are some thoughts..

Think about your classroom as a fishbowl… You can see out.. look around- make observations about what it is that is  happening around you. You compare yourself to the teachers in your hall… your wing.. your school maybe. You might even compare yourself to others within your school district. Perhaps you are using that SMART board daily, having kids on a computer program daily, using your online math or reading digital textbook frequently, and use online forums to facilitate activities. All this makes you feel like maybe you are running one top notch program where kids are getting the very best of the learning environment. Then you look farther than your fishbowl has ever let you look. You look at a classroom in Virginia, or Utah, or Switzerland, or Alberta and you and get a different perspective. You see things you aren’t doing, things you don’t know much about, let alone stand a chance of using in a room full of kids, and it hits you! Why shouldn’t your kids be getting the same technological experiences that other kids their age are getting? How are you supposed to give them the same opportunities if you are still using paper and pencil tasks 75% of the day? Where in the world do you go to figure this out?  Ahhhhhhh—-  perhaps #edchat!  If you do nothing by simply sit and observe a chat on Twitter, do at least that. Watch as ideas, suggestions, thoughts swirl. I promise you will take at least one thing away from every chat to process and use.  Seek out things you don’t know much about… or want to get better at…  Daily5 is one of those for me… and guess what… they have a chat too! #Daily5 chat is a great place to learn more from people who are already doing it and have discovered through trial and error what works and what doesn’t! Why not use those resources to work smarter and not harder?   

I hope that maybe I have given you something to think about.. and if you think I may be on to something check out the links below. I am attaching the #3rdchat page as well as Cybraryman’s Page where you can find every known chat among a million other fantastic resources!  If nothing else… book mark that one!

Go Ahead… Take A Plunge.. You’re a Teacher for Goodness Sake!


So I have given much thought to what things I want to alter in the year to come based on what I have gained through my PLN in the last few months. So much information is out there, and becoming overwhelmed is beyond reasonable. That being said, I am starting to take one step at a time, but take them as often as possible. I have started attending webinars weekly, which takes only an hour out of my day, and gives me a wealth of information to process. I started blogging, as you know, obviously. This lets me take what I see as really important information and pass it on to others who hopefully find what I have to say somewhat engaging every now and again! These steps were ones that have led me into the next venue… My new mantra- reinventing the wheel- one spoke at a time… Yes I know many who believe that if it isn’t broke you certainly do not need to fix it… but I have to differ a bitand suggest that if that was the case, why would be not be still using those fabulous rotary landline phones instead of thesmart phone today? There isn’t anything wrong with that ole rotary… but it certainly can’t get me directions to the nearest starbucks… so yes… let’s choose to take a few leaps and see where we can go!

My leap of the week is taking on the old faithful Parent University power point. I have used one every year I have taught, and year after year I edit with new dates and figures. It is there, reliable, and some might say predictable. So….. I am saying goodbye to that ole power point… and HELLO to my new Parent University Prezi!  This presentation tool is web based, much more tech inspired, and just as user friendly.. if not more user friendly! It is not slide based, but one big ole presentation with an ordering of events that allows you to roll through the screen to view and zoom to show specifics! It has a lot to offer if you want a fun, whimsical, presentation piece that people will be talking about for days….  or you can keep on rolling with that wheel that isn’t broken, and that is ok too… but maybe, just maybe you might want to check it out. Prezi

Making Science Soar


In reality we have to admit that technology is the love child of math and science. Together those two content areas pull together the foundations of what we know to be current technologies. Those who create new technology use the problem solving and analyzing skills they learned in school in math and science. So when thinking about where my blog should go today I considered those two subjects carefully. My certain gravitation goes to math, as I love to teach math for sure. However, I decided that since I have a love/hate relationship with teaching science, I should most certainly go that direction. So, yes, the secret is out… I am not the best science teacher in the world. I never was an ace in science in school, which very conveniently transferred to my dread of teaching it in the classroom. When departmentalized in 4th grade I opted to teach social studies and leave the science to my co-teacher. I think all this has made a pretty solid case for why I want to make this my focus. We all have a spot within what we teach that isn’t delivered as well as all the others- but in this world of educational technology, there really is no reason to sit back and keep it that way. So this blog is dedicated to you- the teacher of science, whether you are great, or developing, or fearful! 🙂 So onward- the path to becoming a better science teacher awaits.

What I know– Well labs and hands on learning are  by far the strongest ways for kids to grasp scientific minds. Now, while I would love a world in which I had time to do a full out lab everyday, that isn’t possible… so how can I take those days when I am not doing a hands on lab and make it just as engaging and learner friendly! – Here are some suggestions!

Discovery Education – I recently became a STAR Educator with Discovery Education and can say I am for sure a big advocate of them! DE Science is such a fabulous tool to use in the classroom. Start with their interactive glossary as a great way to add an element to science vocabulary. Then move on to the fundamentals section. A virtual, interactive lab takes you to the next level.  Video segments, e books, reading passages, and more make DE Science a valuable resource you simply can’t teach without! The best part is that you can do these things whole group, small group, or independently. You can set up a class and assign these activities over time! Great huh?

Succeeding With Science– This site has fabulous interactive whiteboard activities. Check out the changing matter activity for some real fun! They also offer games, teacher packs with printables, and PDFs that provide questions and puzzles throughout content. It is a wonderful resource you should check out!

Gizmos– Explore Learning offers a great variety of activities to be done in groups or independently, as you can also add a class here as well! Assign t and let your students have a blast while learning some great science skills!

Check these resources out and see if you might just be able to add a little flare to your science lessons this fall! And as always I will be on the lookout for more fabulous science sites! As I find them… You will get them!