Thursday, December 18, 2014

Self-Paced Learning

Today our 5th Grade Math block consisted of each student on a laptop. It was funny cause as we were getting the laptops from the cart, some of the kids were like, "This isnt an iPad, does that still count as technology??" I had to explain to them that technology comes in many forms and not always just an iPad. Anyways, the past few days, I have been working on creating screencasts that students can watch and then apply. They have been learning about Scatter Plots, Spot Plots and Stem and Leaf. I created one for each and today was the day that the students were to work them out. Going into this project, the teacher wanted to incorporate technology into these areas. I told her that I would make the screencasts if she would introduce them to the students. It was a mutual agreement and also big stretch for her because of the fact that she had never let a screen-cast teach her students before. On top of that, students were not only doing one assignment but three!

Again our process for making this a success included:
-Logging each student in T's Google Drive account.
-Creating 25 copies of a spreadsheet and numbering them 1-25. (There is a "make a copy" tool in Google.)
-Assigning each student a number 1-25. (Students will then match their given number with the proper spreadsheet number- this way students wont cross work.)
-Having students put their names in the top left hand corner.
-Having a place to pull data from. In this case, the student website.
-Constantly reassuring students that their work is "always saved" via the cloud.

I also suggest giving students breaks in between assignments. Each project lasted about 20 minutes and although they wanted to jump in to the next one right away, we made them go get water or stretch so they could go into the next lesson with a fresh mindset.

Again, as simple as the work samples may look, there were many steps involved in doing this. These were students teaching themselves from a screencast with minimal teacher assistance.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Unfamiliar Waters

Today I had the chance to team up with last year's "Teacher of the Year" to do a technology integrated lesson using Explain Everything with a custom made fraction strip along with a graphing-paper template as the background. This teacher had been eager to integrate technology somehow into her lessons, however I wanted to make sure that whatever was prepared was high impact, engaging and meaningful. I had walked by this teacher's classroom a few times before and noticed that they were using fraction manipulatives, so I thought this activity would be great! As I walked in, the kids immediately were like, "Yes! It's the iPad man!" It was great to see their overall excitement level increase just at the sight of the iPads.

As I got started, I explained how we had to download a file from Google Drive and so we had to log in each device as the teacher. This didn't take as long as I thought which was a huge plus! Once we were logged in I showed the students how the file worked. I showed them how to duplicate an image to help expedite the problem solving process. Ie: They had to make four copies of the 1/4th piece in order to make a whole. Once they were comfortable doing that, I turned it over to the teacher so that she could explain her lesson to the students. Basically the students had to create equivalent fractions from a fraction that was given on the board. They could either use the multiplication or division methods.

I have to give major props to this teacher for trying this! I know it was out of her comfort zone and she even admitted to the students that she was learning how to utilize technology in the classroom. Her students were awesome and were like, "We got ya!" How awesome is that?! To make this day even sweeter, when it was time to transition to go to another class, she had let her students know that it was time to put the iPads away. Immediately their response was, "Noooooo!" That melted my heart! I am glad these kids embrace a different way of doing something so routine! From the looks and sounds of it, I think I am going to be invited to come back to this class and do another lesson in a few weeks!

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Hey, I Really Like it When Students Can Research Real Life Info!"

Ok, so this activity was 2 weeks in the making and I really wanted the teacher to hit it out of the park with her kids on this one! About a week prior to me writing this post, the teacher and I sat down and talked about what she wanted to do. She told me that students were learning about bar charts and needed to create one and wondered if there was any way to incorporate technology into this lesson. Immediately I had flashbacks to my ITS days in which we had to show the kids how to create pie charts, bar graphs, etc in the computer lab!  I told her of the idea that I had in which kids could go research the number of wins of their favorite basketball team and graph them. (We had done this in the past years and the kids had loved it!) However, she was like, "No, I just want to keep it simple." Resisting the urge to pursue my idea, I had respectfully listened to her and helped plan out the activity her way. We had talked about taking a survey on "Student Transportation" (car riders, walkers, bikers, and bus riders.) She had drawn a T-Chart on the board and students had to place a sticky note for their category.

Now the technology piece! Even though I had worked with bar charts before, I wanted it to be easy for the teacher to get back the student work. In the past, I have always used Excel to make spreadsheets. I actually started creating a screencast using Screencast-O-Matic which used Excel as the tool to create them. As I was wrapping up making this screencast I thought to myself, "Students are going to create one, and do what with it? How are they going to get it off the laptop and printed so that the teacher can grade them?" I then shunned the idea of Excel and looked at iPad apps. The first one that I looked at was Google Sheets. Upon playing with it, I found it very easy to use, however there was no way to actually create a graph! I then looked at Numbers- Apple's version of Excel. This one again was user friendly, and actually let me create a graph, but then again there was no easy way for me to get them off of the device. I could use photo stream, and then email the graphs to her, but that would have taken a lot of time. Finally, I wanted check out Google's version of Sheets on the Laptop to see what it had to offer. Sure enough, I played with it and it was everything I wanted and MORE!  Here is what I did to ensure ease for the teacher and student:

-Created about 25 blank spreadsheets and labeled them 1-25. (Use the "duplicate" tool- it makes life much more simple.)
-As students walked in the door I assigned them a number 1-25.
-Once students were given a number, then they found their number in Sheets and changed it from the number to their name. (This would greatly help the T when it came to grading.)
-I created a screencast for this teacher that explained to the student step by step on what to do.
-I manually showed the student how to navigate the screencast (pause as needed, and apply using their own data.)
-Explain to the student that their work is automatically saved in "the cloud" (this baffled them!)
-Showed the teacher how to view student work.

As students were finishing up their first bar graph I asked the teacher how much time they had left. She was like, "Oh they still have plenty of time." I had asked her if we could do the Sports project (as talked about earlier.) She was more than willing this time!  For this part of the project, students would go to and click on "Basketball" and then "Standings." I told them to pick their 5 favorite basketball teams and create bar charts on their! Talk about engaged!

I am proud of this teacher! I think this was a big step for her and her class. She has something similar coming up next week and we plan to use the same approach. We agreed that I create the screencast if she (on her own) uses the laptops as means to do this activity. I as more than happy with that deal!

Click the image to take you to the screen cast:

Student Work Sample:

Socrative in 1st Grade

One of our First Grade teachers created her first Socrative Quiz and used it with her students today! This was an activity that this teacher designed all on her own which was great! We did run into a few network related issues but there's not much we can do to control those.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A FLIPPING Great Way to Enhance Math Skills!

One of my 4th Grade teachers is in the process of adding a new station for her centers. While planning this particular station, we talked about the need to identify how to reach students who are low in various areas. One of the stations we have planned out was a "Self Learning" station. It really isn't called that, but basically that is how it works. Twice a week, my teacher records a strategy on how to solve a problem via the iPad. She breaks it down step-by-step just as if she was teaching it to her class. Once she is done recording it in Explain Everything, she then exports it into Google Drive in which I then grab the link so that I can embed it. The teacher also writes out two similar problems so that the student can go back and work out using the same strategies as they had seen on the video. The goal of this center is for students to be able to learn at their own pace and master things that they had missed before.

Here is a sample of how the station works:

Student watch a tutorial like shown in link below:
Click this link to view the tutorial.

Student then tries to work a similar math problem:
Click here to view math problem

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Worms, Rain, Soil and Google Hangouts.... in 1st Grade! (Part 1)

Don't you just love it when something doesn't go according to plan? Well today the plan was set, but things sure did change on us quickly! However, the end results were still AWESOME and the kids were in awe of their discoveries! Let's rewind a bit so that I set the stage...

A few weeks ago one of my 1st Grade teachers connected with a 1st Grade teacher that I used to work with at a different campus. I was always hoping their paths would cross because they have very similar classroom management styles. During their conversation they had talked about possibly one day collaborating on a project together. Well soon enough, the emails start coming talking about analyzing soil samples across campuses. Sure enough, their 1st Grade teacher mails us a sample of their soil along with a letter requesting some soil from our campus. Once we have swapped soil samples then we plan on hosting a Google Hangout On Air with a total of 4 classes simultaneously so that we can discuss how the soil samples were different on each campus. Today was the day that we broke ground (see what I did there??) on the project.  Students were told by the teacher that they had to find various items such as soil, rocks, grass and mystery items such as worms, buried trash or bugs.
Once they found the items, they would use pic collage to identify it and create a graphic organizer out of it.  Once we told the students what was expected of them, students went outside to dig for soil. However, only having one shovel we let students take turns using it which turned out to be a long process. We ended up helping students dig a little deeper into the ground since it was kind of tough for them.

Our first big scoop resulted in a piece of trash that was buried under ground, so this was collected as an artifact. On our next scoop, we found a really large worm. Students were beyond excited in this find! Once we found the first worm, we dug a few more holes before it started to rain. Once it started raining, we had went inside and worked in a large common area to analyze what we found as well as to start our Pic Collage project. Students rotated stations to see what each sample had to offer. They had a blast taking pictures of various things! Our next step is to get our sample to those schools for analyzing. We are supposed to do the Google On Air Hangout next week, so be on the look out for "Part 2" later next week!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Student to Student Feedback, IT can happen!

This week one of my 5th grade teachers started on a long term project. This project has a lot of components to it, but for the sake of time, I am going to focus on the technology piece of it. This week students started using background knowledge to make inferences. The app of choice was Explain Everything. This app is relatively new to this teacher, so she is still learning about all it can do and basically getting comfortable with it. Anyways, students worked on this all task all week and today was the day that they were introduced to peer feedback. We were a bit hesitant at first, because normally when students are critiquing, conversations have the quick tendency of turning negative. However, to guard against this, we talked about the proper ways of how to leave both a positive response as well as a suggestion. The example that you see below is a "Student A's" work. "Student B" is the person leaving the feedback.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Let It Go!

So within the next few days I am planning on rolling out 100 iPads to our campus. As crazy as it seems, I have had a very tough time "letting them go." I am nervous, excited, and confident about my staff using them on their own. One of the things that I have been working on these past few weeks is planning. As previous posts explain, I normally just create lessons "on the fly." However, that's not really building the teacher's ability to gain confidence using technology on their own. Today I had 6 planning meetings which was the first time I had ever had that many in one day! Each teacher was excited about bringing ideas to the table in return boosted my confidence in their ability to "take it and run with it."

These past two days my 2nd Grade Teacher asked me for a class set of iPads so that he could do an assignment on his own. We honestly didnt plan it out, so it didnt go too well with the students because of minor tech issues. However, after school we talked about what went wrong and how we could tweak a few things in order to make it a success for the next day. Sure enough, my teacher knocked it out of the park with his lesson! The crazy thing is that he was doing the screencast a totally different way than I would normally do it but the kids really enjoyed his way too! Typically when I do a screencast, I have the students work out the problem as they are recording it. However, he had the Ss create a new slide for each step- when they were done, they would go back and record each slide. Different? Yes! Kids engaged? ABSOLUTELY! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"So, We Are Using Two Apps to Complete This Project?"

This past Monday my Digital Team and I stayed after school to work on a few activities. When we were finished with them, I had a chance to pre-plan with my 5th Grade Math Teacher about doing something later on this week (today). Long story short, they had to show 4 different ways on how to solve a problem (Arrays, Fraction Strips, Skip Counting and Colored Counters.) Since it is close to Thanksgiving, she had them coloring a Turkey with these various methods as feathers. When I presented the idea of using Pic Collage and Explain Everything together, she was like "I love it! But, I still want to do my Turkey lesson!" I was more than willing to compromise! :)

Fast forward today, we rolled brand new iPads to the 5th grade class. So we had to go through all of the "do you want to allow explain everything access to photos? etc etc. Once I presented what we were going to do, one of the students was like, "Hey, Chavez, so we are going to use more than one app to do this project?" My response, was "Yeah! It's called app-mashing!"

So anyways, students would work the problem out on their turkey feather first and then show it to the teacher, who would then confirm if it was correct or not. Once it was correct, the students could then re-work it in Explain Everything. As they would finish solving the problems, they would then save them to the camera roll and then toggle over to Pic Collage where they would import that picture and label what method it was. Our method of getting work off of the iPad had typically been iCloud and Photo Stream, however things were not syncing, so my awesome Digital Learning Coach at a different campus suggested that we take a screenshot and then import it back over into Explain Everything and export it back into the T's Google Drive. It sounded like a lot of work, but I had 3 "fast finishers" who quickly became my iPad Experts who would help other students save to Google Drive! Controlled chaos, but the classroom was literally running itself by that time! All it all, I think the project went really well! The teacher was happy because she still had the chance to work with those who didnt grasp the math concept. I was more than happy because other students wanted to help students make their end product look great too!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"I Have NEVER Seen my Class THIS Engaged!"

A few blog posts back, I wrote about the first time a 5th grade teacher used Explain Everything with iPads to help enhance learning fractions. Yesterday, I had a random 5th grade teacher come up to me and literally ask me, "Can we do something awesome in my class?" I was like, "Uhh yeah!" (This teacher also teaches 5th grade Math / Science and had recently saw what her co-teacher did!) Needless to say, we took a look at what she wanted to do and we designed the lesson from there. Originally the plan was to upload an Explain Everything template with the problems pre-loaded. However, we had issues logging into her Google Drive account so we had to call an audible (again a football reference!) Instead, I printed out the problems on paper and gave each partner one. The teacher modeled the first problem on her iPad so that the students could see how it is done. Once she was done modeling we let the kids start their work. I am a firm believer that a student should be able to work in an environment that they are comfortable in so we let them sit around the room, lay on the floor, sit under desks, or whatever it took for students to be "in the zone." I know one may think that classroom management might be an issue, but it really wasnt because the kids were so engaged. Once the students started wrapping things up, I showed two students how to export them out to Google Drive. They got the hang of it and helped the rest of the class! Once the students were done, I had a mini post-conference with the teacher. She literally told me that she had never seen the kids so engaged. Even the students who had a hard time with discipline were engaged and on task! #eduwin

Anyways here is a work sample of a 5th grader's FIRST time screencasting with a partner!

Building Our Library

A year ago I hadnt fully grasped the concept of how powerful screencasting can be. I was using an app called Show Me and Educreations. Both apps have recently made changes where it makes it more difficult (in my opinion) for students to produce their work in. I now use ONLY Explain Everything because of its flexibility throughout all of the content. 

A year ago, I hadnt really grasped how powerful Google Drive was going to be. I was using a tool called Dropbox which I absolutely loved at the time, but I no longer use it thanks to Google Drive and its 30gbs of storage.

I think my campus is finally hitting its stride when it comes to screencasting. All of this week I have been working with 5th graders in small groups putting together a library of lessons that students can refer to when needed. I would pull about 4 students and take them to somewhere where it is quiet so that they can record. I am finding out that my students are becoming very good at putting these together. I force them to write / solve their problem out on paper first that way they can understand how to work out a concept. Once they are done, they are allowed to go to the iPad and record it. Since we only have a handful of problems to work on, I am asking students to take the problem they have, and re-word it using different names, places and numbers. Oh my goodness- you would not believe how creative students can be coming up with problems! The best part about this is the fact that they are having to work these problems out on their own without me having to tell them to do so! It's actually fun and engaging for them to do this!

Here is a tutorial that two of our 5th graders made today:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Little Pre-Planning Goes a LONG Way!

One of my big goals that I am trying to work on is pre-plan and post conference with teachers about content and how we an incorporate technology into their lessons. I think I have been making progress in that area, although everyone's comfort level in using technology is different. The teacher that I have been working with recently is new to the grade level and was a bit hesitant to let me work with their class because it is "STAAR Grade." Putting myself in their shoes, I think I would be very reluctant too! Knowing this, I didnt want to jump off the deep end and do anything tech "crazy." I just simply wanted to include an iPad with Explain Everything into the upcoming lesson. During the pre-planning phase, I had shown this teacher "Virtual Manipulatives" in which students could manipulate fractions, etc. It in itself can be very powerful- however this teacher wanted students to record themselves talking about HOW they came to solve the problem. We talked about the drawbacks of VM and how it did not allow for recordings. I then recommended the app "Explain Everything." I told them how I can custom create a faction chart to where students can drag pieces if they needed to.

Fast forward to today. I went into this 5th grade class and told the students what the plan was. I also introduced how to make a duplicate of a fraction piece.  (By them doing this, it saved me TONS of time trying to create each individual piece!) For this particular assignment, students had to add / subtract fractions with unlike denominators. To add to this, the problems were also two step, which tended to confuse the student at times. Honestly, the first group that I worked with had a hard time grasping the concept of all of this- so what the teacher and I decided to do was to have the student work it out correctly on a piece of paper first. Once we checked the answer, students were then allowed to go into EE and record their work on the iPad. I told the students could take full advantage of the room and go where they like. They really liked this cause they could "get into the zone" while recording.

I didnt have any "fast finishers" on the morning class, but I did have quality work, which to me is far more important than finishing quickly. (Below is a video posted of a student's work.)


My afternoon group completely blew me out of the water! This particular class is really challenging to motivate and has a hard time taking responsibility when it comes to their work. However, the trade off is that when they are interested in doing something, they will go above and beyond to make it happen!

I started off the same way- we set our expectations and let them get started. This class understood the concept of least common multiples, etc, so that really wasnt an issue. I was surprised to see so many people finish their work on their paper first! They had finished MUCH quicker than my first class. Before we knew it, everyone was spread out across the room screen casting! I was completely blown away! I had NEVER seen this class excited about learning, much less about math! The teacher and I were very excited for the students- they were actually taking ownership of their learning! In my post-conference with this teacher, she told me that she had never seen kids as engaged as they were in this activity! I was so proud of her and her kids!

We decided that we are going have 4 students from each group create this screencast videos for their class. They will then post them on the website- (actually that will be my job.) This will be for a student's reference just in case they do not know what to do. The awesome thing about this is the fact that students will be able to watch these videos from home!  So excited for what the future holds for this teacher and her class!

Below are some candid photos from today's lesson:
Teacher Example

Solving on paper first, then explaining via iPad.

I told students that the closer they are to the hotspot, the faster it uploads!

Student's work being uploaded to T's Google Drive!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1st 9 Weeks in the Books!

Normally when I blog,  I enjoy showing off student work, projects or other awesomeness that we are doing on our campus. However, this blog is a little different. I want to brag on the team that I get to work with everyday. They are simply awesome. Today was the first day that we got to work together as a team on accomplishing a task. I am always in their classes working with them individually, however, today was the first day that we got to sit down and catch up on some thing as a group. One of them told me today, "Andres, you are one of the most patient people that I know!" That made me feel really good because everyone that I work with is on a different skill level technology wise. I cannot say enough good things about my team. I am truly blessed to work with them!

Short Stories with Popplet and Explain Everything

My second graders and their teacher are rocking things in class! The past two days the teacher and his students had been using Popplet and Explain Everything to create and record graphic organizers with a short story. The first day students were to collect their thoughts via Popplet. On day 2 students had to import their picture into Explain Everything and record themselves telling the story. It's funny how students get so shy when they are recording something but can be ever so loud when talking in the lunchroom!! :) I also found that this group of students that I work with are perfectionists!! Time after time they will go back and re-record things to make sure they are properly done which I think is great as long as they stay in the boundaries of the time given.

Here is a sample of one that was created:


Thursday, October 23, 2014

There's a FIRST time for everything!

As you might have already known from previous posts- I have a tendency to come up with ideas at the last minute and share them with the teacher on a last minute notice. I have been getting better with that, but there are sometimes that I cannot help it! Yesterday was one of those times! I had come by my 1st grade teacher's classroom to see if I could work in stations with them. This teacher said yes so I went to go get my things. We had been working in an app called "Sound-O-Scope" in which the app lets you record your voice. Once the voice is recorded the student could then email their sound clip to the teacher. Once the file was emailed to the teacher, I would then go and then forward it to myself, download the file and then take pix of the pages of the book. Sounds time consuming right? It WAS! As I was walking into this teacher's class I decided that I was going to mix it up a little and use iMovie. iMovie with a first grade class you might say?? It wasnt as difficult as I thought it would be! The teacher wanted them to talk about the plot and solution of a story, so sure enough they found pictures in book they had read and snapped them in iMovie. From there, they recorded their voice over it using the microphone tool. Once they were comfortable and confident in what they were saying, we exported it out to the teacher's Google Apps YouTube channel. This was a first for this class and lets just say that myself, the teacher and the students were really excited about it! I am still working on removing the Ken Burns effects from iMovie (where it automatically zooms into a photo) but I think this will be my choice of app when it comes to re-telling anything!! Check out the clip that our first graders made!

3-2-1 ACTION!

All this week I had been prepping my 5th grade students to use iMovie with an experiment that they had coming up today. For me, I had shown them just a few tools such as how to insert and remove a picture, along with shortening the time of a picture. Long story short I wanted to show them the essentials to what they would need to make a movie. Today was the day that we actually used the iPads with the group. I emphasized to the student that this particular lesson wasnt necessarily all about the iPad but it would be a tool in their overall completion of the project. Students were learning about conductors and insulators of electricity in which they would have a size D battery, electrical wire, a light bulb and other items such as a marshmallow or ping pong ball to test. When students got to the stage of trying to complete the circuit, students took the iPad and used iMovie to a)record the student explaining what they were doing and if the item they were testing was an insulator or conductor. When they were done explaining, the student then took a picture of the item either with the light-bulb lit up or not lit. It sounded like an easy concept but students really wanted to be perfect in their videos! It was so good to hear and see conversations directed at learning! To make things even better, all of these conversations were student lead!  To help the teacher, I created a rubric (with the help of another awesome co-worker) to show the students what they would need to achieve a certain grade. Feel free to use it! Once the students were done we uploaded it directly to the teacher's Google Apps YouTube account (set to private view or else I'd show one!) All in all, I think both the teacher and the students really enjoyed integrating iMovie into their lesson today!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10 Frame in Explain Everything

I have been really eager to work with my 1st grade teachers lately! They are starting 10-Frame word problems (adding as or now) in which they use counters to figure out a word problem. For example, a word problem might read: "John had 10 marbles, his mom gave him 3 more. How many does he have now?" Rather than using another page in an anchor chart, I wanted to spice up this lesson using technology. As mentioned many times before, my "go-to" app is Explain Everything, and for this lesson it was no different. Using the "line tool" I created my 10 frame box. Actually, scratch that-- one of my teachers was really interested in creating a template with math problems so I let HER do the work. Anyways, after she was done creating the 10 frame she then came up with 5 word problems. She then created the proper amount of markers (dots) per problem. Once she was done, we logged into our Google Account in which we saved the template. Today was the day that the students logged in as the teacher (we gave the student the email address and we put the password in.) They then download the template onto their iPad and the teacher could then begin the lesson. Once they students were done working out the problems we then showed them how to export them back into the teacher's Google Drive so that they could grade later on. It was so awesome to see our kids and teachers work on this together! To kick it up a notch, next time, we plan to use the video feature so that they can say their number sentence. I am so proud of my First Grade teachers and students!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Peer Feedback- Students CRAVE it!

So today I was scheduled to roll out to two 5th grade classes. I had went through the checklist, verified everything with the teacher and was set to go. (Keep in mind, this was the first time I had worked with this teacher or her kids with technology this year.) Anyways, they had been reading this book called "Wonder"  in their ELA class. I am honestly not too sure what it is about but from what I have heard, it is really good and can connect with the students. Anyways, as the students were responding to the blog, I had noticed a few things: First, they were completely silent while working! I usually encourage casual conversation but they were really focused on writing a quality response. The other thing that I noticed is that they had finished much quicker than a previous class had. At first, I thought they might had been possibly bluffing their way through their response, but once I started reading them, most of them were of really good quality! As the students were finishing up, they kept asking, "What do I do now??" To myself I was like, "Uh... I don't know? The other classes never had a chance to finish!" However, I wanted to try something with this group. I told them that once they had submitted their work back to the teacher they were allowed to leave a constructive comment on another student's response. I quickly told them how a response should look, sound feel. It wasn't long before that, students were really taking the time to actually read other student's responses and leave comments on their posts! I think this drove the teacher a bit nuts because she had to keep mass-approving comments on top of her trying to leave teacher feedback on student work as well! She didn't mind at all though! There were honestly a couple of times where both myself and the other teacher had to hold back tears because of the fact that one of the characters of the book related to the student. This student was pretty detailed in how close of a relationship they had with a family member in which they lost not too long ago. They way the person passed away was very similar to the way a member in the book had died. When this person posted that, other students started encouraging her and saying really nice things to her! The classroom teacher and I were at a loss for words. Literally speechless! We kept telling each other that "This would never have happened if a student was to just write it in a standard ELA journal!"  We had other similar instances just like this today, but this one seemed really special to me. I think students crave peer to peer feedback. Besides the fact of students encouraging each other, they really voiced their opinions on whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the other students in a civilized way! It was a proud day for us all!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kidblog Rollout Advice

To ensure roll-outs are a success once I am in the classroom, here are a few things I do before introducing it to a class:

-Power on all laptops.
-Log in with generic sign-ins
-Launch Firefox or Chrome (I use Firefox with Kidblog) on each laptop.
-Refuse imports from any other browser (only happens when Firefox is launched for the first time) on each laptop.
-Set the default webpage to:  on each laptop. A symbaloo page is basically a tiled page where you can insert various sites.
-Close the browser, then launch Firefox again to make sure it goes to my Symbaloo page. You’d be surprised how many do not “stick” the first time.

Kidblog Wise I:
-Ask for a student roster of AM and PM classes from the teacher.
- Create actual kidblog account for the teacher. I create their usernames and passwords.
-To upload kids, I use the .CSV file to batch them, meaning that I type all usernames and passwords in an Excel spreadsheet and let the site process them. I personally use their first names only. I set the passwords as: “password1” “password2” etc. This also helps me keep track of which laptop is assigned to which student.
-I also create a dummy student account (Joe Cool) so that I can show a class what it looks like from a student’s end.
-I try to get the writing prompt ahead of time from the teacher-I will do the first one for them, after that it is up to them to add content.

On the day of the rollout I:
(For 4th and 5th) I turn it into a mini challenge. I tell them “Your task is to figure out how to log in to the computer and launch Firefox” I give them about 5 minutes to do so- it usually takes a while for the laptops to start up.
-I explain what a blog is- I’ll show them my ME one. I go over things like why I blur out their faces, etc.
-Logged in as Joe Cool, I read the teacher’s question and respond in complete sentences, etc.
-I also show them the spell check feature in FF. I tell them that they need to try their best with spelling the word and to use spell check as needed.
-I submit my work as Joe Cool, then switch over and log in as the teacher and show students how I have to approve each comment. I stress privacy as well!
- I then show the teacher how to “mass approve” comment/responses instead of going one by one.
-Finally I leave comments on student work. They really enjoy reading responses made by their teachers and classmates.

Mini Challenges that turned out HUGE!

Yesterday was the first time that I had an opportunity to meet with my Digital Learning Team for an entire day. It was so good to bounce ideas off of each other and to see the progress we had made in only a month. For the past couple of weeks, one of my teachers had been focused on doing mini-challenges in her classroom. A mini-challenge is basically a task you give a student in which they have to figure out how to do on their own. This makes an excellent time for students to "press buttons" in apps and see what various tools do. Anyways, the goal for today was for students to pair up with partners and create a voice recording in which they talked about a weather instrument. From there, they would have to figure out how to make this happen. For about the first 3 minutes students kept coming up to ask us how to do certain things, but our responses were pretty much, "Figure it out on your own!" As some might see this as rejection, I personally see it where students have opportunities to use higher level thinking, problem solving skills and rational thinking. Once students started figuring out how to add their pictures and voice to it, they started helping each other! People wanted to see their peers succeed! How awesome is that!? The end result looked a little like this:

I am so proud of the teacher as well as the students that made this happen! To some people this might just seem like a picture with a voice to it, but to me, I saw it as students taking pride in creating a finished product!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Acrostic Poems in 2nd Grade Using Explain Everything

This past week my 2nd grade students were working on poetry. After talking it over with my team, we decided that we wanted to make Acrostic Poems where students can record their voice and read aloud what they are saying. If you're into screen-casting you might have heard of the apps "Show-Me" "Educreations" and "Explain Everything." They are all free except for Explain Everything (EE)- this one is $2.99. Up until I started using EE, I was a HUGE fan of Educreations. It was so user friendly. However, they just released an update where it is so much more complicated to use that its previous release. Plus, with Educreations, there is no quick way to preview what you had recorded without saving it first. Last year, I used EE with my 4th and 5th graders and they picked it up really fast. There are TONS of features that it has, although it can be a bit complex. This year, I started working with 1st - 5th graders using EE. I knew it was going to be a stretch, but there are so many more features that the kids will grow in to as they get older. Anyways, I chose EE as my app for creating these poems.

This was a 1:1 assignment, meaning that each student had an iPad to create their own poem. After about a 10 minute introduction to EE, the teacher and I got started on the assignment. We had them create the same number of slides as there are letters in their name. Once the slides were created, I had them draw the letter of their name on that slide. They would then have to think of an adjective starting with that letter. (This can be a bit challenging if the student has un-common letters in their name.) Anyways, once they were written, I would then have them type out the sentence that they would read. Once they were done with this, I would take them out into the hallway where it was quiet and we would record. Once the student was done recording, I would have THEM type out the teacher's email address so that it could upload to Google Drive- from there they would hand the iPad to the teacher so they could enter their password. From there it uploaded and the project was complete. A word of advice- give yourself a few extra minutes to explain how the app works. It took a little longer than expected, but now that they know the app, they can now use it for other things besides poetry. Here is what the finished product looked like:

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Little First Graders that Could, and Did!

Yesterday and today I had the awesome opportunity to work with two First Grade Teachers in ELA centers. Before I go on, I got this idea from one of my brilliant co-workers. It seemed like a lot of work but once he walked me through the process it took about 5-10 minutes. Anyways, we called it the "re-telling station." Basically, in this station, students would have to re-tell a story that they had previously heard from their teacher. Since 1st graders are just learning how to read, I thought it would be best to re-tell a story rather than to just have them read it. Anyways, since research shows that working in pairs is an extremely effective way for students to learn, I work with two students at a time for about 15 minutes each. I have them sit a table with one iPad (the iPad has the teacher's email account contacts- more on this in a bit.) I also provide the book that was read to serve as a visual reference to make prior connections. Finally, I have the app "SoundOScope" open and ready for the student to use. SoundOScope is basically a recording app that records in .WAV format. .WAV formats are raw, uncompressed audio meaning that they are not directly compatible with iMovie. At the station, I have one student press the "record" button and the other student re-tells the story. This app gives the student 2 minutes to record. From my experience, this was plenty of time for the students to re-tell the story. Once they student is done recording, they email the file to the teacher. I have the teacher's email address typed out in large fonts so they can see the "@" and "." signs. Once the first file is emailed, I switch the student roles and do it again. Once both files are emailed, I go to the teacher's computer and show the students the email that the teacher has just received. (They get a kick out of how they can see the file they just sent!") By the way, I highly recommend emailing these files to a Google Email address. Each file takes up about 10 megabytes which can quickly fill up a smaller inbox. Once the sound files have been emailed, I then take pictures of all the pages in the book and crop them to make sure that no excess is showing. Once they are cropped I import them using Windows Movie Maker (in Windows 7.) I know that using the XP version of Windows Movie Maker was a nightmare, but it seemed like Microsoft got it in gear with the Windows 7 version. Anyways, once all the pictures are imported, I then import the audio file so that it overlaps the pictures. From there it's just a matter of tinkering with picture times so that you can try to get the picture to match up as closely as possible to with what the student is saying. This doesnt always work out right if the student is all over the place in re-telling the story. Once everything is done, I export it directly into YouTube and then E-Mail the Teacher. The end result looks like this:


Here is what the SoundOScope app UI looks like:

1st Graders in Action:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Text to Selfie"

For the past few weeks I have been talking to a 5th grade ELA teacher about implementing technology into her classroom. About a week ago, I showed her the app "Pic Collage" which is quickly becoming one of my favorites. It is so universal in how you can use it and it is also not really tied to just one subject. We had been talking about this app in passing for the past few days, however we really never created one that we wanted the kids to model. Well, today was the day that we rolled it out to the kids using it in an assignment. In 5th grade, we had been talking about "Making Connections" (text to text, text to self and text to world.) Today, as the teacher was reading the selection, I was messing around with the app to see what other features we might be able to find- sure enough as she was wrapping her selection up I showed her the template feature. The template feature lets you create different frames on the canvas. I whispered this to her and we were both like, "Let's use this with the kids!" My job is to help introduce apps and how to work the various tools in apps, once the kids and teacher is comfortable using it, I hand it over to the teacher so she can take care of integrating the content with the technology. I honestly do not remember the name of the story, but the main character was named "Emma." From here, students had to list other characters from previous reads and see how they related to this story. One of the kids brought up a really interesting point, they said something like, "This character reminds me of myself!" That's when another student was like, "Hey! That's a Text to Selfie connection!!" Feeding off of the student's energy we then encouraged them to find characters that related to them, list them in the Pic Collage, and then take a selfie next to the name of the character! The students were so excited to do this! EVERYONE was on task! The teacher and I were so excited that students were working and really "thinking out of the box" that I started inviting random staff members from the hall to come check out what we were doing! I really dont know how to explain it- it was just a special moment where everyone was excited to learn and where they really took control of their learning. It also helped that they were able to show their creativity when working on this assignment. Below is a picture of someone's collage. I was so excited that I went to Office Depot and printed this class' pictures out in color. I think they will be pleasantly surprised when they walk into class tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

QR Codes in 5th Grade ELA

I have been trying to integrate technology into a 5th Grade ELA class for the past few weeks. However, it wasn't until I sat in this teacher's classroom that the wheels started churning in how to do so.  I just so happened to be walking into the classroom while they were in centers. As I was watching, I noticed that this teacher had a library with students doing an activity. I asked the students what they were doing and they said they were doing a scavenger hunt looking for certain things in the their class library. During the course of the scavenger hunt, they would write their answers down on a white board and then place the white board on the teacher's desk when done. Immediately I was like, "Hey! Let's just turn this into a Google Form!" I asked the teacher if it was okay if I took her scavenger hunt questions home and spiced it up a little bit--- she was more than willing!

Today was the first day that we were able to roll out the "digital" version of this center. To prep for this center I did a few things.

Task 1: I went to Google Forms and basically copied the questions from the paper-copy that the teacher had. I made sure that there was plenty of room to write in each response.

Task 2: Once the form was created, I created a tinyurl  I decided that a QR code would be the best tool to get the surveys onto the iPad. To make the QR code, I turned my survey link into a much smaller link using Once the link was shortened, I then typed ".qr" after it so that it automatically turns it into a QR code. From there, I just put it into Power Point and made it larger. The result was:

Once the QR code was scanned it took you to the scavenger hunt which looked like this:

If you haven't used Google Forms before, once a student "turns in" their work, the results await you in a nice and neat spreadsheet file. Here is a screen shot:

Upon asking the students which method they enjoyed better (dry erase board vs Google Forms) majority of them chose Google Forms!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Infuse Learning Tutorial

One of my awesome teachers wants to give Infuse Learning a shot in a few weeks! Needless to say, I want it to go smoothly, but I am letting this teacher create it from the ground up. Here is a tutorial that I made for this teacher that gives you the 101 on how Infuse Learning works. It might help you too!

Friday, September 19, 2014

They Call Me "Joe Cool" //// Kidblog Roll-out

Today was a big day on my campus for several reasons. The first reason why today was so special was the fact that we were able to roll out Kidblog to a class of 3rd graders. I have known about Kidblog for about a year now and have been jumping at the opportunity to get it started and now it was finally here. When asking the teacher what she wanted her goal to be for the year, she told me "blogging." I then told her about Kidblog and she was on board. To make this roll-out a success, lots of "behind the scenes" prep was necessary. For example, one of the things that I did was upload her class roster into the site. Thankfully I was able to use a .csv file in Excel which made the student account upload process a breeze. The day before it was to be rolled out, I talked with the teacher letting her know that all laptops had been a)powered on b)logged in to Windows and c) able to connect to the Internet. Sounds good right? Then, I get an email asking if there was a way that I could make shortcuts on the desktop so students could have easy access to. I was like, "Uhh... I didnt even think about that!" It made sense too! Without shortcuts, students would have had to type something like: That might not seem like much, but it might be a bit overwhelming for a 3rd grader!  Immediately I thought, "What could be the most efficient way to make this happen?" I then thought of using a Symbaloo Page. A Symbaloo page is simply a webpage with many different tiles that link to various websites. This saves the hassle of having to create desktop shortcuts. The only thing I had to do was change the default home page to about 23 laptops, however the great thing about this is that I can now add a tile from any computer in the world! Anyways, once the students chose their proper class, we then gave them their password. If you are just starting Kidblog, I suggest keeping all passwords the same and just adding "1, 2, 3, etc." behind it. Once they were in, students were able to see the prompt. (Btw, I also recommend creating a "dummy" account in which the teacher can log in as and post as a student. I created one with the name of "Joe Cool" and they seemed to get a kick out of it! Some kids even starting me "Joe Cool in the hallways-- I guess that sticks over "Mr. Chavez?? Haha!) Once students started to complete and turn in their "work" you could hear the teacher's inbox start to chime. We told the students that they were emailing their assignment to the teacher! They thought that was so cool! As a class we started reading their responses- most kids blushed when we read theirs, but they eventually got over it and thought it was really neat that their work was being acknowledged. Towards the end, we started leaving comments / feedback on the student's posts. The kiddos thought seeing comments on their work was the coolest thing ever! It took a little bit of time on our end to leave each student feedback, but they appreciated it. I highly encourage leaving feedback on your student's work! Everyone really enjoyed this roll out and I plan to work in small groups next week to continue using this tool!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lessons Learned from Today

Today was an emotionally tough day for me. I had created a Nearpod lesson about a week showing the "Stages of the Moon." Typically before I go into a classroom I test the lesson with a few iPads or laptops to make sure things work okay. I did my usual routine today and I was confident that everything was going to go well when I was on my way to the classroom. As my class "Technology Managers" were handing the iPads out to each student, I went to the computer so that I could log into my Nearpod account. However, it would not connect its database. I had experienced this a few days ago but tweeted them, @nearpod, and the issue was fixed within an hour. Unfortunately it was "go time" and I didnt have an hour to spare. Feeling helpless, I asked the teacher to show the YouTube High Tide and Low Tide video clip while I went to go get my backup power point lesson. On my way back to my office, my iPad was finally able to connect to their database meaning that I could start the lesson! What a relief! From there I modeled what I was supposed to show and the teacher was able to get her content taught!

So the game plan for today was to work with this person's AM and PM class. In passing, the teacher was telling me that it may not be a good idea to come in today with their afternoon group due to behavior issues. I understood and didnt mind rescheduling. About an hour later, I get a Voxer from this teacher saying "Come to my classroom!" I was shocked when I walked in to their classroom! What I found was this teacher sitting in a circle with her students with iPads distributed to her students! The teacher wanted me to go ahead and launch the Nearpod lesson, and before you knew it, everyone was sitting in a circle, with an iPad, learning about tides and phases of the moon! All I did was sit and observe! I was so impressed with what was going on, I decided that I would just be a fly on the wall!

I guess the lesson for today is to cut myself some slack on occasions. Things will not always go 100% how you want them to go, and when they do not, know that it is still possible for something positive to happen!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"So Nearpod is Like a Presentation Tool, right?" - 5th grader

Today was one of those days that I had been looking forward to for a long time! It was the day that I was able to use Nearpod for the first time on my campus. I had been talking it up with a 5th grade teacher that I was working with for quite a while. If you do not know what Nearpod is, it is basically a tool that reflects your iPad (and many other devices) onto the screens of the student's iPad. The teacher typically creates presentation slides and uploads them into Nearpod. From there, students enter a special classroom code and the teacher then can control it via her iPad or desk top. For the record, the teacher that I worked with today used both! So proud of her! So once you upload the presentation into Nearpod, you can add different tools such as the "draw tool" "poll" "quiz" and many others! As you advance the slides on the iPads, students will be able to respond and the teacher can view the results in real time. For today's lesson, the teacher used it via the computer / projector to where students can see who got the answer right or wrong as well as their drawing. She ran it from the iPad app in her afternoon class in which she was the only one who could see who was getting answers right or wrong. The lesson we were working on today were the "Properties of Water." For the most part each student had their own iPad and basically used it to copy down notes along with answering a few questions along the way. The students also drew a picture of what boiling water looked like. It was great to see student's creativity - in fact a few students even drew fire under it which lead to a further discussion about boiling water! Before you knew it, students were saying words like "evaporation" "steam" "condensation" and other really awesome science words without the teacher having to say anything!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Double Dipped in Technology!

One of my main goals for this year as a Digital Learning Coach is to plan ahead- like way ahead! As mentioned previously, I find myself going to teachers in the middle of the week and saying something like, "Hey! Let's try this app out this week!" Typically I have had positive responses in doing things this way, but I am learning that it isn't being respectful of my teacher's time. Hopefully I can make some improvements in the next few weeks! I will keep you updated!

None the less, today was one of those days where we tried something at the last minute with our second graders. It actually worked really well too! This particular class was being introduced to doubles (4+4=9, 5+5=10, etc.) Typically the teacher would just use a white board with a dry erase board. However, I wanted to try using the "draw and response" tool in Infuse Learning. When using this tool, a student logs into a "virtual classroom" and the teacher has total control with what is projected onto their iPad. The "draw and response" tool is a feature that turns your iPad into a whiteboard. When the student is done answering a question they submit it to the teacher in which their work projects onto the screen. Many students really really enjoy seeing their work up on the projector! I found out that many students will check and double check to make sure their answers are correct before submitting their answer.

As I was leaving this teacher's classroom today, I reminded the class that I would be back for a Science lesson (...that was planned at the last minute!! I'm working on it! I promise!)  So this lesson had to do with the Properties of Matter (solids, liquids and gas.) Instead of using an anchor chart, we agreed to use the Popplet app with the students. (A 1:1 lesson.) After introducing the app to the students, they made the teacher guided them to make three columns and label them "solids" "liquids" and "gasses." From there they had to think of an item, type it in a separate poppel and then take a picture of what they were referring to. For the "gas" image, we simply had them draw lines in place of a picture. The kids were so excited to show their individuality and creativity! No two projects looked the same! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Twitter in the Classroom? Sure, why not?!

Many people at my campus have been asking me to help them set up a Twitter account. However, once their account is set up, they ask me, "How can I use it in the classroom?" Believe it or not, there are many effective ways you can use it in your classroom. Below is a tutorial that I created that shows the basics of Twitter, as well as ways you can use it in your classroom and on your campus.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Using Photo Stream and iCloud Tutorial to Collect Student Work

One of the many questions I get asked when I work with students is "How do I get a student's finished product off the iPad and onto my computer, etc?" If each class and kid has their own Google Apps for Education Account, I highly recommend that as the medium for sharing and collecting student work. However, if your district doesnt support GAFE just yet, there is an easy (and free) that I collect student work.

The quick term that I use is called using a "screen shot" on the iPad. A screen shot is when you press the home button (the circle at the bottom of the iPad) and the power button (on top of the iPad) at the same time. If your volume is on, you will hear a clicking sound.

Now, to ensure that you can share and collect photos, you need to first make sure that your iPad is configured properly.

Step 1: Create an apple ID. These are free and are used to download apps from the App Store.

Step 2: Enter your Apple ID in the iCloud Settings. You can do this by clicking on "Settings" and then "iCloud." Please note that if you are using a class set of iPads, these settings will have to be enabled on each iPad. If it isn't done on each iPad then the student will not be able to share their work via iCloud.

Step 4: Scroll down under "iCloud" and enable "Photos." Make sure it says "on."

 Step 5: Make sure "My Photo Stream" and "Photo Sharing" are both turned on. This will ensure that a photo / screen shot is shared across all devices.

Step 6: Now that you have Photo Sharing enabled, go back to "Photos." If you want, grab 2 iPads to test if it is working. Take a screen shot on one iPad, then, on the other iPad click on "Photos" then at the bottom click "Albums" then "My Photo Stream" You will then see any picture that has been saved or screen shot on any of the enabled devices.

Step 7: At this point, click on "select" at the top right of the screen and choose the pictures that you want to email yourself. When you do this, you will see blue check marks next to each picture.
 Step 8: Click on "copy." Although you might be tempted to click on "mail" this feature will not work when trying to send over 10 pictures.
Step 9: Compose a new email to yourself and click on "paste" in the body of the email. Your pictures will then appear. If you have a lot of pictures that you are sending, it may take up to 1 minute for them to all load.
Step 10: Press send. Once you get them to your inbox, you can print them out, etc!