Stuck in Congress: A Legislative Branch Digital Escape Room and Genially

Friday, February 24, 2023 2 comments


After all these years, my favorite thing to teach has always been U.S. Government! I adore working my way through the three branches of government and am constantly looking for new ways to engage middle schoolers with content that doesn't make an automatic connection with their lives.

I recently found the Genially website and knew that I could use this to create a super engaging activity! Genially is a website that allows users to create super interactive presentations, quizzes, games, and escape rooms. 

It is free to use in your classroom and includes all the tools I could want! I can record audio right in the website, insert icons, link to other website, make game boards, and more!

I used the tool to make this engaging digital escape room where students got locked into the Capitol Building overnight (I know... we should really talk to the proper authorities!) and they need to learn about Congress and solve puzzles to escape!

I also love Genially because the tools offer me many avenues to differentiate and accommodate for my emerging learners:
  • I have added audio reading to pages that contain text.
  • Genially works with accessibility extensions like Read and Write for Google and Read Aloud. The hover speech function of Read and write works wonderfully on this game.
  • Genially works wonderfully with the Google Translate extensions. It will translate each page separately.
  • In order to move through the escape room, students need to answer questions correctly. They are redirected when they are incorrect. This supports executive learning.

If you head on over to my store or Teachers Pay Teachers you can get this resource for 50% off for the first two days!

Makers Gotta Make! - Free Digital Maker Space for Elementary School

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 No comments

Soooooo... what is everyone up to? Ha! Just kidding! We are all biting our nails wondering what next year is going to look like. No matter how we go back in August, it won't be the same as any other of my 20 years!

As a tech coach in my district we have been talking a lot about how we can use tech to take over some of the basic things we do with our kiddos. Just this week I had a conversation where we realized we won't be able to use legos, blocks, playdoh, or even come sit on the rug.... ugh.

I decided to try to do something and was looking for some online building tools to integrate into our Stem read alouds. I put the call out to one of my favorite edtech facebook pages Teach with Tech, and someone suggested I check out a great digital maker space made by Shannon McClintock Miller:

I fell in love and decided to make one for my district! I borrowed heavily from her but am adding

a ton of content as I find it! 

Everything here is elementary focused, able to be used on a computer or Chromebook (not all the items will run on an iPad) and require no logins!!!!

Feel free to share this with your students and feel free to reach out to me and suggest more items or categories! Enjoy!

2020 Presidential Candidates: Resumes and Scavenger Hunt Task Cards

Wednesday, June 26, 2019 3 comments
2020 Presidential Candidates: Resumes and Scavenger Hunt Task Cards More about this Pin Engaging Them All Engaging Them All Saved to My Work on Teachers Pay Teachers now 2020 Presidential Candidates: Resumes and Scavenger Hunt Task Cards #usgovernment #usgovernmentactivities #socialstudies #middleschoolsocialstudies #election2020 #primaries2020

Woah! What a start to summer!!! We have watched movies in the backyard outside, seen Toy Story 4, and spent a ton of time in the pool! I so enjoy the slower pace of life and my time with my kiddos that are growing up way too fast! I also appreciate that I have only been on break for 5 days and I have tons more to enjoy!!!

As many of you know, I get absolutely jazzed around election time and the upcoming: Presidential election is no exception!!!

I wanted to take the time this summer to create some great resources to get your students jazzed and informed about the next election.

Today I have finished my labor of love (I've been working on this since February!!) of candidate resumes and task cards for all 27 major candidates.  It is a great way for your kids to get a concise overview of each candidate so they can compare and contrast.

On each resume, I have included biographical data, education credentials, work history, & military experience. I have chosen to focus on minimum wage and economically helping families, education, immigration, and healthcare for the issues discussed.

There are 21 task cards that help students investigate the candidates in greater detail. I have them look for those that have been governors, served in the military, been a Rhodes Scholar, etc. The task cards give the students a scaffold for investigating these amazing women and men!

This item is going to be part of a larger growing bundle. I will be making a Primary Word Wall which will help students understand topics like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), single payer insurance, refugee status, and much more. I will also be creating an interactive bulletin board to track the primaries in January, and an escape room to help students navigate and further understand the presidential primary process!

I think that should take up my summer nicely (on top of teaching coding camp and taking a course in STEM least I'll have a tan while doing it!)

***Head on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store right now! This item is 50% off till midnight on Friday!

Going Digital! Creating a Digital Planner with Google Slides

Saturday, June 1, 2019 4 comments

Creating a Digital Planner with Google Slides #teacherplanner #planner #teacherplanner

A couple of days ago I posted a picture of my digital planner on Insta and a couple people asked if I could share my template! Of course I can, but I also wanted to give a quick tutorial as well.

Not only do I use Google Slides, I use the Bitmoji extension for Chrome, the Noun Project add-on for icons, and the Unsplash add-on for amazing commercial free photos. These are also two add-ons I use in creating my TPT products!

Here is a video tutorial on how to use these add-ons to create a super fan and totally cheap planner. 

I do like to print them out and pin them upon the wall because I need that physical reminder and I just think they are so cute they need to be seen! 

Digital Tools to Get Your Students Reading and Thinking Over the Summer

Friday, May 10, 2019 3 comments
Digital Tools to Get Your Students Reading and Thinking Over the Summer #ebooks #activities #elementaryschool #middleschool #highschool

I got a question from a colleague yesterday on the best ways for kids to access books online this summer. Specifically we were looking for free books because we are a Title 1 district and wanted the process to be as easy and as inexpensive as possible for the parents of our community.

As usual I went into a DEEP dive. I turned to my favorite Facebook Community, "Teach with Tech" . This community is affiliated with the Teach with Tech Online Conference that I will be presenting in this summer.

The conference is entirely online from July 22 - July 24. If you sign up and choose the free option you will have access on the 22nd to that days 21 presenters. You will have access to those 21 videos until July 29th. For $10.95, you will have access to all three days, 60 presenters, and can view all of their presentations for up to a year! I might be biased, because I am presenting, but I think that is a steal!

Anywho... I totally digress! I turned to the Teach with Tech community on Facebook and crowd sourced the answer. As usual, I was blown away at the amount of information I received and the willingness to collaborate of everyone involved! 

I got so many great ideas, I wanted to get them all together. I expanded from just ebooks because that is definitely a one size fits all topic. Students can work on their literacy skills in many different ways!

  1. Favorite Paid 

Image result for epic books

My absolute favorite is Epic! Books. It is free for teachers, but for parents to use it over the summer, they would have to subscribe for $8 a month. Teachers can print out flyers with directions from their accounts. Parents also get their first month free. For more information on Epic! Books, check out my blog post here.

2. Favorite Free

Image result for open ebooks

If you are a Title 1 School, you have access to Open eBooks, a free digital library for elementary, middle, and high school students. The easiest way to access these books is by signing up with First Book, and then follow the directions  for signing up with Open eBooks. Open eBooks has a pretty amazing selection and is good for students in PreK through high school.

3. Favorite Find

One of my surprising favorite finds is Sync: Audio Books for Teens. Every week during the summer, middle and high schoolers can download two audiobooks for free. Students will need to download the free Overdrive app to listen to the books. I have already downloaded this weeks books and I'm addicted! The website comes with flyers and handouts to give to your students before they leave for the summer. 

4. Your Library is Your Friend

The most suggested free reading option was without a doubt, your local library's digital resources. Many libraries use the OverDrive app to offer free access to eBooks and Audio Books. The Libby app and the Sora app are associated apps that help you search your local libraries for the books you need.

As a teacher, reach out to your local librarians. You can definitely take a field trip to the library but many librarians will come to your school and show the students how they can access the digital resources. Most importantly, if you are in middle school, take the time to let the kids take out their devices and walk them through the process of signing up.

5. Who knew YouTube was for more than just cat videos?
A couple years ago one of my middle schoolers told me that whenever she wanted to read a book and didn't have the money to buy it, she just went to YouTube and found someone reading the book aloud. She was totally right. If you are looking for middle and high school books, students can often find them on YouTube.

It is not true for every book but there are many titles available!

This is also true for elementary books! There are some fabulous people out there dedicating entire YouTube channels to reading aloud picture books.

This would be awesome to provide to parents. Many parents don't share literature with students because they don't enjoy it themselves or they simply are not good at reading aloud. The channels would be great to share so the whole family could enjoy reading together.

Below is a growing database of online reading options for summer. Toggle through the fields at the top to find what you need. Here is a quick link to the database

Lastly, don't forget about podcasts! I know they aren't books but if our focus is trying to get our students to read, listen, and think podcasts can help kiddos do that! Take a look at my podcast post. Below is a podcast database!

Please reach out and let me know of you have any suggestions to add to my list!

Digital Tools to Get Your Students Reading and Thinking Over the Summer #ebooks #activities #elementaryschool #middleschool #highschool