Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's In My iPhone?

So my students have turned me on to these YouTube celebrities that talk about hair and makeup and the maddening idea of what is in their purses or what their room looks like.  I really do find it absolutely amazing that 4 million people would care what is in the purse of a YouTube celebrity... but I get it.  I have to admit that I absolutely loooove Nerdy Nummies with Rosanna Pansino and listen to her talk about nothing.
All of this gave me an idea, though.  Every day I leave school with about 20% juice left in my battery because I use my phone constantly... seriously, I abuse my phone.  The kids and I both know that my phone enables us to have the class they enjoy.  So, what's in my phone?
Photos - Photos are obvious.  I take pictures all the time for my blog and our schools website.  But how do I use it to truly engage learners?  I use it like a document camera.  In my school district they are fabulous and give each teacher a MacBook Pro.  Because of this, when I take a picture on my phone, it shows up in my photo album about 1 minute later.  I can quickly take a picture of amazing work and project it quickly.  The kids loooove seeing their work projected!!!

YouTube - I worship at that altar of Youtube in class and have figured out how to get around my distict's filter.  I recently received an Apple TV for my class (AMEN!!!!) and now I can quickly project any video I'm watching.

Twitter - So, no, I don't use Twitter in the classroom but Twitter has truly helped me to become a better teacher.  Over the last three years I have taken part in #edchat, #sschat, #tlap, and #sstlap.  I have sat through a lot of PD in my 16 years.  I have learned how to write across the curriculum, manage my classroom, and collaborate with other disciplines.  I have never heard, "Hey!  We're getting this amazing social studies person in to talk to you guys."  Twitter allows me to have relevant PD every week and learn from amazing teachers.  And, to be honest..... PD is so much better in pajamas with a glass of wine:)

 Google Drive - As most of you know, I'm a google fanatic.  Not only can I access Drive easily, I've turned it into a mobile gradebook.  I've set up a spreadsheet with all my classes and it allows me to walk around the classroom easily gathering grades from kids.  I don't have to be anchored to a desk and I don't need to double enter from a paper and clipboard.

Quizlet - I've blogged about Quizlet before.  The kids love it and my phone becomes a study station.  It makes me smile!

Class Dojo - I absolutely loooove that I can walk around my class and award points.  I project up the full screen so the kids can see who is earning what.  I don't use Class dojo everyday, but whenever I feel like I need the kids back on track, I can pull my phone out of my pocket and start the rewards.

Plickers - Plickers is my new favorite toy.  I use it about 3 times a week in class and the toy hasn't lost its lustre.  The kids love it and I adore the data I receive.  The other teachers in my cluster were so excited when they saw it!

Remind101 - In my district, I can not rely on internet access at home but many of my families have cell phones.  Remind101 allows me the ability to reach out whenever.  The kids love the text from Mrs. Wilkins and I love the communication.

Podcasts - I looooove listening to educational podcasts.  I'm a total ed geek but I love listening to a good discussion or debate about trends in ed.  my favorite station is Bam! Radio Network.  It offers a little something for everyone and I adore listening to it in my car on my commute.

So, now that I've shown you my iPhone, is there something amazing in your iPhone that you would like to share?

Come Create Some PD With Me!

My fearless #sstlap leader is taking a break tomorrow night so I'll be hosting. Join an amazing group of educators tomorrow night at 9 pm eastern to discuss how to stay piratey when the end of the year is near.
If you haven't tried a Twitter chat, this is a great one to wet your toes with.  It is the best hour of professional development every week and it has made me strive to be a better teacher. Join us for the fun!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Workshop anyone?

One of my favorite things is working with adults. I have been blessed with a fabulous sixteen year career with a ton of exposure to all types of classrooms. I am constantly told by educators that they would love to have 5 hours with me to just pick my brain. I have given workshops on technology both inside my own district and outside. I loooooove to share and get so jazzed when you guys contact me and let me know that something you borrowed from me worked in your classroom. What I would really like to do now, is to get into workshops. Right now I would only be able to travel in New England so if you are interested in engaging them all in your school, fill out the form below and I'll get back to you!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beginning the Flip

It's been another great week in my neck of the woods. One of my favorite lessons was one I threw together in ten minutes. Don't you love when those work out? We had been text mapping an introduction to Ancient Greece and I wanted to bring everyone back together to discuss it. I had a plan but when I got to school early I decided to tune it up a bit. I played around on YouTube and found this guy:

Literally, he said everything I would have but he was muuuuuch more interesting that Mrs. Wilkins. T have the kids focus, I quickly created this activity.

I stopped the video half way through and had the kids turn to a classmate and discuss what was going to go in their backpack. They absolutely loved it and rocked this assignment. I walked out of that period all jazzed because it worked so well and I actually came up with it 20 minutes before the kids walked in the room!


I did the same sort of activity with my 8th graders to discuss the difference between the north and south.


As I have mentioned before, I have a very high population of ELL students. My kids are amazing and hardworking, but reading long texts is so difficult for them. As my district gets more technology, I've been flirting with the idea of flipping my class. A natural practice for me, is to create videos to accompany complex text, much like a book on tape. One of my favorites is still the Explain Everything app. With a little learning curve, I was able to make this to go along with a text on the Industrial revolution.

I also found a great quick website that doesn't have as many bells and whistles as Explain Everything but does work seamlessly with Google Drvie. It's called MoveNote and it is an app that connects with your Drive account.


It's super easy to use and you can either share it by link, embed and download.

As a social studies teacher, are you stressing about teaching content and skills? No worries!!! I've organized all my best selling CCSS activities for the social studies teacher into one big bundle that saves you 30%! What a bargain!!

Click here to check it out!!!

So, as I enter the big world of flipping, what advice do you all have? What apps are amazing and you just have to share? I would love to hear from you!!!!



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ancient Greece Task Cards

I'm preparing for my week which will include MCAs and might include a snow day.....ugh.  Before I get into the thick of it, here is a new item.  My kids looooved this task card scavenger hunt and it was challenging enough to engage all learners.

Click here to check it out!!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Zimmer Twins and Fabulous Swag

My extremely long Egypt unit is done (thank you snow days) and I really wanted to do something fun, especially since Tuesday starts MCAs. Aaaaahhhhhhh! First I decided to do a very Common Corey project. When I moved into my new classroom I found all these amazing, but singular, books on Egypt so I decided to put them to good use. I asked the kids to peruse the books and find a topic about Ancient Egypt that interested them. Once they found that an interesting topic, they were to make a claim about their interest and support it with four pieces of textual evidence.

My kids are textual evidence masters so this was easy and we could soon move to the fun! I decided that the kids would use the Zimmer Twins website to lay out their claim and evidence in a movie. My fabulous friend Tracy did a similar project and Oscar party last year so this year I decided to pillage her great idea.

Th best thing about the Zimmer Twins is its a cartoon maker where the kids can easily choose what happens next in the movie. It has tons of freedom so the students really feel like they are making their own movie. The kids loved it an we planned the First Annual Wilkie Awards for today!

When the kids entered the classroom they got to walk the red carpet and "Hooray for Hollywood" was blasting in the background;)
My fabulous boa!
The red carpet!
Yup! Lots of popcorn!!!!
My amazingly fabulous and wonderful computer teacher let the kids work on their videos during class. She said they kept working and telling everyone they were going to win that Wilkie. I looooooove these kids!

The awards ceremony is Monday so stay tuned!


Plickers! My new obsession!

So as I was perusing my edtech blogs last week I came across a shoutout for Plickers.

It's simplicity is its beauty! It's a clicker response system without the clicker. All you need is one smart device and you are ready to get instant feedback from students.

On the website, you download up to 40 different barcodes (one for each student). They look like QR codes and each one has a unique shape. This is how the smartphone is able to recognize each student.

Each barcode has a side labelled A, B, C, or D. When you give a multiple choice question students hold up their Plickers with the answer at the top. One of the absolute perks I found when I first used this, was everyone's letters are different so one student's A answer might put the Plickers landscape while another's might put it portrait. In other words.... No cheating!!!

When you ask the kids a question, they hold up their Plickers with the answer at the top. You use a smartphone or a table to scan their answers. I find I can scan about 8 cards at a time.


The screen shows you what cards have been scanned and starts to track right and wrong at the top left of the screen.

You can have multiple classes using the same set of cards.

The kids can see totals on your computer screen.

And the data is fabulous!!!!!

My kids have fallen in love. They ask daily for Plickers and make me make up questions right on the spot. They love the engagement and really like the automatic feedback. This is an absolute keeper for my classroom!!!!!!

I showed this to the head of tech for my whole district. he was in my room pretesting our PARCC pilot and I just knew I had to show him. He was so blown away! The possibilities with only one smart device!!!

Plickers is just in its infancy and I can't wait to see more! The one thing I would love is the ability to load a question and the answer options. Right now you can only load the question so I do a split screen with Plickers and Google Drive to show the question.

I used this to finalize my academic Olympics. I asked 10 questions from the National Geography Bee and the kids answered with the Plickers and for each question they got right they got Dojo points. Oh how my kids loooooove their Class Dojo points! The next day we had our Olympic medal ceremony for our winning team and the individual gold, silver, and bronze. So of course I had to make a video for each class.....

Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool too! I made it with Animoto. For those of you that didn't know, you can get a free Animoto Plus account because you're a teacher.

And then we had the medal ceremony!

Today was our team ice cream party and the launch of our First Annual Wilkie Awards.... But that's for another post;)