Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Going lightspeed or kidspeed?

I sometimes wonder why I am in such a hurry. Are the deadlines real or somewhat flexible? Some days I find it nearly impossible to slow down.

I picked up Sam from school then headed over to Sappington today. I needed to get to a classroom and she was dawdling in the hallway reminiscing about the school store. I rolled my eyes and told her to step on it, we were burning daylight. I really actually say that, some holdover phrase from the Corps.

Did I need to be in a specific classroom at a precise second? Of course not. I'm not sure why we feel we must rush from thing to thing, appointment to whatever comes next.

I have no idea how I can slow down or allow things to just happen but I can sure try.

What about you? Feeling rushed by real or phantom deadlines too? How do we get off this crazy train and just enjoy the wonders of a random school store or that funny squirrel outside the window? Is it possible to just enjoy the seconds that pass without feeling rushed?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I remember watching NASA launch rockets in the classroom.

I remember my teacher rolling in a tiny TV on a huge cart so we could watch NASA launch a rocket into space. We spent what seemed like hours just waiting for those few explosive seconds.

I'm not sure why but it does not seem many of these launches are covered anymore and that is really unfortunate.

A few minutes ago Aidan, my 10 year old son, noticed that SpaceX was going to launch in less than an hour. He assumed it would be on TV but I'm pretty sure it won't. We have never had cable so that isn't an option.

I stumbled across the NASA live site. We discovered they live stream a lot of these launches. Check their website, maybe your students would be interested.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Better spelling predictions in your email.

We all multitask. Sometimes we even take ourselves up a notch to a supertasker. We type emails as we talk and take notes which sometimes leads to errors. Try this simple tip to add an additional dictionary to Gmail.

1. Compose a new email.
2. Right click in the body of the email.
3. Click Spellcheck. Make sure both options are checked. 

Are you prepared to be in the Path of Totality?

21 August we will be totally covered. The sun will be blocked by the moon. The temperature is said to drop maybe 10-15 degrees. Birds will start to roost. All of this will occur while we are in school.

Want to learn a little about this? Washington University offers a class that meets on one of the below dates for a few hours. We went a few weeks ago and left amazed. Why not check it out, I promise it will be absolutely worth your time.

 This event is free but you must register. Pick one of the below dates and sign up.

25 Feb. 8:30-12:00
25 Mar. 8:30-12:00
22 April 8:30-12:00

All the spots were full or you can't make the above dates? Why not come to the Solar Eclipse Expo in Queeny Park on 17 June between 10:00-5:00. It is free but you need to register for it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How do I keep some rando from posting on TodaysMeet?

TodaysMeet is an easy to use powerful learning tool. What makes it so easy is the site does not require you to use a password.

So how do you keep randos from posting?

I wanted to create a room for the kids to talk about Hatchet, a book we are reading. I could use the room simply called hatchet but someone not in my class could stumble upon and post.

It appears you can't use punctuation or random symbols in your room name, which is kinda unfortunate. I just added my room number after the name. For more information about naming your rooms refer to their FAQ page. The more random the room name the more invisible it will become.

20 Useful Ways to Use TodaysMeet in the Classroom - this comes from the DITCH that textbook blog, definitely worth your time to read it. Many of these ideas are adaptable for your classroom.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Best learning event ever - this weekend!

I have been attending Edcamp for years now and I have never left disappointed. I would highly recommend signing up and joining a few hundred of your educator buddies for a few hours this Saturday.

Edcamp is unlike anything else, one way to describe it as more of a conversation than presentation. I think that is key, talking about what you are interested in and learning from others is huge.

What do you have to lose? Sign up and don't let this opportunity pass you by.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Miss the Facebook Live event? Check this!

Did you miss Jennifer Serravallo last night? I would recommend checking Heinemann Publishing on Facebook, they posted the video!

I watched most of the live broadcast while waiting for a super fun dentist appointment. While I am not totally familiar with her work I was blown away! If you are interested in additional writing strategies, check out the video.

Monday, February 6, 2017

6 Feb. 2017 - Tonight ONLY and just 30 minutes.

Have you taken a look at Jennifer Serravallo's reading strategies book? Tonight Heinemann is doing a Facebook live event from 7:00-7:30. This event will cover her new writing strategies book. Why not join and listen in.

I have no idea what to expect but I am sure it will be just want I need.

Sometimes you have to see and hear it before there is understanding.

That saying about a picture is worth a thousand words therefore a video must be worth ten times that can be actualized using one simple tool, EDpuzzle.

EDpuzzle is a quick way to take an existing video and embed a question(s) into it as it plays. This type of formative assessment might be right up the alley of your video watching kids. Seriously, I'm pretty sure 98.6% of all our kids consume tons of videos when not at school.

Watch this 1:13 overview video.

Best Features:
  • Students use their school Google account to login.
  • You can use existing YouTube videos.
  • Analytics are easy to read.
  • This can be done at home or in class.
  • Easily links to Google Classroom.

Getting Started
Start by visiting EDpuzzle and go through the tutorial screens. Sign in with your school Google account.

1. Search or paste a URL to a video.
2. Choose a video. You can also click on the video to preview it.
3. Or pick from one of these additional video options.

The video I selected is only 2:28 long but I might want to shorten it a bit.
1. Set the in point. (AKA where the video will start.)
2. Set the out point. (AKA where the video will stop.)
ProTip - Keep it short. Like super short. Like no more than the fingers on one hand short.

1. Click the last icon to add a question inside the video.
2. Position the playhead where you want to add the question. Click the green question mark to open the question options.
3. You can ask an open-ended question, multiple choice/true or false, or add a comment. Adding a comment would be a great place for a reminder to take notes or access an outside resource. (Link to a website, Google Doc, TodaysMeet, etc)

Don't forget to click Save at some point. You can find these buttons in the upper right corner.
Click Finish when you are ready to deploy your new formative assessment to the class.

Assign to one of your Google Classroom Classes.
Click Done.

Make sure you open your new assessment and click Assign to add it to the Classroom feed.

The power is in the analytics. (That is just a fancy way to say results, numbers, grades, etc)

Student Point of View
Once the playhead hits the question the video stops.
The question screen appears.
They must answer the question before they can move on.
They also have a little blue Rewatch button that allows them to view the clip again. 

Teacher Data Point of View
Sample Data - can see if someone has started watching and if they have answered the question(s).

Click on a student's name to see everything.

  • ProTip - Do one dsmple video in class. Demonstrate how to use the tool and what the expectations are. It is also vital to pull up the analytics to show them how you plan to use that data. Then have them do one real video on their own during class. This will save you huge stress and heart palpitations. 
  • Getting Started - Teacher Guide
  • Getting Started - Student Guide
  • I used EDpuzzle's YouTube channel when researching this tool. I would definitely recommend browsing it.
  • Flipped Classroom: Engaging Students with EdPuzzle - blog post by Catlin Tucker. The beginning of the post asks some of the most important questions, all about engagement. 

Why the teacher told his class, "it was worthless to me."

While prepping for an upcoming PD session, this shocking video of a middle school teacher speaking to his class:

Ok, not completely shocking.  But at first, his "it was worthless to me" comment threw me for a loop.  Who would tell students that their work was worthless?

He brings up a great point.  There is a window of opportunity for providing useful feedback.  As more and more time passes between learning and feedback, that window continues to close.

Two weeks was way too long, so he solved his problem by using GoFormative to provide quick, formative feedback.

GoFormative is:
  • a free, web-based (no apps), formative feedback system
  • a way to create engaging multimedia lessons and assessments
  • a real-time window into student work as it is happening
  • easy to grade with and to give live feedback through
Try a sample assignment on the upcoming solar eclipse right now!  Go to and enter the code RUDM322 to begin.

Watch this video to see the creation of the assignment you just previewed:

Once you create an account, follow these steps to create a class and give your first assignment.

Important Note: creating a class and enrolling students in GoFormative is a requirement if you want to provide real-time feedback.

For more resources and ideas about GoFormative, visit their resource center.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I have this important thing coming in nine months and I'm afraid I'll forget!

I'm afraid I'll forget to get ready for the Global Read Aloud and I don't think using my Google Calendar is enough of a reminder.

I use a ton of sticky notes but after a while I have sticky notes on top of sticky notes.

One option could be to use an add-on for Gmail called Boomerang. I had totally forgotten about this until Sarah reminded me during our last Digital Reading Workshop LindberghU session. This is such a great idea!

Getting Started
Start by downloading and installing the add-on.

Compose an email as you normally would. 
Make sure you put your address in the to section.
Click the new red Send Later button.

Click the little calendar button.

Add a date and time. This is when the email will automatically send to you or anyone you address the email to. Click Confirm.
It looks like the email just disappears. To find the email click on the Boomerang-Outbox label.

I could click on the email and edit if needed.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Like your ELMO but with an iPad (elementary classroom teachers)

I used AirServer to create the infinity mirror effect.

We were in a meeting today and Dominic told us about this fantastic idea. As we discussed all things technology he explained one method of using the iPad as a portable ELMO. It was too cool not to share.

Step 1
Make sure you have AirServer running on your laptop.
1. Click the Windows key on your keyboard or click the icon in the lower left of your screen.
2. Just start typing AirServer.
3. Click AirServer.

Don't see it? Contact technology or your building tech person.

Step 2
Connect your teacher iPad to your laptop.
1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Start by swiping in the bezel, the black plastic part surrounding the screen.
2. Click AirPlay Mirroring.
3. Click your name.

Step 3
Open the camera app and instant portable ELMO!
Anything you see in the camera's len will be broadcast to the big screen.
I just used this method to take a picture of my notebook as a demonstration of how cool this is.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

One of the most interesting literacy ideas I have seen in a long time.

Global Read Aloud - One Book to Connect the World

Have you heard of the Global Read Aloud? Simply, a time when you pick from a list of books, read that book then make as many global connections with other classes who read the same book.

Pernille Ripp explains her creation - the GRA

The project will start 2 October 2017 and run for six weeks. We would definitely recommend signing up now and setting a boomerang reminder and mark it on your Google Calendar so you don't miss out on this opportunity.

What does this really mean for your class?
Reading By Example - Start by reading this blogpost illustrating how one teacher ran his GRA. He offers some very solid advice that will be worth the 8.4 minutes of reading it requires. One part that really jumped out to me is how the class used Edmodo, huge implications for teaching digital citizenship and how to leave meaningful comments. The second idea is how he started using Skype to bring experts into the classroom.

2017! I can't wait that long. What can I do this school year?
No worries, why not join the World Read Aloud Day Skypeathon on February 16th!

This project offers two tiers so you can join based on your level of comfort. I really do like tier two, connecting with another class. This offers a great opportunity for your students to connect others who are not geographically located nearby. Tier two registration ends on 1 February! Sign up now.

Groups to join.

Teachers Share Ideas for GRA - we found this doc while searching twitter. It might have advice you would find useful.

Global Collaboration - How to Start - Maybe the GRA doesn't speak to you but the idea of making a connection with class is an idea you are interested in, this article might be your Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Twitter - Search Global Read Aloud or the hashtag from last year #gra16

Seesaw - Summer 2018

This post was created to help guide our Seesaw session. Seesaw is a student-driven online portfolio which can also be used for parent c...