Sunday, December 31, 2017

My One Word for 2018

Last year I was inspired by Rachel of @historicalipad to set goals for 2017 and choose my one word that would inspire me for the new year. Last year my one word was consistency. With consistency I hoped to achieve my goals for 2017. So here I go again with my #oneword2018. My one word for the new year is GROWTH.  

Growth is the process of growing or increasing in size. There are several things in my life that will benefit from growth or that I would love to grow.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tech Tip Thursday: Bitmojis

Have you ever thought about personalizing your class presentations, activities, or rules? Ever needed to express a feeling that may take too many words to express verbally? Do you want to grasp your students’ attention and make connections with them? Want to be the “cool” teacher on the team or hall? There’s a bitmoji for that!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tech Tip Thursday: Youtube

We all know that our students are familiar with Youtube but they are fascinated with music videos, reviews of games, and makeup tutorials. Have you ever thought about using Youtube for your classroom? With or without a tech heavy classroom you can make youtube work for you.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tech Tip Thursday: QR Codes

Teaching in a technology rich environment affords you the opportunity to use many online resources. I have learned from experience that students struggle to type in web addresses correctly. I found myself walking around and typing in the same address numerous times. What if you are a teacher who has checked out the iPad cart and you need your students to complete a series of tasks that require them to go to several different websites? What if you are in a "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) and you want students to quickly get to a location on those devices? I have the answer for you! QR codes will solve your problems. QR stands for quick response and  these little scan codes are easy to create. There are tons of ways to use QR  Codes in the classroom but first lets see how easy they are to create.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Five Things for this School Year

I was inspired by Kristy, @LoudenClearBlog, to reflect on last school year and think about what I'd like to focus on this year for 2017-2018. I've had a very restful summer. I chose to focus on family and professional growth this summer. I've since gone back to school and we just ended week 4 of 36. Although I had a hard time narrowing my list down to 5, I think I have it squared away and I'm ready to apply my list for a productive and successful school year.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Embracing the Fidget Spinner Fight

This is a combined blog effort with English Middle School Mania

The 2016-2017 school year is officially over for us! We are so beyond ready for summer. For weeks we’ve been fighting the “fidget spinner battle” and that combined with trying to keep students engaged during the last week of school got our wheels turning. As teachers we tend to understand the last week of school is often something the students aren't going to put much time or effort into, they're "checked-out" and so are we. We were both undecided going into the last full week of school (That's the beauty of teaching for a combined total of 21 years, we could pull something together over the weekend!), then I said, "Wanna do a project about Spinners?" Of course Andi’s answer was “yes.”

Friday, June 9, 2017

Flipping over Math

For the past year and a half I have embarked on a journey to flip my 7th grade math class. Since I have officially end the 2016-2017 school year, I thought it was fitting to reflect on my process, achievements, and struggles. As I sit here, I think about:

  • What went well?
  • What can I improve? 
  • How to use the feedback I received?
I guess I'll begin with the basic question, "What is a flipped classroom or flipped learning?" Flipped learning is when content is delivered electronically prior to the class before the content will be applied. Students take notes or study the lesson on their own and come to class with knowledge of the topic. There are tons of layouts but I personally like to use: 1) videos to deliver the lesson, 2) a quick assessment to show prior knowledge or area of need, 3) quick mini review at the beginning of class then, 4) application or further instruction in small groups depending on student need during class.

Getting "Social" in the Classroom

Getting "Social" in the Classroom
Students are always eager to make connections with school and teachers outside of school, but there is a spotlight on keeping those connections appropriate. This year in my class I've incorporated social media into my classroom to allow students to make those connections outside of school. I have a class Instagram page and twitter hashtag that I've been using. Students can share with me or see what's new by following the hashtag. It took me almost the entire school year to relinquish some of my control a bit and allow students to post to the class social media outlets.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quizizz vs Kahoot: The battle of the Game-Based Response Systems

Quizizz and Kahoot are both game-based response systems and I love them both equally for different reasons. When my students arrive to class and I reveal that we will be playing either Quizizz or Kahoot, my students immediately become excited.

Quizizz is a game-based response system that may aid in the gamification of your classroom or to just get your students excited about learning. You could easily search for a ready-made quiz,  create your own using the Quizizz database of questions, or create a quiz with your own questions. Even if you choose a ready-made quiz, you could edit the questions, delete questions, or add questions of your own. You can also set time limits, as little as 5 seconds and as much as 15 minutes, for each question individually.

After the ease of setting up your quiz, Quizizz gives teachers the option of playing a live game or assigning it as "Homework." Assigning the Quizizz as "Homework" just means the students can complete the Quizizz until it expires. In either mode the students are able to view all the questions on their own device as well as see the leaderboard.

There are also several options that allow you to personalize the Quizizz for your students before giving them access to it. I usually keep everything on but sometimes I turn off the "Show Answers" feature. I find that the leaderboard motivates the students but when it's assigned as "Homework" students believe that they are in 1st place but they can be pushed out of the top spot if someone faster comes along.

I created a Quizizz to allow you to experience it through the eyes of the students. Unfortunately, it expires on April 5th. The expiration of the quizzes is one thing that I wish they'd change. There are some instances that I would like my students to be able to have access to Quizizz quizzes for as long as they'd like for practice and review.

Follow the link below and use the game code provided before April 5th to experience the thrill of Quizizz for yourself.

1. Open in your browser.
2. Enter the 6-digit game code 986726  , and click "Proceed."
3. Now enter your name and click "Join Game!"
4. You will get an avatar, and then see a "Start Game" button. Click it to begin!

What students love

  • It's fun for all the students. What's wrong with friendly competition? The students play it like it is a video game.
  • My students love the silly avatars. After they put the code and choose a name it amazes me how they look at the screen waiting on their avatar to pop up. 
  • Who doesn't like music? The music changes the entire atmosphere in my class. 
  • Based on my students reactions, I'm pretty sure that the memes are their favorite. It's almost as if they don't even realized that they are reviewing math skills and concepts.

What I love
  • I am not confined to my device whether it be an iPad or laptop to control the questions.
  • The students see the questions on their individual devices.
  • I feel as if I am as bad as the students when it comes to instant gratification because I love the live feedback when we play live and I love the instant results when I assign it as "Homework."
  • I love the fact that my students like it.
  • Quizizz is student paced. Whether it's live or not students can still move at their own pace.
  • I LOVE the ease of creating quizzes. The question search option has me sold!

Kahoot is already loved by many educators. It was the best new thing in our build last school year. The students LOVE to Kahoot and anytime I ask for suggests for reviewing math concepts, they ALWAYS say Kahoot. Kahoot as another game-based response system that helps students get excited about learning and teachers get excited about teaching. With Kahoot, you can also create your own Kahoots, their version of quizzes, or search ready-made Kahoot that are usually created by other educators. Kahoot gives the option of setting time limits of 5 seconds to 120 seconds.

Kahoot offers a little variety. You also have the option of creating discussions or surveys. 

Kahoots can only be played live but I've seen classroom on opposite sides of the globe play together using a shared screen. Students or participants see the questions projected on a screen and answer those questions on their own devices. You, as the teacher, hold the upmost honor of press the button to go to the next question. 

Kahoot also has a new question format. Jumble allows players to put the answers in a correct order instead of choosing one correct answer.

The students will see their own score and rank on their individual devices but the top 5 kahooters will be displayed on the projected Scoreboard.

You can download the results from the Kahoot to see the results and use for grading or instructional purposes.

What students love

  • The students love the game appeal. Kahoots are fun for all students.
  • Students love the music. I can't argue with that either.
  • Students love the Scoreboard. Most of my students are competitive. I even have a competitive spirit myself.
What I love
  • The ease of creating the Kahoots.
  • I like the variety. I like being able to do discussions, surveys, and the new Jumble questions.
  • I can't resist how much my students enjoy Kahoots.
  • I love being able to add videos to the questions.
When it comes to Quizizz, Kahoot, and students it is a win-win. You can create either with ease and the students love it so how could you lose. Both can be used as a preview to content to come, as a review for things already taught, or as reinforcement for freshly introduced concepts. When things appeal to my students, I try to incorporate them in my classroom. In this case, it not too hard to make happen. Drop me a line below and tell me if there is a clear cut winner in your eyes.

Until next time,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Classroom 2016-2017

I know this is late but here is a glimpse into my classroom. I feel as if I decorate my class each year as a typical elementary school teacher but I don't think I will ever change because I take pride in my classroom's theme yearly and I have so much fun decorating. This year I chose the theme of a cafè using the colors lime green, tan, and turquoise.

Here you will find my door. This year we were not permitted to decorate the outside of our doors due to new fire codes so you could imagine my disappointment. I had big plans for my door this year and I was saddened when I was told to take my chalkboard down. I attempted to transform my door into a chalkboard to keep with my cafe theme. I have my welcome sign from TpT Store: Mindful Matters above my door, and mini chalkboard beside my door for updates and reminders, and my twitter feed from TpT Store: The Tallest Teacher.

Below you will see how I utilized my interior door leading to the classroom next door and my make shift bulletin board. Above the door I have our class policy and on the door there are my conversation expectations. We do lots of discussions and I expect active participations from every student. Beside the door I have a make shift bulletin board created by putting burlap on the wall with border around it. I use the board to display news/announcement, QR codes for passes and when students are tardy, and homework.

Now we have my safe haven better now as "Welch's Corner". I have another make shift bulletin board created with black butcher paper and burlap ribbon for my calendars, schedules, and other things that I receive that may be important. I wrapped my desk in burlap to keep with my theme.

Yearly I label all my desk and groups to make it easier to assign roles and task. I use containers for supplies as well but I am still trying to master a way to keep up with all the supplies, keep the students from abusing the supplies, and keep students from using the containers as trash cans. I used editable labels from TpT Seller: Teresa Lewis.

The large colored numbered posters are used for my scales for learning goals. I usually have 3 sets, for regular, supported, and advanced. I used Clock Minute Labels from TpT Store: Chalkboard Chatterbox and the Classroom Number line from TpT Store: GreatMinds123. My very own DOK Posters for Math. I also have my Daily Grind Board with list the daily assignments, homework assignments, reminders, and expectations. 
I also have student classroom job and seat letters on magnets. The students loved the idea of rotating class jobs that include Instagram Photographer, Board Cleaner, Tweet Master, Office Manager, Errand Runner, Folder Manager, The Closers, Tech Assistant, and Teacher Assistant. I try to remember to rotate them daily. Next year that may become a new job.

Since I have a fully flipped classroom and use blended learning practices in the classroom, I have a small group space to use during the "Work with Teacher" Station during rotations.  In the small group corner you will find Math Practice Posters, Problem Solving Strategy Posters, and dry erase circles. Near by is the Word Wall named "The Perfect Blend" to tie into the Cafe theme of my classroom.

The Community Board is where I display superior student work. With a 1 to 1 classroom, a lot of the displays are pictures of students' products, print offs from Schoology (our LMS), and pictures of students working.
I utilized the doors of my storage cabinet to display grades and house work for absent students when we complete things on paper.

One of my favorite in-class displays is the growth mindset wall. I found a display on Pinterest, my happy place, and I copied it. I projected the brain on the board and traced it on a large piece of butcher board paper.
The "Barista Station" is my version of the students work center. Here students will find a class calendar, rulers, scratch paper, graph paper, cornell notes templates, no name clips, turn in trays, and a return crate that includes extra copies.
This is the notebook setup display. I actually refer to this several times weekly and used it during my lesson for setting up the Math notebooks. I used to borders purchase from Mardel and burlap material I found at Hobby Lobby. I also found inspiration for this board on Pinterest.
Here are the generic learning scales. I tend to use the generic learning scales to do quick check in during lessons.

My front board has labels.

  • Today I will...
  • I will know I have it when...
  • Essential Questions:
  • Today's Specials
I color code each class period's information. You may also see a glimpse of the group roles which are assigned by seat letter and the "Give me 5" sign.

Having a 1 to 1 iPad classroom brings some advantages with passes and signing out or even keeping up with tardies. Students scan the code to sign out and they scan a different code when they are tardy to class. Students know that they are late if they enter the class after I shut the door. I greet students with a hand shake every period, every day.

Thank you for stopping by to check out my classroom this year. I'm already trying to decide what theme I could go with for the next school year. It's takes a  lot of work but I find joy and pride in decorating my class each year. Leave you ideas below or links to your classroom tour.

      Until next time,

Monday, January 16, 2017

Transform Your Classroom with Google Forms

With a 1:1 iPad classroom and tons of Google Apps for Education training I have become an avid user of all things Google. I have created this list of ways I use Google Forms in my classroom and with my team members. In this age of technology, why not let your access to technology help you to work smarter not harder. Please comment below if you are interested in a tutorial on any of the listed uses.

For Classroom Management
I created the following GoogleSlides presentation outlining Google Forms uses for Classroom Management. My favorite thing about my uses for Classroom Management is that you do not need a 1:1 classroom in order for these to work for you. These uses can also be efficient using a chromebook or laptop.

For Instruction
For Google Forms for Instructions I wasn't as fancy and created a GoogleSlides presentation.

  • Assessments: The quiz feature has made this easier by leaps and bounds but prior to the quiz feature I fell head over heels for the Super Quiz Google Sheets add-on. I first began using forms for assessments when I begin to flip my classroom. I found Forms to be the most efficient way and with the Super Quiz add-on I was able to embed the forms on the webpage I was using for the videos and notes that I expected my students to review. I was able to give instant feedback as well as give additional practice or resources. I can have the assessments, big or small, graded automatically or you can grade responses manually. With the ability to send results to spreadsheets, you are able to track progress of your students and plan for future instruction at the snap of your finger.
  • Collect Data for Activities: You can have individuals or groups to use Forms to share their finds with the entire class. This would work across subject areas and it saves time. You are able to send data to a spreadsheet and share the spreadsheet with students. There are many possibilities after you share the class data. Students can analyze their finds, compare their findings to those of their peers, answer questions related to the data collected, and much more. This is not limited to numerical data. For ELA or History students can respond to research resources or readings then view the spreadsheet to compare the findings of their peers.
  • Choose your own Adventure Activities: This is by far my favorite of all the Form uses for instruction. I find that these are fun (but then again I am a geek) and remind me of books I read as an adolescent. You are able to create Choose your own Adventure Forms by adding sections and then adding "Go to section based on answer" to the questions.

  • Student Reflection: I have become a believer in student reflection. I use Google Forms before and after post test to have the students think about what grade they think they'll earn and afterwards as a reflection of what you actually earned and why. I use Forms after pretest as a tool to allow to set short term goals. Students tell what they would like to earn on the post test and how they plan to achieve the goal score. I have students to reflect on their behavior also,
  • Peer Evaluation: Students can collect responses about their work from their peers or rate their peers performance while working in a group.
  • Grade Collection: If you use rubrics, quick grade collect can be achieved using Google Forms. If you have your expectations outlined in a form, you can possibly grade students as you walk around and observe, during presentations, during one on one check-ins, or during gallery style walk around activities. If you are one of those teachers that walk around and check homework during the daily warm up, you can create a Form for that! 
  • Digital Breakout EDU: If yo are familiar with those mini versions of the escape the room scenarios, you'll love the idea of being able to achieve this digitally without all the locks and boxes.

For Planning

  • Team Lesson Plans: Although I am not currently in a building were we used the same lesson plans, after reading Matt Miller's The Magical Automatic Lesson Planner with Google Forms I was convinced that Forms would be an awesome way to plan as a team. I have been in buildings where each person of our math team would take turns to create our plans for the week. Without the pain of copying and pasting or trying to remember not the save over the original format you could create a form for planning and use autocrat to create a separate doc for each week or continuous doc for all the lesson plans for the week, month, quarter, or school year.
  • Data Analysis: Forms could be created to collect data and review as a team. An added feature of the Super Quiz Google Sheets add-on is able to add separate classes of teachers to one Quiz and being able to compare classes or teachers data.

    Thanks for stoping by,