Care to Share

This week I have done a lot of collecting and have been so excited since last week about the things I was finding to share. And then the Shipley PLN Lower School Edition came and it had many great links to ideas and posts as well. So, here is the, and below are all the things I hope you find worthwhile.

This first link is to a ready to use Year full of ideas for using HaikuDeck with your students- something for each month of the school year. Haiku is easy to use and last week I sent you the updated features which should make Haiku a go-to presentation tool for all your digital storytelling and public speaking needs

Hola Classroom Pinterest Board. A great find for Spanish teachers. Scroll to video storybooks for Little Red Riding Hood and 5 little Pumpkins plus The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Espanol. Muy bien!

This Pinterest Board of Teaching ideas has some excellent ideas for your classroom. I happen to like the place value BINGO and the place value dice roll game. There are many more fun ideas like the specials clocks that show your students when their special is. This is great for classrooms where students do not know how to tell time, as well as for students who need to know at all times (no pun intended) what is coming next.

This tech toolbox is all about ways to communicate with your parents. You’ll hear about one-way tools like Remind and S’More and so many more. I like Remind because how do you really know your students’ parents are looking at the information. This way, they choose whether they want to receive text messages or email alerts.

Lend me your literacy has a page with pictures of the day to inspire your writers. Each day a new inspiration that you can project during writing time for your class to help prompt those who need a story to tell.

Following along on the visual prompts is this: Many classrooms spend some time during the year writing poetry. This idea is about writing visual poetry. Using a visual prompt, you can have the students write a Diamante poem, or any other form that you are learning. The difference is that the picture will prompt the poetry. Though this post specifically uses an app, there is no reason why your students could not do this without the app (or without technology altogether- if you felt like going that route).

Constitution Day is coming and PBS Learning Media has all you need (and trust me, it’s a lot).

This next one is AMAZING and I found it thanks to someone I follow on Twitter (@ictmagic)! Edpuzzle lets you make interactive, graded videos for your class. You can use videos you find on youtube, vimeo, Khan, Learn Zillion— crop ONLY the segment of video that you need, then add your own voice and questions. I think this is going to be one you will use again and again.

So this next thing is pretty cool. Imagine having the ability to record your lessons or capture a presentation without a videographer. Now go to swivl— a robotic mobile accessory that will change how you deliver your message. Take a look at all the different ways you can use swivl. Once you create your video, you can then use edpuzzle to interact with your targeted viewers to see what they are thinking. “Now that’s incredible!” (nod to the late 80s tv show here).

Some of you might remember that we have little bits in our science classroom that our 4th and 5th graders used last year. This year our 5th grade is going to have innovation time built into their classtime to use little bits (and other bits of things they bring in from home to reuse) to make some of their wildest creations. Little bits has introduced the Bitlab to see other people’s creations, submit your own creation, and vote on the one(s) that you think should get made into a real product. If nothing else, this is a great site to share with your students as they get ready to embark on genius hour, makerspace time, or if they are going to be learning about and creating their own invention. An innovative place to see what others are making.

Our Prek, K, and 1 classrooms will begin using ipads at the start of October. This article from a kindergarten teacher in Montana is about how her students use the ipads to enhance their learning throughout the day.

Do you find yourself doing a lot of talking in your classroom? Well perhaps you might enjoy these 8 ways to get your students to talk more (and you talk less!).

I’ve decided to end this weekly share with this statement: homework should be optional and left to the choice of the student and the student’s family. I’m not promoting here, just providing a provocative topic to capture your attention. I imagine there will be many different thoughts and reactions to this post. :)


Jackie Gerstein is an amazing educator and one who never fails to inspire and motivate. Her recent article The Intersection of Growth Mindsets and Maker Education made me stop and think about how we as educators must work to create a classroom environment that stresses a growth mindset for our students. We need to praise the effort of the risk takers.

I think about my own daughter who is extremely bright and has breezed through elementary and middle school and who is now in her first year of high school. She has never failed at anything, school has come easily for her, she will stick with a math problem until she finds the solution rather than run away from a challenge. Yet, I still worry about what will happen if she does not do well on a test.

I also think about my son, also bright, works for his grades and is now applying to college. He actually wrote his essays on the value of perseverance, dedication, and hard work as leading to improvement and change.

Both my children work hard, yet as a parent who is also an educator, I have placed emphasis on the process and the diligence rather than on the graded outcomes.

If educators often fall in to the category of growth mindsets,”Dweck points out that many who excel academically have a fixed mindset, which limits them to exploring only the areas they were told they were good at. Such mindsets are often found within the teaching profession itself(Gerstein), then we must be that much more mindful of the messages we send to our students. If we want students to take risks, accept challenges, and step out of their comfort zone to explore material and tasks that are new, then we have to create an environment that values the process, rewards the efforts, and find the lessons in the failures and mistakes.

So I’m wondering, what do you do in your classrooms to support the growth mindset?


8 Tools, Tips, and Ideas to Start Your School Year

After a bit if a hiatus, I am trying to get back in to regular posting on my blog. Since I share tips with my colleagues in and out of my school, I will double-dip so to speak, and at least have a post a week that is accounted for!

  1. Innovations and Conversations is a live Google Hangout that will feature education giants and Twitter stars Steven Anderson and Tom Whitby. This event is free and will take place on September 15th from 5-6PM. This particular conversation will focus on their book, The Relevant Educator, and why connected educators are important to teaching. It should be a great, thought-provoking conversation.
  2. Gathering and using images is often a big part of student projects. Finding and using images that are labeled for reuse (Google images—search tools— labeled for reuse), or are copyright free, or that are made specifically for students and teachers to use can be another story (though there are several sites and ways to do this which I have shared in the past). If you and your students are used to doing this, it’s not a big deal, but if they are not, then they need to know which sites to go to. This past July, millions of historical book images were uploaded to Flickr and are now ready to be used freely by you and your students. Take a look— they are pretty cool.
  3. Many of you are doing some form of Writer’s Workshop or are having your students do different forms of writing in your class. Here are 15 ways to get your students to stop groaning that they have nothing to write and inspire them to pick up their writing instrument and go. For a fun, possibly motivating class writing activity, your K-4 class could participate in Mrs. P’s Annual Writing Contest between now and November 15th.
  4. Continuing along the lines of images, digital storytelling is a great way to share what your students learned about a topic in history, a character in a book, a class trip, and much more. Animoto for Education allows you and your students to easily create beautiful music videos in minutes. It’s as easy as uploading your images and/or videos, adding music from their huge library or your own, putting in some (optional) text and then asking Animoto to process it. It’s just as easy to then share these videos on a blog, via email, youtube, or download. Your free educator account gets you 6 months and then you can renew for another 6.
  5. A picture is work a thousand words and this is true when it comes to your presentations. HaikuDeck is another beautiful way to share what you and your students know using your own or their vast library of images. Here are 10 new additions and improvements that HaikuDeck has made to their already great tool. #s 2, 4 and 10 are pretty great.
  6. Many of you like to offer alternative project ideas to your students to celebrate the completion of a unit or a book. Here are 10 fun art project ideas that you might want to try.
  7. I know there are a few teachers who are thinking about using Twitter in their classroom- Yippeeeeeee— I think this is an excellent idea because it is a GREAT way to 1- keep your class parents in the loop; 2- connect with other classrooms; 3— have students share what they are learning at that moment; 4- see what others are learning; and 5- teach students how to get to the point in 140 characters or less. Here is a video to help get you started. You can view it within the, but this link is directly to the video on youtube. There are additional ones in the suggested video-sidebar that might also be helpful. Ready to get started? Check out this Using Twitter in the Classroom wiki for 35 ways to use it, how to use it, and more, and THEN ask 4WJedis how their class used it.
  8. Last, this video from Seth Godin, “Stop Stealing Dreams” which was also an education manifesto, is one that I have watched many times, read, and blogged about. It is that provocative and will cause you to think about education in a way you might not have before.

Share and Share Alike

Each week I share articles, posts, tips, and tools with my colleagues. This is an excerpt of what I shared with them this week. I believe if even one person reads and tries one thing that I share, it is better than nothing.

It’s a 17 tab day for this week’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition meaning there is a lot to share with you.

First, a shout out to one of our first grade classes for launching their 1M News- “channel”. These first graders are becoming quite the historians!

Also, the Rev War unit of the digital textbook is almost complete and ready for your perusal. If you haven’t seen the first unit, or even the digital text in the first place, you may see it here. Our fourth grade students are taking their lunch time to work on this digital text and are doing this on a strictly volunteer basis. It is all them and they are loving it.

Anyway, I mentioned it’s a 17 tab day so I best get started on sharing the goods.

#1 What does the number 10,000 have to do with anything educational? From Edutopia, this article on the importance of helping your students embrace and learn from their mistakes. Judy Willis would encourage quick feedback from a neural standpoint, and this article also brings the science to the topic. But why 10,000? Read on to find out.

#2 Speaking of science and research, this post and podcast from Vicki- Cool Cat Teacher- Davis is about how the aesthetics of the classroom impacts the learning and retention. In this podcast Vicki speaks with Erin Klein, interior designer turned second grade teacher. If Feng Shui is not your thing, don’t close the tab, instead check out some of the other recordings with some of the amazing educators on #BAM radio. Try Educators Radio or EdTech Radio. When I say there is a LOT of great information just waiting for you, I mean there is a TON of free PD just waiting for you.

#3 Looking for a fun way to engage your learners while learning or reviewing information, or just want to do some formative assessment? Well then, Kahoot may be just what you are looking for. Of course there is also polleverywhere and Google forms (slightly different but both will give you instant feedback options).

#4 Next is a Pinterest Board of Teachers on Pinterest. What? Yep, 30 boards from Preschool through High School, art, science, technology, and more for teachers. Holy Macinoli start pinning!

#5 What does Project Based Learning look like in an elementary classroom? This blog post and several more will show how this second grade class’ experience has been. What is PBL? I’m glad you asked.

#6 It’s spring- yay- and that means it’s time to plant some beans. Beans? Yes, well, this teacher would like your students to plant some beans and share their growth and observations with other students around the globe who are also planting beans. If beans aren’t your thing, not to worry, there are many ways to connect your classroom with others looking to do the same. Start here! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

#7 For more on building a global community for your classroom, please consider the BLC Conference or Preconference this summer in Boston. I know I’ve pushed this before but it’s really one to put on your Must-Check-Out list

#8 Read how this elementary school principal is encouraging his teachers to reach out and tell their class’ story via Twitter. Our own @4WJedis are tweeting about their learning, perhaps yours will want to as well. Want to get started? I will help.

#8A On the heels of and related to #s 7 and 8 is this from Silvia Tolisano about the importance of and how to build your PLN.

#9 Take 1 hour to view this webinar “Empowering Elementary Learners with Technology” and flip through the accompanying slideshow for some more ways to engage your students and empower them to become active contributors to their own and other’s learning.

#10 How often do you and your students just talk about math while you are doing math or before you even get started? Well, this post will share 10 Ways to get your students talking and writing about math

#11 On the heels of learning from mistakes (See #1) is this from Silvia Tolisano, aka Langwitches, talking about the time and practice it takes to upgrade and amplify your lessons and the need to do this for our learners to thrive in the modern world. Please be sure to check out the accompanying slidedeck as well as the one in the adjacent column of her blog. On a side note, if you like how she makes these slidedecks (not your typical powerpoint) you can try using HaikuDeck.

Friends, I know I have just tossed you a lot of information and it is a lot to ingest and digest at one time, but if you would just take the time to look through even one or two I really believe you will be inspired and motivated.

Weekly Share

Happy Thursday. For those of us at my school we are heading to break—yay— for those of you not here, some have had it, some have not, and some have just “had it.

Anyhoo, lots to share today’s Shipley PLN Lower School Edition; many tabs open, many links ready to go. I’m hoping for a few of you (and by a few, I mean the 2 that actually read this) to read it and find something useful. Let’s see what sticks.

First, and maybe the best for some of you, is this post from Kelly Tenkely about Google Docs Storybuilder. Seriously, is there nothing that Google does not have for us to use with our students! Google storybuilder is another different, fun, and creative way to share learning about anything you or your students can think of. It’s pretty cool. Take a look. I’m thinking specifically about the 4th and 5th grade end of year projects, but definitely a possibility for 3rd grade and most certainly middle and high school.

Next, I’m learning how to code html5. This is what I’m using. If you have any interest, you might want to check it out as well, even if just to get an idea of what </p> means.

This is what the html5 code looks like before it is run (I’m using Text Editor on my Mac)

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 12.27.39 PM










And this is what it looks like after (I pasted it in to my Text tab on the blog)

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 12.28.04 PM

Cool, right!

This article from Eric Sheninger, Principal extraordinaire of the New Milford High School in NJ wrote this piece on being “connected”, and included several true stories from his teachers on how connecting with others via social media has enhanced their teaching and learning. A fairly quick and important read.These two quotes sum it up,

Those who are connected to greater social networks are more informed about their practices, beliefs, and perceptions regarding education



Connectedness is no longer an option, but
rather a standard and a professional obligation.

You probably know I am a serial tweeter. I love to learn and share with great educators. I tweet from your classrooms and even the littles in first grade have tweeted during their butterfly unit taking pics and explaining what’s happening. 140 characters is a great way to get your students to summarize and get to the point! This post from Aviva Dunsiger is all about the educational benefits of “blogging in 140 characters.”

How about having your students make a digital book jacket using Google for one of their book reports or just to practice the art of summarizing or persuading? This post will explain the idea and show you a how to video for getting this project from start to finish.

And now for something provocative. This article from Icelandic Educator-now living/teaching/studying in Sweden, Ingvi Hrannar is titled 14 things that are obsolete in 21st Century schools is not the first of it’s kind, but the one I’m looking at at the moment. What are your thoughts about this? Do you agree? What would you add?

If you have read my other weekly shares, then you have seen this post before. I’m putting it out there again because it’s Alan November’s summer learning conference, and because the pre-conference workshops are going to be great. I recommend the one by Kathy Cassidy, 1st grade teacher who brings the world to her classroom and who shares her classroom with the world. She will show you that it not only can be done with first graders, it can be done with your students, AND it does not take much to get started other than interest, patience, persistence, and perseverance.

Many teachers begin a new unit of study or a project with inquiry. This post will help you to make sense of the inquiry cycles.

Finally, many of you have heard about the big changes coming (again) to the SAT. Unfortunately for my Ben, these will not take effect- boo- but will for my Madel. Just thought you might want to read this very interesting article from the NY Times about how and why this change came about. Fascinating.

And lastly (I know I said “Finally in the last one but hey, I’m allowed to toss one more out if I find something). Reading Bear is a new site that is FREE and is great for differentiating reading instruction, enrichment, and remediation in your K-2 classrooms. Think digraphs, blends, and vowel sounds. Think phonics and vocabulary, think Reading Bear.

Is Opting Out an Option?


Many people opt out of things all the time: credit card offers, email marketing, solicitations, even standardized testing. But is it ok to opt out of teaching? Is it ok to opt out of advancing your career through professional development and continued learning? When does it become ok for teachers to say, “I don’t/won’t do/try that”? Can we as educators succeed in today’s modern classroom if we don’t model learning for our students; if we don’t model trying, failing, trying again? If we don’t show our students that times are changing and we are able to adapt and change with them. Personally I don’t think we can, or rather, I don’t think we should. What do you think?
photo credit: ** RCB ** via photopin cc

Caring is Sharing

square_3931909203I know the saying is actually “sharing is caring,” but I am going to put it out there that if you care, then you share (i.e. caring is sharing).

I work with a wonderful group of fantastic educators. Over the six years that I have been at the school, I have tried several ways of sharing information with them and it has evolved over time. Here is a glimpse:

  1. First it was several emails a week with links to tools or tips– not terrible, people made me a folder in their inbox just to keep them from cluttering the rest of their mail
  2. Next the emails turned into a spreadsheet (blech- who was going to look)
  3. Then came the learning resource wiki (still up and running and regularly updated- love this)
  4. Weekly Wow Wednesday was my next endeavor- I invited my colleagues to my room to learn about the weekly “wow”. No one came. Ever. Not a soul. Sad.
  5. Not to be deterred, I turned my weekly wows into Web Wow Wednesday and shared my tips, tricks and tools via screencast which I then embedded on my wiki
  6. Which brings us to the weekly edition of the Shipley PLN Lower School Edition

Each week my updates which, as my tagline says, brings great information to great teachers. I eagerly await it’s arrival so that I can share it with my colleagues. Usually I open about twenty articles (or so), read through them, and then choose which to highlight. My motto with respect to this is not necessarily to pre-chew it as a mother bird might do, but to do the weeding and sorting for my colleagues, and then share what I think they will find “ready to wear” so to speak. OK, not so much ready to wear, but ready to use, read, try, ponder. Then I send an annotated email with links and a bit of humor (pretty much just to see who actually reads to the end) in the hopes that perhaps one or some of my colleagues will find something to use, try, or learn from.

Here is what I sent this week:

  1. Design Thinking for the Younger Crowd- this article brings the idea that design thinking is not just for the adult or teen, but also for the elementary student. The embedded TED video definitely gives some food for thought.
  2. Next, a Principal’s Reflection by Eric Sheninger- Eric Sheninger is the Principal of New Milford High School in NJ and author of the book I am currently reading, Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. This post is about what kinds of exciting things are happening in his high school, but I am recommending the read for those of you that daydream about Maker Spaces and other STEM related ideas, and just to read about an amazing innovative school leader. If you can dream it . . . .
  3. Summer is right around a couple corners and that is a great time to get you PD on. Check out these workshops happening in Cambridge. Can’t get to Cambridge but still want to learn, just ask and I will happily make time for whatever you need.
  4. I’m not sure you know this, but I am a HUGE fan of Alan November and his annual conference, Building Learning Communities, also in Boston, is one of the best around. If you have an opportunity to learn from the amazing educators that Alan November brings together, then I strongly urge you to take it.
  5. Who is not a fan of the great Dr. Seuss?! Here is a s’more with 16 (SIXTEEN!) story videos.
  6. Create Thinglink channels and interactive albums with Thinglink EDU- Thinglink is a site I have shared previously but in a nutshell, upload an image and make it interactive by adding links of text, audio, video, links or other images. With Thinglink Edu teachers can create channels with the images your students create. This article shares the dets (that’s details in cool speak).
  7. Digital Portfolios- the time is coming. Here is why . . . And here is the how.
  8. I love livebinders- they are a great way to collect and share resources. Here is a whole library of binders that one teacher has created. Binders include resources for music, math, reading and more— actually, a whole school day’s worth of binders. And then there are mine. Want to make your own binders for your class or your grade level?? You know who to call (RIP Harold Ramis).
  9. From the man who never sleeps, Richard Byrne . . . This is a teaser; I highly recommend your clicking the link to see what he is sharing. I guarantee you’ll like it and want to start using it.

That’s it, my top 9 things for you to check out. Ta da!

photo credit: erika.tricroche via photopin cc