Boo! A Not so Scary Share

This week I am sharing articles and posts that I think are timely and important.

I just read this article about the importance of helping and teaching our students not only about how to be good digital citizens, but also how to be good digital leaders. Just because they don’t see themselves doing anything stupid or silly online when they Google themselves does not mean that they should not be found at all. We need to help and encourage our students to create a positive digital footprint so that they can be found when Googled, and that when they are, it shows their leadership, innovations, and inspirations.

Since many are implementing digital portfolios, I thought this EdWeek article by Larry Ferlazzo about the importance of making reflection a habit would be appropriate to share. EdWeek articles require a log in to read. This is free to subscribe to with your school email and a password.

I read an article from The New York Times about teaching math and in it was this great site for math riddles to be used for problem solving and critical thinking that I thought you might like to try with your (older for many riddles) classes. The riddles range in difficulty from easy to very challenging and topics from Geometry to Algebra, probability, logic, and more and would probably be best if these were worked on in small groups so students can practice problem solving collaboratively. 

Here is a site that I shared last year but that came by again in my Twitter feed this morning. is a cool site for learning and creating using interactive multimedia timelines like this featured one on Life in the Colonies or this one on Using Twitter in your classroom. You can include text, images, videos, and quizzes in the timelines you create and then share or embed these on your site. One drawback that I have is the inability to filter timelines by subject. The site is free to sign up and free to create, though access to some of the really great bundles that creates  (and there are some really perfect ones for our 4th and 5th graders) are for premium users at $49/year. Beyond that, it’s pretty cool.

That’s all folks.

“Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”

Hello friends! Thank you for stopping by to read about some great sites and tools. Please be sure to read to the end to see how you can get access to THOUSANDS of FREE e-books that you can use with your class. Trust me, you will want to start using this one right away.

First is a very lovely story about everyone’s favorite S word- Stress. It is a metaphorical story about how we can approach stress. I think you will enjoy it. Coincidentally, in the online course I am spending time with, I am reading about stress and stressors. In a nutshell, we all need a balance of stress and non-stress in our lives; if we reach a tipping point that moves us toward the negative (wherein we shut down, close down, are not open to new ideas or change) we need to find a way back by seeking ways of renewing ourselves (yoga, meditation, exercise, spending time with loved ones, giving back to others, etc). It is only through the restorative process of renewal will we be open to new ideas, more creative, and able to move towards our goals. Interestingly, a recent article by Dr. Robert Brooks (if you have never heard or read his work, he is fantastic. Visit his site linked above to hear some of his talks on resilience) talks about stress and mindsets. It will complement and validate the lovely story very well. 

Next is something very cool. I saw it on Twitter this afternoon (where else!) and I think it has a real place in the classroom. It’s called Periscope and it’s an app that allows one to broadcast a live-feed of themselves and what is around them. When used for good like @JudyArzt used it for today (and not like the girl in Florida who thought it would be a bright idea to share her post-party joy ride), this app can offer amazing opportunities to share learning with others. So, how can you use it? Well, first idea that comes to my mind is virtual field trips. You all go on great learning adventures- why not broadcast these to your Twitter followers & other classrooms who might not be able to go to Gettysburg, Ellis Island, the Chesapeake Bay, or the Insectarium! Let them learn along with you. Invite others to view your makerspace I-day inventions, or share your Painted Lady butterfly habitat. I think there are many possibilities to use this app AND to incorporate proper digital citizenship/positive digital footprint lessons at the same time.

By the way, if I have not recently told you about the power of Twitter, I have been remiss. I sent a tweet (a couple actually between Friday and Monday) looking for a class to do a virtual debate with our debate club. The response has been overwhelming and very kind. There have been over a dozen retweets, half dozen favorites. And a few teachers and edutopia bloggers who personally messaged me letting me know they are either trying to find a class in their school or are offering to help if I don’t find a class which, as of about 20 minutes ago, I did!! If you are not using Twitter as a personal learning network, please let me show you to the Kool Aid. 

OK, so here is another very useful idea that I saw via Edutopia and it is about Flipped Learning. Flipped Learning is when you share information with the students via either a video that you create about the lesson, or a video someone else creates, or share information with students about the lesson before they come to the class so that they have a little knowledge ahead of time and you can go deeper during class time. Well this article talks about ways to best do this, and shares an example of a video that the teacher and author of this article used with his 4th grade students prior to the first day of school. Why I think this particular video idea is a great one is that it introduced his students to him and his classroom and some of the first day procedures before they came to school. To me, this is a great way to reduce and alleviate some first day jitters. If nothing else, it gives the students a taste of the type and styles of learning to come.

Here is another great tool that you can use with your class starting today. It’s called Educanon and it is very similar to Zaption and Edupuzzle in that it allows you to create, borrow, use, edit, and share interactive educational videos with your students in order to Flip or formatively assess your students. While you can easily create your own “bulbs” which is what these learning videos are called, you can also choose to use a premade bulb like this one on multiplication and division using modeling. (while this teacher does not specifically call it “bar modeling” it is what he is demonstrating when he shows how to solve this problem), or this one on division as repeated subtraction or this one on fractions and decimals. 

While I was watching videos on Educanon, I found that there is a great site for  video math lessons called Math Antics that I think regardless if you use them to create interactive videos, they would be a great resource for homework help and reinforcing the lessons you are teaching like Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally PEMDAS or this one on long division.

Lastly, here is a site that you are going to LOVE. It’s called Zing and it offers thousands of free ebooks of popular trade books for you and your students from PK-high school to read simultaneously while allowing each student the ability to annotate and highlight, check the built-in dictionary for unfamiliar words, and you to assign books by topic, subject, theme, lexile reading level, guided reading level, and more. Take a look at Richard Byrne’s short video tour of Zing, then sign up. It’s FREE! Want to personalize your Zing and get a few extra options— for $10 for the year, you can select and assign different books to one, some, or all of your students rather than everyone reading the same book. 


Back to School, Back to Sharing

Welcome back! I thought I would send some treats your way as many of us prepare for the opening of school. While I was away and busy for 8 weeks of overnight camp this summer and did not keep up with my shares, I still kept some things saved for when I was back.

First off is an amazing opportunity to get your feet wet in the global collaboration pool. Global Collaboration Day is September 17th and it promises to be a fun, easy way to make some connections for you and your class. You can choose to join an event that is hosted by another classroom/teacher, or you can choose to host your own. This can be as simple (and they actually specify making it simple for newbies) as sharing a read aloud, or introducing yourself to a school who speaks a world language to a school who is learning ours, or even share something your students have created. 

Speaking of a global collaboration opportunity, this one is perfect for our lower school friends, specifically 1st or 2nd through 5th grade, and it is called the Not Perfect Hat Club Blogging Challenge. It fits in perfectly with our theme of belonging as well as our character education model as you can see here:

We will be reading, talking and blogging about the topics in The Not Perfect Hat Club a book about what it means to be perfectly Not Perfect by Jena Ball. The book was written as part of CritterKin’s “Not Perfect Hat Club” program, which is designed to foster empathy, kindness and respect while teaching  kids the all important lesson that no one is perfect.

You can fill out this form to sign your class up and we can talk about ways your class can collaborate and contribute to the discussions. Don’t be distressed if you teach in an older grade, why not choose a book and start your own global book club!

Next are two new sites that I was notified about on Twitter, Hstry and Spiral. Hstry is a great site for classrooms to both learn from and contribute to by creating your own. They are interactive timelines on topics ranging from To Kill a Mockingbird and Arctic Native Americans, to Mr. Peterson. “Who is Mr. Peterson” you ask? Click to see. The interactive timeline can include videos, text, maps, quizzes, photos, and more. 

Spiral is a new site for active learning and formative assessment in your classroom. You post questions, students can respond anonymously to the class, but as the teacher you can see who has answered the questions. This anonymity allows your students to feel comfortable putting their thoughts out there while showing you who has misconceptions thereby allowing for reteaching on the spot. With their two enable apps, Quickfire and Discuss, you can ask for both quick and more thoughtful responses from your students. Check it out.

This week to get back in the swing of things I participated in Teacher Entrepreneur Week by watching live interviews with educators from around the country. Hosted by Steve Hargadon and sponsored by tes from Monday through Thursday evenings, these 15 to 18-minute interviews were all focused on the lens of teachers as entrepreneurs. Here is my Storify of tweets so you can get an idea of what the conversations were about and perhaps inspire you to listen to one or many of the recordings (remember, 15 minutes can get you more than car insurance. For some Back to School bundles of ideas, visit the new U.S. Version of tes marketplace.

Have something interesting to share? Please tweet me as I love to learn and share!

Final Share of the School Year

Thank to Twitter, I have come across a few things that I think you might enjoy reading, trying, viewing.

The first is Context U. For those of you who teach History (I would say grade 4 and up as it is designed for middle school and high school) or who are history buffs, this site is for you. It is currently in Beta which means its developers want and ask for feedback so give it to them. What it is is actually in the name- Context U is a site that puts historical events in context by placing them on an interactive timeline, pinning them on a Google map, grouping them in groups, and showing cause and effect. The best part is it is all interactive. As you know, understanding the context and background offers insights and understanding in a deeper way, making the learning of the topic go deeper. So, take a look, offer feedback, and share it with your students.

Next are some great Google Chrome extensions that will make reading online more about the reading and less about the distractions of the ads. I use the Evernote Clearly extension and love it because it I use Evernote to store articles (and recipes) and links from the web and the Clearly extension merges clean reading and the ability to then clip and save the article to my Evernote notebooks seamless.

 This next is an article about how one teacher made some shifts in her thinking and teaching and how these shifts allowed her to have a memorable 13th year of teaching. Before we all move on from this school year, what things will you think about that went well, and what things will you want to leave behind?

About a month ago was Google Education on Air, a two-day live streamed event that was all about the Skills of the Future for our students. I watched a number of the speakers live, and found the event to be exciting and motivating. Fortunately, even though the event is long over, the videos and the messages are archived for our viewing and reading pleasure. First is the skills report, a 21-page survey report on the skills students will need in the future to be successful. The top 3 from the survey are Problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. Read on to see what other skills students will need for the future. 

And what would a share of mine be without multiple somethings from Google. This time it’s Google Photos. Many of you are cleaning out laptops and want to know where to put your photos that are not synced with the I-cloud. Well, Google Photos is a great option. Take a look at all you can do with the Google Photos app for your mobile devices as well as the app for your Chrome home page. Seeing is believing.

Rest on Your Laurels with Tynker

laurel-wreath-297040_640As part of the Fifth grade Laurels, the students used Tynker, a block-based programming platform, to show evidence of learning about each of five ancient civilizations: Sumer/Mesopotamia, Egypt, Maya, China, Greece. This was a multi-level process as it involved first the gathering of the facts in a skeletal outline, finding and saving images to illustrate these facts, uploading these images to Tynker, then writing the code for each “actor” including the “Stage”. The students worked for approximately three class periods on their outline, basically scripting their story. Each civilization represents a scene in Tynker, and each artifact from the different civilizations will become the actors. We likened this to writing a screenplay and the students were the authors and directors. Once the outlines were written the students used Pixabay, WpClipart, Pics4Learning, or Wikimedia Commons to find images that are in the public domain. Occasionally they could not find what they were looking for so they used an advanced search on Google for images labeled for reuse. Some students chose to find and gather all their images for all the scenes prior to getting started in Tynker, others chose to do this one scene at a time and then gather for the next. Writing the code in Tynker was painstaking. The students wrote hundreds of lines of code for their story to run, many without any actions on behalf of the viewer. They encountered “bugs” (problems with how their story ran) and had to go through the lines of code to find the problem. They used creativity, perseverance, persistence, problem-solving, logical thinking, and digital citizenship skills throughout the process all while leaving their legacy and effectively using technology. Please enjoy. More to come as they are completed.

Laurel Project Showcases

Image from Pixabay