It’s “App”solutely Worth It!

Through Eberopolis’s blog, I found this really neat linky party! Kelly at Thirsty Firsties is hosting “An App A Day” linky party. Her principal has just purchased a iPad lab for her school. Since we’re moving to 1:1 iPad Deployment this party will be as helpful to me as it will be to her! ūüôā

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I purchased my own personal iPad two summers ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made!  So, I spent two years using it as a teacher in my classroom and am really excited about having the chance for every student in my classroom to have one!  I have so many apps that I would love to share, but I will follow the rules.  I am sharing one free app that I use in my classroom, one paid app that I use in my classroom, and one app that I use for personal use.

1. ¬†Free App –¬†Ok….I lied….I can’t just do one. ¬†For free apps these are my top two: ¬†Class Dojo and Edmodo.

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I know….I talk about Class Dojo all the time!

ClassDojo is a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators. ¬†Class Dojo helps me to run my class so much more smoothly! ¬†As the teacher I can choose what behaviors I do and do not want to see and award points based on their behaviors. ¬†Students are always wondering who the “ding” and “boom” are for….and it keeps them focused. ¬†I use it for behavior and academic behaviors. ¬†We follow the EDI model (Explicit Direct Instruction) at our school and our goal is always 80% mastery. ¬†If I give the class a “Checking For Understanding” question and 80% of the class gets it right – they earn a point! ¬†If 100% get it right – they get two points! ¬†They hold themselves and their peers accountable.

I’ve used Edmodo for two years now and I absolutely love it! ¬†Edmodo is designed to get students excited about learning in a familiar environment. On Edmodo, teachers can continue classroom discussions online, give polls to check for student understanding, and award badges to individual students based on performance or behavior. ¬†I have put the majority of my assessments on Edmodo and even though the still complete the test on paper, they have to input their answers into Edmodo – so¬†no grading for me!!! ¬†I can also give them written assignments which I can grade anywhere because of the app!

2.  Paid App РExplain Everything

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This one is a fairly new purchase, but I think it’s going to be great with my students! ¬†Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. You can create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials. It records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio via the iPad microphone.¬† Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote from Dropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and iPad2 camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration. ¬†My goal this year is to create “flipped” lessons so that students who were absent, or who need additional support can use the videos for assistance.

 

3. ¬†Personal App –¬†Dropbox

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Dropbox¬†is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again! ¬†It’s an online storage. ¬†It allows you to sync across multiple computers and devices. ¬†It also has a camera upload feature so any picture that you take with your device will be automatically uploaded. ¬†I love it, because that means I always have what I need right at my fingertips!

Now it’s your turn. What are your three (or four) favorite apps? I’d love to hear about them, and be sure to link up¬†if you get a chance. She’s running the contest for the chance to win a $15 iTunes gift card through today at Midnight.

Until the next time,

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Spark Student Motivation Saturday: Flocabulary – Learning Through Music Videos

I definitely enjoy linking up with Joanne on her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays!  I get so many great ideas from her and the blogging buddies who link up!

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Today, I want to share with you a favorite of mine….Flocabulary!

 

Flocabulary

Flocabulary is an online learning platform that delivers educational hip-hop songs and videos to students in grades K-12. Founded in 2004, Flocabulary is now used in over 15,000 schools and reaches a weekly audience of 5 million students. Their mission is to motivate kids and help them reach their full academic potential, not only by raising test scores but by fostering a love of learning in every child.

Here is a video about test taking skills:

My kids absolutely love it!  They have videos for every subject matter as well as a vocabulary component for English teachers.  They also do The Week In Rap, a weekly current events video.  When Flocabulary initially launched, the majority of the videos were lyrics, but not much video.  They are continuously evolving and I am so impressed with this site.

I use the videos to introduce concepts that we are working on, but if we finish an activity early or the class has been really good Рthey beg me to play a video.  As they are walking down the hall, I hear them singing the lyrics to the songs Рwhich mean they are LEARNING key concepts!  A win/win situation!

There is a small cost involved ($7 – 10 a month), but it is definitely worth it. ¬†Stop by Flocabulary and check it out! ¬†And don’t forget to stop by Joanne’s site (click on the linky picture above) and link up as well!

 

Until the next time!

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Green Screen…..Activated!

If you remember, my principal gave me the go ahead at the end of last year to paint a portion of my wall green. At first, I thought that the district workers would do it…..but ummmmm….no, it didn’t work out that way.

At the beginning of the school year I did some research, bought the paint, and a wonderful co-worker painted my wall for me. And there is has been untouched…..all year…..until now!

Half-way painted wall

Half-way painted wall

 

My social studies partner had our students create music video based on content that they’d learned this school year. ¬†Some of them did an¬†AMAZING job! ¬†I suggested that we switch classrooms so that she could use the green wall (I mean, somebody should get some use out of it, right?) ¬†After she finished videoing the kids she asked me, “So what do we do now?” ¬†Ummmm yeah, hadn’t thought that far yet…..lol.

Since we actually had something to work with, I did some researching. ¬†We found a program that did pretty much we wanted (and did I mention we didn’t really know what we wanted anyway?), so my partner purchased it. ¬†The first thing we realized was that the wall wasn’t big enough…. Here’s a pic of a FABULOUS group with the original shoot.

 

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See the bookshelf in the video? ¬†Ummmm yeah….not enough green…..

With the iTEL pilot, each of the teachers received a MacBook Pro along with the iPad. ¬†Somewhere I’d heard that I could use iMovie to create videos with the green screen effect. ¬†I searched….and I searched…..I looked at the help section again….and again….and again….and finally! ¬†I found what I was looking for. ¬†Here is the video that I created using iMovie.

See the bookcase? Ummmm yeah….not enough green….

The software we purchased will allow us to import photos, but as far as I know, iMovie will not. When I created this video, I found a video off YouTube, imported it in, and then reduced the sound. Then I remembered that an awesome teacher, Sean Avery (Check out his blog here), had given me information for video loops that he uses for his videos. Movietools offers various resources that will help with created polished videos.

So on the last day of school, I asked the kids to come up with a “Top 10″…in like two hours….and they did it! Check out my babies on this one!

Despite the fact that it took me aaaaaaalllllll year to get it together…..I have it together! Now all these plans are swirling in my head. I can’t wait!

Until the next time!

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It’s Official….iTEL Pilot…..Initiated!

I am like a kid in a candy store……happier than a pig in mud…..happy as a clam at high tide….you get the idioms, right? ¬†I am unbelievably excited! ¬†Our iTel pilot has been approved by the board, 1,400 iPads arrived to our district Tech office on Monday, and we had our iTEL kick off! ¬†Whoop Whoop!

Members of the iTEL pilot

Members of the iTEL pilot

 

As an instructor I received an iPad 4 with 64 gigs and 4G capabilities……oh man! ¬†You should have seen me dancing around when I realized it! ¬†Every teacher in the pilot received an iPad 4 with survivor case, MacBook Pro, wireless keyboard, and the dongle.

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My gift packet! ūüôā

 

The only downer on the event was that my partners were unable to come to the kick-off. ūüôĀ ¬†We’re a very small school and we just don’t have the staff to cover the entire sixth grade team. ¬†So I took a picture of their gift packets to make them feel better. ¬†It didn’t work, though!

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Now comes the hard part. ¬†Two grueling weeks of a graduate course, which I’m only partially prepared for….and then the real challenge – integrating this awesome technology with our students as we embark on our Common Core challenge as well. ¬†Do you smell my fear? ¬†I am terrified. ¬†I’ve been researching everywhere to get ideas as well as try to figure out how to get e-books on those devices for cheap! ¬†If you have any ideas, I will be more than willing to accept them.

Our graduate course will focus around personalized learning in addition to learning how to use various apps with the iPad, so we think that’s imperative that we combine those two and provide as many examples as possible. ¬†I created an Xtranormal video that teachers will have to respond to around day 3 of the course and I would love your feedback.

iTEL pilot
by: mrsjeff

Well, wish us luck!

Until the next time,

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Spark Student Motivation Saturday

Happy Sunday, folks! Today is my last day of Spring Break and I’m spending it on the road heading home from Maryland. Traffic……Uggghhhh.

But, I found a linky that I thought would be very helpful and it would help me pass the time as I ride along. Joanne over at Head Over Heels is hosting the Spark Student Motivation Saturday linky party. And yes, I know it’s Sunday, but better late than never, right?

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I use Class Dojo as my classroom management tool. The points that students earn from Class Dojo are switched into money (which I call Jefferson’s Bucks). At the end of the quarter I have my Jefferson’s Jam. Students that have earned enough money get to order subs or pizza, play games, and dance to music. This system costs me ZERO dollars. The kids bring in treats for the party and the money for the food!

If you’re interested, click on the link here to read more about Class Dojo and my last Jefferson’s Jam!

Until the next time!

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Reading Olympians – An Awesome Resource!

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Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!

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Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

I was so fortunate to hook up with teachers all over the nation to participate in the Reading Olympians project hosted by The 3AM Teacher and Krista Miller and Julie Kiss, The Reading Olympians! I must say that this is an awesome resource and I can’t wait to use it from Day 1 next year.

I have worked on Greek/Latin roots with my students, but very sporadically. I used them mostly during my bellwork lessons, with little connections during the regular classroom day. The Reading Olympians provide a constant connection with these roots and in a no hassle way! In our current standards we have a set number of roots/stems that we are required to teach in each grade. But what if they’ve missed them from the previous year….*shrugging*

Since we were on Spring Break last week, I was able to complete one unit with my students. We have our state standardized test in 4 weeks, and since I only have 60 minutes with my core classes, I decided to use this resource with my elective class. They jumped right into it!

This week was very teacher directed – on Monday, I showed them examples from the packet and they worked in groups to create their own. I actually uploaded the unit into a flipchart for us to use together. Tuesday – Wednesday, I had them work together to complete their graphic organizers, I shared my examples, and they shared theirs. They used the dictionary and thesaurus correctly and their hard work paid off! Our of 14 students, 5 didn’t score 80% or better the first time! Out of those 5, only 1 needs to do another re-test.

I gave them the following criteria on the scoring rubric for their graphic organizers:

1. Complete all four squares in the organizer

2. Make sure you have three words in your word box.

3. Be able to explain your words.

4. Add color to your graphic organizers.

Three of the five stayed after school with me that day, created their flashcards and quizzed each other until they were comfortable retaking the test. One students (who is really low) went from 20% to 80% just after spending thirty more minutes with a partner quizzing each other using the flashcards.

I also created a quizlet flashcard set for the Nike Unit…find it here….Nike Unit Quizlet set. I will continue to create those for students to practice with. I’m using my bulletin board to highlight our Reading Olympians program this year. Teaching so many students (110), I don’t think I will be able to do the necklaces, but I’m looking into figuring out a technology interactive way to do it. It will be one of my summer tasks. Since each child will have an iPad next year, I may buy one necklace and then create it as an Edmodo badge to assign to students. Eureka!

I want to work on creating an additional test for those students who have to retake the test. My sixth graders are verrrry slick (well, they think they are!) and I don’t want to hassle of trying to figure out if they are trying to cheat.

My top concern is time. Last week, it took pretty much 30 minutes to work on the program. I am interested in seeing how the time decreases as we continue to work. I can’t afford 30 minutes a day in my 60 minute class period. If you have an ideas for a departmentalized classroom, please leave me a comment or drop me an email. Also, make sure you follow my blog and the other blogs in this series to be in the running for some amazing prizes!

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!



First Place Winner : Gold Medal



Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program

$50.00 Amazon Gift Card

50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher’s Etsy store!



Second Place Winner: Silver Medal



Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card

40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher’s Etsy store!



Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal



Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher’s Etsy store!

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Thanks for stopping by! Next stop, Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason, a 5th grade teacher who has put her own awesome spin on the Reading Olympians project! Click on the torch at the bottom of this post to visit her page!


Pass the Torch!!!

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Kindergarten:









Grade 1 & 2













Grade 3 & 4













Grade 5 & 6




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Until the next time!

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Be There or Be Square…Freebies Galore!

Teaching Blog Addict is turning two years old! Hooray! TBA is hosting an ultimate freebie celebration filled with freebies for different grade levels, and you’re invited to grab as many freebies as you’d like!

Get your printer ready, make sure your ink cartridges are full, and that you have plenty of space on your hard drive to download all of these awesome freebies! I’m posting quite a few for middle school teachers that are very helpful to me.

Click on the picture link below to find the freebie resources.

There are already a huge amount of freebies on the site so who knows what awesomeness will be there on the 5th? Hope to “see” you there!

Until the next time!

The Paperless Classroom???!!!

I’m drowning in paper! Progress reports, writing assignments, homework assignments, classwork assignments, data handouts……HELP! ¬†I am on case 4 of paper for this year and that doesn’t even count the packs of colored paper that I’ve used for other assignments. ¬†I have a difficult time keeping up with things and recently I’ve been trying to find a better way to at least keep track of items that I know I will need to refer back to constantly.

I have a Dropbox account, a Box account, and an Evernote account, and that’s helped a bit, but I have to admit that my Evernote account has been grossly underused. ¬†When I went to the SCIRA Conference this year and I finally figured out how to create Evernote “stacks”, which has helped considerably.

In my goal to improve upon my paper cluttered classroom, I’m joining up with Eberopolis and her Go Paperless Classroom Challenge linky! ¬†I teach 100+ students, so being able to find a way to reduce those weekly 1000’s of sheets of paper floating around will be a great help!

While I’m out for Spring Break, I will work on adding notebooks for each of my 110 students and adding data that I already have. ¬†The goal will be to figure out how to add new data quickly and efficiently. ¬†I do not want to scan in 110 groups of assignments!

Interested, click on the link or picture to visit Eberopolis and join in!

 

Until the next time!

Five for Friday

Today is the last Friday before Spring Break….yippeee! And it has been a whirlwind of a week! ¬†For this first time eva…..I’m linking up with Doodlebugs for her Five for Friday!

 

The rules are simple…..post five random things about your week. ¬†Post on your blog and then go over to Doodlebugs and link up!

 

1. ¬†We had our standardized writing test this week. ¬†We made it through!! ¬†I created prize cards for each student and set requirements for them to earn their teacher’s initials. ¬†On Day 1, students had to make sure they used a graphic organizer to plan, colored pencils to highlight voice strategies ¬†(compound and complex sentences, SAT words, and vivid vocabulary), and have a clean final draft. ¬†On Day 2, students had to annotate beside their multiple choice answer choices.

 


Out of our 110 students…..90 made it to the party. ¬†And boy did we party! ¬†We shut down our hall and had activities in each room. ¬†We also provided them with mini ice cream sundaes. ¬†I’m not sure who had more fun – the kids or us! ¬†I had so much fun I totally forgot to take pictures! ūüôĀ

 

2. ¬†I created a Facebook page this week for the blog. ¬†If you get the chance, stop over and like my page……*shameless plug*

 

I am really excited about sharing my professional experiences with friends and colleagues. ¬†This will also give me a chance to utilize a different media outlet to reach other teachers. ¬†Here is my favorite post pic so far…..

 

3. ¬†I’ve been invited to present at the UTC (Upstate Technology Conference) this summer! ¬†I am so excited! ¬†After the last conference I attended, I decided that it was time to start putting myself out there. ¬†I’ve really gotten into the technology integration and I think that’s the route I want to take. ¬†So here goes….

 

4. ¬†Since this week was so serious with the testing, I thought we’d spend the last two days doing some unserious work. *smile* Insert “The Ransom of Red Chief”. ¬†If you haven’t read this short story do it now! ¬†It is about to swindlers who decide to kidnap a little boy. ¬†But in the classic O. Henry style, nothing happens the way it’s supposed to. ¬†It’s a great story to teach irony and I found this awesome internet resource to use: ¬†Internet Academy – The Ransom of Red Chief

 

5. ¬†I’m determined to get back on the healthy fitness track. ¬†My exercising has definitely been sporadic lately. ¬†It’s time for me quit whining and do¬†something¬†about it, hence my new toy. ¬†I’ve purchased another heart rate monitor to hopefully get me¬†motivated¬†to work out harder.

 

So here are my Five for Friday, what are yours?  Click on the Five for Friday pic to head over the Doodlebugs and link up!

Student Engagement is Just A Click Away!

My students use our ActivExpression devices every single day. ¬†I love them because it provides us instant feedback in any type of format. ¬†Multiple Choice…check! ¬†True/False….check! Likert scale…..check! ¬†It even allows us to text in answers….but the latter take FOREVER!!! ¬†The students love them because they immediately know how they are doing on a particular concept. ¬†They like that they can tell me what skills they need to review or receive additional instruction….but they like the texting feature even less than I do. ¬†We sometimes use Socrative but it doesn’t always allow you to track individual student data. ¬†Plus having a netbook and the device out, working, and programmed is so time consuming.

I’m uber excited about our team getting accepted into the 1:1 iPad project and having the availability of ActivEngage on the iPad will be a big bonus. But, I found another program that might just do the trick as well. ¬†Last week I hit the jackpot with a Technology Tailgate post. ¬†Through their post I found……¬†The Answer Pad.

The Answer Pad uses the iPad as an interactive answer sheet. ¬†You can use if for T/F, multiple choice, and fill in the blank questions for any type of test or quiz. ¬†As a teacher you can use the web interface to set up your class and it will give you results immediately. ¬†With their latest update students can use their iPad just as we would the ActivExpression devices. ¬†Students can even do a thumbs up or down if they don’t understand AND draw their answer! ¬†How cool is that!?

I think the drawing/typing feature is great, because a student who would normally be confused in silence, can ask me question without feeling embarrassed.  My Math partner was so excited, because she can actually have all students work out a problem and see it pretty much simultaneously.

 

I’m going to try it out….you should too! ¬†Let me know what you think!