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Showing posts from January, 2013

How did I live before Youtube?

So, last year, after fighting for years and promising that we wouldn't spend every class watching videos of cats using the toilet or pandas crying, my district decided to unblock YouTube!  I had known what a powerful tool this would be for the classroom because I had been illegally ripping videos and burning them to CDs for years.  As a Department Chair, I was a little amazed at how fast my department jumped on the bandwagon.  Seeing that this was something new I thought it might take a year or two for people to feel really comfortable with it.  Well, obviously YouTube is what spans the generations because my teachers jumped on it so fast that only one teacher asked for any DVDs last year and those were merely to have in our library for emergency sub plans.  So my next step was figuring out how I could help them vet the sources out there.  As I played around with YouTube I have found that Playlists is my answer!
For me, Playlists can be used for two reasons.  First this was a grea…

QR codes.... Linking life together

Originally posted on Weebly 1/20/2012

So, although this has nothing to do with teaching, I totally think I could make it work in a classroom and eventually be a rich alternative to the in class presentation.
I am a scrapbooker. Back in the day I used to spend hours at AC Moore or Michael's buying the right paper or vellum word art. I would save my photos and memorabilia in a pretty box and spend days on the actual layout. Then I had kids and stuff got real. The dog ate my glue stick. The beautiful, chunky first born son would sit on the paper and rip the embellishments. I actually have a page detailing the day he was born and the dates and times are wrong. This was my first child! I can believe getting it wrong for my pixie girl of a second child because my brain has turned to Gouda, but you remember everything about the first.
I then began digital scrapbooking and fell in love. I used iRemember for Macs and adored that I could use paper and embellishments over and over. Gone were th…

Change is good

Originally posted 1/19/2012 on Weebly
Although I have been teaching the same subject for twelve years, my ADD kicks in constantly and I always feel the need to change how I attack each unit. This doesn't always end in success and many times I've gone back to what I did the year before. Sometimes, though, it really pays off.
Although I have alway been happy with my Bill of Rights unit, I decided to jazz it up a bit this year. I used to give an illustrated explanation of the Bill of Rights but this year I decided to do a foldable. After nine years away from using interactive notebooks, I've decided to launch it again next year. When I first had students keep interactive notebooks all those years ago, foldables hadn't even been imagined. Now Dinah Zike has entire books on foldable activities created especially to fit into notebooks. I've decided to start to integrate notebook activities into my binders this year as practice.

At the end of our discussion on the Bill of Ri…

Sometimes the Darndest Things Work

Originally posted on Weebly 1/15/2012

Ha!  Sometimes you try the simplest little things and you get the hugest return.  When my kiddos come into class, their first job everyday is to complete the "Do Now" list before we can begin class.  The list is in the same place everyday and written in green for consistency.  The "Do Now" includes writing down the homework, updating their table of contents in their binder, completing a geography bonus question and taking out their homework.  Some of my classes were able to get into the swing of getting this done daily by the beginning December.  I have one class, though, that was really struggling and every day it would eat up over ten minutes.  I even tried using some Fun Timersand although they loved the timers, it really didn't make them want to complete the tasks.
In absolute desperation, and almost as a joke, I started to look around for a virtual ticker, like those at the Stock Exchange.  I couldn't find one but it…

Google Docs and ICivics walked into a bar....

Originally posted on Weebly 1/12/2012

So although I absolutely loooooove iCivics, I have found their sign up process for students to be iffy at best. In one class during one period I could only sign up 2/3 of the kids. To this day I have two kids that can't sign up no matter what email they use. I had wanted to give students bonus points if they played so many minutes a month but that really wasn't possible. I figured out a solution to my problem when iCivics sent me an email last month announcing they were launching a new game called "We the Jury". The game placed students on a jury where they had to collaborate to decide guilt or innocence.

To offer this assignment as a bonus but hold the kids accountable for playing the game for a decent amount of time I decided they could write a review of the video game. To do this, we used Google Drive.

I created a form and embedded it into my classroom website. The students had to reflect on what they learned, whether they would …

Status Updates from the Past

Originally posted on Weebly 12/28/2012

When I had finally finished my Constitutional Convention unit I wanted a really great culminating activity to top it all off! I had been trolling the net for ideas on how to use Facebook pages and had found some really great things. Most of the templates I found were wonderful and PowerPoint Presentations but they just weren't for me. The PowerPoint format meant my kiddos were going to spend a lot of time searching for pictures and inserting text boxes. I felt like this would distract them from what they were really trying to do. I decided to give Fakebook a try. My friend had sent it to me a couple of years ago and I had avoided it because of a couple of things:

It has ads embedded into the work sheet. The ads don't show up when you print it but I was worried my students with attentional difficulties would find the ads distracting.It's free but sometimes free means difficulties. Although they give an option for saving I was worried it …

100th Day... My Boy's Wicked Smart

Originally posted on 12/27/2012 on Weebly

So although I have gone to school almost every year of my life I have never celebrated the 100th day! I went to Catholic school for my elementary grades and I'm pretty sure it's a sin to celebrate, have fun, smile, etc. Other than that I've always attended or taught upper grades. My fabulous and amazing son is in kindergarten this year and I just don't like to engage my students.... My kiddos are the first midgets I like to engage. In my many post holiday hours on Pinterest I found this:

Which led me to this website:

This tee was totally up my little bubba's mathematical alley. My little man is apnot only a math genius, but he's really passionate about the subject. Not any old 100 tshirt would do. The tally marks just gave him something mathematically to play in his mind. I read her directions and decided I could do it but since I'm a working mom, I was going to rely more on technology and less on crafty. I created thi…

Skitch and Simulations

Originally posted on Weebly 12/23/2012
I have never been content with my pre Constitution unit so this year I used all the resources for the History Alive series and implemented their Constitutional Convention simulation. I've already marked down the things we will change for next year but the kids enjoyed the immersion into the topic.

I love me some simulations! On a dorky tech note, although a lot of people love the Skitch app, I've never found any need for it until now. It has a "blurrer". You know... That tool the blurrs kids' faces so they don't get kidnapped! Awesome and now I will use it all the time!!!


Originally posted on 12/23/2012 on Weebly
As I've stated in another post, I'm really trying to spread my wings this year with small processing opportunities like Entrance and Exit Tickets. I've had my kiddos make these small little booklets they keep in their binders explicitly for their Exit Tickets. Upon researching on Pinterest (oh Pinterest.... How I love thee:) ) I found some great processing ideas using Twitter as their focus. I have a lot of free space on my rarely used whiteboard so I thought I would turn it into my Twitter board. I loved the idea of thinking like a tech project but completing it in class with nothing but a writing utensil and sticky notes. For my first activity I had them actually tweet out on two separate topics. The kiddos had just finished a Common Core graphic organizer where they read a debate on whether Google was making us stupid. In this activity they had to compose a thesis statement and cite textual evidence to support their claims. On th…

No exit, no return

Originally posted on 12/17/2012 on Weebly

One of the things I pride myself on is after a decade of teaching the same subject I am constantly changing the way I teach. It would be easier to just pull last year's assignment out of a binder and implement it but my ADD kicks in or I hear about some new way to engage and I change it all over again.

I have been considering implementing an Exit Ticket system in my class for years but I find it is so hard to give up the time when I only have forty five minutes. I was feeling really disjointed this year so I decided to try the exit ticket system when it made sense. I wanted to challenge the kiddos a bit more than, "What did you learn?" and I certainly was not going to ask them, "What questions do you still have?" Because my kids' questions tend to range around' "Can I eat pretzels in class?" to "Can I tell you about my new puppies?. 
So far I ha've asked my kiddos to write acrostics...

And letters…