There is No Quitting!

“That’s it!  I’m done.  No more Technology – I don’t get it, my students don’t get – I certainly can’t use it to teach.”  

That was my 8am “Good Morning” from a talented teacher as I walked into the teacher lounge.  

I am an Instructional Coach and my primary role is to work with my fellow teachers to support student learning and growth – many times utilizing “technology” as a tool to enhance the student experience. After all, we are a 1:1 district.  Strategically, my goal is to coordinate efforts with teachers in our district with a focus on the development and implementation of instructional strategies in all content areas and to support effective planning, instruction, and assessment for learning.

I have been her coach for the last 5 years.   When I heard this – I thought of so many different ways to respond:  

  • “Oh, that stinks!”
  • “I’m sorry to hear that.”
  • “Having a bad day?”

 

Instead, I looked at this teacher and said, “NO! You are not allowed to say that. You can go to a corner and scream into a pillow all you want, but you won’t quit!”

She looked at me and….laughed!

We all need to remember that there are going to be times we want to pull our hair out, say “the kids can’t do it”, and “I quit!”  In these moments we need to remember we have a choice!

We have a choice to continue to learn or give up.

We have a choice to challenge ourselves to be better or take the easy way out and quit.

This teacher’s choice…She chose the opportunity to get better and continue to move forward!

We sat down later that week and talked about all the ways she can continue to use technology with her students to engage them in their learning. Ideas such as using “Explain Everything” to show what they are thinking in math or students creating books about the science unit they are studying using “Book Creator”.

Sometimes all we need is a good idea or direction on where to begin.  No doubt, all of these changes in today’s education process can be overwhelming.  I am here to tell you that is “OK!”    You are not alone in your frustration, your fading confidence or your feelings that you will never “get it.”  

Our book, NOW Classrooms K-2-Lessons for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology, will help you get started! We aren’t promising that you won’t have frustrations, but we are promising your kids will be engaged in the meaningful lessons we share and you will have a starting point!

Now, go be brave and try something new! You and your students can do it!  

Even if it means you might spend a minute or two in the corner of your room while screaming in a pillow!

Post by Nicole Ring, instructional coach

@NicoleRing58

Reading is a “SMASHING” Good Time!

Technology can be a powerful tool for communication and learning if used properly within the classroom.  Recently a teacher told me, “If teachers aren’t using Seesaw, they are really missing out!”  Whether is it Seesaw or another Learning Management System, the ability to share learning with families at home, peers and teachers, is a strategy worth trying.

In my new role as Reading Specialist, I am able to see many different ways in which teachers in a 1:1 iPad district use technology in a meaningful way.

One fun way to integrate reading, writing and art is through app smashing.  In a first grade classroom that I was recently in, the teacher read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  The students then talked about verbs.  The teacher wrote down the words that students brainstormed on the board.  She then took the following picture and uploaded it to Seesaw explaining the lesson to parents at home:

After the brainstorming a lesson on verbs, the students were asked to take a leaf and create a picture of a “Leaf Man” and show him acting out one of the verbs of their choice.  Students then wrote a sentence about their “Leaf Man” using the verb of their choice describing their picture.

 

Then came the fun part.  App smashing!  Combining two apps at once!  The students opened up ChatterPix and and took a photo of their picture.  They read their sentence as if they were the “Leaf Man” talking.

It turned out like this:

 https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Qn0VtlsYbSYVZqR3BUWVcyajQ/view?usp=sharing)

Student says: “I’m throwing a ball.”

The students then downloaded their video to their camera roll, and uploaded it to Seesaw to share with their families and teacher.  

What a powerful way to learn about verbs in a meaningful way!   Read-aloud, art, writing, reading and technology, all rolled into one.  Now THAT is a powerful lesson!

To learn more about app smashing, check out our NOW Classroom books!

Mirroring Early Math Concepts

Exploring and playing with manipulatives is one way that our students start to develop an understanding of shapes, counting, patterning, sorting, and other early math concepts. At the beginning of the year each year, I give my students time to just play with the manipulatives we have and I observe.  You can learn so much from seeing how they build, organize, and communicate about their work.  Some kids like to sort objects, some like to make patterns, and some stack things high into the sky. All of these are valuable experiences for both the student and his/her peers.

Fast forward to mid-year, when we break out the manipulatives again, this time to be used with our iPads.  We work in partner centers to design with tangrams and mirror those designs on our iPads.  Partners design patterns with tangrams on the table and then use the tangram objects on the iPad to mirror their designs.  This helps the kids with motor planning, creativity, and communication. They make larger shapes and designs form smaller shapes. They manipulate the objects and challenge themselves.  Most importantly, the students communicate with each other, describing what they made and how to mirror the image on the tangram app.

We complete a similar activity with our rubber bands and geoboards. I just love watching my kids problem solve and figure out the app without my explicit instruction.  So much of kids learning to work with technology and make it applicable to their learning is allowing them time for play.  When they play, they make connections and their learning can expand, allowing many students to innovate beyond our expectations.

How do your students connect and collaborate over tech use in your classroom?  Do you mesh hands-on activities and tech?

Post by former kindergarten teacher turned instructional coach Kirstin McGinnis

@KirstinMcGinnis

Rules, Routines, Procedures…….and Technology!?!

Wow! What a start to the school year! With just me and 23 little kinders life can be kind of crazy as I am sure many teachers can relate to.  We have spent so much time learning the rules and routines of the classroom and now it’s time to start the learning! But I often wonder….did I spend enough time on those routines?  It sometimes seems that the first month is not enough and that is just talking about how to be a student.  And now they want me to use technology too!?! More routines and procedures to teach! …..well that’s how I felt my first year with one to one devices! My opinion has certainly changed since that first day but it took some time.

Technology is no different when it comes to school.   While technology is present in many of our student’s lives it looks different at school than when we are using technology at home.  I now embrace using technology in the classroom after seeing all the learning that can occur and would love nothing more than to dive in right where I left off last year but I need to remind myself to take a step back.   To really use technology in the classroom and be successful at it, you need to set up the routines and procedures  before even putting devices in students hands and my new Kinders don’t have any of that set up yet.  So start slow! And know that it is ok to start slow.   A very wise administrator once told me that spending 6 weeks (if not more) reviewing those routines and procedures is ok! Be sure to include technology in that timeline.  It seems like it should be so easy just to give them all the ipads and let them go but it can certainly prove to be more challenging than expected.   As I am writing this post,  I am having flashbacks to a few years ago and can hear all my little Kinders with hands in the air waiting, ever so patiently…..or not, as I make my way around the room, wishing I would have taken more time before the activity to explain expectations.  I encourage you to take the time and set your year up for success so you don’t have 23 hands waving at you!

As I am writing this post,  I am having flashbacks to a few years ago and can hear all my little Kinders with hands in the air waiting, ever so patiently…..or not, as I make my way around the room, wishing I would have taken more time before the activity to explain expectations.  I encourage you to take the time and set your year up for success so you don’t have 23 hands waving at you!

So all that being said, what should we do to set our year up for success when it comes to using technology.   When working with our youngest learners we need to make sure our expectations are very clear.  I love using anchor charts and pictures to explain what our ipads are used for, our rules when using them, and even how to fix technology glitches.   You can find many of these anchor charts in the K-3 series book as well as many other tips for setting up technology in your room!

Of course as your year goes on, there will probably be glitches but I can guarantee if you take the time in the beginning to set up the expectations, your year will end up being a success!

Wishing you a wonderful and glitch free school year!

Kristy Hopkins

Communication Between Home and School

When talking about education and through out our book series,  authors frequently refer to the Four C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication). As I have attended and presented at several curriculum nights recently, both for my own children and my students, I am reminded of the importance of communication.
 
There are many ways that parents can view what is happening in your classroom through the power of technology. To name a few: Twitter, Instagram, Seesaw, Remind and many others!
 
The power of technology for parents gives them a glimpse into the day of their child. As a teacher, it takes a few seconds in the moment to snap a picture and post it online (always follow the law and district regulations regarding publishing student photos and work). Those few seconds are beyond appreciated to parents at home. 
 
There is no longer the dreaded questions of “How was school?” or “What did you do today?” Parents are able to ask specific questions directly related to the pictures and comments they saw online throughout the day. As a parent, the few seconds the teacher took to share about the day are so very greatly appreciated. Those few seconds can lead to a 20 minute in-depth conversation at the device-free dinner table. I am happy to say, this happens often at our house. Strong conversations are communication at its finest. That is why technology in the classroom is important!
When a teacher can give a family a view of the classroom, the conversation that can happen at home is priceless.
Be brave, try it today!
If you need help contact us here it use the #NOWclassrooms on Twitter.
Beth Hatlen
@MrsHatlen

New Learning Spaces

As the new school year begins, it is a good time to take a closer look at our learning spaces. We have all heard the term “Flexible Learning Space”, but what does that really mean? Why should we redesign our learning spaces? What does it do for our students, and why is this becoming so much more popular?

Children of today are part of a new generation of flexible and busy learners that crave a welcoming, warm and inviting space. We want our learning spaces to say to our students that we welcome them with open, happy arms. We want them to feel empowered and excited to walk in the door each day, and help them create their own learning style.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to join my co-teacher in the library to share a classroom. At first glance, it was an older, small, crowded library that didn’t allow for much flexibility or creative space for our young students. We realized this was a great time to change a few things to make meaningful changes for our students benefit!

We decided to remove the oversized tables/chairs, rigid/dark bookshelves and removed a counter that just took up space. We added mobile, open bookshelves with wheels to push aside if students need more space! We painted the wall green to allow students immediate access to create movies to share and document their learning! We added colorful stools that are light enough that can be moved by children to any space they prefer. We were able to find some amazing tables that can collapse or combine together to create different shapes to allow for students to create and collaborate in a style that fits them! We decided to put our supplies out in the open for students to pick and choose what and when they need something to create! We have renamed our space to the Learning Lab, and welcome our students everyday with open arms to a happy, engaging room that will give them the freedom to choose their learning style and path! Students have loved the change, and are excited to learn with us in the New Learning Lab! #nowclassrooms

Lissa Blake

@D60HolmesTech

Thanks Mrs. Walker, @D60HolmesLib  for the pictures! Keep watching them using #D60Learns

NOW Classrooms k-2 co-author

 

From Uninspired to WOW!

Today is Saturday, August 26.  I’m nearly two weeks late of my expected blog post.  But truth be told, on August 14, I was feeling a bit, well, uninspired.  I was working in my classroom and getting thing organized, cleaned and looking pretty to start the year, but thoughts of using technology were last on my mind.  It may have been because I found boxes and boxes that looked like this:

Devices that had been stored for the summer, un-opened, dusty and uninspiring.

But then something changed.  The first day of school came, the children walked in and I saw their smiling faces.  I was excited for the start of the year and so were they!  I walked around with a permanent smile on my face for nearly the entire day.

Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching subjects, it’s about making connections, building relationships and fostering a love of learning that runs deep and is genuine.  Remembering that was just what I needed to start the year.

This year is different for me.  I have taught kindergarten for the past 17 years.  I am the author of the K-2 Now Classrooms book which was written from my experience as a Kindergarten teacher.  However, this year, I am the Reading Specialist and everything is as new for me as it is for the kids in our school.  New, exciting and refreshing.

In thinking about what inspires me, I remembered it is the children AND the teachers I work with.  Being able to spend my first two days walking into each classroom and talking with all the teachers in our building inspired me.  I was able to notice things in just two short days, that I hadn’t noticed before.  Themes.  Themes of building relationships,building trust, building learners.

On day two of school.  I was in multiple classrooms that were building foundations for learning.

So, how does that relate to technology?  Well, what I saw, were still dusty boxes of devices, sitting in a closet, but what I witnessed from teachers and heard, was the building of excitement and expectations of how devices are used in the school setting in a MEANINGFUL WAY, long before they are even passed out and powered up.

I saw posters like this:

I heard discussions and excitement about the return of devices to students hands.

In the classrooms that were prepared to hand-out devices, it was done thoughtfully and with purpose, fully explaining every step.

 

One teacher created a PowerPoint to review all the buttons of an iPad and their importance.  It was a great refresher!

Additionally, she beautifully executed some lessons in our K-2 book in which we outline taking a selfie and uploading it to the home screen.  An activity which greatly excited the students and created a buzz in the classroom that included much chatter and giggling.  What an amazing way to start day 2 of school.

As the weeks evolve, so will the use of using technology.  What is important to remember is that technology also needs to be used to build learning, creativity, problem solving and relationships.

I challenge you to use technology in a creative, meaningful way this school year.  The NOW Classroom team is here to help, and hopefully inspire you every step of the way.

Make this year fun.  Make it meaningful.  Make it creative.  ENJOY every minutes with your students and inspire them to do great things and think beyond the classroom walls.  Enjoy the journey!  Happy School Year 2017-2018!For 8/14/17

For 8/14/17

By: Beth Hatlen

 

Creating A Global Community

We always talk about opening our student’s eyes to the bigger picture and the world around them. How can we connect them to their learning? How can we let them see that there are bigger things out there beyond their own neighborhood and school?

More importantly, how can we keep our students interested in writing?  What can improve their skills in their daily writing? Social media is a great, easy way to peak students interests, create an authentic audience to motivate them to produce quickly writing as well!

Blogging is an easy, safe way to connect our young students across the global in an instant!  We have been using Seesaw within our school for ALL areas in the curriculum, but the new blogging feature makes it so easy for us to connect with other classrooms and share our learning with peers in other countries.

I used twitter to find other teachers looking to connect, and paired up three classrooms in our school to get us started.  We have only just begun, but the students are SO excited to share what they are learning, their likes/dislikes, etc.  They have an authentic audience, which makes them exciting and proud to write more and more each post!

They were so excited when we get started this week, and immediately made connections with their new “blog buddy” in Hong Kong!  We were so excited that they liked so many of the same things we liked, and we can’t wait to keep this excitement going through the year!  This week, we will be sharing photos from our classroom to showcase our favorite learning tool whether it be an anchor chart, word wall, iPad, SMART board, or classroom library!  We will ask our blog buddies to share their favorite learning tool, so we can compare and make even more connections across the globe!

What a fabulous, real-world connection to get our students using Social Media appropriately and purposefully!

By Lissa Blake @D60Holmestech

Weather Movie Makers

Our students are expected to share their learning through a variety of media, so we like to create fun, engaging projects with each unit of study!  Second grade was researching various types of weather and wanted a special way to produce their hard work!

We created newscasts using the FABULOUS green screen app by Doink!  We use this app for many purposes, but this project was the first time we tried using all three layers of movie magic!

Our students saved images of their storms, an empty newsdesk and then dressed for the part!  They were able to be reporters at a newsdesk to introduce their friends, and change scenes using iMovie to create a complete weather research report!

We used our green wall, a desk and the app by Do Ink to create the fun.  Each child was filmed sitting at the desk, and standing by the green wall with a microphone, just like the real weather reporters!  We put all the clips together in iMovie, and shared them with our families on Seesaw Learning Journal!

A great lesson on real-world connections, collaboration and communicating our learning in a very sophisticated way!  Enjoy a great example here: https://goo.gl/qOjLke
By Lissa Blake @D60HolmesTech

 

Symbaloo for Organization and Safe Searching

One of the biggest challenges utilizing technology in the primary grades is information accessibility to students.

Let’s be honest, the internet was created for adults to communicate, connect, and share. Young adults have traditionally been the most frequent users of the internet.  However, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration “By the age of 10, young people are more likely to use the Internet than adults at any age beyond 25.” Internet users are the youngest they ever have been, yet much of the internet is not appropriate or accessible for our youngest users.

Teachers who integrate technology have difficulty teaching their students internet safety and responsibility while encouraging them to access information.  Symbaloo helps to partially solve this problem!

Using the Symbaloo visual bookmarking system, teachers can create a visual, virtual pin board of internet sites to share with students.

In our non-fiction unit, my students can access all of these National Geographic books on their iPads through the Symbaloo app.  Even better, I didn’t even have to create this page! Users can share their Symbaloo pages, which makes setting up multiple Symbaloo pages for teachers a breeze!

If you want to create your own Symbaloo page, follow these simple directions:

 

-Start by going to Symbaloo.

-Click on one of the empty tiles.

-On the top left, click “Save your settings. Create an account now!” To create your own account.

-Once your account is created, click the “+” to create a blank page.

-Click an empty tile

-Click “Create a tile”

-In a new browser tab, go to the website which you want your students to access

-Copy that web link from the link bar.

-Go back to your Symbaloo page and paste that link in

-Repeat the process on a new tile until you have all the websites you want included.

You can also create your own, based on topics that you want your students to research or easily access.  For my kindergarteners, I have a Symbaloo pages of all the developmentally appropriate websites I want them to have access to that do not have apps. They can access these at any moment, without having to type anything into to Google or the search bar.

Using a visual pin board such as Symbaloo helps students quickly access the content that is appropriate for them. Students who are not yet literate will not disengage because of spelling worries and teachers do not have to worry about typos leading to inappropriate content.

Symbaloo does not totally lock students out of browsing, as it does have a Google search option.  However, it greatly decreases the possibility of visiting inappropriate or unwanted websites due to the visually appeasing and easily accessible nature.

Post by Kirsten McGinnis

@mariemcg72