Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Every time I do something new in the classroom, I think about what I'm going to write on my blog. Then life gets in the way. I've got some topics saved up that I hope to write about this weekend, but tonight I'll keep it short and sweet. 

This week I started using an application similar to Kahoot, but with some very admirable differences. The application is called Socrative. You make a free account on You will have to enter your role and your school, but that doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Our learners' iPads already had the app for Socrative loaded, so I'm not sure what the qualifications are for other districts.

Once you've made an account, then I would suggest changing your room name to something familiar to your children. You can change it under settings, They will enter the room name every time they get on Socrative to take a quiz, complete an exit ticket, or take a poll that you have assigned them. My room name is my last name and room number. 

You can even import quizzes other teachers have created.
Here are some I've made that you can import and test out in your classroom:

weight and capacity: SOC-21777367
shapes: SOC-21777031
area: SOC-21780730
ecosystems: SOC-21866188

Once your learners are logged into the quiz you want them to take, then they can enter their names. You can randomize the questions and the answers. It's different than Kahoot in that way because your learners can't look at each others screen. I've seen the shifty eyes during Kahoot. 

Another difference is that there isn't a time limit for each question. The learners can take their time reading the questions and choosing an answer. 

The thing I love the most about Socrative is the feedback aspect. When all your learners have completed the quiz and you click the finish button, you have the options to download and view charts for each learner. This shows which questions they missed and what they chose. You can also download an excel spreadsheet that breaks it up. I have been using this feedback to guide my stations and tasks for my learners. The following day they will have differentiated tasks determined from what topics they still need more experiences with. I also have a time with teacher that I can pull groups and there doesn't have to be a time limit. I always struggle with that when I do rotations.

My learners have developed into more independent and self sufficient learners, so I am able to do this now toward the end of the year. I don't think I would have used the data in the same way at the beginning of the year, but I still would use it. 

I've only scratched the surface of benefits and activities Socrative has to offer. I would encourage you to jump right in and discover new things while you do.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Twist on Persuasive Wonders

When we started planning the exploration of persuasive texts, we decided we would let the learners explore persuasive books, articles, and advertisements. I didn't think of putting a twist on this lesson until the night before. I realized I was out of sticky notes and didn't want to go to the store. It's funny how you can turn around a situation or turn down a new path because of such a small thing.

Anywho, I decided to have groups of learners investigate their persuasive texts with iPads and put their "notices/wonders" on Padlet stickies.

Once the groups were done exploring, we sat together as a class on the carpet and discussed what we noticed by reading the stickies together. I had another teacher in the room while this was happening and she asked if our class could come teach her class. Later, she said she was impressed how "on target" my learners were and how on task they were during the exploration.

We discussed persuasive language and I wrote an anchor chart during our discussion. The anchor chart and Padlet link are up in the room if learners need to reference them in the future. It would be interesting to share out with other classrooms or see if they noticed similar language and/or to have a discussion together. Perhaps next year we can plan in that extension.

This lesson was originally based on Day 1 and 2 from The Curriculum Corner.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Weather News Teams with Tech: ThingLink, ShowMe, Telestory

Let me be honest, my colleague and I team plan Science and when we came to our TEK about learners measuring and recording air pressure, temperature, wind direction, and precipitation- well, we just about physically sagged to the floor. Last year was the whirlwind that was my first year of teaching, but it wasn't just us that felt the activity of recording weather was less than interesting. This is only the beginning of multiple TEKS that are intertwined. We covered them all over the course of one week.

This year we put our heads together and decided to make it interactive and to integrate technology. Honestly, the technology provided opportunities for meaningful interactions, saved time, and saved paper. It was a true win-win.

Our first item to tackle was how to have learners record their information without having it be as mundane an activity as searching through a weather app. We decided to build the information into a ThingLink. This would provide an easily accessible hubb of data collection resources. These resources provide our "News Teams" with resources they can use to investigate various locations around the world.

Day 1: News Team Investigation ThingLink = Recording Location Information
Learners will be split into teams and then have a choice of locations. Once each team has chosen a location, they will explore the ThingLink to record the necessary information. My learners recorded their findings in table charts. I created a blank chart for each location and one with information included and some information missing. The two different tables can be used for differentiation.

Table 1: with information
Table 2: without


The great thing about ThingLink is that it is completely free! Your learners won't need a login or password to access your ThingLink either. However, you may want to check when linking resources if they will need to login to those linked databases or docs. Google docs can easily be linked, but do need to be published to the web in order to be accessed from a ThingLink.

Day 2: Now that learners have measured and recorded necessary information pertaining to weather, our purpose changes:

-How can we compare day to day weather changes in different locations at the same time?
-How can we construct bar graphs using tools to evaluate measured data?
-How can we convert temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius?

Learners first convert temperature to Celsius and then used a bar graph template and rubric to convert their table information to bar graphs. We decided to only have learners create bar graphs for temperature and air pressure because we felt it was easiest to see relationships from these two graphs. I also did a minilesson review on parts of a bar graph before sending them off to work on it. My assistant principal ended up coming in for an unplanned observation and she commented how she liked that we were integrating Math with Science.

Day 3: Purpose/Essential Question: How can learners analyze and interpret patterns in data to construct reasonable explanations based on evidence?

Now, you may have to complete example answers with a different location as a whole group because you will have some learners that have no idea how to make connections or where to even begin looking. I went over each reflection question with my learners as a whole group and did an example with them, as well. After that, they broke into groups to answer the questions and I had them record their answers using complete sentences and evidence using the app Show Me. You will need to make a class account, but it is free for a certain amount of posts. When my posts were full I created a new account and I haven't had to set up a third...yet. At this time I hadn't used Explain Everything yet, so that is another option rather than Show Me. See my post before this one for more information.

Reflection Questions
Example Recording on ShowMe

Days 4 and 5 were related to weather, but more specifically on weather tools. I partnered learners up based on their interest in different tools. The tools included were barometer, thermometer, wind vane, and rain gauge.

Day 4: Learners use compiled resources to gather information and create a guide on how to use the tool. They choose how they want to show what they know and upload to Seesaw or Padlet when completed. Learners chose between creating a ShowMe on the iPad, using the Telestory app to create an informational News Story, creating a poster, creating a Comic with the Comic Life app, or using the Explain Everything app.

Day 5: Have learners explore Padlet or Projects via Seesaw and create "I used to think..., but now I know..." feedback.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Building A Global Classroom/Community

Building Global Connection

While scheduling conflicts allow us to be flexible teachers, they only left me with thirty minutes to cover a wide range of topics this time around. I had a sit down with  the librarian at our campus. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my laptop, but she graciously let me type some notes on her computer in the comforting, calming library environment. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep enough useable notes with pen and paper. Both our minds quickly began racing. Later, our digital learning coach sat in on our collaboration.

First, our librarian talked about getting started through Twitter. Our DLC would say she was a “hard sale” to Twitter. Our librarian would say that once she did join, Twitter changed her perspective about teaching. I would like to add that one of the big “Aha” moments I had after talking with these two incredibly knowledgeable colleagues of mine, is that there is not an “easy fix” to connect. You can’t simply switch the “global connection” button to on. It takes effort and interest. Luckily, we all know most teachers that have an incredible amount of passion for what they do. The first step is channeling that passion to get interested in what others have to offer. Her first connection was through Twitter in 2011. Some advice shared between our librarian and our DLC included starting small.
 How to "start small":
  1. Create a Twitter account.
  2. Create a Twitter handle. (example: @mrsallison3B)
  3. Write a bio for others to know more about you.
  4. Follow authors, librarians, teachers, bloggers, etc.
  5. Follow chats.
Building a PLN
By following these simple steps, our librarian was able to build relationships by building her PLN, personal learning network. Her definition of a PLN is a community of fellow learners that inspire her and with whom she can collaborate.

While she was a fourth grade teacher as she began to build her PLN, she started with #fourthchat. This is a grade level chat where others with the same interests can join in a chat. It is one of the many examples of a “Twitter Chat” that meets every Tuesday. This chat allowed her to build relationships that led to Skype sessions. This chat was relatable to her because everyone communicating and collaborating were also teachers. As is #edchat.These Twitter chats happen on a regular based schedule and allow others to collaborate on topics that interest them.
Sundays at 8pm Central TZ: #txeduchat
Thursdays at 7pm Central TZ: #globaledchat 

You can find a list of useful chats here: Twitter Chat List and Schedule
Another chat worth following each Thursday is #GLOBALEDCHAT 
See the information below:

I can't wait to see what we will learn tonight with "txeduchat" at 8pm. It is the first chat I will be participating in. I have looked up past posts with the hashtag, but am excited to see what happens live. I hope everyone who sees this joins in!

Life Cycle Explain Everything Investigations and Padlet

I'm going to jump right into my first post. I have the pleasure of having an amazing digital learning coach at our campus whom I love. Not only is it so much fun hanging out with her, but she has totally blown my mind with technology integration. I want to share a combination lesson of the app Explain Everything and Padlet, a litlte "two for one" deal coming right up.

I asked her advice for how to implement technology for our life cycle unit. We came up with the idea to use the free app Padlet in combination with the app Explain Everything. Explain Everything is an app our school has paid for, I believe. It is completely worth it. It allows your learners to create slides, record over their pictures or drawings, use a laser pointer, and many other features. One of the best things about this app is that you don't have to create an account. I have my learners download their completed videos to the camera roll and then upload their video to Schoology, a Padlet link, or Seesaw.

Learn more here: Explain Everything

This is how our life cycle activity was completed:
Day 1: The Friday before beginning this unit we emailed parents asking for a baby picture. Then, we used a present day picture with the free photo booth aging app to make an older picture of the kids. Monday we gave the three pictures [baby, present, aged] to the kids and asked how they think they should be sorted. Then we discussed the changes they observed throughout the cycles of a human. We then watched a brainpop on life cycles and created a double bubble map with the butterfly life cycle and human life cycle. The purpose of this day was to identify how organisms grow and develop, while discussing how different organisms are similar and different.

Day 2: Brainstorm things that go through a life cycle using a circle map. Watch a sunflower time lapse video and discuss the plant life cycle. Then, discuss how plants grow and change over time.
In rotations, learners would log in to Discovery Education and investigate the various life cycle videos and articles. When they were finished, they posted an "I learned" on the Padlet link at the bottom of the board. I did have to build the board with resources from Discovery Education, but it was incredibly easy and useful to have in one location. Our purpose for the day was to investigate how animals and plants undergo a series of orderly changes in their diverse life cycles.

I learned Life Cycle Padlet: (you will have to be on an iPad to view the Explain Everything videos)

Day 3: Now that I saw how easy it was for learners to post on Padlet, I was ready to try having them post videos. I sat all the learners on the carpet and used the Reflector app to show them how to use Explain Everything to create a video explaining the life cycle of their choice-from a list of approved animals, insects, and amphibians I created. They were working with a partner to research using Then, they used the information to show each stage of the life cycle. I forget how much they like to investigate as young children and they easily were able to navigate the Explain Everything app. We have been using Kidrex in our classroom for a while, so they already know how to navigate and locate information. Thanks to our librarian for teaching them "trash and treasure". The purpose for this day was to continue our investigations of plants and animals.

Day 4: Finished Explain Everything videos were posted to the Padlet and learners then watched and posted "I like" and "I learned" for each video.

Day 5: From that Padlet, learners then found a partner to create a Popplet explaining the similarities and differences of two life cycles, which went along with our purpose of comparing how plants and animals undergo changes in their life cycles.

I liked having all videos submitted in one place. I usually use Seesaw to have learners post their work because it's so easy to look at and assess. You also have to approve before posts are available to other learners. However, you would have to scroll down to give feedback and it seemed easier for learners to leave feedback posts using Padlet. What the learners discussed about Explain Everything they liked was that it was different than the app ShowMe, which can cover your image or writing when you try to point to things. Unlike with Explain Everything, it allows the laser pointer to move around without covering up the images. Both were easy for learners to navigate once they saw an example. If they didn't remember, then they just had to play around with it for a few seconds. What I liked about Padlet was that learners couldn't edit or delete any post that they hadn't created.