Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Flipping roles in the classroom

This year my fourth grade class has 15 iPads to use! The iPads have allowed the classroom to become very interactive and hands on. It has also made reteaching easier as well as implementing higher order thinking.

If you walked into my room during math you would not see me in front of the room teaching and all eyes on me. Rather you would see students in stations teaching each other, doing hands on activities, in small groups with me, or even making their own lesson.

EDUCreations has been a big hit in the classroom this year. Many students are more eager to master the concepts we are learning so that they can make a video showing their mastery to show to another friend. You can even e-mail the video clips to parents to show progress or as a success celebration for a student who may have been struggling with this concept for a while! I use the student made videos for review for others and also to find out how deeply the student understands the concept. I also record myself and what we are doing in class on this app when students are absent. That way when students return than can use an iPad to catch up from the missed lessons. You can add voice, writing, and pictures on this app.
Here is an example of a student's clip that he made for rounding. 

Another rotation that we have been using is Ted Ed. Students hearing the same information multiple times in different formats is so important. We use Ted Ed to watch videos that go with our math content and then answer questions about the videos. This gives great insight to the students full awareness and understanding of the concept you are teaching. Ted Ed is also set up so it is very user friendly for students. The different steps they go through in Ted Ed are as follows: 
1. Watch-- Watch an uploaded YouTube Video 
2.Think- Open Ended or Multiple Choice Questions the students will answer 
3. Dig Deeper--This is where students can have an Extension activity or another opportunity to learn more
4. Discuss--This is a place to place an essential question or another open ended type question for students to answer and comment on others responses  
5. And Finally....-- This is where the take away activity will be located. What is the students to do now with the information he/she has learned. It can also be a place for a summary of the content.  
Here is an example of a regrouping TedEd.

Technology creates a fun learning environment for students, and I believe that it will prove to be successful the more learning students can take part in on the iPads. It is also a great way to develop self motivated learners. Let your students take charge and responsibility of their own learning!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wordless lessons

I love using technology to allow students to think outside the box.  Students were challenged to use the iPads and the Haiku Deck app to put The Gettysburg Address in a few words as possible.  This challenged students to break down the vocabulary and analyze the meaning.  Here are a few examples.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Monday, October 14, 2013

Literature all around!

This year using the iPad Cart is a little different for my kids. I have 15 iPads instead of a 1:1 ratio because of sharing with Ms. Gaither's class. I still am very much excited to use the 15 that I have in the classroom especially with language arts.

A typical day in my classroom during language arts consists of stations. In those stations, I incorporate the iPads in three of the five stations. In my station the students, have to log in to download their guided reader from Edmodo. I have used Edmodo in the past but not like I am this year. I have also used the quiz tab to create a quiz for their guided reader. The students seem to like taking the quiz on the iPads.

The next station where the iPads are incorporated is in the Word Study station. After the kids have sorted their Words Their Way words, the students then can select different activities to complete. There are 5 or 6 activities that they can complete with the materials provided and that they can complete on the iPads. One of my favorites is the magnetic alphabet. The students practice using this app to spell their words for the week. 

They also enjoy using the Spelling City App. They enjoy playing the games that work on the spelling words for the week. 

At the last station, the students are interacting with the books they read by responding and posting in Edmodo. Each small guided reading group has a different question to respond to based on their guided reader. They then post their response and respond to another student in the class. At first, the students were not going into detail but once I put a rubric in place the writings got better. Below is an example of a response from Edmodo.

Each week the students are introduced to a new iPad app that they will be using in the classroom during stations. Check out these apps mentioned before and test them out. Your kids will love them just like mine.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

2nd Graders Use Forms and Create Blogs

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a 1:1 classroom with iPads last year.  This year I have fifteen iPads with a class of nineteen students.  Our district has a Bring Your Own Device policy (BYOD) which has helped me to get three more devices in my room.  We are now a 1:1 class with the use of my teacher iPad.

Check out how my 2nd graders are using iPads so far this school year!

Google Forms:  

This year our school district is using the Math Expressions program to support our math instruction.  Part of this program includes a Quick Quiz to help guide the teacher's instruction after a certain skill has been taught.  This year I am giving these quick quizzes through the use of a Google Form.  Check out what I did!

I opened up the online version of our math expression book.  I used a snipping tool to snip a picture of all the problems.  I uploaded the pictures as a question in a Google Form.  I was able to add a blank question below it to provide a text box for the students to type in their answers.

Next, I took the link from the form and created a QR code for the quiz.  My students were then able to scan the code during their Quick Quiz math station to take the assessment.  It was perfect!  I had results within minutes which guided my instruction immediately for their small groups.  Check out some of the results!

I was able to provide immediate support for students who were one off and some who were transposing numbers.  It also confirmed that I have students who are still unable to count on.  I didn't have to wait until I was home to grade these papers and provide support the next day.  My students still remembered how they worked through the problems and we were able to correct some of these mistakes immediately.

Feel free to check out the link to our quick quiz here.  Or scan the QR code.  Please do not complete the form.

Quick Quiz

Next steps:  I want to add a centralized location for these QR codes.  I will always have previous quizzes up for student access so I can have students quickly retest once I feel he/she is ready for that concept.  

Check out some other forms I am using in my class this year or previous years, but please do not complete the forms.

Parent Contact - I have a button for this form on my phone!  So easy!  Thanks Cindy Geddes for the suggestion! :)


This year I am using KidBlog for Science Notebooking.  This first post is just an observation post, so my students didn't complete an investigation.  In the future, they will include all the parts to the scientific method as we complete our investigations.

You can use Kidblog on computers, but the iPad app is so kid-friendly and it was easy for my students to take pictures.  I love that this app/site is very secure.  Outsiders can not view our blogs.  Parents can sign in using their child's username and password to view their site or you could create a single account for parent access.  What a great way for parents to stay up to date with the learning that is going on in our room!

Check out a few blog posts from our observation of our caterpillars.

Ahoy Mateys!  We celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day this past week and had a blast dressing up like pirates!  After learning a little bit about pirates my students worked on one of their first blog posts.  They were asked to give some facts about pirates and to take a picture of their partner to upload to their blog.  Check out this post:

Next Steps:  I hope to continue using KidBlog for school events as well as Science Notebooking.  My goal for the year is to have my students blogging about the 8 Mathematical Practices!  

We are off to a great start this year.  Hopefully, I will have more to share as the year continues!!  Happy new school year!  Hope it is as great as mine!  :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Using an iPad App to Support Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Having the opportunity for my kindergarten students to use the iPads this second semester has been fantastic!  As my students have become more tech savvy, I have been trying to find ways to incorporate Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.

Story Kit has been an excellent way for my students to create.

Story Kit allows each student to create his/her own book.  Students can write text, record their own voice reading the text, and add pictures either from photos, the internet, or draw a picture.  When finished, the books can be emailed home to parents!  

We use Story Kit in the classroom for children to free write, for projects, and as a way to evaluate what a student has learned.  Here are a few examples:

I like to swim with my friends! (kid spelling)

I like to play soccer with my friends!  

Ways to make numbers.

Hope you enjoy Story Kit as much as we have!  (And it's FREE!)


My student teacher was able to get the kids outside for a little geocaching in order to prepare for the AP test in a unique way.

He and I spent the morning typing up personalized examples of literary devices they seemed to be struggling with.  Each of the samples featured one of the students.  We hid them outside all over campus in sandwich bags, making sure to plot each of their locations with device.

Students spent their mornings finding each of the literary device clues.  Once they found one, they used their iPhones (or iPod Touch) to tweet the example and notate which of the literary devices it was.  This kept all the groups that were spread out around campus truly "connected" to each other as they all were posting to and reading from the back channel.

Friday, May 10, 2013


With the opportunity to have iPads in my classroom this year I have become much more a facilitator of learning. I still have those teaching moments in which I have to spew facts about the significance of the Fall of Constantinople or the impact Gutenberg had on the world far past his death. However, I can also guide a class of learners who search for knowledge on a particular subject to where to find the answers and then they can relay that information to others in there class and vice versa.
In the learning groups that I constructed on Edmodo I have given each group a different topic to research and had them report out on their findings. I find this has surprising results, as well as results people remember. Another good thing about the learning groups on Edmodo is that I don't have to constantly rearrange the room when we work in groups a student on one side of the room and the other side of the room can share data and ideas without getting up. One note of caution here is to include yourself into all of the small groups to avoid the inevitable off task cyber-chat.
I'd be amiss to say that I have a student who is homebound and is able to contribute to class from the comfort of his own home. He only has to log on to Edmodo and he can leave post-its on my virtual bulletin board at (formerly known as wall-wisher) which I use to introduce subjects or review.
For the end of the year I am having the students plan a trip, research how much it would cost, and write up a detailed itinerary for their trip. On the linked "wall" I am having them report their destination. Trip Planning   Have a great summer!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

iPad Activity: Host your own Classroom TEDTalk

A TED talk you say, what is this and who is TED? 

This conference first appeared in 1984, in attempts to bridge three worlds together: Technology, Entertainment and Design. The theme revolves around, 'Ideas Worth Sharing,' demonstrates the influence of how ideas change attitudes, lives and ultimately make impact the world. TEDTalks have evolved into being a global community fueled to seek a greater understanding of the world around us. 

So, how can you do this in your classroom? After recently attending the local sponsored TEDx Hickory, the idea hit me; why not inspire students to think globally, use 21st Century skills and to think 'outside the box' in the same manner? Each student possess unique talents I, even as their teacher, am unaware and may never see unless they are provided with the opportunity to share them. 

Classroom Outline for Lesson using iPads:
  • Pre-Activities
    • Watch a TED Talk, discuss revolutionizing idea and its level of impact on society.
    • Students were assigned a specific general topic and asked to research links between any TEDTalk given and current research being done to associate and identify the level of impact locally, state and globally. Students used the iMovie trailer app to present their findings.  
  • TEDTalk Activity
    • As a review for AP Biology approaching College Board Exam, I assigned students a specific unit/topic. 
    • Students used Google Drive app in their student work folder to plan and outline their presentation. 
    • Students were asked to blog on Blogger (private only to classroom), about their topic and after the classroom hosted talk were required to make a minimum of 5 blog postings. 
    • Using the auditorium and whatever props they needed, students had a maximum of 18 minutes (TEDTalk requirement) to present. Recorded each student using iMovie.
    • During the talk, students used iPads to follow on Twitter posting.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Using Evernote with One iPad to Build an Online Learning Community

Having only one iPad in the classroom presents unique opportunities and challenges.  I feel that a resource is at the height of its usefulness when it is accessible to all students; however, 28 students can't simultaneously use one iPad.  While many of the resources an iPad brings to the table can be found on computers (and often in more powerful forms), the mobility and freedom provided by the iPad create new opportunities for student utility.  Specifically, I like to have my students use Evernote to create an online learning community.

Each day, a different student on a rotating schedule is responsible for being the "Class Chronicler" -- the student who uses the iPad to record in-class notes.  This student records everything done and takes any notes presented in class.  The student can take pictures of class activities to serve as visual cues for students who are reviewing the class notes.  Being a science class with a lot of demos, my students love to record videos that we can post to the notebook.  Thanks to the open sharing settings of Evernote, students can access the class notes from anywhere -- including their phones!  Teachers are able to review and edit

Students enjoy documenting in-class demos.
Using Evernote in this capacity is particularly useful for students who are absent.  An absent student knows that he or she is responsible for checking the notebook before class to overview any notes and watch any demos that were performed in class.  The Notebook also serves as a great tool for reviewing before quizzes and exams.  Above all, using the iPad to create a classroom notebook stimulates a sense of community, connectedness, and ownership in the classroom.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Read Across America!

It's no secret to those that teach with me and to my students that reading is my favorite subject to teach! So, when I get the opportunity to spend a whole day doing activities to celebrate reading, I jump at the chance!!! Friday, March 1st as we celebrated Dr. Suess' Birthday, we, of course talked a lot about his influence on reading, but we also took the occasion to discuss other great authors. My favorite part was my 5th graders teaming with a 1st grade class to work on the book, "A Bad Case of Stripes", by David Shannon, one of my favorites. We begin by listening to the book being read aloud on a very neat website, My fifth grade students then helped the first grade students create a poster of the food that they like the most. The posters looked like this:
Yes, we got the idea from Pinterest! I just love that place!!!
We completed our projects with an imovie of the book. Mrs. Fulbright painted her first grade students faces just like you see in the photo. After the imovie was complete, the whole school got together for a Character Parade in the gym on Friday afternoon. A perfect ending to a perfect week!

Check out the iMovie we created on youtube!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Technology and adaptability

Earlier this month my colleague posted four apps that saved her teaching life!  Similarly, I have encountered this blessing, but have had my fair share of moments where technology has seemingly “turned against me.”  To many, this could be viewed as a negative, but it has strengthened my abilities to adapt and think on my feet—and as a middle school teacher adaptability is one of the important tools in the teaching toolbox.  
                                                       Woman doing yoga with laptop Royalty Free Stock Photo

For example, my social studies class took a virtual field trip to The Battle of Bull Run and discussed without a sound being uttered in class.  The “Bull Run” app and “Edmodo” were hard at work and so were my students.  I loved every minute of it and so did they.  (For the record, I do encourage talking and interaction in my room!)

Conversely, to use a football metaphor, technology requires the user to drop back and punt at times.  I began the school year with the idea of online science notebooking!  I have always had my science students create interactive science notebooks.  I thought this would be the year to save some time, copying/paper, and bring yet another opportunity for my students to see these iPads at work, and for a crucial tool used in my classes.  I spent much of the summer creating my example notebook, working on lesson plans for students to set their notebooks up, and even downloading the rubrics to place in their virtual notebooks.  It was going to be perfect!  

The first assignment for my students was to load the rubric on to the rubric page of their virtual notebooks.  The internet was freezing, the app was freezing, and my kids were freaking.  I stopped, regrouped, and had them add me as a collaborator.  I spent the rest of that class period on my computer loading rubrics while they found pictures for the cover of their notebooks!  We continued trudging through for about a week taking notes in this format.  We then had to draw a diagram.  We couldn't do that with the program I was trying to use so I had the students practice drawing their diagrams on “Screenchomp” while I loaded the diagram into each of their online notebooks.  Other issues included internet connection issues during open note quizzes.  It’s unfair to let students use their notes when only half of their notes were visible and they weren't able to add links. Nothing went as planned.
I had to take a step back from my plan and regroup.  Technology is not perfect and I needed to be flexible and do what was best for my students.  I had to offer the students options and allow them to find the program that worked best for taking their notes.  This allowed them to take even greater ownership in their learning.  It was different for both the teacher and the students.  Some students still use our original program, some use “Evernote” which along with “Evernote Peek” gives them a chance to study.  Other students use “ScreenChomp”, notepad, “iBrainstorm”, or “inkflow”.

Great strides have been made to modernize our schools, classrooms, and curriculum; however, if Rip Van Winkle woke up tomorrow morning, he’d first be able to recognize a school and its classroom quicker than anything else.  It is essential that we make education relevant for today’s students each and every day.  This is just one of the many steps needed to improve achievement.  As a 1:1 iPad classroom, I never imagined how much they would positively impact my classroom.  While they don’t fully replace paper, pencils, and books, these iPads can run circles around the same instruments good ole Rip would recognize and be comfortable with.

What apps have you found helpful for taking notes?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 4 Apps That Saved My Lessons

In the last year or so, there have been many times when my carefully laid lesson plans blew up leaving imaginary shards of paper all over the classroom. 

Explosion Photo Credit: kevin dooley 

I'm sure that has never happened for most of you. However in case it does, I'm going to offer you a few suggestions from my experience of how to save your lesson.

    Recorder Plus saved my test.

I had to be gone on an afternoon I had a test scheduled. For a world languages teacher, this is an issue. Part of the test was to be oral and I can't trust a substitute to give the oral part correctly. So what did I do? I recorded the oral part on the Recorder Plus app and emailed it to my substitute. He played the clip and the test went on without a problem.

 Songify saved my last 10 minutes

Another difficulty for world language teachers is getting students to speak in class. They quickly tire of talking to one person or five people or even 20 people. A question and answer session gets difficult, so they take shortcuts. The Songify app has created a whole new way to get them to speak and to be entertained as well. They record their voice and the app puts their words with music to create a song from their words. I have even used it to have the entire class practice a section of vocabulary. Two students can talk to each other and be recorded or the whole class can stand in line and be recorded with their word. It takes no time at all to record. As you play it back they are carefully listening for their voice and their words in the target language. I love to use it at the end of the period to fill in those last few minutes and reinforce the most important words.

   VoiceThread saved my 2nd period class.

Another difficulty that is faced by some middle school teachers is field trip day. For those of us that are EA (Elective Arts) teachers, field trip days create an interesting dilemma. We only have very few students who did not go on the field trip. Normally, those students did not stay behind because of behavior issues. It is often a monetary issue. Therefore you want to make it an interesting assignment. On this day when I had two excellent students in class for two days, Voicethread was the solution.  They created visual flash cards of the verbs we were learning. They took a photo of them acting out the word. They recorded their voices in Spanish and in English with the pictures saying the vocabulary words. This created a video of pictures and vocabulary words. 

    Splashtop saved my entire day.

We are also in a brand new building this year which of course means there are unforseen things that go wrong within the building that have never happened before in this building. So when there was something wrong with a pipe and something was leaking from the ceiling, the maintenance staff had to fix it. In the fixing, they had to close off one wing on one floor, which included my room. So I was kicked out of my room for the day. What do you do when you use a class set of textbooks and no longer have access to those? A movie! So I found The Buena Vista Social Club movie online. Today seemed as good as any for the kids to learn about Cuban music and to learn to read subtitles. The perfect space for this new lesson, the auditorium! After a little tweaking and some student help, we figured out the sound system and were ready to go. Then I realized I wanted to stop the movie and talk about what they were seeing to give them some background information. That is difficult because I would have to leave the auditorium and go into the sound booth. Then I remembered, Splashtop! I wirelessly connected my Ipad to my laptop through the Splashtop app. There was the video ready to be paused and started at my discretion. The rest of the day went rather swimmingly. I could pause to answer questions, clarify what they were seeing, and ask some of my own questions.

I must warn you though technology is not always so nice to us. Stay tuned for the post later this month when technology turned against my colleague. 

What apps have you found that have saved your lesson plans?