Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SEE what I SAW happen in my classroom when I used the app Seesaw!

Seesaw is a fantastic and free app that has changed my classroom!  Seesaw is an app that showcases digital work as well as paper based work.  It is very user friendly for students, teachers, and parents.   There are several benefits to using Seesaw in the classroom.

Our classroom has been able to establish better communication with parents.  A struggle I have had with being a 1:1 iPad classroom is that parents weren't able to view all of their children's work that they are completing each day.  Seesaw has completely changed this in my 1:1 iPad classroom!  I sent home information for parents to join and view their child's work.  Parents are able to view and comment on all of their child's work.  Parents are now in the loop with what their children are learning about at school.  They are able to view their children's work on a daily basis, add comments, and ask questions!   The kids love it when their parents comment and ask questions.  I have had parents thank me and say that they love being able to see what their child is creating on the iPads.  Some have even said that it brightens their day at work when they get a notification saying their child posted some new work into Seesaw.  Parent access to Seesaw is a huge part of what makes Seesaw great.

There is a greater sense of community in the classroom being developed amongst students as well. We also have the ability to make connections with other classrooms from all over the world and students are able to self assess and reflect upon their work.  Seesaw has enabled me to assess students' work by not only giving written feedback, but verbal feedback about student work.  Students are also able to provide feedback to their peers about the projects they are creating.  My fourth grade teaching partner, Sharae Geldes has a 1:1 iPad classroom as well.  Seesaw allows teachers to be a part of Seesaw together, but the classes post their work separately.  Sharae and I both have the ability to approve posts, comments, and provide feedback.  We rotate for certain subject areas, so we are able to provide feedback to both classes.   

Another benefit to Seesaw is that it is completely safe for students.  You can change the settings so that you, the teacher, has to approve all work and comments posted.  This way you are in control and know what type of work is being posted and that only appropriate comments are being posted.  This has been a wonderful part of the Seesaw app, because we also blog in our classroom within Seesaw.  When we blog, I tweet out the link in hopes that other students, teachers, parents, etc... will comment or ask a question.  All comments are then approved or disapproved by me.  This ensures complete safety for my students.  My fourth graders not only write blog posts, but they can take any work that is posted into their Seesaw feed (portfolio) and then easily post it to their blog with a simple tap!  I love how easy it is for students to share their work!

When students post projects created on their iPads to Seesaw it is very simple and easy to do.  Students not only post their digital work, but their written work as well.  In my classroom students have posted pieces of writing, posters, and other paper based work.  Then they use the drawing tool or voice recording tool in Seesaw to explain their work.  Being 1:1 with iPads has made it simple for my students to post their digital work, but you don't have to be 1:1 with an iPad to use Seesaw!  That is another perk of this AMAZING app!  Seesaw has truly changed my classroom and I highly recommend using it in your classroom!

Check it out!



Follow Seesaw on Twitter: @seesaw

Monday, September 14, 2015

Who Can...

Each year when I go to teach or introduce a new app to my students, I am always looking for leaders in the classroom.  I ask the students to step up and become teachers.  As we learn about and use the new app, students are encouraged to find something new and then share with the class.  They will then "hop on" using my Apple TV and share their knowledge about the app with the rest of the class.  It is such an amazing opportunity for kids to shine. 

This year I am really pushing the question, "Who Can _____?"  I ask this question A LOT and students' hands shoot up all over the classroom.  They are eager to show that they are learning how to use the app.  This question, although simple, has been a powerful tool when teaching my students how to use a new app.  My students are paying close attention as to how each app works.

My most recent focus has been on the app, Stick Around.  I am teaching students how to create puzzles, which involves various steps depending on what type of puzzle we are creating.  Students need to create templates, answer keys, and backgrounds.  They also add text, pictures and voice recordings.  Students then need to remember how to save projects.

For each of these major aspects of the app, Stick Around, I will shout out, "Who Can" followed with a specific part of the app.  "Who can remember how to save a puzzle?" "Who can show the class how to add text?" "Who can remember how to add stickers?" Who can show the class how to delete a sticker?"  All of these questions are simple, yet the students are eager and ready to share their knowledge with the class.  It is almost as if my students are competing to answer the question, "Who Can...?"!  

"Who can" has become a powerful question in my classroom.  My students are becoming leaders that listen, learn, and share!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

No Time, No Problem!

This year was a year of firsts for me, even though I have been teaching for eight years!  This was my first year starting the year off with iPads.  My previous year, I received the iPads in January, so the kids were already using them with Sharae Geldes.  We were able to dive right in and start using the iPads (no pre-teaching required).  So it was quite a shock, but also great learning/teaching experience starting from scratch this year.

Not only did I start from scratch this year, but we received a new Reading, Language Arts, Writing, and Spelling curriculum.  As a team we decided to rotate and somewhat departmentalize, so my job was to teach all of the Reading.  Learning about the new Reading curriculum and finding time to introduce apps was very difficult.  I struggled with setting aside time to learn about, explore, and create with newly introduced apps and then being able to keep up with what I needed to teach each day.  That is when I reached out to Michelle Boyce, a fellow iPad Academy teacher. 

Michelle suggested that I set aside 15 minutes for the kids to explore in groups.  Hearing that it only took 15 minutes to introduce a new app intrigued me, so I gave it a shot!  I had the kids work with their table group and explained to them that they needed to explore iMovie.  By the end of 10 minutes, they needed to have a Point of Discovery (thank you Michelle for this phrase), which is something new they discovered and they could come to the group with a question they still had.  The teamwork I witnessed as well as the excitement was unbelievable.  When we came together as a class, the kids "hopped on" using the reflector app and shared their  Points of Discovery.  They also asked their questions during the last five minutes that we had.  I didn't even answer the questions, because the kids jumped in and answered for me! My students were the teachers during this entire process.

As teachers, we know that it is important for students to be given the opportunity to engage in hands on learning.  They learned way more by doing, than just listening and watching me explain the app to them.  I am excited to use this strategy as I continue to introduce new apps in the future.  If you are a teacher that is struggling with finding time to introduce new apps to your students, I hope that you find this strategy useful!  It is a quick, easy, and an engaging way for your students to learn about the new apps you will be using in your classroom!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Showcasing Student Work

One of the most challenging experiences thus far in the iPad Academy has been finding the time to showcase all of my students' work.   I don't want my students to think that their work isn't valued and important enough to be shared.  On Fridays, as a class we would take the time to showcase student work using the Reflector app.  I began to realize that this way of showcasing work was very time consuming and I didn't believe it was the best use of our time.  Don't get me wrong, Reflector is a great tool to showcase work, but in the instance  I didn't feel like it was the best option (we utilize reflector during lessons, rather than to showcase all of our work).  Students watched other projects being showcased, but they weren't as involved as I would have liked them to be.  Then the idea of doing a gallery walk came to me.  In the past, I have done this a couple of times with various projects, but never with iPads.

What does a gallery walk look like with iPads and students?

Students set up their iPads on their desks.  Each table group has a set of sticky notes.  They walk from iPad to iPad to view the work of others in the classroom.  Each student is to required to leave a certain amount of sticky notes with specific feedback as they travel (sometimes a total of 5 sticky notes, sometimes 1 per iPad project).  We always make sure everybody has at least one sticky note at their desk.   I have found this to be an amazing way to build community in my classroom.  It has also been very uplifting for students to hear each other say, "Oh wow, that is so cool.  I wonder how they did/added that?  Did you see that project?  You have to see this cool thing they added!"   Those are just some of the comments I have heard during our gallery walks.  Students becoming teachers and being inspired by those around them as well as new ideas and collaboration!  Sometimes I have other requirements that students need to accomplish as they view others' work.  They have been required to answer specific questions or write down specific information about each project.  

How is their work assessed?

I am able to travel with the students throughout the gallery walk .  I travel around with either a checklist, rubric, or whatever I have created that helps me assess the work they are showcasing.  It is quick, easy, and important for me to be a part of because students actually see me viewing and assessing their work.  I can also ask the students questions as I am assessing work, which has also been very powerful for them.  

Then and Now...

In the past, students have received their work after it was graded and some would ask if they could throw it away or recycle it, while others would take the time to look it over and ask questions, and some would just put it in their backpacks to take home.  Hearing and seeing some of this always made me cringe, because I thought, why would you want to throw away your hard work?  It seemed as if students were just doing work to get it done and move onto the next assignment (almost going through the motions).

NOW there has been a healthy competition that has developed amongst the students in my classroom. They are challenging each other to create quality, complex, and WOW (worthy of the web) projects (A LOT of App Smashing).  Students are sharing ideas and collaborating with each other to find ways to better their projects (and of course different ways to smash apps). They aren't satisfied with doing the bare minimum, because they WANT to learn more and produce quality work.  Of course there are times that students are doing the bare minimum, but when they see what others have produced through the use of our gallery walks, I believe it is causing them to reflect upon the work they have produced.  My hope is that they are seeing quality work and the excitement it has created in my classroom and that will lead to them wanting to push themselves to do more than the bare minimum.
Giving students an audience whether it is through gallery walks or using the Reflector app has created a a positive, creative, and supportive atmosphere in my classroom!  Kids are proud, excited, and challenging each other to think in new and complex ways. 

Monday, March 24, 2014


A double selfie to start the day!

What exactly is an EdCamp?

On Saturday, March 22nd, I experienced powerful, positive, passionate, and collaborative learning amongst educators at....EdCampOMAHA!  It is a FREE event focused on professional, meaningful, and relevant development amongst educators!  

The morning started with a mini info session as to how the day would flow and then the boards were rolled in.  The boards had different time slots available for ANYBODY to create sessions about ANYTHING!  As I watched people walk to the boards, I couldn't help but think how amazing it was to not have a set agenda/sessions for the day.  This agenda was being created before my eyes by people who had a passion for something they felt was important to share to all!  Michelle Boyce (EdCamp Newbie) even put up a session about her Agile Classroom!  Way to go Michelle!  
Michelle Boyce being a rockstar
hosting/talking about the agile classroom
she has created at her very first EdCampOMAHA!  
The sessions were very casual (not your typical sit and listen sessions) and open for discussion.  In all of the sessions I attended, people were sharing, collaborating, questioning, creating, learning, and more importantly...they were passionate.  Love that the EdCamp sessions allowed people to share their passions with each other!  In the Agile Classroom session, ran by Michelle Boyce, there were multiple topics brought to the table within just that one session!  It started with the agile classroom and from there we discussed, world/cross curriculuar connections being made with blogging and kidblog, building community, classroom management and so much more!  The casual format allows people the opportunity to share and pose questions about what is being discussed. 

The great thing about the relaxed environment at EdCamp is that you can feel free to move in and out of sessions as you need to.  Nobody takes offense because there are SO many great sessions taking place at once and sometimes you feel the need to split the time to enhance your learning experience!  Sharae Geldes and I went to the same sessions and attended different sessions as well.  This was great because we can both come together and share what we learned with each other!  
Speed Dating EDU/TECH
style with Brent Catlett!

Sessions ranged from technology, classroom design, photography, global connections, tech newbies, app smashing, and SO MUCH MORE!  The sessions weren't solely focused around technology, there were a variety of amazing educational topics as well!   Here is a link that has the sessions from EdCampOMAHA .  I also suggest following #edcampomaha.  Take the time to scroll through and read some inspiring tweets from those who attended.  People also tweeted information/resources!

Inspiring educators to
follow on Twitter!
I met a ton of fantastic educators and learned more than I ever thought I could in one day and five sessions.   I am excited to take these ideas back to my classroom and provide my students with more wonderful opportunities.  From app smashing, to global connections, then onto creating a more agile classroom (and so much more), my students are in for a great and surprising rest of the year!  Of course meeting and making connections with several inspiring and passionate educators was one of the best parts of EdCampOMAHA (thanks Brent Catlett (@catlett1) for posting the Speed Dating EDU/TECH style session).  The connections made will stay with me as continue this amazing journey as an educator.  

A Few Inspiring Tweets from EdCampOMAHA:

The world is too negative! We'll teach our Ss that the glass is half 
full and 2enjoy every last sip!

 The conversations are the best part of

RT : Great quote of the day - You aren’t giving up a Saturday- I’m gaining! -

 The power of watching a passionate teacher in action is so inspiring!

Ditto! RT : i seriously love ’s passion for being a “camera-toting teacher”

"Fair is you getting what you need to be successful."-- Michelle Boyce

After my experience at EdCampOMAHA, I am still left wondering....

         Why can't all professional development be like EdCamps?  We are always telling and teaching our students to collaborate, share, and question because that is how we all learn and develop our ideas as well as create new ones.   We learn from others by sharing what we are passionate about, listening, questioning, challenging others to open their minds and think in a different way, so why aren't professional development days giving educators the platform/opportunity to engage in these conversations?  Teachers sharing their passions, supporting, learning, and celebrating each other and the amazing things each of us have accomplished within our own classrooms and with our students would contribute to building a supportive community amongst our staff!  We always say there is never enough time to have a meaningful and productive time to collaborate, so why not give it a try! What is the worst that can happen...we learn something new and are inspired by one another?!

EdCampOMAHA has inspired me to bring this idea to my principal for future professional development days.  If we are able to implement an EdCamp professional development day, there could be an amazing opportunity for growth amongst teachers within our building.  An EdCamp style professional development day would be FREE, inspiring, give educators the opportunity to share what they are passionate about with others, and allow for discussion, questioning, collaboration, and so much more!  I am inspired and ready....who is with me?!?! 

Added Bonus...

I almost forgot about an added bonus to our UNBELIEVABLE day!  Within our iPad Academy we have coaches. Brent Catlett is my coach as well as all of the people listed on his shirt below.  A couple of came up with the idea to create a t-shirt for Brent and surprise him at EdCampOMAHA!  The reaction was priceless (kicking myself for not recording it)!  We are all very proud to have Brent as a coach.  He is an amazing and inspiring person that challenges and pushes me to be a better teacher each and every day!  Brent, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the....


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Celebration of Learning!

Celebration of Learning Room
In the past I have conducted what I thought was a student-led conference, but after this year I realized what it truly looks like when students lead a conference!  Having a set of iPads has given my students more choice and the power to create and demonstrate what they know and understand in multiple ways.  

Teacher-Parent Room
Sharae Geldes and I both have a set of classroom iPads and collaborated when planning our conferences.  The week before conferences we sent home a letter explaining the format of our 3rd quarter conferences.  We also sent home the unofficial report card.  This gave parents time to look it over and have questions prepared to ask the teacher.  We also gave parents the option to have a traditional conference if they were not comfortable with a student-led conference.  Parents have always signed up for a 15 minute time slot, so that was their guaranteed time with the teacher.  Outside of the 15 minutes they could travel to the Celebration of Learning Room and stay as long as they wanted.  

Students showed their Keynote journals
and the Stick Around Rocks and Mineral
sort puzzle they create

We put together a checklist of various learning stations (by curriculuar area) that students could show their parents.  Students were demonstrating their learning, watching student created "how to" videos, and challenging their parents' knowledge using various apps!

We had 5 students make a "how to"
math video of five different concepts.
Then as the parents sat down with their child
they scanned the QR code and watched
the video and solved a problem together.
To ensure parents had some privacy and for those who wanted a more traditional conference, we had one room set aside for the stations and the celebration of learning and one for parents to discuss their students' learning with the teacher.  Both rooms had quiet and peaceful music playing so that there wasn't an awkward silence and it then allowed for some privacy.  

Refreshments (The best part of the
night according to our 4th graders!)

After conferences we sent out a survey to our parents.  I think that asking for feedback is an important process in being able to improve and to see the Celebration of Learning (student conferences) in the eyes of the parents.  We are currently receiving responses and will take all of the feedback into consideration when planning conferences next year. 
Students could pick an app and
showcase other work they have
created in other subjects as well!

Here are some of the items we created for our Celebration of Learning!  

Celebrate Learning Checklist

Parent Letter

A huge thank you to Bellevue Public Schools, the iPad Academy, and Brent Catlett for giving my students, as well as myself, this amazing opportunity!  They were all smiles and proud to show their creative and hard work to their parents! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Stick Around" and hangout with Tony Vincent!

Tony Vincent
Thanks to the one and only Brent Catlett (@catlett1), our class was given the amazing opportunity to hangout with Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent), creator of the app, Stick Around (@StickAroundApp)!  There were several classrooms hanging out across the district as well.  Our 4th graders were able to ask Tony questions about his app.  Tony even added student suggestions to his list!  He also informed us of some very interesting updates coming soon.  One great feature added to the Stick Around app was the ability to delete stickers as well as duplicate stickers and shapes.  He gave a quick mini lesson as to how the kids can duplicate stickers.  Our students were excited to learn about how they can now duplicate the shapes and stickers they have created for their puzzle.
Cole asking Tony Vincent, "How did you create StickAround?"

Stick Around is an amazing app that is beneficial for students as well as teachers.  It is an app that can be used at any grade level and in all curriculuar areas!  I have created puzzles in Math, Social Studies, and Spelling so far.  In the Midwest puzzle below, I added links to each sticker.  First the kids can solve the puzzle as a way to practice and review the states and capitals.  When they click Check (upper right hand corner), the puzzle automatically corrects itself.  The kids get instant feedback as to whether or not they solved it correctly! After they solve the puzzle, they can tap on the links I have added to each sticker to learn more about each state.   There are so many possibilities within this one puzzle I created for my students. 
Social Studies Stick Around Puzzle I created for the Midwest Region. 
Not only can teachers create puzzles for students, but students can create puzzles for other students!  My students have created puzzles for Rocks and Minerals in Sharae Geldes's class.  They have also created puzzles in Math.  Recently, my students created a puzzle that incorporated adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing decimals.  They were able to pick the problems, solve, check their work, and create a puzzle.  They exported it to their Drive and into their Stick Around folder (this folder is a part of the gClass folders I created so we can share and create as a class).  The next day, students went into their Stick Around folder and picked various puzzles that their classmates created and then solved each puzzle.  The Stick Around app requires students to take what they have learned and apply it! 

Just as my students are able to access classmates' puzzles, as a teacher I am able to do the same with other educators.  Brent Catlett set up a shared folder for teachers that have the Stick Around app.  We are able to access various Stick Around puzzles and share those with our students!  It is such a great way to collaborate, share, and be inspired by what others have created!  Stick Around has a lot of potential within the classroom.  Teachers and students can create puzzles with words, images, recordings, drawings, and links!  Students are able to pick a way that best helps them demonstrate what they have learned.  Visit my students' blogs to see puzzles they have created and to read more about our inspiring, fun, and fantastic hangout with Tony Vincent!