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 http://edcampomaha.wikispaces.com/SESSIONS .  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!   

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Read Across America Hangout

Brent Catlett came to me with an idea that was posted in a G+ Community for Read Across America Week.  West De Pere, a School District in Wisconsin, wanted to participate in Live Hangouts with classrooms across the United States (Read Across America )!  A couple of days before our actual hangout, we did a hangout with our partner class from Wisconsin.  We were able to share facts about Nebraska, our classroom, and practice reading.  My students were able to find and share their knowledge about our state and learn about another state from the Midwest Region (we are currently studying this region in Social Studies).  

My class represented the state of Nebraska!  We decided to read the book, When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore.  It is currently nominated for a Golden Sower Award.

It was an amazing opportunity for my students!  I love how this hangout was able to be reading to life!

Check out our Live Hangout!
Read Across America Hangout

Friday, February 28, 2014

Flipped Lesson

In Math today I tried my first ever flipped lesson!  First my students solved two puzzles (a review of yesterday's concepts) using the Stick Around app (@stickaroundapp).  After that, they watched a short video (Explain Everything) to review the concepts taught yesterday.  Then, I introduced today's lesson (estimating sums and differences).  I explained that they would be watching and interacting with my lesson using Explain Everything (@explainevrythng).  A lot of my kids were excited to try this new way of learning. 

After they finished watching and interacting with the video, the kids showed me their work (problems within the Explain Everything video I created).  Next time, I am going to make sure I include an answer key after the problems they solved.  I feel like that would have saved class time (a lot of them had to wait in line as I checked their problems) and provided instant feedback.   Shortly after I checked their problems, they worked on two Stick Around puzzles that allowed them to practice today's concepts. 

Next, I posed this question to my students: What are some of the benefits of a flipped lesson?  Here is what some of my students had to say:

"I like that I can go at my own pace."
"I think it is good that I can pause and go back if I am confused or need help." 
"I can go back and use it when I am working on my assignment."
"I like that it is easier to focus and there are less distractions.  Sometimes people interrupt you when you are teaching and it is hard to stay focused and pay attention to what you are teaching us."        
 "It is easier for me to see what is being taught because I can pause, go back, and it is right in front of me."                  

I told them that I could also turn the Explain Everything video into a YouTube video and share the link with them so they could watch it at home.  My students seemed to like the idea of having access to a video at home.  This would be a great resource for parents as well!   I am glad I decided to have them share their ideas as to how they could use this video in the future and how it helped them.  It was a great discussion and it really opened my eyes as to how my students feel when I am teaching a lesson. 

I feel like my students enjoyed moving through the lesson at their own pace.  They were engaged the entire time while they were watching the video.  I think it helped that they were required to practice and interact with the video as they continued to watch. This will be a great resource for them to have on their iPads.  

Although I don't foresee myself doing this with every lesson or concept in Math, I do believe flipped lessons can be helpful and beneficial for many of my students.  Students are always at different stages of learning and understanding throughout Math, but using a flipped lesson format allowed me the opportunity to meet the needs of all of my students in a more efficient way.  I was able to work one on one with students that were struggling with the concept, while others that were understanding it moved at their own pace and completed the challenge of creating a Stick Around puzzle that involved the concepts they learned about today.    They shared these puzzles with a peer and then had to solve.  There was a lot of engaged, focused, meaningful, and active learning and thinking taking place today during Math.    I am excited to try this again!  Thanks Emily Salie and Sharae Geldes for inspiring/challenging me to do a flipped lesson! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stick Around!

Today was a fantastic day in the world of hangouts, apps, and iPads!  As if hanging out with Adam Bellow, the creator of eduClipper wasn't awesome enough....this afternoon we were able to download the Stick Around app (@StickAroundApp)!  Brent Catlett and I dove into this app this afternoon with my kids!  The response from my students was amazing!  They were automatically hooked as Mr. Catlett showed them some of the puzzles that were already created as well as how to create their own.

I had students creating puzzles with content they had learned from first and second quarter!  Then students "hopped on" (reflected) and showcased their newly created puzzles!  Kids that are not too fond of Math were CHOOSING to create puzzles with various Math concepts!  

After one of my students created his puzzle he said, "Mrs. Manning, I saved my puzzle to my camera roll and I was thinking I would clip it to eduClipper and then pull it into my blog and write a post!"  I literally wanted to scream and jump for joy!  

Brent Catlett, Sharae Geldes, and I then collaborated and created a shared folder within our Drive that will be a place for teachers to share puzzles they have created!  This will ensure that we are not reinventing the wheel!

I am very excited to see where this app takes my classroom!  My students are already taking content that they have learned and are currently learning and then figuring out ways to create a puzzle!  Thanks Brent Catlett for taking the lead and introducing Stick Around to my students.  I can't wait to show my students how this app can be used in all subject areas!

The Possibilities are Endless

Mr. Catlett (@catlett1) and I introduced the app, eduClipper (@educlipper), awhile back in my classroom.  Since then, my students have created projects with the concepts we have been working on in class.  Then they clip those projects in eduClipper to share with other students and educators.  It has been a great way for them to showcase their hard work and learning.  In the future, I hope to have my students create portfolios of their work!  

Knowing what is possible with eduClipper, I have tweeted the links to students' projects on eduClipper.  My students have also shared their thoughts about eduClipper within their blog posts (http://kidblog.org/MrsManningsClass6/)! Adam Bellow (@adambellow), the creator of eduClipper, was kind enough to leave comments for some of my students!  They were so shocked and couldn't believe he read their posts!  In our classroom, he is basically a celebrity! Ever since then, they have had several questions for him, one being, "How did he come up with the idea for the app and how did he create it?"

Well today my 4th grade class had the privilege of being a part of a Google Hangout with eduClipper's creator, Adam Bellow, as well as Mrs. Boyce, Mr. Sims, Mrs. Geldes, Mrs. Evon, and Mr. Toelle (1:1 iPad Classrooms)! All thanks to Brent Catlett and his efforts to set up this once in a lifetime opportunity for our students!

Students were given the opportunity to ask questions as they learned more about eduClipper!  The kids were able to see and talk to Mr. Bellow.  He was very inspiring and talked about very important skills that we want to instill in all of our students.  Teamwork, hard work, cooperation, collaboration, perseverance, and patience were some of the topics Mr. Bellow talked about as he described what it takes to create an app!

Mr. Bellow also talked about the first time he coded, which was in third grade.  The kids were blown away by this, because some of them have already learned how to code!  I think it opened their eyes as to what they could do in the future!  They were starting to realize that creating an app is something that they could possibly do!

The students were also blown away when Mr. Bellow wrote down a suggestion that they had for his developers!  Their mouths dropped open and you could hear gasps around the classroom!  Their suggestion was being taken into consideration for an update with the eduClipper app!

A huge thank you to Brent Catlett and Mr. Bellow for taking the time to set up and be a part of the hangout!  It was such a powerful learning experience for all of our students!  Students are excited and curious about learning and creating, knowing that the possibilities are endless if you work hard, have patience, and collaborate!  INSPIRING day for all students as well as the teachers involved!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Do you want to Hangout?

Who knew "hanging out" could be an opportunity to teach about and learn so many important skills? 

My class has participated in two Mystery Hangouts with a class from Colorado and Vermont.  They have also participated in two practice Mystery Hangouts with Brent Catlett and a group of teachers he was educating about Mystery Hangouts as well as Emily Salie's class.  

There have been many lessons as well as an opportunity for self and class assessment/reflection!  As a class we discuss what went well and what we could improve upon for our next hangout.  Part of the fun is trying to be the first class to guess the mystery state (we are a little competitive), but another very important part of these hangouts are the skills that are being incorporated before, during, and after each hangout.  

Here are just a few skills that students are learning and practicing during our Mystery Hangouts:

- Using a map
- Locating various landforms, bodies of water, states, bordering countries, etc...
- Cardinal Directions
- Asking various types of questions
- Teamwork
- Problem Solving
- Math Computation-Calculating mileage and hours/mins
- Communication skills
- Writing-Blogging about the Mystery Hangouts 
- Researching-finding information about each state/region that have been in our Mystery Hangouts
- Sorting/Comparing-We have had discussions about the types of questions that have been asked during our hangouts.  We compare/sort the questions that have been asked by both classrooms.

Students are also engaged throughout, because they each have a job during the hangout. I highly recommend joining a Google + Community as well as Twitter in order to give your students the opportunity to travel across the United States and possibly the world without having to leave the classroom!   I have already made some great connections with various educators through Google + Communities and Twitter.  Giving students the opportunity to make connections with what they are learning in the classroom and the REAL WORLD or even their lives is SO IMPORTANT!  I have and will continue to make learning relevant and meaningful for my students!  

A HUGE thank you to Brent Catlett and Sharae Geldes for introducing to the world of Google + Communities and Twitter!  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Animals, Athletes, and Verbs OH MY!

Today we learned about verbs using Popplet!  I wanted to find a way to grab their attention, so I started with a rap video about verbs.  This got them up and moving.  Then we brainstormed a list of verbs that we heard in the rap.

I then asked each student to pick their favorite athlete or animal.  This captured the attention of a lot of my students (many are sports fans and love animals).  The next task was to list 10 verbs (actions) associated with that person or animal.  They picked five of their favorites out of the 10 they listed.

Students then searched for pictures of their athlete or animal doing the actions that they listed.  They inserted those pictures within their Popplet, wrote a sentence, and identified the verb.  My room was silent and when I looked and walked around EVERYONE in my room was engaged and working!

Such a simple lesson, but I found a way to make verbs REAL for my students.  They were taking something they liked or were passionate about and tying it in with Language Arts!  I walked away from that lesson knowing that my students have a good grasp on the concept that was taught!

I was also able to teach mini writing lessons as they showed me their Popplets.  I was able to cover proper nouns, capitalization, punctuation, apostrophes, possessive pronouns/nouns, and grammar usage in general!  So much learning took place today when they created a Verb Popplet about their favorite athlete or animal!

Check out some of their Popplets and blog posts!

Mrs. Manning's Class Blogs

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mystery Hangout

Mappers working hard to eliminate
states and find the mystery state!
Today we participated in our first Mystery Hangout with a 4th grade class from Colorado!  It was perfect timing, because we are currently studying the Western Region of the United States.  The kids did a great job of asking close ended questions.  They used various landforms and rivers that we have learned about in Social Studies to narrow down where the mystery state was.  We had a great discussion about quality questions and what type of questions are most beneficial to ask during hangouts (great teachable moment). Very excited to participate in another hangout with classrooms from all over the United States and possibly the world.  What an amazing experience for kids to see and hear from students in other places!  Definitely helped my students make a connection with what we are learning about in Social Studies and the REAL WORLD! 

Check out the blog posts the kids created about our hangout!  
Blog Posts

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Learning about eduClipper

Mr. Catlett introducing eduClipper
eduClipper is up and running in my classroom!  Brent Catlett stopped by and helped my students set up their eduClipper app!  They were able to create an avatar, clipboards, share a Popplet they created, and re-clip others' images, sites, and work.  This will be an excellent way for students to create, clip, and share work in a digital portfolio that will follow them throughout their educational years.  Students also came to the realization that they will be able to access eduClipper from home, which is a great way to include parents in on what we are learning about in the classroom as well as continue learning from home!  

Going to share their Wyoming
 Popplet on eduClipper!
My students were using their free time to create clipboards and re-clip items they have found.  This will be a great way for students to see what other students in other classrooms are creating!   How powerful for students to receive comments and have their items re-clipped by other students! 

I was able to add a Social Studies website that will give my kids some guidance as to how to search and find accurate information.   I plan to upload some educational videos as well as videos where I am teaching/explaining a concept, other websites, and have the students start to create portfolios.  There is even the option to provide feedback in the form of typing/comment, voice, or a video!  Very powerful for students to receive feedback about the work they are creating.  As with other apps we have been using, they are able to annotate over items!  Mr. Catlett and I are interested in seeing if the work students are creating in various apps will be able to be shared through eduClipper! There are so many ideas that Brent Catlett and I want to explore with this app!   I definitely recommend checking out eduClipper!  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Teaching, Reflecting, and Making Changes


Today was a very productive day!  I introduced Doceri during Math.  The kids and I created a sample problem and recorded each step for subtracting fractions with unlike denominators!  Then, they worked on problems independently and listened to each other's recordings.  During their independent work time it was amazing how many students were swiping between apps to complete their work.  They were listening to the Doceri examples they created and then taking that information and applying it to the problem they were working on!  They are taking ownership of their learning and work.  My students are getting a better grasp on the concepts we are learning about because they are being required to explain the process and their thinking!  


My students have already had experience with Keynote thanks to Mrs. Geldes!  They were able to show me some of the ins and outs as we started our vocabulary journals for the week.  Taking what I reflected upon and learned last week, we had a big discussion as to what quality work looks like on the iPad.   It was a great learning experience for the kids and for me.  Modeling each task they are about to take on is so important as they continue their learning adventure on the iPads.  I have modeled things for the kids in the past, but never with an iPad.  I assumed they would take what they know about my expectations and quality work and apply it to their work on the iPads.  It was a great refresher for all students and as I walked around to view their Keynotes, I noticed a huge improvement from last week! 

Hop On, Hop Off

If you come into my classroom, you will hear the words Hop On, Hop Off multiple times!   As we learn about new apps, students are discovering the amazing things each app allows us to do!  The kids hop on and off of reflector to teach the class about the items they have discovered!  I have so many students right now that are proud, taking responsibility, helping, sharing, actively learning, and TEACHING!  They are eager to share what they discovered!  I am not the only person teaching in my classroom and it is so amazing to watch and listen to all of the learning taking place! 

Friday, January 31, 2014

A Week of Reflection

This week was full of learning, reflection, collaboration, and excitement!  My class worked so well together as a team as we learned how to navigate our way through new apps.  Each student became a teacher and was always willing to lend a helping hand.  

Using an iPad to teach my class has been UNBELIEVABLE!  Being able to use reflector to teach, allows me the freedom to walk around the entire room while being able to teach at the same time.  Then, if I see a student doing something creative, outstanding, new, interesting, etc...I have them reflect and share their work.  Reflector has been very powerful in my classroom and students are constantly asking if they can reflect. 

This week I introduced Explain Everything, Popplet, Google Drive (gClassFolders), Notability, and Virtual Manipulatives.  My students creativity is starting to shine!  They are developing a sense of ownership and pride when completing their work!  Math is where I have seen the most significant change in my classroom this week.  As I taught, we used Explain Everything to create examples and then explain the process as to how to solve the problem.  They then had a friend listen to make sure it was the correct information.  As we pulled our class work  from our drive into Notability, I watched my students swipe back and forth between the assignment and their Explain Everything video.  They were actively learning and participating!   Exciting to see them working through problems and problem solving on their own!  I really have enjoyed watching my students start to take control of their learning this week. 

I had a lot of successes this week with the iPads as well as some moments that helped me realize what pieces are missing and that I need to reteach or introduce.  As my students were creating their Popplet about Wyoming, I quickly realized that I need to teach them about how to search for information.  I am in the process of putting together a lesson about how to search safely and for quality information on the internet.

New and Upcoming Projects in the Works

I am very excited about some ideas that Mr. Catlett and I discussed!  Podcasts and eduClipper are two ideas that we are very excited about.  These projects will help students better understand what they are learning, gather and share information and resources, and showcase their work.  I am really enjoying being pushed to think outside of the box and to try new things with the iPads in my classroom!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ideas, Ideas, IDEAS!!!

Today I introduced Notability, Popplet, and gClass Folders!  We used and will continue to use Notability in Math this week.  The kids learned how to access a doc from their drive and then open it in Notability.  From there we learned the ins and outs of that app.  So many of the kids took on leadership roles in showing all of us how to zoom, change colors/tools, and much more!  After they explored the app, I showed them how to turn in their assignment in the folder that was created for them using gClass Folders (Thanks Ann Feldmann)!  It is a great way for kids to be able to electronically turn in their work!
Using the whiteboard app to find common denominators as they played Fraction War!

Coach Cat came and joined our class in the afternoon!  He taught the kids how to create a Popplet!  I had made Keynotes to teach the kids about various states in the Western region and they fill out packets as I teach.  Today, they were able to use Google/Safari and Popplet to find information about the state of Wyoming!  One of my kids said, "So we are doing this instead of filling out the packet?" I said, "YEP!"  There were a lot of smiles and a lot of positive comments!

I also had time to collab with Coach Cat about various apps and how to implement the iPads in other areas of the curriculum.  He shared the great idea of creating Podcasts!  The kids would be creating Podcasts about various concepts within the curriculum.  They would be able to subscribe to these and listen to them from home!  It would be great way for struggling learners to be able to listen to a Podcast about a concept they are struggling with and include their parents in on the mini lesson as well!  Coach Cat also had the idea that other 4th grade classrooms in and out of the district could subscribe to our Podcasts as well!

Great quality time spent with Coach Cat today as we were able to discuss and develop a plan as to how we want to incorporate the iPads into the classroom in a completely different way than I could have ever imagined!  Very excited to see where this idea leads us and what we are able to learn from it! Thanks for a great collab session and for pushing me to think outside of the box Coach Cat!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Look, Listen, Learn

Today I realized I was using an app that was not ideal for the docs I have shared with my students.  My students were such good sports as we navigated our way through the difficulties we were having.  It then dawned on me that we should have been using Notability!  Excited to show my students how much easier it will be to work on docs I have shared with them using a different app!

We did use Explain Everything to learn about adjectives and articles!  They created a slide for each type of adjective (what kind, how many, etc...).  They recorded examples of the different types of adjectives and used this to help them on their assignment.  As they were creating and recording, there were so many questions that started with, "Can we do this? and Can we do that? etc..." For so long kids have been told what way their paper needs to be facing, how to color, what materials to use, etc... now they are able to choose how they show what they know and what they have learned and it has sparked some excitement and ownership among my students! 

My students are currently doing a Blogging Challenge and after reading my students' most recent Kidblog posts, I noticed that many of my kids are enjoying the app, Garageband.  I am excited to see how I can take a favorite app of theirs and intertwine it with our curriculum.  Any and all ideas are welcome!

Over the past three days, I have taken some moments to sit back and just watch the kids in my room work.  When they get out of their seats or walk around the room, they aren't off task and messing around, they are showing a friend their work or asking a question about what they are working on.  They are engaged the entire time!  Very amazing to watch!  I am enjoying the atmosphere that our new learning tools are creating in my classroom!

Monday, January 27, 2014

First FULL iPad Day!

As I tried to map out how I wanted to start implementing the iPads, I thought it would be easiest to start with one-two subject areas and then focus on one work flow app.  This week my area of focus is Math and Reading and we are becoming experts with the app Explain Everything.  

As I reflect upon my first day, I thought it would be fun to start with my successes and end with my struggles and/or "lightbulb" iPad moments!

Successes with the iPads and Learning:

Explain Everything

Math (Fractions): Today we used Explain Everything to explain and show how to compare fractions with unlike denominators.  They recorded their work and shared with a partner.   I like how I can hear the students explain how they solve each problem.  It helps me know who needs to be challenged and who needs extra support.  Then we used the Reflector app to showcase students' work.  This was a great way for students to teach the class as well as take ownership of the work they had worked hard to create.  

Reading (Vocabulary):

Students are using the Explain Everything app to create vocabulary journals!  They will use the vocabulary word, find the definition, create a meaningful sentence, and add a picture to help explain each vocabulary word.  Then they will record their voices explaining all of the vocabulary words.  A partner will then listen to the Explain Everything vocabulary journal they created. 


I figured out how to download educational apps on my students' iPads today!  I added Spelling City, Doceri, Super 7, 5 Dice, Penguin Math, and Virtual Manipulatives.  I am excited to see what other educational work flow apps and educational apps I can find to support my students' learning!

"Lightbulb" iPad Moments Today

 We encountered some difficulties today, but with the help of my 19 teachers, we were able to move forward and learn from the difficulties we encountered!  I am so thankful that I have 19 students that are willing to come to the rescue when we encounter difficulties!

One issue we came across was using the reflector app.  In order for students to be able to showcase their work through the use of the reflector app, ALL teacher devices must be on the STUDENT NETWORK!  It was actually pretty easy to go back and forth (thought this would be difficult and time consuming).  Crazy how something so simple can cause a moment of chaos!  Other than that moment, today went pretty good.

Favorite iPad Moments:
 Throughout the entire day, students were helping each other by answering questions and showing each other the ins and outs of Explain Everything.  As I looked around the room, I was amazed as to how much kindness I saw.  So many students becoming teachers and finding new things within the Explain Everything app to teach the class!  I am loving every minute of watching my students teach and have patience for one another as we continue our journey with the iPads.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

20 Teachers, 20 Students

For weeks I have talked to my students about how we are all going to be teachers and students in the classroom.  We all made the promise to each other that we would be kind and patient as we dive into this new iPad learning adventure.  There were so many amazing moments in my classroom today.  I watched students become teachers, show compassion, and patience towards one another.  It was so amazing!  I know iPads will change the way I teach and how
my students' learn in relation to the curriculum, but they will be learning about how to be good citizens in and outside of the classroom.

iTunes Course and Notability-Reading & Guided Reading

Today we explored iTunes University!  I shared our first course that Mrs. Geldes, Mrs. Smeby, Miss Watson, and myself collaborated on.  As the kids worked through the course, I met with Guided Reading groups.

Currently, we have been using composition notebooks to ask questions, write down words they may or may not understand, predict, summarize, etc...  I really wanted to utilize the iPads during Guided Reading, because there have been many times that the kids have questions about what we are reading (about words, places, or items etc...).  I usually pull those up on my computer and we explore further.  I of course do most of the work, because it is my computer BUT I want the students to take control and ownership of their learning.  Now they will have the opportunity to further explore words, items, places etc... in their books at their fingertips!  What a great way to help the students make connections with the books they are reading and the REAL WORLD!  We are bringing their books to life!

In addition to using the iPad to make connections with the real world, I also decided to try the app Notability.  Each kid created a tab with the title of their book.  This is going to replace their composition notebook they were using.  They can type questions, words or phrases they have questions about or find interesting, and much more!  I was also able to complete running records and actually record each kid read! I really like how Notability automatically keeps track of the date, so you know when you have completed a running record for each kiddo!  I uploaded my lesson plans from my Drive and now can keep them organized within each group's tab.   I am sure there is much more we will be able to do with Notability during Guided Reading!

As the day came to a close, I couldn't help but feeling so proud of my students.  They were teachers and students today, as was I.  We all become a team and worked through the successes and failures of the day!  What an amazing first step as we start this new iPad journey!

Why do we have to wait ANOTHER week?

As I geared up for a week of introducing the iPads over our 3 day break, I didn't realize that I was going to be sick for most of it!  I finally made it back to school Friday and the kids were ecstatic!  Yes of course they missed me, but more importantly they knew the iPads would be there.  To their surprise, they weren't there and when I said I wasn't sure if they were ready, they were pretty disappointed.  What they didn't know is that Coach Cat and I were planning to surprise them after specials.

As Brent came to my room he told me that the kids saw him with the iPad box, but he didn't say a word to them.  As I went to get them from specials, Brent left my room with the iPads.  The kids were so excited, but when I told them the box was actually for another class they weren't too happy.  Then to add more unhappiness I had said they weren't going to be ready for another WEEK! Thankfully this wasn't the truth, because it would have been a pretty miserable Friday in my classroom.  They were pretty bummed and upset!

Shortly after we arrived in my room, I had them go about their normal routine and then Brent popped in with...THE BOX!  The kids screamed, jumped and hugged!  Yes it was pretty funny to play a little joke on the kids and they were such troopers about it all!

Coach Cat took over and taught the kids the "ins and outs" of the iPads!  It was awesome!  I learned right along with them!  I thought I knew most of the "ins and outs" of the iPads, but that wasn't really the case! The kids learned about various settings, copy and pasting, changing the background, how to app smash, swiping between apps, searching for apps, how to save and take pictures, expectations, and much more.  One of my favorite moments was watching the kids become teachers and how kind and patient they were in helping others figure out the iPads.  So many great moments in my classroom today!

Don't Stop Believin'...

Ready or NOT...

As I took the AFT training in the summer of 2013, my hopes were set high as I hoped I would be receiving a set of iPads shortly after the school year started.  I applied for a set of iPads towards the end of summer in hopes that I would be given the privilege of a classroom set in the Fall of 2013.  Unfortunately that wasn't the case.  Utter disappointment BUT I believe it happened for a reason just wasn't able to see that at the time.

Moving Forward...

Even though I was disappointed and feeling like I wouldn't be given the opportunity to have a set of iPads, I continued to learn from Sharae, various educators I follow on Twitter, as well as Google + Communities that I am a part of.  All of these resources and educators helped me grow and figure out new ways to implement my iPad and technology into the classroom.   


As time continued to pass, my perspective changed as to what my vision for the iPads in my classroom was going to be.  I was surprised as to how much I had grown and educated myself in such a short amount of time.  Then the email announcing another round of applications arrived in my inbox.  I was ready to apply with an entirely different view on iPads and education.  

Fingers Crossed...

As I filled out the application, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I laid out my ideas and vision as to how the iPads would be utilized in my classroom to enhance my students' education.  My poor husband had to edit about a 1,000 times, but I wanted to be sure that everything was in place and ready to go!  After about two weeks of spending approximately 30 mins to an hour each night on the application, I finally clicked submit. 


Days went by and then we were notified of the day that the decisions would be made about who would be receiving the iPads.  I remember this day very well because the Huskers were playing the Hawkeyes  that weekend and there was a bit of an rivalry between some teachers at my school.  I kept myself away from the computer all day, because I couldn't face the disappointing email once again.  A week or couple of weeks (can't really remember it's all a blur!) later I received the email that said, CONGRATULATIONS!  

Don't Stop Believin'....

All of my efforts in dedicating my time to participate in the AFT training, applying not only once, but twice had paid off!  In order to grow, I must experience failure, continue to learn, explore, ask questions and  be open to change.  Most importantly, I didn't stop believing that I was someone that worked hard and was ready to implement a set of iPads into my classroom.  I know that my efforts are going to take my students' learning to places they have never been before!  iPads will forever change the way I teach and the way my students learn.