Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekly TNT ~ Science, Math, Checkmate

I have always been an advocate of chess in the classroom.  The game teaches students to think critically, to problem-solve, to plan ahead, to process opponent thinking, to win, and to lose.  We kept chess-boards up year-round in the classroom and used tournament play as indoor recess during bad weather.  Beginning on the first day of school, all of my students were required to learn to play.  Years ago I found a book called Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving by Alexey W. Root.  The author made connections to curriculum in the core subject areas, and I loved the idea.  While I didn't love every activity, I used the ideas a spring board to create other lessons around the game.  Probability, data collections, graphing, fractions, decimals, percentages...get the idea?  The reason I bring this up today is because of a great share from Eric Curts - the game of chess via Google drawings.  Last week I shared a link to his site.  This happens to be one of many great things you will find there.  Make your own copy to play!

In searching for a chess quote to include with this post, I came across this poster.  What more could you say about the impact you leave on your students, and the world, as a teacher?

Are you using Google drawings in your classroom?  Share your ideas with us!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Weekly TNT ~ Visit Control Alt Archive for Great Tech Ideas!

This week I wanted to share an amazing resource with you for technology integration.  Eric Curts over at Control Alt Archive is always sharing great ideas, tech tools, templates, and webinars.  If you are not familiar with his site, it is definitely worth the visit!  Yesterday he shared Google Slide turkey templates for creative writing activities.  Ok, so I didn't do the creative writing, but I did use the slides to design my turkey...

You could easily have students create slides like these where they add the parts and have others use the slides to tell a story!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Flattening Your Classroom ~ Virtual Field Trips

I am always on the lookout for tools you can use in your classroom.  I look for quality, content-relevant tools and sites that don't require excessive learning curves for teachers.  I know that curve varies for each of us, but I try to think about the time you would need to invest to get the technology smoothly integrated into your classroom. 

In the Connected Classrooms Workshop G+ Community, a recent share interested me.  The website is called Learn Around the World.  They offer both free and paid virtual field trips for K-5 classrooms.  The information does state teachers of older students can register for field trips, but you would not have a camera presence.  I am interested to see what the free trips have to offer.

I read through the information and will be "attending" a field trip to find out more.  If you decide to try out one of the free trips scheduled in November, please share with us the results.  Check back for updates on these trips as we find out more.  Remember, there's power in collaboration!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

WriMo Wednesday ~ NaNoWriMo is Here!

Did you class hit the ground running today?  I hope so, but if you haven't committed to the challenge of NaNoWriMo, yet, it's not too late.  If you are new here and not familiar with National Novel Writing month, read my POST from earlier in the year.  I did a quick Twitter search this morning to take in the excitement of November 1st in the NaNo world.  I came across a great quote.

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they'll take you.”
― Beatrix Potter
Are your students feeling the excitement? Your students will rise to the expectations you set for them. We know that. Where's the expectation bar set in your classroom? What if your students aren't writing fiction? That's ok! Have them write a collective non-fiction book about whatever content you are covering. Let them design the graphics, the charts, photograph the images, interview the experts...get the idea?

There are many tools your students can use for writing. One of my favorites, aside from Google Slides, is Book Creator. I normally like to talk about free tools here because I spent many years spending my own money in the classroom, and I feel your pain. I thought Book Creator was worth the money for iPads, and now they offer a version for Chrome! The best part about it is that it's free for a 40 book library. You will find it HERE. I said all this to say, you can have your students write individual chapters, essays, how-tos, etc. Then you can combine those into one book using the Book Creator tools. Here's a quick screencast on where the "Combine Books" tool is located.

You will have to do some editing of the combined book, but give that job to your students, too! I do think the paid Chrome version is too expensive, so I would figure out the logistics of using the free version if I still had a classroom of students. I love the tools, and I hope Book Creator will realize the yearly subscription is pricey for teachers.

Share your classroom NaNo adventures in the comments below. The Cafe is full of teachers waiting to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Great Find ~

When a friend shared I knew a teacher had to create it.  I checked the info button on the site and found a teacher from the Netherlands, Laurens Koppers, developed the one-stop teacher tool that housed her favorite digiboard widgets for the classroom. 
The tool is free, and you do not need an account.
What does it include?

  • multiple languages
  • different backgrounds
  • a random name generator
  • a sound level monitor
  • a QR code for the page
  • a full screen drawing whiteboard
  • a small drawing palette
  • text box addition
  • a traffic light
  • a timer
  • a clock
  • work symbols

I think it is worth a look!  Do you have any free, online tools that our teachers need to see?  Leave us a comment below with the link.  There's power in collaboration!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

WriMo Wednesday ~ NaNoWriMo is Upon Us! Is Your Classroom Ready?

Are you excited?  How about your students?  Have you caught the NaNo bug, yet?  If not, read back through the last several Wednesday posts or click on NaNoWriMo in the Word Cloud over there in the right-hand column.  I hope you and your students are counting down the days to next Wednesday and the official kick-off.
Why am I so passionate about this?  Great question, and I think Chris Young voiced the thoughts I have rolling around in my head quite eloquently in his blog post - Packaging Content: Moving Past the 'What'.  
We have got to do a better job of creating an atmosphere where students want to learn.  If I may borrow from Dave Burgess... would your students be willing to pay to get into your classroom?  Do you create such intrigue around content and sound pedagogy that they just won't stay away?  If not, what are you doing about it?  These are all questions I asked myself in the classroom and continue to ask myself today, and I have to tell you I came up short a lot of the time!  I keep running the race, though.  We've got to... our students deserve it.  Learning must have purpose and meaning for them.  NaNoWriMo is just one tool we can use to get our students excited about writing and involved in learning.

So, are you brave enough to accept the NaNo challenge with your class?  Ask them if they are brave enough.  You might be surprised!

For those of you who already have your classroom set up on the Young Writer's Program, I wanted to make sure you know about the Teacher's Lounge where you can ask questions and get help from your peers.

A month of writing takes guts, fortitude, and a touch of craziness.  Now might be the perfect time to introduce Canva to your students if you have never used the graphic design app.  Have them make motivational posters for the classroom.  

(It's great for vocabulary posters, too.)  
Then when all the editing is done on their awesome novels/nonfiction books, they can use Canva to create the cover!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Weekly TNT ~ Lock an iPad into One App for Students

I am all about teaching students how to access and use technology in the classroom without me needing to drive, but there are often circumstances where we need to do some of the driving to help students get to their destinations.  Some examples include young students who have difficulties finding and using the correct apps, emerging readers who don't need to try to search or spell specific apps, students who need assistance in focusing on one app at a time, etc.  I am sure you can think of other times you wished you could lock your iPad into one app.

You can!  
This week's tutorial shows you how to use a setting under Accessibility that will allow you to drive!

What technology integration needs do you have?  I am always looking for new ideas for our Weekly TNT videos.  Left a comment below to suggest future videos.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

WriMo Wednesday ~ Get Your Classroom Ready for NaNoWriMo!

Almost Wednesday, anyway... I wanted to get these links out to you a day early in case you wanted to join the webcast on Friday.

We are almost ready for Blastoff!  This year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner, and I have some more great resources for you from the Young Writer's Program.  This Friday, October 20th, 2017, Newbery Award-winning author Jack Gantos is teaming up with NaNoWriMo to share his new writing guide, WRITING RADAR.

Scroll down the NaNo Resources page to RSVP for Jack's NaNo Prep Webcast and send in some questions your class has for him.  He might just answer them on air!

Would you like to hear more from Jack Gantos?

I hope you are building excitement in your classroom in preparation for NaNo Blastoff!  

Share what you're doing in the comments below.  If you're struggling with ideas, post that, too.  We are a teaching community, and we can lift each other with a helping hand!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Google 101 Quick Tip #3 ~ Add Images in Google Forms

We are back for another quick tip for our new Google users.  This tutorial will show you how to add images as answer choices in Google Forms!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WriMo Wednesday ~ Have a Write-in for NaNoWriMo!

I checked in with Vanessa Hartel, manager of the Young Adults Department for the Stephens Central Library in San Angelo. I am excited to pass on what she said about NaNoWriMo at the library!

The Teen Republic will be hosting “Wednesday Write-ins.” On these days, we’ll encourage our teens to work on NaNoWriMo projects, including writing, workshopping, proofing, reading etc. While we hope the kiddos will work on their project throughout the month (and they’d need to in order to meet that word count!), on these Wednesdays it’s our goal that the teens will come together, work on their projects, and share with their peers, to create a network of young writers. The Teen Republic is for patrons in grades 6-12, and homeschoolers age 11-18. We are located on the second floor of the library.

What kind of write-ins are you planning? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!

Still unsure what this looks like in your classroom? Check out 5 Tips for Educators Using NaNoWriMo in the Classroom,