Tag Archives: students

To Friend or Not to Friend

6 Apr

“To friend or not to friend, that is the question.”  Shakespeare?  Ok, so I took a little liberty with Shakespeare’s quote. 

What am I even talking about?  Well Facebook of course!  I recently read an older post on One crazy teacher to another’s blog a post on friending your students on Facebook.  This is a dilemma to be sure!  I teach 5th grade which means my students are technically not old enough to have a Facebook account, but they do.  Should I friend them?

I am friends with several students from years past- I love reading about their struggles and triumphs in life as the approach the end of their K-12 education.  It is nice reliving the feelings of anxiety about prom or the big game (or test).

I am not concerned with my content being inappropriate for my students, my 10 yr old daughter is my “friend” so that keeps me in check!  I honestly don’t know that I have a sound rationale for not friending the few students who have asked.

Facebook would give me insight to their lives that I would not otherwise have.  Many people will post things on Facebook that they would never say in person- that would hold true for my students as well.

I have not yet decided for sure whether I will friend current students.  I am leaning more in that direction, they could always use and ally and role model in the cyber world, just as I am in their school world.

I would love to hear comments on this topic.  Have you friended students?  Why or why not?


Flip Cameras

5 Jan

Flip Cameras are a new favorite tool of mine!  I have two flip cameras in my classroom and then our school has an additional 12.  I have had several teachers ask “how can we use these in class?”  Usually with comments of how difficult of a task this would be.  First, these cameras are INCREDIBLY easy to use!  It took all of 5 minutes to explain the basics of how to record.  I did spend some time talking about facing the camera, not shaking/moving it, and speaking clearly, but these are the same things we teach kids for a live presentation.   As for ideas on how to use it in a lesson…here are a couple straight from my classroom.

One area my students struggle with is understanding why text features are so important, and why they shouldn’t just skip over them as they read.  I broke my class of 20 into 5 groups.  Each group was handed a text feature (captions, glossary, charts/graphs, maps, index).  Each group had to create a short (about 30 second) video telling people what the text feature is and why it is so important.  I won’t bore you with all 5 videos, but here is one to give you an idea of the end product.

Other ideas:

Fluency Practice– My students LOVED reading and watching themselves read.  Especially when reading dialogue, students would try again and again to make things “sound right”.  I have never seen them want to read the same thing so many times.  I did this with a group of low readers and the results were astounding!

Brainstorming– I have a couple of students who have a very difficult time writing.  They can’t seem to get what is in their head down to the paper.  Allowing them to have a friend record their explanations and then play those back and write what they said helps tremendously.  Could they do this to a scribe?  Sure, but the addition of another student asking for clarification, or giving suggestions has helped the students go beyond what they thought they could do.

Commercials– A great way to make a commercial. We shoot, load, and project them onto the smartboard for INSTANT gratification.  By recording them, they can show these off later to parents.

How have you used flip cameras in your classroom?


30 Aug

I recieved a shocking email a week ago.  It was an agency representing the Illinois State Board of Education.  They were putting together a training course for Illinois teachers on gifted students.  They were requesting the use of my google application video in their curriculum.

When I made the video, I had never put together a video before, at least nothing other than what I could make using Photostory, Powerpoint, or a little with Movie Maker.  When I read about the aplication process, I was completely overwhelmed.  I really didn’t think I could make anything that would “wow” google enough to include me in their teacher academy.  In fact, I wasn’t really even sure how to go about making a video.

I did what any 21st century person would- I googled it!  I searched for other application videos and used them as inspiration.  I really thought about what being a 21st century learner meant.  The ideas came forth quickly and I began working on the project.  I had to learn to use pinnacle (the only software our school had, and not an easy program to learn) and worked with students to put it together.  The end result was exactly what I had envisioned, and I was pleased.

I had no idea that over 7,00 people would view the video on youtube, nor did I forsee a time when someone would let me know they saw someone present at a conference and my video was shown.   Never in a million years did I imagine that anyone would want to use it in their curriculum, but each of those things happened.

To me this truly demonstrates the power of networking, of the internet, of web 2.0.  Someone without a “name” for herself can express her views and other people will listen; Other people will share a similar view.  The power in that is immense.

How does this translate to the classroom?  If every student could see that their opinions, thoughts, and beliefs do matter to someone, think of how truly motivating that would be.  Suddenly someone appreciates them in a way they hadn’t yet experienced.

Two weeks ago, I began a new year teaching 5th grade.  I plan to incorporate many opportunities for my students to express themselves, and to share their learning, their ideas, and their hopes for the future with someone outside the walls of our school.  I hope they find that experience as uplifting and motivating as I have.

Wordle and Animoto in the Classroom

25 Jun

Last month a coworker asked if I would be a guest presenter at her daughter’s school.  Each child in this 3rd grade classroom had the opportunity to invite a guest.  I accepted the invitation, met with her daughter and we planned a presentation of animoto and wordle.  Two of my favorite tools.

We started with animoto.  Due to CIPA I couldn’t allow this group of students to create their own animoto videos, so we decided to do a class video.  I allowed my coworker’s daughter to choose the topic.  She chose rain forests.  I pulled up my schools.clipart.com account and typed rain forest into the search engine.  The students then took turns selecting images from the hundreds available.  I saved those images and we imported them into Animoto.   The video was created while the students worked on their next project- Wordle.

Our next project was wordle.  I have posted on wordle more than once.  It is one of my favorite tools to use with students.  They love using it, it is very simple and quick to explain, and they can customize to their hearts content.  Since they were down to their last few days of school, I gave them the topic of summer.  They creations they made were wonderful.  For 30 minutes, you could have heard a pin drop.

This is the one thing I love about technology.  Once the kids get into it, they become completely engaged.  I would love to hear how you have used either (or both) of these tools in your classroom.

Google Gab- Doodle 4 Google

3 Feb


Google has announce its latest Doodle 4 Google.  Google frequently replaces its typical logo with a creative one.  They do this for holidays and other special days.  I’m sure most of you have seen some of them.  Doodle for Google allows students to design their own Google logo and have it published.  Th


ey can also win some great prizes including a $15000 scholarship (yes, 3 zeroes). They also have prizes for school districts in the way of technology grants.

This years theme is “What I Wish for the World.”   How appropriate given the dynamics in our country.

Please head over to the Doodle 4 Google page to find out more!

All Students Meme

1 Dec

I wasn’t tagged for this meme, but I wanted to respond to it and tag a few people as I feel the question is well worth asking.  Marth Thornburgh of Opening Doors to Digital Learning was asked the question “Do you believe all students can meet standards?”  Please read about her response on her blog. The “All Students Meme” came about as a result.

1. Share three things that you believe about all students.
2. Reflect on your thoughts in your blog. (If you do not have a blog, you can share your ideas in a comment from this post.)
3. Be sure to link to this post and to where you were first tagged.
4. Tag your response with AllStudentsMeme
5. Invite others to join the conversation by tagging them to be a part of the meme.

I tag fellow GCTs:

Erica Hartman

Christine Archer

Vicki Davis

Cindy Lane

Kevin Jarrett

The three things I believe about every student:

1.  All students can learn.

Maybe not on the same day or in the same way, but they can all learn.  It is our job to make the learning a valuable and relevant experience in their eyes.  To meet them where they are and help them to where they could be.

2.  Each child is precious and is someone’s whole world.

Just as my children are my whole world, so is every other child.  It is our job to remember this and to treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

3.  Each child has their own baggage.

I begin every day with my own set of baggage.  Over the course of many years, I have learned to drop the baggage at the door.  Our students may or may not have learned this.  We need to be sensitive to their baggage while we teach them, some of them carry the weight of the world on their shoulders every minute of the day.  How can we expect them to “drop it at the door” when in reality their are days we each carry every one of our bags with us?

Google Gab- Google Forms

11 Nov


Google Gab has been MIA lately, as have I from my blog.   No real excuse for that, other than I needed to spend some time with my family and haven’t been on the computer much at all outside of work- in fact, my GoogleReader inbox is shamefully full!

I wanted to post about a project ou school’s tech committee put together last week.  Back in August our committee decided that we would look into sponsoring an election day at our school.  We put together a website that was full of election resources for kids, and we coordinated a day for them to all vote in the Presidential Election.   We had looked into a couple of ways to have them vote by computer, including surveymonkey.com and using a “group” site like Yahoo Groups or Google Groups.  There were pros and cons to each.  After asking the Google Certified Teacher Forum, I proposed the idea that Google Forms might be just what we needed.

voteWe set up the ballot page to ask about the Presidential candidates, our local school bond issue, favorite subject, and favorite special’s class.  We set up part of our library with voting stations (laptops surrounded by privacy shields) and patriotic decorations.  Each class came down for a 15 minute time frame and each student had a chance to vote.  Then they received their “I Voted Electronically” sticker and headed back to class.

Last year I had used surveymonkey to have some grade levels vote on a name for a permanent art display they had made.  What I didn’t realize when I began the survey, was that I would have to go in and delete cookies after each child voted.  Talk about a pain!!  This worked so much easier.

I created the form using Google Docs.  Creating it was very straightforward.  Go to Google Docs and sign in using your google account information.  Then click new and form.  From there you simply fill in the boxes with your information.  Once complete you click “email this form”.  I always send it only to myself and then forward it on to whoever using outlook so that I don’t have to type in each email address.

At this point we could have saved the hyper link as the home page on the laptops and called it good, but we had the problem of reading.  We wanted all of our students to be able to vote, including the primary students who may not have been fluent enough to read the questions.  Google Docs does have drawbacks- I couldn’t insert the picture directly onto the form, but I did come up with a way to work around this.  After I finished creating the form, I went to the top to “more actions” and selected to embed.  This allowed me to embed the form into our election website, where I could add pictures to the side. We made that page the home page on each laptop and then only had to click home after each user voted- no clearing cookies!

Google Forms also allowed me to see the election results live, and created graphs that we then shared with teachers to use in their math lessons.  Using Google Forms was the best choice for our situation.

A couple of questions I have heard asked about using google forms:

Does each user have to have a google account?

  • No!  As long as you provide them the link, anyone (including students) are able to vote in the form.

Can I make a form with a rating scale?

  • Yes, the scale can have 3-10 choices.