Friday, September 25, 2015

Global Read Aloud 2015!

Global Read Aloud 2015 is almost here!  The official kick off is October 5th, so there is still plenty of time to register and join in the fun.  This is an amazing project for teaching your kids that they live in a connected world.  The goal of this project is to join classrooms across the globe through the shared reading of a book.  The book choices for this year are shown above, and if you click the image you can visit the Global Read Aloud site with all kinds of info.

Participating in GRA with my kindergarten class was awesome and opened up a whole new world of collaboration and tech integration for my classroom!  I learned how to use Edmodo, Skype, Twitter, Kidblog to connect with other educators and classrooms.  My students LOVED Skyping (is that a word?!) with other classes and sharing what we loved about the books from the GRA author study. We continued these connections long after the GRA was over, learning about what kindergartners do in other parts of our country.  So.  Stinking.  Cool!  I loved gathering awesome learning ideas from other educators that were connected to these books we were reading, and having examples to share with my students.  I cannot say enough about this project and how grateful I am that my friend Desiree Caskey suggested I give it a try!  One of the things I will miss about being in the classroom this fall is that I won't be able to participate in GRA 2015!

So ... it's up to you!  Let's go, Billings!  Connect with other classes in the district, the state or the country by reading stories from this year's author study of Amy Krouse Rosenthal (these books look awesome for primary) starting with Chopsticks!  If you teach older kids, you can click here to see the 2015 books for the age group you teach.

You can find lots of information on the GRA site, but you can also follow its creator Pernille Ripp on Twitter @pernilleripp and Tweet to the hashtag #GRA15.  Or email me!  Yay!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Cool Apps to Check out Today!

Indian Education for All is a strong component of our curriculum in Montana, and we as teachers are always searching for resources to integrate this into our teaching.  In Mrs. Grimstad's kindergarten yesterday, I learned about this cool app:
Wonderful way to provide interactive, engaging learning of the Crow culture into your classroom. Thank you to Mrs. Grimstad for sharing!

Also, in the Free App Friday email I receive, I noticed a series of phonics apps that are free for a short time.  I have had many teachers ask me about reading apps with stories for children.  This one is free and has many great features for emerging readers.
If you click the image above to visit the iTunes preview page, you will notice a link in the righthand corner that says "View more by this developer."  
There are several other "apps gone free" that focus on sight words, word building and reading skills. Check them out!  And if you haven't already, CLICK HERE to visit the Smart Apps for Kids page and subscribe to their awesome list.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kidblog in 1st grade

Mr. Anderson's first graders are off to a great start using Kidblog as a digital portfolio of their work. We introduced Kidblog whole group (this can be done using iPads, Chromebooks or Macbooks) and he has since introduced Kidblog into literacy centers.  Students work on writing (creating a story, posting reflections after a Lead 21 differentiated group lesson, etc) and post to Kidblog at one of his iPad centers.  At another iPad center, they will engage in word work using apps like Writing Wizard, Word Wizard, Sight Word Ninja and then take screenshots of their work and post to Kidblog.  This will build their digital portfolio, which can then be shared with parents, as well as classroom connections (other classes using Kidblog).  It also creates a really helpful portfolio of student work that Mr. Anderson will be able to use as he is analyzing student progress and growth.

Yay, Kidblog!  Great job, Mr. Golden Apple and your amazing Golden Firsties!  :)

Here are a couple of examples from his students:

There is a previous post on my blog about Getting Started with Kidblog, if you're interested.  You can also check the Kidblog website resources for some great tutorials.  You can also invite me in to help you get started - I love using this tool and I am happy to help classrooms incorporate it into their classrooms.  It is also nice having an extra person in the room the first couple of times you are walking through this process with your students!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Feltboard in Ms. Oringer's 1st grade & Padlet in Mrs. Scheafer's 2nd grade

Loved spending time in Ms. Oringer's classroom today, where we discussed iPad expectations with her 1st graders and then gave them time to use the Feltboard app.  This was an opportunity for her students to spend time getting to know how to navigate the app, with the task of making a picture of themselves and using the letters to write their names.  Ms. Oringer's kids worked so hard and stayed on task for this lesson.  I was impressed!

Feltboard has a lot of cool features that teachers can utilize for a variety of literacy, math, social studies and science lessons.  I can't wait to post more ideas for you to see!

I also loved spending time in Mrs. Scheafer's 2nd grade, helping them use the tool Padlet to record nouns.  These kids were awesome, too!  Seriously, I am so lucky to get to meet so many amazing kids and teachers every day!

Padlet is a tool that can be used on computers or tablets, and it is a big collaborative space, or wall where students can contribute their ideas.  In Mrs. Scheafer's room, we started a new Padlet for the nouns and gave students a QR code to scan with their iPads.  The QR code took them into the Padlet, where they had to tap the screen and add their name, their noun, and a picture of their noun.  

They worked really hard, learning how to allow camera permissions and work around problems when tech doesn't work quite the way it should.  We said what Pete the Cat says: "It's all good!"  This was a great project that Mrs. Scheafer thought of and I was happy to help her with it!  We also brainstormed an idea to use Popplet for a similar activity: have students make a popple for each category of nouns (person, place or thing) and then have them add examples to each of these categories.  

They could add drawings or pictures to each of these nouns, as well.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Constitution Day is September 17th!

A wonderful 2nd grade teacher asked if I knew of any fun ways to integrate technology into Constitution Day learning.  I had fun brainstorming a few ideas for her, and I thought I would share them with you all.

There is a good, short video on Time for Kids that you could show your students for some background knowledge.  

I really like this idea:

How cute is that?  It would be great if you had a copy of the book We The Kids by David Catrow. It would be fun to start this as a collaborative document, using a tool like Padlet.  Have each student contribute their idea of what it means to be a good citizen.  Then transfer their ideas to paper and have each student sign the "Class Constitution".  So cute!

I also found this website with some good resources.  I doubt it will work from their iPads, but it could be fun to share bits of it whole group.  Lots of information.  If students can work independently from MacBooks or ChromeBooks, they could read the information and take the accompanying quizzes.

It would also be cute to have them do some kind of art project (maybe make a flag like this one):

This is simply made from cutting pieces of construction paper and gluing to a white piece of construction paper, then adding white fingerprint "stars".  ​You could then have students take a picture of the flag with an iPad (or a picture of each of them holding their flags), and upload into an app like Skitch , Pic Collage or Educreations - anywhere they could add text to their picture and label it or write what they think a good citizen is.

If you're working from a Chromebook or MacBook (this next idea needs Flash so it won't work on iPads), it would be fun to use the Read, Write, Think Theme Poem creator and have them use the flag outline to create a poem about citizenship or patriotism.
I hope these ideas are helpful, or inspire some other awesome Constitution Day or patriotic lessons. If you try anything in your class, please share with me so we can post examples and ideas on this blog for others to see!

Happy Teaching and Tech-ing!  

Great Post Featuring Digital Citizenship Resources

I found this post on the blog Comfortably 2.0, and it lists several fun resources for teaching digital citizenship to your students.  The tools listed include books, short videos and websites.

If you search the other blog posts, you'll also see a post Mr. Badura wrote about talking with students, not at students when you have a conversation about digital citizenship.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

iPad Rules Posters

A lot of teachers have been asking about setting classroom expectations for iPad use in the classroom. I used this cute poster from Heidi Songs in my kindergarten classroom.  Click the image below to read her post and to find the FREE download of this poster.

I also just found these and they are FREE on Tpt.  Absolutely adorable and they cover many useful expectations.

I always began by discussing the expectations with my kindergartners, and then working together to create a set of iPad Learning Community Guidelines.  I love Ms. Zigmond's idea of collaborating and recording these ideas on a Popplet!  Click the image below to read her post on beginning the school year with iPads.

Don't hesitate to start allowing your kids to learn and create in your classroom using iPads because you're nervous about getting started!  Use one of these FREE tools or get in touch with me and I will help you get started.  Let's make some #happyclassrooms!

Happy, Sad & Silly with Pic Collage & Flipagram

Ms. Conrad just learned how to make a classroom blog, and she is off to a great start.  Her students are doing so many fun things in first grade, and I love having a peek into her classroom through her blog.

I also loved this idea she had, to discuss moods and feelings using Pic Collage.  Pic Collage is a free app for iPad or iPhone, where students can add text to photos and make fun collages.  There are so many great ways to use Pic Collage in the classroom, but I love how she utilized it for this project. She shared the students' collages using another free app called Flipagram.  Flipagram allowed her to make the Pic Collages into a slideshow that she could share on her blog.  She said using both of these tools let her make something quick and easy and share without even needing a computer!  Awesome!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Super Centers with iPads - 3 night workshop

The first session of Super iPad Centers is full - click the image to sign up for Session 2 October 21, 28th and November 4th from 3:00-4:00pm. OPI renewal units available.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gimme a Brain Break!

Gimme a break … A BRAIN break!  Research shows that taking brain breaks throughout the day facilitates student engagement and learning.  There is a wonderful article on this blog explaining brain breaks and why they are effective.  One of my favorite ways to incorporate brain breaks into my kindergarten classroom was using GoNoodle!  


GoNoodle has tons of FREE activities to help kids focus - you can choose from calming, energizing, interactive games, core aligned activities and more depending on your class needs.  Your students pick a “champ” and then earn your class champ points every time they participate.  They love this!  Here is our class’ champ, Flappy Tuckler.

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This blog post has tons of ideas on how to incorporate GoNoodle into your classroom.  I also love these 5 quick ideas to start reinvigorating your students and squeezing in a few minutes of brain breaks throughout your day.

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GoNoodle supports teachers with awesome resources - check out all of these free, fun printables to get your classroom GoNoodle-ified!  Ready to check it out yet?  If so, visit this link and start GoNoodling!


If you’ve never heard of ClassDojo … then you are in for a treat!  ClassDojo is an awesome classroom management/communication tool and it’s FREE!  ClassDojo allows you to easily engage students by providing immediate feedback and to keep parents in the loop.  It is super fun and can be customized to meet your classroom’s needs.

To find out more about ClassDojo, click the image below to watch a short intro video.  After watching the video, visit and you can quickly and easily set up your teacher account.

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ClassDojo supports teachers by providing tools, tips and advice from other teachers on their blog.  Check out their Teacher Resources page to download a teacher info sheet, or to read about ways other teachers are using ClassDojo in their classrooms.

Here are teachers’ top tips for using ClassDojo: (click the image to download the document)
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The parents in my kindergarten class LOVED being connected to their students and our classroom through ClassDojo.  It is a quick, easy and fun tool.  Give it a try!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Scanning Safely with QR Codes

If you want to incorporate QR codes into your classroom to scan videos or songs from YouTube, there are some ways to do this more safely - without exposing your students to unwanted ads and additional videos.

One way to do this is to pay for a QR code scanner.  There are several good free scanners, but they include ads.  If you invest in a scanner like the Scan app, which is $1.99, your kids can use it ad-free.

If you are directing your students to a video on YouTube, whether it be a song, a reading of a story, or a short video clip, you can copy the link to the YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare.TV. You will then create your QR code using the SafeShare.TV link that you generated.  This will enable your students to view only the video you want them to watch, without ads, and without additional videos.  Yay!

Remember that even if you've posted onto SafeShare.TV, if the video isn't on the district's playlist, you may need to go through the Barracuda filter in order for your students to view the video.  This is a good habit to get into in the mornings, so you aren't interrupted by kids needing help getting through the filter during reading or math groups. :)

Getting Started with Kidblog

One of my favorite digital tools is Kidblog!  I think a piece that we often miss when we are using technology to learn and create is that we also want to SHARE!  Kidblog provides a wonderful platform for developing a digital portfolio of student work, that is accessible by you, classmates, parents and any other connections you make (such as with other classes).

Kidblog is free for 30 days, and after that requires a subscription.  A teacher subscription is $29 per year, but there are also administrator pro licenses per school, if your school might be interested in saving money through a bulk purchase (minimum of 100 students at $2 each).

To sign up for your Kidblog account, go to and under "Teachers" click "sign up for free".  From here you can create your account, then you will click "Create New Class" from your dashboard.  This is where you decide on your class name and URL (don't make it too long, in case you ever have to type it in)!

To add students to your class, you will click "Users" when you are in your dashboard.

If you teach older students, you can click "Join Codes" and generate codes for your students to create their own accounts.  However, if you teach younger students, it may be easier to click "Create Students" and add your students yourself.  You can change avatars and add student pictures, if you'd like.  I often have my students take selfies using their iPads, and they add this as their avatar.  This is our first task as we get to know how to use Kidblog.

Another area you will want to check out is your privacy settings.

When students publish their posts, they will be asked which audience you would like them to publish to.  Choosing "Connections" allows all connected people, including classmates and you, the teacher, to view their posts.  If you'd like to change any of these settings, you can do so in the privacy area of your dashboard.

The last thing you may want to do as you get started, is connect parents to student accounts.  Parents need to be invited directly from the student account - so if you have older students, they can click "Invite Parents" from their dashboard, and enter their parents' email address(es).  For younger students, I recommend logging in as each child and entering the parent email address(es) yourself. This generates an email to their parent(s) with a link and instructions to set up the account.  They will be able to see their child's digital portfolio.  So cool!

I created this "how to" manual to guide your students through publishing on Kidblog.  If you'd like to download a copy, click here: Kidblog How to Manual.  Kidblog also has some wonderful tutorials on their site.  You can view those by clicking here.

Happy Kidblogging!  Please contact me with questions.  I have also found that Tweeting to @KidBlogDotOrg works great and they respond very quickly with support questions.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Update to Kidblog "app"

If you've been using Kidblog on your mobile device (like I have) you should know that they have updated it!  There is no longer an app from the app store.  They have created a new platform that works from any device.  You should remove the old app from your device and follow these instructions from the Kidblog support site to make Kidblog easy for your students to find on their devices.

If you haven't used Kidblog before and you're interested in learning, please let me know!  I absolutely LOVE this tool for sharing student ideas and work.  You can visit my kindergartners' page from last year, if you'd like to see examples.  Login as "Guest" with the password: abc.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Embed a YouTube Video onto Your Blog

A lot of times we would learn a fun new educational song in class that the students loved and wanted to sing and share with their families at home.  I found that it was simple to add the video to our class blog so the kids could find it at home.  Here's how to do it:

Find the video on YouTube.  Below where the video is playing, click the "share" icon.

Next, click "embed" and copy the html code.

On your blog, open the page or post where you'd like the embed the video, and paste the code.  I have found (on Blogger, anyway) that even if you are still in "Compose" and not "HTML" mode (check the upperleft hand corner of your page while posting), it still converts to the embedded video.  Next click "publish".  You should be good to go!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Getting iPad Centers Started with Felt Board app

I am in love with the Felt Board app!  It is such a versatile tool for illustrating and creating stories, building words, and showing math equations.

Here are some examples of how we used the Felt Board app in kindergarten.  After students created a project in Felt Board, they would save it to their camera roll and post on their Kidblog or put into a Book Creator book.  That way, I could see their work and we could share it with their parents and other classes.

(My favorite thing was iPads.)

Today, I visited Mr. Anderson's 1st grade classroom and introduced the Felt Board app whole group. Using Reflector, I could show the students the app and how to navigate it.  I began by giving them some time to play. I wanted them to figure out the features of the app, how to add, delete, resize, etc, before giving them a task.

After they had some time to play and make pictures, I chose a few to share.  I then showed them how they could use the app to build words.  We used the background shown above and the letter pieces to build words from the -at family.  Once they finished this, they could build other word family words as instructed by the teacher.  After each task, they took a picture of their work and saved to their camera rolls.  The next step will be teaching them to post these to their Kidblogs!

When the students go to Mr. Anderson's iPad center, they will see Felt Board as a choice with some specific learning tasks.  Students will be instructed to build words, illustrate a story, retell a story, etc, depending on Mr. Anderson's learning objective(s).  Because they will learn how to post their work on Kidblog, he will be able to check their learning later, to see how they did and make sure they stayed on task.

In my iPad center, I put app icons on magnets and place them onto a magnetic board.  This allowed me to easily move them around, depending on what I wanted the students to do that day.  I could also add specific tasks, for example, if they were working on the app Letter School, I would write which letters I wanted them to practice on the whiteboard beside the magnet.  If you want a copy of the app icons that I used in my kindergarten class, click here.  I printed them on cardstock, laminated and stuck to a small adhesive magnet to the back so I could easily move them around on my whiteboard.