Monday, September 28, 2015

Building your PLN with Twitter

This week's Monday Tech Madness session focuses on how to build your professional, or also known as personal, learning network (PLN) with Twitter! Our district is encouraging all schools and teachers to jump onto Twitter to share what is going on in classrooms around our district!

Besides sharing out ideas, activities, and resources, Twitter is a great place to find others sharing just like you! Educators are on Twitter sharing ideas, connecting with each and learning about new tools. Twitter chats are great opportunities to share and learn from others on topics that interest you! Don't forget to check out #FSUSD and #FSEdTech to see all the fabulous things happening in our district!

Click here to check out the presentation slides! 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Visit from KODABLE

If you are looking for a great resource to introduce and teach computer programming to your students, don't forget to check out Kodable! They are now across platforms, and work well on both iPads and ChromeBooks.

Our district started our adventure using Kodable with our KinderReady program during the summer of 2014. We extended the use of Kodable into all TK and Kindergarten classrooms at our seven title 1 schools last fall.

We have decided to continue using Kodable as a part of our district's curriculum options to support our teachers teach and students learn about computer programming through coding.

Why Kodable? Kodable helps introduce and teach foundation coding skills to students at an early age. Students program their Fuzz Friends through mazes by writing codes with arrows with the correct directions. Kodable has greatly expanded their curriculum and now offer great unplugged, or screen-free lesson resources related to computer programming with Kodable.

This morning, I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet the creator of KodableGrechen Huebner and Brie Gray! We invited them to come out to see Kodable at one of our schools and help us better understand all their new resources available to teachers! What a FUN morning it was!

Our Kindergarten students learned to program a human robot to walk across the room! After we programed, Brie Gray, students tested out our code to program students from their class. My favorite part of this activity was that a "high five" activated our code! This really helped foster a deeper understanding for our Kindergarten students. Students were able to connect their unplugged lesson to the purpose of using the arrows in Kodable to program their Fuzz Friends through the maze.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Coding Session TODAY!

This week's Monday Tech Madness professional development opportunity is a teaser session on's code studio curriculum.

Click Here to View Slides
Over the summer our district became an official K-5 affiliate! One of our Ed Tech Specialists attended an intensive training and brought back her knowledge to spread throughout our district! With our knowledge and my own personal experience teaching's code studio curriculum to my fifth graders, I created an introductory presentation that provides the basics of using their K-5 Curriculum in the classroom.

If you are new to's code studio curriculum, you will need to create your account first! I highly recommend creating your account by logging in with Google, if you teach in a GAFE district. Once you have a teacher account, you can create your class account for your students. You will need to add a new session for each account you teach. Depending your students, you have three different login types. With younger students, I recommend using a picture. Older students can use secret words or their email to login. Also, you will need to decide which course would be best for your students. Here is an overview of each course that is helpful in deciding where to you should begin! They also have a Course 4 in Beta and are expanding their curriculum for Middle School and High School students.

Course URL Address 

Students will need to access your course by signing in on your personalized URL address. For younger (and sometimes older students) this step could be challenging since the URL might look something like this:
QR Code links to Section Login

Here are a few steps that could hep make this simpler! Think about creating a QR code for students to scan to take them to their login, or have a buddy class come help your students bookmark the page for future or link the website to your teacher website for students to quickly find! Planning this important step will help make the delivery of introducing's code studio curriculum much easier for you and your students!    

Course Structure

Each course follows a similar design and has 20 stages, or lessons. Each stage is designed to take students about an hour and might contain an unplugged lesson or puzzles to complete online. The unplugged lessons are one of my favorite components of's code studio curriculum. These lessons introduce and reinforce key coding vocabulary and provide students a deeper understanding of concepts. 

Want to Learn More? 

If you are interested in learning more about's code studio curriculum, please click here to find a workshop near you

Monday, September 14, 2015

Shadow Puppet Edu? YES PLEASE!

Have you heard of Shadow Puppet Edu yet?? This App is FREE and has nothing to do with shadows or puppets or bunnies like the App's icon suggests! Do NOT let this App's name fool you! Students as young as FIVE can use Shadow Puppet Edu to create movies!

                          Simple as 1-2-3

Shadow Puppet Edu is a fabulous tool for creating videos from images and up to 30-second video clips. Simply take photos or video footage with your iPad's camera, or add content from other Apps into your camera role then access those items within Shadow Puppet Edu to create your movie. In addition, Shadow Puppet Edu has built content of maps, famous landmarks and more! Once you select your images and/or video clips, you can rearrange their order then click next to begin recording your video!

Once you tap the big green start button, it will pop up with a count down 3-2-1 then you will be recording! The bottom screen will display the recording time in red counter with a pause button.

While recording a "magic" wand will appear as an option on the lefthand side. This will allow you to select an icon that you can tap anywhere on the screen to display. You can also add text and music to your movie project. If you selected more than one item to add to your movie, then you will have arrows to transition to the next image or video clip.

Once you are finished or would like to preview your movie, click the green save! Next, you will see a prompt that will give you a few options, including previewing and continuing to record or start over, save and send your movie directly to Seesaw!

Here is my Monday Tech Madness presentation on Shadow Puppet Edu! This App can be used to help students create and demonstrate their learning! Students can create audiobooks, practice their reading fluency, explain their thinking, and reflect on their work! The possibilities are truly endless!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Online Field Trip to the San Diego Zoo

If you haven't heard about Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum yet, then you must stop reading this post and head over there immediately... then of course you should come back to finish reading this post! Common Sense Media is a gold mine of resources for all Educators, Parents, Families and Kids!

Common Sense Media truly has captured the art of sharing and talking about common sense issues that are at the heart of building strong digital citizenship skills in our students.

Going Places Safely Lesson 

In a previous blog post, Need Help Teaching Digital Citizenship? I mentioned that our awesome district has created a district-wide scope and sequence map that utilizes Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum for all students. We are in the beginning stages of implementing this plan! In a conversation I had with one of my Kindergarten teachers, I came up with an idea to develop a resource to help teachers teach their required lesson from Unit 1: Going Places Safely. Based on Common Sense Media's lesson plan, I created a Google Slides presentation with the intention teachers can glance through the slides, view the lesson plan, print any resources they would like to use and then seamlessly teach the lesson with minimal time spend prepping for the lesson.

Model Lesson 

Click her to view Slides

Since I developed this idea during a conversation with one of my teachers, she volunteered her class to test out the lesson. Last week I had the opportunity to teach this exact lesson in her classroom. I had a blast teaching this lesson with her students!!! When teaching a room filled with Kindergartners, you have to be prepared for anything, energetic, engaging and intentionally switch things up every few minutes to keep students focused on your lesson.

We began this lesson sitting on their carpet. I introduced our lesson and had students immediately thinking about trips they had taken with their families. We quickly had students turn to their partner. This classroom uses "Mac" and "Cheese" to assign roles when working with partners to pair-share their ideas. These students haven't even been in school for a full month yet, but they have already grasped the routine for pair sharing! Such an important and essential routine necessary to promote collaborative conversations in the classroom.

Next, we took our imaginary field trip! We had students stand up to act out our actions together. It went a little something like this, "Going on a field trip! Gotta put on our jackets. We have to put on our backpacks and walk to the bus. Once we get to the bus, we have to climb up the stairs. Once up the stairs, we have to walk to our seat. We have to sit down. This bus sure is bumpy. (Students pretended to be experiencing a bumpy ride). Phew! We finally made it! Gotta stand up, walk off the bus and down the stairs. Once down the stairs we have to wait inline for our ticket! Now that we have our ticket, what do we need to remember to keep us safe?? Once there, we had students sit back down to discuss important rules to keep us safe.

Since today, we were going to be taking an online field trip, we watched a movie about Jeremiah's online neighborhood. The students were so excited about Jeremiah's experiences on the computer. After watching the short video, we discussed what we saw in the video and reviewed Jeremiah's three rules for going online. Our Kindergarten students used the App, QR Code Reader by Scan to scan a QR Code that was linked to the San Diego Zoo's website. (Created with and Google Docs)

Even with the best preparations completed before a technology lesson, there is always a risk that you might run into a few glitches... And this lesson was no exception! Unfortunately when this App was pushed out to her classroom's iPads, the App did not load correctly. Once we discovered this issue, we quickly switched to an unplanned plan B! We announced that our bus BROKE down, and that while it is being fixed, they could go explore another App on their iPad, Starfall FREE!

After a few problem solving fixes on the computer, I was able to get the QR Code App working for most of her iPads. We switched students from Starfall FREE onto the QR Code App, where once the students scanned the code, they immediately arrived at their field trip destination: The San Diego Zoo!

Online field trips are FUN! After exploring around at the San Diego Zoo, students were instructed to push home, and flip to show us Apples! This is a classroom management strategy to get students to quickly switch from one activity to the next when using their iPads. Since these cases have a circular hole on the back that allows you to see the Apple logo on the back, teachers tend to transition students with the words, "flip and show me Apples" or with other cases or older students, you could say "flip and lock" when you need students to focus on you or transition to the next activity. We had students travel back to the carpet to end our lesson with a class discussion about their field trip!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Using Number Pieces with Seesaw

As a fifth grade teacher, I used to have my students use Number Pieces, an App by Clarity Innovations to create, visualize and model problems. They now have a web version for Number Pieces as well! Last week, I was asked by a teacher, if I thought Number Pieces could be used to demonstrate fact families in her second grade classroom...

Sample of One Student's Work

Of course it can! 

Number Pieces is an excellent App to have students manipulate pieces to create models to demonstrate their understanding of mathematical concepts!

So today, I helped introduce the App to her students for the first time. These students were amazing! We gave the students the task to create a model of a fact using Number Pieces for the fact family of their choice.

We introduced the App by quickly showing her students how to drag pieces on their screen to construct their model. Students then discovered one their own how to change the color of their pieces and add numbers to demonstrate their fact family! I am a strong believer that teaching students how to use a tool should be integrated into an activity. Students will explore, learn and master how to use a tool when they have a real purpose.

Once students had modeled their fact family, each student screen captured their model by holding down the home and lock buttons at the same time to take a picture. Next, students opened their Seesaw App to add their item from their camera roll. Students found their picture, added their voice and text to finish explaining their fact family. What a simple, but easy way for students to demonstrate their understanding of fact families!

Click here is one student's example of their fact family they submitted today into their journal on Seesaw!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Popcorn Letters were Popping!

A couple days ago, I had the opportunity to witness another fantastic letter activity during center time in a Kindergarten classroom. This teacher had prepared bags of "popcorn" filled with letters for her students. During the activity, students pulled out a popcorn letter, found the letter on their alphabet sheet and colored in the popcorn. The students were so excited to find "Letters" of popcorn! So much better than routine letter practice drills.

After viewing this activity, I turned to my good friend Google and Pinterest to search for this activity. Here is a link to Sommer's Lion Pride blog post where she shared her version of the activity for FREE!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Parents Missed Back to School Night?

In today's world, everyone always seems to be busy running all around town... From dropping kids off at school, running to work, picking kids up from school, errands, sport engagements... The list can go on and on...

With my own son in Kindergarten this year, my own life has taken on a new level of busy! Thank goodness I've had a few years of practice with lesson planning and organizing schedules, otherwise I think our family would be coming unglued right about now! However, trying to be in multiple places at once is still a challenge for any parent.

With families becoming increasingly busy, attending important events at school have become even more challenging. What if we can help families feel apart of these school events even if they can't physically attend? Now with the help of technology, families can be more connected than ever, if we take advantage of it!

How do you take advantage of technology to connect with families??

In a recent conversation with a past colleague, she shared a brilliant idea with me! Why don't we record our Back to School Night presentations for families who are unable to attend in person? This allows parents to still feel apart of their child's classroom even if they couldn't attend due to a variety of reasons. Better yet, what about that new student that comes mid-year... How amazing would it be for that student's family to feel apart of important parent nights? Next time you host a parent night, consider asking for a volunteer to record the event. You can upload the recording to Google Drive, YouTube, a class blog or website... What a great way to help families become connected to your classroom!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

iPads + QR Codes + Math = Learning is FUN!

Before the school year started, I had the opportunity to introduce myself and a fellow Educational Technology Specialists at one of our site's staff meeting. During our introduction, we passed around a sign up sheet for twenty minute appointment slots to discuss any technology needs with us. The following day, we returned to meet with teams and individual teachers to discuss their selected topics. During one of these appointments, we scheduled dates to come introduce iPads to all the first grade classrooms.

Monday was the day! We ventured into three different first grade classrooms ready to get our hands dirty with iPads! We started our day off with a few challenges, but those are to be expected time to time with technology. The first activity we had planned was using QR Codes to scan sight words. However, once we scanned the code, it displayed an network error.

Thank goodness we had a back up plan!!! We ran off to the office to make copies of a second activity that I had planned to use closer to Halloween! Note to self.. Always test QR code activities download from online before using them with students!

We used a QR Task Cards Halloween Beginning Addition activity created by Teaching with Technology and Fun on Teachers Pay Teachers as our activity to introduce students to their set of iPads. This activity was AWESOME! Once you download the activity, all you need to do is print sets of QR codes for students to share and a record sheet for each student. For our lesson, we paired up students to share an iPad to complete the task, which I highly recommend since this encourages students to collaborate together. They took turns scanning the QR code and worked together to record and solve each problem. The academic conversations were naturally occurring as students progressed through the QR Codes.