Thursday, February 15, 2018

3 Ways To Do 3 Questions Literacy Strategy

exclamation point, question mark, and thought bubble icons

3 Questions Literacy Strategy

Strategy Review:

Students read a text and ask themselves these three questions:
  • What surprised me? (exclamation point icon)
  • What did the author think I already knew? (question mark icon)
  • What challenged, confirmed, or changed what I already knew? (thought bubble icon)

3 Ways:

 #1 - 3 Questions During Read Aloud
exclamation point, question mark, and thought bubble icons
  • Click her to access printable cards.
  • Students can use the icons during a read aloud.  When something surprises them, they hold the exclamation point facing the teacher.  When they are confused about something, they hold the questions mark facing the teacher.  When they feel challenged, confirmed or changed, they hold the thought bubble facing the teacher.
  • Teachers can pause the read aloud and call on students showing their icons.  

#2 - 3 Questions Graphic Organizer
three questions graphic organizer image

#3 - 3 Questions Padlet Wall
3 questions Padlet Wall Example
  • Click here to visit our padlet wall example.
  • Create a free Padlet account.
  • Create a "Shelf" style Padlet wall.
  • Name your columns:
    • "What surprised me?"
    • "What did the author think I already knew?"
    • "What challenged, changed, or confirmed what I already knew?"
  • Share the Padlet link with students in Google Classroom.
  • Students can post their responses.

Need help with any of these ideas?  Contact your digital learning specialist for support!

DL Spotlight: Google Classroom with Drew Simmons

Drew Simmons is an 8th-grade ELAR teacher at Richland Middle School who has committed to using Google Classroom this school year. We recently had a chance to sit down with Drew and ask him a few questions.

Question: Drew, how are you using Google Classroom in your eighth grade ELAR classes here are Richland Middle School? 
Mr. Simmons: “I can post students assignments and examples into the stream anytime of day, from anywhere. I am allowing the students to have a choice on how they want to present or complete their work since I can now accept digital work so easily. They can submit a file or a link to their work.”

Question: Have you gone completely digital this year?
Mr. Simmons: “No, for those students that prefer not to use technology for everything they can turn in their work in traditional ways. Some students just really like a traditional notebook.”

Question: What have you noticed about your student’s work since moving to Google Classroom?
Mr. Simmons: “It has all but eliminated excuses like: I don't have the paper, I lost it, I don't know what to do, or I didn't do the work because I was absent. Now the students know where everything is, even when they are absent. They know where to go to find what they missed.” 

Question: What has been the biggest surprise or personal “ah-ha” moment?
Mr. Simmons: “I would have to say how easy it is to use. We had talked about moving to Google Classroom for a couple of years, but it seemed daunting. Boy, that was not the case. It is extremely easy to use, and it organizes everything for you in Google Drive folders.”  

Question: Have there been any unexpected benefits to the implementation of a classroom management system?
Mr. Simmons: “Yes, the parents can and have requested access to assignments through Google. Now that we have the email activated I regularly receive permission requests from parent to view assignments and other files. It has also improved my relationships with parents and guardians. Once they see how much is available online and how easy it is to access for their child, they are pretty surprised and very appreciative.” 

Question: What are your plans or goals moving forward?
Mr. Simmons: “I'd like to be completely online at some point, but I would need several more devices to accomplish that. I'd like my students to work with tech every day if it is the best tool for the job. They could work with their data on a more frequent basis, and I could redefine what kind of activities and learning occurs in my classroom."

Question: If you had to pick one thing you want to implement before the school year ends what would it be?
Mr. Simmons: “One thing? I would have to say adding flipped content to my Google Classrooms. I’d like to make my own flipped videos eventually.” 

To learn more about how to integrate Google Classroom with your curriculum, contact your Digital Learning Specialist.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Flipgrid Reading Portfolios in Kindergarten

flipgrid logo graphic

Kindergarten students in Yuridia Ott's class at O H Stowe Elementary are using Flipgrid to create reading portfolios.  Students work with a partner to record each other reading out loud.  The teacher can view all of the students' videos and give them feedback on how they are progressing. 

Ott Kinder Flipgrid Home Page
Ott Kindergarten Flipgrid Home Page
Each student was assigned a random icon to make finding their portfolio easier.

students using flipgrid

students using flipgrid

students using flipgrid

Would you like to try flipgrid in your classroom?  Reach out to your Digital Learning Specialist and we will help you get started!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gateway to Technology = FUN Learning

When you serve multiple campuses each week, you never know what you might come accross on any given day. Back in mid January, I noticed a group of middle school students gathered in the courtyard at the new North Richland Middle School campus. In my curiosity, I decided to see what was going on. Upon entering the courtyard,  there was a loud sound, followed by students looking to the sky and then lots of cheering. 

Mr. Arnold's students were testing soda bottle rockets created in his Gateway to Technology class. In order to create the rockets students had to use a flight simulation program from NASA. They examined Newton's second law and had to take into consideration weight, drag and design. All of this sounds so complex and difficult but if the video is what learning looks like at NRMS, then sign me up!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Welcome to SketchNation!

SketchNation is an app available on all devices that allows for the user to create their own video games...FOR FREE!

Games can be tailored to fit classroom experiences, choose your own adventures and more!  Full control is given to the creator under "expert mode".

And it IS FREE!  Check out the website here:

Book Report 2.0

Book Report 2.0

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 in Action is a free online tool for teachers.  It includes many tools all in one place including, a clock, a timer, text boxes for typing directions, random name or number chooser, stoplight, work symbols, and more!

Amanda Bural, 4th grade teacher at Walker Creek Elementary, uses every day in her classroom.  She loves having so many simple tools right at her fingertips.  Students can glance up at the screen at any time and instantly know what they should be doing, and how much time they have left to do it! 

If you would like any help with this tool, please reach out to your digital learning specialist.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Green Screen Technology and Word Walls

See how North Oaks MS teacher, John Garcia, uses green screen technology in his Texas History classroom. The process has been challenging but Mr. Garcia is fearless in finding new ways to engage students and deepen their learning. 

Examples of Mr. Garcia's products, lessons and student work are at the end of the interview. Follow his TX HistoryYouTube channel.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Giving Every Student a Voice

What do you want your students to say?  How do you get it out of them?  In most classrooms across BISD (and beyond), students have a lot to say; but many have a hard time getting it out.  Some are shy and hesitate to raise their hand.  Others may not have the right words but can demonstrate what they know.  So what options are being employed by teachers to let ALL students have a voice?  Dana Washington, fourth grade teacher at Holiday Heights, is using two simple but powerful apps to hear what all of her students know. 

Recently, Washington utilized two digital resources in one of her English/Language Arts classes to hear what her students have to say.  She chose to use ChatterPix Kids to let the kids make a response from the point of view of the gorilla in the novel, The One and Only Ivan.  Students found images of what Ivan might look like and put them into ChatterPix Kids then made their responses.  All students participated and noticed differences in responses as they viewed the finished products.

Washington used Flipgrid to allow students to make video responses about the types of sentences they were studying.  Students created props to use as they were learning about the sentences, and the props were later used in their responses.  When reviewing the submitted responses, students again noticed the differences in how their classmates explained their learning.

All students are engaged, all students sharing their voice.

Please contact your campus DLS if you would like to know more about these and other resources that allow all students to share their voice

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Expanding the Classroom Using Zoom

Have you wanted to take your students on a field trip to provide a real-world application to a lesson? There is a way for this to happen without having to leave the classroom. Teachers and librarians across the district are using Zoom to expand the classroom walls.  Zoom is a free cloud-based video conferencing system.  It will allow classrooms to easily connect with experts in the field and with other classrooms across the world.

Recently, some of our BISD elementary schools used Zoom to practice getting ready for the upcoming Battle of the Books competition.  These groups were able to stay on their campuses and connect using a computer, webcam, and projector.  It was great for the students to experience what the competition was going to be like and also get the chance to practice with another campus.

Also, West Birdville librarian, Kathy Grupe, has utilized Zoom to connect with authors.  Students were able to listen to how the author gathered their ideas to write their book.  Students were also given opportunities to ask questions and share thoughts and ideas about the story.

Zoom is easy to use and the possibilities are endless.  To find out more about getting started, please visit the Zoom website.  Also, your Digital Learning Specialist can help you in creating these authentic learning experiences for your students.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Reading Strategies RELOADED: 9 BOLD ideas to Innovate Reading in your Classroom

image.  Cardboard robot with a blank thought bubble

Below are 9 ideas for 3 different reading strategies to help innovate reading in your classrooms!

Strategy 1: Read Cover Retell Repeat

Strategy number one is a simple chant “Read, Cover, Retell, Repeat”.  It offers student collaboration and sharing of the text that is being studied.  However, could we make this more engaging for our students?  Could we add some more intrinsic motivating factors that would provide for deeper learning and comprehension of the text?  Here are 3 ideas that could take RCRR to the next level.

1. Read, Cover, RECORD, Repeat-

What if the student’s words were not simply lost in the translation of the partner’s conversation? What if the meaning of the article being studied wasn’t sloughed off like old skin, but the words were immortalized online for the student to refer back to? What if the teacher could review the student's thoughts as a formative assessment?

Using FlipGrid, students could record videos of their RETELLING into a single grid for the specific article. After their second read, students then record into the same or different grid providing two videos of their thoughts.

There are a few advantages to this.

 First, students can watch each other’s understanding of what is being read.  Student A is no longer limited to the half-asleep musings of Student Q simply because they lost the randomized seating chart lottery.  

Second, Teachers can use these videos to assess their students reading comprehension.  Instead of passively observing via proximity in a loud classroom of 26-32 students, the teacher can focus individually on students who he/she might be concerned about.  

Third (but not finally), responses can be shared with the entire class, giving students positive feedback and more motivation to give quality answers for the recognition.  Additionally, teachers could integrate peer reviews within FlipGrid using the “likes” function.

2. Read {Next}, Type {Next}, Read Again {Next}, Type Again-

Video can take longer in class, plus, student's typing abilities are always a image Chromebook sitting in a fielddigital skill that can be worked on.  Using a Google Form, articles and excerpts could be organized in such a way that the students read on the first screen and then click to the next screen to type out their “retell”.  This would then repeat itself on different pages.  Ultimately, the student has had two opportunities to type out their “retell” of the reading while still being able to participate in the exercise.  Responses can be sent to the students so they can review for future assessments.

3. Read, Record, Read, Record, Listen, Compare-

What if students used the voice recording function on their phones to have self-reflection?  They are able to read and cover their reading, record themselves twice followed by reflecting on the differences, or similarities of their understanding. Having a voice recording of their thoughts can help students take a deeper look at their reading comprehension. Using a mobile device with a built-in voice recorder, students will be able to create a record of their thoughts on the given title.

Strategy 2: Read Sketch Reread Resketch

1. Read, Sketch, ReRead, ReSketch, SHARE-

Who is the audience of the sketch being drawn? Will you as the teacher be the only one? What motivation does your student, in a like centered, social media-driven world have?  Giving students the opportunity to share their creations outside of your classroom is a skill that can have huge benefits in their learning. One option is if the teacher opened up their google classroom and had students take pictures of their sketches and post them for the class to comment on.  Another idea is to have a classroom Instagram account where kids can post their sketches to share with other classmates (and students beyond your school walls).  Finally, teachers could create a virtual bulletin board using Padlet to let students showcase their sketches beyond the classroom. The Padlet then grows into an excellent class study tool of student-created images.

2. Read, Sketchnote on a Chromebook, Re-Read, Finish the Sketch

This idea is very simply replacing the paper with the Chromebooks.  Depending on what is available in your classroom, you might have a touchscreen Chromebook.  Students can use programs like Google Keep to sketch on a mobile device or touch-based computer and share the image through Canvas or Google Classroom to present and Share what they have created.

image of a person recording a video using their smartphone

3. Read, Google Draw, ReRead, Google Draw, Share!

One final option for this strategy is allowing students to create digital collages or posters using Google Drawing.  Allowing students to mix and match different online images to create one collage that shows understanding of the reading through deeper thinking.

Strategy #3: 3 Questions

The three questions we use are:

  1. What surprises me?
  2. What did the author think I already knew?
  3. What challenged, changed or confirmed what I already knew?

With this option, my question is what happens to the answers that are being inspired by these questions?  Collaboration is key and students sharing with their partners is a skill that needs to be developed, but after the thought is shared, is it remembered?

1. FlipGrid your answers  

Students could take their answers to these questions and share their thoughts using FlipGrid.  This way, they can refer back to their though and dive deeper into their thoughts on an additional exercise.

2. Podcast

Students could use the voice recorder on their device (or school device) to create a short podcast recording of their answers.  They could create it to tell a story, be a news report, offer more detailed opinions, etc. (This also looks good for data collection of reading comprehension)
image of students sitting at a table with open laptop computers

3. Author Chat

Students create a video or podcast and take on the persona of the author.  They answer the questions from a first-person perspective.  For example, “After reading my article, you should be surprised about x, y, and z.  Before reading my work you need to have a grasp on _________ and ___________ to truly experience the full impact of the event.”  Students can get creative with the author’s persona and answers, adding their own creative spin to what these answers could be.

Student Choice

Ultimately, the most effective way that these strategies can be utilized is through Student Choice.  Some might choose to draw, others record, others write.  Each of your students is a unique learner that has passions beyond your TEKS.  If we can tap into their passions and connect the students to the learning required in your classroom on a deeper level, greater mastery will be possible.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Richland High Host Blended Site Visit

Richland High School welcomed over a dozen visitors from Coppell ISD to showcase blended learning.  The English I teachers are in their second year of blending, while English II is just beginning their second semester of blending.

In April of 2016 Birdville ISD was the recipient of a Raising Blended Learners grant, awarded by Raise Your Hand Texas.  Because initial implementation of the grant was planned for English I, the English teachers at the three high school in Birdville embarked on a learning journey that included identifying the five blended pillars that guide the classroom implementation.

Fast-forward 18 months and Birdville ISD is now recognized as a showcase site where other districts can visit classrooms and meet with teachers and school leaders to gain greater insight into both the design and implementation process.

Congratulations to Carla Rix and the entire Richland High Staff who were commended today for showcasing a culture of innovation and excellence, where students are celebrated and at the heart of every instructional and operational decision.

To learn more about blended learning, please visit the Christensen Institute website. 

BISD Gymnastics Team Using Google for Performance Analysis and Improvement

Coach Courtney Yancey and the Birdville Gymnastics team are harnessing the power of the smartphone to record and analyze their gymnastics meets.

Coach Yancey shared, "After the meet, the girls use a smartphone to open the Google Analysis Form and reflect on what they have just done while it is still fresh in their mind."

Courtney video records her gymnast's routines and adds the recordings to a shared album she has created for each gymnast in Google Photos. After the gymnasts review their performances, Coach meets with them to break down the film, discuss their analysis, and decide what each athlete will work on in practice.

"Since I have implemented the Google form and videos albums the athletes are taking more ownership of what skills they need to improve on and are more invested in what they are doing in practice." -Coach Yancey.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Professional Learning from logo is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing
participation by women and underrepresented minorities. They provide computer science
curriculum for students of all ages.

On Saturday, January 13, Richland Elementary hosted a CS Fundamentals workshop.
Computer Lab EAs from six BISD Elementary schools attended the training.  They received
FREE swag bags, classroom supplies to begin using in the classroom, and certificates
for attending.

Photo of teachers. Left to Right   Julie Mize - Birdville; Richelene Mekush - Walker Creek; Danielle Ellis- Mullendore;   Amber Cozad - Watauga; Meagan Owen - Holiday Heights; Angela Dotson- Binion
Left to Right
Julie Mize - Birdville; Richelene Mekush - Walker Creek; Danielle Ellis- Mullendore;
Amber Cozad - Watauga; Meagan Owen - Holiday Heights; Angela Dotson- Binion

These teachers are learners too! We are excited to see these how you use your new skills in the computer lab with students!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

N. Oaks MS Makes Data Visual

NOMS Academic Coach Pam OchoaBISD PLCs are working hard to help students improve their literacy skills. Although teachers have access to student lexile levels it can be difficult to visualize what all that data means.  Academic coach, Pam Ochoa wanted to create a picture of literacy data for her teachers.  

Data MarkersShe enlisted the help of her Principal, Dr. Klaerner who expertly pulled data for every student in English based on period and teacher. After the reports were printed, Pam transferred the data onto clothesline markers. 
Next, she enlarged the lexile scale to span all of the bulletin boards in the PLC room.
Class data markers on lexile scale
After the markers were hung on the bulletin board and against the enlarged scale, teachers were surprised to see that the data was actually more positive than they had initially thought. Now each time staff meets for PLC, the data is more than numbers. This data will become an even bigger visual projection when middle of the year reports are pulled.  Pam plans to show student progression form the beginning of the year to mid-year by re-creating the scale and linking each class marker with yarn. 
BOY lexile data visual

Finding ways to turn numbers into understandable visuals is just one of the many wonderful things Birdville academic coaches do. If you have a method for visualizing data, we would love for you to share in the comments below.