Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Classroom Crashers Episode 4

Classroom Crashers Episode #4

Teacher: Annell Butler
Grade: 5th
School: John D. Spicer
Summary: Annell wanted feedback on using Google Classroom along with her makerspace lab project.  She worked with Jennifer Miller to create interactive discussions and reflections for the makerspace lab projects of her students..
Resource Links:

How Can Interaction Support Active Learning in Canvas?

Keeping students actively engaged with you, the content, and each other promotes student success. When students are observing, doing, communicating, and reflecting, they are actively working with concepts and people.  We describe these activities as interactions.  Interaction is at the center of the teaching and learning process.  When we move that process online, the way in which students and teacher interact changes. As we re-think how we approach interaction online there are three main types of interaction to consider. While learning activities will differ depending on the content, context, tools, and people involved, there are some strategies that can be incorporated into almost any course to foster interaction. 

Student to Teacher Interaction
Student↔teacher interaction can include both formal direct instruction and more informal mentoring and support.

A few examples of student↔teacher interaction include:
  • providing feedback on assignments, learning journals, or other reflective activities
  • participating in discussion forums or chats
  • sending frequent announcements to summarize the previous week or describe the next week
  • providing online or telephone office hours
  • mentoring individual learners
  • working with small groups of students assigned to help teach portions of the course
Student to Student Interaction
An interaction between students can include formal course-related collaboration and interaction as well as more informal social interaction, which can increase students' comfort with each other and with the online environment.   Student↔student interaction-based activities include but are not limited to
Any of these examples can be used on a large or a small scale ranging from semester-long project groups doing research and presenting results to an optional live meeting where those present discuss a short video case or a discussion forum where they brainstorm alternatives to a textbook problem.
Depending on the size of your class, you can encourage student↔student interaction class-wide or in smaller groups or pairs.  When working with smaller groups, it helps to emphasize individual accountability, positive interdependence, and positive interaction in grading the group's work. This strategy leads to three grades on a group project emphasizing the three aspects of group work:
  1. individual contribution to the group project
  2. synthesis of the individual parts into a project that shows collaboration, consensus, and learning
  3. working together to encourage and facilitate each other's efforts to complete the project
For more on using Canvas to manage your student groups, please see the Group section of the Canvas Instructor Guide. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Student to Content Interaction
Student↔content interaction includes students' concrete interactions with the course materials and their more abstract interactions with the concepts and ideas they present. It is more than just reading a book or watching a video.  It includes but is not limited to
  • tutorials (using text, still images, audio, and/ or video)
  • quizzes (if the feedback is useful and usable)
  • web quests (Links to an external site)
  • reading/video discussion or reflections (Reading a textbook is technically a student↔content activity but explicitly requiring students to reflect on the reading and providing directed prompts for that reflection improves the interaction.)
  • simulations

Key Elements
The keys to developing effective online learning activities are to make them: 
  • include opportunities for active learning
  • allow for different types of interaction
  • sequential so each one builds on the preceding one,
  • include useful feedback on the activities, and
  • include opportunities for students to think and reflect on what they are learning, how they are learning, and the significance of what they are learning.

How to Choose the Best Apps for Kids

"...when technology is used in the classroom to augment classroom learning, it can be very effective," said Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, director of the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media at the University of Amsterdam.

The following five criteria are suggested when choosing apps:
1. The activity must require mental engagement.
2. The must be able to focus on the learning experience without distractions in the app or in their learning environment.
3. The children should be able to bridge the new knowledge they're gaining to their existing knowledge and the wider world.
4. The learning activity should involve social interaction, such as teacher feedback, class discussions or interactions among classmates.
5. The activity should have clearly defined learning objective that students or teachers can track and assess and that expand on past goals and build on previous learning.

Learn more:

Thursday, December 7, 2017


No time to think up creative stations for that new set of Chromebooks or laptops in your room? We've got you covered! During a student centered learning lesson at the secondary monthly principle's meeting this week, Dr. Klaerner from North Oaks MS brainstormed with other administrators to come up with stations anyone can use with any curriculum. 

Post this in your room or add it to your online classroom to be used in a flash when needed. 
 Click this image to copy to your Google drive
Click the image to add to your Google drive
Download the document, edit and post in your room. Ideas for additional stations can be found at the bottom of the Google document.

Tips for getting started:

  • All stations do not have to be digital
  • Practice with your class moving through stations
    • Establish expected norms and procedures for station work
  • Use a timer
  • Contact your campus DLS for, in class, support the first time you implement

Dave Lambson's Do's and Don'ts Video Series Debut!

Check out Dave Lambson's first Do's and Don'ts episode!

Classroom Crashers Episode 3

Classroom Crashers Episode #3

Teacher: Ginny Tanner
Grade: Kindergarten
School: Snow Heights
Summary: Ginny was wanting to create a more personalized learning environment for students during math stations. The team suggested Ginny create a Google Site that would have a page for each student. During math workstations, the students would be able to go to their page to practice specific learned concepts. Ginny worked with Jennifer Canizares to create the site and the activities for each student.
Resource Links:

Literacy and Breakout EDU

NRMS 6th grade ELA teachers harness the fun and challenge of Breakout EDU to help students better understand Procedural Text. What does a teacher do with one week until winter break and the curriculum calls for a unit over procedural text? Arrange a small group lesson called "Elf Panic" of course. 

Perhaps you have been wondering how to incorporate Breakout EDU into an authentic experience in your curriculum. Kathy Harvell, Kylie Norell and Bailey Haugaard were thinking "BOLD" when it came to literacy this week. The team decided to harness new technology to help their students master "understanding and writing procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes." (TEKS 110.17

During a recent PLC training they had expereinced the exciting new puzzle game called Breakout EDU. So they already knew how powerful the process would be in helping students with the  curriculum unit. The challenge they decided on was "Elf Panic" which fits in nicely with middle school students and the holiday season. Librarian Julie Pursley helped the team set up the locks, plan the process and provided valuable tips based on past Breakout sessions. 

If your campus doesn't have a Breakout EDU box contact your campus DLS or play the digital version of "Elf Panic" instead.  For more timely Breakout challenges visit the seasonal games section of Breakout EDU. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Classroom Crashers Episode 2

Classroom Crashers Episode #2

Teacher: Jenna Henderson
Grade: 5th
School: Watauga
Summary: Jenna was interested in finding more ways to engage students in her math classroom. The team suggested trying out the new "labs" features inside the updated SMART Notebook Software. Jenna worked with Toni Hylander to create some fun interactive games with SMART Notebook labs.
Resource Links:

DL Underground Spotlight: Felicia Cherry on Class DoJo

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Classroom Crashers Episode 1

Classroom Crashers Episode #1

Teacher: Julie Dickman

Grade: 3rd

School: Holiday Heights

Summary: Julie was looking to use technology to make her vocabulary assignments more engaging.  The team recommended using Padlet & Chatterpix.  Julie worked with Jeff Samuelson, to integrate these tools into her vocabulary assignments.

Resource Links:

AppSmashing ELAR

AppSmashing ELAR

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Classroom Crashers Coming Soon!

Classroom Crashers is a new program by the BISD elementary DLS team.  Teachers will have an opportunity to apply to be "crashed".  When selected, our team will visit the classroom to make observations and brainstorm ideas for integrating technology.  Then one DLS will work closely with the teacher for 3-6 weeks implementing one of the ideas!

Over the next few weeks, we will release our first 4 episodes highlighting the crashes we did last spring!  Stay tuned to the blog for each episode!

Highlighting Student Work and Giving it an Authentic Global Audience

Richland Middle School's Mr. Moreau dove head first into Camtasia for video editing a few weeks ago. His latest video highlights the work his students created covering the 6 habits of a successful person, as part of  Leadership Academy Day at his campus. Mr. Moreau then shared it on YouTube to reach an authentic global audience. Check out Mr. Moreau's video below and subscribe if you'd like to be notified when he posts a new video.

Try Camtasia's free trial here

Friday, November 17, 2017

"The Best Way to Learn Something is to DO IT"

instructables logo

Instructables has tons of curriculum connected projects for your classroom. 

The Instructables site is a place to explore, document and share creations.  Learn about sewing, design, food, 3D printing, electronics, crafts and so much more. In the education section, teachers can search by grade level or content area. 
favorite educational projects
Some of my favorite educational projects
Not all projects require technology and many can be completed with minimal supplies. Create a free account by signing up with your BISD Google account. 

Premium Memberships are free for teachers and students  The upgraded membership provides teachers with plug and play, hands-on projects.

7 Things the Digital Learning Team is Thankful For

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, 2017.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Walker Creek 5th Grade Acceptable Use Policy Presentation

5th grade students at Walker Creek Elementary worked with Computer Lab EA, Richlene Mekush, to create kid-friendly versions of the acceptable use policy.  Each class created a presentation with 2-3 students collaborating on each slide. Students were given feedback on their first drafts, then allowed to make improvements.  Once complete, the best of each slide from all the presentations was compiled to create one slide show.

Check out the finished slide show below!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spicer First Grade Flips for Flipgrid!

Adobe Spark Page

Google Forms + Autocrat = Magic Certificates!

Check out this Facebook Live video to see how Jeanna Koerner, counselor at Green Valley Elementary, is using Google Forms and Autocrat to automatically generate CORE Value certificates each six weeks!

Want to try it yourself?  Reach out to your digital learning specialist for help!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Check out Close Reading--through Gamified Learning

Image from https://www.amplify.com/closereading

The story starts the same way...

"The Machines have taken over and you are our only hope!"

image from tenor.com

Think back to books and movies of the past.  How many stories can you remember that have a variation of that phrase to start off? 

Write your ideas in the comment box below!  

So here we are again,

 I'm sitting here, typing the same message, "The Machines have taken over and you are our only hope!"  Yet, my cry for revolution is not powered by magic stones, aliens, or some rich guys with super suits... this revolution is about READING.

Amplify ELA (@amplify_ELA) is promoting Close Reading through their story The Last Readers.  I spent about 20 minutes going through the beginning stages of the game and had to stop myself from continuing on because I'm an adult and need to get some work done!  That being said, the story is engaging, fun, and hooked me in pretty quick!  Very Fun!

Dr. Tim Shanahan, Advisor and Co-Author of the Last Readers states on the website:

“It is not enough to ‘comprehend’ a text or to be able to summarize it or answer basic questions about it. A close reader will understand how the author has powerfully communicated the ideas and where that power emanates from.”

In-depth, detailed understanding. 

From a Student's Perspective:

The interface is easy to use, the graphics are great.  The graphic novel structure is engaging and attractive.  Students get to create/design their own character within the game, adding different customizes for uniqueness.  As the story unfolds, students will need to complete different ELAR tasks to continue through the game (I was shown the structure of an argument because that's how you hack the machines.  I had to define the three pieces of an argument with different examples...the more I got correct, the more points I received).  The story has a soundtrack and voiceover that takes you through the story as you meet different, unique characters along the way.

image from https://www.amplify.com/closereading

image from https://www.amplify.com/closereading

From a Teacher's Perspective:

Similar to other online tools, you have the ability to create a class and track where your students are at in the game.  This has the potential to be a really valuable tool to pinpoint the areas of ELAR that might need more work.

  #formativeassessment #forthewin 

There are various links to other resources that you can bring into your classroom as well as the promise of more levels coming!  The site also has the potential to assign differentiated lessons to your classroom based on their level of reading!

CHECK THIS OUT NOW!  Because the free BETA version ends on New Year's Eve.
Check it out!   


Thursday, November 9, 2017

DL Underground Spotlight: Lexi Gizzy on NearPod

Walker Creek 4th Grade Inference Breakout

Fourth grade ELAR teachers at Walker Creek Elementary, Meredith Jones & Amanda Bural, worked with Digital Learning Specialist, Toni Hylander to create a BreakoutEdu Game where students had to apply their inference skills.

The students were excited and engaged by the inference challenges.  In addition to using inference skills, they also got to practice teamwork, perseverance, and grit.

Want to try BreakoutEdu in your classroom?  Reach out to your Digital Learning Specialist for support!

DL Underground Spotlight: Ryan Buchanan on ZipGrade

Globally Subscribed Education Podcast, Teach Me, Teacher, is One of Our Very Own

Teach Me, Teacher is the brainchild of Jacob Chastain, a sixth-grade English teacher at Richland Middle School. Teach Me, Teacher is a podcast for educators where teachers discuss topical, informative, and inspiring subjects. Designed from the ground up as a no nonsense approach to teacher development, this podcast is your gateway to bettering your craft (and having some laughs along the way). The show's goal is to help teachers better their craft, learn new skills, and get ideas to fuel new ideas. While the show is hosted by Richland Middle School in Birdville ISD in Texas, it is a show for anyone in the field of education, and features teachers and administrators from all over to offer their unique perspectives. "The podcast is fueled by the idea that teachers learn best from other teachers “IN” the classroom. Yes, there are a lot of great advisors out there that have ideas and methods for us to try, and an endless amount of professional development seminars we can attend (which we should.) But I believe professional development isn’t just something we sign up for and attend. It is a life commitment to bettering ourselves for our students.", Chastain continued, "Every district, school, and class is different. The students of today are not the students we were. They have changed, and they will keep changing. In order to adapt to these circumstances, it is imperative that we, as teachers, stay students ourselves, and learn from each other every single day. Teachers and educators of today don’t have time to waste on old advice or outdated practices. You need the good stuff now." To listen to the shows Jacob mentions in our podcast, or any other of his podcasts simply click here

Check out our interview with Jacob on our latest installment of the DL Underground Podcast

Literacy Meets Tech Integration

Animating with Stikbot

No Worksheet November Contest from Region 11

Enter to Win the NO-WORKSHEET NOVEMBERChallenge!

Throw away an old, worn-out worksheet, and transform it into an engaging, on-standard, technology-rich learning experience. 

Teachers with ESC Region 11 schools who share their learning experience to #URockEdu will be entered for a chance to WIN 
  • a $50 Amazon card or
  • registration in a #URockEdu academy of their choice
    • Hey Now, You're A Rockstar:  Innovation Academy
    • Project-Based Learning Academy
    • Blended Learning Academy
WHAT to share: 
  • Pictures, Video, etc. that show:
    • an old worn-out worksheet
    • a new, better learning experience to replace the worksheet
      This could be ONE or more of the following:
      • your learners doing the lesson
      • you or your learners explaining what they did
      • examples of student work
      • the lesson plan including standards addressed
      • anything else you think of
WHERE to share:
Share to at least one of the following social media options, tagging us at @URockEdu and #URockEdu:
WHEN to share:
  • by midnight on November 30, 2017.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

First Grade Catches #flipgridfever!

First graders at Spicer Elementary are learning how to create video responses to share with others using Flipgrid. Teachers Linda Ristow and Cathy Linehan are using iPads and the Flipgrid app to create opportunities for all students to have a voice and be heard. Mrs. Ristow's students are especially enjoying working together and practicing their reading skills.

Flipgrid is a free video response tool that can be used with all grades levels, content areas and even with parents and colleagues! It will work on iPads, laptops, smartphones, and chromebooks. The Flipgrid iPad app is available for free as well.

Sign up for your account and check out some of the resources below:

Friday, November 3, 2017

Explain and Understand

Check out what Taryn Perkins' fifth graders have been working on! 
Students in Taryn Perkins' 5th grade class at Smithfield Elementary are using their creativity and knowledge to share their learning. They have been studying MELTS (mechanical, electrical, light, thermal and sound) energy in Science class and Mrs. Perkins challenged them to create their very own videos that explain these concepts of energy. 

Students were shown an example of a finished product and then experienced a walk through of how to become video animators using mysimpleshow. As part of the project, students had to write a script that included science vocabulary and real life examples of MELTS energy. Students also needed to add appropriate images to the project to aid in the understanding of the concept. Completed projects will then be added to Mrs. Perkins Google Classroom, where the students can share, view, and comment on their creations.

Thinking about having your students create video animations? Be sure and check out mysimpleshow.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Breakout EDU Changes

breakout edu logo

Breakout EDU has been a big hit at Birdville ISD this year. Everyday more and more students and classrooms are tackling challenges and learning along the way. Until very recently, the games have all been free with the proper access code. 

Here's what you need to know:

1. Breakout EDU still has free games. Use the keyword "free" in the search field of the platform section on the website.

breakout edu kit2. Kit cost - The basic kit has gone up by $25 for a total purchase price of $150. Purchasing the kit comes with 12 months of platform access.

3. For those who already have kits, $60 will purchase 12 months of platform access. 

  *Note: If you just purchased a kit this year and don't have access to all of the platforms, consider contacting the company. One district librarian did so and the company upgraded her account.

4. A registered account isn't necessary to access free games. However, paid subscriptions will need to create an account. Consider creating a free account to save free and paid games. 

breakout edu games5. Games/platforms are now grouped by Subject which makes finding content related games easier.

6. New games have been added to Subject packs and Digital games.

7. Game pages are more organized and easier to navigate. Some games now come with suggestions for game alterations. 

Have fun and keep BreakingOut!