Friday, February 27, 2015

The Bright Way to Organize

Do you need a way to organize all of your Reading and Writing Workshop information? Are you tired of messy binders or unorganized data on your computer? 

I have teachers ask me to help them organize their Reading and Writing Workshop records all the time. I have some teachers that use binders to keep information for each student, while others use digital copies of documentation. Some do both! It gets a bit crazy trying to keep up with individual data for each student and track their progress through the year. I love organizing, so I am always willing to help. While sitting in a meeting with our district ELA specialist, she shared the website, Brightloop, with me and a group of teachers. The room almost burst into applause. In all my geekiness, I had no idea this site existed, and it is FREE!!! 

Brightloop gives you space to keep all of your conferring notes in one place. You can set and track learning objectives, identify groups, use collected data, and document conferences. It doesn't get any better than that. Did I mention that it is super easy to use too? Check out the video below and the website to see how teachers are using this site to organize and differentiate instruction.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Help! It's the Common Core!

My district is currently implementing the Common Core math standards in grades K-2. This year, we are working on second grade implementation. Boy...has this been a fun one! Even though it has been tough thinking about a new way of teaching math to our students, our 2nd grade teachers have risen to the occasion and are seeing the benefits of teaching students how to really think about and apply math learning. I am so proud of all of our teachers for embracing the thought processes behind the Common Core. I personally think these standards are going to do wonders in our schools, if we really take the time to look at our teaching and make some much needed changes. I think we are going to see students really learning what they are doing in math instead of memorizing a process. Yay for connection to the real world! Anyway...step down off of my teachers shared a website with me that I think everyone can benefit from. The website,, offers some great resources to help teachers implement the CCSS. My favorite part of the site is the classroom video visits. These videos show real teachers, in real classrooms, teaching lessons that are aligned to the CCSS. Love it!

Here is an example of a 2nd grade lesson about working word problems:

There are videos for all grade levels!

There are also tons of tools for educators at:

Take some time and check this site out! You will really be glad you did. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Are You A Google Driver?

If you aren't using Google Drive in your is the day to start! Drive offers so many wonderful collaboration tools to use easily in the classroom with students of all ages.

Watch the video below to see how one teacher is using Drive to have her students collaborate while writing. With Common Core Standards students are expected to collaborate with peers to complete a piece of writing. This teacher is using Drive to do just that!

I know these are high school students, but elementary students can do this too! The possibilities for using Google Drive in the classroom are endless.

What are some ways you can use Drive in your classroom?

*Create documents for students to collaborate with other classmates or the teacher.
*Create graphic organizers for students to fill in as a group
*Create forms to poll students (lunch choices, graphing activities, surveys, etc.)
*Create quizzes and tests using a Google Form (makes grading easy)
*Collaborate with fellow teachers
*Click Here to read more wonderful ideas!

I hope you give Google Drive a try if you aren't already using it! If you are, share a way you find it handy in your classroom by leaving a comment.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mirror, Mirror On My Board

Recently, the teachers at our school received iPads to use in their classrooms. They are currently working with one iPad in the classroom, so we are getting pretty creative so the kiddos can get as much use out of the iPads as possible. So...something had to be done so our teachers could display the iPad screen on their Promethean Boards. Our Art Teacher was the first teacher to ask if there was a way he could draw on his iPad while the students watched on the board. The gears started to turn! Yes, a VGA adapter could be used to plug the iPad directly into the computer, but he did not want to be limited to sitting in one spot while showing his screen on the board. As a team, we found a solution...AirServer!

Airserver is a program that you download to your computer. It is a standard app on Mac, but you can download it to a PC also. The program allows you to mirror your iPad2 or New iPad on your computer screen.  It is a piece of cake to use too! Airserver is a great solution for the one iPad classroom because the iPad can be passed around, and the whole class can interact because the screen is being projected on the board. The mobility this app gives in the classroom is wonderful! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Menus for Multiple Intelligences

I am currently working on a Masters, and the class I just finished was about teaching reading strategies across content areas. I wanted to share one of the most popular strategies  I shared with my classmates, and almost all of them included it in their final presentations.

The idea is simple. We all have diverse classrooms when it comes to how students learn. Everyone learns differently...right? Well, a few years ago, I took a graduate class offered by my school district that taught me how to integrate technology while thinking about the different ways students learn. I am now teaching this class, I loved it so much! I learned from one of the best Technology Facilitators in my district, Mrs. Fran Mauney! Please check out her blog here. She has wonderful ideas for teaching in the 21st Century Classroom.

So...what is this splendid strategy you ask? Menus...Multiple Intelligence Menus

These menus are created for a unit of study and give students a variety of choices to be assessed on their learning. That's right friends, CHOICE! Let me just say that the first time I used a menu with my kiddos...I was a bit terrified. I was going to cut them loose, give them choices on how to present information they had learned , and they were going to do all of this independently in class. Wow! That was a lot to take in, but it was wonderful! My students were engaged, I was "teaching", and they retained so much.

How exactly do the multiple intelligences come into play here? Simple. You create a menu with activities for your kiddos to choose from that include all the intelligences. There is a project for everyone, no matter their learning style. Also, technology tools are a must. Integrating technology into a menu is easy, and your students will create some amazing products.You just model for them how to use different technology tools throughout the year, and then add them to your menus. Believe me, they will be able to complete projects with minimal help from you if you make sure to model for them before hand.

Here is an example (this is one I created for geometry):
Geometry-Menu Leah

You can find many more that were created by teachers in our district here.

I really hope you will implement a menu this year! You will be so surprised at how easy and rewarding it is.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Web 2.0 For Everyone

Over the summer, I have trained teachers to use a variety of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. I wanted to share some of my favorites. I have blogged about a lot of them, but you really should check out some of the sites to use in your classroom this year. Some of them will help you organize both your classroom and home life, while some of them are special sites for the kiddos to use. Over the course of this year, I will share how these can be used in the classroom in more depth, but I wanted to go ahead and share the list so you could do some exploring!

Organization Tools

Bookmarking Tools
Creation Tools
Planning Tools
Collaboration/Sharing Tools

All of these tools are awesome and FREE! Some of them you don't even have to create an account to use. This makes them simple to implement in the classroom. I hope you can find at least one to use this year! Make sure to check out This is definitely one of my favorites!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Let's Go On A Virtual Field Trip

OK...let me first say Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I am overwhelmed at the blog traffic and number of followers this little ol' blog has accumulated this summer. I am so honored to have every single one of you reading my blog. I started this blog last summer as a way to share technology ideas and to remember them for myself. I love, love, love everything that has to do with integrating technology into the classroom, and I am so blessed to be able to share some of my ideas here. Again, thanks so much for your kind comments and emails. I am delighted to work with teachers all over the globe! Hopefully, this coming school year I will be posting a lot more often. Since I am transitioning into a new job, I plan to make Sunday my blogging day since it used to be my lesson plan getting ready day!

So without further ado...I thought I would share a little idea I had while creating a differentiated menu this summer (more on that to come).

How about if you are teaching your students about a specific region or place around the world? You can have them create virtual field trips for their classmates! Some of us take our students on virtual field trips using Google Earth or just the plain old Internet, but what if you had them create the field trip themselves. It could even be a virtual field trip from around the school building. All your students need to have is some pictures and a program such as Windows Live Movie Maker, Animoto, or Microsoft Photostory. All the students have to do is upload their pictures to one of the programs, annotate the pictures, and present.

Here is one I made as a sample to take a field trip to the Coastal Zone of South Carolina.

I think this would be great to assign as a group project and have students present the information. It could also be done as an individual project. Why not let this be the test/quiz on a region's landforms, tourist attractions, animals, government, etc.?