Category Archives: Technology

The Possibility of iPads Next Fall

This week I should find out if my friend and I are getting iPads for our Resource Rooms.

We wrote the grant over Spring Break and submitted it to our Tech Department the morning the email came out announcing it.

We quickly received a really nice email from the person in charge, thanking us for our application. But you know how the mind plays tricks on you….”Did she thank us for applying, but…..?” or “Did she really like our applications that much?”

One minute we are like, “We are so gonna get them!” and then we are like, “We better get them!” and then “We are never getting them.”

A few years ago, we wrote a grant together to get  a Senteo Response System (and we got it!).  The year before that, I wrote a grant for a SMARTBoard and document camera. (I was initially denied but then the special education department had some extra money.)

But iPads….they are a hot item right now. Everyone wants them. And there is only so much money in the budget…and we’ve already  received a grant. We can’t expect to get them all.

I think we had pretty valid points and I think we could do amazing things with 6 iPads.

I have the RR students 1st and 2nd period for Language Arts and then they go to RR Math during 3rd and 4th.  At the most, we will have 10 students on our roster.

Why do I think we should receive a grant?

Here are a few excerpts from our application:

-The addition of iPads will allow students in the resource room setting and the inclusion classroom to receive instruction which will be interactive, engaging, and individualized for their particular learning needs.  By combining tablet technology, students will be able to view instructional materials firsthand and in real-time.

-As we each teach multi-grade level resource rooms, it is important that we have the resources available to differentiate their instruction as their IEP calls for.  For example, reading levels this year range from non-reader to 7th grade.  In Math, students’ ability levels range from 1st grade to 6th grade.

-Incorporating iPads into the classroom will allow us to break students into appropriate groups for specific skills. While the teacher is working with one ability/grade level, the others will be directed to appropriate activities using the technology.  With so many apps and programs designed to keep record of student progress, this will allow us to receive immediate feedback and easily plan individualized instruction. Core Math, which is fully compatible with Common Core Standards, is able to track progress for 50 students.  Khan Academy would allow similar progress monitoring and prescriptive teaching.  DropBox will allow us to create individual folders for each student with appropriate reading selections and spelling activities.  Vocabulary and spelling skills can be individualized on Spelling City.

-This new technology will be especially beneficial as our math and language arts series are available online. As the instructors, we will be able to direct students’ attention to particular features of the text, highlight important details, and demonstrate strategies for improving reading comprehension and basic math skills.

-As inclusion teachers, we would be able to provide access to our other IEP students across the curriculum with the teachers we co-teach with. We could break the class into small groups and provide direct instruction in the general education classroom and then design activities for small groups on the iPads.

-One of the most exciting capabilities of this technology is that students will receive immediate feedback from apps and internet web site as to their progress.  With programs such as DropBox and Nearpod students can easily share their work with the teacher and their classmates.  Students working together in small groups will be able to brainstorm ideas, complete graphic organizers, develop a plan to solve a problem, or explain a process and then bring the team’s ideas to the attention of the teacher which will allow for corrective feedback.  Many students are motivated by this type of technology.   We are interested in the possibility of using the tablet and its technology to create a small-scale in-class version of a flipped classroom.  While some students are receiving direct instruction, others will be front-loaded with information on the next lesson.

Although we’ve only been out of school for a week, I will admit, I’m already in the planning stages for next fall.  A tiny part of me is holding out on the hope that iPad activities will fill one column of my lesson plans.  As I sit and create lessons for the first few stories, I keep asking myself, “How would this work on the iPad? What apps would work in place of this?”

And then I think….”If I don’t get the iPads…..”

If I don’t get them, I will regain three days of my summer vacation back, because anyone who receives a grant has to attend a 3 day training in either June or July.

I am ready to just find out either way.

Have you ever written a grant?

What was it for?

How did it change your classroom?

Share your story in the comments!

Instructional Strategy: Flip Books

This ReadWriteThink flip book is quick, customizable, and easily made on a copier. All students have to do is cut on the lines.

Flip books make excellent study tools and reference materials.

I have seen this most often used for vocabulary words or for math formulas/processes.

Flip books will work for any concept that can be broken down into smaller parts:

  • The characters of a novel
  • The biomes
  • Types of energy
  • Quadrilaterals

The large white space provides room for drawings and diagrams, as well as text.

We recently made a flip book (using the generator at ReadWriteThink) which included important literary terms for our upcoming novel. This served as a review of concepts we’ve already covered and will be a good tool for them as we complete our reading.

Our tabs included:

  • Narrator and point of view
  • Exposition
  • Flat and Round Character
  • Static and Dynamic Character
  • Setting
  • Internal and External Conflict
  • Foreshadowing and Flashback
  • Climax
  • Resolution
  • Theme

Authentic Vocabulary Instruction Using Edmodo

I have been struggling with two things in particular lately.

1) How to best use the limited technology that I have available to me
2) How to increase my students’ vocabulary

I am trying at all costs to avoid: looking words up in a glossary, copying definitions, matching words and definitions on a test, and completing worksheets to teach vocabulary. It’s boring, it’s ineffective, and I’m not seeing results.

Vocabulary instruction like this does not help kids make connections and any memorization that may occur…simply doesn’t last.

I wanted something authentic, interactive, and hopefully technology-based for use in our small, fairly outdated computer lab.

I spent over two hours researching ideas the other night and ended up with way too many of the same old ideas, nothing that I envisioned as I started out, and a headache.

Feeling overwhelmed and guilty I wasted two hours of my night during the busiest time of year, I took a break and came back to the computer after dinner with a plan in mind.

I used the “Polls” on Edmodo to create 6 vocabulary-based questions for our upcoming novel, Stargirl.

I chose some particular vocabulary words that I knew I would need to explain to my students as we were reading the novel: mesa, saguaro, ukulele, cactus, canyon, and porcupine. Students also had to understand a little about Arizona and where it was located.

Here is a final product of one student. Read the process below to see how he came up with this.

Here is a final product of one student. Read the process below to see how he came up with this.

Here are my six questions: (and their votes)

What is a “saguaro”? Research the word and make your choice. Find a picture and insert it into a Word document. Be sure to label the picture.

  • a type of boat 0 vote(s)
  • a type of flower 0 vote(s)
  • a type of cactus 75%, 3 vote(s)
  • a type of car 25%, 1 vote(s

Which of these would not be found in Arizona? Find pictures of the three found in Arizona.

  • canyon 0 vote(s)
  • mesa 14.29%, 1 vote(s)
  • grass 57.14%, 4 vote(s)
  • cactuses 28.57%, 2 vote(s)

What animal has quills? Find a picture of this animal.

  • a shark 0 vote(s)
  • a muskrat 0 vote(s)
  • a porcupine 100%, 7 vote(s)
  • an octopus 0 vote(s)

Which state does not touch Arizona? Find a map that shows this.

  • Utah 0 vote(s)
  • California 12.5%, 1 vote(s)
  • Texas 87.5%, 7 vote(s)
  • New Mexico 0 vote(s)

What instrument is a “ukelele” related to? Find a picture.

  • a trumpet 0 vote(s)
  • a guitar 100%, 7 vote(s)
  • a piano 0 vote(s)
  • a harmonica 0 vote(s)

What is a road runner? Find a picture of a famous one and a real one.

  • a type of internet service 0 vote(s)
  • a very fast bird 100%, 5 vote(s)
  • a type of race 0 vote(s)
  • a car part 0 vote(s)

I reminded my students how to enter a search term in Google, locate an image, and create a mini-poster using Word. We’ve been working on computer skills lately, so this was good practice of the steps for inserting a picture and formatting the picture.

The students had to answer the poll questions while doing their research. Because there was no “right answer” given, students were not as likely to share answers with their neighbors.

Students had two windows open on Firefox and a Word document open. They had to turn in the assignment on Edmodo when they were finished.

It may not seem like a lot, but for my students this was a big task. These kids were multi-tasking and learning.

When we return from break, they will share their posters on the SMARTBoard.

So, this is not the most traditional use of a poll, but it provided enough motivation and variety for my students to keep it interesting and help them learn the vocabulary.

Here is what I loved about this activity:

  • Students didn’t touch a single worksheet during this lesson.
  • Students were not asked to memorize or write a definition.
  • Instead, students found their own definitions by researching.
  • Students had to use some logic and reasoning skills to eliminate and determine search terms.
  • Students practiced computer skills (Word, Google search, and Edmodo)
  • Students now have a visual for when we start the novel after break. Students will share their products on the SMARTBoard when they return.
  • Students were engaged for two 40-minute periods in an authentic learning activity.
  • Students have made meaningful connections with half a dozen words that they had little prior knowledge of.
  • I am inspired to create more activities similar to this one.

How do you teach vocabulary? Do you have some ideas that will meet my goal for authentic vocabulary instruction? Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.

Identifying Themes in Music (Prezi)

We have been working a lot on theme lately.  And one of the best ways I’ve found to do that is through music. This is my second Prezi and one that the kids really enjoyed.

Identifying Themes in Music

We reviewed the intro each day and did one video a day.   I did this activity throughout  Stargirl.  Since YouTube is not blocked for teachers, it was very easy for me to just pull up the video that morning during homeroom (I always look for videos with lyrics to help with reading, plus some videos aren’t always school appropriate.)

More on novel playlists (including my Stargirl playlist) and using music in class can be viewed here. 

Teaching Character Types with Prezi

I’ve always been proud of my strategy for teaching character types, which has been a viewer favorite here at All Access Pass.

I have now taking all this information and these ideas and created my very first Prezi! It’s been something I have been wanting to learn for over a year and after watching Tweedle Dee use it effortlessly for 7th grade Science I finally decided it’s time.

I felt a bit of frustration working on it on my MacBook but I did most of it at work, so it was pretty easy. I worked on this for almost 2 hours, learning the process as I went. I didn’t watch any tutorials or anything. I just experimented.

After a week of exhaustion and lack of focus, it felt good to learn something new and produce something I am proud of.

I present to you my first Prezi: Character Types

I used this in my after school study program a few weeks ago. I had the (un)fortunate honor of running the last study session the night before the last day of school when there was literally NO homework. Two hours, 23 7th graders, and no homework.

This activity was a lifesaver.

After viewing the Prezi, groups picked a DVD from my holiday gift bag, (made a few swaps), and headed to the lab to create their own Prezi presentations. For the group of boys who weren’t familiar with a single DVD I brought in, they did “A Christmas Carol” which they just finished reading in Language Arts.

We didn’t quite finish, but we will do it our first week back in 2013.

I am looking forward to creating more of these presentations. If you haven’t experimented with it, take some time on a snow day and check it out.

Have you made a Prezi? Do you have another program you use instead? Share your ideas with the comment link at the top of this post.

Technology Goals for 2013

My Technology Goals for 2013

    1. Continue blogging as way to share my ideas and to learn from others. (Never underestimate the value of reading others’ candid thoughts and every day ramblings.)
    2. Become more active on Twitter. (I believe I could learn at least twice as much in two hours on Twitter as I could in a two-hour inservice.)
    3. Secure iPads or iPad Minis with a grant through my district. (10 would be ideal but I would settle for 5.)
    4. Practice more with Prezi. (I’d like to get all of my figurative language lessons into Prezi.)
    5. Learn how to use an animation app like Go!Animate. (I will turn to TweedleDee for a tutorial.)

What are you technology goals? What should I add to my list? Comment at the link above to share your thoughts.

Happy New Year!

It’s the end of the year and it will soon be time to make some resolutions. I don’t make stick to them every year but in the past I have made some pretty simple, yet big mental resolutions.

In 2008, my resolution was “Breathe.”

In 2009, “Dream.”

In 2010, “Peace.”

In 2011 and 2012, my resolutions were more about physical health and I stuck to them pretty well.

Although I can’t say it was a planned resolution for 2012, I would say that this year’s resolution became “Write.”

I didn’t start my blog until April but I have written 144 posts (counting this one). I have discovered some great writers and made some great new friends.

With over 180 followers and 17,000+ views I have experienced the excitement and motivation of being an “author.”

As 2013 begins, I am excited to work on my newest resolution, “Learn.”

In the past few months, I have I learned about so many types of technology and I want to continue to explore the possibilities in 2013…for work and for fun (which thankfully go hand in and for me).

I not only have some big tech goals for 2013 (which I will expand on later), but I want to learn more about lots of things.

Learning from others is not something I anticipated when I began blogging. Many people think blogging is a self-indulgent “let’s talk about me” hobby but I encourage people who don’t blog to find blogs of interest and create their own. The range of topics covered in blogs is pretty amazing. Its a fast way to explore many new topics.

No matter your interests, learning never stops.

I read an idea recently that if we asked our students to write down just one thing they learned every single day for a year, we would see great things.

I am going to try a learning journal this year and will try it in class maybe too.

If you are looking for a new hobby or just like to learn and understand how to do things, I think you should try out the app called Snapguide. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

Basically, it’s like a YouTube/Pinterest/Instagram mash-up. People make “How To” guides for anything and everything in 17 categories. The steps are paired with digital pics and short videos.

You can learn how to make candles in a crockpot, how to extract honey, how to make an iPhone speaker for free, and how to open a beer bottle with a wedding ring!? Who knew?!

This app would be great for students to explain the steps in a process. Just another app to add my “To Learn” list.

So, I hope you all have a great New Year’s celebration and 2013 brings you many wonderful learning opportunities!!

If you are going out, be safe and whatever you do, have fun!

And before then, visit Snapguide and get ready for NYE with these New Years Nails.

Apps with Friends: Language Arts


Continuing my “series” on great apps for the classroom….

Here are the top apps suggested by my friend who teaches 6th grade Language Arts:

1. Notability  It took me less than two weeks to become a huge fan. It was hard to get used to writing on the iPad, but I’m improving every day.

2. Educreations Students can record their voice in a whiteboard style video.

3. iTooch 6th grade Language Arts (They have this for different subjects and grades.)

4. Animoto I am interested in what this app can do, but don’t have the time to take it on right now. Seems like something Tweedle Dee can learn for me.

5. Grammar Up

The next two apps are great ways for students to create their own stories. Ian entertained himself with Toontastic during an hour meeting.

6. Puppet Pals
7. Toontastic

8. Pages A personal favorite even though it costs $9.99. I like this app on my iPad….not a fan on my MacBook Air though???

9. iMovie I am determined (in my free time???) to learn how to use iMovie in 2013.

10. Nearpod – The math teacher I work with, Captain Algebra, uses this in math class too.  “The Nearpod platform enables teachers to use their iPads to manage content on students’ iPads, iPhones or iPods. It combines presentation, collaboration, and real-time assessment tools into one integrated solution.”

11. QR Reader – I am still not quite sure how QR codes work.  Something else to add to my 2013 Technology Bucket List.

12. Prezi – Tweedle Dee learned how to use this in 7th grade science for a biome project. Some snowy afternoon I’m going to have her give me a lesson.

13. Sticky Notes – Virtual post-it notes!  I use a similar app called Infinote Pinboard which cost $2.99 but is a must for a traveling teacher like myself.  I keep all my notes for inclusion, as well as many To Do lists in this app.

Character Trading Cards

I found a really neat activity while I was searching for something for my after school study group on Wednesday.  ReadWriteThink had just what I was looking for!

The 7th graders I am working with during this time are reading A Christmas Carol.  Using the Trading Card Creator, students will be in the computer lab making character cards for each of the characters from the book.

The fictional character option covers appearance, appearance, thoughts, feelings, problem, goal, outcome, quotes, action, interaction, and personal connection.

Students can also include an image and save their card as a PDF to be cut, folded, and taped together.

This is going to be a great activity for my Resource Room when we read Stargirl.  For my class, we will probably create these together on the SMARTBoard as part of our reading discussion and then I will have a set made for every student.

There are also options for other topics as well: real person, fictional place, real place, physical object, event, abstract concept, create your own.

I think for this Wednesday I will do use the random word chooser to  assign characters to students.

Or…maybe I’ll put them in groups of 4 and have each group member choose a main character.

Or…maybe I’ll let them work with partners to create one card.

I don’t have the details hashed out yet, but I guess I’ll figure it out by Wednesday.

What would you do? Suggestions are welcome!

Apps with Friends: Social Studies

I have my own 1st Generation iPad and I take it to work and I use it daily for personal use, but I definitely have iPad envy.

I’m envious of the teachers and classrooms that have iPads. Before anyone tells me that I could have them if I wrote grants….I do plan on writing a grant in the spring in order to get my hands on a few for my Resource Room for the 2013-14 school year.

I have three friends who are currently using iPads on a regular basis in the their classrooms.

I am intrigued by the apps out there, and the possibilities, so I decided to start compiling lists so when I do get my iPads next year (power of positive thinking) I will be prepared. Plus I like to share these things with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Ian. Many times, I put the new apps on the home screen and they discover them and then teach me how to use them!

Today I am going to share the best Social Studies apps according to a very techie friend who is also a leader in BYOT in our district and an intervention specialist.

Here they are (in the order she gave them to me) with a few of my own personal thoughts:

1. Google Earth
2. American Revolution Review Timeline App Includes objects, artifacts, and manuscripts from the period of the American Revolution.
3. Stack the States This is a favorite of Tweedle Ian’s. He learned his 50 states and capitals with this app last year. He still plays it for fun. It includes practice with location, flags, capitals, abbreviations, nicknames, landmarks, and cities.
4. Flow of History .99
5. Video Time Machine I wrote about this cool video app here.
6. World History Maps
7. Today in History Daily lists of events, births, deaths, and holidays going as far back as 300 A.D. Tapping on many events and people will lead you to external links.
8. MyCongress Connects you with websites, emails, and updates (including Facebook and Twitter) of political leaders.

View the actual documents, signatures (includes biographical information), notes, and read the text of these U.S. documents:

9. Constitution
10. Declaration

11. The Congressional Record
12. World War 2 Timeline (This one is $13.99, she got it on sale for $5.99).
14. Historypin (Pretty cool for the Washington, D.C. trip)
15. Google Googles (Also cool for the Washington, D.C. trip)
16.Timeline Eons This is probably my favorite on the list (after Stack the States!) One of the coolest peeks at history. Interactive multi-leveled timeline with pictures.
17. Heritage

Research:

18.WolframAlpha
19. Getty Images

What are some other must have apps for Social Studies? Leave a comment!

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