Tuesday, June 21, 2016

#NATC2016- Super Google & Super Hero Fun

Today I presented about Google with my friend, Tina McKenzie. We had two hours and still didn't make it through everything. There are so many wonderful things Google can do for you! Want to see the presentation? Take a look:

I had a great time with our Super Hero theme! Here are a few fun tweets/pictures from today.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Flexible Seating- I can't wait!

I am so excited about setting up my classroom for the 2016-2017 school year. We have been out of school since the end of May. Normally we can get in to the school to start set up after July 4th. I keep waiting for that email that tells me when I'm allowed in. This is how I feel...

I have gotten rid of my desks. The last day of school my students helped me move them up around to storage. I'm replacing them with tables. I plan to put those tables low to the ground so they can sit on the floor.

I've ordered some bean bag cubes from Overstock.

Stools from Ikea

And a friend is picking up colorful rugs to go around one table. Now I'm on the search for larger rugs for different areas in my classroom and 6 tall stools to go around the counters and tall table.

While out looking for new things to put in my classroom I ran across different letters that were on clearance at Michael's. They didn't have enough of any one type to spell anything but I had this great idea to get all different types of letters to spell science. Look at this! I'm not exactly sure where I'll put it but I'm going to find a space for it. 

I've been looking into flexible seating for the last year or so but I never actually tried it. There are several of us taking the plunge together and I'm all in! I will be teaching four classes of 5th grade science next year so it may be a little difficult to start, but I don't doubt we'll all love it!

Do you use flexible seating in your classroom? I'd love to hear tips and tricks that you can share with me. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

#XpLAP Chapter 2- Myths

Chapter 2 of Explore Like a Pirate talks about all the myths that surround gamification. Several books I've read lately have the excuses chapter. I think if you're reading this book you aren't using any of those excuses. However, I'm sure these are used for talking points if you are trying to get buy in from other teachers or administration. 
  • Myth 1- Games are just for play. 
    • Games are such powerful ways to learn and practice problem solving and critical thinking. 
    • I never thought of it this way but the book mentions that we model so much that when students have a turn to make something they are ready to just move on. 
  • Myth 2- If I give them a badge or points, my class will be gamified. 
  • Myth 3- If's easy for you. It won't work for me because I teach ___.
    • I've got to say this is the excuse I probably hear most often. I'm new to gamilification, but it is the go to excuse for using technology. So often I am told that the kids can't do that. But if you get out of their way you'll be amazed.
  • Myth 4- You need to be a gamer to gamify your class. 
    • If this is true them I'm up the creek without a paddle. I am not a gamer at all! I get frustrated easily. My students would laugh at me because I told them Angry Birds makes me angry. 
  • Myth 5- Students should want to learn; I shouldn't have to dress it up. 
    • Who doesn't want to have fun while learning? I can see how adding gaming elements to a lesson would make it more engaging, and isn't that what we're all after?
  • Myth 6- Gamification is just playing games.
    • This is going to be more than just pulling out the board games and playing them with you class. 
  • Myth 7- Girls don't game.
  • Myth 8- My classroom doesn't have enough technology to make this work. 
    • I can't even argue that point. I have been on a mission to get more and more technology for my students to use. I'm the technology integration mentor for my school and technology is my passion. I am excited to learn about some of the gaming aspects that are used for those who aren't comfortable with technology. That will help me sell it to others.
  • Myth 9- Games in the classroom are too much about competition. 
    • We have had contests in class before and I think a little competition is healthy. 
So now I'm ready to really get into the meat of this book! . 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Explore Like a Pirate- Chap 1 #ExploreLAP

I'm a day late getting this posted but I attended Project Lead the Way training this week. Today was my final day so I'm ready to share about chapter 1 from Explore Like a Pirate.

I've had this book for a bit but I haven't had the time to sit down and really dig in. So I pulled a few important ideas from chapter 1 to share with you.

If you are reading this post, you are probably interested in learning more about using games in your classroom. Michael Matera says that gaming allows you to have an "educational mashup." Don't think you have to jump right in. You can use a few gamification techniques to help students become more engaged. At the GAFE Summit last week, the keynote said he wants his students to have FOMO (fear of missing out). I see gamification creating FOMO in my classroom. Students will be captivated by using games in the classroom. 

The great thing about this is that there are many teachers out there who are willing to help you and share ideas. This isn't something you have to do alone. You could recruit some friends/co-workers to get on board with you. If you don't have anyone in your building who would be willing to do that, reach out on Twitter! You don't have to do this along. 

"We, through gamification and playful planning, will create leaders critical thinkers, and even legacy makers." - Michael Matera

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Book Study- Explore Like a Pirate

Are you looking for a PD book to read this summer? Rachael over at Sweet, Sweet Primary is hosting a summer book study for Explore Like a Pirate. She plans to cover one chapter each week beginning June 7th. Want to do it with us? Make sure to check back to her blog and link up to share your posts!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Joy Cowley Collection & Contest

If you've taught K-2 then you are familiar with Joy Cowley's character, Mrs. Wishy-Washy. I taught first grade for three years and the kids loved reading about Mrs. Wishy-Washy. Did you know that Joy Cowley has other characters too? I had a chance to review some books and share those characters with you. 

The first character I'd like to share with you is Miniboy. Miniboy and his friend Mousie travel into the Land of Kitchen. They are trying to avoid Big Foot and get good things to eat. In each of the books I reviewed, Miniboy and Mousie went on different adventures together. 

The other character I would like to tell you about is Hairy Bear. Hairy Bear is married to Mrs. Bear. He is always fixing things around his house. He has a few misadventures, but that's what makes Hairy Bear fun. It seems like Hairy Bear might be a little accident prone but Mrs. Bear is always there to help him feel better. 

I love both of these characters because they would appeal to boys as well as girls! Each of the characters have friends who help them out so there is a great character connection there. I also love the fact the each book has teaching ideas inside the back cover. Teachers and parents can find a list the features of the text and questions to ask before, during, and after reading. 

These books would be a great addition to any K-2 classroom. Check out the character sets available here.

Would you love to win a collection of Joy Cowley books for your classroom? Click the photo below to enter. The contest ends April 13th so make sure to enter now. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Math Groups from AL to DE- Digital Connections

I am so excited about the math groups we have been doing and I wanted to share. I connected with Mrs. Corey through a #MysterySkype. We decided to do something beyond that with our classes so we started brainstorming and planning.

Using Google Docs and Voxer, we were able to develop an idea for our students to work together even though my class is in Alabama and hers is in Delaware. We started with a getting to know you activity. The kids had video conferences using rooms we created. They completed a Google Doc before meeting and then shared information about themselves and had to find 3 things everyone had in common.

Here is the Getting to Know You directions:

Let’s get to know our math collaboration team!

Your Task:
Type some interesting facts about yourself that you’d like to share with your group members.

Make sure to include…
  • your name
  • age
  • favorite subject (not recess or lunch)
  • 5-6 facts about yourself

You will meet your group members via your group’s room on Thursday. You’ll have a chance to share your facts and learn about each other. Try to find things you have in common.

Each roup is challenged to find at least 3 things every member has in common.

Remember to put your name at th8e top of this document in the color you will use to type and reply to your peers!

After our first meeting both classes were really excited! So we planned another meeting, this time the kids had to present a word problem and let the others solve it. Then they had to explain how they solved the problem. As we went we found that not all the kids were engaged the entire time. If they presented the problem they were just sitting and waiting for the other members to solve. So we made some changes. The next time they are going to all be presented with the same word problem at the beginning of their video conference. Then they will each solve the problem and collaborate on Google Slides to share how they solved the problem. Our hope is that the kids will be able to share different strategies they are using.

We couldn't do this without Google accounts and the technology to allow for our Video meetings. Each student has their own Google account so it allows them to create and collaborate on docs and slides even though half of their team is in Delaware.

My homeroom wanted in on the action too so Mrs. Corey recruited Mrs. Marsh. Mrs. Marsh's class works with my homeroom class now too. We are having a great time, using technology, learning about math strategies, and making new friends. I've had a few people ask how we are doing the math groups so I wanted to share in case anyone else is interested in doing them too. If you have any questions don't hesitate to connect with me on Twitter- @MWhiteMES.

I have a little bit of happy news of my own, I took the test and I'm officially a Google Certified Educator, Level 1. I'm really thrilled about this!