#TechTakeout Brings Word Study Fun to Montrose

Today the #TechTakeout crew headed over to Montrose Elementary to work on language arts! Mrs. Hues, the ITRT at Montrose, met with the Title I Reading Teacher, Kathy Rohr, to find the grade level and topic with the greatest need. The winners of the #TechTakeout party were 3rd grade! We came in to focus on different activities that the students could do during stations. So many teachers are looking for ways to spice up their word study stations, and that’s where the #TechTakeout crew comes in! We shared four different station ideas and tools that the students will be able to use independently after today.

We opened the day with an awesome Nearpod activity that Mrs. Hues created. Montrose, was just awarded a HEF grant for Nearpod licenses and iPads, so we were eager to learn more about the full possibilities of Nearpod.
This is an awesome interactive tool that allows teachers to completely engage their students in every lesson using a variety of teaching tools. If you Google “What is Nearpod”, here’s how they describe what Nearpod is: “Nearpod is an interactive presentation and assessment tool that can be used to amazing effect in the classroom. The app’s concept is simple. A teacher can create presentations that can contain Quizzes, Polls, Videos, Images, Drawing-Boards, Web Content and so on.”

Mrs. Hues and Mrs. Green had the students work on word sorts using Promethean flipcharts on their own computers and on the Promethean board. They used the word sorts that they downloaded from this site. When they were done sorting the words, they used the sound recorder to record themselves saying the words and why they are in each sort. The students did a great job with this activity and were rewarded with a fun game! Scrabble Slam is a popular card game, but the students today played it on the Promethean board. They challenged each other to make words using the tiles, but they had to follow the word feature that they are studying. The students loved trying to make the most valuable word by adding up the value of each letter to determine the total value of the word.

Download and listen to this awesome student work sample:

Ms. Browne and Ms. Wright used Tumblebooks and Padlet with their groups. They focused on CVC and CVCe word patterns. First, the students listened to a pre-selected story called Toopy and Binoo: Toopy’s Story by Dominique Jolin on Tumblebooks. Afterwards, they opened a Padlet wall and typed words they found in the story that fit the word patterns mentioned above. This activity challenged their brains since they had to find all of the words themselves within the text.

Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Robinson used a new tool, Board Thing, with their groups. Students all jumped on the same collaborative board and added their word study words to this digital bulletin board. When the students clicked on the link for their board they didn’t sign in but clicked on the “sign in as guest” button. This allowed them to enter their name and join the board as a guest. Once on the board, the students each added a post-it with their name on it. Board Thing allows you to make each post-it a specific color. Each child picked a color and added their name at the top of the board. Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Smith added the headings that matched their word study words from this past week. Students then raced to see how many words they could add under each heading. We could see who was typing what words because of the colors they had picked. Once we added as many words as we could think of we went to Britannica Image Quest and found pictures to go with our words. The students uploaded their images to a new post it. We even discovered that if you drug your picture over your text post-it, it linked them together as one post-it. If time allowed we used the chat feature in the bottom right hand corner to write sentences using our word study words. Check out one of our boards from today:

Mr. Covais and Mr. Caratachea worked with Britannica Image Quest in tandem with Windows Movie Maker. First, the students used Clever to get to One Search. One Search is a great hub that we use in Henrico County for the students. Today we used it to get to Image Quest. The students chose some of their word study words and found images that represented those words. The students then saved the images to their desktop so they could easily be imported into Windows Movie Maker. Once the pictures were imported into Movie Maker, the students added a title. Each student added the pictures of their first word and then we added a title where the students typed their word study word. When the students shared out what they did they turned it into a game with their classmates trying to guess what their words were.

Shadow Plants

I recently had the pleasure of co-teaching with Ms. Gibson at Adams Elementary. Her first graders had been learning about plants and she wanted a fun interactive way to demonstrate their knowledge. After our planning meeting we decided to use Shadow Puppet Edu. This is an awesome app where students can create videos with pictures that they take on the iPads.

The students first drew pictures of a plant. The made sure to include the roots, stem, leaf, and flower. Once the pictures were done we were ready for the app!

Students then took a pic of their drawing and placed it in the Shadow Puppet app. From there they were able to record their voice and touch the different parts of the plant. I love that when students touch the parts of the plant, it lights up where they touched. The videos are saved in the camera roll and can easily be pulled off the iPad.

TechTakeout Brings Language Arts Excitement to Johnson!

Today was the #TechTakeout crew’s first day back at it, and we could not have had a better day! We delivered some fun learning to the fifth grade students and teachers at Johnson Elementary. These amazing teachers wanted to focus on Language Arts, and in particular main idea and details. Each pair of ITRTs broke off and hit the topic in a different way using various tech tools.

Since this is the first of many Tech Takeouts this year I’ll recap what our mission as a group. The elementary ITRT team comes together to work with a grade level on a specific skill where students need a little more help. While helping the students grasp concepts that have proven to be difficult for them we show the teachers a variety of tools. We don’t expect teachers to pull something like this off alone after we leave, but we want to give them new ideas that they can implement separately with the assistance of their ITRT as needed. The great thing about many of the tools we show off is that they can be used cross curricularly. As a team the ITRTs and classroom teachers look at data and come up with a topic that needs support. We love going to new places, meeting new students and teachers, and helping to turn up the fun in the classroom!

At Johnson we used iPhone Fake Text and Lino It to kick off the day. The students listened to a short paragraph about two friends, Justin and Andy, who were riding bikes in the park. Justin fell off his bike and was hurt. The paragraph described his fall and all his injuries. After listening to the paragraph the students launched the iPhone Fake Text website. We pretended to text Justin’s dad about his accident. We had to keep our text short and only send him the main idea from the paragraph. After creating our text we took a screenshot of our text message and added it to a Lino wall where we could see everyone’s main ideas. The kids had a blast “texting” and this concept could be used in so many different ways throughout the year!

Stephanie Wright and Alfonso Favale’s groups used Popplet to mind map out a story about a pet rock. Students had to show that the rock was the main idea and then show supporting details such as what type of rock they had, where it was found, characteristics of their rock (texture, color), and how their rock might be used. Students added a picture of their rock to their popplet. Students then exported their popplet as a jpeg. Students then imported their pictures into a padlet.

Jessica Robinson & Jon Wirsing’s group used a resource called Pixiclip. Our group started by setting Google Chrome to be their default browser. We found that the program worked better in Google Chrome and saved much faster than Internet Explorer. After our browser was set we launched PixiClip and practiced using the tools on the left hand side of our screen. Then we pulled in a JPEG from Server Shortcuts. Huge THANKS to Julie Smith for sharing these images with us (we missed you Mrs. Smith). Each image was a different science passage. The students read their passage and identified the main ideas. Then they turned on their webcams and recorded themselves describing their paragraphs and highlighting the main ideas. They saved their videos and pasted their embed codes into a Google Doc so I could share them with their teachers. Check out some of their samples.



Jim Covais and Matt Caratachea took children’s engineering, main idea/details, coding, and Makey Makeys and rolled it all into one crazy fun lesson! First, the students were each provided a passage to read. Each student had their own unique passage to work with, and this lesson could work with essentially any reading passage imaginable. The students were then tasked with making a table structure with the materials provided: toilet paper tubes, cardboard, and paper clips.

Once the structure was constructed the students cut their passage into sections separating the main idea and details. The main idea was attached to the top of the table and the details were attached to the legs of the table. This structure provided an excellent representation of how main idea and details are related. Details support the main idea, and in this case they are physically supporting the main idea. The students used paper clips to attach the pieces of the passage to their structure, this was a very important for the next part of the lesson. We broke out the Makey Makeys and attached the alligator clips to the paper clips on the structure to the Makey Makeys. The students connected the details to the arrows on the Makey Makeys and the main idea to the Space. When everything was set up the students went to a Scratch program that Mr. Covais had made. Usually we would have the students program this part, but due to the time constraints this seemed like a better option. Within the Scratch program Mr. Covais recorded his voice saying, “main idea” and, “details.” He linked the The students hooked the Makey Makeys to the computer and controlled their computer using their main idea/details structure.

(Space Bar = Main Idea, Arrow Keys = Details)

Karen Hues and Gina Browne’s group practiced main idea today using some great articles from Discovery Science and Newsela. Discovery Science can be accessed by going through Clever (you may also see this link in the server shortcuts). When students click on “Login with active directory”, they will be automatically taken to a screen of available resources for their schools. When you click on Discovery Science, it will take students right in and they will have access to all the reading passages, virtual labs, glossary, and more that this resource has to offer. In light of the recent weather events, we had students read about hurricanes and how they are formed. After reading, students posted on a Today’s Meet wall that we created. We made the wall active for an hour so students could share their ideas there for our activity. Next students checked out another great resource called Newsela. Newsela has current articles on a variety of topics. We checked out a science article that talked about how drones are being used in the eyewall of a hurricane to gather to help predict the storm’s path and intensity. Newsela has varied Lexile levels and by adjusting the level, it alters the number of words that appear in the article so that it is appropriate for each child’s reading level. After reading the article, students were able to take a short quiz with questions related to the article. Students were able to self check after the quiz since an answer key was provided. The classroom teacher created a classroom account, so she also had access to students’ progress on the quizzes.



Thank you so much to the amazing fifth grade team at Johnson Elementary! Look out Montrose we’ll see you next month!

Promethean Resources

Here is a collection of resources to get you ready for your Promethean Board. If you have some resources that I should include let me know about it. I’d love to add new items to the list!


How I Spent My Summer Vacation – Part 2

In the last post I talked about the first session that I taught called Digital Creations. If you didn’t read that one check it out. I have a few ideas on how you can use Photoshop and Premiere Pro in your classroom.

The second session that I taught was called the 3Cs. The Cs stand for create, code, and critically think. This was by far my favorite one to teach. The entire class was dedicated to students working on their final projects. They were tasked to code a video game, design a usable controller for the game, and design and print a 3D logo for their game. Let’s break down how they completed each part of this project.

Video Game:

The students used Scratch to code their video games. For most of the class this was their first time using the program. For those of you who may not know, Scratch is a website where students can code a program. Instead of having to know a specific language, students just drag connecting blocks into a work space.

To get the students ready to code I first had them do the Hour of Code and then use the Scratch cards. Click Here for a detailed how to get started guide. From there the students let their imaginations run wild.

Check out this gallery of fun games the students created.


The students used a MaKey MaKey to design the controllers for their games. What I like most about the MaKey MaKey students are able to use a variety of materials for their interface. Here’s a picture of one of the controllers:

What to know more about the MaKey MaKey? Check out this video:


The students designed their 3D logo in Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a powerful, free website where students are able to design 3D shapes. After the students designed their logo, we then printed their creation using the Cube 3D printer. Check out one of their awesome creations below.

Want to try out something similar? Contact me and let’s get planning!