The Adams Author Project – The Marketplace

FYI- This is the final blog post for the Adams Author Project. If you haven’t already done so read Part 1 and Part 2. Of if you want read part 3 then 2 then 1. It might be confusing but I’m not the boss of you…

Just to refresh, the students chose three chapter books and determined a theme that all three books shared. The students then wrote a story using the same theme. Our young authors Skyped with author John David Anderson for guidance on how to revise their stories. The students then moved into the marketing phase of the project. The students met with Andy Jenks and Chris OBrion from Henrico County Public Schools for advice on how to persuade other students to purchase their stories. That takes us to the last phase of the project, the marketplace.

Mrs. Arkwright and I brought in students from the grade level below our future authors to experience every presentation. The authors prepared some awesome presentations. Some used Google Slides, some made traditional posters, while other used a combination of both. In addition several students added interactive elements to their presentation.

One story was about being immortal. This student gave out tiny cups of water and called it water from the Fountain of Youth. Another student’s story was about magic. This student sprinkled glitter on other students saying that it was magic dust.

At the end of all the presentations the students purchasing the stories then voted on which one they would buy. Once the students voted they received a slip of paper to a Google Site where every story was housed. The author with the most votes was announced on the morning announcements the next day.

I have never seen the students so engaged as I did when they were working on this project. Behavior problems seemed to disappear while students were working. We had student come up to Mrs. Arkwright and I from the younger grades and ask to be part of the project next year. There’s nothing more you can ask for in education, students excited about learning.

Check out a sample below.

The Adams Author Project – Marketing

FYI- This blog post is a continuation from yesterday’s post. I would read yesterday’s post first. However, if you enjoy being confused then just read this one.

As you remember from yesterday, the students just Skyped with author John David Anderson and asked questions to improve their story. The students then went back to their stories where they revised and finalized their work.

Mrs. Arkwright and I then introduced the next part of the project to the students, the marketing. Students had to now “sell” their story to a grade level below them. The students were required to design a cover and presentation to persuade other students to purchase their story. The presentation had to be no more than one minute long. This was no easy task for the students. So Mrs. Arkwright and I brought in the experts, Andy Jenks and Chris OBrion from the communications department in Henrico County Public Schools.

Mr. Jenks and Mr. OBrion gave the students great information on how to speak to their audience and what might persuade people to purchase their story. Our experts then opened their presentation up for questions.

Mr. Jenks and Mr. OBrion were extremely patient and attentive to the students. Each student was able to give a little summary of their story and the experts were then able to give them ideas on how to present their story in a minute. The students even asked some great follow up questions.

One of my most favorite interactions was seeing a student go back and forth with Mr. OBrion about his story. This student’s story was about a boy that was immortal. By the end of the collaborative exchange, the student had the idea to fill tiny cups of water and hand them out saying it’s from the Fountain of Youth. This concept wouldn’t have happened if the student was stuck at a desk all day. This idea was born out of the fact that the student felt safe to be creative and take chances.

The students then took all of their new knowledge and went to work on the covers for their stories and their presentations. It was amazing to see the students discussing their work. The students came up with some of the most creative ideas for their presentation. Tomorrow we’ll go into the presentations and how other students were able to purchase the stories.

The Adams Author Project

I recently had the pleasure of co-teaching with a wonderful reading teacher, Kelly Arkwright. Mrs. Arkwright, the Title 1 reading teacher at Adams Elementary, wanted to take a select group of student’s writing to the next level. We quickly planned out the project and excitedly introduced it to the students.

The project – Students chose three chapters books to read and develop a common theme across all three books. Students then wrote a story using the same theme. After the stories were completed they marketed their stories to a grade level below to see who “sold” the most. This project took place over the course of a couple of months.

We started off by having the students choose three chapter books. They were able to choose any of the chapter books in the library. The only requirement was they had to find a theme that was common in all three books. The students came up with some great themes such as, magic, being immortal, adventure, chocolate and discrimination.

After the books were read they then started writing their stories based on their selected theme. We had the students do all of their work in Google Drive. This allowed the students to work on their stories at both school and home. Google Drive also allowed the teachers the ability to read student work, comment, and respond to comments from anywhere.

Once the students had a rough draft of their work we then Skyped with author John David Anderson. The students came up with their own questions and asked Mr. Anderson specifics on how to improve their stories. John David Anderson was patient and answered all the student’s questions. I was completely impressed by the level of questions the students asked. My absolute favorite question was, “People read my story but don’t care about my main character. How can I make them care about him.” That’s a 100 percent real question that came from the student. Awesome!

The students then took the notes and revised their stories. It was amazing to see how motivated they were to write!

Tomorrow’s blog post we’ll go into the next phase of the project, the marketing.

Henrico 21 Reminders

The due date for submitting Henrico 21 lessons is coming up fast. If you plan to submit a lesson, I will need your lesson turned in by the end of February. This will give us time to evaluate the lesson and clean it up before we submit it to the county level.

You can write your lesson in either the instructional planner format or the Henrico 21 lesson plan format. Use the format that’s easiest for you.

Some reminders as you are teaching/ writing up your lesson:

  1. Be sure that you have a rubric for your lesson.
  2. Keep blank and completed copies of rubrics and any work the students completed during the lesson.
  3. If you can, take pictures during your lesson.
  4. Make sure that there is no denial of permission for any student work or pictures submitted.

Instagram Template for Students

Click Here for the Template

Here is an Instagram template made in Google Slides that you can use with your students. I totally stole this idea from Tyler Hart. His template was in ActivInspire and I ported it over to Google Slides. Just open it up and copy it to your Google Drive.

Some ways you can use this template:

  • Have students create an Instagram of a famous American.
  • Create an Instagram photo of a book character.
  • Students can create an historical selfie by inserting their picture into historical photos.

What are some ways that you can use it in your class?

#TechTakeout Invades Adams Elementary

Last Friday the #TechTakeout crew went to Adams Elementary to do some awesome technology lessons with the fourth graders. As a group we planned four different interactive math stations for the students using digital tools such as Google Earth, Google Draw, CheckThis, and ActivInspire flipcharts. Everyone had a blast throughout the day! Check out what we did below. Keep your eye out for us Glen Lea, because we are coming your way next!

Mr. Covais and Mr. Caratachea had the students using Google Earth to measure the perimeter of historical sites aligned with fourth grade SOLs. First the students opened up Google Earth. Once Google Earth was opened the students went to the student server where they could drag a .kmz file onto Google Earth to take them to specific places. The first place that we traveled to was Jamestown. After Jamestown was located the students used the ruler tool to measure the three sides of the Jamestown fort.

The students then added the length of the three sides and posted their findings on a collaborative Padlet Wall.

After the students posted to the Padlet wall they were able to repeat the activity and measure Mount Vernon, St. John’s Church, and some groups even had time to measure Adams Elementary!

Click Here to download the files of the different locations we visited!

Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Robinson’s groups started by signing into their Google accounts. We then opened a blank document in Google Drawing and worked to create our own Gallon Girl, Gallon Guy or Gallon Man! Students used the shape tool to create various representations for the gallon, quarts, pints and cups. Each child changed their shape colors and added a key to their drawing as well. Finally they used the webcam to take a selfie and insert their own image into their drawing.

Check out some of their creations:

Mrs. Hues made an ActivInspire flipchart focusing on elapsed time. Elapsed time is always a tricky concept, so this was an awesome activity for these fourth graders! The students were able to use the interactive clocks within the flipchart to find how much time had passed between two events. On each slide, there was a sound recording with an elapsed time scenario, They listened to, and filled in the important information (start time, stop time, etc.). Then the students used the interactive clock to solve the problem.

While the student at the board was working through the problem, the other students had whiteboards and used whatever strategies they preferred to solve the problem.

When the students finished they looked at all of the final answers and shared the different ways that they arrived at the same answer, as well as figuring out where mistakes were made. The best part of the lesson was when another student perfectly explained the method that works for him and the other students benefited from seeing him work out the problem in this way. True collaboration and communication in action!

Ms. Wright and Mr. Clough used an awesome website called CheckThis for their activity. The students began the lesson by choosing items to weigh. Once the student selected their item they then used a balance to measure the mass of the item. After they knew the actual mass the students were ready to head over to CheckThis to make their own website!

Within CheckThis the students were able to take a picture of themselves holding their item. They then created a poll under the picture asking the weight of their item. At the bottom of each website the students took a second picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with the correct weight.

Mr. Clough and Ms. Wright made sure to grab the address of each website so that they can share them with the four teachers we worked with today. When the students visit the websites they can answer the question and then scroll down to see the correct answer.

Check out there awesome websites!

HUGE shoutout to Mrs. Browne and Mr. Favale for hanging with us at Adams and helping out too!

Check out all the fun we had!

#TechTakeout at Adams (01/2015) by Slidely Slideshow


Native American Review Videos

I had the pleasure of co teaching a lesson with Mrs. Ferguson at Pinchbeck Elementary a couple of weeks ago. During our planning meet Mrs. Ferguson discussed how she didn’t want to do the same old thing for her second graders when it came to the Native American unit. We decided to have students make videos where they ask their classmates a review question on Native Americans.

The students choose one question to ask and then did research to answer that question. Mrs. Ferguson’s class then designed a backdrop to their video.

The students then used the webcam on the laptops and recorded two videos. The first video was the question being asked. For example, “What type of homes did the Pueblo live in?” The second video was the answer to the question.

We then took those videos and imported them into Windows Movie Maker. The students placed a slide in between the two clips to give their classmates a chance to answer the questions. Check out some of the videos below.

Native American Review Questions from Jim Covais on Vimeo.

Would you like to plan a lesson similar to this? Set up a planning time with me and let’s make it happen!

Plickers is a Super Easy Response System

Learner response systems are fun and engaging, but can be a hassle to setup. You have to make sure each child has a device, and that the battery is working and fully charged. Then you have to make sure the students all go to the correct website and sign in. Once all of that happens, 15 to 20 minutes has passed you’re ready to start your lesson. Too bad your lesson is half over at that point.

I learned of a new response system that doesn’t need any of that from Julie Smith. All you need is a computer, projector, cell phone, and some computer paper. Plickers stands for paper clickers. When you sign up on you will need to create a class. Once you create a class you will be able to print off half sheets, that lets the app read the student’s choices. All that is left is for you to download the app onto your phone. It’s free in the Apple App Store or in the Google Play Store.

So how does it all work? Students hold up their piece of paper with the answer choice they want pointed to the ceiling. You open the app on your phone and scan the room. Plickers reads the choices and displays the results on your computer. I know it sounds too good to be true but it honestly works wonderfully. Check out the YouTube video below to get started. Click here if you can’t see the embed video below.

VSTE 2014 Recap!

This past Sunday and Monday several Elementary ITRT’s traveled to Virginia Beach to attend the 2014 Virginia Society for Technology in Education’s Annual Conference.


While there participants were given the opportunity to sit in on various concurrent sessions, listen to awesome keynote speakers, visit various exhibits, see student work from around the state and collaborate with other teachers from numerous other counties. We even got to see some Henrico County students be recognized for their awesome work this past year!


Your ITRT’s are excited about some of the new things they’ve learned and can’t wait to get into your classrooms and share these things with you! Here are a few highlights of what they saw.

Google Tour Builder
Teachers from Fairfax County Public Schools had their students read the book Around the World in Eighty Days. After completing the book they created a Google Tour based on the cities that Phileas Fogg visited. The students inserted images using Encyclopedia Britannica Image Gallery and added facts about each location. Lastly the presenters shared Jerome Burg’s seminal and evolving collection of Google Earth Literature Trips. These ready to go lessons incorporate various picture books and novels that the students read prior to creating their Google Tour.

Google Classroom: Join the Paperless Revolution
Most of your ITRT’s have been pushing Google Drive this year! In August, Google recently unveiled Google Classroom. An interactive Learning Management System that allows you create a virtual classroom, have your student join, add assignments and announcements and collaborate with your students. Contact your ITRT if you’d like help setting up your own Google Classroom.

15 + Tech Tools You Can Use Next Week
Niki Jones, Prince William County, presented on 15 awesome resources that are ready for implementation in your classrooms immediately! Check our her handout from the session!

Powerful Primary Projects Combine Creativity and Content
As most of you know Pixie is a software program already loaded onto our new Dells. Many of you have already been using Pixie with your students and have created some awesome projects. This session focused on some of the new features of Pixie and how they have implemented Pixie in Hanover County classrooms. Jennifer Hicks, an elementary ITRT, shared her Pixie wiki with us. It has some awesome lesson ideas.

Google Apps for Education Add-Ons
Henrico County’s very own Jon Wirsing presented at the VSTE conference. He shared some awesome features found within Google. Since there is a big push for Google this year he showcased some samples from HCPS classrooms and discussed the various add-on featured within Google Drive. Some of these included: Awesome Table, Flubaroo, Doctopus, Goobric, DocApender, Formmule, Autocrat, Google Moderator-polls based on popularity, Cultural Institute: art projects, historical moments and Google Keep.


X Marks The Spot: Digging Up Tech Treasures
This session sent participants on a scavenger hunt to locate various QR codes. Each code was linked to a digital resource such as Kahoot!, Educreations, Symbaloo, Poll Everywhere and Socrative. Symbaloo quickly became our favorite! This free resource functions much like PortaPortal but is more visually appealing to the eyes! It allows your to create bookmark “tiles” that link to various resources!


Lastly, she showcased the features of Educreations. HCPS already has Educreations loaded onto our county iPads but we were most impressed with Educreations on the computers! If you haven’t had a chance to give it a try get with your ITRT!

Makey Makey
MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. It allows student to turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between. Our ITRT’s were excited when they were able to make a banana piano! There are tons of MakeyMakey resources available on the internet. The kits run about $50 and students are able to create all sorts of projects and inventions. Check out this video explaining MakeyMakey.


Meaningful Technology for Our Youngest Learners
This session was led by a kindergarten teacher, Jenn Orr, who shared some wonderful resources about ways to include technology in the classroom for younger learners. Some great websites to visit for read aloud books besides Raz-Kids and Tumblebooks include: StorylineOnline, Unite for Literacy and Toon Book Reader. Toon Book Reader reads aloud graphic novels as it highlights the text. The books can be read in multiple languages…great for your ELL students! Also, be sure to check out all of the fun math games found on Illuminations.

If you are interested in any of these new resources please contact your ITRT and they will help you get started!