Roundup from EdTech RVA

I was very luck to attend EdTech RVA which was hosted at VCU this year. I had such a great time learning from other educators. Here’s a roundup of the sessions that I attended as well as links to the other great sessions I wasn’t able to attend.

Flipping the Elementary Classroom

Not only did I have the pleasure of attending EdTech but I had the privilege of presenting there. Rita Roberson and I presented on how to flip the elementary classroom. In a flipped classroom students learn the material for the first time at home and then the teacher conducts remediation at school. Great model for middle or high school, but doesn’t work for elementary. In elementary we do an “in-flip”. This is where during small group center time, a group of students watch an instructional video and then rotates to the teacher led group for remediation. We have seen some huge gains in Mrs. Roberson’s class. Click here for our presentation.

Keynote with Adam Garry and Sixto Cancel

This year’s conference was focused on personalized learning. Adam Garry and Sixto Cancel spoke to the audience about the importance of personalized learning. What we don’t realize is that most of our experiences in life are personalized. From Netflix to Facebook everything in our lives are personalized to us. Yet many times in education we don’t personalize learning for our students. Students measure success by personal goals that they set, not teacher goals. When we give students voice and choice we allow them to personalize their learning thus increasing their success.

Social Media for Professional Development

I attended a great session led by Heather Causey a Hanover ITRT. She spoke to the benefits of social media and how we can use it as educators to grow professionally. Many times we think of social media as a way to share vacation pictures or something to waste our time on. She explored the different ways we can use social media to personalize our learning. The biggest takeaway, if you’re not on Twitter – get on Twitter! Click here for her presentation.

Google Classroom

I haven’t had a chance to start using Google Classroom with a teacher yet. I was very happy to attend the session on Google Classroom with Brittany Groff and Kim Tupponce from King William Public Schools. Classroom is a tool that helps teachers create and organize assignments. Teachers are able to easily communicate with their students and provide feedback.

What I liked most about the demo was that when I create an assignment for a student I’m able to attach other supporting documents. These could be websites, videos or anything else to help students complete the assignment. It seems like this would be a great way to go paperless.

Visit the Google Classroom website for more information.

Coding Like a DJ

I’ve always thought about coding with students and didn’t really know where to start. This was the reason I attended the coding session with John Hendron and Bea Leiderman. They walked us through the benefits of coding with elementary students and how to get started.

The best way to get students started is to have them log onto Scratch.  Scratch is a web based program that allows students to easily code programs. The students are able to create games and other programs in Scratch.

These were the sessions that I was able to attend. Click here for the Google Community with all of the presentations at EdTech RVA.

Promethean Support

Recently many of our schools have received new Promethean Boards. Out of my four schools 3 of them now have a Promethean Board in every room! We also have teachers on many different levels of comfort with the board and ActivInspire.

Henrico has put together so many great resources to help out classroom teachers. Whether you are just starting out with your board or you have been using it for years, this blog has everything you need. Make sure you check out both the beginner and advance training modules.

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!