4D Periodic Table of Elements

IMG_5320Over the past 2 years, I have been obsessed with Augmented Reality in Education, and trying to find ways to engage students and make learning fun. I was able to present on Aurasma at the FETC Conference, and you can find my presentation here.

While at the conference, I found about about another Augmented Reality company called Daqri. Apparently, you can do many of the same things with Aurasma, but I have yet to dive into it.  That being said, they do have an app out that would be great for teaching students about the periodic table of elements. It is called Daqri Elements 4D. This website has tons of PDF lessons plans for elementary, middle, and high school students made by teachers that you can implement into your curriculum.  All you need to do is download the Elements 4D App and the Periodic Table of Elements Cubes. The cubes are inside the lesson plan PDFs, so just download the level you want.  Using the App, scan certain sides of the cubes, and you will get a 4D view of what the element looks like! Even better, when you put scanned cubes together that would make a molecule, it shows the actual molecule and name! I recorded a video using the app below. Check it out for visual, and then download the lesson plans and engage those students!

Multiplication Array City!

I love finding all kinds of fun ideas for my teachers out on the web. I live on Twitter getting rock star ideas from my PLN. I also venture out into other realms of Educational Blogs, Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, Google+, Facebook, and so much more. Although there are so many educators to follow world wide, sometimes we forget that there are outstanding educators right in our own backyards doing amazing and engaging activities with their students everyday!

Tori Filas, a third grade teacher at Three Chopt Elementary, is constantly doing a awesome activities with her students.  I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Filas last year as an ITRT, and whether we were doing lessons together or not, I found myself gravitating into her class just to feel the energy and passion she brings everyday.

When I taught third grade, we would make a HUGE multiplication array chart in the hallway when we started our multiplication unit. The students had so much fun making it every year. Yesterday, Mrs. Filas posted a picture of a fun bulletin board idea: Array City! I thought this was brilliant. It takes the big array chart idea that I used to do, but adds a real world connection on arrays. Her students will never look at windows on houses and buildings in the same way any more. They will forever be connecting multiplication arrays out in the real world. Not only this, but she also got a sweet bulletin board made by students out of the project!  Check it out!


FETC 2015 – Make Connections and My Presentation!

IMG_5214This week has been a blast here in Orlando, FL attending the 2015 FETC Conference.  I have been to many local and state conferences, but this national conference, by far, is one of the most informative in the world of educational tech conferences.  Technically it is labeled a edtech conference, but just learning and growing as an educator as a whole is one of the best parts about this conference. I have really enjoyed reconnecting with so many people and Twitter-ers I follow and met last year.  Some of my favorites that I have run into are @TechMinock, @Techbradwaid, @cybraryman1, @web20classroom, @tomwhitby, @adambellow, @teachertate, @lesliefisher, @teach42, @kathyschrock, @shannonmmiller, @rushtonh and so much more. This list could literally be pages and pages long. Simply go to Twitter and search the #FETC hashtag to find them!

My favorite part of the week was being honored to present!  For my presentation, I showed many different Augmented Reality Apps and concluded with showing the fully customizable Aurasma App.  Aurasma, is fully customizable and not bound by the one note features the other apps seem to have.  Now, I’m not saying the other apps discussed are bad apps. That being said, many of them would require a little out of the box thinking to use them effectively in the classroom, and the use of the Aurasma App is only bound by your imagination.  Check out my presentation below!  Feel free to comment or email me and ask any questions you may have! If you aren’t in to looking through Prezi Presentations, you can at least download my Aurasma 101 Directions PDF that will walk you through how to use and make your own!  I have also included Tips, Tricks, and Ideas within the PDF on how you can use it in the classroom!  Enjoy!

Aurasma 101 – Directions, Tips, and Classroom Ideas!

SOL Analysis : Using Statewide Test Results to Guide Instruction

First, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoy my PLN that continually grows. There are some truly amazing educators blogging, tweeting, connecting, collaborating, and sharing their thoughts on education. Although there are many different messages being shared by all, it is enlightening to surround myself with as many people as I can that are striving to improve education.

vdoe-logoThat being said, I ran across this really great website from the VA Department of Education.

Over the past few years we have seen a dip in SOL scores across the state. Districts, Administrators, Principals, and Teachers are all trying to figure out the best way to prepare their students for these more rigorous tests. I was super excited to see the VDOE conduct their own statewide data analysis of student performance. The VDOE wanted to determine the specific content for which overall student performance was weak or inconsistent.

One of the most intriguing parts: These extensively long (20-50 slides each!) PowerPoint presentations do not have released or future SOL questions and it is not intended to mimic the SOL test. They are more intended to provide educators with further insights on certain concepts that were most challenging for students. I really liked that the VDOE released their analysis with insights on how to teach the concepts instead of simply pushing out released test questions. It really shows that they are trying to help educators to ultimately help their students be successful. Whether you’re an end-of-term testing proponent or not, it is the education world we live in at the moment, and the state providing its teachers with analysis to help them guide instruction is really refreshing to see.

PBIS for Faculty and Staff

ccAs educators we implement all different kinds of incentives for our students to help them stay focused and working hard in our classrooms. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or PBIS is an approach to building positive supports to help motivate students to achieve success. Using successful PBIS supports can help our students thrive off positive behavior in the classroom, and help them to want to perform well in class for themselves and their teachers.

Taking this same approach, why not create the same type of PBIS system for teachers!  It is not just students who respond well to positive motivation.  We’re all human and crave positive reinforcement and validation for our hard work and effort we put in our professional lives.

Pocahontas Middle School principal, Kim Sigler, has implemented an extremely successful PBIS system with her staff for the past couple years.  Collaborating with Mrs. Sigler over the past couple weeks to help implement our own PBIS system at Fair Oaks for our faculty has been extremely rewarding.  Not only did Mrs. Sigler help us come up with some great ideas, she also suggested and shared a couple great books to help that I highly suggest: Looking Forward to Monday Morning and Looking Forward to MORE Monday Mornings.

Focusing on Standards One and Three of Virginia DOES’s Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers, our administrative team created and quick and easy walkthrough form that we use for our daily walkthroughs with our teachers. Teachers have the opportunity to earn six checks.  If they receive all six, they earn a Cardinal Coupon. When they accumulate a certain amount of Cardinal Coupons they can redeem them for incentives!

We’ve just finished our first week of walkthroughs with a huge amount of success! It has given me much more joy and purpose coming into classrooms observing the teacher practices in my school.  I’ve also enjoyed adding extra notes along with each walkthrough letting teachers know what I thought was successful and some thoughts on how to tweak and enhance the lesson. As you can see below, with as little as 5 Cardinal Coupons, teachers can start redeeming them for items as simple as a Coke, a Keurig K-Cup, or a sweet treat! It seems a little odd rewarding teachers for what they should be doing in the classroom, but as we all know, it works for our students, so why shouldn’t our teachers get to enjoy in the fun as well!

I have been challenged a little on this initiative from some educators who believe that that giving rewards and incentives is manipulation and that inferior work is the ultimate result.  I don’t totally disagree with these statements, but if used in correlation with simply good instructional leadership, the work won’t be inferior.  I wouldn’t use this form of PBIS with my faculty and staff as the end all and be all of how teachers should be completing their work, but rather a small piece of the puzzle to help put positive spin on achieving the goal at hand.


Relationships are the Revolution

I’m writing this post in response to another inspiring post from Ben Rimes and because of a quote I borrowed from Derek Muller‘s latest Educational Video: “This Will Revolutionize Education” While I do agree with many points that Derek makes, I don’t think technology is “the silver bullet.”  I do agree that if used correctly it can help steer students’ behaviors towards education, and I do think Derek was getting to the point of the teacher and student relationship.

Our relationships we build with our students will be “The Revolution.”  It’s not about the strategy, the shiny new technology, the best new research – It is all about the relationships we build with the students.  Everything we do has to focus on what is best for the students.  That is why we are here.  Our students need to be engaged and having fun in school.  Students will only fully achieve their potential when they want to do well. I made the following “Promises of Practice Ignite” for my Instructional Leadership Internship last week. Derek Muller‘s video definitely inspired parts of my Ignite, but without relationship building and students wanting to work for the teacher and themselves no technology will never revolutionize education.

AirScanner – Wireless Document Camera

AirScannerLeave it to Doug Saunders to find something awesome again!  AirScanner is FREE today (and has been for days – usually $4.99) for iOS. This app is amazing! Once you download and open the app, there is a “numbered website” that you enter into any web browser. Simply use that app that is access your camera and show whatever you content you want with your device.  No longer are you tied to your document camera or (yikes!) your overhead projector at the front of the classroom.  I will have to say is a tad laggy, so I wouldn’t suggest trying to who a lot of movement, but rather still images, manipulatives, or work from students at their desks would be an awesome use. I had fun playing with it for a second this afternoon making the never ending computer screen!  You’ll notice that the website you enter into any web browser is at the bottom of the screen.  What other fun uses do you see for this app?

This.Is.Target! . . . . . What about: This.Is.Education!

CRO_money_SS_retailer_reward_Target_logo_11-13Most of the time when I hear about people giving great motivational speeches I, as many probably do, think of sports movies, war movies, and the like. Some that come to mind are Any Given Sunday, Friday Night Lights, Rudy, Miracle, Braveheart, 300, Gladiator, Hoosiers, We are Marshall, Remember the Titans, and many more. Not only do we have these, but there are also great speakers like Eric Thomas and the amazing Educational TED Talks. We even have The Kid President making motivational pep talks.

This is the best thing about motivational speeches – They can come from anywhere! That being said, you still probably wouldn’t think of the retail store Target when it comes to motivational speeches. In steps an employee named Scott. Just prior to Target’s 2014 Black Friday Opening this guy jumps up on a checkout line and delivers an epic 55 second speech right before turning to the doors yelling, “Let them in!” Check it out:

Now this speech was a little 300-ish and had some silly moments, but what’s really awesome to me is that he had all of those other employees’ attention. That last push to get them pumped for what was about to happen is inspiring. I know if I was working that night at Target I would be fired up to work as a team and as a family to take on the opening that was about to come.

I find myself looking for more of this in education. We as educators should feel a sense of duty to want to motivate our students like this. More often than not, we simply expect our students to fall in line and just do the task laid before them, and then wonder, “Why are they so tired and bored?” We need to find ways to engage and inspire our students to take ownership of their learning. Just as Scott showed us, we all need a little motivating to complete the upcoming task at hand. We need to lead our students with a sense of contagious optimism and encourage a meaningful, common vision. This will lead to students becoming accountable for their learning and see it as a lifelong journey and not something to simply keep them busy. It will lead to them wanting to eagerly complete assignments. Students must be given the opportunity to maximize their potential, and they should be inspired to do so. We need to bring the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the fun back to the classroom, and if it takes a little “Checkout Stand Motivation,” I am all about it!

Planet Research Selfies

Our 4th grade students are going to be researching planets for their upcoming science unit. Once they are finished with their research, they are going to take the information they have learned and complete a non-fiction expository writing assignment about their planet. They will then pair their writing with an Instagram Planet Selfie Picture of themselves with their planet! Here’s a quick preview of what the students are going to be creating!  If you’d like to make your own planet or space selfie, you can download the Activinspire Template and the Astronaut Helmet Pic and get to work!