11 July 2018

Write About It Wednesday: Class Dojo and Custom Planners

So I promised myself I'd start blogging, so here we go! :) I'm all about technology, so my goal is to share at least one technology resource every week, but hopefully I'll get better about blogging and I can share more than one a week!

Write About It Wednesday: Class Dojo & Custom Planners Edition

Do you use Class Dojo? Have you ever tried it? If not, you NEED Class Dojo in your life! It's such an amazing tool! I found it a few years ago when it had the basic function of tracking behavior, but it's become so much more and it's growing even more this month! 

So what can you do with Class Dojo? So much!! 
  • Track Behavior: You can award positive, negative, and neutral points/warnings to students for all kinds of activities. You get to choose what activities deserve to receive positive and negative points. They can have a point value of anywhere from -5 through +5 including 0 which could be used as a warning. You can allow parents to see positive points, no points, or all points. 
  • Parent Communication: You can post announcements and reminders to all parents. This helps eliminate the old fashioned newsletter! Or you can still post your newsletter to the wall as well. You can also communicate one-on-one with parents, just like you would with a text. You can also share photos and videos with parents on the whole class stories, or individually. 
  • Toolbox: All of those tools we all love are in one place with Dojo. There is a timer, random student picker, group maker, noise meter, music, and 3 places to help post directions or questions including directions, think-pair-share, and today. These are all great places to get students more independent or following directions. All of these tools are available at all times. 

That's NOT it either! Do you talk about Growth Mindset with your students? Class Dojo has the most adorable videos to help students understand Growth Mindset and Mojo (see that adorable green guy up there, yup that's Mojo) is the star with all of his friends. They're short videos that help students understand what Growth Mindset is. 

The coolest new feature coming later this month is the Portfolios. Students will each have their own portfolio. They will be able to share their learning using photos, videos, drawing, journal entries, and more. Teachers will be able to approve and give feedback on things that the students post. Then parents will be able to view and comment on the things their own children post. The objects they post will be able to be organized into folders as well. 

There are so many other cool features, but these are the main ones. The best part of all of it is honestly their support staff. They are extremely aware of privacy concerns, and they'll always help out if a district or administration has concerns about privacy. Overall, it's a great piece of technology that combines so many aspects from other technology tools that are out there. It's nice to have everything in one place!


Have you ever heard of a Happy Planner? Apparently it's all the rage with... everyone? I see them everywhere I go. Even Target has them! This is a Happy Planner:

I've always been an Erin Condren planner user. There's probably a post on this blog from years ago about how much I love the planner. The problem is, I hate writing in my plans. I feel like I'm doing twice the work. Insert, my own planner with the help of the Happy Planner punch and discs! By creating my own planner, I can type my own lesson plans, but still have the cute part of the Happy Planner. I am just finishing it, but I feel like I need more pages than just calendars and a checklist?!? 

What other pages do I put in it? I could sit here for days wondering (Note: I've already redone the colors, stickers, and overall theme of it 4 times. I'm pretty sure the mister is sick of my complaining about it!)

03 July 2018

The time we don't speak of...

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away I was once a blogger. A blogger on this here blog. I started it back in 2011 when blogging, teachers on social media, and (gasp) Teachers Pay Teachers was just becoming a thing. It was amazing. I found it funny that people actually wanted to buy the things I was making for my own classroom. I wasn't making them for those people, I've just always been the crazy perfectionist type of person that needs things to be just how I like them. I don't like black spots on worksheets. I don't like Comic Sans. I don't like a the text to be off center. It seemed normal for me to just remake and create things the way I liked them. So that's where this all started. I blogged consistently for a while, and then I'd fall off, come back for a short while and repeat the cycle. At any moment I can search for something teaching related on Pinterest and come across my own classroom (sometimes not even knowing it's mine).

This all brings me to today. Right in this moment. Here I am, going into year 10 of teaching. That's crazy to think about. That's going on almost 300 students that have passed through my doors (although I was lucky enough to have some twice when I moved to 3rd grade). So here I am, year 10 and in the past few weeks I've had some sort of revelation? awakening? I'm not sure what I want to call it at this point.

Year nine was... was... interesting. Let's just use that word. Year 9 was the year I'll never forget. Outside of school I was finishing one masters, and halfway through another masters. I bought my first car (under my own volition). Plus I was living my best life outside of school. Inside of those 4 cinder block classroom walls, I had 29 third graders who exhausted every ounce of me. Many days ended in phone calls to my mom, dad, and texts to my boyfriend before he got home, upon which I would talk even more. I questioned what else I could do in life outside of teaching. I have never seen 3 teachers challenged as much as myself and 2 of my teammates were this year. I left that year behind without a thought the second that bell rang (the 5:00 flight to Arizona that night may have helped that!).

So here I am, it's the beginning of July, the downhill slope back to normal life and I've decided to start this adventure again. I'm telling myself this is a new year, with 21 (woo hoo!) new faces, and I'm determined to make year ten the best yet. In order to do this, I've decided maybe if I start blogging, instagramming, and facebooking (are those words?) again, it'll force me to keep my positivity and achieve my goals I'm setting for myself this year! (I suppose that'll really involved people reading my stuff and looking forward to my thoughts and ideas, but I'll hope for the best!)

In less than a year I finish my 2nd masters, this one is in Technology Coaching ("Technology Specialist") which is my absolute, 100%, obsession passion! I just attended ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference, and I'm going to blame that amazing experience on my new "rebirth" if we can call it that! I am obsessed with all of the technology that continues to come out. My goal is to sort through everything and find what I think will work best for me, and share out what are some amazing tools (even if they won't work for me). Can I call that goal one? Be a sharer of all things technology. Let's go with it!

Image result for iste logo

If there's something else I'm obsessed with (aside from the Cubs and my dogs) it's crafting. It was scrapbooking when I was younger, and now it's making shirt, tumblers, pictures, anything! I bring that craftiness into the classroom occasionally, like when I need therapy and make a giant Elf Door. But I want to bring it into my lessons. Enter:

Image result for wild card teaching book

Now if you know me in any slightest way, which you don't, I am not a big reader. Might I even say (GASP) I don't like reading at all. So for me to go out of my way order from Amazon an actual, paper book is shocking. Absolutely shocking. I have followed Hope and Wade on social media on and off and I'm seriously in awe constantly of how creative they are. So I thought, if I'm already creative, and I love being creative, why can't I do that at school more often too? After all, for like 6 months of the year we're taking tests (okay that may be a slight exaggeration), so when we're not why can't we do fun things and still learn! Along the way, I figured I could share my experiences with the world, or at least blog about them so I don't forget them the next year!

So here I am, I'm putting the time we don't speak of (year 9) behind me, like it never happened. I'm going to pretend it's year 1 and I'm beyond excited to have my own classroom. Even though I'll be more than happy to never return to those first years when I had way too much stuff for my own good!

22 January 2018

Digital Citizenship Article

        In the article “Developing Digital Citizens” by Venessa Monterosa the author gives tips to help start a conversation in a district about what steps to take in order to incorporate digital citizenship.
In 2013 the United States’ second largest school district, Los Angeles Unified School District launched a Digital Citizenship Week. One of the elementary schools in the district kicked off the event. The district felt like the event was a success, but wanted to find a way to get everyone in the district across grade levels talking about digital citizenship.
The article provides tips to teachers and districts on how to develop more awareness of being a good digital citizenship. According to the article, 90% of teenagers from 12-17 use some type of social media daily. Because of this, students beginning early on need to learn about what type of digital footprint they leave every time they are on social media. The author also reiterates numerous times that colleges now use social media as a recruiting and filtering technique as they admit new students.
Creating a district-wide digital citizenship curriculum should involve many parts, just as instituting any curriculum would. Some tips to help start that process are:
-      Put together a diverse team: involve teachers, administration, and students because they all provide a different view
-      Define social media terms: for instance the difference between social media and social networking
-      Identify key social media topics and content: what are the most important topics to cover?
-      Create a partnership: Involve Common Sense Education or other online community as well as community members.
-      Connect with a variety of stakeholders: schools can showcase what they know to the community
-      Establish a digital citizenship week: helps emphasize the important of being good citizens.
Students need to be prepared for the 21st century and part of that is learning how to be a good digital citizen. Talks about adding it into the daily curriculum may seem time consuming or unnecessary, but it is in today’s society.

Monterosa, V. (2015). Developing digital citizens. Leadership, 44(3), 30.

19 July 2017

Article Review - Using Digital Assessments in the Classroom

The article “Emotions Experienced by Students Taking Online and Classroom Quizzes” discusses the advantages and disadvantages of giving students assessments online. It specifically addresses how a group of undergraduate students felt taking different types of assessments. First, the author mentions that there are many benefits to giving assessments online, especially the idea of students taking control of their own environment. In many situations students can control their own environment. There are many disadvantages though as well. Some people question how secure tests can be and if the technology is available (at school or home). As digital assessments have become increasingly popular more studies have been done, but there still is not a lot of information about the correlation between digital assessments and emotions. From studies that have been completed, the authors mentioned that “When educators first started using computers for testing, computer anxiety (anxiety produced from being unfamiliar with using a computer) had small effects on students’ performance, but these effects seem to have largely dissipated with a general increase in familiarity with using computers.” It seems in most studies there is not a large discrepancy between paper and digital, but more studies need to be done in order to best meet students’ needs.
This article was extremely interesting to me, especially because so many assessments are done online. In my classroom students cannot adjust their environment as much, because they are on desktops. I could, however, have the students use the math online component at home to take quizzes. Some students may not have the technology available at home and there could be parents or siblings helping those students. In the classroom though, like with PARCC, I feel like students do become anxious especially because of how much pressure is put on them and the things they hear. This is something that needs to be changed! Hopefully as students AND teachers become more familiar with online testing everyone will become more comfortable.

Stowell, J. R., Allan, W. D., & Teoro, S. M. (2012). Emotions Experienced by Students Taking Online and Classroom Quizzes. Journal Of Educational Computing Research, 47(1), 93-106.