Friday, February 23, 2018

Project Based Learning & HyperDocs

Within my 5th grade technology class, we're working through a project based learning opportunity by designing our own tiny home. I start the project by uploading a HyperDoc to our Google Classroom so each student has a copy.

 A HyperDoc, in this instance, is a Google Doc where students have access to links to helpful websites and can work at their own pace. You can read more about HyperDocs from Jennifer Gonzalez's blog, Cult of Pedagogy.

 I built the HyperDoc so the students are following the engineering process as they work through the project. Each step within the HyperDoc is a step in the engineering process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve). To be honest, my HyperDoc isn't the best looking. My students informed me it's difficult to read and follow, so I'll be changing it for next year to be color coded with a better layout.
During the creation step of their tiny homes, my 5th graders used the following tools :

2D floorplan: LucidCharts (one of the many Google Apps)
     -under templates, choose floorplans

3D model: Planner 5D

After using a HyperDoc for this particular project based learning opportunity, I've found it be largely beneficial for students for the following reasons:

1) Student empowerment --  they can work at their pace with plenty of personal choice to make during the process.
2) Feedback Opportunities -- with the HyperDoc living on our Google Classroom, I can leave comments on students work throughout the project. I find it keeps them engaged while allowing me easy ways to check their work.
3) Changing Instruction -- when students need certain instructions or more information, I can add links to articles and videos to help them along the way. It frees me up to move around the classroom for more 1-1 instruction with students.

I have my entire 9 day lesson plans (with differentiation, assessments, exit tickets, etc.) on Teachers Pay Teachers

Thursday, February 8, 2018

InnEdCO 2018

I recently learned of the acceptance of my workshop/presentation for this summer's InnEdCO conference in Keystone, Colorado. Last year, I presented a beginner's workshop for teachers to learn the basics of TinkerCAD, possible 3D printer options, and how to fund a 3D printer through crowd sourcing (Donor's Choose).

I'll change my presentation this year to include an advance level within the workshop. It will still be open to beginners, but I'll have an option within my Google Slide deck for participants to explore the classroom features for TinkerCAD. It now allows teachers to setup classroom accounts, have students easily join the online classroom community, and for teachers to push out specific lessons to students in your online classroom.

I'm not sure when I'll present my workshop, but it will be a 3 hour time slot during the regular conference dates:

Tuesday, June 12--Thursday, June 14

I'm truly grateful to InnEdCO for giving me this opportunity to share and learn.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ditch Summit w/ Matt Miller

Over winter break, I participated in a completely free, online Professional Development opportunity through Twitter. Matt Miller, of Ditch That Textbook fame, facilitated the PD opportunity, appropriately titled Ditch Summit. It's a 9-day extravaganza where Mr. Miller interviews a different educational leader/thinker/innovator each day, so you tune in for a new hour long session each day. Participants can pick and choose what they wish to learn about and the videos disappear after Dec 31 (sorry, there's always next year!). I "attended" 4 different days and included a reflection of each one below:

1) Tanya Avarith and Holly Clark -- Technology and Pedagogy
    -Co-authors of the educational book, "Google Infused Classroom" (On my reading list)
    -Discussed ways to effectively integrate technology in the classroom
          a) Make thinking visible = students showing their brainstorming through tech -  backchannels, padlets, shared Google Docs, etc
         b) Student voice = tech can help us gauge, in real time, how well students understand a new concept or what questions they may have on that particular subject (think Google Forms, Kahoot, etc). Also, students should have some choice in what and how they learn.
        c) Share student work = as educators, we should be sharing student work beyond the walls of our classroom. I share students' work on our blog. It's amazing to see their faces when someone in another country has viewed their blog post.

2) Eric Curts -- How in the Google did you do that? (Eric is a Google genius)
     -Control Alt Achieve (Eric's amazing blog); YouTube channel
     -Eric Curts' blog is a one-stop shop for anything and everything Google, which includes webinars and ready to use Google lesson plans.

3) Sara Thomas -- How to Learn from a World of Educators
    -the importance of connecting with other educators on social media --  share ideas, feedback, discussions, etc.
    -Twitter chats = great way to join discussions (EduMatch - find educators with same interests)
    -Hashtags to follow = #ISTE, #Ditchbook, #Futureready, #CUE, #EDUMATCH
    -Voxer = instant voice communication for teams (

4) Matt Miller -- Chromebook Crash Course
    -Author of Ditch that Textbook
    -I learned so much from this session. It's difficult to write about all of the keyboard tricks & commands, but you can find many of them on his YouTube Channel = Ditch that Textbook
    -Follow his podcast = Google Teacher Tribe
   -Here are a few good tips for Google Drawings & Slides:
©Matt Miller (

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teachers Pay Teachers

I’ve used Teachers Pay Teachers throughout my career in education. It’s a fairly self-explanatory resource, but it provides a platform for educators to share the work they’ve created in the classroom, whether it’s a how-to for an instructional technology tool or a lesson planning template, with other educators for free or for a small fee. I’ve decided to start adding some free and for-pay resources of my own creation. Here’s my online store:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Donor's Choose STEAM project

In my library and technology program, our K-5 students work tirelessly to think critically and solve problems. We do this through STEAM projects and the engineering process. When the students work through the engineering process, one of the steps includes searching for possible solutions to their problem. With the help of these STEAM books and resources, my students will have the opportunity to discover possible solutions through printed materials.

I've witnessed first-hand the excitement of my students when engaged in the engineering process.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) projects provide an excellent opportunity for cross-curricular projects where students apply all disciplines into their projects. They are willing to read as much as they can about the problem they're trying to solve. They'll apply mathematics to their problem by measuring and drawing items to scale. With the help of these materials, our students will continue this engagement through the engineering process.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

FREE trainings from Google

As Google has grown as a company over the last 20 years, so has many of the public's mistrust in their data collection and sharing practices. Although as an educator, I appreciate the amount of free resources and training they offer through Google For Education. They recently released training sessions in the following areas:

1) Chromebooks -- these devices are taking over the educational technology landscape by offering an inexpensive, cloud-based, simple alternative to Apple and other PC's. In this training, users can expect to learn:
  • What are Chromebooks and how are they different from other computers
  • How to manage and take care of Chromebooks in schools
  • How to personalize your Chromebook
  • How you can integrate technology in your classroom using Chromebooks
  • How Chromebooks and G Suite for Education work seamlessly together
  • How teachers can find and assign apps to students
  • How to troubleshoot simple Chromebook issues, and where to find support when needed
2) Digital Citizenship and Safety Course -- Many adults went through an educational world without a readily available internet (at least those of us 35+) so many don't have the necessary skills to teach online safety. This training can help educators learn:
  • Why teaching digital citizenship and online safety is important
  • How to teach students about internet safety and privacy
  • Online safety through mobile devices and public Wifi networks
  • How to evaluate online resources
  • How to avoid potential phishing and other online scams
  • How to manage online profiles


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hacking Project Based Learning #HackingPBL

I recently finished the Hacking PBL book from Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy. I’ve used Project Based Learning in my classroom for the last few years, but I felt as if there was more to learn about the process. Hacking PBL helped me create a planning tool and framework for each project I try with students. I really enjoyed the chapter on having students create questions. I highly recommend this book for any teacher looking to implement PBL in his/her classroom.
My notes from Hacking PBL: