Friday, November 27, 2015

Rae's December Blog Challenge

Welcome to my blog challenge for December 2015!

Challenges like this one always inspire me and keep me reflecting and creating. I know December is super busy so this blog challenge is short, sweet and fun.

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is 4 posts in 4 weeks

You can do one a week or all at once, all of them or some of them, that is up to you.  Here are the topics for each post.

1.  Advice for students studying to becoming teachers. What advice would you give students studying to become teachers?  My daughter is in her second year of college studying to become a teacher. These posts will help me share your collective wisdom with her and the thousands of young teachers in training!

2.  Create a meme and post it on your blog. Do you have something to say about education, learning or school? Make a statement with a meme!  What is a meme?
meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture"
Here is one of the memes I created.

There are many meme generators to help you. I use this Meme Generator or the Meme feature in my favorite photo app, Enlight.  Shout out to +Knela Newton for getting me hooked on creating memes! For ideas on memes check out the CUE Rockstar Fan Art page or

3.  Help make school different. This goes back to my #MakeSchoolDifferent post from earlier this year. I strongly believe that we have to change school from within, because we can't keep school functioning the same way it has for 100 years. We have to #bethechange because #kidsdeserveit. What is something you are doing to change school for students or what is something you would like to do?

4.  New year, new learning. It will be 2016 soon, What is something you want to learn? Take a photo, draw a picture or take a screenshot of something you want to learn in this new year. Post it on your blog and explain why you want to learn about it. The best way to inspire students to be learners is to be an active learner yourself. Share what are you interested in learning.

Bonus! If you complete all four posts submit the link to your blog here and I will randomly choose a winner on January 1, 2016 to receive some swag from my swag drawer!

Every time we share our learning we get stronger and inspire others. Be a part of the global blogging community of teachers. We are all #bettertogether.  Share your posts on Twitter, Google+ or facebook and include the hash tags:

Monday, November 23, 2015

The 3 Tech Tools I Am Most Thankful For

Every day I use technology in my work. Whether creating resources for teachers, supporting teachers with technology integration or helping students be creators, technology is an essential part. This post focuses on three of my most favorite tech tools that have had the biggest impact. While the tool is important, what is more important is how the tool supports my work in education.

5th grade student using Apple TV to share
a game he just created with the Hopscotch App

 1. Sharing student work with Apple TV 

In our district we have dozens and dozens of Apple TVs in classrooms. We plan to use Chromecast too, but are still working on getting our network able to allow them. Using Apple TV, or a similar tool, in the classroom is one of the most impactful ways to use tech to change classroom culture. Every time I have introduced Apple TV to a classroom I have seen a significant shift in how learners work together. Learning becomes more student centered, feedback is more encouraged and accepted as students are bale to easily and immediately share their work with others at all stages in the creation process. If you are considering using Apple TV in you classroom, here is a blog post I made a while back with information for teachers getting started.

 2. Collaborating with Google Docs 

Del Norte USD Google Activity
I can't even remember what life was like BG (before Google). Everyone was soooo isolated! Google has been integral in creating a culture of sharing and collaboration in our district. In any given week I probably collaborate with 10 or more people on a variety of projects. Google Docs allows me to get more done, faster and better. Here are some of my collaborations from last week alone. Knela Newton and I created a hyper doc of Hour of Code resources for teachers in our district. I reviewed a slides presentation created by Angie Marshall and Tracy Campbell about testing for the 3rd grade teachers. I used a Google form with teachers from a local charter school to get feedback on what they wanted to learn during an hour training. Working with our NGSS Implementation Team, we finalized our Engineering Challenges for K-8 which start in February. If you haven't looked at Google Apps for Education for your school or district, what are you waiting for??

 3. Connecting with Google Hangouts

There are a number of ways to facilitate virtual meetings, but I use Google Hangouts (GHO). Why? Well, it is FREE and simple to use.  In fact, I use it ALL THE TIME. I am on GHO at least weekly. The benefits of a GHO is that you can easily call and invite people to join, have a side chat during the call, and easily share your screen or files with participants.  In fact, just a few days ago one of my colleagues from another county office of education called me on the phone - and it felt weird. I am just so used to seeing people and talking with them face to face, even if it is virtual. Here are a few of the ways I use GHOs in my district:

  • Tech support - a teacher can call and show me the problem they are having either by screen sharing or holding a device or object in front of the camera. This eliminates so many questions and saves time.
  • Record meetings - recently we recorded our technology committee meeting using the Google Hangout on Air feature (GHOA). This allows people who are unable to attend the meeting to still get the information and stay involved.

Those are the 3 technology tools that I am most thankful for this year. What are your top 3? You can comment below or create your own blog post. I would love to know what you think.
Thank you to +Charlene Knowlton for this Thanksgiving break blog post challenge.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kindergarten iPads - Our Equal Access Plan

We are outfitting kindergarten classes in our district with a minimum of 8 iPads each. The goal is to provide equal access in all classroom and facilitate collaboration and professional learning among teachers about how to effectively integrate this technology. Previously, there were some classrooms that were 1:1, many with small sets of 5-7 and others with no iPads.

Supporting teachers in developing ways to use iPads to create more student centered, collaborative and creative classrooms is difficult when some classes have one teacher iPad and others are 1:1. To achieve equity with devices we gathered up previously deployed iPads and re-distributed them to the Kindergarten teachers. This is difficult to do, because someone is losing iPads, but it is important to allow us to move towards a baseline of tech in all rooms. It also lets us provide focused professional learning that all Kindergarten teachers can implement and we can measure the effect on skills and practices. We have an iPad Bootcamp planned for January 2016 and will plan more events just for our Kindergarten teachers.

A list of iPad apps was created that is being pushed out to all Kindergarten iPads. We are removing the frequent "games" folder and trying to provide more creativity based and critical thinking apps. We also kept some of the old favorites for teaching handwriting, and math.

The total cost of all these apps purchased through Apple's Volume Purchase Program is $9.50 which is about $237.50 for a class set of 25 iPads.  We are also providing each classroom with Black Box storage and security lockers.

The apps we are starting with include: (App store price/VPP store price)

ELA Apps
Magnetic ABC (1.99/.99)
Handwriting Without Tears:Wet-Dry for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase (4.99/2.50)

Math Apps
Subitize Tree (.99/.49)
Front Row (free)

Creativity Apps
Explain Everything (3.99/1.50)
Pic Collage (free)
Doodle Buddy (free)
Skitch (free)

Coding Apps
The Foos (free)
Scratch Jr (free)
Kodable (free)

Thinking/Physics Based App
Thinkrolls (2.99/1.49)

QR Reader
Scan (1.99/.99)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Math and Google Drawing

My presentation from the California Math Conference of the Far North on October 10, 2015

Math and Google Drawing Resources

Feel free to use and adapt as needed!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Using Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments

Did you know there are Interim Assessments available for you to take as an educator so you can see what they are like?

Do you know what is on the different Interim Block Assessments?

Here is some helpful information to assist you in implementing these assessments this year.

click image to open in a new window