My co-worker and friend, Pam Cranford, taught me to crochet two years ago on our trip to TCEA in Austin. More than once, I wanted to toss my yarn and hook out the window, but she encouraged me to persevere, so I stuck with it. I was able to complete two messy bun beanies that trip. When I returned home, I began seeing items crocheted out of plastic grocery bags. I was intrigued. What a wonderful way to recycle. My first attempt was making ottomans, but after sitting on them awhile, they quickly lost their height and became big floor cushions. I have alternative seating in my classroom, so the idea struck me to crochet seat cushions for my “tree stumps” since our theme this year is camping.
Some students also became intrigued and wanted to learn to crochet. I posted some how to videos on our Makerspace webmix and began the process of teaching them the craft. Once students are fairly proficient, we are going to start crocheting to meet some needs in our community. I was inspired by the Magic Yarn Project, and realized we have needs right here at home. The first project will be to crochet these smiley face balls to take to the pediatric ward of our local hospital at Christmas. I am excited about where this all may lead and the joy it will bring my students and the recipients of their labors of love!
We are six weeks into this new school year, so I am a little late in getting this post up. Our theme for this year is camping. In Technology, students will be going on a “Internet Adventure.” I wanted to share pictures of my classroom, mainly to bless you once again with my cute grandchildren. By the way, I have added two since the beginning of last year!
I have discovered over the past 12 years of teaching, attention to ORGANIZATION and PROCEDURES are huge stress relievers. I made two important organization decisions this year over previous years that have already paid huge dividends. I am equipped with a lab of 28 macbooks. Most of the computers are about 10 years old, and although they are laptops, they are not holding a charge for long. I have to have all 28 plugged in. That means 28 cords! Last year was frustrating because students would have the cords all tangled up by the end of the day. This year I simply color-coded them with tape. The number cards are in 5 colors, so students know to match the cord with their color tape closest to the computer with the color on their computer card number.
The next decision involves the Makerspace. I have all the supplies in buckets that are labeled. Those buckets sit in stacked crates. Last year, most students were successful in putting the items back in the correct bucket, but they did not know where the buckets came from. Great confusion and arguing ensued as a result. This year, I split the tag that shows the supplies and taped one-half to the bottom portion of the bucket and the other half to the crate itself so it “matches up.” Result: NO MORE ARGUING about where something belongs.
Here are my “tree trunk” alternative seats. I love the way they turned out. The cushions are crocheted from plarn (plastic Walmart bags).
I have said it before, and I will say it again. The one thing I dislike most about my job is writing blog posts. Seriously, as the technology teacher, this should be a major thing I can model for my students, especially since I am responsible for introducing them to the world of blogging. But, I digress. I am going to be more intentional this year about “just getting it out there.” So this is what has been rummaging around in my brain the last week or so.
There are a lot of tasks that have to be completed to get ready for the new year: classroom decor, students lists, organizational items, and the list goes on. I have discovered a great tool (actually an add-on) that made part of those tasks so much quicker and easier for me this year. It is the Document Studio add-on for google sheets. Since I teach every student in the intermediate school, I need to be able to take the spreadsheet shared with me and create documents that would hold individual student information. The images below give you an idea of what I am describing.
This is a sample of the spreadsheet info I receive. When the spreadsheet comes to me, student name is in one column by last name, first name. I use the sheets Add-On Split Name to separate the name into first and last name in their own column. Very handy! Then I use the Document Studio Add-On to take the spreadsheet information and place it on individual google docs (or you could make it a pdf) to print and give to each student to access in the computer lab, like this.
This add-on is like using mail merge in Excel. It was very easy to use. The free version limits you to 50 files a day, but the pro version is unlimited and only $29 a year. To me, it was invaluable for printing the 350+ name cards I needed for the computer lab. If you need to do a similar task, I would highly recommend Document Studio.
Fourth and fifth grade gifted/talented students recently competed in the Region 7 Education Service Center’s Robotics Competition. Of the six teams that participated from our campus, three placed in the arena competition. Students stayed after school and worked many hours perfecting their programs. Click on this link to see the overall scores for the teams competing on April 3, 2018.
The fourth and fifth grade Gifted/Talented students took a trip to the Region 7 Education Service Center on Friday to participate in the Innovative Invention Convention. Each group came up with a unique product, built a prototype, and detailed their process using a tri-board. They each kept a detailed journal of their ideas, successes and failures. White Oak students competed with over 80 other groups. One team brought back the 3rd place trophy for Prototype Performance. Students were extremely articulate when describing their new invention to the judge. White Oak is so blessed to have these gifted students on our campus!
I recently attended the annual TCEA Convention in Austin, Texas. I was blessed to be able to present a session on using Google Sheets to spark creativity in students. The presentation in Google Slides is shown below.
During the course of preparing for that presentation, I discovered some great resources from Alice Keeler and Eric Curts. When I returned from the convention, I assigned my fourth grade students an activity that uses matching google sheets vocabulary terms with a certain color to reveal a hidden message. That activity can be found by clicking here. (It will make a copy.)
Here is what it looks like:
Keying off of the math spreadsheet created by Eric Curts, I then assigned an activity that reviews the definition of certain types of quadrilaterals along with figuring the area and perimeter. Due to an astute observation from a student, I realized I could use conditional formatting to make the answer boxes self correcting. The spreadsheet I assigned can be found by clicking here. (It will force you to make a copy). I included a tab at the end where they could create their own pixel art. I was totally blown away by not only their excitement and engagement, but by their incredible creativity. The slideshow below features their creations.
Another great tool I am using this year works seamlessly with Google Classroom. EDPuzzle is a site that allows you to import your students from Google Classroom. You can search for videos or upload your own and assign them to individual classes. Within EDPuzzle you have editing tools that allow you to crop the video and embed questions along the way to assess your students’ understanding. As the managing teacher, you can easily view reports that show how your students did on the questions. The only tricky part has been teaching students to check whose account they are in when they click on the link to EDPuzzle in Google Classroom. The log out button is just a right facing arrow to the right of the screen, so it does not look familiar to students as a log out feature at first. Once students know to check the account they are in, it is very easy to sign out of an existing account, click the EDPuzzle link again and choose their name by clicking on the Google sign in option. Since they are signed in to Google Classroom already, they simply find their name in the drop down list and they are logged in to their account. Posted below is an example of how this looks in an assignment in Google Classroom and the tutorial video that accompanies the lesson.
Double click the image above to see it clearly.
Do you remember the Rolaids commercial – How do you spell relief? R.O.L.A.I.D.S? I have found a great way to relieve my frustration and stress as the technology teacher. My greatest frustration last year was spending 10-15 minutes of the 45 minute instruction time I had demonstrating on the projector how to complete the assignment. To my utter frustration, almost half the students in my class would have to be individually directed because they would not know what to do. Enter Google Classroom. I had been toying with the idea for several years about posting my lessons in Google Classroom, but was just not motivated enough to tackle the learning curve to incorporate it in my daily routine. Then a few things happened to change my perspective and give me the extra will power needed to head that direction. First, a third grade co-teacher, Shawna Casey, accompanied the regulars, Pam Cranford and myself, to the annual TCEA Convention in Austin in February. She came back to her classroom and began using Google Classroom. I was fortunate enough to hear her present on it at the Area 7 TCEA Convention in June. Seeing first hand examples really motivated me. I sat in that session and created all 15 of my classes, ready for the new school year. The next thing that clinched the deal was discovering Alice Keeler’s well documented website on all things Google Classroom. Alice talks extensively about posting EVERYTHING in Google Classroom, even if it is just an announcement or a notice. I decided to take the plunge. From the very first week of school, I have posted every assignment in Google Classroom. There was some initial frustration training students, especially my third graders who were not familiar with their gmail address. After five weeks, I can say 98% of my students can independently navigate the assignments. One of the great features of Google Classroom is how easily it pairs with the posting of Youtube videos. I created a fake student (wolab01) in a fake course (WOLab) so I can post the original lesson there. I then log in as wolab01 and use QuickTime Player on my macbook to screen record me doing the lesson. After uploading it to my Youtube channel, I post it as a tutorial video in the lesson. Now students can watch the video as often as they need to in order to compete the lesson. This has spared me from the frustration I use to have.
Another wonderful aspect of having my assignments posted in Google Classroom is no longer needing to leave a substitute teacher step by step instructions to show students how to complete an assignment. My daughter is expecting her 5th child any day, and it has relieved a lot of stress knowing that the sub lessons are done. The substitute teacher needs only to tell the students the name of the assignment.
If you are a G-Suite for Education school, I urge you to give Google Classroom a try. It will probably change your life, like it has done mine, for the better.