How I Spell Relief – G.O.O.G.L.E.C.L.A.S.S.R.O.O.M.

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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.

Welcome Back

This is my Dr. Seuss quote for the year.  I want my students to have every opportunity to think for themselves and discover what they are gifted to become. As you can tell, our theme for the year is Dr. Seuss.  Even though I struggle with writing, I am enjoying  the challenge of creating rhymes.  I like the trufulla trees.  In a future post, I will be sharing how I made them.  As always, my favorite part of these classroom decorations is the adorable posters on my door of my six precious grandchildren.  My daughter created their characters when she visited this summer. 

Interactive Board Games

The fifth graders spent the last eight weeks of class in groups designing their own interactive board games.  The idea came from the Labz section of the MakeyMakey site.  Students first learned to write simple programs using Scratch.  Students were equipped with cardboard scissors and copper conductive adhesive tape purchased from Amazon that made the design process a little easier along with a MakeyMakey kit.  Students were required to design and print their game pieces using the Tinkercad website and our MakerBot 3D printer.

Here is the rubric that guided their progress:

You can download the file by clicking here.

The slideshow below was created using the DriveSlides Chrome extension created by Alice Keeler and Matt Dillon.  Download the extension, create a folder of your images in Google Drive, click on the image folder and then the extension and a Google Slides presentation is automatically created AND populated with you images.  A shout-out and thank-you to my colleague and good friend, Pam Cranford, for alerting me to this awesomeness!


Mystery Messages in Google Sheets

Third and fourth graders decoded a mystery message in the computer lab using google sheets.  Third graders had the file shared with them individually, while the fourth graders collaborated by classroom on the message.  After decoding the message by filling in each cell using the fill tool (paint bucket), third graders removed the numbers by selecting the cells and hitting delete.  They screen captured the message and posted to their individual blogs.  Fourth graders took the exercise a step further by creating their own mystery message.  Each student was assigned a classmate to share their message with.  Students were then able to decode the shared message.  Here are a few examples:


Innovative Invention Convention

Nine fourth and fifth grade gifted/talented students headed to Region 7 in Kilgore Tuesday, April 4, 2017 for the annual Innovative Invention Convention.   The four groups had the opportunity to share their unique product design and participate in a Rube Goldberg contraption design. Two groups brought home three awards.  Collin, Jacob and Scott invented the Child Tracker and received 1st place for Potential Benefit to Society.  Kate and Alli received two 3rd place awards:  for Prototype Performance and Effective Display for their Magna-Ball invention.  Congratulations to all who participated!

Get To Know the 4th Grade

Fourth graders have been working on a shared Google Slideshow the past few weeks.  Each classroom had a Google Slideshow shared with them.  The presentation consisted of a title slide with a slide for each student.  Before the presentation was shared, the student names were inserted on the slide they were to complete, so there was no confusion as to who was to be typing where.  Students were instructed to created their name vertically and use it to write descriptive words horizontally.  They used an avatar creation program to create an avatar and include on their slide.  Students posted their classroom slideshows to their individual blogs. Some students have not finished, but one thing I like about Google Slides is the presentation will be updated on the blog when it is updated within Google Slides. The slideshows are embedded below. The background came from SlidesCarnival.

G/T Christmas Card Exchange

The 2nd and 3rd grade classes participated in Jen Wagner’s Christmas Card Exchange in December.  This month they were busy pinning all the zip codes from the places we received cards.  The 3rd graders posted the map to their personal blogs while the 2nd graders took home a printed copy of their map.  Students created their own class Christmas card in TuxPaint to send.  Each student drew a gingerbread man themed image to use on the card.

2nd Grade Images

3rd Grade Images

The Accent Gave It Away

Today my second grade Gifted/Talented students from Texas participated in a Mystery Skype with another second grade classroom from Maine. (I discovered this teacher through the Elementary Teachers 40HTW Club on Facebook. The 40HTW is a year long professional development community led by Angela Watson. Participating in this course has been more than worth the investment in time and money.)  This was the first Mystery Skype experience for most of my second graders.  In a Mystery Skype, the students take turns asking each other yes or no questions regarding the state they are located.  We were stunned when the classroom we were skyping with guessed our location in only two guesses! When we asked how they guessed us so quickly, they said they knew we were from Texas because of our accent! My students decided the next opportunity we have to Mystery Skype, we are going to speak with a British accent.




School is back in full swing after a two week holiday for Christmas.  I did some serious reflecting over those two weeks, mainly due to a comment made by a student.  I had almost the entire grade level in the computer lab where we were watching some Christmas light shows and playing quick games.  I displayed this light show featuring the Star Wars theme in honor of the boys in the class, then after a quick game, followed it up with this light show featuring the theme song from Frozen for the girls.  The girls were singing at the top of their lungs while most of the boys were grimacing with their hands over their ears.  It was rather amusing to me, so I was chuckling to myself when the student said, “Look, Mrs. Peery is smiling! That is a first.” I know the student was jesting, but it still caused me to think about how my students view me.  I have been wanting to “poll” my students for a while now, and decided the beginning of a new calendar year was as good a time as any.  I created a polling sheet where students rated me a 1 or a 2 on these six characteristics:

A:1-kind 2-uncaring  B: 1-helpful 2-cynical  C: 1-respectful 2:disrespectful   D: 1-diligent 2-lazy  E: 1-smart 2:dumb  F:1-patient 2:impatient

Students marked their sheet with a 1 or a 2 for each letter.  They rolled up their sheet in a ball, and we had a quick “snowball” fight. After a few minutes, each student grabbed a snowball and unrolled it. Each sheet had a pre-printed number from 1 to 6 in the top left corner.  After each student filled in the sheet, students were placed in small groups based on the pre-printed number.  In their small group, students discussed with each other the behavior I had toward them that would cause them to see me as a 2.  They also talked about changes I could make that would help my relationship with them.  After a few minutes, students returned to the large group and shared their discussions.

First of all, let me be the first to admit that I struggle in some of these areas.  Over the eleven years I have been in public education, I have let myself become cynical.  I realized over the Christmas break that I am already frustrated and angry before I even give an assignment or directions. Why?  Because I know only half of my class will have listened and be able to complete the task I am asking them to complete.  It was also over that two week holiday that my husband and I watched some old movies like Rocky.  That is when I came to the conclusion that the way my students’ brains work is different than when I was in elementary school.  I told my husband that if we went to the movies today and the action was as slow as the beginning of Rocky, most people would walk out in the first ten minutes.  Students today are bombarded by visual images constantly.  I do not have any scientific results or data to back up my assumption here, but I realized it is much more difficult for students to hear auditory commands and “make a movie in their head” so they can recall that information when they need it.  In other words, I cannot get frustrated with them for their lack of attention if they have no control over it.  Students now have a signal they can discreetly show me when they feel I am being impatient of uncaring toward them.  I have made a commitment to myself to be more understanding and patient with them and try to discover ways that will bridge the divide between my “way of instructing” and their ability to comprehend.

We watched this cute 4 year old explain New Year’s Resolutions.  She helped me remember that change happens with the thousands of little decisions we make each day.  It is when we decide to do what is right, instead of what is easy.

After the lesson, students logged in to Edmodo to access a Google Form to put in the information from the sheet they ended up with. Here are the results from all the students that participated. I may repeat this poll at the end of the year to see if I lived up to my commitment.