Innovative Invention Convention

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!


Pixel Problems and Portraits Using Google Sheets

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.

Assess for Understanding with EDPuzzle

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.

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

Image from:


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.