Sunday, October 2, 2016

Google Expeditions - The WOW Factor!

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend EdCampSD in Escondido and learn from Jen Roberts as she shared Google Expeditions. I had read about Expeditions, which was released shortly after my Google GEO Teacher Institute in June 2015, but hadn't tried it myself.

- I had actually participated in a web meeting with an Expeditions team member this past spring with two of my kids. He interviewed them about what they were interested in exploring in Antarctica. It was pretty cool to have a connection to Expeditions and I've been really excited to get started.

So Jen pulled out a few Google Cardboard boxes and had us all download the Expeditions app to our phones or ipads. Out of about 30+ people in the room, we had about 8 viewers so most of us just used our devices without the viewer.

First take away - We don't need to use cardbooard or a VR viewer to do an Expedition! It works just fine full screen on our phones or tablets. The device just needs to have a gyro.

Next, she had me set up as a leader on my ipad. It's as simple as clicking LEAD on the app. I searched for an Expedition - chose an Underwater Excursion, downloaded it - and off we went. Others in the room opened the app, found my name and clicked JOIN.

Teacher View - Starting Expedition
Student View - JOIN Teacher's Expedition

Seeing the teacher and student view at the same time was exactly what I needed to understand how this works and be ready to share with my class and my team mates. I can't wait! We are going on some Expeditions! Next stop - Mt. Everest! or Yosemite! or the Googleplex! or Stanford! or Antarctica! So many choices!!

Student View - Waiting for Teacher to Press Play

Student View - Toggle Between VR Viewer and Full Screen

Student View - Full Screen

Teacher View - Swipe cards to the left for next scenes

Teacher View - Select Feature to View. Happy faces show where students are looking

Student View - Arrow shows where the teacher wants you to look

Student View - Target Feature

Student View - Cardboard Mode
While it would be pretty fun to have a class full of VR viewers, knowing that this is possible without is exciting! I have 7 ipads in our class and can probably borrow others from colleagues. We could set up a list of those on our site willing to share and schedule Expeditions to some of these amazing places!
Thank you, Jen, for sharing this amazing resource!

Monday, August 22, 2016

School 2 Home Learning Connection

Letter to my Class Families this year:

"Why I'm Not Doing Homework This Year -

My intention is to make sure there is enough time in our students' days for family time and activities and I want to balance that with time for reading and some real world math and writing.

I'd like students to focus mainly on reading everyday so they have a comfortable, calm space at home to enjoy reading. For the other areas of math and writing I will share options for exploration. This will give parents an idea of the areas we are working on in class. If something comes up at home that is a better "real life" experience with math or writing, I'd love for your student to have that time and opportunity instead. (Here is one article that discusses thoughts on student choice and time spent on homework. Link here)

There are links to a form on the side for your student to share what he or she is working on. If he or she is working on an online file, have them put the link to the url in the form so I can access it. (Here is a link to make a copy of my form.)

If family time and extracurricular time prevents students from getting to these activities, I understand. We will be working hard everyday in class and I think students should have time for other things in their lives too.

Class Dojo points will be earned for sharing things they are learning and trying challenges. If your student is pursuing an area of interest that they would like to share, have them tell me about it in the comment section of the form and I'd love to give them Challenge Accepted points and share in their interest.

However, if your student decides not to use their time wisely in class, then completing that class work might be required and I'll let you know.

Basically, what I'm saying is anything beyond the reading is optional, but I will acknowledge and support their practice and extra interests. There will be projects that may require some work at home throughout the year."

Each week I will post the topics we are learning in class and ideas for games and exploration if the students would like some resources. We also often have topics that come in discussion that we'd like to know more about. We'll be coming up with an "I Wonder" board to post topics and things we discover on those topics. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Collaboration: Sharing Google Forms

Teachers are so amazing about sharing! It goes under the category of "why recreate the wheel?" most of the time. I share with you, you share with me, our lives just got easier and both teachers and students win!

This is why having a wonderful PLN that includes teachers on Twitter that I've never met has been so amazing! Recently, I was reading a blog post from Ms. Drasby (Google Forms Supports Spelling Mastery) where she shared a copy of her Google Form. I had tried to find a way to do that for over a year with no luck. 

I replied and asked about it and she wrote up the procedure in a blog post: Google Forms Force a Copy. It's super easy and simple but if you don't know the trick, it won't work like it didn't for me for so long! It's definitely worth the few minutes to check out her blog and learn the trick!
Google Forms Force a Copy

Now, I am so excited about being able to make forms as a grade level team and share the workload. We can share forms resources just like we do with Hyperdocs, Graphic Organizers, and everything else we do as teachers.

Here are a few of my favorites to get you started: When you click on the form link it will force you to "Make a Copy" of the form I created. So you will have your own, not shared with anyone, and your data will be yours alone. Since it's your copy, you can change it however you would like to make it work for you.

Parent Info Form (Click this link for the Form):
I post this on my website at the beginning of the year and usually get most of the info before school even starts on Monday morning. 

Parent Information 2016.png

Favorite Genre of Books (Click this link for the Form):

<<This one is a good beginning of the year inventory of your students' reading interests.

Here is a spreadsheet of forms my 3rd grade students created to practice multiplication facts. When you click the link, it will copy the form into your drive. There is the tutorial to use Flubaroo to make them autograde. OR, you can turn them into Google Form Quizzes. You will just have to change the answers to multiple choice answers to use Google Forms quizzes at this time.

Multiplication Practice Forms (Click this link)

And here are several other Google Forms to share. 
Click to copy forms and make them your own. Follow the directions above from Ms. Drasby and share your forms too!
Google Forms (Click this link)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

iHelp - Class Jobs

Last year I changed up my job board and set enough jobs so everyone has something to do to support our classroom. Here is my updated job board for 2016-2017:

Originally, I put the icons on library pockets and used craft sticks to choose jobs. That worked quite well. However, this year, I decided I'm going to print this out poster sized and use mini magnets with kids' names or numbers.

I also have a slides file that I will print in preview mode 4 to a page and laminate so students have their job descriptions. 

Feel free to make a copy of any of the files and edit for your use. 

Icons in this set are from
License: CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivate 4.0
Class Dojo icon is from free decoration pack
Go Noodle Icon is from art share pack
No commercial use allowed

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Coding for Kids with Bitsbox

We've been using resources and blockly type coding since the first Hour of Code. Recently, we started looking into text based programs. Our tech class tried Code Academy's tutorial on Javascript. It's great but then we found Bitsbox! (Bitsbox is a subscription service, but there are many free options starting at

Kids type real Javascript in Bitsbox to create apps from the book, then they change it to make it their own. I love that accurate keyboarding, spelling, and punctuation are reinforced to make the apps work. It's a huge motivation for kids to check their work. If it's not right, the app won't work.
Here's fun simple app

It also has free lesson plans for teachers to use in most content areas. There is a teacher page with great info.

Here's an app they can write to practice their math facts

Here is the lesson plan from their website

Another thing that I've found is that the company is very responsive. They reply to tweets and emails, help with questions about the apps, and go above and beyond in many ways.

One cool thing was when we were doing a Saturday Codeathon. I wanted a short, fun keynote for the kids and contacted Christie at Bitsbox to see if someone there would do a virtual hangout with us. Next thing I knew their CEO, Scott Lininger, said he'd love to do it. (My lame attempt to record the hangout with my phone ) They also sent us a box full of fun give away items for the kids in attendance. Super fun! Thanks Bitsbox. We are hooked!

If you do decide to try it out, we would appreciate it if you would use our link. We get credit toward  our next subscription for our class and you get one free Bitsbox.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Using Quizlet is a great resource for review, practice, or to pre-assess and get excited about a topic.
Lots of quizzes are set that you can search for in their shared library, or build your own easily with their images. There is an option to assign to Google Classroom to get the link to the kids quickly.

Room 311 2015 2016 Classwork.png

I had them practice individually with the flashcards however they wanted for 5 minutes - most used Scatter, which is a matching game.
Then we tried the LIVE game. Students went to the LIVE link I gave them, and put in a first name. I started the game. (Live is a choice when the teacher is in the Quizlet dashboard.)
This is the link to the set we did

  • Students are assigned to random 3 player teams.

  • Students move with their device to be near teammates.

  • Each student sees a set of answer cards which is only a third of the possible answers.
  • As a question comes up, they may or may not have the answer in their set. It could be on a teammate’s set. They need to talk to each other to see who has it.

  • As they answer correctly, their team advances. If they answer incorrectly, their team goes back to the beginning.
  • Awesome collaboration, language, and HIGH interest!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tour Builder for Collaborative Writing

In Room 311, we are taking a journey around the world in search of 10 Mystery locations! (See Journey North Mystery Class Project.) On our journey, we are discovering so much about latitude and longitude and using tools such as My Maps and Tour Builder.

As we worked on latitude, we wrote a class story about the stops we would make if we strapped on a new invention called Latitude Shoes. What would it be like to travel around the world at our latitude in 24 hours? What would we see?

Each team of students explored and wrote about a location on or near 33 degrees latitude. A couple teams took side journeys a bit off the approximate latitude, but they enjoyed exploring the world and writing their piece of the story.

Check out our story on Tour Builder. Click Here
(The tour is best viewed in 3D with a browser with Google Earth installed.)

A preview: