Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Class Dojo Winter Break Challenge

Here's a fun, optional way to keep the kids engaged over breaks. Post a quick challenge question every few days on Class Dojo through Class Story. I am using a google form to make it very quick and easy to see who is participating and award "Challenge Accepted" points.

I used Google Drawing to make an image with the question to use as the photo. Images will get more attention and quickly show the question. You can download the drawing as a png or jpg file to use as the photo and as the header for your form if you'd like. I used the frame and images from Creative Clips on TPT but anything will do.

I'm keeping each challenge to one question to keep it simple. Here is a copy of my Google Form if you'd like to make something similar.

It might also be fun to keep the challenges going when break is over. Think about having the students submit challenge questions for the class. They would love to see their challenge be sent out over Class Story!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Creating Digital Word Sorts

Some tips to creating a word sort using google slides:

Decide on your category headers and lay them out at the top. Set up your background. Once you’ve got it the way you want it, download as an image - I usually use png, but jpg would work too. Then go to ‘change background’ and add that image as a background.
This makes it so a student can’t accidentally change the headers or categories.

Make the word cards by using shapes and typing inside the shape. If you want them to be in a neat stack, select them all (you can select everything by holding the left mouse button and dragging over everything you want selected). Go to Arrange, then arrange vertically, then arrange horizontally. They will be in one neat stack that you can place wherever you want.

You could also make the word cards so those can’t be altered by creating them like you did the background and downloading them as an image, and then uploading them to the slides file. It depends on how important this is to your class and how much time you want to put into it.

Here is an example of a completed word sort that we used last week. The link will prompt you to make a copy.
Word Sort - Adding -ed and -ing

Image of word sort linked above

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Google Slides to Stop Animation

  • You can use Google Slides to create stop animation. 
  • Open a slides file
  • Create a beginning slide
  • Duplicate and change it slightly to tell your story
  • Do this many more times

  • When finished, choose File, Publish to the Web
    • you will set the file to auto-advance every second
    • set to start as soon as the player loads
    • choose restart the slideshow if you want it to loop

  • Press Publish and copy the code
  • Open a new tab and enter the url in the address bar
  • You will see in the url a portion that says delayms=1000, this means that that each slide shows for 1000 milliseconds or 1 second. You want it to move faster for the animation. So before you hit enter, change this number to something smaller. Half a second would be 500 milliseconds. We used 200 for most of our stop animation.
  • Press enter and check
  • Adjust as needed
  • You may need to make more copies of images where you want that image to be on the screen a little longer.

Once you get it the way you want it, copy the link again from the Publish to web, add it to a new tab, change the timing to what you feel is right, then copy that address to use where you want it to go.

Once you get it the way you want it, you can take the url and create a QR code. This makes a fun way for families to access the stop animation projects that students create. 

We used the QR codes in ornaments as a holiday gift for families. 
Interesting to Note: When we were adjusting the timing of the slides, the 3rd grade students seemed to easily make sense of how 1000ms is 1 second, so if they want the slides to go faster then 500ms would be half a second. When I asked how fast 200ms would be they worked it out quickly that it would be 5 slides a second.
Happy Happy Teacher!
Maybe this will lay some foundation into how fractions work.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Math Thinking Made Visible

Using the Chromebooks in our 1:1 classroom, students worked out the problems on their individual whiteboards, then snapshot their thinking into the slides file. The young man above came up with the embedded snapshot idea for us. 
Insert       Image      Take a Snapshot 
We used Google Classroom to distribute the math slides files.

Students and teachers also used the comment feature on google slides to discuss their thinking. We loved projecting the math problems and strategies. Even if students got the answer incorrect, they loved discussing the process and finding where they went wrong. 

This used several of the Math Practice Standards, but especially Standard #3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Class Dojo adds Groups!

Just after I wrote my last post about Class Dojo they announced a major update, you now can make groups! Introducing Class Dojo Groups :)

This is a feature that we have been wanting for quite awhile. I even tried to do a work around last year by just making up new student monsters and calling them Group 1, Group 2, etc. It was not the same.

The great feature that Class Dojo has created is that you can create groups in many different ways, Kids can be in more than one group. When you give a group a point, each student in the group gets a point, but get this, you can still track how the group is doing as a whole!

The other thing I've been prepping to use for Class Dojo has been some badges for my class. I'm looking at using BadgeList this year but badges can be used in a lot of ways. I got the idea for badges from Alice Keeler (are you following her yet? because you should!)

Here is a link to the badges I'm working on to use with Class Dojo. Feel free to make a copy and modify as you'd like. The images of the belts are from and the images of monsters are from Class Dojo's Teacher Resources. I'd appreciate a link back to my blog if you share them on a blog yourself.

Click below on individual images to download your own copies to your google drive.

Click below for your copies

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Class Dojo + Class Economy

I love Class Dojo!
I started using it within the first couple of months it was released. My second graders love the monster avatars and I love the ease of tracking behaviors.

I love the ability to add behaviors easily and have the kids suggest things that are important to them. They really love the weighted behaviors so that when they get a "5" in PE, the whole class gets 5 points! And good behavior for a substitute means multiple points too!

It's very easy for me to have my phone or ipad open to Dojo while working with a small group and noticing some great on task behavior across the room. A quick point with a "ding" is a positive reminder for the whole class.

In second grade, we work very hard to have the kids understand addition and subtraction. So using a class economy is something that helps the kids practice those skills in something meaningful to them. So about every other week Class Dojo points are tallied up, and the kids get a paycheck with their total.

They can use that to buy things at our student store. But, as a teacher, I don't want to be spending any more than I already am - so the store is stocked with printed passes for things the kids love but are free to me. Front of the Line, 10 Minutes Computer Free Time, Homework Pass, Sit in a Special Chair, etc.

Even the regular pencils and erasers kids use need to be purchased at the store (we write their names on the pencils.) We do have a treasure box, but it's stocked with whatever small toys the kids want to donate from their toy boxes. My kids even loved to purchase sheets of colored paper for drawing ;)

The thing is, they need to fill out their shopping list, total it up, and make sure they have enough to cover it. As we move in to subtraction, they need to figure out their change also.

I've just redesigned my Dojo Paychecks and Dojo money. I plan to probably print it in black and white to save money on color but we'll see how it goes. Feel free to download and use. The images are from the Class Dojo image pack.

Dojo Paycheck File

Dojo Paycheck Image File (in case you want to add your name before printing.)

Dojo Bucks File

A couple tips: I plan to add my students names to the paycheck file so I don't have to write all of the names each time. Also, I just look at the Dojo screen and write the total of points on the checks. Then I reset the points till the next payday. Super easy.

Managing Data from Reading Log Google Forms

Previously, I've blogged about using Google Forms for Reading Logs and Responses. Click here Fun with Forms or here Google Form Fun to check out those earlier posts. I've been using Google Forms for Reading Response for a couple years now. There are several great benefits to doing this: 1) no paper copies, 2) all of the responses are in one place, and 3) did I say no paper copies?

Here are a couple images of reading logs we've used in the last year.

When you use Google Forms, all of the responses are collected in a spreadsheet. This makes it easy to check the responses. You can sort them based on name, date, title of book or more. Here is an image of one of the spreadsheets (names are removed.)

When you change the form depending on the response focus and reading standard you end up with several spreadsheets of info.

So instead of having the answers go to a new spreadsheet each time, change the response destination so they go to a New Sheet in an Existing Spreadsheet. This way you'll have one master spreadsheet with all of the data. Each form will have it's own page in the spreadsheet.

Check out the screencast for details:

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Awesome KeyTips

We already do so much as teachers, it's great when something can make things go even just a little bit faster and easier. Alice Keeler ( and @AliceKeeler on Twitter) shares many great KeyTips to make things go smoother.

Here are my top 2 for now:
  1. Control N (or Command N on a Mac) to open a new window and, if you need that window to be in incognito mode, try Control Shift N (or Command Shift N on a Mac). Why would you need an incognito window? I use it all the time when I need to log in to my account on someone else's device or in the workroom and I don't want to have to sign them out. The best place I use it is when I am demonstrating something from a student account side of things. Then I can just go back and forth between my teacher account and the student view.

  2. Control Shift T (or Command Shift T on a Mac) This one is magic! How many times do you close a tab and realize "Oh darn, I need one more thing there and I have to go find that page again!" Control Shift T reopens that tab! Magic right?!
I've decided to put 2 to 3 tips on a post it next to my computer till I remember to use them. Then I'll switch them for 2-3 more. Kind of like high frequency words for our kids. If you want to join me, write these down. If you want to see a bunch and pick the ones you like, go to

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jon Corippo and Iron Chef!

I didn't go to CUE and I am sad about that. But, it's awesome that I can follow the amazing presenters and learn from their resources. This past weekend, I watched Jon Corippo's presentation on Advanced Search Tricks.  So many great ideas but one stood out and I gave it a try today.
Iron Chef. Jon describes it as students creating instead of listening, and lots of reps and teachable moments. Details from Jon here.
So I decided to try this with my second grade class as we are learning about geometry and plane figures. I created a template google slides file with the parts I wanted them to include.

Kids broke up into 5 groups of 5. One of the team members made a copy of the file and shared with the other team members and me. Each team member was responsible for one slide. They had 20 minutes to add the info to their slide. At the end of 20 minutes, we took our recess. Then each group shared and each member had 30 seconds to share the info on their slide.

The excitement and focus was over the top. Every student was working. As they shared, the whole class got to review the characteristics and attributes of each plane figure 5 times. They caught any discrepancies in facts immediately and helped each other.

Jon suggested having three student judges for the presentations. I also had every student comment on a Google form about something the group did well. All of the students were focused as they wanted me to pick them next to be a judge.

Thank you @jcorippo for sharing such great ideas!
For more info, go to

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Revisiting My Maps for More Learning

In February, I blogged about using MyMaps for showing data on a map. Click here for that post. We created a form to explore weather data and sent it out to friends and family. Amazingly enough, we received submissions from every continent! It was fun to look out, to read, and then to do some math subtraction practice on the temperatures recorded.

Recently, we revisited our map while working on learning measurement. We were able to use the math tools in Google Maps to measure distances from our home town and compare measurements between places listed. Students took it a step farther and found places they were interested in and explored how far those would be also.

We also mapped locations of colleges we were learning about and the distances to those.

This is so much more engaging than math problems in a textbook!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's a Whole New World!

Virtual field trips, expert connections, read alouds by distant friends and family, it's all possible and we're just beginning. I know many classes have been doing virtual connections for awhile but I'm a newbie at this. A couple weeks ago, the parent of one of my students wanted to be our Mystery reader but couldn't be away from the office. So we connected through Google Hang Out! The kids loved it!

Then today, we connected with Joy Lopez, a friend who is a student at CSUSM studying Physics. She gave us a tour of her department and introduced us to a few professors.

There are several ways to connect when you want to Hang Out. Alice Keeler shares some tips in her blog here: Want to Start a Google HangOut? 
So many new opportunities are open now! How do you use Google Hang Outs?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Setting Goals

Does your school use Accelerated Reader? Mine does. We use it to encourage kids to read more, and to focus on the content which they demonstrate by taking and passing quizzes. Students are recognized for earning various levels of points depending on grade level. It is not used for grades.

One feature that I found sometime last school year was the ability to set goals with the students and for the kids to earn certificates. To set the goals and certification levels, you sign in to your teacher account and go to Record Books and Goals. If you use the STAR reading assessment, you can have the program set a beginning goal based on their reading level and how many minutes you expect them to read per day.

Since our school awards a special medal to students earning 40 points by the end of the year I made this our goal. I broke up the points across the 3 trimesters as 10 points for the first, 15 for the second and 15 for the third trimester. When the kids log on and work on a quiz, they can see their progress towards their goal.

Many of my kids reached their goal before the end of the trimester. Now what? I asked them what each of them would like their goal to be next? We chatted about how much time they had and how many points they thought they could reach. The result? Students love to tell me that they reached their goal and ask me to set a new goal! Do I do it right then? Most often not. But we do find a time to set it for them. What happens if they don't reach this goal? Nothing. We talk about how far they've come by setting high goals. Here is an example of the goal info from the Home Connect login.

The certificates are in the same place as the goal setting. AR has certain criteria for the certificates. The goals and certificates they are working toward are visible on their page when they go to their account. Certification Criteria

Here are some of my kids with their current certificates.

If you have a supportive admin, see if you can send the kids down to the office to get the admin's signature on the certificate. The kids love it! This year several of my kids worked very hard to earn a certificate so our student teacher could sign it before her time with us was done.

So how do you use AR? What makes it fun and interesting for your class?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nearpod Live or as Homework

I haven't blogged about this yet, but I love Nearpod! I think of it as kind of an 'in yo face' slide show but it's more than that. First, for a live presentation all screens show the same material and progress at the same pace. You control what students see and interact with and it's all on their own laptops or tablets. More than that, there are so many interactive elements. Students can answer polls, draw or write what they are thinking, do a quick quiz to check comprehension, check out embedded sound or web links and more!

Nearpod Info

My class loves when I pull their work to the main classroom screen and they get to discuss and check how that person did. No names are shown on the screen but about 99% of the time, my kids will say "That's mine!" The quick quizzes give each student immediate feedback on their own screen so they can see how they are doing.

It's very simple to create a Nearpod. You can use an already created file in the Nearpod library. You can create one from scratch, you can upload a powerpoint or pdf to use. There is even a Google extension called Nearpodize This that let's you take a Google Slides file directly to Nearpod. Once you load the slide show up you'll want to add interactive activities. That's where it gets fun for the kids. Can we say active participation?!

With a subscription, you can use Nearpods as homework activities. This is using the Nearpod file self paced, but all answers and interactive parts are saved in reports. The homework Nearpod could also be used as a center activity, or review. I have used it with audio files to have the kids do a self paced spelling quiz.

Give Nearpod a try!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Reading Challenges

Some kids love to read and will read whether you ask them to or not. Some kids avoid reading unless you make them. My goal, as a teacher, is to help kids find a love and purpose for reading. I try to keep the "have tos" about reading homework to minimum and encourage the "want tos".

A couple weeks ago I came across a reading bingo sheet on Pinterest and decided to make one for my class. I offered extra Class Dojo Challenge Accepted points for reading books from a variety of genres. It was fun to help kids go on a hunt through our class and school libraries to find a science fiction or historical fiction because that's the last box they needed to check off.

This week I'll be offering a new Bingo option. Inspired by this blog on Fun Places to Read, I remembered all the fun places I loved to read with my boys. Here are the links to my Bingo pages that you can use for your class. Hopefully, our kids will read something that sparks a fire and love for reading that will last a lifetime!

Book Genre Bingo

Fun Places to Read Bingo