Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hour of Code and Box Island

With the Hour of Code 2015 right around the corner excitement and anticipation fills the air.  There are some great new online tutorials for Hour of Code. Who wouldn't be excited about the addition of Minecraft and Star Wars? Now a new free app by Radiant Games has been added to the Hour of Code - Box Island: One Hour of Coding.

This summer, I taught a Coding Class and wrote a post that featured the apps and sites we used. Box Island will definitely be added to my coding resources. 

The purpose of Box Island is to guide the character Hiro to collect clocks in different settings.  The 20 levels are all in 3D and the graphics are amazing, which will be engaging for students. Students will be challenged and learn the basics of coding with the use of algorithms, loops, and conditionals as they continue through each level. 

They have included a Curriculum Guide, Lesson Plans, and a Solution Guide for classroom teachers to use with students.

Movie Trailer for Box Island

What do my Fourth Graders think?

Kenzie - "I think Box Island is challenging, awesome, and hard.  I think it's challenging because there are laser boxes and wood boxes.  I think it's awesome because you learn. It's hard because they add new skills at at different levels.

Steven - "It is very challenging and when you have success it feels great. Box Island includes problem solving and higher level thinking. I love playing it!"

Amy - "I think that Box Island is great! I love the 3-D presentation and how you can look at it from a different perspective. It is very hard and challenging."

Derek - "I think Box Island is challenging and fun. The 3-D graphics are amazing and makes it pop-out more! Every time you complete a level you feel great. There are 20 levels. You can skip a level and come back to it."

Kael - "Box Island is a great and challenging coding game that makes you feel great when you succeed. I love the graphics, shapes, and problems you have to work though. It is a five star game."

Cailyn - "I think Box Island is challenging and fun. You put your mind to work. You learn how to program and solve problems."

Audrey - "I think that Box Island is very tricky. It requires problem solving and higher level thinking. You can easily get stuck on a level. Box Island if fun, but challenging."

Join the Hour of Code from December 7th-13th

Friday, November 20, 2015

Forever Grateful for my Students

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it took my fourth graders to remind me what is truly most important about my job as an educator.  Our students count on us each day to make a difference in their lives, but I have come to realize they make a huge impact and difference in my life each day.

In this day and age, it is easy to forget why I went into the education profession. With the demands of all the testing, data collection, curriculum/grading expectations, paperwork, and meetings it is easy to get bogged down and have doubts why I'm still teaching. Yes, our job is endless and many days it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Two weeks ago, I was humbled and honored by what one of my students did for our classroom and "Our Team".  As educators we work hard and tirelessly to try to meet each of our student's individual needs.  Ethan is one of my fourth graders,  and he is diagnosed with ADHD. Believe me in my thirty years in the profession, I am not one to label students, but Ethan's mom and I are working closely together so he has the best year ever!  

On Monday, Ethan came bouncing in and was extremely excited about the meeting I was having with his mother after school.  We were meeting to discuss his plan we have in place to see if there were changes that needed to be made.  It was another long Monday with an unplanned meeting during my lunchtime, and my day with NO breaks. The day never seemed to end.  Yes, Ethan came bouncing in with a big smile on his face after school with his mom and grandma. What happened next gave me a huge reality check and brought tears to my eyes.

Ethan handed me a wrapped package, as he beamed with pride, and couldn't contain himself.  He was bouncing and jumping around.  He helped open the gift and inside was a Yoga Ball. At our recent Parent/Student/Teacher Conference we talked about Yoga Balls, and the fact that Ethan could bring one to school.  I was excited for Ethan, but his mom wanted me to watch a video that Ethan created. What happened next is truly remarkable.

Ethan's Surprise

What a powerful reminder.  Ethan didn't want to be the only one with a Yoga Ball for a chair. He wanted to make a difference for all his classmates and friends!  Our students are capable of far more than we can ever imagine. How easy it is to truly forget why we have the "Best Job in the World"! Thanks so much to Ethan and his mom for letting me share his story!

What am I Grateful For?

The smiles when my students walk in each morning.  The laughs and giggles.  When a student finally understands a concept for the first time. To the "Aha, now I get it!" "Wow, the day went by so fast." "I don't want to stop now, can't I just finish?" " I know you're going to love what I just did!"  Watching our students collaborate and work with any student in the classroom, not just their close friends. To the, "Have a great weekend, I can't wait till Monday!"  Parents who email to say their child is home sick and they are sad to be missing school. Coming in first thing in the morning and a student says, "This is going to be an awesome day!" Students actually sad it is Friday. A simple "please" or "thank you". When a student says, "Don't stop reading, Mrs. Evon!" When students leave school at the end of day with a smile, hug, or high-five. Wow, I could go on and on.

Today, as I sat back and watched my students review for their benchmark math test, yes it is worth 70% of their grade, I am truly blessed. The teamwork, problem solving, and collaboration they display did not go unnoticed. 

Each student touches our life in his/her own special way. So to my current fourth grade team and all my former students who I have been blessed to teach, Thank You! Thanks for making a difference in my life! You are the reason I love going to school each day!

Ethan was featured on for Being a Hero Next Door
Ethan the Hero Next Door

Sunday, November 8, 2015

PBS Students: Educational Resources at Your Fingertips

PBS Students is a new app designed for students and teachers created by PBS LearningMedia.  Students now have access on their iPads to educational videos, quizzes, games, images, and articles that can be tied in with district curriculum.  The app correlates with PBS LearningMedia Student Portal which is web based and was launched earlier this year. It is designed for students in grades K-12 so they have safe and trusted access to resources in all subject areas. 

In math, we have been working on division. A quick search of content brings up resources for students to use so concepts can be reinforced or enhanced. Students can also use it to help them with questions about their homework.

It is a great learning tool to use to help enrich and enhance the curriculum.  A quick search for Veteran's Day, which is Wednesday brought up several great resources.

PBS LearningMedia is designed for educators so they can incorporate digital media into their lessons.  A rich library of digital resources are available in all curricular areas. It is a great learning tool to use for primary sources, lesson ideas, and interactive content. Educators can create personalized learning for students by using the Productivity Tools for Teachers. After teachers create a quiz or assignment students have easy access by entering a code provided by their teacher. 

Educators also have access to professional development though PBS LearningMedia Professional Development.

I would love to hear how other educators are using PBS LearningMedia resources in their classroom. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Quizalize: Engaging Quiz Game for Students

Quizalize is an engaging quiz game for students and a great way for educators to collect personalized formative data. It is made for teachers by teachers. What's even better, it is free!

It is simple and easy to use. After you sign up for your free account, you are ready to start creating quizzes. When you create questions you have the option of turning on Math Mode and add Images. You also select the amount of time students can spend on each question.You can select from 5 to 20 seconds.

Once the quiz is created, now the fun begins.  Select the quiz you want your class to play and click on Play as a Class. 

You also have the option to set the quiz as a homework assignment. Students can take the quiz at any time as long as they have the access code. 

When you play as a class it is easy and engaging for students.  All students have to do is go to on their iPad or any devise and type in the code.  I make sure my students use their name when prompted so I can track their progress.

Student work at their own pace, but time limits are set on each question. 

I love how students receive immediate feedback after answering each question. As teachers walk around the room, they are also receiving real-time feedback.

The formative data collected is invaluable.  Once you click Open Game it lists which students struggled and which students have mastered the concepts. You can also click on each individual student's name and it lists what questions they answered correctly and specific questions missed. Below is data from a student in my room. This data makes it easy to see what needs to be retaught.

Another great feature is that is it gives teacher feedback on the questions students struggled with most.  This is great data so teachers have the opportunity to pull small groups or reteach the entire class on a specific concept.

After students complete their quiz, they are given data on how they performed.  They can go back and review each question.  

You also have the opportunity to search topics in the Marketplace and play games already created. Teacher have the opportunity to create a quiz and charge others to get/play the game they created.

If you want to charge others to use your quiz, it is simple to create.  You simply go to "Your Apps" on the dashboard and create one.  

My students are not only engaged in this game-based quiz to review content, but the information gathered makes it easy to remediate and enrich the curriculum. It individualizes student's strengths and weaknesses. Since it is web based it can be used on any device.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Best Year Yet

Another school year is going by quickly. As in any profession it is always important that we take time to pause and reflect. The beginning of the school year is a blur, but one comment that was shared stands out. Make this the "Best Year Yet"!

As I sit here and think what does "Best Year Yet" mean, I know there have been a lot of important lessons I have learned over the last thirty years in my education profession. Some great, others not so good. The most important lesson I have learned is that it is all about my students who count on me to make a difference! 

My fourth grade team is currently participating in +Pernille Ripp's Global Read Aloud. We have made connections with other classrooms from around the country.  Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is an inspirational book for young and old alike. How can we make a difference in each child's life?  We have expectations for our students. What if we turn the table. What do they expect from us?

As I read this book with my students and Lynda Mullaly Hunt reads some of the chapters to our class, it has made me think what is truly most important to our students. Two other books that tie in with the same theme that we have read and love are The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patricia Polacco's Thank You, Mr. Falker.

Albert Einstein

As I think about what is most important to our students, I realize it is some of the same things teachers love to see from administrators.

Robert Brault
This is an area I was terrible at over the years, but so important to our students. This took me a long time to learn. I was so consumed and worried about the curriculum that I found myself nodding and saying "yes" a lot.  Over the years I have learned the importance of "truly" listening to what is important to each student in my classroom.  Yes, sometimes that means putting the curriculum aside.  After attending a district ed camp weeks ago, a colleague of mine, Katie Herbert, shared a fantastic idea that I recently started to use each week.  She has "Weekend Highlights" each Monday. My fourth graders love to begin the week by sharing.  As adults we love it when others listen to us we talk, so do our students. 

Make Learning Meaningful and Relevant
Albert Einstein
Our students are growing up in a world totally different from when we were in school.  They love connecting globally and having an authentic audience. When students have a voice and choice to share their thinking, learning becomes relevant and students are engaged. Our students love teaching others and are our best teachers. Each child has different talents and abilities. They need us to help them tap into their creativity and passions. 

Author Unknown
It is so important to our students that we greet them at the door each morning. Make it a practice to let them know you missed them if they have been absent. Students need to believe that they matter! Just like us, they have rough days and a lot going on in their personal lives. Never underestimate the positive impact a handwritten note. It can make a huge impact in student's life. Who doesn't appreciate a word of thanks, praise, or I understand what you're going through! So important we celebrate differences.

Mother Teresa
Recently I received an email from a parent telling me how much her son loves coming to school.  What stood out the most was when she shared that her child is happy because I smile at him. What a powerful statement and a great reminder.

Lady Bird Johnson
Students need/want us to believe in them, even when they don't believe in themselves. A few words of encouragement can make all the difference in the world. Students want us to encourage them when things get tough and they struggle. 

Advocate and be a Cheerleader
Magic Johnson
Our students are like our own children when they are in our classrooms.  They want us to be their loudest cheerleader and advocate for what is best for their well being and education. It is great to watch them become advocates and cheerleaders for their classmates and peers. Our students need to feel that they are important and valued.

Accept Only the Best
Og Mandino
Students know when they turn in work/projects that are not their best. Pride shines and sparkles in their eyes when they turn in their best work even if it has to be redone. When clear expectations are set and students are held accountable, they know we won't accept anything but their very best. 

Have High Expectations 
Walt Disney
Our students want us to believe that they are capable and smart. They want to excel when they have people who believe in their full potential. It is important they have adults who believe they will make a difference in the world.

Empathy, Respect, and Trust
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just like we expect our administrators to build a community that models empathy, respect, and trust, so do our students. They watch and model what they see us doing. When students trust us they feel safe in our classrooms.  Understanding our students and showing empathy makes a positive impact in any classroom.

Charlie Chaplin
The mood of the classroom is a key component of successful learning environment. Laughter is the best medicine for all! The best days are when we can laugh together as a team. 

Have Fun

When we teach with enthusiasm and passion it is contagious.  Student have fun learning when we enjoy teaching!

A perfect quote by Justin Tarte  to end the post on the "Best Year Yet". @justintarte