Monday, November 17, 2014

Showbie - The Little App That Could

One of my favorite parts of my job is helping teachers use technology to solve problems.  Our school went 1:1 with iPads a few years ago, and it has been great getting to use them.  However, the iPads stay in the classroom with the teacher and never go home with the students.  Lately, some of our students are getting iPads funded by the local county school systems, and teachers came to me asking how they can put homework on the iPad.  In my opinion, this is a great problem to have:)

After a little research, I found a gem called Showbie:

Showbie is an app that allows the teacher to create classes within the app, and upload assignments into the app.  Uploading an assignment could be as simple as taking a picture of the worksheet you want your student to do.  You could also link to a plethora of different apps (Book Creator, Educreations, Geogebra, HaikuDeck, PicCollage).

Once you create your classes, students can join the classes using the unique code generated by Showbie.  When it is time to add assignments, simply create a folder by tapping New Assignment.

Then name the assignment, select a due date, and click Save.  There is a great feature that allows you to lock assignments, so you are able to load several at a time, but locking them prevents students from accessing them.  This is a great feature, especially when you are putting together a large project and don't want students to access it until it is ready.  

Now you are ready to add assignments.  As you can see, you can pick something from your library, add a comment (specific directions), add a voice note, or link from another app.  My favorite part is that you can take a picture right in the app using the camera. 

Here is a very rough picture, but you can edit.  The app allows you to crop, rotate, brighten, and increase the sharpness. 
With all of those changes, you end up with an assignment that looks like this:

Students are able to use the zoom feature to blow up the assignment really big like this:

Which is great for our students, who usually need extra room to show their work:)

Here is an example of a finished assignment.  The student was able to use different colors of ink to solve different problems (I could see this being great when doing the order of operations, combining like terms, the distributive property - can't you just feel the math teacher in me oozing out?!?  I think it would also be good for younger grades to use one color to identify the main idea and a different color for the supporting details.  Or it could be a map and students could identify different countries that are ruled by different kingdoms.  Or it could be the periodic table and the different types of elements could be colored different colors.  See - I love all subjects, not just math:))

I also like how the comment feature is available on the students side too.  These comments are kept confidential between student and teacher.  So students who may be too shy to ask for help in class can do it here without worrying about what their classmates might think.  I also love the voice comment for non-readers or non-writers.  Students could hear the directions on a voice note, and complete the activity independently (i.e. color the things that start with 'c' orange).

Overall, I think this is a terrific app and I highly recommend it to anyone who is going 1:1 with iPads.  It is very user-friendly, and can be used with anyone from the youngest elementary students to the oldest high school kids.  Plus, it makes grading easier, since you only have to have your iPad and not a stack of papers to drag home with you:)

Have you ever used Showbie?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Scoop

It's Sunday!  I'm so glad because I'm exhausted!  And...its going to be a long week.  Staff meeting on Monday, Parent-Teacher Conferences Wednesday and Thursday until 8:00.  But it will be totally worth it when I wake up the Monday of Thanksgiving week and I don't have to work:)

But its also time for the Sunday Scoop, thanks to the lovely ladies at The Teaching Trio!  Here we go!

I've established an App of the Month at my school, and this month I'm wanting to explain more about Google Docs.  I need to get it set up so I can meet with my teachers before November gets away from us.

My son is only 5, but his room goes from clean to disaster in about 10 seconds.  We need to get in there today and get it straightened up.  I've had to keep the door closed for about 3 days now because I just.can'!

My wonderful hubby washed all of the laundry yesterday while I was at a conference.  While I'm so happy to not need to wash and dry the laundry, he did leave it on the couch to be folded.  So that has to get done.

I'd really like to get this new product I've been thinking about out of my head and onto paper.  Hopefully that can get done.  Along with getting my camera fixed.  Its been broken for about 6 months now...

I love that it is getting cooler and time for snuggling by the fire pit and watching movies and drinking cocoa.  Now that the kids are a little bigger, this seems even more special to me:)

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Can you believe its November already?  Seeing as October is my favorite month, I'm a little sad to see November come so quickly (goodbye birthday, goodbye Big D's birthday, goodbye Halloween:(). But, its here, so let's embrace it!

My daughter is 10 months old, and she is finding her voice.  She is constantly yelling and laughing.  It is so funny to hear her 'talk'. Especially because she is driving her big brother crazy:)  But I love it, and I know that I will miss it when she starts to actually talk.

The weather is cooler (temps tonight are nearing 34 degrees!).  The days are also cooler, and I'm loving wearing my boots, scarves, and cozy sweaters.

I'm presenting at the Powering Up With Technology Conference on Saturday in PG county.  I'm excited to be talking to fellow teachers about using Tellagami, Thinglink, Google Forms, and Padlet to infuse some fun into lesson planning.  But, I need to get my presentation finished, so I can get everything uploaded to the website.  Hopefully I can finish it tomorrow.

Dinner - who wants to cook?  Nobody.  Who wants to eat?  Everyone!

My kids are growing so fast, and so are my nieces and nephews!  My adorable niece turns 3 today and I can hardly believe it!  I miss my family back home in Kentucky so much - I wish life would just slow down so we can appreciate it for a minute!

I just picked up Gone Girl today and I can't wait to start reading it.  Hopefully I can get it read by the time the movie comes out to Redbox (or at least when I can rent it from OnDemand).  I'd love to see the movie in the theater (I hear its AWESOME), but I can never find a babysitter to watch the kids.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

There's an app for that?

I'm linking up [again] with Teaching Trio's Technology Thursday!

Do you ever wish all websites would jump on the App wagon and turn their amazing content into an easy-to-use-on-the-iPad-app?  Well, not every company has gone this route, yet their website is still functional (and effective) to use in your classroom.  Rather than having students remember to input a long web address, did you know you can create a 'button' on the iPad that takes them directly there?

Open Safari and go to any website you want students to visit regularly.  One of my favorites from my classroom was (no, xtramath doesn't pay me to say this.  I really used this in my room to help students solidify their basic calculation skills.  Best of all - its free!).

To the left of the web address bar you see a tiny square with an arrow pointing up.  Tap this square, and you are given options.  Among those options are 'Add to Home Screen'.  Touch this option.

You see a new area that will allow you to change the name of the Home Screen button.  Usually this is a pretty good name by default, but you have the option to change it.  Then touch 'Add'.  

There is your new Home Screen 'app'.  

It is also awesome for Google Forms!  Open your form up in Safari (if your iPad struggles a bit like mine, use the Google Drive app to open it in Safari).

Follow the same steps as above, touching the square with the up arrow and 'Add to Home Screen'.

Change the name if you would like.  

Then enjoy your new button!

I can see this being wonderful for those of you that use google forms for classroom quizzes.  Simply make each separate quiz its own button, then drop all of the quizzes in their own folder.  Then, as students are ready to take the quizzes (whether it is after reading chapters after a book, or completing quizzes after math lessons), they go in the iPad 'folder', take the quiz and turn it in.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

SLANTBox...a month later...

Hi all!  I know there has been some radio silence on my end for a few weeks, and I apologize for that. Life is busy and tough and there has been a lot going on.  But I'm back now and I want to share what I got in my SlantBox from the fabulous Katie at The Pawsitive Pencil!  If you haven't checked out her blog, it is super cute!

First, look how cute this note is:

I love the font, and how she took the time to really get to know me:)  I also love how she individually wrapped everything in the box - how cute! 

I'm a scrapbooker, so this pack of beautiful papers will make some really cute notecards or cute accents on pages:)

Look at these cute stickers and Sharpie markers- who doesn't love sharpies?  And the Crayola tin is awesome!  I'm sure I will be using it for a long time!

These cute tissues - almost too cute to use:)

This story is so wonderful, and sad.  I'm reading it with my son. 

The math teacher in me loves these socks!  And, they are great to wear with boots!  What a plus!

Katie, thanks so much for being an awesome SlantBox partner!  I love everything!!!  And Jameson, thanks for organizing this - I can't imagine how much work it is!!!

Soon I will have another post because I've been nominated for the Liebster award (thanks Jasmine!).  

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I'm so excited that October is here!  It is my favorite month!  Maybe it is because the weather is getting cooler, so I can wear my boots and sweaters again.  Maybe it is because the trees are changing color.  Or maybe it is because my son and I celebrate our birthdays (and have an awesome party of course!).  But since it is October, that means it is time for another currently!

I always like to drink a cup of coffee and listen to the news early in the morning.  But my dog has a skin condition that flares up in the fall and in the spring.  I'm going to the pet store later today to see if I can get something for him...poor thing!

Fall is by far my favorite season, and I just love the cooler weather, boots, and camp fires (we may or may not have sat by the fire last night and made smores :-)

It is so easy to get caught up with all of the bad things in life, because let's face it, there is a lot of bad stuff that happens.  But there are also so many good things, big and small, that happen on a daily basis.  So I'm going to start a journal and write things I am grateful for on a daily basis.  I think it will help reframe my thinking, and be a positive step in the right direction.

I'm wanting the weekend to arrive.  This has been a terrible week for my family, and I'm just thankful the weekend is close, and we can finally relax and be together.

Since I've been out of town for a week, I have several errands to run - the bank, the post office, grocery store.  Oh yeah, and the house needs to be cleaned too!

Treat - Have you checked out the dollar tree for decorations or small student gifts?  There is so much stuff in there (and everything is only $1!!).  If I still had my classroom, I would definitely buy some decorations, and maybe some gifts (I know some students don't celebrate Halloween, but everyone appreciates a cute gift!).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Scoop

Hi there!  I'm linking up today with The Teaching Tribune for their Sunday Scoop!  I love this linky because it is quick, easy, and lets me be nosey (yeah, I'm a bit nosey...I just love seeing what everyone is up to!)

Since its Sunday, I think everyone has laundry to do.  I've been pretty good about doing a load every day during the week.  It certainly helps, but I always have the hardest time with that last load (and letting it sit on the couch for a day...or two).
We are rolling out a new progress report website (since our school year begins in July, it is already toward the end of our first quarter).  Tomorrow, I need to make sure it works for each of our teachers, and if when it doesn't, I need to figure out why.  There's already a couple of people who told me it isn't working, so I am hoping I just need to do some simple updates on their computers!
My family is taking a much needed long weekend to the mountains!  We didn't get a proper vacation this summer, so Thursday-Sunday, we will be re-connecting with nature and each other.  I'm so excited!

I have most of a new TPT product finished, I just need to get it posted.  Hopefully, I can make that happen this week.
My poor dog needs a haircut.  I really hope to cut it before we leave for our trip.  

My favorite time of the day is at night, when I'm snuggling with my kids.  I always read stories to my son (and sometimes my daughter, but sometimes she falls asleep too early) before bed.  I look forward to this simple, quiet time everyday.  

I hope you all have a great week!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Together Teacher; Chapter 8

I'm joining Kelly at An Apple for the Teacher, for her The Together Teacher book study.  This is week 8 of the study, so we have learned a lot!  So far, we have learned about establishing organizational systems to keep yourself together!  Although it has been a struggle, I've enjoyed learning about new habits (and trying to keep them going!).  

Chapter 8 is all about Organizational Demons.  You know, all of those things that keep you from being organized!  I'm pretty good about writing things down and looking at my schedule, but where I struggle the most is forgetting to look beyond today.  Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed, I can't see the forest for the trees!  

This chapter helped me see even more clearly that you have to get yourself unstuck, and if a task has been on your 'to-do' list for more than a month, you probably don't have 'to-do' it!  I'm the worst about writing down a huge task (organize the teacher resource library) right next to a simple task (email staff about meeting).  I'm also the kind of person who LOVES to check things off.  So when it is possible, I will bust out an hour of productivity to check several things off my list (and I may or may not have written things down that I already did, just to check them off).  

This chapter explained that it is important to make things actionable.  Breaking down tasks into smaller parts is one of my specialities (teaching special education will help you break down large tasks!).  So, rather than 'organize teacher resource library', I have broken this task down into
1. Purge books that are outdated.
2. Sort books into similar categories (reading books, math books, behavior books, technology books) [this part will obviously take the longest, so I will actually probably do it by shelf or bookshelf, since we have 3 bookshelves full of books].
3. Peruse blogs and Pinterest for new books to add to our collection (my favorite part!).
Now that my task is broken down into bite-sized chunks, it isn't as overwhelming, and it will be great to get this off my long-term to-do list.

The last part of this chapter was all about those five demons that get in your way: perfectionism, procrastination, temptation, distraction, over complication. Personally, temptation and over complication have never really been a problem for me.  Before I had children, I was a perfectionist, and everything had to be done perfectly.  Now, as long as it gets done, that's all that matters (it has to be done right, just not perfectly.  And, I've learned the art of letting [some] things go).

But procrastination and distraction, those are my middle names!  Particularly distraction.  

That's why I use lots of colored pens, listen to music as I work, and work on multiple projects at once.  It is very hard for me to keep focus on just one thing.  Procrastination is also something I've picked up as an adult (when I was a child, and my teacher assigned me a project due in a few weeks, I was the kid that went home and started that night!).  

There's only so many hours in a day, and if it doesn't HAVE to get done that day, it probably won't!
So the way to battle my demons - keep it simple and stay consistent!  If I just keep chipping away a little at a time, I won't get so overwhelmed with the process!

Thanks to Kelly for organizing this study and helping us get this year off to an organized start!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently - September

I can't believe it is September already!  It's time for another Currently...

My husband and I bought our house almost 4 years ago, and decided then that we wanted to do a decorative stone front.  We are finally doing it, and I'm so excited! (Its one of the last things on our list of to-dos for the house!)

I think we should get a 3-day weekend every weekend!

I've got some TPT things that need to get out of my head!  I also need to go grocery shopping and straighten up our laundry room.  But I am proud of myself for cleaning behind the refrigerator, stove and couch this weekend.  Lots of major spring fall cleaning got done - and it feels good to have a clean house:)

My daughter is 8 months old now, and we have never gotten any professional pictures taken as a family.  I'm thinking of scheduling a family picture for next month!

My kids are still sleeping, but I know when they wake up, everyone will be hungry!  So when I'm done with this post - I'm making some biscuits and gravy:)

I hope that in our lifetime, my hubby and I will get to take a trip to Vegas and Niagara Falls, but I probably won't ever get to Italy.  I have an irrational fear that if I ever leave the country, something will happen and I won't be allowed back in the U.S.  I know - weird, right?  I can't help it.

Now, I'm off to cook some breakfast!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reflector - a terrific solution

Hi there!  I'm back - finally!  I took a blogging hiatus to enjoy summer and spend time with my babies.  We just got back Friday from a few days of this:

My parents, my kids, and myself spent a few days at the beach, lounging in the sun, eating crabs (I love seafood!), and swimming.  It was wonderful!  But now, I'm on day 19/21 of my short summer break - and I'm sad to go back to work on Wednesday:-(  But, all good things must come to an end!

Looking forward at the calendar, I'm trying to plan out my professional development for this next school year.  I have applied to present (for the third year in a row) at Powering Up With Technology (I'm awaiting to hear back if I have been selected), and I need to find a way to show my iPad on my computer (I have a new MacBook Air for the first time to use for presenting).  

About 2 years ago, my school started using Reflector to mirror the iPad to our computers,  and we've never looked back.  Reflector is a software program that you download to your computer (not to the iPad), and it runs in the background.  In order to use it, open the program (you won't physically see anything there, but it is working), then grab your iPad.  

Slide up the bottom bar of the iPad to find your AirPlay button.  

When you find your device, touch it. Then, slide over the Mirroring button.  Magically, your iPad screen will appear on your computer!

Not only is this a terrific way to present using apps to adults, but it would be great to introduce how to use an app to your students.  Everything you do on the iPad, will happen in real time on the computer (that is attached to a projector).  I have also used it in the classroom with my students.  When working out a math problem on the iPad using ShowMe, I asked students to open their AirPlay and display their work on the projector.  I've had up to 8 iPads on the screen simultaneously!  

Reflector was originally designed only for Apple products, but they have recently added PC and Android capabilities.  Right now, you can download it for $10.39, or you can have a 7 day free trial.

Have you ever used Reflector?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What I Got (at the TPT sale)!

I'm linking up with Bloghopin' for their "Show Us What You Bought" Linky.

TPT has a site-wide sale 4 times every year, and I usually buy some clipart and backgrounds for my products, and this sale wasn't any different:)

The first thing I bought was this Kindergarden Ready Pack.

My son is going to be 5 in October, but since his birthday is so late, he won't be able to go to Kindergarden until next fall.  In the mean time, we are going to be working on all of those skills needed to be successful (letters, numbers, sounds, etc.) so when he gets to Kindergarden, he will be ready:)

I was looking for some new fonts and fell in love with Font Fun! by Cara Caroll.

I love all of the fun fonts and can't wait to use them on some products (and some labels around my house!).

I also love clipart, and I generally buy something from Lovin Lit every sale, so here is what I bought from her:

Seller's Toolkit  #3 has a great selection of papers, and frames (and I love the chalkboard theme!)  I bought Bundle #2 during the last sale and have used it tons!

Loopy Doodle Frames will be great for dressing up some products:)

Last, but not least, I bought some Rainbow Scrappy Kids and Scrappy iPad Kids from Graphics from the Pond.  I bought the Summer Scrappy Kids during the last sale and loved it!

By the way, I broke even at 11:00p.m.:)  I always try to make more money than I spend at these quarterly sales. I usually don't make much, but I do think it is harder to be successful at the middle school level than at the elementary/clipart level.

I can wait to see what everyone else bought!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My first SLANTbox!

I signed up for SLANTbox back in June for the very first time because I saw all the fun stuff everyone was sharing and I wanted to participate.  At first, I was a little leery, because I didn't really know how someone could be paired with a perfect stranger and get to know them well enough to put together a cool box that would be useful.  But, I was wrong!  I was paired with Meredith at Creativity to the Core and she was pretty awesome.  Not only is she very nice, extremely talented, and has an awesome TPT store, but she pretty much nailed it when sending my box of goodies:)

Here is a pic of what was in my box:

I love it!  So clever, cute, and creative!  Here's a closeup:

She gave me stiff plastic straws (which is perfect, because I have one of the re-usable cups, but broke the straw, and never got a new one), cute post-it magnetic notes, highlighters, and a border organizer. I am a bit of a border hoarder (I have been known to order border online when I can't find exactly what I'm looking for in our local teacher stores).

Here's another picture:

A cute 'S' for my desk, a great picture frame with this quote, " Technology is just a tool.  In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important" Bill Gates. I think this quote is great:)  There is also a really cute wallet (and I know the yellow color will make it that much easier to find in the bottom of my purse:)

Here's the last picture:

And the background in all of these pictures has been the cute placemats Meredith sent.  Yes, those are flair pens, and I love them.  In addition to hoarding borders, I also hoard pens.  I have about 50 at school, so I think these can stay at home:)  Those two things on the left, they are blank note cards that have a hook attached.  I think these will be perfect for putting the alphabet and numbers on for my four-year-old and I to practice while waiting (in line, at the doctor, in traffic, etc.).  He will be five in October, but because his b-day is so late, he has to wait another year before he can start Kindergarden.  It sucks (not only because he is totally ready for school, but because it is another year I have to pay for daycare.  And preschool around this area is way too much!).  But he is really smart (and I'm not just saying that because I am his mom), and he is learning so much everyday.  But we need to do more, and I'm starting with those cute little notecards.  

So, if you haven't signed up for SLANTbox, you should.  Because it is really cool and fun, and a great way to get to know two people you have never met before (I made a box for Michelle at Miss, Hey Miss too.)  

I'm off to finish up some TPT stuff, and then to clean.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly my house gets dirty!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August Currently...

It's August 2nd...and I'm a day late to the party:(  Oh well, I'm linking up anyways:)

My baby girl is 7 months old now, and she babbles and crawls with the best of them!  It seems to be happening much faster than it did with her big brother.

We had a tiny week off at the end of June, but went to school the whole month of July.  Now that's its August, I can finally relax a bit, before gearing up to go back again!

My family is all from Kentucky, and I love when they get to come visit.  I've booked us a few days at the ocean.  I can't wait to take the kids and just relax for a while.

I love scrapbooking, but I can never seem to find time for it.  But the past two days I've scrapped a few pages, and I hope to keep up the momentum.  I'd like to get a whole book done for my daughter, and do several pages for my son's books.

I've also been updating and pumping out TPT stuff.  I've updated about 5 products, and created 2 products since Wednesday (its amazing how much you can get done in the early hours of the morning before the kids get up!).  I hope to finish up 2 more products before the big sale Monday and Tuesday.

Teachers go back August 20 for in-services and lunch, then kids will be there August 22.  I'm a little nervous what I'm going back to.  Construction started on our school Wednesday to build a new media center (library), and I'm afraid all of the books will be in shambles (and its my responsible to organize everything again!).  Hopefully everything was packed away carefully - but you never know.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer - here I come!

Today makes Day 1 of my 21 day summer break (staff goes back August 20, students August 22).  This is my first summer with 2 kids, so I really want it to be not only fun for them, but productive for me.  When I had my last break (of only a week), I think I planned on doing too much!  Here was my list (with updates of what actually got done).

1. Craft a wreath for my front door (I've seen so many cute ones on pinterest and Monday Made-It!) - didn't happen!  I would like to still do this, but my hubby and I picked out a new front door, and it really wouldn't look right with a wreath (the window is quite big).
2. Print pictures for scrapbooks (I have lots of t-ball pics and pics from a recent trip to KY) - I actually did that.  But now I have more pictures to print.  I see a trip to Walgreens in my future (did you know that you can use the Walgreens app to print pictures right from your phone?!? - awesome!)
3. Start scrapbook for Little D (when her brother was this age, I already had made 3 scrapbooks for him - I've got to get on the ball!) - I didn't get this done either, but I'm really planning on this for this break.  I've even got the most amazing idea to load up some of the short clips I've taken of her crawling, playing, laughing, etc. and creating QR codes to put in the scrapbook of the videos!
4. Make t-ball pages for Big D's scrapbook. - Yeah, this is happening today!
5. Find a piece of furniture to re-finish for our living room (I need some sort of something for right next to the front door). - I looked and looked, but nothing was perfect.  Now, my hubby wants me to find a nice end table for our couch (and I need some storage for a basket underneath for toys for Baby D).  There is a new consignment store that opened up really close to my house, and there is a Salvation Army pretty close too.  I'm hoping to look around today and see what I can find.
6. Create and post at least 1 new product to TPT. - I need to finish up some things up, and update some older products.  
7. Get and start using Photoshop (I went to a training last week, and I REALLY want it!!!) - I downloaded the Photoshop CC trial, and it is so complex!  There is so much involved in it, and to really learn how to use it, would take a lot of time.  So, baby steps...
8. Get my house clean - really clean.  I always try to keep everything tidy, but I want to deep clean! - I did do this.  Pulled out the couch and stove and refrigerator.  Organized the clothes the kids have grown out of.  It was much cleaner, and now it needs to happen again:(
9. Work out everyday - I really need to get back on the working out wagon.  I feel much better when I at least spend 20-30 minutes on the elliptical every day, but it is so easy to just not do it! - I fell off the wagon.  My in-laws came to visit, and I didn't workout for 4 days, then I just didn't do it again.  But I will.  I'm signed up for Daily Burn, and plan to use it 4 days per week while I'm off work!

I want to make a new list, but looking at all the things that didn't get done, makes me a little weary.  But, here we go

1. Do something fun with the kids at least 3 days per week.  I hope we get to Dutch Wonderland sometime.  I'm planning a trip to the beach for a few days with my parents.  But I also want to go to the park, movies, etc.
2. Clean out the attic.  Its gotten ridiculous up there.  Seriously, we have lived here for less than 4 years, and our attic is overflowing!  There is so much to go through and get rid of.  Especially my teacher stuff.  When I left my teaching position last summer, I put EVERYTHING into my attic.  Books, folders, baskets and bins.  I think that I will end up back in the classroom, but when I do, I will probably want to make new stuff.
3. Organize some of our cabinets.  My awesome hubby created some terrific storage in the laundry room, and I've totally let it go.  It needs to be sorted out.  Big time!

Okay, I think that is enough.  Hopefully I'll be more productive this time:)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't forget the hook!

I'm linking up again with iTeach1:1 for her Tune into Technology Linky party!  This week, we are focusing on math...and I have to admit, math is my favorite:)

I'm also linking up with Teaching Trio for their Technology Thursday again:)

I remember being in the classroom and being so overwhelmed by everything that HAD to be done (hello, special education paperwork!), and struggled to do those little things that made a difference.  When I was in college, our education teachers always stressed how important it was to make sure you have their attention.  Nobody is going to remember anything if you don't have their attention.  However, do you know how hard it is to get the attention of a tween/teenager?  Especially a tween with autism or a learning disability?  Very hard!

So, how can you get the attention of your students with an otherwise boring math lesson? Grab them with a hook!  Personally, the easiest and fastest way to hook my students was with BrainPop.  My school had a subscription, and my students loved Tim and Moby and how they solved common math problems in a 3-5 minute video.  I especially loved how they touched on important vocabulary words and included a quick quiz at the end (although I didn't always have time to do the quiz...).  They include a wide variety of topics, and there was almost always a video related to the topic I was searching for.

So, what can you do if you don't have a Brainpop Subscription?  There are many other options such as Educreations or ShowMe.  Both of these are screen-casting apps that allow teachers to create videos using their voices and a white-board.  I enjoyed creating my own videos that explain how to solve a particular type of problem.  But, when you are pressed for time, you are able to search and find videos that other people have created.  I also loved having my students create videos explaining math processes.  How great would it be if you were able to share the best video the next day with the entire class?  Below is a video I created for graphing linear equations in slope-intercept form (pardon my southern accent;)  I may live in Maryland, but my heart will always be in Kentucky).

Another option would be to use Voki.  I've talked about Voki before.  It allows you to create avatars and either record your own voice, or type what you would like your Voki to say.  The videos have to be short (around 400 typed characters or 30 seconds of recording time), and can be a great way to open class.  Below is a Voki I quickly created for combining like terms.


I particularly like Voki because of the short amount of time it requires.  Also, once you create your Voki, it keeps it saved for you in your profile (so you can use them over and over again).  What's even better is that you can embed Voki into your SmartNotebook files if you use the Smartboard.  That way, they are there the next time you use that lesson.

Hopefully you have some new ideas spinning in your head, or are at least inspired to use an attention grabber in your next lesson!