Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I'm Thankful For

This week I'm not providing you with a tutorial. Instead I want to talk about what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for a job that I absolutely love. I'm thankful that I get to go to work everyday to see students wave eagerly at me down the hallways and in their classrooms. "Mrs. P.- you coming to my room today?!" I'm thankful for the excitement they have for adventure. I'm thankful they accept me and my crazy ideas! I'm also incredibly thankful for the wonderful teachers I work with! They allow me to come into their classrooms to try new ideas and ways of thinking. They open their minds to a shift about education. For this, I am grateful. And lastly, because I could go on and on and on , I'm thankful to work in a district that sees the value of technology support for teachers. I work with the most incredible tech team and we stand united on a solid ground of support. As I reflect on my brave decision to leave the classroom to take on a coaching role- I am thankful! So thank you students, thank you teachers, and thank you DPS61. You have provided me with an incredible opportunity to do what I love.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grading Content, Not Layout

Providing Choice is Powerful!

Take a deep look into what you really want your students to be showing you. Do you really care about the "how"? Does it really matter if they write a paper, make a poster, or produce a movie as long as the CONTENT is there?

Providing students with guided choices can be incredibly powerful in your classroom. You can still remain in "control" by creating content guidelines for students to follow, and you can allow for choice and creativity by allowing choice for the final product.

Using rubrics for grading can be incredibly powerful. They are also easy to use and provide very clear expectations for students. I urge you though to take a deep look at your rubric and really ensure that it is content-based. The reason I say this is because you only want to be scoring kids on the core-content material. You don't want them to end up with an A because they had a gorgeous, perfectly edited video that did not include any of the content you wanted them to research/learn.

So, here's the how.

1. Create a checklist or rubric of your content expectations.
For example: Students need to learn about order of operations
____ Include PEMDAS
____ Include what each letter of PEMDAS stands for
____ Include the PEMDAS order
____ Include the problem your teacher provided for you.
____ Include an explanation of how you solved the problem.
_____ Each step of PEMDAS is clearly labeled/noted in your explanation
____ Restate the PEMDAS explanation/order as a review
____ Include your Name(s) and School Name

2. Provide a few examples to students or ideas of apps/web-based programs they could use.
3. After students have started working ensure that you check in with each group to make sure they are on the right track.
4. Enjoy watching your class really shine as they display their creativity and ideas.
5. Provide time for each group to share out their project.
6. Have reflective conversations about each groups project. You can use TAG to get the conversations going. T- tell something you liked about the project, A- Ask a question, G- Give a suggestion

You will be amazed at some of the ideas students come up with during these reflective conversations. The next time you do a project like this again they will make huge improvements in their work! Remember, this is a learning process and new way of thinking for many kids!

Here's an example I used for a staff meeting. The activity was to take a bunch of note cards (labeled with words of district responsibilities--ie RTI, ISAT, Tier 2, etc) and link them together. Then, they had to create an explanation to explain why they put the cards in the order they did. Here is the checklist and output options sheet they were given.

Teacher Product Samples!

As always, get a hold of me if you need a bit more information or explanation!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Educreations- The Data Collection App

Data Parents Will WANT To See

One of my favorite apps is Educreations. I love it because no matter what grade or subject you teach I can almost guarantee you I can find a way that your students can use it that will benefit you. If nothing else it's an excellent data collection tool. One of my favorite ways to use Educreations is to collect data samples of students throughout the school year for parent teacher conferences. What type of data you ask? What type of data do you need? Some examples include writing samples, reading/fluency samples, math problem solving, site word reading, etc. The list can go on and on. Now that your brain is flowing full of ideas (I've successfully implemented my "hook") I'll tell you how to get started. No, it's not hard or time consuming. 

* Side note * That's something you'll learn about me as you continue to follow my blog. I don't do a lot of time consuming set up things. I understand that teachers don't have a ton of time to implement and test out new things. So, to get you going I will help you use quick easy things to begin your classroom's transformation. After I've hooked you, well, then you will get lost in the world that I live in and the sky won't even limit your possibilities! 

Setting up an educreations teacher account: 

*This can be done from an iPad or a regular computer. 
1. Go to
2. Click     
3. Click on teacher and follow the steps. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

QR Scavenger Hunt in 10 Minutes

Lately it seems as though QR scavenger hunts in DPS 61 have been catching on like wild fire! 

 (QR Newspaper Article in DPS61

So easy to set up to get started in your classroom TODAY.. yes, Today, not tomorrow! If you have 10 minutes you can set up a QR scavenger hunt. 

Check out this site: QR Scavenger Hunt 

You literally type in each question then an * and follow it with the answer. This is the "hook" I use with a lot of teachers. It can be a simple substitution activity (SAMR in 120 seconds) or it can really bump up a few steps with a little thought!

Small Group QR Lesson and Self Check

Small groups are hard to get started in your classroom. How do you give the kids directions? How can you ensure they are learning in the right direction when you are busily working with your RTI small group? Have you ever considered using a QR code as a self check for kids? What if your small group station did a worksheet, then used a QR code that sent them to an answer check? Or maybe even the top of the worksheet has a video tutorial of the skill they are working on?

Steps to get started:
1. Create your worksheet - based on student needs and standards (Duh right?!)
2. Either create a quick lesson explanation (maybe using Educreations) or locate one online
3. Use a QR generator like to create your QR. Bitly will also save all of your links in case you'd like to create bundles to use and share.
4. Create a quick google doc with your answers to your worksheet. *If you use a google doc you can continue to use the same QR for your answers page if you just change the doc every day. Make sure that you open up the rights to the doc to share with anyone who has the link.
5. Use a QR generator to create a QR to your answer page.
6. Print out your worksheet and QRs, cut them out and glue them to your worksheet (or, if you created the worksheet just cut/paste the QRs on your worksheet before printing).
7. Teach your kids the protocol and procedures for the small group station and how to use the QRs.
8. Go work with your small group and let the kids learn with a powerful lesson and self check!

**Worried about your kids going straight to the answers... or do they need a little brain break? Post the Answer QR across the room so they have to get up out of their seat to check their answers. **

More questions? Doesn't make sense? Get a hold of me!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

IETC 2013

Ok, so here it goes.... They've made a believer out of me. I'm starting this blogging stuff. I guess I do have a lot of resources to share as a tech coach... and quite a crazy life. So here it goes. #inspired #crazyworldouttheretoshare

So this morning has been quite inspirational. I've had a few major take aways. But I still struggle with a bigger picture type of focus. How am I really, truly going to make an impact? What is the one, major thing, I'm going to focus on. As I learned today, multitasking on many things doesn't make me successful at any of them. How do I find focus? What's the key? And then, after I figure it out, how do I get teachers there... and then students??!!