Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Do You Nearpod? {The Best App EVER!}

This is just a super quick post to introduce you to Nearpod.  I posted this picture on my Instagram feed of a Nearpod that I created tonight for my math lesson tomorrow and there were a lot of questions about it.

I may not be able to answer all of those questions because, well, I just discovered Nearpod yesterday!  Ha!  But, I'm the kind of girl that likes to dive right into things. :)

I'll post more about it after I use it in the classroom for a bit, but for now, I'll give you an overview of what I know (which admittedly, is very little at this point)!

Nearpod can be used on any devices - ipads, androids, even computers.  Basically, you would need to have a teacher device of some sort and your students would need to have student devices of some sort.

In my classroom I will use my laptop or teacher ipad as my device and we have 5 student ipads that my students can share in small groups.

The purpose of Nearpod is to have the teacher use her device to deliver a lesson TO her students on their devices.

Think of it as a PowerPoint that's interactive but with SO many more bells and whistles.  You can actually import PowerPoints/images to create your own lessons or use existing lessons available at Nearpod (some free and some that cost).  I used my computer to create the math practice above.  I actually created it in PowerPoint and then uploaded it to the website and made it interactive using the drawing tool.

Here's a brief introduction...

The above picture is the login screen.  As a teacher, I would login "with Nearpod" using the account I created.  Students would login to the lesson I created by choosing "Join a Session."

The above picture shows a student ipad mini laying on top of my teacher ipad.  You can see at the top of the teacher ipad (which has a lesson open in Nearpod) there is a PIN (JZIWC) - that is the PIN students would enter into their devices to "join my session."

Then, students are prompted to enter a name.  This will let you identify the responses that are submitted.  You'll know exactly who has submitted answers and who hasn't and be able to do a quick assessment of their understanding.

Above is a slide from a free lesson I found on the Nearpod website.  The most awesome thing about Nearpod is that it lets the teacher have control of the pace of the lesson.  Student devices are "locked" to the screen that matches the teacher device, so until I swipe to the next slide, the students' are not able to move on either.

The slide above is an interactive one.  It wants students to write the time shown on the clock.  They use their fingers to write this on their ipads and then click the "send" button.  It will have them confirm that they're ready to send and then....

VOILA!  It pops up on your device so that you can check students' work!  Instantly.  They're held accountable and you're able to check for understanding.  You can see that since I only have 5 ipad minis, my students enter their team colors, so this response was from "Blue Team"  - I'm still waiting on the other responses to arrive.

Drawing is just ONE of the cool ways you can make the learning interactive.  The slide above wants students to use the keyboard to type an answer.  You can also take polls, create quizzes, insert websites and videos...the possibilities are endless!

I know this was a SUPER quick overview.  I'll be back with more once we have more hands-on practice with it in our classroom.  My brain is spinning with wonderful ways we can use this amazing app!  I love, love, love the way the teacher is in control, but students are engaged and interacting with their devices.  They can't leave this app and hop somewhere else, if they do, you will receive an instant notification that the student exited the lesson.  It keeps them on task at all times!  #teacherheaven

If you want more information, hop on over to Nearpod yourself.  They have lots of videos and guides showing/explaining how it all works.  Or, go ahead and create yourself an account and just dive in like I did! ;)

Amber over at Peppy Zesty Teacherista has a great blog post about it, too!  Check it out!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Maximizing the Minutes {Word Study}

Well, I've managed to stretch this blog series out for quite a while.  I'm so sorry about that, but I certainly hope you've found some things in it that will be beneficial for your classroom.

This will be the last post in this series.  If you missed the prior posts, just click below!


If you're new to this series and starting here, I'm going to show you how I utilize the first few minutes of each instructional block to "pack in learning."  Today is all about Word Study.

To start each Word Study block, my focus is on vocabulary.  I don't want to just teach my student a new word and what it means, however.  I really want to get them THINKING about words - utilizing their schema and what they already know about words to THINK about words.

I find that my students do really well with this beginning the second half of second grade, so this is the perfect time to jump in and get started with it.  By that point, they've really built up their knowledge of parts of speech, synonyms/antonyms, and the elements they'll be asked to pull from.

So, again, this few minutes is a valuable spiral review as well as a time to build vocabulary - so much learning packed into 3 minutes!!

For this time, I use our Word SuperStars pack.  It has enough words for 40 weeks.  Here's how it works.

At the beginning of this block, we spend about three-minutes on the task for the day.  Each day's task is guiding students to discover the weekly mystery word while THINKING about words.

MONDAY: The students receive a clue telling them the part of speech and number of letters in the word.  Of course, there are LOTS of possibilities.  That's the point.  I let students work in groups of 2-3 so there is lots of discussion.  They make a list of all the words they can think of that could be the mystery word for the week.

TUESDAY: Next, students get a clue telling them the number of syllables in the word.  They can now eliminate some of their words and possibly go back and add others.

WEDNESDAY: The next clue gives a sentence that the word could be used in.  Again, this provides a context for the word and lets students rethink their choices.

THURSDAY:  Students are given a synonym or antonym for the word.  By now, their list should have dwindled down to just a couple of choices at most - hopefully they have a good idea as to which word is the mystery word!

FRIDAY:  Finally, students are given all of the letters (scrambled) that make the word.  They can now check to see if they were able to discover the mystery word for the week!

There are a couple of ways you could use this in your class room.  It could be printed out and a new clue posted each day (above).

Or, if you're a paper-saver like myself, we included one of those handy-dandy interactive table of contents that we love so much!  This lets me just pull it up on my board and click to that week's word super quickly.
As for the students, I have them record their answers in a journal where they can easily cross out, add to, and revise as the week goes along.

We also provide an organizer page that you could choose to use instead.

Then, a fun element that students love is that they can earn "tags" each week that they discover the correct word by Thursday!

These can be given as tags to wear on a chain.
Or as "stickers" to glue to the back pages of their journals.  I've done it both ways, and either way, the kids eat it up!

That's it!  3-minutes at the beginning of your Word Study block to squeeze in a ton of spiral review and vocabulary building!  I hope you've enjoyed this series.  I plan to start at a new blog series on Lesson Planning {The Smart Way} later this week, so I hope you'll be back to check that out!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Perfect Listening Center {with iPads}

Do you have iPads in your classroom?  Even just one?  Let me show you how I'm using my 5 iPad minis as listening centers in my classroom.  I've discovered an organization system that works!

It all started with these Belkin Rockstars.  We only have 5 iPad minis in our classrooms and I wanted all of my students to be able to listen to stories or podcasts at the same time from time to time.  By plugging one of these into one of our iPads, it lets five students listen at the same time.  5 iPads with 5 listeners each....BINGO!  I found them on Amazon for $7.99 each.  I thought that was a steal!

They came with an alternate cord which is a bit longer.  I didn't think I would need that for our centers, so I stuffed them all in a ziploc baggie...just in case I need them in the future. 

Now, I know myself pretty well.  And, as much as I THINK I'll remember what those little blue cords are, I won't.  My bottom desk drawer is proof of this.  There are so many spare cords and adapters there that go with SOMETHING, but if my life depending on it I wouldn't be able to tell you what. ;)  So, I've become a little smarter.  I cut the cover off of one box and stuck it in the bag with the cords.  Now, I'll be able to find those extensions easily if they're needed.

Next up?  Earbuds.  Now, most of my students have headphones at school.  We use them for our laptops.  Students can order them from our school at the beginning of the year.  However, they're a pain to pass out and collect.  They're always a hot mess.  Some students brought they're own *different* headphones from home instead of purchasing them, and then some students don't have any at all.

Not a happy teacher.  I like things to be the same.  And neat.  And organized.  And easy.  I thought if I could just find earbuds for all, it would solve a lot of our problems.  I searched Amazon, but the cheaper ones had bad reviews.  Then, I remembered someone raving about the ones from The Dollar Tree once.

I visited their website and was pleased to find that they had them and the reviews were great!  I was even happier to discover Dollar Tree Direct.  Y'all!!  Have you heard of this??  Life changing.  I mean, back to school shopping next year is going to be AMAZING!!  With Dollar Tree Direct, you can order items in bulk on their site and they'll be shipped FREE of charge to your local store for pick up!

Oh! My! Word!  How many times have I visited three Dollar Trees in one day in search of enough of a particular item only to be disappointed???  I bought the case of headphones (36) and picked them up from my local store.  LOVE!

With these two items, I now had iPad listening centers for all of my students.  But, how was I going to store and organize these new gems?

I knew from the beginning that I was going to use these little storage containers {Hobby Lobby}.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find one with 24 slots, so I picked up two with 16 slots.  That would be perfect for adding in a few extra earbuds for backups.

I have heard from teachers who have used earbuds in the past that they can become a nightmare.  As in, such a tangled web that they end up throwing them out.  How would I store these in the containers so that students wouldn't just throw them in as a wadded mess?  I knew I wanted something that they could be wound around, keeping them from tangling.  I found these little wooden spools in the craft section {wooden aisle} at Hobby Lobby.  They came in a bag of 20 for $3.99.  I just stuck the plug into one of the holes on the end and then wound the earbuds around.  Perfection!  

It did take a few minutes for me to teach the kids how to do this initially, but they caught on pretty quickly.  A few practice rounds and they were pros!

I also knew that I wanted each student to use the same earbuds each time, so I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut vinyl numbers to go at the bottom of each slot.  

I also printed off labels for the lids and voila!  Instant earbud organization.  #teacherheaven

Along with our dishrack {Target} iPad holder, we now have everything we need at our fingertips.

So, what are some ways I'm using the iPads for listening centers?  Here are just a couple of my favorites.

The first is an app called Epic!  It's FREE if you sign in and register as an educator.

See that little "educators" underneath the white "NEXT" button?  Click it and sign in!

Once signed in, you'll have access to a ton of great books.  I mean, just take a look at the fairytale and poetry resources available here!  For FREE!  Can't you just imagine having students work in groups to read and compare some of these fairytales??

Many of the books students will read on their own, but some of the books have an option to be "read aloud" to them.

Above is an example of a non-fiction book about bears available as a read-aloud.  This will be SO helpful to some of my lower level readers during our informational study.

Another fabulous free resource we use is Act!vated Stories podcasts.

To get to the podcasts, simply click the podcast icon that comes installed on your device.  See the purple icon in the bottom right-hand corner?  That's it!  Then, go to the search function to find Act!vated Stories.

It's filled with podcasts of professional actors bringing many fairytales, tall tales, legends, and more to life!  We have used these for many years on our computer and I'm super excited about using these quality resources on our iPads now!  There are currently 147 podcast stories available - all FREE!

I hope some of these tips and resources will be helpful to you.  Do you have more tips for me?  I'd love for you to share them in the comments!  Let me know what has worked for you.  <3

Friday, February 27, 2015

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs for Five for Friday this week.  Here's what I've been up to lately...

We've had some "snow" days around here this week and I tried to use that time wisely.  I organized our new listening center a bit.  I'll be blogging ALL about it tomorrow, but here's a glimpse.

It's was Teacher Appreciation week at my school and I was in hog heaven with Sharpies, Flair pens, colored cardstock, and highlighters.  Teacher Heaven, I tell ya!

I also started planning a new little blog series that I hope to get underway next week.  It'll be all about how I lesson plan - the smart way!

The couple of days we were in school, we started our U.S. Regions unit. I just love "traveling" through the USA collecting photos and souvenirs to make our scrapbooks.  Such a learning treasure!

And, of course, I my mind was blown along with everyone else's this week in regard to #thatdress!  Things that I can't understand DRIVE ME CRAZY!!  Like obsessively.  I cannot understand how this dress is NOT blue and black to everyone!  Since we were learning about line plots in our classroom, I took a little independent poll of my students and we plotted the results together.  I was a little shocked that 100% of my students saw the dress as blue/black.  YES!  #teamblackandblue

Go link up with Doodlebugs and give us a peek at your week!