Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I used to think PBL was...

I tried PBL at the end of the year and I failed.  Here is why.

  • I did not give the students enough time to process the information
  • I did not coach the groups along the way, I trained each job and released them too soon
  • I did not give the students a real world anchor to go back to.
  • It was an extension not the main lesson so the students were not thoroughly engaged.

My goals for PBL next year...
  • Start smaller and let the students experience failure and give them guidance for correcting mistakes but don't correct the mistakes for them.
  • Give the students more time to explore and process information before assigning the project
  • Let my students soar.  Set high expectations and give them time to reach them.

Friday, May 6, 2016

This is why I "tweet".

I have been using Twitter for three years (I think).  It is the most powerful tool I have EVER used for PD.
So let me quickly show you why.

May 4th my Twitter buddy @ tweeted

So I responded

Instant PD right so then today I showed my kids this...

And they did this...

In three days I learned a strategy that I immediately taught and the students immediately utilized.

This is why I "tweet".

Thank you @ for tweeting out your "Fav new test prep strategy".  Because if you hadn't my studnets would not have been able to do what they did today.

Please tweet the awesome things that you are doing in your classroom so that other classrooms can do awesome things too!

Monday, March 14, 2016

What I did with Reflector 2 on my first day using it with students.

One of the things I love best about Pinnacle is being able to try out new toys... I mean tech tools.  On Thursday of last week, I got a new computer with Reflector 2 installed.  I played with it a little on Friday but I did my research over the weekend and did a lot with it today.

For those of you who are not familiar, Reflector 2 is a program that allows you to project your Apple, Chromebook, and Android devices onto a computer screen and therefore onto a Smart-Board or Promethean board for the whole class to see.

Here are a few of the things that I did with Reflector 2 today...

1)  Morning Meeting- This morning for morning meeting it was all about teaching the students how to project their ipads.  I let two people project their screens at a time and let them play for about 30 seconds each.  We had a student whose birthday was today, one of the other students quickly made a "chatterpix" birthday cake sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

2) Reading Response- I did my normal read aloud and then assigned the written response on Google Classroom.  I gave the students about 5 minutes to finish the response and then used the spinner on Wheel Decide to choose two students to put up their work using Reflector 2.  We read and discussed their responses.

3) Math- Today we reviewed geometry vocabulary using a Blendspace lesson that my teammate created.  The students explored the site, taking notes in their notebook.  At the end of the lesson, I used Wheel Decide again to choose a few students to answer questions using Reflector 2.  I prompted them by saying "Show me a line segment", I wanted them to project the answer to the question onto the Smart-Board.  Some of them showed directly from the presentation on Blendspace, some of them googled the term and showed me the examples they found on their own.  It was a different kind of formative assessment.  It was very informative and all of the students knew I was going to ask questions so all of them were ready with responses to present.

I can't wait to find more things I can do with Reflector 2.  The students were engaged all day because they knew at any moment they would be able to show off their hard work.  I would love to hear how you use Reflector 2.

Reflection:  Looking back as I was blogging about my day it is amazing to me how integral technology has become in my classroom.  I have been discouraged in the past, that my students were not very tech. savvy, but they have learned so much.  They have not only learned important tech skills but they have learned to create, share, produce, investigate, etc.  They have also learned the Mrs. Cissel uses technology to solve problems and troubleshoot.  They are also starting to do the same thing.  I am proud of what my class has accomplished!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men- Planning and Snow Days

Ok so we had a weird week.  We had no school on Monday because of MLK day.  We went to school on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had a teacher work day on Thursday.  It snowed Thursday night so we had our Friday teacher workday at home.  We had a long snowy weekend and then we get the call "Due to road conditions...".  No school for students tomorrow and optional teacher work day for teachers.

Update: No school on Tuesday as well.  When I got the text I yelled and startled my children.  Then I said "I'm going to pull my hair out."  My 7 year old said "Don't do that 'cause then you'll be bald"

I should be jumping for joy, but I feel sad and frustrated.  Why?  Because I PLANNED for Monday to go a certain way and now my whole week is going to be messed up.

  Now, that probably isn't true.  It will be fine I guess.  I just hate for plans to be messed up.

Planning takes a lot of work.  It is the most time consuming and most important part of a teachers life.  We spend hours and hours analyzing data, creating groups, writing questions, pre-reading text, finding the right video or making the right video, looking for ideas to make the lesson more engaging...  The list goes on and on.

Planning is critically important, don't get me wrong but we need to remember that our children are not computers to be programmed.  Acts of God, and things not in our control, will inevitably mess up our plans.  How we react to messed up planning is really important.  We need to realize that the students need us.  They don't need our plans.  The students need us to model flexibility, resourcefulness and problem-solving.

They also need us to be well rested, calm and re-energized.

So, chill out Cissel.  It's a snow day.  Relax and enjoy it.

Just in case you would like them, here are a few ideas I had on this snowy weekend.  Maybe it will save you some valuable planning time.  It's nothing fabulous.  Just decent ideas.

Retake Tickets- We use a program called Compass Learning.  It's basically a virtual tutor for students.  It is differentiated to meet students needs.  Sometimes the students don't do too well and need to retake a certain activity.  I will copy and laminate this ticket and use a wipe off marker to give them their retake code.  You could use this for retakes of any kind.  I like that it encourages students to keep trying until you master the skill.

AR Chapter Book Challenge-  No matter how many times I tell my students that a chapter book will give them more points (and more reading stamina) they never believe me.  I made this simple form to challenge students to read more chapter books.  It is based on the idea of "badges".  The more chapter books they read the higher they "level up".  It is a simple idea and a simple document but you are more than welcome to steal if it seems like it would work for you.

Complete Work Ticket and "Friday Coding Bonanza"-   This year my class is having a VERY hard time completing work in a given period of time.  I do all of the right things, model first, set a timer, have the kids write "to do" lists.  Stuff still isn't completed.  So here is my plan.  When the timer goes off, all kids put their hands on their heads, and I start giving out tickets.  I like this idea because I make everyone stop at the same time so time runs smoothly.  Students I know are not going to complete, I give them their own personal "stopping point" (answer the first three questions).  Easy to differentiate and easy to reward.  Once the students get their tickets (they get two, they are raffle tickets) they put their name on one and save the other.  If they can collect 20 tickets by the end of the week then they can participate in the "Friday Coding Bonanza".  My students love code.org but we don't always have time for it because they don't finish daily tasks in time.  The tickets they put their names on go in the pot and I pull one or two names daily and give them prizes from the prize box.  Hey don't judge me, its the middle of the year and the kids need some extra motivation.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy your next snow day.

 “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How I've used QR codes in my classroom

QR codes are indispensable  I would say that QR codes are the "tech integrated classroom's" most important tool.  Below is a list of how I have used QR codes in the classroom.

1) A way to distribute assignments and directions when I have no voice.

I went through about two weeks where I had little to no voice.  On the days my voice was the worst, I put directions on QR codes.  I sorted the QR codes on my desk (yes I stayed in my desk, I felt awful).  The students worked in pairs and when they were finished with one task, I gave them another.  It worked very well.

2) A quick way to share a link to a website or activity.

I made a game spinner for a math game on http://wheeldecide.com/.  I shared the spinner link using a QR code generated on my computer using "The QR Extension"  from Google.  The students used their IPads and scanned the QR code and began learning without time wasted clicking through links and/or typing websites.


3) A motivational tool.

I add QR code "surprises" to books in my classroom library.  They are just little youtube videos that the students are allowed to watch if they make a 100% on their AR test. 

4) A way to get information to parents.

This QR code was attached to conference sign-up sheets.  The parents scanned the code and that opened a Google Form for the parents to fill out and request a conference.

These are a few ways I use QR codes in my classroom.  I will add more to this post as I get more ideas.  Please feel free to add comments on how you use QR codes in your classroom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Step into Harry Potter's World- One of my favorite teacher moments EVER!

This month our focus was on Characters and visualizing.  My anchor text was Maniac Magee but I used a lot of Harry Potter too.  Why?  Because I love Harry Potter.  You can teach so much with Harry Potter (and almost all of the kids have seen the movie, and because the end of the month was Halloween).


To teach visualization I used this blendspace.    The screens 11-13 demonstrated to students how Harry's speech to his classmates about the Patronus charm can add to our work on visualization.

After this lesson I taught a lesson on Character traits using Hermione Granger from Harry Potter as my example.

This all leads me to Friday when I had one of my favorite teaching moments of all time. Well maybe not teaching but teacher moments.

My students spent the last two days preparing for their final character project.  They drew a picture of their character, wrote a script, and created a Chatterpix.
I even had one student create a chatterpix of Harry Potter.

I decided that my wrap up would have to be a little more intense than that.  I came to school as if it were just a normal day.  Little did my students know I had a trick up my sleeve.  I wrote on the board; Plan A-Normal Day  Plan B- Surprise.  I told my students all day that they would love plan B but they had to get it together and keep it under control.  They started out a little rough but they got it back together so at about 1:30 I put my Plan B into action.

I put on a brain break from GoNoodle.  I made sure the students were well in control and enjoying their break.  I opened the closet door (which hid me from view).  I took out the braids that I had worn in my hair, slipped on a graduation robe and grabbed my broom.  When the brain break was over I used my iPad (and bluetooth) to start playing the Harry Potter theme.  Then Hermione Granger (me of course) walked out of the closet.  There was a collective scream/holler (I didn't think I would scare them but I did scare them a little I guess because they weren't expecting it.  I then directed them to the Google classroom assignment I prepared that took them to the Scholastic Harry Potter website and Pottermore.  We spent the next 30 minutes exploring Harry Potters world.  It was SOOO much fun.  I had the time of my life and the kids did too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Let's get caught up and I love paper slides

Today was day 21 of the 2015-2016 school year.  I am just now catching my breath.  It has been a whirlwind of activity, testing, new students and learning names!  I have a great new class and I am learning more about them everyday.

The biggest thing that surprised me about my class was how shy they were when it came to technology.  They had to be coaxed into clicking on apps on the iPads.  They didn't want to play and figure things out.  They waited for me to tell them what to do.  It was painful for me (I can't stand going slow, I need to move quickly)  and I was somewhat impatient.  I realized that my mistake was comparing this years students to the students I had at the end of the last school year.   I stopped, took a breath, and realized that it was just week two of school.  I needed to slow down and let them take it at their own pace.

This reflection on my weaknesses and a little patience payed off and I got the biggest complement a teacher can receive today.  My students didn't want to stop!  There was a collective "awwwww" when I told them it was time to pack up and go home.

So, what were we doing that had them so engaged.

We were doing paper-slides.  We finished our first unit in math and our concluding activity was to do paper-slides on what we had learned about factors and multiples.

If you don't know what paper-slides are, here is the example that I gave my students.
source:  DMSFlippedMath

I gave them the assignment on Google Classroom and gave them two tasks
1) Discover what a paper slide video is and how to make one
2) Make a paper slide video on what you have learned about factors and multiples

They work in small groups of 2 or 3.  All of the directions, along with the video above was sent to them through Google Classroom and they were required to figure it out.  I facilitated and answered questions.

We are not quite finished, but look how engaged we are!

So, I have learned three lessons.
1) Don't freak if your students are not tech wizards within the first two weeks of school
2) Have patience with your students and they will do AMAZING things.
3) Reflect on your teaching and have patience with yourself.

Here's to a great start to a fantastic new year!

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