Cross Campus Collaboration

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12th grade & 4th grade

Color Poems are my absolute favorite thing to work on with my students. Hands down. I have a massive stack of Color Poems saved from years of teaching. Every year I change the lesson up just to see what works and doesn’t. This year I asked Sara Moore if I could get her 12th graders to work one on one with my students. Sara Moore is awesome! If you don’t follow her on Twitter…do it now! (@sarasmoore) So 19 4th graders and myself grabbed our iPads, hugged them closely, and took off to the high school library. When the high school students came in I gave them a few directions, and we were off and running. My 4th graders already picked out their color. They had their 5 senses chart with them as well. The high school students first helped 4th graders brainstorm different ways that the chosen color tastes, feels, sounds, smells, and looks like. Orange is a bonfire burning at a homecoming football game. Gray is the color of elderly people’s hair. Blue makes me think of emotions all jumbled up together. Black equals desperation. These kiddos came up with some great stuff. After brainstorming the high school students helped my students search google images for pictures that matched their thoughts. We had some cool pictures. A purple tiger, some orange running shoes, smoke floating up toward the sky etc. The older kids showed my students how to save the image to their camera roll. Let me tell you, I was so impressed with how well the older kids worked with the younger kids. My kids felt special. It’s just nice to do something out of the norm. Get out of the classroom. Move beyond the four walls. When we finish writing our poems we will then transfer them into a Haiku Deck. I love Haiku Deck because they are so simple to use. Haiku Decks also have the capability of being uploaded to our school’s Facebook page. Parents love to see the work that students have created. We are going to email the finished products to the 12th grade students as well. I urge you to collaborate with another class, grade level, campus or state. It will be an experience that all students and teachers will benefit from.

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STAAR Testing from parent’s perspective! by: Angela Moses

There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.           Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

This is the first year in the last 12 that I am not in a STAAR grade.  This past year I have been teaching 2nd grade.  It has been refreshing and that is me being honest. I am able to educate my students without the pressure of April lingering around the corner.  This morning my third grade son was getting ready for school.   I made him a protein filled breakfast but his nerves had already started taking over.  He barely touched his plate.  He was very quiet and attached to me this morning.  Where was the confident 9 year old I usually see?  WHY??? Why must we do this to our students!   We can’t say it is like a regular school day because they know it’s not.  In my 12 years of teaching 3rd grade, I have witnessed students cry, throw up, and worry themselves into a panic. I don’t feel this is a healthy way to monitor learning! It is important to track our students see how they progress. I know my son has grown since day one of 3rd grade.   I don’t see how causing anxiety from a one day snap shot is the correct answer.  I have always had a hard time watching my students that have anxiety when testing.  Now that I have a child with test anxiety, it just hits a little harder.  I gave him a card this morning telling him that his dad and I are proud of him.  We told him to do his best.  Isn’t that what we want for our children?  We want them to work hard, try their best, and above all believe in themselves.  The state does not realize that they are pulling the confidence and self-esteem right out from under them. I know we have great educators that teach kids from the heart and want the best for all students.  We will continue showing our kids to dream beyond the four walls, to have faith and trust, and to become life learners.  We know learning does not stop in April.  We are creating learning moments that should last a lifetime.  What moments do we what them to remember?

Augmented Reality + Student Teacher = An Amazing Future

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Mrs. Marino’s 4th Graders

This year I was asked to have a student teacher. I am not going to lie….I was terrified. I did not want to mess up, give bad advice, be a bad role model, etc. etc. etc.  I prayed and prayed because I felt a huge weight on my shoulders to absolutely do this to the best of my ability. Miss Kaylee Ryan started in January and left last week. She fit right in with the staff and the students. We have all been sad for the past week because it is absolutely not the same without her. She is innovative, connected, an out of the box thinker, a technology lover and an incredible teacher. She brought so much into the classroom, and I am extremely excited for whatever school hires her. They will be hiring a visionary, a creator of life long learners, and a teacher with a true heart.

On her last day here she lead the students through a math augmented reality scavenger hunt using the Aurasma app. We did this last month, but this time she created the entire thing without my help. I kept waiting for her to text me with questions, but she never did. This pre-service teacher guided my students through an incredibly cool technology project on her own. One that they will never forget. A project that was fun, engaging, hard and empowering all at once. Pretty impressive.

Kaylee made stations throughout the school. When the students scanned the Tellagami an avatar appeared that spoke. The avatar told the students a word problem. The problems were not easy, but the students did not care. They were on a mission. When they figured the problem out they would then look at the answer key to see where they were headed next.  This was a great review leading up the the dreaded “test”.

Kaylee knows that if you can get students excited about what they are doing, if you can engage them somehow, then they will work hard. They will try their best, and they will learn. It is our duty as leaders of our classroom to think outside of the box. We need to bring innovative ideas in. We need to work a little harder even we are not on the clock. We need to be creative. It’s our job. The number one job duty of a teacher is to inspire his/her students. Kaylee did that everyday that she was here. She taught all of us so much.

Kahoot It + Students = Contagious Learning

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Get Kahoot It!!!
Warren 2nd Grade by: Angela Moses

We decided to see what Kahoot It was all about. It did not take long to find out what a positive learning impact it has on our students. Kahoot It takes a lesson and amplifies it to a new level. Our students are focused, engaged, and creating learning experiences that will last a lifetime.

The goal of the game is to answer first so that your name will show on the leaderboard. The competitiveness will spread like a wildfire. The students must have a device to connect with the front of the room. The students gain points the faster they answer questions correctly. The top 5 highest points scorers are shown on the leaderboard. You can download the results at the end.

What I noticed is that is an eye opener to what my students know and what they don’t know. We have used Kahoot It for multiplication review, Envision review, and for common/proper nouns. You can create your own or pull by subject/topic from their bank. It has been an awesome experience and one we hope to continue.

Techer Testimonial – Todd Nesloney

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@TechNinjaTodd

Bio: Todd Nesloney is currently a 5th grade teacher at Fields Store Elementary in Waller, Texas and will be the Principal of Navasota Intermediate in Navasota, TX in the Fall.  He is the TCEA Teacher of the Year for 2014, a White House Champion of Change, a National School Board Association “20 to Watch” for 2013, Center for Digital Education “Top 40 Innovators in Education” for 2013, SMART Exemplary Educator, Discovery Star Educator, Classroom Champions Teacher, Ron Clark Academy Slide Certified, part of the Remind101 and Sophia.org Teacher Advisory Boards, and a Flipped Classroom Certification Instructor for Sophia.org.  Todd also is the co-founder of The 3 Tech Ninjas education technology training company, the author of children’s book “Spruce & Lucy” and the co-author of “Flipping 2.0”.  He is also the co-host of the education podcast series “EduAllStars”.   In addition to his passion for working with kids and teaching, Todd travels around the country speaking and presenting at different conferences.

Favorite tech Tools: There are so many tech tools that I could list that make my life easier or are great to have in the classroom. Here are a few of my favorites:

– Remind101 – for keeping parents and students informed. Easy and FREE. A must have tool.

– Sophia.org – great for flipping the classroom. Plus you can get Flip Class Certified, iPad Certified, or Chromebook Certified for FREE!

– Socrative – a free app that will turn any device into a clicker. Easy to use.

– ChatterPix – My students love this app. You can take a picture of anything, draw where you want the mouth, and then record something and watch your picture come to life

– Skitch – this is great to use in my math class. This app allows you to draw on top of any image.

– 30Hands – This free app allows you to import pictures and then record over each picture individually, and it will stitch them all together for you in one video! Kids love using this to make instructional videos.

– Any TechSmith Product (Camtasia, Fuse, and SnagIt) are must haves.

– Chrome Extensions – You can check out my favorites here

http://nesloneyflipped.blogspot.com/2014/03/10-must-have-google-chrome-extensions.html

 

Upcoming Projects: I think besides speaking around the country these next few months, my biggest project is preparing myself for my next step: becoming Principal of Navasota Intermediate. I’ve got lots of interviews coming up, as I’ll be staffing the entire campus. All I know is that I thank myself every day for my PLN that I’ve built on Twitter as I’ve got so many great leaders to learn from and get advice from! This next step in my career and life is going to be a great ride!

Teach from the heart!

By: Angela Moses

We have been working on our Critterkin project, “Start with the Heart,” for a few months.   It made me think, “What does that mean for educators?” What drives educators day in and day out?  I have been teaching for 12 years.  If you were to ask if I have changed since that first year, my answer would be YES!  The way I view my class, my students, and my co-workers is very different but in a great way!  My students drive my passion for teaching.  They complete my classroom.  What an amazing opportunity we have as educators!  We help students push beyond their limits, strive to be better, and reach for their dreams.  If we don’t, we are failing our students. My students know they can trust me and that I have their best interest at heart. As an educator, my day starts with my heart.  I have a love for what I do each day.  What can I do to help students to become life learners?  Each chapter in a student’s life will connect to the next.  I want their chapters to be full of learning.  We teach more that just subject lessons, we are teaching life lessons.  We need more that just paper and pencil.  Some life lessons are outside the four walls.  We can’t always leave the classroom but we can bring the world to our students. This past year I have done just that.  We are in a small community and some of my students never leave our town.  We have connected to students across the world. They are sharing, growing, and learning in a way that would not be possible had we not connected. We have amazing educators across the world that are joining forces for the betterment of our students.  The more I share, the more I grow.  Educators have been known to keep their lessons under lock and key.  Not anymore!  The gates have been opened and students are benefiting.  I see a difference in my students.  It is not just about technology.  I created an open environment for learning.  Once I let go of the control, my students realized they had a voice in their learning.  The students are driving the learning.  We have had amazing moments that were not planned.  Students discussing, collaborating, and working together.  It has been by far the most amazing journey to watch unfold.

Follow your heart and let it guide your vision for your classroom!

It’s been a year

I have officially been a “Connected Educator” for one year. So much has happened, and so much has changed. The pivotal moment for me was when Cherie Stanley (@WISDTechGuru) invited Karen Ford (@karenford92) and myself to visit a school in Houston. The school was the epitome of what a 21st century educational facility should look like. I’m so thankful that Cherie had a vision for our school, and that she knew teachers and administrators needed to see what we had the potential to do. I will be honest, I did not want to go. I hate traveling. I get severely car sick, and I did not want to be out of my classroom. I really did not see the point. Cherie kept telling me all these things that they were doing, and I thought it was NUTS! I could not fathom in my mind how all of this worked. But we went, and it changed everything. We left in tears because we wanted more for our school. We knew that we wanted to do something to boost morale and grow the communication between parents and teachers. We wanted to build community. We wanted something more for our students. So we started brainstorming. We did Google Hang Outs. Karen called and emailed the school in Houston and asked for information on their incentive program for kids….and our Power and Pride program was born at WES. Several teachers gave us input and suggestions. The same thing with the VIPS (Volunteer in Public Schools). I could never list every teacher, parent or administrator that helped us with this, gave ideas, or gave us encouragement when things got overwhelming. So this is a big thank you to everyone that has helped along the way. All of this would not have been possible without a great support system. When we started all of this someone on Twitter gave me Gwen Pescatore’s name (@gpescatore25) who is the go-to person for parent/teacher communication. I can’t thank her enough for everything that she has done for a school she has never even visited. I was a complete stranger to her, but now we are friends. Family. Twitter has also been my sounding board for ideas on everything school related. Twitter is a wealth of knowledge. Educators all with the same goal, and the goal is to build a better tomorrow. It’s not just about my kids, my class, it’s about all kids. With all that being said here is a list of things that have taken place this year at WES:

1. Cherie and I had the privilege to organize Tech Camps for teachers before school started

2. Wild Warriors headed up by Angela Moses (@angelakmoses) Students chosen from each grade level based on weekly citizenship were able to run out of the football tunnel on Friday nights

3. Power & Pride incentive program

4. VIPS (Volunteers in Public Schools)

5. Monthly Family Reading Nights

6. Family Walk Nights at the track (Coach Faircloth ROCKS!)

7. The Critterkin Collaboration

8. School Facebook page

9. Admin use of Remind101 to get messages out quickly to us

10. Classrooms (especially mine) flipped upside down in a good way

11. Technology being used in classrooms in so many different ways

12. Family Science Night (Mrs. Buckner ROCKS!)

13. Lego Robotics (Mrs. Moses)

14. Nerdy Book Club (Ms. Nicotre)

15.Family Math Night being planned for next year

I could go on and on. I am so thankful to my principal, Mr. Applewhite, for always letting me run with whatever crazy idea I have. He always lets me think outside the box. He always trusts me. Although morale is at an all time high and teachers and students are thriving, it does get hard. Somethings we’ve tried have not worked. Some programs are not 100 percent supported or understood. We get tired.  BUT, we have a ton of parents and faculty that always help. They always say thank you, and they are always supportive. When it gets rough Karen and I look at each other and say, “Remember why we started this. Remember who it’s for.” Then we just keep moving forward. We already have a list of things that need to be revamped or scratched off totally for next year. But that’s what we are doing at our school and in our classrooms. We are learning as we go, picking each other up, laughing, crying, praying and just supporting each other in any way that we can. It’s all for the kids. It’s all about the kids. And I would not turn back for anything in the world.

Critterkin + Popplet = Creative Critters

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Let’s talk a little about Project Based Learning or PBL as they call it on Twitter. The last 7 years of my teaching career I basically did one project a year. My state project. It’s a really good project, and the students learn a ton. After jumping head first off the cliff called the comfort zone I realized that I needed to be doing a lot more projects. Thank you Twitter and PLN. I am not talking about sending home projects for the kids to do. I am talking about hands on, total engagement in the classroom. I have created several this year, my student teacher has created several, and it’s been very eye opening. This year my students know quotation marks better than ever before. They get the apostrophe right on a possessive almost every time. I owe this all to PBL. Macaroni used to make quotation marks and apostrophes. Writing comic strips. Creating on iPads, iPhones, etc. I’ve seen quicker progress and the knowledge is sticking. I am on board for PBL. It works!

Everyone that follows me knows that our school is having a blast working on a project called “Start with the Heart”. This is a school wide collaborative effort that uses Project Based Learning to not only teach our TEKS, but to also teach children compassion, kindness and that everyone fits in. The last two weeks grades 3-5 have worked on designing critters to put on our mural. We have a ton of critters, and they are definitely all one of a kind. Today my 4th graders used their iPads to take a picture of their personal critter. They then uploaded the picture into the Popplet app which is extremely easy to manipulate. I use this app for everything. Seriously. My kids can create Popplets in their sleep. After my students uploaded their picture I told them that they would use the Popplet app to brainstorm for their expository that they would be writing. They used the boxes to describe their critters. What is their name? What do they eat? What bothers them? Do they have a family? Where do they leave? How do they show kindness? When they were finished brainstorming they simply emailed their Popplet to me. That’s one of my favorite features. Now they will take their Popplet and write their descriptive expository. This super easy lesson hits so many of my TEKS, and the kids truly enjoyed it.They are working with a book that they love. They have a personal connection with with this project, so they work that much harder.

The thing about Project Based Learning is that the teacher has to think outside of the box. You have to think of ways to bring in the hands on part but still cover your TEKS or standards. But isn’t that what we want our students to do? to think. Let’s spend time planning more and really thinking about how we can make our lessons more engaging for students. As educators, we owe it to them.If you don’t know where to start tweet Jena Ball or Marty Keltz. They founded Critterkin. It’s a wonderful book series that can help you hit all your TEKS, bring PBL into your class and engage yours students wholeheartedly.

Critterkins + Write About This = Learning from the heart!

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By: Angela Moses @AngelaKMoses

It seems like it was just yesterday when I chatted with Jena Ball on #TXED about the Critterkin Mutts.  It was an amazing chat discussing, growing, and learning along the way.  I had to leave the chat early because my sweet little one wanted me to read to him before bed.  Ms. Jena said that she would love to Skype in and read with him.  My heart just melted!  A special lady giving time to make memories with my son that would be with him forever.  My first thought was how great this would be for our students.  Children love to listen to stories.  Ms. Jena has written books about kindness and empathy with the “Meet the Mutts.”  

Ms. Jena skyped in during our Family Reading Night in February.  It was an amazing night for our small community.  This was the moment that Ms. Jena became part of our Warrior Family.  Since then we have been working on a PBL project called, “Start with your Heart.” Our students are drawing, writing, and discussing kindness and empathy with Ms. Jena and Marty Keltz.  Our students, admin, and teachers have been collaborating on a mural that connects our younger kids to the older kids.  It has been inspiring to watch this journey unfold.

My students wrote stories about Grampy while skyping with Ms. Jena.  I wanted the students to create a story on their own using Write About This.  It is a great app for kids to use as a platform for creative writing.  I skyped Ms. Jena and we discussed how the kids could make this their own while still incorporating the mutts.  How can you lead with the heart?  What would you do to help an animal in need?  These are questions we wanted the students to answer.  I wanted to see their passion for animals and for other kids.  

Ms. Jena created a Pinterest page, http://www.pinterest.com/critterkin/write-with-your-heart/, for the students to have pictures and background information on the mutts.  I also read each chapter about Lance, Doxie, Ricky Bobby, Sprout, and Clue.  The kids were ready to write.  We laughed and cried while reading the chapter.  It was great to see how my students responded to this project.  I have students that have a difficult time showing affection. This writing opened a new relationship between myself and my students. They wrote with feelings and I now have a better understanding of how they feel. We are connecting as a classroom in a different way, through emotions! Their hearts are definitely growing while learning.  It just does not getter better than this!  Please take time to check out http://www.critterkin.com!  Teaching students to “Lead with their heart” one school at a time.

Check out our journey,

Please follow @jenamoraine, @martysnowpaw, and @klippert and connect your students!Image

Critterkin + Collaboration = Campus Community

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Warren ISD Teachers & Admins

We started this project in February, and I never dreamed that it would turn into something this big. I just thought it would be really cool for my students to have the chance to Skype with an author. I didn’t realize how beneficial these books and projects would be. Critterkin models kindness in a way that students understand. Children love animals. Being kind and not passing judgement are two prevalent elements throughout the Critterkin series. In a world where negativity and turmoil are grasping for our youth’s attention, Critterkin offers a refreshing opportunity to instill good morals and ethics into students at an early age.

We are a little over halfway through with this project, and I must say I will be sad when we are finished. That’s what the teachers and admin in the picture above are talking about. We don’t want to take the mural down. It’s a part of all of us now. The teachers, the admin and most importantly the students. This afternoon after bus duty we were looking at the butterflies that 1st grade put on the mural and discussing what was going up next. More and more teachers stopped by to look and chat about the mural. Before we knew it, we almost had a teacher from each grade level in the hall plus both principals. I looked around and smiled. This is what this whole project is about. Bringing us together as a campus. Showing kindness to one another.

Tomorrow I get to meet Jena Ball. I get to take her to dinner and discuss Critterkin further. Then I get the honor of bringing her to the best little school in Southeast Texas. My school. My family. I can’t wait to show them all off. Thursday can’t get here soon enough. WES students are going to have a blast meeting their favorite author and doing the Wiggle Waggle with her. Cheers to Critterkin!