Connecting & Community

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Tonight was an exciting evening for two of my students and myself. We were invited to present ways we use technology in the classroom at the board meeting. My girls were nervous, but they did a fantastic job. All the school board members were very impressed by what the girls did on the iPads. I tried to stand back and let them do the talking, but they were very shy tonight in front of so many unfamiliar faces. They were able to show school board members and administrators throughout the district how they make YouTube videos to provide supplemental learning for their peers. We make these videos once a week over new content that we are learning. We upload them on our class Twitter page and on our YouTube channel so that all students can access them from home. We also showed them the power of Augmented Reality, and the board members were amazed! I am so glad that we were able to show them what we were doing in the class with the technology that the community and district has provided us with. It is great to show the community exactly how technology is being utilized. They know we have it, and they know we use it in class – but for them to see my kiddos in action was an amazing moment for this teacher. We connect with students, teachers, parents, and administration, but are we connecting with all stakeholders in the district and community? Everyone matters, and the more people we have involved in our students’ education the closer we are to reaching our main goal of student success.


If the WhiteBoard could talk in room 115 ……….


By: Angela Moses

I thought one day as I was about to write on my whiteboard, “What would this board tell me if it could speak?”  What I mean by this, is you have teachers from the past that have written on this board.  The whiteboard has layers and layers of learning. I would love to uncover these layers! So much learning to discover! Has the whiteboard changed over the years….yes!  Is the meaning still the same…yes! I think it is!  It has always been about connecting the learning from our palette to the minds of our students. We now have interactive boards, whiteboards instead of chalkboards, and multiple ways for students to connect to our boards.  Also, the connections I have made by connecting my students across the world will forever live on in my classroom!  The teachers, authors, and students we have Skyped or had GHO’s with are now a part of room 115. There have been amazing teachers that I now have the privilege of  following in room 115.  One teacher, Mrs. Brunet, was my 1st grade teacher.  She loved all our students unconditionally.  She taught with passion and for 43 years I believe.  I have wonderful memories from being in her class many, many years ago!  When she taught from the “OLD SCHOOL CHALKBOARD” it was meaningful.  A more recent teacher, Traci Cross, continued that passion with her 2nd grade teachers.  She has moved to another school and continues to love her students. She is a wonderful teacher that will impact her students from a simple hug to engaged learning on a daily basis.  I am honored to follow the great teachers of room 115.  I will continue to teach my students with passion, drive, and complete motivation for them to become successful.  My hope is that one day when I am no longer in room 115, the new teacher will feel the spirit from ROOM 115 Teachers’ past!

In my perfect world

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-All teachers would have the supplies that they need to impact every child

-Every child would come to school fed, bathed, clothed, and most importantly loved

-Teachers and children would be so immersed in learning during the school day that homework would not be needed

-Standardized tests would be banned

-All students would have access to technology at school and home

-Project Based Learning would be the norm; not the exception

-Collaboration and teamwork would supersede all other ways of doing things

-Thinking outside of the box would be applauded

-Someone would make all my copies for me

-Differentiated learning would be happening. For real.

-And above all else everyone would be kind to one another. All the time. No matter what.

Clearly a lot of these are not feasible, but what can I do this week to inch closer to my perfect world?

Flip the instructor…..when students become teachers!

When students become the teacher!

By: Angela Moses       FACT FAMILIES      Sneaky E       Reading Ambassadors

Last year my students started making videos.  We used Animoto to create videos out of our reading and math concepts. One of the first videos we made was about Antonyms.  They rotated in a circle with opposite words to show the antonyms.  It was fun, creative for students, and they understood the lesson! We have kicked it up a notch this year.  Our first student led lesson was the concept of fact families.  I had a small group of 3 students create the YouTube video.  They used my camera on my iPad to record the lesson.  It is a complete student led lesson from the word ACTION. My students love to create videos.  They are proud and take ownership of their learning.  It is powerful to watch the learning unfold from the perspective of the student. As a teacher, I can grasp an understanding of their knowledge of the concept. This week, they created a video covering SNEAKY E.  It is super cute!  Do they get nervous…NO!  They love that they are in control of their learning.  We are giving them a voice in the classroom!

This year I have also started Reading Ambassadors.  They are recording DRA level 3-14 books for our Pre-K through 1st grade listening centers.  We are using the app called 30 Hands.  Thanks to Matt Gomez for sharing this wonderful app.  The students capture page by page of the book, they record each page, and then upload to camera roll.  It is super easy and takes no time to create from start to finish.  We will be inserting each recording on a QR code to be placed on a label.  The students will be able to scan and listen. It is amazing to watch other students listen to the books that their friends recorded.  They are learning, building fluency, and helping others students in the process.


A used to be “non-techy” that is. No SMART board, no iPads, no use of desktop computers. I was stressed enough just teaching. I was surviving. I did not have any time to add something extra on to my plate. Then things changed. I got excited, and then my students got excited. And things in classroom 103 are so much better. Technology is a way of life. It’s not just another thing. It is a tool, just like a pencil or pen, that allows my students to create and learn. Here is a glimpse into my 4th grade classroom.

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We start the day off covering grammar. I write sentences on the SMART board incorrectly and students fix them. They love to write on the SMART board, but more importantly they love to be grammar detectives. This isn’t fancy, but it is hands-on. That’s the key.

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Next on our agenda is checking our class Twitter account. This is something new I started this year. I was inspired by Summer Diamond’s 5th grade class. My students tweet out every day and let the world know what we are doing. Because what we are doing is very important. We also connect with other 4th grade classes like Mr. Donnelly’s in Navasota and Miss. Girndt’s in Little Cypress. They post some pretty cool stuff, and we like to see it. We love to see what is happening in the world around us. We even had Rae Pica from BAM Radio tweet us. “A real live radio person??!!” my students said. They were pumped. I mean this is huge for a nine year old. Follow us on Twitter. @MrsMarino103

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Next up is our YouTube video for the week. These are very short videos that help my students understand concepts that we are covering. Sometimes I make the video for the week, and sometimes my students do. Students can watch these at home for supplemental learning. My class is not flipped. I am still a little fearful of students without access to technology at home. We live in a very rural and low socioeconomic town. Making these videos and playing them in class takes very little time. The students that can watch them at home do. The students that can’t watch them at home just watch at school. Either way is fine with me. When the students make the videos for me – I cannot begin to tell you how proud it makes me. It’s ADORABLE!

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Now to focus on our weekly concepts. As a teacher, I have to ask my self how I am going to present this to my students? It needs to be engaging, hands-on, and it needs to leave an impression. My go to for awesomeness is Augmented Reality. Today we were working on forming plural nouns. We used our iPads and the Aurasma app to transform singular nouns to plural nouns. I wish you could see my 24 students busily working throughout the room. Integrating this technology into my lessons has cut down on students being bored and also behavior problems. Sometimes I just stand in the middle of the room and watch them. It’s amazing the focus on the activity that they have.

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When my students finished their first activity they moved to the purple carpet and started their Popplet. I made a Popplet before hand and put it on the SMART board. The students took my Popplet and changed the singular nouns into plural nouns. Pretty easy and took me no time at all to create. I taught my students how to navigate the Popplet app the first six weeks of school, so they know exactly what to do. We also have a poster up reminding them how to email the Popplet to me. Have I mentioned this is my favorite app?

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When students finished their Popplet they were then able to move on to a few different choices. One of the choices for today was either blogging on the desktops or the iPads. I use KidsBlog. It is easy to navigate, and it’s SAFE! We just started blogging last week. So far the students are loving it, and I have been extremely impressed with their first two posts. Let me tell you what else that I love…..the positive messages that they are posting on each other’s blogs.

Examples: Good job! I really want to read that book now. Wow, great post.

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It’s not ALL tech in room 103. We basically love anything that we get to make with our hands. We love creating, designing, and figuring out stuff. This cool kid is working on his Writing Office. We will use these when we write narratives to give us our own space. We also taped some clues on the inside of them to guide us when we write. We have a list of transition words, reminders on what to capitalize, and even some fun acronyms like “SWAG” that tells us different steps to take while editing.Making these our “own” is the most important step. We want to be proud to put them on our desks when we are writing. We want to personalize them just like we do our writing.

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This is Emberlee working on a creative story using her spelling words. This was her choice for what she wanted to work on at the end of class. Not all kids choose technology every time, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I want them working on something that they enjoy in those last few minutes. I want it to be their choice. I want it to matter. I have some pretty sharp writers this year. Their stories have absolutely cracked me up.

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Last but not least, I usually send out a Remind. This is my favorite way to effectively communicate with parents. It’s quick, easy, and reliable. This source of technology is so helpful to parents, students, and teachers. From spelling lists to picture day reminders, you can not go wrong with this tool.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 12.55.50 PMYou’re probably thinking how in the world we did all of that in one class period? Well, it happens and pretty smoothly, too. The procedures and apps were taught in the first 2 weeks so my kiddos know what to do. Oh, it’s loud. I have to redirect here and there, but kids are learning and thriving.We watch our Dojo points to stay on track behavior wise. They are learning to become independent and not rely on me to think for them or tell them what to do next. They have choices to choose from based on their likes. It’s working for us. This was just one day out of the week. Every day my activities are different, but this is the basic schedule. Moral of the story, if Daisy Marino non-techy extraordinaire can change her class….so can you. 🙂

Parent + Teacher = a great team for success!

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By: Angela Moses

A relationship between a teacher and student is special!  We create connections that will last a lifetime.  What about the connections we make with parents?  Do you make an effort to invite the parents into the classroom?  If the goal between the teacher and the parents is success for the student, communication is a must.  It means call back when there is no answer or number has been changed.  It means email, mail letters, and meet after school if needed. We do not give up on our children so why would we do the same with parents?? I think starting off with positives is great for the relationship with parents. All students have positives…SHARE the POSITIVES with parents!  I also speak from a parents point of view.  I love to feel part of Trotter’s learning, his daily routine, and how I can help him at home.  It will not be a successful year if you keep a wall up between you and the parents.  You need to start communication from before day one. I realized something today as I watched my students talk and play with friends during recess. What a special process we get to see unfold each year with our kids! We get to see our students grow up to be young adults.  We get to experience many adventures along the way.  These are memories that I will cherish forever.  My door is open to my parents.  My hope is that they feel part of our classroom each and every day! I am very thankful to a wonderful group of parents that I have now and from previous years.  I am a better teacher because of my students! Their smiles and thrive for learning drive my passion to be better each day!

There are several ways to communicate with parents:

REMIND – A great way to send safe messages to your parents.  I love to send my students a message during the holidays. Also, I have smaller group accounts set up for Robotics, UIL, and after school tutorials.  It is by far the best communication tool for parents and teachers.

CLASS DOJO – I love to use ClassDojo for behavior management in my classroom.  It is very effective for students.  It is user-friendly and sends instant information to parents.  It has a great feature for messaging parents.  They can ask questions about positive and negative rewards.

ANIMOTO – This is my favorite video tool.  I love to share student work with my parents.  I create videos each six weeks of pictures from their learning.  The students also create their own videos over different concepts.  Great app! They have an educational account for teachers.

A few other great apps for sharing student work –

30 Hands

Write About This



My Journey from Blah to A-Ha

Moving out of the Comfort Zone

-One Teacher’s Journey from Blah to A-Ha

For seven years I did the same thing, the same boring thing. But I didn’t know any better. When I walked into my elementary school on the first day of work I was scared to death. Seriously. I just did not think I could do this. I felt a huge weight sitting on my shoulders. I held the future of other people’s children in my hands. I wanted to be a good teacher. I truly wanted to make a difference, but when it all came down to it I did not know how. I was lucky enough to have a mentor teacher with me the majority of the first week of school. She walked me through, held my hand, and basically fed me a routine, a classroom management system and a curriculum. I thought, “Ok, I can do this!” And I did. I did the exact same thing every day for a year. When May rolled around and our “TEST” scores came in I was shocked. I made 100 percent. Did you catch that? “I” made 100 percent. At that point in my career all emphasis was placed on the test and scores and myself as a teacher. After all, if scores are low it reflects on poor teaching, right? No other factors. I digress. You can imagine how proud I was. It felt amazing. I taught my students in straight rows that whole first year. We did worksheet, after worksheet, after worksheet. We wrote with the same framework on every story. There was no room for creativity. Results don’t lie (100%), so I continued to do this the next year. And the next. And the next. I did this for 7 years. For seven years I did not change at all. I did the same exact worksheets. I did the same writing prompts, and I did the same project. Just one project a year. Yep. That was my class. I was not excited walking in the building for work most mornings. I knew we were going to do our worksheets, we were going to write passable papers and we were going to score well on our state mandated test. My students could pass a test. They could knock the socks off the test, but what were they really learning? What in the world was I teaching? Blah. I hated it. When I was in 2nd grade I knew God wanted me to be a teacher, but after seven years I started to doubt myself big time. Something had to give. Something had to change. And thank goodness, it did.

In March of 2013 we found out that our school was embarking on a new adventure. We were about to launch a 1:1 iPad initiative. It was crazy to believe that our tiny school was going to do this. We are a rural, low socioeconomic school and things like this just don’t happen to us. Fear and excitement dominated the many emotions that were running rampant through our district. I personally was excited because I was going to get my very own iPad, and I could bring it home and play games on it. Truly, that is what I was excited about. I never in a million years would have thought that this 1:1 initiative would change my classroom or me like it did. Did it happen overnight? For me, kind of. For others, no. That’s ok, though. Just like learners in our classroom, we all go at different paces. It just took me seeing the “power” that technology can create amongst students in a classroom to jumpstart my journey. Don’t get me wrong. I seriously did not use my iPad in class for an entire month. Like I said, I took it home to play Angry Birds and Subway Surfer. My mindset and classroom changed in April. It was midnight, and I could not sleep. I had already read my Proverbs 31 ministry for the day, scrolled through my Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, so I decided to look at the Twitter account that I did not even want in the first place. I started scrolling through when something that Erin Klein posted caught my eye. It was called augmented reality. I had no idea what it meant or what it could do, but I wanted to learn. I was amazed. I could not believe what you could do with this iPad. I could not believe that teachers were doing things like this in their classroom. It wasn’t a worksheet, it wasn’t boring; yet, kids were learning. This is what I needed. So I dove right in. And yes, that night with just an iPad, a Twitter feed and a little inspiration my classroom changed. From that point on, I was on a mission. I soaked up everything people were doing on Twitter. I tried new things in my class. I started with Aurasma and Haiku Deck. Both of these apps were incremental in changing my classroom and me as a teacher. Then I added in Popplet and Prezi. At this point, I was the only one with an iPad in the room, but the things I could do with that one iPad were revolutionary to me. After I tried one activity I documented how it went, how students responded, and if I wantd to do it the following year. Then I would go back to my Twitter feed and research and dig some more. I found out whom to follow for different things. I was not scared to ask questions. My class was exciting for the first time in a long time. That single iPad along with Twitter seriously changed my class. I learned more in one month than I did in seven years of teaching. Bringing technology into my classroom gave me the confidence to try new things. To shake things up. I learned that it was ok to make mistakes. My lessons did not have to be perfect, and we did not have to score 100% percent on a state test to measure our worth. It made me start thinking and planning harder. I was no longer complacent, and I knew I did not want to do worksheet packets everyday like I did in the past. This year I can honestly say there has not been one day (not even Mondays) that I am not excited to go to work.

We have an obligation to our students to work as hard as we can EVERY day to make their learning experience as beneficial as possible to them. We need to meet them where they are. We need to speak their language, and their language is technology. We need to create life-long learners. That’s our job. If that takes bringing technology into your class then what are you waiting for? Technology has empowered my students. It has empowered me. My students are engaged this year, and I guarantee you that I am not turning back. My state test is next week. April 1st to be exact…really? Thanks to whoever planned that. How are my students going to do? I don’t know. They are nine. In my mind one day and one test cannot determine the progress that they have made this year. I used to teach to the test. Now I teach life. Technology changed my classroom, and it can change yours as well. You just have to be confident enough to step out of your comfort zone.