Get Kahoot! – Get Krazy!

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 5.17.29 PM


Mrs. Marino’s 4th Graders

So I knew I wanted to use this tool for awhile, but I live by my “Fav. Four” rule. I try to only introduce 2-4 apps the first and second 6 weeks. This way I do not overwhelm students or myself. I teach these tech tools as a way to later help with learning and understanding content, and it works. When students familiarize themselves with a few apps from the beginning of the year they are then able to create and design from then on out. Guess what? Today was the 2nd day of the 3rd six weeks, and it was time to try something new. I am absolutely going to have to move Kahoot to one of my tools that I teach within the first week of school from now on. The kids went KRAZY! In a good way, of course. They loved using this tool to review in class today. I seriously gave them less than a minute of instruction, and they were off and running. The cool thing about today was watching their faces. They were so focused. So intent. They were happy. It was such a good experience. They already asked if we could Kahoot again tomorrow. Well, absolutely we can! Check out the below picture.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 5.17.18 PM

That’s me during our Kahoot session. One of my students snapped the picture with their iPad. So of course students love this…it’s a game. Let me tell you why this teacher loved it. Between each question I had the chance to go back and reteach concepts that were not mastered, and because we were doing this Kahoot style I had their undivided attention. They were eating it up.  Fun, easy, positive, hands-on, engaging…..seriously teachers you have to try this out. You know some days you leave work and you think, “Dang, I love my job!” Today was one of them for sure.


Mommy Guilt – The Struggle is Real




Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.31.04 AM


Maverick & Maggie – my heart and soul

Even as I write this blog I am struggling with the fact that I will be putting my raw emotions out for everyone to read. I like positivity, and I like happy. I don’t like seeing negativity spewed all over social media because it makes me sad; however, I feel like this is a post that I need to write for myself and for my kids, so when I look back in a few years I don’t forget the struggle. Because the struggle has been very real. I said I would never go to grad school. I had my teaching degree, and that is all I ever wanted. I did not need to go any further because being a teacher (and a mom) was my dream since 2nd grade. But…..I came to a stand still. I was over the TAKS, the STAAR, the worksheets, the mundaneness of doing the same thing over and over. Then Warren ISD adopted a 1:1 iPad initiative. The community as a whole was very hesitant as what this would mean for our students. Teachers were concerned and administration did not know how all of this would pan out, but there were certain people put in place that knew whole heartily that this was the best decision for student success in the 21st century. After all, isn’t that what this is all about? Thank goodness that all of this started happening because it ignited something inside of me that had disappeared after years of boring lesson plans and teaching to the test – guilty as charged. We were so excited. There were so many cool things that we could do with the new technology in our hands. After forming PLN’s on Twitter our eyes were opened up to a whole new world again. Project Based Learning, Augmented Reality, thinking outside of the box, collaborating with other teachers and students from all over the world, all of these things made lesson planning exciting again. I could not wait to get to work the next day to see my students actually excited about learning. One thing led to another and my assistant principal decided to sign me up for grad school. She paid the admission and everything. And just like that I was going back to school. I was really excited, scared, doubtful, so many emotions all rolled up into one. I was so scared that this would take too much time away from my kids. I did not want them to feel slighted. I did not want them to grow up thinking that their mom thought other things were more important than them. I have struggled with these emotions the entire span of grad school. I have cried. I mean ugly cried. I do not even want to say how much stress chocolate I have eaten. I have wanted to give up. A lot. My oldest sister literally had to talk me down a few months ago (over text messages) because I was so utterly overwhelmed that I did not think I could see this thing through. My husband would take the kids out for the day to allow me to work on homework, but then I would sit here feeling guilty because I wasn’t with them and sad because I wanted to be having fun, too.

I have even struggled with my Christianity throughout this grad school thing which makes my heart hurt because Jesus is and always will be my top priority. I have not read my devotionals like I should; however, I have prayed just as hard as I ever have. I can promise you that without my prayers and the prayers of my family and friends that I NEVER would have made it through this. I have not missed church no matter how tired I was. But I have had to listen to some people make pointy comments toward me. Things like that really get in your head. Make you question if you are doing the right thing. Questions about my lack of cooking. Questions about me going back to school in general while my kids should be my main focus.  Some have questioned me as to why I want to teach my daughter all of this “technology” when I should be teaching her to cook and clean and take care of a house. “We should be teaching our daughters to take care of a husband and her kids,” they say. Well, I agree. However, I will also teach my daughter how to take care of herself so that if something happens to her husband she will not have to depend on or run to another man to take care of her. She will be able to take care of herself. There is not a thing wrong with a woman having an education. My husband has an MBA that he earned two years ago while having two small children. No one questioned him. No one asked him if he thought that meant he was putting things before his children. I am lucky that he feels just as strongly about education as I do – for our son AND for our daughter. He also does not mind eating a bowl of cereal for dinner because his wife has homework. (Thank goodness)

Yesterday I passed my LCE, and when I got in the truck I cried. Relief, I guess. Knowing that I am so close to being finished. Maybe. When I started grad school I said that I was not going to “walk” that I would just get them to mail me my diploma. I have definitely changed my mind. I may do flips across the stage. This is the hardest thing I have ever went through. Not the classwork (I have a 98.3 cumulative average) but the time management, the many different hats that I wear daily, working full time, wanting to teach my students awesome things, wanting to teach my kids about Jesus and about kindness, balancing it all, and the occasional laundry – just feeling worthy as a mom and a woman in general in this Pinterest crazed era. You know what I mean. So props to all you moms that are doing it all, being it all, hugging your babies, and being the best YOU that you can be. You are AMAZING. You are not anyone else, so don’t compare yourself to them. My kids are proud of me, and I know without a doubt when I walk across that stage that Maverick and Maggie will be standing up screaming my name, which is Mom.

Psalm 46:5



Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 10.30.32 AM

Moving beyond the Worksheets

Mrs. Marino’s 4th Grade Class

It has been my mission the last two years to cut worksheets out of my classroom. I am not a fan, and neither are students. This means I have two choices: think outside of the box and plan something original or reach out to my PLN on Twitter or Pinterest. There are so many great ideas floating around out there, and I do not mind using them! This is why it is so important for teachers to share what they are doing. In my opinion quotation marks are one of the harder concepts that 4th grade needs to master. I used to do worksheet after worksheet after worksheet of quotation marks – never again. I have started thinking (and searching) for ways to teach quotation marks other than the worksheet. Here are a few ways that we have worked on them so far this year. The first picture you see is my white board. I put characters together in a box and told students to come up with dialogue between them. They loved this activity. I think it is better than worksheets for so many reasons. It’s fun. Students are able to be creative. They are writing their own sentences, which allows them to work on so many other concepts besides quotation marks as well. The kids could not wait to share the dialogue that they created.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 5.48.56 PM

I am sure that y’all have seen this one. I call it Macaroni Quotation Marks. I found this idea on Pinterest last year, and once again my students loved it. I gave them their own bag of macaroni to keep this year. This way they can pull the macaroni out at anytime and work on quotation marks. Several students have been writing sentences on their individual dry erase boards and moving the macaroni around for commas as well. That was their idea not mine. This proves that if you allow students to work with engaging, hands-on materials they will start to think outside of the box all on their own. It’s amazing to watch.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 5.48.09 PM

Another activity my students like to do is making up comic strips using quotation marks. This allows them a lot of creative freedom. They decide what they want to draw, say, etc. I like this because they are excited to do it. It does not seem like “work” to them. It is so much better than handing them a worksheet with quotation sentences on it to edit. This is engaging, it’s fun, and they are creating their own sentences, which once again covers more concepts than just quotation marks.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 5.48.31 PM

The last activity we tackled this week targeting quotation marks was created on the app Write About This. We love this app because it can be used for so many different things. The students took a picture of their friend and uploaded it into the app using the custom prompt feature. They then had to create dialogue from their friend using quotation marks the correct way. Students love working on the iPads. They especially love emailing their finished products to their parents and teacher. This is a win win activity! This was the assessment for the week on quotation marks. It was easy for me to check their work from my phone or Mac Book. As a teacher these activities are so much better for me to check over than a worksheet. Sometimes I find myself cracking up laughing at things they have written. If I like these activities more than worksheets than how do you think my students feel? It’s time to step up our game, put in the work, and engage these learners.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 5.48.21 PM

Now check out the picture below to see how awesomely hilarious my students are. Have an amazing outside of the box week!

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 7.19.05 PM