Thursday, January 30, 2014

Five for Friday: The FETC Edition

I *should* be heading to bed right now, but I have several tabs open in my browser that I’m not ready to close yet. As a compromise to myself, I decided to blog about a few things I’ve discovered this week at FETC.

(I’ll be busy conferencing and driving back home, so I’m writing my Five for Friday on a Thursday night. )



This morning we heard Lucien Vattel. He is CEO of GameDesk and founder of Educade. While I have dabbled with gaming in the classroom before, I had honestly tuned out previous mentions to this resource. When he started to show specific example during the keynote, I started frantically taking notes.

I already signed up for a free account and have filled my backpack with games and activities I want to try with my students. We saw examples of Motion Math, Dragon Box, Jason’s Rollercoaster, and Reach for the Sun being used in the classroom. I love how you can search for the games by age and topic!


Wednesday night at the exhibit hall opening event, I got to meet a celebrity.


For those of you who are not elementary teachers, that is Moby from BrainPop.  Today I went to a session on games and assessment. One of the resources mentioned was Game Up from BrainPop.


What impressed me most is that BrainPop has compiled games from other sources as well as their own creations. Again, these are easy to search and have many potential classroom applications.


I’ve been bit by the augmented reality bug. I am still so impressed! I posted about using colAR in the STEAM Lab earlier this week. I was even more impressed when they names colAR one of the four WOW resources at the Tech Share.

I plan to use Aurasma to add some augmented reality to our cardboard arcade, so I went to a session today about using augmented reality in the classroom.


Karen was fantastic. I do not yet have iPads in my lab, but I discovered some computer based AR sites, too. This video is one worth checking out.

I’m also thinking about using Heart Cam to give AR Valentines to my students. Nothing says, "Happy Valentine's Day!" quite like a virtual beating human heart from your STEAM teacher. I’m still working out the details, but I think it just might work!


This was another WOW from the Tech Share. The idea is that you can remotely access programs from your Mac or PC on your iPad. The video explains it better than I can.

It is $49.99 for a year subscription, but as a conference attendee at the TechShare, I was given a subscription to try out through the end of the year. I’m excited to try it out once I get home. I’ll let you know how it goes!


The last one is too hard to pick, so I'll write about two. I guess that makes it Six for Thursday, but that's okay.

I went to an fantastic session on Google Apps. I just looked at the presenter info and discovered that one of the two presenters was Susan from The Digital Scoop.

Our eChalk subscription should be going live in a couple of weeks, so I was looking for ways to use Google Drive with my students. I was taking notes like crazy to keep up with all the fantastic things Jason and Susan have done with their classes. Thank goodness for Evernote!

I also went to a session about STEAM. I usually walk away from STEAM sessions disappointed because the presenter spent too much time talking about what STEAM is and not enough time talking about the ‘how’ and the available resources. Michael from 21Centuryedtech found a nice balance between the two. He said that he has a blog post coming up about STEAM resources that I can't wait to read.


I’ve spent the last two nights in my hotel room pouring over the resources from the workshops, sessions, and speakers. I have quite the ‘to do’ list of things to try out when I get back.

I miss my two little ones and the Irishman, but I am going to enjoy one last night in a bed of my own without anyone to wake me up!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

colAR Mix App Review

A few weeks ago I was on Pinterest when I came across a pin that caught my attention. The picture did not match the description, but it talked about augmented reality coloring sheets. I thought it was a neat idea, so I went to the website and printed a coloring sheet to try it for myself.


I could not believe it. I printed off all the free coloring sheets and took them home to my kids. I told my daughter that these sheets were magical.

My four-year-old’s picture went from this:

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to this:
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What you can’t tell from the screen shot is that the picture is turning and moving to music. It is really impressive!

I knew right away that I wanted to use this with my STEAM classes. The design above is for Chinese New Year. My kindergarten classes could not wait to see what “magic” I was going to do to their coloring sheets.

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I’ve created a poster to go with the student papers to explain how to make the papers come to life. I left it for my sub to hang in the hallway while I am at FETC this week.


The free app and coloring sheets are available at There are free sheets available as well as an in-app purchase to unlock the other coloring sheets. Most of the free coloring sheets are seasonal, but there are a few that you can use year round.

My first grade classes used the bird coloring sheet. They looked doubtful when I told them I was going to do magic, but they all were most impressed when the bird they colored ate their worm. I love that the coloring is exactly the same as the way the child colored it.

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I only have one iPad in my room, so I called each student up one at a time to reveal the magic. It actually made it even more special.These are going in the hallway as well. I LOVE our poster printer.

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I posted the picture of my daughter on Facebook and someone asked if it was for real. This app is really that good. Best of all? It is free! This one is worth checking out!


I’m linking up:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cardboard Dreams

I’m starting a cardboard arcade project in the lab next month. I’ll be at FETC in Orlando next week, so I started introducing my classes to Caine’s Arcade today.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, it is well worth watching! I watched it with all six of my classes today. I almost have it memorized.

I picked up some cardboard clip art last night and put together some graphic organizers and planning sheets. My students have big plans already! I can’t wait to see what they put together when we make our own cardboard arcade.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Day in the STEAM Lab

My school day this year is drastically different than it was when I taught third grade. My day flies! With only two minutes between classes, I can easily go hours without finding my way to a chair.


Second Grade
My first class comes at 8:05. Last week my second graders were making state of matter posters to compliment what they are learning in the regular classroom.



Planning usually involves setting up for Kindergarten. This week I also finally hung up the big bulletin board I’ve been putting together for the last month.

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I am so happy to have a planning period before the little ones come in. They are almost always the class that requires the most set up. We usually do small group activities. I did not get pictures of our splatter painting adventures last week. (They will eventually be owls.) On Friday we were using the colAR app.

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I plan to do a whole post on this next week. I told the kindergarteners that we were doing magic. They couldn’t argue! You print the coloring sheets and then use the free app to bring the pictures to life. Coolest. App. Ever.

Fifth Grade
The craziest part of my day is the switch from kindergarten to fifth grade. There are supposed to be two minutes between classes, but I usually end up with 2 seconds between those two classes.
Last week the fifth grade spent a day finishing up their Famous Frosty Faces.


I have just finished posting this to my TpT store.

Famous Frosty Faces

It is on sale right now in my store. I love the way these came out!

Lunch…then First Grade
After fifth grade I have lunch. I usually eat at my desk after trying to get set up for first grade.

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They are comparing numbers up to 120 in class, so we used the Wii to compare bowling scores. Those waiting for a turn on the Wii played SumDog. They were all thrilled!

Fourth Grade
My fourth graders did not get to make snowflakes for the big hallway display, so they worked together to make 3D paper snowflakes to hang in the hallway.


I printed these directions. Students were less than thrilled to learn that I was going to make them READ and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. They eventually stopped begging me to just tell them how to do it.

Third Grade
My day ends with third grade. Last week I decided to reinforce some of the fraction activities they were doing in the classroom with some SMART board practice.

One of my favorite parts of my schedule is that I repeat the same activities for three days in a row. (Once with each class in the grade level.) By day three I might be sick of it, but I feel like I have ironed out all the kinks in my plans.

I know I’ve said it before, but I love teaching in the STEAM lab. It is still a work in progress, but the room and the curriculum are largely based around my vision for what a STEAM lab should be. It is fantastic!

Be sure to go check out other schedules!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five for a Rainy Friday

While most of the country has been dealing with snow this week, we had a major rain event here in south Florida. It has been a while since I linked up with Five for Friday. There is a definite theme to my five.

My day started with a 4am wake up call from my two year old. When I got to the kids’ bedroom, I heard an ominous dropping sound. Sure enough, there was a leak in the bathroom. Not wanting to wake the kids, I threw the drenched towel in the bathtub and moved the toddler potty under the drip.

At 5:30am my alarm went off. I took a shower and snuck downstairs to finish a presentation and sub plans. At about 6:15, I was waiting for the iron to heat up. A few minutes later, I learned via social media that the local school district canceled classes. This was significant because our day care closes when the school district closes. I teach in a single school district. My husband and I both had school. Oh, boy!

I was actually only going to be in my classroom for an hour today. I presented at a technology exchange at the university. There were only 7 presenters. 5 were university professors. The main event was on the other campus. I have never presented via teleconferencing. It was unnerving. To make matters worse, there was only one other professor in the room with me. I wasn’t even sure which camera to look at or if they were seeing me or my screen. It went well, but it was odd.

After that I headed home so my husband could go to work. I called the condo association to report the leak in the roof. I won’t go into it here, but they are questioning the root cause of the leak. My wonderful neighbor is going to fight it with us. I fear this is going to be an ordeal.

The rain that fell last night was incredible. We had 12.7 inches. On my way to work there were roads closed and subdivisions flooded in. As soon as I got to the city limits where my school is location everything cleared up. There were hardly even puddles on the road. It was unreal.

Just north of my house, I-95 was closed. They had 22 inches of rain, most of it in just 3 hours. They are calling it a once in a 100 year rain event. 

I’ve had snow days (not in Florida), hurricane days, and now rain days. So much for the dry season!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Giveaway and THE Board

I’m happy to be taking part in an awesome giveaway with two of my favorite bloggers. Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching and Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper have each reached 1,000 followers.

To help with their giveaway, I’ve contributed two of my favorite products.

Operation Snowball Fight


Time is GoldenTwo

This are both task cards with self-checking QR codes. I LOVE using QR codes to provide instant feedback. I’ve blogged about it here and here.


In other news, I have spent hours this week on my bulletin board display. I had it in my head that all 400 students should contribute to it. It has been a big headache!

This was the fall board:
Each student painted an old book page and I put it together.

I spent my teacher work day gluing down out funky Florida snowflakes. There were no kids around, so I put You’ve Got Mail on the SMARTboard while I worked.


It is almost ready to hang. It takes about four people and a staple gun to get this in the glass cabinet.


Fun times! I’ll post pictures when it is finally posted!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Resolutions and Goals for 2014

I’m not usually much for resolutions and goals, but my husband has just typed out his list of ten goals for the year. I came across this linky at First Grade Nest this afternoon and decided to join in the fun. (I had computer issues on the laptop I was using. I wrote this initially Dec. 30)


Professional goal for my career: I want to have my class set up the way I envisioned it. When the school year started, the computers, furniture, and data/electricity upgrades were not ready. My plans for setting up my classes had to be modified….a lot! Twenty-five computers, two beautiful large conference tables, and two days of being relocated while the electricians were there, and the room is almost finished. Now I need to start implementing the things I’d planned. I’m still making changes as I go, but the general plan is still a good one!


Professional goal for my blog/TPT side job: Going along with the “finding balance” I need to get into a routine for blogging/creating. I have products almost ready to post, but I haven’t found the time to finish. Last spring I was blogging regularly, but I wasn’t sleeping much. I want to find a way to make it work in my schedule.


I saw a post on Facebook along the lines of “I had children and I became a bad friend.” While I can’t blame the kids entirely, I have been bad about keeping in touch. I have unplugged a bit in the last 6 months or so. While it has its perks, I feel like I’ve been a bad friend to some people I should have checked in on more often. I stayed up the other night e-mailing people I haven’t checked in on in a while. I am going to make a big effort this year to keep in touch.


Cleaning. Sigh. My house is a challenge. We are a family of four living in a two bedroom townhouse with no attic or garage. We are trying to de-clutter enough to clean underneath. It is getting a little better, but we are still not there yet. I am going to try to leave work early (on time that is, but early for me) once a week to work on the house before my husband and kids get home. If my work on TpT pays off, I might look into hiring someone to help clean the house a couple of times a month.

In my new role at school I spend about an hour a day organizing supplies and cleaning. I see 6 difference classes a day with 2 minutes between classes. I have much less grading and paperwork. The planning is less involved, but I spend hours and hours each week cleaning and organizing. It is never ending!


I used to be a real jet setter. In 2008, we traveled to Australia, Ireland twice, Houston, Boston, Minnesota, and Orlando. I haven’t left the state of Florida since January 1, 2011. (Okay, so technically I took a weekend cruise to the Bahamas last Christmas, but when you live in South Florida that is not nearly as exotic as it sounds!)

My cousin is getting married in Maryland at the end of the summer. I’ve applied to present at a conference in Houston in November. My husband is desperate to get back home to Ireland this year to see his family. I’m really hoping that we can fit in those trips!


My age and two kids is catching up to me. I’m going to try to watch what I eat this year. I wouldn’t call it is diet, but the candy and sweets are going to have to go!


I made the switch from PC to a Mac at home and (almost completely) at school. I have signed up for a sessions at FETC on using iMovie and having students create ebooks. I really can’t wait for the conference to learn how to use the tools I have in my classroom!


Blogging! I miss the community and interaction.


I want present at least two professional conferences this year. I submitted a proposal for a regional math conference already. I’ve attended a few conferences this year and have some ideas on what I could share.


So there you have it! I'm going to ignore the fact that my main goal is to blog more yet it took me four days to get this posted. I am telling myself that I'll get into a routine once school starts. Fingers crossed!