Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tried it (Techie) Tuesday: Build with Chrome

Last month I came across the Build with Chrome site. My students love building with Legos, so I was excited to try it out.


You need Firefox or Chrome to make this site work. Our IT guy was less than thrilled to have to install these browsers on the 25 iMacs in my classroom. My students, however, love it!

I have tubs of Legos we use in my classroom. So far all I have asked my students to do is to get familiar with the site. In the near future I plan to have students create something with the real Legos and then use the website to create a digital model.

The site has three sections: Academy, Build, and Explore. The Academy is a training mode. My students typically just build.The Explore portion of the site allows Google users to share their creations on top of a Google Earth map.


We’ve taken pictures of some of our favorite creations and added them to our Padlet Galleries. It is a fun site with lots of potential!


Be sure to check out the others:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Funday: Tagxedo Word Clouds Using Irish Songs

I’m linking up today with Molly and Deirdre, two of my favorite bloggers. This linky is going to be perfect for me as someone who frequently can’t make it in time for a Five for Friday.

My classes are working on computer projects right now, but being married to an Irishman, I wanted to include some Irish art in the STEAM lab.

I loved this pin I found on Pinterest. I got it in my head that I should add a design to the background. Almost as soon as it started, I was regretting the decision.


We are adding green puffy paint. I’m hoping the finished product look fun and elementary. I’m afraid they are going to end up looking like a political statement. My how times have changed!

While I’m still unsure about my kindergarten project, I am in love with the project I did with my fifth graders.


I have never done word clouds, but after playing around with Tagxedo, I knew I had to find a way to make it fit. I’m thrilled with how it has come out.

I started with a Google Doc that I shared with my students. The file contained a list of Irish songs my Irish husband put together. We were careful to take out the drinking songs and the overly religious songs. Working in teams of two or three, students signed up for the song that they wanted to use. It was our first time using Google Drive, so they were impressed that you could see the other students signing up in real time.

Once each group picked their song, they searched online for the lyrics. The computer part of the lesson was actually using the keyboard short cuts to cut and paste. It sounds simple, but it was a much needed skill.

After watching this tutorial, the students pasted the lyrics and designed their word cloud. We talked about making sure that the design matched the song.

 “Ireland’s Call”

I’ve had a color laser printer in my classroom since August, but it was not connected to the student computers until Monday. Once I approved the design, we printed it on cardstock. The students wrote the name of the song and signed the design. We also posted a thumbnail to our 5th Grade STEAM Lab Gallery Padlet page.

“MacNamara’s Band”

The part of my position that I’ve had the hardest time adjusting to is timing. I see each class for 50 minutes every three days. Adding to that, a number of students are pulled out for SAI instruction for reading and/or math. The students who get extra support in reading only come to my class when it falls on a Thursday or Friday. The students who get extra support in math only come to my class when it falls on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Those who get help in both never come to me. I see a slightly different group of students each time. Add to that the fact that the computers are not set up yet to allow students to save any work, and it is hard for me to do activities that last more than one class period.

One of the students who gets reading and math support came to me after school and asked to make a word cloud like the ones that they did in class. I guess it just shows that they do pay attention to what I put out in the hall. She is going to make her own Monday after school.

I keep thinking of “should have done that” activities. I would have loved to have done more with the songs. We only got to listen to one or two songs. It would have been great to talk about word choice and so on. I keep telling myself that next year I’ll have a better feel for things and how to fit more into my 50 minutes.


Have you used Tagxedo? I am thinking of having my fourth graders create a word cloud using a content area they are studying back in class. Any other fun ideas?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Irish Loves and Tried it (Techie) Tuesday: Padlet

What a lovely start to the week! With one month to go, we broke out our St. Patrick’s Day gear. Yes, they are sticking out their tongues. At 2 and 4 that was the only way to get them looking at the camera!


The Irishman and I were both off work. We have no babysitters, so we try to take a date day for the two or three days in the year when day care is open and we are off work.

We spent the first hour or two working on a project for school. After a quick trip to Costco, we’d planned to go see a movie. Instead we decided to crash on the beach with Shamrock Shakes. Bliss!


I had my first Shamrock Shake on my first visit to Ireland. This was back in our “long distance” “You’ve Got Mail” days.


On the topic of Ireland, my husband just booked our flights for Ireland this summer! My in-laws are SO excited that we are coming! We haven’t been in years and never in the summer.

Anyway, back to the Tech Tuesday…

I have my student create a lot in my room. Due to the nature of my class, student might draw, build with Legos, create block structures, or design something online. They always hate to clean up when it is time to go.

I had this vision of creating an online gallery of their creations. At FETC I’d been on the lookout for possible sites to use that would work. Last week I started with Padlet. So far I’m loving it!


I’ve set up one gallery for each grade level. Right now our computers are not set up for students to save photos, but in the near future they will be able to create their own posts that I will moderate and approve.


In looking at the ELA standards for technology, there is an emphasis on publishing and sharing starting in K-1. I love this as a quick easy way to publish electronically.


There is a character limit on the writing, but I'm hoping to use this to get them started for some collaborative work in the STEAM Lab. 

We are also looking at possibly creating a board for the Minecraft club to post screen shots of their creations from the server. (I might be the club sponsor, but I’m still learning…a lot! I’m just hoping that my statement actually makes sense!)


Be sure to check out the others:

Friday, February 14, 2014

5 for Friday: I’m in Love With…

It has been a quiet week on the blog because I have been busy  preparing my application for PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator contest. There are few things as much fun as hanging out after school with some awesome fourth graders armed with my iPhone camera.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to link up with Molly all week, but I didn’t get a chance. I love her “I’m in Love With…” Linky.


These are a given. My husband, the Irishman, is Superman. While he usually saves the costume for Halloween, he is an amazing father and a wonderful husband. My kids may keep me up at night, but they also keep me amazed. This week they have both had one of those developmental jumps that leave me speechless. They are sweet, smart, and loving. We are truly blessed!

Now for some multitasking….

So here is my Valentine Five for Friday…


Thoughts of Traveling Outside of Florida
While Florida has its perks, I miss traveling. The last couple of weeks has brought talk of airplane rides at my house.

I recently found out that I will be presenting a session at the NCTM Regional Conference in Houston this November. I grew up in Houston and still have family and friends there. The conference is the week before Thanksgiving, so we hope to make a family trip out of it.

Things are looking promising for a trip to Ireland to see my husband’s family this summer. He is the only one of six kids to have left the Emerald Isle. This trip is long over due!

Cooler Weather
I know the rest of the country is sick of the cold, but I would gladly take a little snow about now. Anyone care to send a little my way?

After several late nights this week, I am more than a little jealous of those of you who lucked out with a snow day. I can’t complain too much though – we’ve cooled down to the 70’s for the long weekend.

My “New” Position
I guess it isn’t really new any more, but I really love what I teach now. Putting together this video only reminded me how much I love my job right now.

Again, this one is a bit of a given, but after going to FETC and creating my first iMovie, it has to make the list!

My husband is from Cork, Ireland. His birthday is also in March. We always talked about moving to Ireland, but that hasn’t worked out for us yet. I try to really celebrate big for St. Patrick’s Day. It makes for a fun month that we kick off mid-February. Add spring break in there, and you have reason to celebrate!


A few weeks ago I tried to make all my appointments. Somehow I ended up with a dentist appointment on Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure what I was thinking! (Shaking head)

Happy Valentine’s Day!