Friday, September 26, 2014

More New iPods

A lot of people seem to view the iPod touches as old technology but here in Creighton School District we still love these tools. And our teachers always find great ways to use them to support learning in the classroom, especially during reading and math learning centers.

Last year we had an opportunity to deploy some new Gen 5 iPod touches to several of our classrooms. Do to some unforeseen circumstances we had to hold off one of our the iPod touch carts until this school year.

We were very excited to get this cart of iPod touches prepped and deployed to one of our new third grade teachers for this year. She is very excited and ready to move forward.

We are usually pretty conservative in our choice of iPod touch cases but in this "case" went a little wild. These cases were ordered from Amazon and came in bundles of 10 that included 5 different colors. I just love the variety!

And the circle pattern. They have just the right amount of translucency for our numbers to show through on the back.

Makes me want one for my iPod touch too!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Informational Texts and Newsela

The Arizona College and Career Ready Standards (Common Core) require a greater balance between reading fiction and non-fiction in the classroom. In addition, we want students to be reading nonfiction content that is relevant to their lives and interests.

Last year we discovered Newsela ( Newsela is a site that brings daily news into the classroom and provides a way to foster reading comprehension. The news articles are from major publications and rewritten at different Lexile Levels. All students in a classroom can read the same content but at a level that is appropriate for them. The articles are of high interest and cover a wide variety of topics including science, health, money, and sports. The texts are common core aligned and many have quizzes to test comprehension and close reading. There are both free and premium accounts.

Newsela is quick and easy to use. Teachers register, create classes, and add students. Teachers can assign specific articles that are automatically leveled for the grade level of the class. When students log in they see the article(s) that have been assigned and can start reading.

Last week I visited a classroom where the teacher had just begun using Newsela with her students. She was really excited about being able to deliver this type of content to the students. The teacher had created her account and set up the class so the students could get log-ins. It's very engaging for the students and works well on the iPads!

Click here to view the Newsela Quick Start Guide for Teachers.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Gaggle Student Email 2014

Creighton School District has been using the Gaggle ( student email and communication system for many, many years. We were actually one of the first adopters of the system in Arizona!

Because of the security features it is a great way for students and teachers to communicate in a safe, friendly environment. Many wonder why it is called Gaggle. On their website, company president, Jeff Patterson, states that is an "easy way for teachers to watch over their gaggle of students." It is great for us because we know that any inappropriate messages and communications are blocked by their system and the teacher/administrator is notified. They filter for inappropriate words, images, and cyberbullying content. The programs is very effective.

Over the past few weeks I have visiting in our 1:1 iPad classrooms to help teachers and students set up Gaggle on the iPads. We are using the Gaggle app but we also like to set up Gaggle through the Mail app on the iPads as it is an easy way for students to send completed projects from inside an app to their teachers - especially for our younger users.

Students love being able to communicate with both their teachers and other students.

 In this class we went a little above and beyond the traditional email set-up - partly because of questions and comments from students. They really wanted to know more, like how to customize their email signature. So the teacher and I walked them through the process.

We also shared with them many of the other features in the Gaggle app - blogs, discussions, digital lockers, and so on. When the students first logged in on the app, they were presented with the Gaggle Cyber-Safety course. Completing that course was one of their first steps in becoming good digital citizens. Here's mine from a couple of years ago. Always good for students to know that their teachers are cyber-smart too!

The teacher even set up a class discussion question based on something they have been working on and each student had an opportunity post a comment of their own as well as comment on the posts of their classmates.

Gaggle also has a Human Monitoring Service that instantly alerts our district Gaggle administrators to any imminent dangers to our students. This along with the blocking features has really helped us protect our students and provide interventions when necessary. What a great way to for our students to learn to communicate and develop 21st century skills in a safe environment!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

iAchieve Classroom Posters

It is always fun to visit our iAchieve classrooms and see the informative posters teachers are using to help their students use mobile devices effectively in the classroom. Every classroom is a little different depending upon the teacher and the needs of their students. Here are a couple of examples:

I'll be checking out more classrooms soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

New and Exciting Formative Assessment Tools

iAchieve teachers are great at conducting checks for understanding and formative assessments with their students. They try to utilize the iPads and iPod touches as much as possible. They use whiteboard apps such as Explain Everything or Educreations for students to write responses. Online response systems like Poll Everywhere are always popular. And, apps such as Socrative work well and are a favorite with students.

This summer at the ISTE Conference we learned about Kahoot! ( during a presentation by Adam Bellow and Steve Dimbo. Kahoot! is referred to as a game based classroom response system. We introduced it to our flip learning teachers during PD this summer. It is a fun and engaging way to see what your students know about a topic.

Kahoot! is easy to set up and use - and accounts are free. Students do not need an account; only the teacher. After creating an account, teachers are given a code for students to use to join the teachers room and begin asking challenging questions of their students.

On a recent visit to one of our flip learning classrooms, I happened to walk in as they were completing a Kahoot! Take a look:

Give Kahoot! a try. I think you will like it!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Parent Meetings

At the beginning of the school year our iPad Flipped Learning teachers hold parent meetings. These meeting are to inform parents about flipped learning and the requirements for students taking the iPads home. They are a great way to begin the parent - student - teacher relationships for the school year. Teachers are required to have each student's parent or guardian attend a meeting and sign an agreement.

It is difficult to get 100% attendance at a meeting so the teachers often schedule two meetings or meet individually with parents when they can attend.

Parents are always very receptive to the information and opportunity for their child to use an iPad to support their learning. We get lots of questions but even reluctant parents tend to change their minds when they hear and see how the iPads and flipped learning can impact their child's learning.

In addition to the parents and students, principals are invited to the meetings. Having them speak and show their support is invaluable.

Some teachers hold their parent meetings with just their own students and parents while others choose to hold group meetings, especially when there is more than one teacher at a grade level using iPads to support flipped learning. 

We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the iAchieve teachers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

QR Codes in the Classroom

Last year we introduced QR Codes to our flip learning teachers during a monthly PLC. It was one of their favorite PLC meetings and quickly became one of the best loved tools in their toolbox! During our summer PD, we also introduced the new group of iPad flip learning teachers to QR Codes.

Here are some ways the teachers have found to use QR Codes in their Classrooms:

Scan a code to get the correct answer to a problem. Teachers create a text QR Code that contains the answers to the math problems being worked on in the classroom. Students can self-check their answers and move on when correct or go back and figures out where they went wrong.

Scan a Code for a math word problem. Teachers again created text based QR Codes with math word problems for the student to access and work on in class.

Scan a Code to answer the question: "Teacher I'm finished, what should I do now?" One of the proverbial problems - how to keep students busy when they finished their work early or more quickly than others. This teacher has sets of QR Codes posted around the room. Students know that when they finish early they can go scan a code with the activity for them to complete.

Scan a Code to be taken to a learning website. A quick and easy way to share web addresses with students - and you don't have to worry about anyone typing in the URL incorrectly!

Scan a Code to be taken to an online video. Students can quickly scan the QR Code to access online videos to help them better understand concepts. It could also be a link to the teacher's flip learning video lesson!

Scan a Code to hear an audio recorded book trailer. Instead of traditional book reports, students create audio recordings after reading a book. In this project students use the app to recording their book reflections. gives them a URL that can be used to create the QR  Codes. Codes can be posted in the room, as in this example, posted online, or placed in the book for others to scan and listen before checking out the book.

Scan a Code to go to an online article to read. Students can access up to date, current materials for reading - saves paper!

Scan a Code to download an online worksheet.Why print out worksheets? Have students use a QR Code to download the worksheet into an annotation app on their iPads!

Now you try. Here are some of the codes we have used during our PD and PLC's.

Looking forward to more QR Codes adventures for the 2014-15 school year!