Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weebly and BMS School Library Website

BMS Library Media Center website

This school year I moved our BMS School Library website to Weebly.  Previously, I used a Google Site.  The reason for the change to Weebly is it allows easy embedding of content like widgets, digital videos and images.

In a 1:1 environment, it's important to create a library website that offers tutorials and resources that teachers and students can access at any time to support the learning in the classroom.  I update the library website as I create resource lists for research projects and add technology tips & tools for teachers and students.
Research tools & resources
Resource Evaluation video & tools
How to use WeVideo Features

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

To Blog or Not to Blog

KidBlog (Modification and Redefinition)
Students on the Lightning Team have been blogging all year using KidBlog for both science and social studies topics. Students are encouraged to use tags (hashtags) to quickly access and highlight their topics. Students have learned how to make positive comments to one another and ask thoughtful questions within their blogs. KidBlog has allowed us to monitor, make private and public comments, and even edit student posts and comments, if needed.  You may view our blog at the following website:

Here is an example of one of my student's blogs:

To Dump or Not to Dump. That is the Question.

Students are given opportunities to use technology through Discovery Education's Board Builder application.
Here are a couple of examples showing how technology is redefining my classroom:

March 16: Technology/SAM-R (Redefinition) : Discovery Education Board creation by teacher and students BLOGS - To Dump or not to Dump, That is the Question

February 26:  Technology/SAM-R (Redefinition) :The following is a Discovery Education Board Created for students regarding the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.:

This is an example of a student blog on Roman Legacy:

Creative Commons and Flickr

I collaborated with classroom teachers this year to teach students about creative commons licenses and Flickr.  Students use digital images in their videos, blogs and other presentations.  Learning how to find and re-use digital images with a creative commons license teaches students to think & behave ethically when using technology.

  • Ms. Evans' 8th grade students used Flickr to find images with Creative Commons license to create book trailer videos. 
  • Ms. Mixson's 6th grade students used Flickr to find images with Creative Commons license to embed images in their blogs. 
  • Ms. Taylor's 7th grade students used Flickr to find images with Creative Commons license to create book trailer videos. 
Flickr image on student blog

Image credit at the end of student book trailer video

In Spanish class we have used a Google Document to redefine an assignment. 

Every learner will use a world language, other than English, to engage in meaningful, intercultural
communication, understand and interpret the spoken and written language, and present information,
concepts and ideas in local and global communities.
Through learning another language, they will gain an understanding of the perspectives of other cultures
and compare the language and cultures learned with their own.
 Summary of Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century

Language Competence:

Presentational Speaking (PS) and Writing (PW)

I can present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of
listeners or readers on a variety of topics in a culturally appropriate


1. Students can describe their own personality traits, likes and dislikes.
2. Students can describe likes, dislikes and personality traits using he/she
3.Students can describe others likes, dislikes and personality traits using they.


Students were asked to take a picture of themselves and a friend. Using Google Presentation students created a slide in which they included both pictures and wrote sentences about their own likes, dislikes and personality traits. They wrote sentences about a friend too. Students shared the document with the teacher and a friend. As they were writing their sentences in the target language both teacher and friend were able to ask questions or suggest correction in real time. Students were able too make corrections before errors become fossilized.


Students enjoyed the interaction with their classmates. Students paid more attention to detail to avoid being corrected by a friend. Students produced better quality sentences and more sentences because they were willing to take risks and tap into their competitive side to complete the assignment.

Transformations With Scratch

Geometry students have been studying transformations in the coordinate plane: translations, reflections, rotations, and dilations. In this assignment students applied their knowledge of transformation rules to implement those rules in the Scratch programming language. They were also required to demonstrate their code by programming the cat sprite to trace a pattern that the penguin sprite would copy under the appropriate transformation.

Feel free to look inside students' projects to see how they implemented these as well as other transformations.

This year I tried and fell in love with Voice Thread. I created a Power Point Presentation with pictures of very messy rooms around the house. Students were asked to use Voice Thread to write affirmative tu commands in Spanish such as "lava los platos sucios / do the dishes" they also wrote answers to the commands such as "estoy lavando los platos / I'm doing the dishes already" By using Voice Thread we were able to redefine (according to the SAM-R model) this assessment activity. This activity is possible thanks to the technology available. It was previously inconceivable.  I was able to assess my whole class mastery of the unit material at once. I used this information to direct and make informed choices in my teaching practice for that day. I was able to immediately identify students who needed clarification. Students were able to see their classmates answers once I helped them with corrections which avoids embarrassment or anxiety but promotes learning,keeps students motivated, engaged and competitive. My students loved it and asked to use it over and over again. I highly recommend Voice Thread. It is a very valuable classroom tool.

Digital Storytelling and WeVideo

Blue Screen in the BMS News Room
This school year I collaborated with classroom teachers to help students learn how to use the color keying tool in WeVideo (also known as chroma key, green screen or blue screen).  This editing tool allows students "to step" into the video.  Here are some examples of how students used this technology to redefine learning:
  • French class with Mrs. Catoe: Students speak in French to share the weather in their specific region in France. 
  • Math with Mr. Bloodworth: Students use the green screen to set the stage for teaching a math concept. 
  • Language Arts with Mrs. Brown: Students promote a recently read title and select a backdrop to match the setting of their selected title. 
  • Science with Mrs. Nadorff: Students create their own weather reports. 
  • Social Studies with Ms. Hineman: Students step into their country during their country reports. 
Students have often used digital storytelling to tell a story and teach information.  By using the color keying tool in WeVideo, students modify their learning by including themselves in the video and selecting a background to visually support the information/story they are sharing. 

Science Weather Videos 6th grade with Mrs. Nadorff's class
French Weather Videos 8th grade with Mrs. Catoe's class

Math video in 8th grade Mr. Bloodworth's class

Book Promotion in 8th grade with Mrs. Brown's class

Mind Burst: Math Videos With Style

Most of our students have seen Brain Pop videos: short lessons on a variety of topics shared by cartoon roommates Tim and Moby as they have wacky adventures. In this assignment students were asked to script and film their own Brain Pop-style video to teach a math lesson about a designated topic in the context of a fun, engaging scene.

Monday, March 16, 2015

TI-Nspire Navigator System Encourages a Higher Level of Thinking and Provides Immediate Feedback

Throughout the year, my algebra students have used the TI-Nspire handhelds (graphing calculators) in conjunction with the TI-Navigator System in a variety of meaningful ways. This technology encourages collaboration, individual learning and problem solving, and immediate assessment of each student’s progress.  I can easily observe each student’s level of understanding at any point and adjust the lesson if necessary.  Some features that are unique to the TI-Navigator System include:

  • Class Screen Capture - At any point in the lesson, I can capture the progress of each student and the class as a whole with a quick Screen Capture.  This encourages rich, math discussion as students analyze each other’s graph/work for accuracy.  As the teacher, each Screen Capture immediately reveals exactly which students understand the algebraic concepts as well as those students who may need additional explanation or practice.  The lesson either builds in complexity at this point or reinforces the algebraic concept based on the evidence from each Screen Capture.

  • Quick Poll – This feature has many advantages: I can introduce a concept with an “I Wonder” question, survey the students to discover the most challenging homework/class problems, or send a specific problem or activity to the entire class and immediately see their answers in the form of a class graph.  This feature is invaluable as it helps accurately assess the level of understanding of not only the class as a whole, but also of each individual student.

  • Live Presenter - Any student can easily become a ‘Live Presenter’ and project their handheld screen from anywhere in the classroom in real-time mode. I use this feature to introduce a new concept or graphing process so students can observe the procedures one step at a time.   

The continual use of the TI-Nspire Navigator System with its real-time features meets the Redefinition stage of the SAM-R model.  Without the use of this technology, students would not have the ability observe their peers’ work and the overall level of understanding for our class at any time throughout the lesson.  This system encourages a higher level of thinking for every student that simply does not occur otherwise.

Lunch time!

The ability to choose what you would like to eat each day for lunch seems like such a little thing!
Some of my students can not  tell me what they would like to eat for lunch so I offer them another way to make a choice. Choice is so important to students and their independence. Each morning, we display the lunch choices for the day. On their turn they come up and make their choice.

 I honestly had taken this activity for granted until just a few weeks ago. It was Ava's turn to choose and she usually enjoys a hot sandwich or pizza every once in a while. Ava was determined on this particular day to not eat these options. I was trying to entice her to make a choice and she was literally pushing past my choices to another option. She wanted NACHOS. In a year and half I have never seen her choose anything other than the hot sandwich or pizza, so without this activity she would have never had the opportunity to branch out and try something new. She LOVED the nachos and I was reminded of the importance of choice.

SmartBoard Success!

My students need a variety of different levels of supports to accompany their learning. The SmartBoard allows me to quickly modify assignments of all my learners to have equal opportunities to participate in class.
During our Morning Meeting, students are working on learning their personal information. The SmartBoard allows me to offer different ways for each to student based on their current needs. As they progress I can quickly adjust the materials to their progress.

Two choices that include picture symbol supports:

Multiple choice field of 4 that changes the location of the correct answer daily:

Three choices and enlarged for a student who is visual impaired:

Having the ability to quick customize for each student ensures student growth and success!

Pep Rallies for EVERYONE!

Pep Rallies--a right of passage for middle schoolers.....

Several times each year our student body gathers to celebrate athletes and their accomplishments. These events are celebrated with loud music, cheerleaders, performances by groups and the famous spirit competition. Students look forward to these events and enjoy the festivities!

 This year I have a student who gets so excited to see the Pep Rally symbol on his calendar. He spends all day anticipating the event and working hard to be able to attend. We make it to the pep rally, secure a seat by his friends and then quickly he asks to return to class. In reality, the event is too loud, too crowded and too overstimulating for him to handle. I always feel so deflated for him to not be able to attend!

Fast forward to February at the SC CEC conference......

 I attended many wonderful sessions at the event, but between sessions I was talking to a fellow educator about Google Apps. We were talking about how nice it is use to the calendar to schedule IEPs, how Drive and creating forms has made my peer tutors assignments more streamlined and then she mentioned Google Hangouts. I couldn't figure out why she would have even used this app. She then told me how they live stream pep rallies and assemblies for her students who wish to attend, but have the same concerns as my student. I returned to school with a mission. After meeting with Mrs. Swetnam and sharing my findings, we spent some time with the process and figured it out!!

I am thrilled beyond belief to be able to stream the upcoming Spring Sports Pep Rally for my student. This will allow him to enjoy the event in the comfort of our classroom.

Image result for google hangout logo

Book Trailers: Redefinition

One of the most challenging and rewarding projects that we did this year was to create Book Trailers using WeVideo. I allowed the students to work in small groups/partners to read a book together. The students then filled out a story map for the plot of the book. Afterwards, we used a storyboard that was shared with me by Tristan Evans, an 8th grade ELA teacher.  It was created by Lorena Swetnam, and its purpose is to get students to think about and discuss the aspects of the novel that they want to feature in the trailer. We then enlisted help from Mr, Abernathy, our Teaching and Learning Coach,  to learn how to use WeVideo and find images that are free to use. Eventually we needed to fill out a sequencing chart before creating the trailer in WeVideo.  I really enjoyed learning this technology with my students. I was very impressed with many of the final products, some of which were featured on our school news show.

I think that this project is a great example of  REDEFINING in the SAM-R Model. It absolutely would be impossible to create this learning experience without the use of technology.  The learning is student centered and collaboration is crucial. The final products are shared beyond the four walls of our classroom.

Hatchet book trailer

The Ghost of Graylock book trailer

Cover-up book trailer

Mentimeter Modifies Warm-ups

Description of Student Work

With Mentimeter, students answer daily questions using their Chromebooks.  The difference between work done by posting a question on the board or in Google Classroom is what Mentimeter does with student replies once they are submitted.  Instead of having each student write on the board or post to a shared space, Mentimeter instantly posts student replies anonymously.  This anonymity gives students the confidence to take chances with their work that they might not be willing to take if they thought everyone in the class might know they made the mistakes.

Examples of Work

Examples of Mentimeter Screen

How this fits with SAM-R

Mentimeter modifies warm-ups by changing the way warm-ups work for both the individual student and the class as a whole.  For the individual student, he or she receives instant individualized feedback on the quality of work when the teacher talks about the merits and misunderstandings of their sentence.  Mentimeter allows for this feedback because each reply is quickly easily displayed for the teacher to talk about.  Also, the class as a whole benefits from seeing each sentence discussed with the teacher.  Everyone gets to learn about what makes certain sentences good and how to fix the weakness of others.  

Mentimeter also modifies this type of work by bringing the element of anonymity.  Because students do not have to worry about if the class will know an answer belongs to them or not, they are more willing to post replies to Mentimeter than they are to write on the board or post to Google Classroom.  This means that more students are receiving quick, quality feedback about how to answer warm-up questions than with traditional non-technological warm-ups.

Vertebrate Infographics

As part of our study animal characteristics, students used Lucidchart to create an Infographic.  An Infographic is data sorted, arranged, and presented visually.  Students were tasked with explaining the characteristics that are common to all vertebrate groups.  With the help of the school’s Technology and Learning Coach who brought examples of Infographics to share, students were then able to translate their ideas into this form of communication.

I believe this activity meets the modification stage of the SAM-R Model because from the research stage to final product, technology was required to fully complete the task.

Using Padlet for Responding: Modification

My students and I have enjoyed using Padlet this year as a place to post our thoughts. It gives each student an audience for their thoughts and allows them to feel like their thoughts are valued in our learning community. I have used Padlet for responses such as exit slips, warm-ups, feedback for other students regarding a presentation, and as a way to anticipate the needs of the class regarding a particular assignment or upcoming project.

I think that the use of Padlet qualifies as MODIFICATION in the SAM-R Model. It gives students an audience, which causes them to produce a quality of work that they may not otherwise  Students immediately get feedback from their peers and teachers. Also, this can not be done without technology.
Book Trailer Project Responses

Staple Food Crop Project

In collaboration with Social Studies, students were asked to identify a staple food crop that might be used to meet the needs of a growing global population.  Armed with their challenge and some considerations from their teachers, students set out to use what they were learning in class and could find out using their research skills to solve a real world problem.  We invited our media specialist to help students get started by learning to CART websites.  Students found it helpful to judge websites based upon the CART criteria (Current, Accessible, Relevant, Trustworthy).  Based on our study of plants in science class, students considered the variables related to the growth and development of their selected crop.  Students worked with their peers to create a presentation illustrating their findings.

I believe this project meets the redefinition stage of the SAM-R because use of technology allowed students to access cutting edge research to solve a real world problem.  Without technology students would not have had access to real time data needed to complete this project.

Use of Kahoot for Review: Modification

       My students and I have really enjoyed using Kahoot for reviews of various concepts taught in 6th grade Language Arts. The students literally BEG me to play Kahoot. I most recently used it for checking reading comprehension for our class novel study of A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I really like that all students are engaged and must participate. It also creates and absence of threat in that each person gets individual feedback about whether he or she got the answer correct. At the end, the teacher can print out a report that lists each individual child's score. I really like this for reviews, but I would NOT use it for an assessment for the gradebook. Sometimes the students get kicked out.
      I think that this is a great example of MODIFICATION in the SAM-R Model. The learning is personal, it can not be done without the use of technology, and it provides immediate feedback. Who would have ever thought students would BEG to be quizzed?!
A Long Walk to Water Novel Review

Redefining Homework in the Modern Language Classroom

Description of Student Work

Students are expected to use the online program Memrise Students are expected to use the online program Memrise to practice for French class.  Through the program students practice with teacher-created content.  Students can add pictures to help them remember the concepts, review material that they are currently learning, have learned, and will learn.  Students earn points for correctly using the material.  Students can compete with each other to see who can earn the most points.

Screenshots of Memrise Content

Example of words to learn
 Example of how vocabulary is presented to students

Example question

Example of Leaderboard

How this fits with SAM-R

Memrise helps redefine homework for students.  Without technology, students would practice with the material in workbooks or creating flashcards.  Students who wanted to study with someone else would have to go to that person's house.

With Memrise, students can get tailored help with their studying.  The program identifies which words each student does not know and repeats those words more often according scientific research about the memory curve..  This is something that would be nearly impossible for students to do without the aid of technology.

Memrise awards students points for answering a question correctly.  More points are given to words that students need to review, as opposed to words that they already know well.  This feature allows for students to quantify the amount of time and quality of studying the students are doing.  This is something that they could not show without technology.  This feature also allows students to compete with each to see who gets the most points; another feature that is not available with traditional studying.

Overall, using Memrise for homework helps redefine the works that students.  Now, students and teachers can get valuable feedback about the quality of studying that is happening at home.  Students can feel more empowered about what they are studying at home as they receive information about what they know in a way that would not be possible without technology.

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcements
My students created public service announcements to teach others about genetic disorders. They used WeVideo, Powtoon, or Flip Cameras to showcase their PSA. Their research was guided and they were taught how to write a script for their presentation.  A rubric was also provided to help them cover the requirements. Here is a link to a few of the projects: 

The technology and format of this assignment meets the modification stage of the SAM-R model. Students are more motivated when they are creating a product and it increases their level of understanding of genetic disorders. They also learn from the work of their classmates when they view and critique what each has done. This exposed them to many disorders that they had never heard of.

Adjudication Form in VoiceThread

In preparation for our annual Concert Festival Performance Assessment, 7th and 8th grade orchestra students must sight-read a new piece of music for the adjudicator for a rating. They have 10 minutes to learn the music without being able to play anything aloud! This experience can be daunting, so to prepare them, they practice sight-reading simulations. I give them a piece of sheet music they have never seen before, and we go through the 10 minute process: we learn the piece only using silent methods and perform it while being recorded (audio). 
I like to give the students the chance to be their own adjudicators: I let them fill in the adjudication rubric with their own scores. In previous years, I have printed out copies of the SCMEA Orchestra Division Concert Festival Adjudication Form for them to use. This year, I was able to upload it into a VoiceThread so the students could input their scores and be able (for the first time) to see what their classmates thought of the recorded performance.

SCMEA Concert Festival Evaluation Form

Surprise Performance Padlet

The 8th grade orchestra performed a “surprise” performance in the lobby for Mrs. Mazyck in honor of National Bosses Day on October 14, 2014. The students are accustomed to reflecting on their performances, but never with the use of a padlet. Thanks to Mr. Abernathy, the students were able to showcase their performance feedback into a padlet. For the first time, students were able to see what their peers had to say about their performance. They really thought it was neat to watch their classmates type while they were typing!

Noteflight Compositions

Students were given the opportunity to compose their own piece of music using the free website All compositions had to be 8 measures long. 6th grade students had to use three different kinds of rhythmic notes: quarter notes, half notes and eighth notes. 7th and 8th grade students had to incorporate slurs, dynamics and sixteenth notes into their compositions. This piece of evidence is an example of the redefinition level: the technology not only allows the students to compose their music easily on their chromebooks, it allows a playback feature for them to hear their own masterpiece. Students can also select the instrument they would like to hear play their piece. This would not be possible without the use of this incredible technology!