Brain Pop is Super Cool-- Part 1: create your teacher account

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If you have been a teacher for any length of time, you know Brain Pop, and may even consider Tim and Moby some of your favorite teacher assistants.  If you are lucky enough to be a teacher in Hueneme this year, you are lucky for many reasons.  One is that you have a school-wide subscription to Brain Pop.  Did you know that includes an educator code, so you can create a teacher account and have students make safe accounts? With these accounts, students can submit quiz results and mind maps to you.  This allows Brain Pop to a more substantial part of your lessons than just showing a video.  The first step is to create your teacher account and class (or classes if you have more than one group of students).

How do you create a teacher account?

Before you begin, you will need the educator code.  If you are an HESD teacher, just email/call me to ask me for it!  If you are from another district and you have school accounts, the person who purchased your site account will have it (and, hey, welcome! Thanks for reading my blog!)

1. After going to brainpop.com, notice the ENTER CODE link next to SIGN IN, and enter the educator code.

2. Complete the registration form with your own information. Make a note of the username and password. You will use this to log in from now on, rather than the generic school username and password.  Scroll down in the form (not pictured in the step 2 image) to see the SUBMIT button.

Verify your email


3. After submitting, you will be prompted to verify your registration. Go check the email you used in the registration form.
4. Click on the link in the middle paragraph.



Now you are ready to create a class

Step 5 5. After you click the email link, you will be prompted to log in. Use the username and password you just created.  This is the log in you will want to use from this point forward.


6. Click on MY CLASSES in the top left corner of the window.  You can take a tour to understand your options, then create your class.
Step 7
7. Decide on a clear class name, maybe including the year and grade level or period.  Then, choose a class code.   After creating a class, make a note of your code.

8. The next screen is suitable for display to your students when they create their accounts, if you want to leave it open, or print it. And now, you are ready to help your students create their accounts.

Check out Brain Pop is Super Cool-- Part 2: Help Students Create Accounts!
(All images are screenshots from brainpop.com--taken using Snagit.  Click on any image to enlarge it.)


Blogging in the Classroom with Kidblog

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One of the prominent features of a "21st century learner's environment" is the idea of a global audience, knowing that technology allows us to make the world bigger for our students by exposing them to the world outside the classroom.
Blogging is a great way to make this happen.
You may be thinking "We aren't bloggers".  But you are writers, I'm sure.  I was in a classroom last spring with some 2nd graders using Kidblog.  They said their favorite part is knowing that they are writing for their friends and reading the comments they leave.  When students write, then share their thoughts to a larger audience, their sense of purpose pushes them to achieve more than when they are just writing for their teacher.

Click here to read Sylvia's Blogpost
Curious?  The return from Winter Break is a great time to try new ideas, see how it goes for a few months, then fine-tune them over the summer.  Kind of like the soft opening of a restaurant...  Here are some ideas to get you started.

A Blog by a teacher who uses Blogs with Literature Circles

Free Teachers Pay Teachers packet to get started with Response to Informational Text blogging.

Now, you need a kid-friendly, teacher-friendly, private platform to publish the blogs and allow comments.  Check out Kidblog.
Watch an overview of Kidblog's new features here  Kidblog is the most popular student platform I have read about.  There is a 30 day free trial, so don't sign in until you are ready to test it out.  If you decide to continue, it will $20-$30 per year.  Ask your administrator to check out the student work, invite them to a lesson, share the successes you have seen in the 30 days, and maybe they will cover the cost for you. It doesn't hurt to ask...

If you are interested and want lesson idea, someone to bounce ideas off, or are just thinking "hmmm... I might want to try that", reach out and let me know.  Give me a call, or drop an email. I would love to help get you started!

Do you Kahoot!? Review Game post

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How many times do teachers tell students to study?  Or have parent conferences that include comments such as "if s/he would just study more to learn the content..."  The truth is, from my experience, many students don't really know how to study.  But, of course, they need to learn content more deeply than what they hear or do in a lesson, so practice is vitally important.
It is certainly a challenge for struggling students, but consider the high achieving student as well.  Sometimes learning has always come naturally, and when they come up against challenging content, they hit a wall and option #1 is to shut down. So, knowing how to practice and review content is a study skill all students need.

So, let's look at one crazy fun website that makes reviewing content exciting, and will lower the anxiety level in students, maybe even making them want to study more.

What is this Kahoot! I speak of??

This game... it is definitely not quiet, definitely not boring, certainly fun and engaging.  Teachers, go to getkahoot.com to create a free account, then search for premade or shared quizzes (or create your own). Quizzes can include images and video clips and are in true/false or multiple choice format, more than one answer can be correct.  Getting your quiz ready is just the start.  Think grammar skills, social studies review, math facts... then think about having students write their own questions and quizzes.

How do we play it?

Here is the fun part... when you are ready, log in and start your quiz. Project this on the screen and it will show a game code.  Students go to kahoot.it and enter the game code. Then, they give their name.  As each question comes up, the choices will show on the screen and students will have the 4 colors and shapes on their device to choose.

Speed matters in this game, and I have never seen it played in a silent room where the answer isn't spoken out loud by excited students.  So, don't use it for formal assessment, but use it for energetic review. The leader is revealed after each question, so the celebrations and competitive banter can proceed as teachers allow. Try it; you will see what I mean! Kids will have so much fun, they won't realize they are practicing content, but they will want to get the right answer... so they will learn it

Have fun!
-Liz

Where can I learn more?

This tutorial guide is from Kahoot: Tutorial pages (PDF)
This Blog has a lot more specific steps:  Who's Who and Who's New--Kahoot!

What do we need?

teacher: project onto a screen; use https://getkahoot.com
student: one device per student/team; use https://kahoot.it
compatible with: any device--ipad, chromebook, laptop, pc etc.

images from kahoot.com. shutterstock and personal screenshots

Learning. Leading. Teaching. An Afternoon with George Couros.

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Years ago, I saw Wicked in Los Angeles for the first time.  I left the show feeling entertained, but it wasn't until a day or two later that I realized how I was struck by some of the themes.  You could say I take some time to marinate on ideas.  At the time, I was working on my NBCT portfolio.  If you have attempted this, you may know why "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good" spoke to me in the trenches of writing four 15 page portfolio pieces analyzing every decision made while teaching a 15 minute lesson.  I didn't make that connection immediately after the show.

So, what is my connection here?  Similarly, when I was driving home after an afternoon listening to George Couros speak at Ventura County Office of Education, I felt entertained and motivated.  But it isn't until a few days later that I am digesting some of what we talked about.  So, allow me to share some paraphrased ideas, since I didn't write them down word for word at the time.

I'm not a technology person; I am a student learning person.  And I see how technology impacts student learning.
I don't know how many times I have been described as a "technology person", or heard someone else say "I just can't do that. I'm not techy like you".  But, you know what? I'm not a techy person.  My boss regularly has to teach me "Liz, that isn't really how it works" or "We don't call that a hub, we call it an access point".  You get the idea.  It isn't technology that I love.  It is students that I love, and there is a big difference. When we, as teachers, think of ourselves as technology people (or not), we limit options.  Don't avoid a good idea because you are "not techy".  And don't do something because you are techy if there is no meaningful student learning payoff.  The truth is-- we should all be STUDENT LEARNING PEOPLE and when we all see ourselves that way, we will focus on the best strategy for learning, which is often infusing technology into what we are doing in the classroom.

We take the most human profession and reduce it to letters and numbers.
That is just it. That's it.  I know it is report card season and it is testing season, and I am a fan of data based decision, but  still:  Remember the humanity of teaching.  Create relationships.  Tell students the greatness that you see in them. A wise colleague shared the idea that "the kids who need love the most are the ones who demand attention in the most frustrating of ways."  Truth! Be an encourager even to those with lower letters and numbers.  They need to know they are just as valuable as anyone else. Mr. Couros' point was to see your students as human, and let them see your human, caring side as well.

We have figured out email. We have figured out the internet. The truth is, we can learn to change.
I have heard several speakers lately address this idea of resisting change and it needs to be spoken about openly.  We do change.  We change a lot.  I have been teaching long enough to remember the September when the principal announced "I will no longer be printing the weekly bulletin for staff.  It will be in your email." *gasp from staff*  One of my favorite things about teaching is that it is never boring.  I can teach the same lesson 3 times in a day and it is different every time. But change doesn't have to be drastic.  Baby steps are fine.  A growth mindset says that we realize we will fail at times, but we will try, because that is the best way to learn.  Isn't that what we expect in students? We can learn so much from our students and what we expect of them.

So, thank you, George Couros, for sharing your wisdom, laughter and even a few tear-inducing videos and stories.  Because I knew you, I have been changed for good!

Introducing Google Drive

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Google Drive has become one of my favorites. When I became the Technology Resource Teacher last October, I decided to create all documents I need using Google Apps.  That even meant turning my back on my beloved Microsoft Publisher, it's true.  But I have found the transition to be easy and I am enjoying all the Googley Goodness!

So, my next step has been to encourage as many teachers to use Google Drive with their students as I can.  Most of the demonstration lessons I have done in classrooms have been to get students signed into their account for the first time.  In fact, I laugh now (okay, we laughed then, too) as I look back to my very first sign-in lesson with a class of 2nd and 3rd graders who were very excited. But, it was like herding cats!  All the students had to enter a captcha code, so their teacher and I were running like crazy. I think at the end of the hour, a third of the class had signed in. Funny... it had been so easy with my 6th graders!

Today, I met with a group of 3rd graders and their teacher, who is one of my favorite people, for their Google Drive Premier and I remembered to snap a photo of them.

They were so patient with all the times they had to try their password. It is definitely a one hour lesson the first time, just to sign in.  But they did, and then they created their first document and shared it with me and their teacher. I just finished reading though all their notes and leaving comments for them.

This one here... I had to take a screenshot. This is why I don't miss having my own class.  I get to have a lot of classes for a little bit, and that is pretty cool too!