Wednesday, December 12, 2012

QR Codes

"So.. umm.. what's a QR code?"

Well, a QR (quick response) code is a barcode that can be scanned using an app on your SmartPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. It can contain images, website links, and text messages. Fun fact: unlike your standard UPC barcode which uses only 12 digits, a QR code can store up to 7,089 numerical characters or 4,296 alphanumeric characters!

On our iPads, we use the Scan app, which was free!

As Winter Break approaches and all the kids in Santa hats are getting a little restless, why not try out a pre-made activity using the iPads? It'll get your class moving and excited!

A quick search on TeachersPayTeachers for "QR code" brought up 160 results, and some of them were freebies!

Some of the lessons had students make their own QR codes, while others use the QR codes to check student answers. 

Or, if you're feeling daring, you could make your own! I usually use to make them. You just enter in the text box what you want your QR code to link to (URL, text, etc.) and click on Generate Free and you can take a screen shot of your QR code to save it for later. 

And now that you're really excited about using QR codes with your students, here are 46 Interesting Ways to Use a QR Code to Support Learning!

I have various activities and QSGs stored away for QR Codes, so let me know if you're interested in co-planning or need any help!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


While this week's post is mostly about the PuppetPals iPad app, let me blow your mind a little bit.

First off, I recorded a screen cast for this week's iWonder to try something new! 

To record the screen cast, I used It is a very easy website to use, and I was recording in less than 30 seconds! I've used it in the past also to record directions for my students when I was absent- that way I know they hear exactly what I want them to do. Next time you leave sub plans, maybe you could record one too! Why not record you explaining directions that a sub might have on the SmartBoard? Or try "flipping" the classroom and have your students watch something at home on your website to discuss the next day in class? I see so many possibilities!

I also used a program called AirServer to have my iPad projected onto my laptop wirelessly. I'm currently testing out a 7 day trial, but so far it's pretty cool! 

In my screencast, I mentioned that my cousin is a Kindergarten teacher in Wisconsin. We got to talking on Thanksgiving, and he has iPads in his classroom that his students use daily. He has uploaded some of their work onto a YouTube channel, and it's amazing what his kids are doing! Check out one of his students using PuppetPals to retell a story. I think it aligns perfectly with some Common Core literature standards!

I also found another idea for using iPads with the Common Core standards on the Technology Tailgate (where else?! :). Check out how this teacher used ShowMe to do a reading response. (We don't have ShowMe, but you could use ScreenChomp to do the same thing on our iPads).

Friday, November 16, 2012

iPads: Spelling City

Did you know that some new apps have been added to our iPads this year?

Spelling City is one of them! If you use the website with your students already, checking out the iPads might be a fun alternative. There are pre-made lists on the iPad already, or you can create an account and easily add lists for your students to use. Students would search for your name and then your spelling lists would show up for them to select- without giving them your username or password!

Spelling City is a fun way to learn spelling and vocabulary words by playing engaging learning games using any word list. The most popular activities are a spelling test, HangMouse, and the vocabulary games. 

This is Hang Mouse:

I also found a teacher through the Technology Tailgate who has made worksheets to accompany the app. You can download them here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Children's Book Week Resources

Children's Book Week is coming! Looking to incorporate some activities in your classroom? Look no further...

A Google search on your favorite illustrator may bring you to their website, which often has activities you can incorporate into your classroom. Here are some of my favorites:

Or, maybe you want to have students create their own works surrounding the theme. Here are some fabulous resources for creativity!

I LOVE Storybird! (and have shared it before.) You could do a whole class activity of using imagery to write a story. They have a variety of illustrations to get students brainstorming their own story! I have a QSG to get you started - email me if you'd like it :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Remind 101

With conferences coming up, are you looking for an easy way to reinforce the home-school connection? Remind101 just might be what you're looking for!

I discovered Remind 101 from a blog post on Mrs. Stanford's page. It is a quick and easy way to send students/parents a short reminder of something happening in your classroom. She says:

"Long story short you invite parents to join by text or email and what the app allows you to do is shoot a quick text/email through their server to your subscribers!! This way you don't have to give out your cell number or anything! It works just like any major companies text services... You know those text 493493 to 32098432 to receive updates about blahblahblah?? Well this is it!"

Here is how it is set up after registering:

And this is what the parents will see:

They can also sign up via email:

To send everyone who has subscribed a message, you can use their website or an app you can download from them:

You can also schedule messages for later!! Have folders due each Friday? Why not shoot a text reminding parents Thursday night to sign and return them in the morning?

Did I forget to mention:

The only drawback is they can not respond back to the text... but maybe you don't want them to :) 

If it's something you want to try with your class, I'd suggest setting it up and then hanging a poster or flyer outside of your classroom during conferences so parents can sign up while they wait to see you! Let me know if you try it and how it works!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Election Resources

I've seen several resources for bringing the election into the classroom over the last few weeks. Here are some of what I thought were most kid-friendly:

This unit from Teachers Pay Teachers has something that could be adapted for every grade level. Click the link to download it. 

Gallopade has an Elections for Kids site:

Scholastic also has an Election 2012 site with information and games. 

I thought this game in particular on Scholastic was interesting for 3rd or 4th grade. You are a "party" and are trying to get the 270+ electoral votes needed to win the election, and you choose which states you are going to "win". Of course as I was playing I was thinking about the population of each state, so it might be a good way to put the electoral college in perspective for students. Maybe play it as a whole class and generate a discussion!

PBS Kids also has The Democracy Project with activities.

How about just taking a tour of the White House?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


BiblioNasium is a community for parents, teachers, and students ages 6-12 to connect with each other and share their favorite books. It allows you to give your students a "guide" as they independently read. 

Click below to take a "tour" of BiblioNasium:

Some of the things you can do using BiblioNasium are:

- Monitor what students are reading and help them expand their genre choices
- Track what level books students are reading based on the Lexile scores of the books
- Create virtual bookshelves of what students are reading and want to read
- Students are encouraged to write book recommendations, which fosters peer-to-peer connections with reading

While I haven't gotten to try out BiblioNasium myself, it looks like a fun way to get students excited about independent reading!

It was also featured in The Journal this summer; check out the article here:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exciting News!

I am oh so excited..!

A couple weeks ago I found this awesome blog called the Technology Tailgate... and now I am a "coach" on it!

According to its founder, Karla:

"Technology Tailgate is a network of technology blogs.  We are dedicated to showcasing technology in the classroom. This blog was created with a vision for teachers to collaborate, share ideas and demonstrate real ways technology is being used in the classroom. In order to meet the expectations of Common Core standards, students must be using a variety of digital tools to learn and produce work. The goals of this blog are to inspire and excite one another and to provide useful ways to incorporate technology into our everyday lessons in order to meet both interests of our students and the expectations of Common Core."

I have made 2 posts on the Technology Tailgate already and can't wait to do more! Check out the Technology Tailgate to see several amazing ideas from awesome techie teachers!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Projects by Jen: Pumpkin Seed Project

Calling all K-3 teachers! Projects by Jen is hosting their 7th annual Pumpkin Seed Project, and sign-ups started October 1st. 

If you aren't familiar with Projects by Jen, she hosts several themed educational projects each year to connect classrooms and teachers across the globe. Some of her projects include the O.R.E.O project, St. Patrick's Day, Holiday Card, etc. One of my favorites is something she does each day, which is Guess the Wordle:

So, for the Pumpkin Seed Project, she has several activities, resources, and instructions on how to participate. I love the idea of the "Pumpkin Fashion Show". Hopefully I'll get to do this with students in my lab! Check out the link and let me know if you choose to participate in this great project.

Friday, September 28, 2012


I have been hearing so many great things about ScootPad from teachers and bloggers that I just had to tell you about it right away!

ScootPad is a great common core practice website that...
1) is FREE!
2) Has NO ads
3) Students can sign in from home, from a computer or mobile device (all the apps are free too, for iPad, Android, etc.)

Here's a video for teachers that explains how it works:

Basically, Scootpad is a site where students can go to practice all of the Common Core standards for math and reading.  The site is adaptive, so students can move through the standards at their own pace.  You can also modify the content to meet the needs of specific students!  As a teacher, you will be able to see data {a lot of graphs!!} about how each student is performing and can also get detailed email updates about students' progress.

A fellow blogger, EduKate & Inspire, uses it with her students, and this is what she loved about it:

"1) Rewards... of course!  I am typically not a big fan of having a lot of incentives for students {in my opinion, intrinsic motivation is always the best}, but they sure were a great motivator on Scootpad. As students complete practices on Scootpad, they earn coins.  In your teacher account, you can create rewards and specify the amount of coins that each reward is worth.  You can use tangible items like candy or a pencil, or set other rewards like lunch with the teacher or show and tell {I do not do show and tell in second grade, so this was a highly coveted prize!}  Parents can also set rewards for their child to earn at home. Here is a screenshot of my rewards page:

2)  Social media... students love being able to connect with their friends on Scootpad!  They can send messages to each other, choose a smiley face to indicate how they are feeling for the day, pick out their own avatar, check out their news feed (updates about messages from friends and coins they have earned), look at the class wall (with posts from the teacher), and check out the leader boards. One nice feature is that the messages are pre-selected, so students can't actually type anything to each other {otherwise, they'd spend all day sending messages instead of practicing!}.  As the teacher, you CAN type messages to students, which is great for encouragement.  Here is a screen shot of the cute messages students can send to friends:
3) Badges:  Students can earn badges to show off their hard work!  I love the 100% Ninja badge :)"

Check out ScootPad by clicking the button below! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Class Incentives.. Yup, there's an App for that!

Remember last year when I introduced you to the amazing guy? Well, he's back and he's even made his own app! It's called Win a Spin ($0.99) and is an app that you can put on your personal iPhone or iPad to use with students when they earn a reward. You can customize the wheel with 6 of your own incentives.. extra computer time, sticker, pencil, recess, lunch with the teacher, etc. Then, whenever your students earn a reward they can spin to win! You can even hook it up to the SmartBoard with one of our iPad adapters so the kids can see. Check out this link for more information.. and thanks to Julie for sharing!

Another incentive app for your laptop and/or iDevice is ClassDojo. You can instantly reinforce positive behavior by rewarding students points in your free class account. You can also customize it to behaviors (think Characteristics of Successful Learners!) and when you reward the student it will show up for why they earned a point; on the flip side you can also deduct points for negative behavior. It also collects the data you put in and you can organize it for parents, report cards, etc. I think kids would love to see their little monsters up on the SmartBoard!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lion Tips & Tricks

Most of today's iWonder will be in my email to you to help you navigate some technical glitches. But, as we are all now on Lion, here are some of my favorite things about it:

1) Mission Control
If you tend to keep a lot of things open, you can click on Mission Control and see everything you have open. You can also create multiple "desktops" and have different applications open on each. 

2) Air Drop
This is something I haven't used yet, but if you share files a lot with your team, then Air Drop is a better solution when you can't email a large file. You just open up Finder, see all the nearby computers with AirDrop enabled, and you can send files just by dragging them onto a computer's icon. AirDrip will create a network between the two computers and transfer the files for you.

3) Resume
When you shut down your computer, you can choose to save your session, so when you turn your computer back on, it restores all your windows, exactly as they were when you shut down.

You can find out more about clicking this link to a Lion/Laptop Guide.
(You'll need to be logged into the district website to access it.)

Feel free to ask if you want to learn more about them!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Volume Control, Teacher Discounts & a Can't-Miss-Article

You might have asked yourself, "what do volume control & teacher discounts have in common?" Well, I guess nothing, other than the two both make me happy. 

First up this week is a VERY cool website brought to you from Joanna's Pinterest. It looks so simple.. a bunch of "bouncy balls", but if you click the Microphone button, they react to the volume of the room! Want your students to work quietly? Put up the visual and tell them to try to keep the balls as still as possible. I'm so interested to see how well it works with your laptop's microphone!

I also saw this pin that listed several different places that offer discounts to teachers! Some I knew about, but I wish I knew that Michaels and the Container Store offered discounts a long time ago. Check out the full list at the link below... and happy shopping :)

One more thing- about a minute after I published this for the first time, I saw that Megan had posted this CNN article. While it may be geared to new teachers, I think everyone can appreciate the messages the National Teacher of the Year shares. Give it a quick read if you have a moment!