Wednesday, December 10, 2014


If you ever need a reminder of why we do what we do each day, take a look at this:

I captured this amazing moment as students were doing the Hour of Code to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. We have been having SO much fun in the computer lab! :-)

There are many, many resources out there to get kids interested in programming. From apps to games and robotic kits, anyone really can learn! 

We started each day with a special message from President Obama:

And then, various grade levels did different programming activities. 

1st grade used an app called Kodable last week to get ready for the Hour of Code, and this week transferred that knowledge to Google's Code Lab in Santa's Village. (If you check out Santa's Village, Google posts a new game or activity each day for kids! Today's is a map puzzle if you need a geography idea to use!)

2nd grade used a couple different sites: Tynker's Candy Quest and last year's version of the Hour of Code, which has students program Angry Birds to get to the pig.

3rd and 4th graders did the activities for this year's Hour of Code - with Anna and Elsa from Frozen! Students programmed Anna and Elsa to make snowflakes by moving a certain number of pixels and angles of different degrees to create the patterns. 

If you have students who are interested in computer science, like I said, there are SO many awesome resources to help them learn more. 

These are all FREE apps (some of which we have on our iPads at school):

This Google Doc has several resources for Coding with Elementary Students (thanks to my friends on the #ElemTechCoach Twitter chat!)

One of my favorites is, which is intended to inspire more females to get interested in Computer Science. 

One of the projects they have right now is to "code the holidays" - each tree that is coded will actually light up one of the trees on the White House lawn! 4th graders have been making them as they finish the Hour of Code - maybe make one together with your class on the SmartBoard!

Happy Coding!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tech Talk Blog Hop

I'm excited to be joining the Tech Talk blog hop, hosted by Tasia at Great Minds Teach Alike

DoInk GreenScreen App

With our students, using the green screen is so fun and has so much potential, but in the past it has been a challenge. Using iMovie was hard for students (and teachers!) and took lots of time and patience. So I was oh-so-happy when I found out that there was, in fact, an app for that! {I usually just want to share free apps - this one is $2.99 but worth every penny! There is a discount for those of you using the VPP. It is perfect for a one iPad classroom too!}

First off, for the Green Screen backdrop we just use a sheet that we bought on Amazon for ~$17. It is easy to bring anywhere in the school a teacher needs it, and can be stapled up to a tack strip or draped over something for the background. Just make sure your students aren't wearing green! 

{Students using the Green Screen last year to make yoga tutorial videos for Brain Breaks}

DoInk GreenScreen app has made making the videos SO EASY! 

Film with the green screen all in one app!
1. Choose background
{Can be a still image or a pre-recorded video}
2. Film right over it!
3. Publish and share!

I found this easy to follow tutorial on YouTube to explain a little more:

If you want just a quick visual rundown, here is a guide from My Paperless Classroom.

After you create your green screen movie with DoInk, you can do some App Smashing as well by adding in titles and sound effects in iMovie or any other app you can import video into! Then, share your video with Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. 

Making a video with the green screen has endless possibilities - from weather reports to book talks, travel commercials, and newscasts. 

Thanks for hopping over! Leave a comment if you've used DoInk or have an idea you plan to use in your own classroom. Don't forget to check out the other amazing bloggers and their ideas through Great Minds Teach Alike

Thursday, November 6, 2014

SafeShare.TV + QR Code Smash!

I stopped by the Kindergarten wing yesterday, and here's what I saw!

Emily found a QR Code listening center on Teachers Pay Teachers for Thanksgiving stories, and the QR codes linked to videos of the stories. The students scanned the QR code and listened to the story as the video followed the pages and words. They were loving it!

One thing I noticed is that the videos were actually from YouTube, but were on a site called SafeShare.TV. On this site, you can put in a link to a YouTube video, and it will block out everything else around the video on a unique link.. even the ad that plays before it! Pretty nifty!

To test it out, I found the video on YouTube for Duck for President

Then, I pasted the link into SafeShare.TV and clicked the Generate Safe Link button.

You can also click on Customize Video to choose just a portion or clip from the video to share on your link:

And voila! Your video is complete!

So the next step would be to create the QR Code that links to the video. That's easy, we can do that on Just copy/paste the SafeShare.TV link that you made into the link box:

Then click on Download QR Code and you can put it onto any worksheet, poster, or even just your SmartBoard for students to scan and watch! 
Try testing this QR Code by using a QR Reader app, like Scan. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#CEOlympics Week 3

I know we are still in the middle of week 2 - but the end is near! AND I got some *awesome prizes* to share with you... from being connected myself! 

First off, new Twitter bird challenges are up in the Teacher's Lounge. These are worth HUGE points, so check them out! 

Now, what you really want to know about is the prizes, which I have. But first you have to read about how I got them ;-)

Over the summer, I made a discovery that I wasn't expecting - there are tons and tons of teachers on Instagram! They are sharing everything, from pictures of their classroom, projects their students have done, and even their #ootd (Outfit of the Day). It's been fun to have a little window into other teachers' classrooms! The first teacher I started following was my new friend from It's Elementary, My Dear, Lindsey Petlak (@lindseypetlak). From following her posts, I saw that she is very well connected in the teacher-Instagram world, so I started following some other educators, like @lessonswithcoffee, @iteach1to1, and even @welcometothecomputerlab. I also checked out some of the hashtags, like #teachersofinstagram, #teacherlife, and #teachersfollowteachers. It was fun to lurk & follow along until one day, I saw this:

I couldn't believe it... a Midwest Teacher Blogger Meet Up.. right in my neighborhood! And let's be honest, I was very interested in the "Goodie Bags, Giveaways, and Snacks" part of the meet up :)

So, in the spirit of Connected Educator Month, on Saturday I went to Lakeshore Learning to do some face to face connecting. It was SO much fun! 

Not only did I get AMAZING giveaways from Lakeshore Learning, Creative Teaching Press, and the fabulous bloggers that I met, but I also made some valuable face to face connections.. and the bottom right? Well, thats Lindsey and I, meeting in person for the first time! AND we are planning a Chicago Teacher Blogger Meet Up for this winter... so be on the lookout for more info if you're interested! 

So, lucky for you, I don't "need" everything that I came home with in the tech lab. BUT I want to share it with you, as prizes in the #CEOlympics! 

Follow a teacher on Instagram, email me who it is, and I'll give you 100 bonus points this week! Happy Connecting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#CEOlympics Week 2

I hope you're going for the Gold this week in the #CEOlympics! I know a few people have excitedly told me the new resources they have found - even if you find just one new thing to use in your classroom over the next 3 weeks, you'll be more connected!

One easy way to get connected is just to "lurk".. AKA you just follow people and see what they put on social media. I know many of you are on Pinterest, so let's start with something you might already know :-)

Through a Connected Educator resource, I stumbled upon this Pinterest board that is has lots of resources to get started with getting connected:

So, even if you aren't a member on Pinterest, you can still view the resources that have been pinned to the Connected Educators board

If you are on Pinterest, Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning put together a list of the top 35 Educators You Should Follow on Pinterest. Some of my favorites are Sue Gorman, Matt Gomez, Edutopia, Erin Klein, and Vicki Davis.

If you follow someone from that list (or find a different educator to follow!), let me know and you'll get 50 extra bonus points this week!

Happy connecting!

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Last week, I blogged about Connected Educator Month, which is ongoing during the month of October. And tonight, I practiced what I preach :-)

A connected educator is one who continues to learn by developing networks, and knowledge from wherever they live. They collaborate online, use social media to interact with colleagues around the globe, engage in conversations in safe online spaces, and bring what they learn back to their classrooms, schools, and districts!

I'll be honest.. I don't go on Twitter that often (you can follow me @iTeacherLauren). That's part of the beauty of Twitter. It's there when you need it and you can ignore it at all other times, if you want.  But, since October is Connected Educator Month, I've been trying to make a better effort to go on Twitter and connect with other educators. Tonight, I did an #elemtechcoach chat with other Tech Teachers from across the country. And it was so much fun! I never regret when I participate on Twitter - it's just setting aside the time to do so! The #elemtechcoach chat is every Thursday at 8pm, so it's my goal to participate from now on, as much as I can.

So here's where you come in...!

Lucky for all of you, I collaborated with @venspired and @johx1 tonight, and found out they are hosting the Connected Educator Olympics!



You are invited to participate in the first annual Connected Educator Olympics, a global competition where everyone wins... because everyone gets connected!

Central is one of over 50 schools participating in this event for the next 3 weeks. Medals will be awarded to the Bronze, Silver and Gold level participants and to the the schools! There will be prizes to top participants at Central as well!

Your challenge and the rules:

1. Spot the birds and Olympic symbols in the teacher's lounge...There will be several every week. Check your mailbox for the Connected Educator Olympic Events Chart (NOTE: some of the challenges are low or NO tech needed!). You will track your own points and submit them to me (Ms. Kolod) every week! Every person at Central (adults only) is eligible to play!

2. Our total points as a school will be submitted, by me, to the Global Points Board every week to see where we stand.

3. Stress is NOT allowed! I am your team leader to assist you as needed and to make this a FUN, low stress event all about CONNECTING! 

4. Share and help as many people as possible! If you know something someone else doesn't, help them out! (another form of connecting as an educator and learner)! Those who help earn more points!

5. Points: each challenge/activity is worth points. 1) Your CE Olympics Event Chart has the point total on them for you to complete... 2)The twitter birds in the teacher's lounge are worth a larger number of points and 3) ONE Special GOLDEN TWITTER BIRD is for 100 points every week! Try to locate this bird first!

I want this to be fun and a way for us to support each other! We are, after all, a Central family!!

Have fun! Don't hesitate to ask for assistance! And most importantly: Let's get CONNECTED!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hello October

I think October is one of my favorite months of the year. I feel like I can get a good routine at school, the air is crisp, the leaves are changing, Bears football is underway, and it's almost time for Blackhawks hockey! 

But, did you know that October is also National Bullying Prevention Month AND Connected Educator Month?

National Bullying Prevention Month
Sometime last year, one of my yoga teachers started class with a quote that I repeat to myself all the time, and has become one of my favorite mantras during my yoga practice. It is a quote from Henry James, an American author. 

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."

So, in the timely nature of National Bullying Prevention month, I stumbled upon an organization called The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. They have a great section for educators with Kindness Project ideas at K-2, 3-5 and beyond. One of my favorite ideas was to create a "Smile File" with cartoons that make students smile. Kids can go to the Smile File and choose a comic/cartoon when they want to cheer up a friend in need. 

Stomp Out Bullying also has weekly ideas during the month of October to "encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying."


Connected Educator Month
I'll post more about Connected Educator Month next week, but I LOVE this digital Starter Kit for becoming a Connected Educator. One day at a time, in a just a few minutes a day, you can become Connected too!

"To become a connected educator, you have to be a connected learner... Connected learners collaborate online, use social media to interact with colleagues around the globe, engage in conversations in safe online spaces, and bring what they learn online back to their classrooms, schools, and districts."

If you're ready to dive right in, here is a list of activities occurring during the month that you can join in online, from webinars to Twitter chats! There are so many to choose from - I wish I could virtually attend them all - but I think I'll definitely pop in on some of the Twitter chats and hopefully a webinar or two. (Psst, new teachers - there's a #ntchat (New Teacher chat) on Wednesday, October 8th at 7pm CST!)

If you want a little more of a personal touch to your Connected Educator Month.. how about trying a SLANT box

SLANT stands for "Sending Love Across the Nation to Teachers". An edublogger - Jameson at Lessons with Coffee - hosts & organizes the SLANT box and matches up teachers. So, you get a box of goodies in the mail, and you send one to another teacher as well! And who doesn't like getting goodies in the mail? :-) I've never tried it before, but I just signed up for the October SLANT box. Think you want to join in the fun? Check out her blog post here for her "Fall into Success in the Classroom" themed box! If you're interested, sign up soon - you only have until October 4th!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

News for You & Your Students

As most of you know, I like to start each day with my caffeine addiction boost from Starbucks.. but you may not know that I also start it with a little website called theSkimm. It's straightforward, witty, and short-and-to-the-point news. Perfect for me, since I never have time to pick up a newspaper or watch the news! 

Each morning in my inbox I get theSkimm's newsletter. 

I can easily browse through their quirky headlines, such as...



and even...


Paleo diet: Eating like a caveman. The reason you don’t go out to dinner with your friend who’s into P90X, because she basically only eats meat and nuts. Hold the cheese and bread basket and dessert and happiness.

So, while the headlines are catchy and grab my attention - yes, there is in fact real news from around the world included, with links to credible news sources - like CNN, NBC, Reuters, and CBS to name a few- in case you doubt their reporting :)

Looking to share current events with your students as well? We have an app on our iPads called News-o-Matic, which is a daily newspaper that's full of information and fun! 

Each day there are 5 articles that are made just for kids. But, the additional features are oh-so student-friendly:
  • Interactive maps that locate the story relative to the child – with integrated geography and math facts
  • In-app audio playback of complete articles via a Read-to-Me function
  • Definitions and pronunciation support for difficult words
  • Games that relate to the news of the day
  • Translations to Spanish – with Spanish language audio – at the tap of a button

Watch this video to learn more and check out an iPad to see for yourself!