Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fabulous Feedback from a Fun-filled Day of Presenting!

I have to say that when Angie Kalthoff and I first started presenting I was so nervous about so many things. But now I LOVE it! Every time I present my love for technology in teaching gets recharged! And I really do learn so much from giving the presentations, they are a passion of mine and I feel so blessed to be able to do them! If you, your grade level, school or district is interested in having myself and/or The Techie Teachers come present to you please just fill out the contact me form below or leave a comment on the blog! Together with Angie I have presented in a variety of ways at multiple school districts, TIES conferences, trainings through Resource Solutions and to different small focus groups. We can tailor the presentation to meet your needs and we work with participants even after our sessions to ensure continued technology in teaching success! But you don't have to take my word for it, here is what some of the participants had to say from my Best Literacy Apps for K-2 Classrooms session yesterday:

'I appreciate the enthusiasm that you bring to teaching us! I imagine it is just as evident with your students. Thank you for sharing your learning and exploration with us. I love that you are so knowledgeable in all things techy, and are so helpful in explaining the usefulness of each app. It helps to jump in when there is a direction to go! It is also nice that you build in time to explore. Thanks for all your work in putting your presentation together...and sharing with us.'

'Great job, Sara! It was nice to have time to explore. It is beneficial to hear your thoughts and opinions about the apps. Thank you for being willing to help us out and answer questions.'

'As a kindergarten teacher myself, you are so in touch with what I need in my classroom. I plan to focus on the sight word apps in my classroom.'

Here is what some participants of Assessing with Your iPad had to say:

'Very good training despite being an iPad newbie!'

'I really liked how you used real life experiences/ how you used it in your classroom when explaining the app and not just telling us about the app.'

Thank you again to all who attended! I hope you found some great tools to help you increase your technology in teaching today!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thanks isd742 Choices Day!

Thank you to everyone who joined me today for my two sessions, Best Literacy Apps for K-2 Classrooms and Assessing with your iPad! I had a fantastic time and I truly hope you did too! So many great learning and technology in teaching excitement filled moments happening, but as always one of the favorite highlights of our sessions are when the teachers get the chance to take home an app code or 2 to start integrating some amazing apps into their teaching!

A very special thanks to the fabulous developers listed below for their great products and willingness to inspire so many teachers and students with their apps! If you received an app code today make sure to find them on Twitter or email to give them a shout out and provide feedback on their apps! The video that Angie Kalthoff (@mrskalthoff) made about how to redeem your code is below!

If you are looking for the link to the Google Presentations that I created check out the isd742 Choices Day presentation here!

Thanks again to all the participants! Please let me know if I can help you in any way!

HUGE Thanks to:
Futaba @inkids
Writing Wizard, Word Wizard, Montessori Crosswords and Montessori Math @lescapadou
Stick Pick 
Teach Me K,1,2,3, &Math @24x7digital
Confer @conferapp 

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Choices Day isd742 Presentations

Hello isd742 educators! Welcome to my blog and to my presentations for Choices Day 2015. I truly hope you find the information helpful on your journey to integrating technology into your teaching! Always remember that I'm happy to help however I can! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @teachernorman and follow the blog here too! Just click on the title of the presentation below to find it easily. Come back to reference it whenever you need to or share with coteachers. Just please don't take any of my material and claim it as your own. I drank a lot of coffee, stayed up way to late, and worked very hard on this so always give props wherever props are due and reference back to this page or me if using any of the materials I created! Thanks!
And if you were at either session I'd love to hear from you in the comments section here what you thought, any tools I should add or any apps that you have a ? about or love! I learn so much from each time I present and I love that!

Assessing with Your iPad

  Best Literacy Apps for K-2 Classrooms

My top literacy apps for K-2 classrooms
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Sunday, January 18, 2015

PebbleGo Polar Animal Reports Finished!

They are done and my students (and I) couldn't be happier! The reports turned out better than I anticipated! Check out my previous posts about PebbleGo Polar Animal reports posts 1 & 2. After completing our reports my friend and technology in teaching inspiration Angie Kalthoff (@mrskalthoff) came to my classroom to help my students use various apps to record their reports. For every student she had them make a video using the ChatterPix Kids by Duck Duck Moose. They turned out super cool! Check them out below! She also had some students use YAKiT Kids and 30 Hands to see how they would work with Kinderfriends. Be on the lookout for more posts about those apps coming up!

For the final touches on our reports I created a QR (Quick Response) Code for each video so that my students and others can access the awesome work they did! I will write a post later detailing how to do that. I will post their reports with the QR Code on the cover page so that my students can use our iPods during reading and academic play to listen to the others' research reports. What a fantastic way to get my students hearing informational text full of vocabulary words while they are showcasing their author and speaking skills. But the BEST is all independent! This is all them and they are taking such pride in their work. I can't wait to show the parents at conferences in a few weeks!

The front of a completed project with QR Code

The back of a completed project.
The students read what they wrote for the speaking part of ChatterPix Kids

But for now I wanted to share the final products so you can see for yourself how easily you can integrate research reports with technology (by my last count we used 3 different forms of technology here:, ChatterPix, and QR Codes! in KINDERGARTEN nonetheless! If we can do it so can you, I promise!!!) I love when my brand new ideas work out....especially when they work out so well! From their ability to self direct their learning to recording facts and vocabulary words my students worked hard and had fun doing it! Great job Kinderkiddos!!!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pebble Go Polar Animal Reports Update!

We are finishing up with our  PebbleGo Polar Animal Research Reports and so far so good! A few reflections about the process:
*Students LOVED the exploration week. By giving them a lot of time to learn and investigate all of the animal reports on PebbleGo the students were taking in vocabulary, informational text and scientific information like I have never seen!!! And because of the great features like spoken text and short videos all of my students were engaged, including a my new to English speaking students and my Special Education students.  I highly recommend giving your students an extended period of time to research and look around on PebbleGo, I promise it will be worth it to see them be so excited to learn!
*The paper that I created for students to record their information seems to be working wonderfully! I did have a few students draw just the eyes of their animals in the first box (my fault, I put an eye clip art there as a visual for what it looks like. Some kiddos are just that literal). The small box keeps them on task and the 2 writing lines are about the right amount of writing space for where we are at academically right now. 

*Speaking of the writing piece, this has gone a lot more smoothly than I thought! What's cool is that when you press the speaker icon in the PebbleGo articles not only does it read to you but it highlights each individual word.  If you press the speaker button again it pauses and leaves the highlight box on that word. This proved to be worth it's weight in gold as my lower skilled students were able to just copy the word in the highlight box, allowing us to be able to read what the label to their picture was.  I'd have everyone listen to the entire paragraph for each tab, think of the key words, then listen again to the article and when they heard their key word press the speaker button to pause the highlight box on that word.  You have to be paying attention and press quickly, but it worked well! It was a good teaching moment to make sure the word we were writing had matching sounds as our key words. My higher skilled students would paraphrase what they read and sound spell it out or copy the tougher vocab words by using the highlighted box in the article.  I didn't have one student say "I can't do it!" or "Teacher how do you spell..." LOVING the independent factor here!

*For the cover page illustration we discussed as a whole group how to draw the animals as best as we can (reviewing shapes-bonus!) and what our rubric for drawing it would be. We discussed using proper colors (no polar bears are not pink) and how to make it fit in the space. Since I knew we would be using the pictures in Chatterkid I wanted the, to be large enough to make the mouth needed for the Chatterkid app. I then divided the students into their animal groups and put a Chromebook with each group with a large picture of their animal. I had thought to let them look for their own image but we were short on time and I chose animals that looked easier to draw.

Well that's it for now! Don't forget to check out my other posts on PebbleGo! Let me know if you are using it and if so, how!

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Pebble Go Polar Animal Research Report

Bring on the research reports! I used to be TERRIFIED of our research report standards. Not because I don't love teaching students all about how to research something, as they truly enjoy merging being scientists and authors. But as a Kinderkiddo teacher it has always been difficult to find a way to provide the same high quality materials to all of my students, including my non-readers and new to country EL students who need significant vocabulary support. Well I am afraid no more because of my most recent find, and now favorite website for science and social studies, PebbleGo. Click here to learn about how I discovered it and how we used it for researching Needs vs. Wants in my Kindergarten classroom. I'm such a fan of this website that I wanted to use it again as the database for our polar animal research reports that I do every January. This is an introduction to nonfiction research reports, a way for us to start to understand what researching a specific topic means. Plus we get to work on our speaking and listening standards as well. In the Spring my students will complete a full length, in depth research report about various farm animals. But for now what better way to get started in the research project process than learning about something relevant here in cold Minnesota-polar animals!

PebbleGo has an entire section of polar mammals in their animal database. In years past I have limited my guided reading groups to learning about 1 animal per group, making it easier for me to focus their learning and keep everything organized. Tough, because as I mentioned before, finding appropriate on level nonfiction animal books with enough meat in them to write a project about is agonizing. And it limited my students ability to choose what they wanted to report on. By utilizing PebbleGo this year it will allow the students to each choose which animal they want to research....LOVING the choice factor here!!! In fact, they will get to investigate all of the polar animals on PebbleGo for a few days before choosing their favorite. Talk about maximizing learning and expanding our knowledge base! Remember that PebbleGo has audio built in for each subject, so the words are read aloud to the students while being highlighted. The students can click on vocabulary words in the text to hear a brief kid friendly definition. Many subjects have a short video clip, providing further understanding for visual learners. Perfect informational text for all of my Kinderkiddos, no matter what reading level they are at!

Here is my plan for the next few weeks to conduct our polar animal research reports:
1-Students will spend their independent time for the first week on the Chromebooks in my classroom (15 min a day) investigating all of the polar mammals on PebbleGo. I have the page linked to our SymbalooEDU page, making it easy for students to locate the correct site and maximize their learning time at the computer. Read more about how I use SymbalooEDU in my classroom here.
2-On Thursday of week 1 I will introduce the report sheet in guided reading groups and tell students that they need to think about what animal they want to complete their report for.
3-On Monday of week 2 I will ask each student which animal they will be reporting on. In our guided reading groups we will review the report sheet and discuss how good researchers gather information and listen for key words. I will then give each student their first copy of the report sheet to take notes on for the week as their rough draft. Because we are beginning writers I except mostly pictures with some sound spelling for labels and descriptions. FREEBIE! PEBBLEGO POLAR MAMMAL RESEARCH REPORT!
4-Students will fill out their report independently during Chromebook time throughout week 2.
5-On Friday of week 2 students will complete their final draft copy of their report, focusing on editing and adding details during our guided reading groups and whole group literacy times.
6-During week 3 I plan on having students create a presentation for the class using either Yakit Kids or Chatterkid. Haven't decided yet on which one,  but I will let you know when I do! Students will then get the chance to share their presentation with the entire class!

 Polar Mammal Research Report

By utilizing an amazing online resource, adding a simple writing prompt and finishing with a fun creative app my students are taking their nonfiction learning into their own rockin' researcher hands! Check back to see how it goes and the final projects!
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Sunday, January 4, 2015

This Weeks Skill Work Apps: January 5-9

As a part of my new blogging journey I thought I'd share with you the apps that I'm using during our skill work station for reading and math. I typically offer the same 3 app choices for 2-3 weeks, depending on student interest. This is a station that the students visit twice per day (once for reading and once for math) for about 10-15 min each time. This is different than the differentiated app list that I use for individual students based on their academic needs. On the weeks that I don't showcase skill work apps my thoughts are to highlight some of the creation apps we are using on our iPads in the room. That way if you are in a pinch and need some quality go-to apps to use for that week you've got them here! I've linked them to the iTunes so all you need to do is send the link to the person who manages your devices (like your media specialist). Most are available for VPP (Volume Price Purchasing) so I didn't include the price for each app as your cost may be different. I've included a brief description below as well, and remember these are tried and true apps that I have used before (unless they are brand new releases but I myself play with them quite extensively before letting my kiddos try them out).

Anytime we have been on break for awhile I find it effective to incorporate apps from three different areas: new skill set (what we will be working on), previous skill set (something we almost all show mastery of but are good reviews of latest skills to refresh our memories) and an app that they've previously played and loved (an app they already know helps some students transition back easier, kinda like me wanting to wear my comfy sweatpants tomorrow to help ease back into it!) Here is what I chose for my students this week:


-Endless Wordplay. See my review for Endless Wordplay here. From the Endless Numbers/Alphabet/Reader series this app focuses on rhyming word families while reviewing letter names, sounds and blending in a fun way.

-Beginning Sounds Interactive Game. Students match words that share the same beginning sound. Simple but to the point, this is a great app to help solidify understanding of beginning sounds.

-Alphabet Car Premium. Hands down one of my students' favorite apps every year. The students build basic words by driving a bus to each letter. Well worth investing in the paid version as you get so many more levels! {Note there is also an Alphabet Car Premium 2 that I believe includes these words and more for the same price. Since I already have the first one I'm not looking to buy the next one yet but if you are it may be worth looking into further!}


 -Park Math. A good multi-concept app that works on numbers, counting, simple addition and subtraction, sorting and patterns. The variety of activities within Park Math make it a great content review app.

 -The Math Tree. Works on beginning addition and subtraction (0-10) and is my go to app for when we start addition/subtraction. It provides engaging, hands-on manipulation of objects to help students develop their understanding of arithmetic. Plus it has cute graphics and sounds!

-Sid's Science Fair. Showcasing the familiar characters from PBS's Sid the Science Kid show, this app works on both science and math through classification, patterns, graphing and sequencing. The content and the characters make it a huge hit with my students year round!

So there you have it: my skill work apps for this week! Let me know if you have any ?s about these apps, or any others that you are considering for use with your Kinderkiddo. I'm happy to share my thoughts! Check back in to find out what websites I will be using on our Chromebooks this week, as well as the creative apps we will be working with this month as well! As always, thanks for stopping by!