Where I Am From

In the next week, I plan to start my 25th year of teaching elementary students.  Teaching is about planning but in life, you can’t always plan how it will go.  I participated in a Paideia Seminar this week with my colleagues based on a poem by George Ella Lyon which inspired my own poem.  I am placing my latest “Where I Am From” poem below and outside of my classroom.  I am who I am because of my life experiences.  This poem looks back through my memories and tries to paint a picture about the moments that have shaped me and stayed with me.  My principal wants each teacher to compose their own “Where I Am From” poem and to post it for students, parents and staff to read as a part of our current school year’s theme of “I Am From Elon Park”.

Where I Am From by Lisa 

I am from Sunday visits to my grandparents’ houses at the end of a dirt road in the country where grandma shared her homemade apple jelly and her patchwork quilts. My favorite quilts were the ones that she made from my grandpa’s old shirts.

I am from piano recitals when Mrs. Matthews, my piano teacher, expected my best! I memorized each piece every Spring and played on the grand piano at the Alumni House at UNC-Greensboro while the azaleas bloomed.

I am from Sunday school, Bible verses, Worship songs and The Golden Rule.  

I am from going to church camp every summer in High Point, NC where I swam, sang, prayed, learned from spiritual giants and made great friends. 

I am from leading my church choir and being church pianist in my late teens and twenties.  

I am from prayer, hope and precious parents who love me because I am their only child.

I am from learning how to be a teacher at UNC-Greensboro and singing in Women’s Choir.

I am from the day I married Gene Maples 20 years ago on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year because I didn’t want the day to end.

I am from the moments I heard my daughters cry for the first time and held them when they were born.  I am from 10 years where one or both of them came to school with me to Elon Park. 

I am from Family Movie Night every Friday night when we eat pizza together and relax.

I am from beach trips to Wild Dunes at Isle of Palms, SC where the sound of waves, sun and soft sand ripple into my heart, slowing me down, making me see what’s important.

I am from love, the kind that shows it cares. The kind of love that doesn’t laugh at me, but supports me. The kind of love that builds up. The kind of love that is patient and kind.  

I am from being a 3rd Grade teacher for 13 years in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte.

I am from being a 4th Grade teacher during the first six years when Elon Park was opened.

I am from being a Technology Teacher for the past four years at Elon Park, my home away from home. I am from caring so much that students create digital projects to make learning fun!

If you’d like to read another “Where I Am From” poem, I wrote one on my personal blog in December of 2015 at http://www.intendtospend.wordpress.com.  I would encourage you to ponder your life experiences and compile them in your own “Where I Am From” poem.



I recently returned from the ISTE 2017 Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  This conference which is sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education was my first!  I love attending one of their affiliate state conferences which is in my state of North Carolina which is called NCTIES and takes place in Raleigh, NC during the first week of March.  After taking a lot of pictures, I compiled them in a highlights Animoto video and hope to share a lot of the resources and ideas that I learned in this post.

Since I had never been to a national conference with 21,000 people, I knew that I should prepare.  I studied the session descriptions in the ISTE17 app and created my schedule in a Google Calendar which I later placed into the ISTE Conference app.  There are sessions to attend, keynote speeches to hear, playgrounds to try out the latest digital devices, a classroom of the future to tour from PowerSchool, lines to wait in for Apple and Google Sessions and sore feet due to all of the walking.  I stayed two blocks from the Convention Center and took the ISTE Shuttle a couple of times, but mostly, I walked to and from the Convention Center with my heavy bookbag with iPad and Chromebook along with lots of teacher swag given to me by Exhibitors!  In the evening, I liked getting to walk along the Riverwalk which is a beautifully designed area in downtown near the Convention Center where there are restaurants and stores galore!

I enjoyed participating in The Joy of Professional Learning activities from Apple Distinguished Educators.    They want to transform professional development into “PL or professional learning”.  In my school district, “PL” is associated with “Personalized Learning”, but in the case of this session, a book series has been created by Apple Distinguished Educators which you can access for free on the iTunes store called “The Joy of Professional Learning”.  I would highly recommend checking out their amazing lessons and activities to promote professional learning with educators.

I also recommend another iBook download from another Apple Distinguished Educator,Jenny Grabiec, called “iCan with iOS”(Apps, Tools & Strategies for Students with Learning and Attention Issues) which is a great way to learn about various Apple accessibility features on iPads.

I heard a few of the presenters mention the Reggio Emilia teaching approach based in Italy.  It is not a new approach to teaching and learning, but a new interest in it is rising as it relates to developing innovation in schools.  The idea is that opportunities should be given to students by teachers to help kids construct their own understanding of the world through their environment and through communicating with others.  I really like the idea in this approach of documenting children’s ideas throughout the process of learning something.  Playing and learning are inseparable in the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching.  The ISTE17 presenters and Exhibitors delivered in sharing many different ways to learn by playing and to design lessons based on the new ISTE Student Standards.  Flocabulary has partnered with ISTE and developed this music video to illustrate the ISTE Student Standards!

The idea of having students express their thoughts and creativity in a variety of ways was alive and well in many of the sessions that I attended!  Having students research a global location then build a three dimensional model of it with 3Doodler cool glue pen was an amazing idea!  Making students’ thoughts and voices visible in various ways such as in Flipgrid by having children record their responses to a question which others in the class will watch and also respond to, is an example of this approach.  Using technology to show progressions of thinking using Bloxels video game builder is another way to provide children with iterations or multiple attempts at designing a video game using hands on blocks.  Displaying a child’s thought process in programming a Blue Bot, a cousin of the Bee Bot, can be done in Blue Bot TacTile Reader or with Blue Tooth connection from the Blue Bot to a digital device which supports their app.    Building and programming with Scratch the Itty Bitty City using a MicroDuino is another way to allow children to play and test out their coding sequences.  Another favorite of mine is the Cubetto wooden box by Primo toys which can be programmed using a series of colored blocks which is a great way to play and design a course like a computational thinker while collaborating with others.

Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo, in their joint session, referenced “The Space” by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon, however, they discussed that you can have an innovative maker space without a space dedicated to it.  In this case, educators would have a mind shift toward making and playing in order to allow opportunities for students to discover and construct new understandings of how the world works.  They believe teachers should start the class with this question:  What do you want to learn?  When students can investigate a topic of study in an inviting space with various tools to show their thinking, then they will be excited.

My favorite keynote was Jennie Magiera on Tuesday morning.  I included a lot of her slides in my Animoto video because she inspired me so much to tell my story.  We all have stories that we want others to think about us and then, there are the real stories.  In my case, I have made ISTE sound amazing and for the most part, it was.  I posted pics on Facebook and Twitter (@edu_maples) from the conference and from our trip to see the Alamo, a special part of our American history.  Now, there were other stories that developed for me.   For one, I did not particularly like the food.  I got a migraine headache on Tuesday afternoon.  I couldn’t breathe and needed my inhaler due to smoke that poured out of a restaurant in the mall which was very close to the Convention Center.  I happened to be leaving the Convention Center for lunch right when the fire began so the streets filled with smoke.  The images in my video should help you see the scary story that unfolded.  Thankfully, although the Marriott across from the Convention Center was evacuated, the Convention Center was fine.  I had a heavy bag which made my back sore.  The good news in all of this was that my husband went with me so he began to carry my bag as he dropped me off and picked me up each day from the conference!  Our three and a half hour direct flights were a bit bumpy due to storms, but we made it.  Truly, the good far outweighed any of the bad stories.

It was an honor to attend this conference and learn from the best thought leaders!  I hope that my story will continue to develop as I implement the strategies and tools that I learned about at this conference and have a positive impact on my students.  I do not have Jennie Magiera’s title as Chief Innovation Officer in the Chicago Public Schools, but she has helped me to frame my thinking and my journey as a teacher and as an Innovator.  I was named a PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator a couple of years ago, but it is a continual journey of designing a path of experiences for my students that amplify their voice and document their thinking as they construct knowledge.  I am looking forward to processing more of the information that I have shared in this post.  I hope you enjoy it too!  Jennie shared that technology should connect us to each other in a positive way.  I really want to connect with those of you who are reading my blog by sharing what I learned!

My excitement soared as I gathered the following resources in the many sessions that I attended.  I have decided to provide links to the resources with a short description of the resource to share the love with you!

I loved Tim Fey’s Poster Session on “From Library to Learning Commons”!  Here are the resources that he shared:   https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1F01mN1B2x8bPVZXyQBy_Mjo6Y4tRvicnPFcGTdDcfcQ/mobilepresent?slide=id.g1d298f2d8c_0_0

Bloxels Video Game Design:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vuULCF-PvYKf0qannkFhpcfWC9IIWqFDowXUc7T9yKI/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.p

Kickin It with Kinder-STEAM – http://goo.gl/MCLxN0

Mari Venturino’s blog:  http://blog.mariventurino.com/

Dr. Wes and Shelly Fryer’s STEAM Poster session:  http://seeingnewshapes.casady.org/steam

Google Drawings – https://goo.gl/hLfbJj

Digital Consumption and Creation in a Changing Literacy Landscape by Steven Anderson and Shaelynn Farnsworth’s presentation on how literacy is changing – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1rF-lzkoc1u9EcK_1eO-yAKp0TgjUzAmjPRIjvPUuG_U/mobilepresent?slide=id.g239a0cce2d_0_30

Movie Making with students – https://sites.google.com/site/moviemakingwithstudents/

Teach, Jane, Teach blog – http://janedunn25.wixsite.com/teachjaneteach/stream

Adobe Spark video/digital storytelling:  http://ipadography.weebly.com/storytelling.html

Technology Centers and many other engaging tech integration ideas! http://www.engagingeducation.net/wordpress/resources/iste-2017-resources/

Touchcast:  http://playlearnteach.blogspot.com/

Digital Storytelling Network resources:  https://docs.google.com/a/cms.k12.nc.us/document/d/1biCdyKHdSyMjE-SWj749ChC3IfLAS5KtFfDQx1FXFOw/mobilebasic

Sphero robots – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1MRTXTKb-tA4hSTjFRgiKw_YerQJGe1LI7hR0x-PYmsM/mobilepresent?slide=id.g1f7b4a1075_1_0

Universal Design for Learning Google Drive file by Gerstein and Bray – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1o1jhf91rrcyTFYgIiWUn0sZWxxBst2tSJUxoZRV5f9g/mobilepresent?slide=id.p4

Breakout EDU and Digital Breakouts –


Making Thinking Visible – https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1AGLPejpuTwTVTeLsYCtRmP6K2e-5qFVobaTXE4hQpbM/mobilepresent?slide=id.g239675a555_0_0

Seedling Scavenger Bingo – a great app to use to have students work together to look for pictures of categories where they have to fill in each box on the Bingo digital board!

Great resources on Personalized learning –http://www.dsdprofessionaldevelopment.com/personalized-learning.html

Personalized Learning – https://conference.iste.org/uploads/ISTE2017/HANDOUTS/KEY_108242452/Resources.pdf

Making with Circuits:  https://sites.google.com/site/makerartstech/led-project

Be Internet Awesome!  Digital Citizenship Curriculum from Google:  https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/

Google for Littles:  http://christinepinto.com/gafe-4-littles-pln/

Google Tools:  http://www.chrislatkinson.com/

Google Add Ons:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1FoOYRcTD2i6KDYGXi9wdxX4wAjeZRPRRUHssb4GK33M/edit#slide=id.gfb2e63231_4_89

G Suite and the Writing Process:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1A1uNwrAkl7hFwho0HVx_SPTf13ijHjtcTRHbQV43ORQ/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_00

Googleopoly:  https://www.smore.com/na8sk

Digital Literacy with Google Tools:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1E4S4F8S3F0FGptCuGXiAYO9snAYkRrTDzqaGAV4fakA/edit#slide=id.g1ca4a9e9b9_1_13

iPads for Elementary:  http://www.kristenbrooks.net/

iPad as Creation Device:  https://conference.iste.org/uploads/ISTE2017/HANDOUTS/KEY_108268409/StationsDirectionsCards.pdf

Spark Creativity and Innovation:  https://sites.google.com/a/k12.somerville.ma.us/kennedy-makerspace/

Sphero robot projects and Literature:  https://padlet.com/willcottjulie/ISTE2017

Close Reading with Thinglink:  http://citizensowls.weebly.com/close-reading-using-thinglink-presentation.html

Augmented Reality in Education:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1zBXjw8JSK3LbEahpb7fWdrFbSan-U7eN2MHhbiww6xE/edit#slide=id.g173e7c2a73_0_0

Learning Spaces Images:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1pRCusVN8MXK4jieZJrNMOLgtkaV-ix6Vjo7Czx1FyBg/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_00

Stop Motion Animation:  http://www.ipadartroom.com/how-to-load-up-the-learning-in-animation/

Get Ed Funding website:  https://www.getedfunding.com/c/index.web?s@iCmSuIj2E1lbc

Digital Storytelling:  http://gmmpresentations.wikispaces.com/ISTE

Design Thinking in a Makerspace:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vkFZk3qVFvEjqlax2LraNKTkb1UM2K_K52_6d_XQS98/edit#slide=id.g1ed03c4cd7_0_30

Do’s and Don’ts of a Maker Fair:  https://sites.google.com/richland2.org/makerfairedosanddonts/how-to-guide

Girls Building STEAM:  http://girlsbuildingsteam.weebly.com/

Makerspace in Library Programming:  https://sites.google.com/student.liberty.k12.mo.us/library

MakerSpace ideas (Great videos!):  http://www.hhh.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=975877

MakerSpace Playbook:  http://www.hhh.k12.ny.us/page.cfm?p=975877

Using Snapchat in the Clasroom:  http://ditchthattextbook.com/2016/04/11/15-ways-to-use-snapchat-in-classes-and-schools/

Badging Padlet:  https://padlet.com/PDLN/ISTE2017

Badging TED Talk video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxtgxXwW060

Lego Love

My third graders walked in my class last week and squealed with excitement!  Why?  They saw our Lego Storymaker Kits out around the class.  In groups of two to four students, they built a Story with settings such as a pet store, a restaurant, a park, an air port to name a few.  They decided on a goal for their character or characters then devoted their time to creating three scenes.  They managed to build a beginning, middle and end scene.  I provided a graphic organizer for them to communicate their ideas for their collaborative stories on paper.  Due to having 45 minutes maximum class time, they took apart their scenes but then rebuilt them during our second class time.  In between our first and second classes, students worked on their graphic organizers in their home rooms.  When they arrived for their second class, they logged into their Google Drive accounts on iPads and took individual pictures which will live in their Google Accounts until our third class when they will build a Google Slide presentation and type their story ideas.

I blogged about this last year, but found such passion with my students again as they worked together this year!  The Lego Storymaker Kits inspired them to create interesting stories and promoted a way to write with a visible kind of prewriting. It felt more like we were playing in the Lab which sparked an amazing time of communication, collaboration and creativity!  I decided to share pictures of where we are at this juncture.  It is definitely a process!

What Pet Should I Get?

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, my first graders created mini books in The Book Creator app on iPads.  I read aloud a Dr. Seuss book published in 2015 called “What Pet Should I Get?”  In this book a brother and sister consider many different pets at a pet store such as a dog, cat, rabbit, bird and fish along with some fictional pets including a Yent.  The brother makes a point in the story as more and more choices present themselves concerning what pet they should get:  “Oh, boy! It is something to make a mind up!” We considered the process that people go through when selecting a pet such as determining if they have space, have time to care for it, have money to buy food and pay the vet who will care for it and have affection to love on it.

I asked my students to celebrate Dr. Seuss by creating a book to describe which pet that they would choose, reasons why they would choose it, a picture of the pet and if possible, a voice recording of them as they gave their opinion on their pet wish.  I only see them for 45 minutes every eight school days in the Technology Lab.  In the past they had created books on Outer Space in Book Creator and were familiar with how to do it.  I like how Book Creator app gives kids multiple ways to represent ideas with text, various fonts, sizes and colors of text, colors to draw and voice recording ability.  You can also add photos and videos but time didn’t allow for that today!

As kids create their individual books, you can hear them as they give each other tips on how to make the letters capital on the iPad or how to adjust the color.  I noticed one student who went above and beyond to help a friend discover how to spell the words for his title by bringing the friend to my book to show him and pointed to each word.  These two writers stuck together like peanut butter and jelly for the rest of the class as they consulted each other on what would be typed and drawn next.  Even though the books were not created with multiple authors on one book, I love how the children sit close and lean into each other to see mentors all around them as they work.  The final step was to share their books with a friend so that the digital book authors could be celebrated!

Here are some of the moments that I captured as they enthusiastically created:


Images of my awesome NCTIES experiences!breakoutedukristin-ziemkencties17lisabeckancties17

At the beginning of March each year, I prepare to travel to Raleigh, NC for the North Carolina Technology in Education Society’s Conference known as NCTIES.  This year, like two out of the last three years, I had been preparing to present a session with an amazing colleague of mine, Rebecca Thompson. When you pour your time and effort into preparing the right sequence of information to share with the people who will choose your session, you feel that your words must stand out and be ones that they can carry with them.  We had planned and revised our presentation.  I arrived Tuesday night feeling excited.

On Wednesday morning, I attended the Pre Conference which has always been a way for me to dive deep into a topic.  I get to spend three hours with a morning presenter in a room that will hold 30 people or so then spend the afternoon with another presenter.  This year, I got to spend my morning with Kristin Ziemke.  I have read her “Amplify” book which gave me a variety of ways to have my students use technology to amplify their learning.  I really liked that she encouraged me to promote writing about visual images.

First of all, Kristin introduced me to a website which has people draw various shapes for 20 seconds then places the drawings in a database so that a computer can recognize drawings from many different people.  This site is called Doodle drawing and can be reached here:  Goo.gl/2wiPgN

Kristen told us that research reveals that the first 17 minutes of a class is prime time for students to learn.  She called on teachers to do high yield activities at the start of a lesson to reach more modalities.  Research is also revealing that doodling helps learners retain their new content.  When we doodle as we are thinking, we retain the new information better.  As a result, a new definition of note taking is taking shape through the use of Sketch Noting.

In our world, kids know how to use Smart Phones and technology, but this awareness of technology does not necessarily equal understanding of how to create with the digital devices.  They know how to be entertained but not as a tool for learning.  She shared an infographic from Common Sense Media which shows that 81% of 6-8 year olds watch You Tube regularly and 76 % of 9-12 year olds access content on You Tube.  This means that kids are interested in viewing many types of videos to understand the world but may not be able to read the information yet depending on their age.  I love that she said to “put kids in a place of possible and have them publish”.  In order to hook students and engage them from the beginning of a lesson, she suggested starting lessons with video or images and have kids ask questions about them such as:

What do I see?

Why is that in the picture?

I wonder why…

How does this photo or video communicate a message?

Why did the photographer take it?  

She shared images with us from the NY Times Learning Network.  Every Monday, this site places a picture on it in a series called,  “What’s going on in this picture?”  The site has suggestions on how to guide students to closely read the picture.  Teachers and students are invited to leave a comment and read other comments.  The site previews comments to be sure they are appropriate before the comments are posted.  On Thursdays, the site posts an update and tells you what is going on.  The picture comes from some place around the world so that students are given a global perspective and gain empathy as they view others in situations that are not like their own.

Kristen referred to the fact that visuals are processed 65,000 times faster than text through our eyes.  Text plus visuals stimulate both sides of the brain requiring more synthesis, retention increased comprehension.  She encouraged teachers to use the interests of students to show images and graphics which they can compare.  One of the people who have had an impact on her understanding of how reading develops is Smokey Daniels who says we should ask kids as they view images this question:

“What do you see, think and wonder?”

Not only should we ask kids to ponder, but teachers should model how to do this type of thinking out loud.

In the afternoon, I was able to use the steps of Design Thinking which is what engineers use as I developed a video game.  We went through the following steps:






Darren Hudgins, the presenter, told us that Design Thinking is ugly at first filled with uncertainty, patterns, insights and research.  When engineers come up with a concept, they develop a prototype then test, gain feedback and keep designing.

In order for us to go through the Design Thinking steps, each participant had to plan out their game on a grid sheet then develop their fame by building it with colored cubes in a black grid.  Next, we scanned the cubes and the cubes became the setting of our video game.  I knew about Bloxels Builder but had never gone through the design process to create a game.  It was a valuable and difficult process to go through, but I can see the value to allow kids to go through this same design process to build a game.  Partners tested out each others’ games and provided feedback.  The games were not perfect, but they allowed us to see where we needed to make changes.  My favorite part was when we were told that each of us would get to take our Bloxels Builder Set home as our gift.  I have requested a set of 15 Bloxels Builder Kits as a part of a recent grant and hope that I will get them.  They will motivate students to build games based on book settings, characters, science or social studies topics.  Here is the link to the Bloxels website:  Play.bloxelsbuilder.com

On Thursday, Rebecca and I shared our presentation.  Since we had worked tirelessly on this project for the past few months, it was so good to finally share our ideas.  We had researched HyperDocs and begun to use them this year in our teaching.  I also had brought my eight Lego Storymaker Kits to provide participants with the chance to create Lego scenes and create a digital story using Pic Collage or Google Slides.  I am sharing the link to our presentation here:  goo.gl/uXRbhT

Breakout EDU was another interesting experience.  I worked with a group of teachers as we solved clues to open locks on a box.  Each clue was fairly difficult but we brainstormed together on how to break out or open the box.  Here is the link to the presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1IYL347lGD-amuhW1Yi-ZPvo5JRtP3FAtGGA7cVoWOlI/edit?usp=sharing

I always enjoy hearing Richard Byrne give the “Best of the Web” for each year.  Here are some tools that he mentioned.  Some of them I already knew about but there are several others that I plan to check out:

A beta version of a Creative Commons search engine

Inklewriter.com – It allows kids to write “Choose your own adventure” story and think about logic then publish on web.

Thehistoryproject.com – This is a timeline tool that has built in recording piece.  Example Project:  Record interview with grandma and save as podcast.

Edublogs.org – Almost all premium features are not completely free on Edublogs as of last month.

Splashapp.co – Like Snapchat but with virtual reality.  Android with ios coming soon.

bit.ly/divvr – Create your own DIY Virtual Reality Headset

CoSpaces.io lets you design a VR experience and publish.

NathanHall.com – Has Webtools that don’t require registration so kids can go and make things.

Sworkitkids.com – 30 sec. Exercises for a brain break for kids

CheckItOut is a google form and great to keep track of who borrowed stuff and get them to bring it back.

Flippity.net – add on that makes Google Sheets templates in one click.  Quiz Shows, flashcard with voices and pics,

OpeneBooks.com or app has a ton of e-books

TeachYourMonsterToRead.com  – has letter matching games

Quill Connect – a new quill.org feature.  Helps students learn to see fragments that they must arrange into complete sentences.

Choosito! – a search engine that ranks websites to their readability levels 

CamFind app – take a pic of anything and it will tell you stuff about it.

Littlebridge.com – website of how to interact responsibly online and teach through games how to be responsibile citizens

Classtools.net (developed by guy from France)

Wiser.me – blending worksheets together. Interactive quizzes and share through Google Classroom

Formative.com – new features in next month that will give you more data and give them more option on how for students to give feedback.

JoeZoo – Grade and edit students writing.  Create comments to enter into Google Docs to use when grading writing

Quizalize.com – Quizzes which can be done anytime.  Teachers could have families take a quiz night and do a link that starts between certain times.  They play game and see score of others but less of a race.

Triventy – lets kids contribute to a quiz, students can collaborate on what they think should be in quiz and teacher approves them

Nudgemath.com and it is an app – Interactive math lessons

On Friday, I was blown away by two colleagues of mine in my school district, Suzanne Blaszak and Chris Grabon.  They presented “Content Creation with Chromebooks”.  I am sharing their Google Slide presentation so that the world can also take their teaching with the Google Suite of tools up a notch!  They love Google Drawings and now, I do too!  There are so many templates that they gave which we can modify and push out to our students by having them make a copy of the Google Drawing or Google Slides.  Check it out:  https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/12YrB5KPv-S53Orc3RnUtpJOToR5nFfcMLn2L0c31w5Y/edit#slide=id.p

Chris shared how to make stories or interactive timelines using www.sutori.com from the History Channel.  Wow!  It has an interactive timeline which the kids could bring in more multimedia that they create!  Adobe Spark poster, You Tube clips, iPad Green Screen creations that are uploaded to You Tube and Audio Files can be placed on the timeline.  I can’t wait to try this with my kiddos! Kids will join my class which I create and in the free version you get 200 free views.  The students can create and share stories on a Google Sites website, collaborate with others, upload media directly and create up to 3 groups with 50 students in a group.  For example, Chris created an Explorer Group for his class to join.  You can put questions in a quiz format in Sutori for audience participation.  They also have a “Did you know?” feature to add cool facts to their story or timeline.

He encouraged us to have students add the Awesome Screenshot Google Extension on their Chromebooks.  He has his fifth graders take a screenshot then with the Awesome Screenshot extension, capture a certain area of the picture then annotate on top of the image.  When students locate an image, they can make it their own and add to it.  You can also blur faces on an image with this extension.

When he wants students to record their voice, he likes Recordmp3online to record audio.  He likes Vocaroo to record audio too.  In Vocaroo, kids would convert the recording to mp3 then save link and place on your website.

Suzanne shared Adobe Spark which allows us to create pictures and videos or posts.  She likes students to use Adobe Spark Page where you can add text, images, add video, add a glideshow option to layer text on pictures in background and link to an example on a web page.  Here is an example of a student ‘s presentation.  Students usually post their Adobe Spark link to a Padlet for their classmates to see and provide feedback as they look through each one in Padlet.  In Adobe Spark Video, Suzanne’s student included season images created in Google Drawings.  They brought the images into Spark Video and recorded their voices to narrate reasons for the seasons.  Here is the video example!

Adobe Spark states that kids have to be supervised by the teacher.  Some teachers create a class account.  You can have students to login to their Google accounts and then give them the teacher’s birthday to prove that the teacher is supervising them.  Adobe Spark is also an app for iOS users.

I have dear friends, Jennifer Moore and Melissa Toner, who used to be at my school but have moved to other schools this year.  They presented on Friday on “Connecting with 1:1 Technology in the Special Area Class”.  Jennifer is a former Music teacher and know is a Technology Facilitator at a K-8 Oaklawn Language Immersion Magnet School in Charlotte.  Melissa is a Media Specialist at Park Road Montessori school, a  K-6 school in Charlotte. I miss them dearly at my school but they mentored me so much and I will always adore them! Their amazing presentation can be found here:  goo.gl/vP46wn

I was able to catch another session from Kristin Ziemke on Friday.

Kristin emphasized that teachers put power in the hands of kids when we invite them to track their thinking, fluency, and opinions of books. She likes for young learners to do Visual Book Reviews.  She will have first graders rank a book with stars that kids draw on top of their picture while they are holding their favorite book.  Teachers can set up kids to guide others in book selection.   Communities of readers talk about their books so when teachers print the Book Reviews and place on class walls to let kids see book recommendations from other kids, it empowers kids.  It is important for teachers to model for kids how to upload a picture of themselves with a book to a Padlet space.  Kids can scan a QR code to get to the Padlet quickly.  Then they learn how to leave a comment in Padlet about their picture too.

In addition, Kristin spoke about the fact that we put power in hands of kids when we invite them to track their thinking, fluency, and opinions of books.  Kids listen to audio snapshots that they took of themselves reading a book and chart what they need to work on as a next step.   She talked about helping kids craft a vision for how to record themselves and talk about their thinking.  For example, on Chromebooks, use Movenote to have kids talk about their thinking.  Ex.  What did you learn in science?

She also encouraged us to have a space online to capture, narrate and illustrate ideas using a limited amount of tools.  She differentiated between Practices vs. projects.  The nature of a project signals the end of unit every couple of weeks.  If it is a practice, then it happens consistently across subjects different times a week.  They go deeper with thinking if they know the tool already.

She has templates at her website to place directions at a center to remind them how to record to capture, record and share.

She teaches kids to represent in a drawing tool to capture, narrate and illustrate their thinking.  Less is more because they know these tools very well.

Here are some of her favorite tools for students to capture, narrate and illustrate their thinking:

Book Creator



Explain Everything


Camera on iPad

Google Drive


She has her students write and blog for real audiences and have blogging partners.  Wonder Wednesday is when kids blog what they wonder about.  Then blogging partner can respond back.

I also was able to learn more about the Dash and Dot Robots.  There is a ton of information at bit.ly/dashdotcurriculum about how to use them.  They won’t work with iPads 1 or 2, but will work with iPad 3, 4 and iPad Air or Kindles.  I am hoping to get some Dash Robots in a Charlotte Hornets Innovation Grant.  There are so many ways to build in coding experiences in Blockly or in the Wonder app with Dash.   We can tell kids that we can program Dash to do word problems to test dimensions that they would generate for area and perimeter review.  For example, If a rectangle has a Perimeter of 200 cm., what could the dimensions be for the rectangle that Dash will create?  One teacher, drew the perimeter on pieces of chart paper to allow students to self check so that if their Dash robot stayed on the rectangle, then they would know that they had programmed Dash correctly.

Here are some incredible ideas that the teachers from Forestville Road Elemenary School shared in their session:

In Literacy, kids can retell a story, make costume for Dash to retell the story, explore the setting of story and create a map for Dash to go through based on the story.  In science, have students travel at different speeds to knock down a tower to focus on force and motion.  Students can build a “body part” for Dash that will give him new abilities. There are ways to build with Legos on top of Spheros.  Ex.  Create a butler Dash to bring snacks and drinks to others.  The kids can program Dash to go to points on a paper timeline and have it stop to tell important information at each point.  Dash can be programmed to line dance.  Pick a song from GoNoodle.com and create a line dance for Dash (more forward, left,right, lights to represent claps) then they have to line up and dance with Dash!  The xylophone attachment is awesome to have kids program a song.

Here is a great idea called “Trick or Treating with Dash” – The teacher made a 15 foot Wonder Way and placed 8 houses on it along the path which has signs that has the type of candy that will be given out.  Each child had a job:



Time Keeper


Each child had chance to program Dash to get to the house that they wanted to go to.  They kept commands on a chart at first.  They had to program the Dash robot to roll to their chosen house, program a doorbell sound, record their voice saying “Trick or Treat?” and program Dash to get back to start.  They would look at what they wrote and troubleshoot to see what worked and what didn’t to get Dash to his destination.  Those who did all the steps, got to design a costume for Dash.

The Wonder League is a competition that students can do that has challenges.  You can use mats such as a Twister Board, vinyl tablecloth, tape on the floor (use tiles as a guide) or print banners.

She also charges multiple Dash robots with a USB charger that has 12 USB ports and stores them in mini boxes.  The Dash robots do spin sometimes as they are charging.

NCTIES is a place to wrap my head around innovative lessons and always supports me in developing ideas for the future in my classroom.









Discover. Play. Build.

This week I am celebrating and linking up with Ruth Ayers and the Celebrate Link Up that she hosts each weekend!

Every time I enter a restaurant, I see people in booths or at tables who are glued to their phones.  They just don’t seem to talk to the ones they are with unless a phone is not present.  Their heads go down as they study the content on their phone.  Sometimes, their faces light up when they see something funny appear in their account on the phone.  When people are engaged in conversations with each other at restaurants, there is typically a distinct joy on the faces of people whom I observe.

My family members and I have been guilty of scrolling through social media sites while sitting at a restaurant, but after I saw others recently at a local restaurant seemingly disengaged from their family members based on seeing very little verbal interaction between them, I decided that something needed to change.  I needed to model the behavior that I wished to see.  I think that I am an Effective Communicator, but I decided to really work on my verbal communication with my family and them with me.  I changed my behavior and stopped looking at my Smartphone at home and in restaurants during meal times.  While I was changing my habit, my school participated in some Professional Development that directly related to the topic of communication as a part of being a scholar.

In my school district, we are working toward designing personalized learning for our students.  I really like a Personalized Learned Profile that was developed by teachers in my district.  Recently my school’s teachers had an afternoon of PD where we analyzed the definitions of each of the descriptors on the PL Profile and had to defend which one we thought was most important.  At first, I leaned toward “Creative and Critical Thinkers” as being paramount, but I am now shifting toward “Effective Communicators” as being a characteristic that must be present if a person is to be able to do anything.  I have shared the definition on the PL Profile with my students and told them that we need to develop our verbal communication along with written and digital communication techniques.  Here is the PL Profile:

The image above and more information about Personalized Learning in my school district can be found here:  http://pl.cmslearns.org/what-is-cms-personalized-learning/

I am thrilled to have shared the Device Free Dinner Challenge, a national movement to promote talking at dinner time, not looking at a digital device, with my students during the past couple of weeks.  My thought was that something needed to change in our community to promote healthy and effective communication in families.  Common Sense Media has spearheaded the Device Free Dinner Challenge movement and provided directions on how it works at their website.   The Challenge consists of three parts:  commit as a family to put devices out of sight during dinner, have a “Device” basket to place the devices and engage in conversation with the family during dinner.

After I introduced the Challenge to my third, fourth and fifth graders, I have encouraged my students to share stories about how they have seen people using digital devices outside of school.  Here are some of them:

  1.  A child’s parent and the child were watching the child’s other sibling play ball one night recently, but the parent wasn’t watching.  The parent scrolled through Facebook the whole time until the end when the parent turned to the non playing child and said, “Honey, who won?”  Clearly, the parent was present but not really there.
  2. A child told me that at a recent 16th birthday party for her sister, a bunch of the 16 year old’s friends were on their phones and not talking.  They were in the same big great room of the house, but were texting each other based on the “dings” that were heard by the child.  The child went upstairs to get the family’s cat then brought the cat down to the others.  The party goers put their phones down and wanted to  focus on the cat.  The cat made them talk.
  3. Many children told me that while they eat dinner, their parent or siblings are frequently on the phone looking at something such as Facebook while the family is eating.  Children reported that they did not feel like the parent who was focused on the phone was not really paying attention to the child.  Sometimes when the child kept trying to talk to the parent or a sibling who was preoccupied with the phone, it made the parent or sibling irritated and they responded, finally, with an aggravated comment like, “What?”
  4. One child told me that her mom travels a lot so they will often Face Time her while they are eating dinner at the child’s house so that the mom can “be” with the family at dinner.  I think this is an appropriate way to use the digital device.
  5. Most students had observed people on their phones at restaurants and noticed how that the phone placed a barrier in communication between people sitting at the same booth or table.
  6. Several students said, “My mom/dad is constantly on Facebook.  Every time we eat, s/he is looking at their phone.”
  7. One child told about a restaurant in another state where she visited last summer that had “Device” baskets at each table to promote conversation at the table with the actual people who were sitting there.
  8. Many kids expressed the idea that they like it when their parents talk to them about their day or go around the table telling one positive thing and one negative thing that happened during the day.  They understand that time is limited with seeing their families and have a desire to enjoy their time together.
  9. A few students told me that they had already started the Device Free Dinner Challenge and they liked that the devices were put away.
  10. Some students told me that their parents have always had the policy of “No Devices at the Table” even before the Device Free Dinner Challenge.

I also had promoted the Device Free Dinner Challenge at my school’s Art and Cultural Fair on a Tuesday night recently while standing next to a special bulletin board that I had created about the Challenge.  Parents gave me excellent feedback and thought it was a great idea.  Some even told me that they already don’t allow devices at the dinner table.  I handed out the Family Commitment sheet that I had copied on brightly colored sheets of paper.  In more than one instance, a family member took the sheet, looked at their spouse and replied, “He/She really needs this!” and laughed.  I think that people realize that it has just become the norm to have phones out at dinner time but that is probably shouldn’t be commonplace.  I also shared with parents some conversation starters to share at the table to promote development of healthy relationships.


As I introduced the Challenge to each third, fourth and fifth grade class when I saw their class for Technology Special Area Class which accounts for close to 600 students at my school,  I also gave each child a mini family commitment sheet from Common Sense Media to take home.  They would share the Challenge with their family to let them know that they are working on being effective communicators.

I had already sent every K-5 teacher a blurb about the Challenge which they sent to every family on their email distribution list.  This is what I wrote in the blurb:

K-5 Teachers:

Please copy and paste the following message in your weekly email to your students’ parents in your weekly email:

This message is from our Technology Teacher, Lisa Maples:

Have you heard about the Device Free Dinner Challenge?  It’s a movement to balance technology use and promote healthy relationships in families.  The Today Show on NBC did a report on this topic on Jan.25, 2017 found at this link:
Some experts say technology has created a culture of obsession and addiction. TODAY’s Sheinelle Jones shares a look at the partnership between NBC Universal’s …
The Challenge encourages families to have conversations with each other around the dinner table and commit to placing devices in a basket away from the table along with turning off the TV so they can just focus on each other.  By listening to each other talk about their day, they would continue to build strong relationships and contribute to the overall health of their children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this challenge.  Researchers have also found that when kids eat dinner with their families, it leads to happy and healthy children, improved academic performance and fewer problems with behavior or substance abuse.
I have placed a link below which shows how the Challenge works. If you’d like to participate in the Device Free Dinner Challenge, print out the challenge and share it with your family.  Family members can sign their name and commit to putting away devices during Dinner time so that conversation can flow!
Research has proven that family dinner is good for kids.  Hands down. How often can you take your nightly family dinner and make it one percent better than the

Family Conversation Starters for Dinner Time can be found in a free downloadable pdf at this website:


Having a hard time getting kids to open up about their day? These free printable family conversation starters will get kids talking and laughing as family.

While my family and I have had dinner together at restaurants and at home in the past two weeks, we have participated in the Device Free Dinner Challenge.  I have felt that we had excellent conversation and paid attention to each word even more than we had done when we allowed phones at the table.  All I know is that I want to enjoy my time with my family and friends.  I feel devalued and not important when any of them pay more attention to their device than to me.  Children need to feel that they are valued as do adults.  They are growing up in a time when everyone around them appears to be engrossed in something on the Smartphone. I want them to have my attention.  They deserve it.  I am celebrating today because I have been present and not distracted by technology while with my family!

Watch this video from Common Sense Media to see how the Device Basket is used to put away devices before dinner:  https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/devicefreedinner-dinner-at-grandmas

Have you tried the Device Free Dinner Challenge?  Believe me, you will see a positive effect at the dinner table!

Say Something

Today at my school, students left school at 12:45 so that teachers could have time for Professional Developmnet.  I found this time to be extremely valuable with my fellow teachers.  Our Leadership Team provided spot on workshop material based on our previous work with the book, “Academic Conversations”.  Our focus today was on a learning routine called “Say Something”.  We silently read a complex text, chunked it by labeling paragraphs with numbers, decided with our partner who would “say something” after we read each portion of text, then analyzed vocabulary and interacted with a graphic organizer to help us give supporting reasons to a claim we made after reading.  In order to facilitate our “Say Something” conversations about text, we were provided with sentence starters which in our classrooms will go up on Anchor Charts or mini Charts for students’ notebooks.  We also documented our prior knowledge on our topic by writing words in Alpha boxes on a sheet before we read the text then again after we read it to gather more complex vocabulary.

We first talked about what had gone well since our last training then were sent out of the library to do a ghost walk around the school to see examples of student work in classrooms and bulletin boards where students had closely read text and of how teachers facilitated academic conversations with Anchor Charts in their classrooms.  I took many pictures which I compiled into an iMovie and have shared below:


I also am excited to have left the meeting and made plans for the coming weeks which I plan to do with my first and second graders using iPads.  I found some “Say Something” half sheets which I will use as mini individual Anchor Charts and give to students when I teach them during Tehcnology Classtime.

Here are some of my lesson ideas for how to use the “Say Something” routine which we learned about today:

1st Grade

Obj:  SW discuss moon text, make a claim, provide reasons for their claim and create a talking avatar who will share their reasons in the Tellagami app.


I will remind students that they have been studying the moon with their teachers. I showed some of them a Google Earth Moon Guided tour in our last class which described how Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969 and how dangerous it was. Today, I will have them watch another video about how astronauts live on the international space station: (http://wtvi.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.eiu.astronauts/expedition-8-crew-talks-to-students-in-japan/ or read aloud “Night Light” book or “The Moon Book” by Gibbons and go through the “Say Something” routine where I will pause the video and have them

Make a prediction

Ask a question

Clarify something you had misunderstood

Make a comment

Make a connection

I will first show them the routine that I will have them do with Say Something on my Anchor Chart. I will have them use some of the sentence starters on the Anchor Chart which I will show to help them know how to stop and “say something” the first time I stop the video, Partner 1 will talk and the second time I stop the video, Partner 2 will talk. After we have watched and discussed the video, I will have students tell why they think we should go to the moon again with people or why we should not go to the moon. They will write down reasons for why NASA should or should not send astronauts to the moon. They will need to use “because” in their complete sentences. I will require at least three sentences.

Lesson Jan.30 – Feb.6
In our next class, I will hand out their sentences that they wrote in our first lesson. I will show students how to record themselves reading their sentences into Tellagami, a video creation app. They will present their claim and their reasons as to why NASA should or should not send astronauts to the moon. The students will be able to quickly create a picture in the StoryMaker Free app which they used in the Lab when they watched the Guided Tour in Google Earth/Moon. They will take a screenshot of the image and then place the image in Tellagami where they will record their voices reading aloud their sentences. They will go to quiet corners around the room to record themselves reading. Some students may need to finish writing their sentences.

2nd Grade Life CyclesObj: SW listen to a butterfly book, use the “say something” routine to talk about the book, find images about butterflies on the internet by scanning a QR code and take screenshots of the images.

I will read aloud portions of the “Monarch Butterfly” book by Gail Gibbons.

I will ask them to “Say Something” after I read a few pages and give them a scaffold for the Academic Conversation of “Say Something” by providing the following Mini Anchor Chart sheets:

You will turn and talk but first you will decide who will “say something” when the teacher stops reading and who will “say something” second for each chunk of text that the teacher reads aloud.

When you say something, do one or more of the following:

Make a prediction

Ask a question

Clarify something you had misunderstood

Make a comment

Make a connection

3. If you can’t do one of those five things, then you need to reread the section.
I will provide a mini anchor chart for each child to use as I read aloud portions of the book found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByZ0eMz5vnK8QU9naDBFY1UxWWJYMlhjQnc4Zmsxd2t0ZjV3/edit

Once I have read aloud through half of the book, they will have had the opportunity to turn and talk about a topic of choice from the book.

Make a Prediction

Clarify Something

Make a connection

Ask a Question

Make a Comment


I will show them how to use Pic Collage app and they will learn to scan QR codes with the Scan app, open the pics, take a screenshot, resize the pictures by pinching out or in, etc. Next, they will be able to “play with” the Pic Collage app and see what it does. In our next class, they will create a poster with vocab words from the “Monarch Butterfly” book that I will have read in this lesson and show again about life cycles:
Lessons Jan.30 – Feb.6

2nd Grade Lesson – continuation of Lesson 1

Make a mini poster in Pic Collage of each stage of life cycle


Scan the images using QR Codes at this doc to get to websites where you will take a picture of the lifecycle and then add to Pic Collage:




I like how the “Say Something” routine helps students with being accountable to talk about portions or chunks of text with their peers.  I look forward to using this routine in my first and second grade classes in the next few weeks.  By having reminders on the Anchor Charts of how to interact with text and with peers while reading, students will become stronger as readers and internalize metacognitive strategies.

I would love for other teachers to share in the comments section about how they use the “Say Something” learning routine.

Global Read Aloud


During October and November of 2016, my first grade classes participated in the Global Read Aloud which featured the books authored or illustrated by Lauren Castillo.  I would read aloud featured books by Lauren Castillo who was the chosen picture book author for 2016 at the Global Read Aloud website.  I reached out to teachers in my PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator Professional Learning Community and to a teacher on Twitter in Australia and asked if any of them would be willing to have their students participate and share their responses to the same books with my classes.  I was thrilled to work with a class in Louisiana and in Minnesota.  We had hoped that it would have also worked out to partner with a class in Queensland, Australia, but their school was getting out so it wasn’t meant to be.  Here’s an Animoto Video that features the Padlet writing spaces which my students typed in response to hearing the books read aloud by me:


I really liked the rationale for the Global Read Aloud found at the Global Read Aloud website by Pernille Ripp:  “Global collaboration is necessary to show students that they are part of something bigger than them. That the world needs to be protected and that we need to care for all people. You can show them pictures of kids in other countries but why not have them speak to each other? Then the caring can begin.”

As you can see from my video, the students were engaged as they used iPads to respond to various prompts.  I would read aloud the books, have them scan a QR code which led them to a Padlet space that I had previously prepared and then they’d type their response.  I am including the links to their Padlets below to allow readers to see their responses which classes in other states read too.  As the Technology Teacher, I see each of the eight first grade classes which is why there are a lot of responses!

Nana in the City – I read aloud this beautiful book by Lauren Castillo. Students saw the main character wear a cape that his grandmother gave to him which made him feel brave in the big city. Then, students typed a response to the book based on this prompt: If you had your own cape that made you brave, what scary things could you now face?

Made with Padlet

The next book I read aloud was The Troublemaker which showcased a sneaky raccoon who created trouble for a boy and his sister.  They were working with their classroom teacher on using the word “because” to add to their sentences which would provide an explanation to their opinion.  I asked students to respond in Padlet to the following prompt:  Would you want a brother like the boy in this story? Tell why or why not. Use evidence from the text to explain your answer.

Made with Padlet

Finally, I shared The Reader with my students.  I loved that this book provided the audience with a child who traveled to a special place just to read a book.  The reader in the story provided children with a way to value reading time and enjoy reading for pleasure.  Since the story had the setting of winter time, I asked students to write about what winter is like in our town.

Made with Padlet

My students liked getting to see the responses from other classrooms in the United States.  Knowing that other students had read aloud and responded to the same books as they had read made this project particularly exciting.  Here are some examples of the tweets that the another teacher and I tweeted during the GRA:

Thank you to Erin Kramer for the activity ideas from her free Teachers Pay Teachers resources.  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Erinlkramer

In addition, Darlene Moreno, a Digital Learning Coach in California, shared her lesson ideas which I modified to make my own.  I have shared my chart below, but here is hers:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OQAdO7QEaB8Ninj8NDoTMvGwUZGdB828GRTZVYKcZ-s/edit.  Here’s another link to the Google Doc which has plans that she compiled for all of this year’s 2016 GRA books, not just the picture books:  https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KdzMWobC6nTvkpFNVIZY8rIpIbpOWan5QKwypY1DVck/edit

Week Lesson # Technology Needed: Time
Week 1:



Lisa Maples will tweet from her @edu_maples Twitter account using #GRA16 and Lauren Castillo’s author study hashtag which is #GRALauren.  Participating teachers will reply to Lisa’s Tweet or create their own Tweet about working together with my students.       Teacher Tablet, computer or Laptop 5 minutes
Week 1:



9/27 – 10/5

  1. Read Aloud: Nana in the City
  2. Activity– Post on Padlet answer to: “If you had your own cape that made you brave, what scary things could you now face?  Lisa’s Class will post using the following link on a Padlet:  https://padlet.com/lisa_maples/si3jm6sy9wf8
  3. Review other students’ responses.  Participating teachers will post their Padlet links below so that Lisa’s classes can view other students’ responses to the same question in #2.   Other Teachers’ Padlet links:

    4.  *Optional* Nana in the City Kahoot! (Lisa will play Kahoot with her classes after they respond in Padlet.)  

During your chromebook cart time or iPad time, complete the activity. Then review what the other class has posted.


Rotate students on classroom computers.

30-45 minutes
Week 2:





  1. Read Aloud: The Troublemaker
  2. Activity: Post on Padlet answer to: “Who do you think the troublemaker is? Use evidence from the text to explain why.”  Lisa’s Class will post using the following link on a Padlet:  https://padlet.com/lisa_maples/rrlfog64e3c3  
  3. Review other students’ responses.  Participating teachers will post their Padlet links below so that Lisa’s classes can view other students’ responses to the same question in #2.   Other  Teachers’ Padlet links:


  1. Have students create a double bubble map comparing and contrasting the characters: boy vs raccoon.
  2. Play The Troublemaker Kahoot!
During your chromebook cart time or iPad time, complete the activity. Then review what the other class has posted.


Rotate students on classroom computers.

30-45 minutes
Week 3:

10/17- 10/21


10/18 –


  1. Read Aloud: The Reader
  2. Activity– Post on Padlet response to:  Describe what winter is like where you live and what you do during that time.   Lisa’s Class will post using the following link on a Padlet:  https://padlet.com/lisa_maples/scz9y1pza4hf  
  3. Review other students’ responses.  Participating teachers will post their Padlet links below so that Lisa’s classes can view other students’ responses to the same question in #2.   Other Teachers’ Padlet links:

*Optional*The Reader Kahoot!

During your chromebook cart time or iPad time, complete the activity. Then review what the other class has posted.


Rotate students on classroom computers.

30-45 minutes
Week 4:

10/24- 10/28


10/28 –


  1. Read Aloud: Twenty Yawns
  2. Activity– Post on Padlet the answer to: “What helps you fall asleep at night?”  Lisa’s Class will post using the following link on a Padlet:  https://padlet.com/lisa_maples/hmmietw95s2z  
  3. Review other students’ responses.  Participating teachers will post their Padlet links below so that Lisa’s classes can view other students’ responses to the same question in #2.  Other Teachers’ Padlet links:

*Optional*Twenty Yawns Kahoot!

During your chromebook cart time or iPad time, complete the activity. Then review what the other class has posted.


Rotate students on classroom computers.

30-45 minutes
Week 5

10/31- 11/4

11/10 –


  1. Read Aloud: Yard Sale
  2. Activity: Post on Padlet the answer to: “What is something that you would have a hard time giving away or selling?”  Lisa’s Class will post using the following link on a Padlet:  https://padlet.com/lisa_maples/z8kkxt077ztz  
  3. Review other students’ responses.  Participating teachers will post their Padlet links below so that Lisa’s classes can view other students’ responses to the same question in #2.   Other Teachers’ Padlet links:

Optional: Play the Yard Sale Kahoot! Game

During your chromebook cart time or iPad time, complete the activity. Then review what the other class has posted.


Rotate students on classroom computers.

30-45 minutes
Week 6: 11/7-


11/28 – 12/7

  1. Have students reflect on their experiences over these past six weeks.
  2. Write comments in a final Padlet about their experiences with the Global Read Aloud and share responses with each others’ classes.  Post on Padlet to this question:  What will you remember most about the Global Read Aloud?  Lisa’s Class will post using the following link on a Padlet:  https://padlet.com/lisa_maples/zchvgpdg1xw
  3. Review other students’ responses.   Participating teachers will post their Padlet links below so that Lisa’s classes can view other students’ responses to the same question in #2.  Other Teachers’ Padlet links:
During your chromebook cart time or iPad time, complete the activity. Then review what the other class has posted.


Rotate students on classroom computers.

30 – 45 minutes
I used lesson ideas from Erin Kramer from her free Teachers Pay Teachers resources at the links below to design my lessons for the 2016 Global Read Aloud!  I found these links at the Global Read Aloud Website:
Nana in the City
        The Troublemaker          The Reader            Twenty Yawns            Yard Sale

I had hoped to also read aloud Yard Sale and Twenty Yawns but time did not allow since I see each class every eight school days and time ran out.  In fact, the teacher in Louisiana and I had discussed having a Google Hangout to have students share their thoughts about what they do to help them fall asleep at night after hearing Twenty Yawns. We had hoped to have them dress in their pajamas and bring stuffed animals as a part of this sharing time.  Unfortunately, I had to cancel the Google Hangout due to some required testing that occurred in the Computer Lab during the week we had hoped to do it.  Nevertheless, I liked that it would have allowed our classes to interact and share in a safe way with other classes in different states.

I hope to do be able to continue sharing in Padlet spaces and hopefully in Skype or Google Hangout sessions with other classes as we discuss books in the 2017 Global Read Aloud. Stay tuned to the Global Read Aloud Website as decisions will be made during the next few months as to the choices for the 2017 books.  You can vote on your favorite picture books and chapter books at the GRA website.  I am grateful to the teachers who worked so hard to put together lessons and resources to use which got me started this past year and of course, to Pernille Ripp, the teacher in Wisconsin who created this global collaboration opportunity.

Comparing with Venn Diagram app

During November, I had my third grade classes investigate and compare the lives of Pilgrims in 1621 and Wampanoag families.  They investigated types of houses, food, chores, games and schooling of both cultural groups at an amazing website then they typed about them using the Venn Diagram app on the iPads.  I had them read at the Scholastic website which describes both groups as portrayed at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Massachusetts.  The website also has video and images of the model of the Mayflower ship, the journey from England to the New World, examples of housing like the English cottage and the Wampanoag wetu and interesting historical letters.  The link to it is here:  http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/daily_life/

As they read or listened to the narrator read the text about houses, food, chores, games and schooling or the Pilgrims and Wampanoags, students took notes in the Venn Diagram app from Read Write Think.  My next step is to have them take a virtual field trip to Plimoth Plantation and become a historian by reading and finding out more using the following link:  https://www.plimoth.org/sites/default/files/media/olc/intro.html

Earlier in the year, I had students read and compare two books using the same Venn Diagram app.  They were able to smoothly access the Venn Diagram app and create a new project because of their prior use of the app.  You can explore the Venn Diagram app at the following website:  http://www.readwritethink.org

Here was the lesson that students had done prior to using Venn Diagram app to compare Pilgrims and Wampanoags:
Listen to the videos of “Cook A Doodle Doo” and “The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza” then  create a Venn Diagram in the Venn Diagram app comparing and contrasting the books:
Cook A Doodle Doo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaJ2dEF5xVA
The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza   

I think that having students compare and contrast the lives of Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans is a great way to teach them about the history of the United States while providing grade level appropriate and interesting video and text.

Recently, I had a PD on “Academic Conversations” to encourage schoolwide discourse about texts.  So prior to having them launch into their own research, I had students read about the mishoons, or canoes, that the Wapanoag would create out of logs using fire and tools at the following link on my big screen:  http://capeandislands.org/post/wampanoag-indians-continue-burn-and-scrape-method-build-mishoon-canoes.  They turned and talked then shared a “Golden Line” or a significant part of the text.  Many of them thought it was interesting that 400 years ago, there were no horses in the New World until the 1630s-1640s.  As a result, the rivers were like modern day highways and required canoes to maneuver.  Students often grabbed these lines as their Golden Lines from the text allowing them to determine parts of text which spoke to them.  I had them do this Golden Line activity at the beginning of the lesson to involve them in reading a portion of shared text and excite them about the reading that they would be doing independently at computers at the Scholastic website.  Here is another link to using Golden Lines:  http://www.hendersoncountypublicschoolsnc.org/elementary-education/files/2012/02/the_golden_line_20110329_115744_106.pdf  

I liked how students could make choices about words that spoke to them through the Golden Lines Academic Conversations and how it was the perfect way to guide them to discovering their own Golden Lines as they researched at the Scholastic Website about the Pilgrims and Wampanoag.



The School Experience

This week I’ve been sharing “My Teacher Is A Monster” by Peter Brown with first graders.  They love the story.  Here’s a reading of it on You Tube:  https://youtu.be/iu8lMajbigQ

I encouraged my first grade students to draw pictures with text on iPads in the Storymamker Free app to share moments from the story. When the teacher reprimands the boy, Bobby, in the story, we see that he envisions her as a green monster. The teacher yells, “Robert!”, which is Bobby’s real name. Bobby had thrown a paper airplane in class which was clearly not a good choice for Bobby by the way Ms. Kirby states his name rather sternly. It wasn’t until a chance counter that Bobby had with his teacher in the park that he began to realize that she is nice. He recuses her hat when it blows in the breeze. She calls him her hero. They quack along with the ducks. They climb to a special spot where Ms. Kirby pulls out a sheet of paper and encourages Bobby to fly his paper airplane. As the story progresses, the illustrator brilliantly shades the teacher to look less green and to have an even skin tone. When Monday rolls around after the weekend park play time, Bobby sees his teacher so much differently. She is someone who will lead his learning and will give him what he needs to succeed. Ms. Kirby took the time to bond with Bobby and recognized his way of learning which is personalized learning at its best.

It really caused me to think about the way that children perceive their teachers.  Kids create their own interpretation of the adults who talk to them at school.  They see their teachers one way which is sometimes not the way teachers perceive themselves.  I know that they go home and share stories about what their teacher did or did not do.  Even parents begin to paint a picture of the teacher.  

I hope that one of our new kindergarten students will remember the patient woman who took her by the hand and talked to her about her new class as the student dried her eyes this morning.  The child had just left her mother in the car pool line.  The little one is learning a new morning routine and seeing new faces as she enters school each day.  My friend and colleague, Kelly, masterfully walks children in daily and is a difference maker.   Her heart to show love is evident.  She shows kindness and does not shame students for having a difficult time with separation anxiety or the stress of arrival at school.  I also have the privilege of greeting children each morning as they arrive.  I am one of many who create the school experience for students.  I know that the adults who guide and reassure students are the ones which help set the course for our new Kinders as well as all students and make them want to come back each day.  I hope that they talk about their smiling and positive interactions with adults at school when they get home at night.  

I have had teachers whom I may have viewed like Bobby viewed Ms. Kirby at the beginning of the story.  They talked so sternly that I had trouble focusing on the content.  Being organized is a key quality of a teacher, however, I have felt so much stress by teachers who had to have me do things their way with not much regard for my style.  I think that it matters as to what our students think of us.  How a teacher treats a child will either unlock a trust filled relationship or it will build a barrier to learning.  Teachers should hold high expectations while taking into account the way that their words are received by their students.  Words matter.  Children matter.  

I try to notice the interests of my students and listen well. I hope that my students see me as positive, encouraging, welcoming and one who notices them and the effort that they give. It is when teachers build trusting relationships with students that students will buy in to the school experience.  

I included some of the pictures that my students drew of scenes from “My Teacher Is A Monster”.  They are so creative and give us a glimpse into how they understood story events.   Ms. Kirby realized that she needed to try a new strategy to win Bobby over after some initial moments at school when she reacted instead of seeing Bobby’s choice of flying a paper airplane as something to redirect into something positive.  She began to see that she should build on his strengths and interests.  Building on strengths should be our focus as we interact with our students too.