Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My GOALS for Back 2 School

Well first off, I am SOOO excited about my new blog design!!!! I absolutely love it, and can't thank Christi at Designs by Christi and Mrs. Fultz Classroom for creating an awesome design AND budget friendly. I wasn't planning on getting one for awhile, but the premade one I had found was causing me some difficulty when I wanted to add something. If you are thinking about redoing your blog, definitely check her out!

It is always good to reflect and think about your goals, but especially at the beginning of a new school year. I am linking up with I {HEART} Recess for her monthyl Goals Linky Party. I am going to print this one off and put it in my teacher binder to keep it fresh in my mind when I start slacking off!


Leave school by 5:30 and "keep going" - I originally had 5:00 but faculty meetings don't even get out till 5:30 this year! But 5:30 is better than my 6:00-7:00 last year. So I want to use my time wisely when at school and leave earlier, but I also want to "keep going" when I get home. If I come home and sit down on the couch and open the computer/iPad/TV, I never get anything done! My husband does the cooking, but I need to be more proactive in keeping the house picked up and would like to do at home workouts rouitinly. I got Zumba on Wii for Christmas and haven't used it yet! Once I can do that for awhile I would like to get a gym membership. I hope that if I get a routine established, I'll keep it!


Keep up with grading and missing work - I got in a habit of leaving it till the weekend, and when I had TWO aide's last semester they helped a lot. I printed out a blank grade report to record grades before typing in the computer. I didn't think I would like it, but it's nice to quickly add them into the computer. Missing grades was a nightmare last year! I need to keep up with it with the bin, put names on papers when absent, and empty it at least twice a week. I printed missing grade reports for students, and emailed them to parents as well. Communication is the key.


Plan AHEAd and RTI - I will have afternoon planning for half the year, and then morning planning the second half. So that will be an adjustment. With my grade level partner being gone for 12 weeks as well, a lot of the planning will be left up to me. RTI planning is sometimes the hardest and most forgotten, when it should really be very purposefully. I have a Tier 3 class that meets everyday, and a Tier 2 class that meets once a week after school. A lot of times it was on the go. I really need help in being able to re-teach the fundamentals of math.


My husband is gone this week and my classroom is 95% done so now is the time for me to get some of my internet classes knocked out! I slacked off when I was out of town for three weeks. I am taking a free online course from Stanford about How to Learn Math (wow! wouldn't this help with RTI planning?!) and have a one year membership to Teaching Blog Traffic School  to help work on my blog. The class is based on completition and I have until the end of September to complete everything. So with no distractions, now would be the perfect time for me to get some work done! But I also need to keep up with it during the year!


Make meaning of math and math discourse - Laura helped me focus on this last year, but it was no where near the level it needs to be. My students should have meaningful math discouse with each other and I need to model the correct ways to do this often and remind them of the expectations.


Your never fully dressed without a smile - This is from one of my favorite Broadways. I chose it to overall help me and my students be a better person, student, teacher, etc. I want to build a classroom community that is safe to question and learn.

What are some of your goals for this school year?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tune into Technology: Technology Management and Organization

So this was the first week I have "unofficially" been back at school. I helped out in the office a bit, worked on my classroom, and have been trying to get organized. But I am quickly seeing what my blogging will be like come August. I apologize for being late with this linky party, but am thankful they leave it open for a week. This week is dedicated to management and organization. I do not deal much with the organization part since I do not have any devices in my classroom, everything is BYOD. But I have been learning more about the management part.

Set HIGH expectations

I have high expectations for behavior in my classroom regardless, and reinforce them often. I use devices more than other teachers on my team and they love using them. They know from the beginning that this is a privilege and they can just as easily lose this. If you are on another app, texting, facebook, anything your device will be taken up, turned into the office for seven days (board policy) and you will not be allowed to use a device on our next activity. I only had a few problems the whole year. Taking away a phone from a teenager? You might as well be cutting off a limb, and they don't like to risk it. :-)

1, 2, 3 Eyes on Me

Now that is not the attention grabber I use for middle school, but have you ever tried to get and maintain their attention when they have technology in their hands?! This one I actually picked up from my mom! She is a substitute teacher primarily for high school and will let the students listen to music while they are working. She tells they must stay on one play list, turn the device upside down, and she should not be able to hear the volume. Now, I only let them listen to music for rewards, but I have them turn them upside down when waiting for instructions, beginning the activity, etc. This way I have their attention! 


If there is an app to download, they must have it downloaded before they come to class, or they will not be able to use the device. This is just a time management thing. Our Wi-Fi is spotty at times, a lot of students don't know their iTunes passwords, or parents do not let them download without permission. I let them know well in advanced what app they need, and what devices it will work on. I will also give them something to help them download the correct app, but you'll have to wait and see for next Thursday on QR codes for that one! ;-)

I also keep this poster up in my classroom at all times. It lets them and parents know what kinds of apps we use regularly, or ones that I suggest for math help. Great for Back to School night!

iPad Cart Checkout

We have a checkout sheet we have to use for each class period whenever we have the iPad cart. My kids have a number for their calculator card that they use, and I assign iPads based on this number as well. I have my Teacher Helper stand at the cart to hand them out, while I take care of the list. Their names have already been written on the list, but we have to sign for each one. 

What device can I use?

Not all apps are available on all markets. Typically, the Apple market has more educational apps. If you are doing a Bring Your Own Device activity, I would suggest this FREE poster I made to let students know which devices they can use.

What are some of the things you use for classroom management or organization?
Make sure to Tune Back Into Technology for QR Codes!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tune into Technology: Classroom Websites ~ Edmodo

It's that time again! During the summer, I tend to lose track of the days of the week because I don't have things going on as much, especially since I've been on vacation for three weeks!! Today is Thursday which means it's Learning to the Core's Tune into Technology linky party! This has been my favorite linky party, and I've really enjoyed writing for it.

I use Edmodo for my classroom website. I have not logged on since May, and I was shocked when I did today. It has COMPLETELY changed! But I am glad that they did now and not during the school year. They did this last year and it made for some confused students. I have actually already written a post about Edmodo, but will try to talk about different things in this one. :-)

Edmodo is meant primarily for middle grades and above. It is designed similarly to Facebook with a wall that features new posts from any groups they are a part of. We will be going to the computer lab during BTS to sign them up all at once, and to complete a scavenger hunt to get used to the website. This helps out so much during the year, otherwise they are always asking where to find something!

    Organize into Groups 

    I do these by class period, but you could do them by subject. Each group has a code that you use to join that group. I label mine by the class name and teacher name. If they are part of another teacher's Edmodo as well, it is helpful to have the teacher name on their. You can also add co-teachers to the groups! You will notice that I am also part of "Viergutz". This is my grade level partner's group. We found it helpful to be a part of each other's group to see what we were posting to help keep us accountables. I had the co-teacher for my 4th Block assigned as well.


    I post the learning goal and homework on Edmodo nightly. If their is an worksheet I can post this to Edmodo as an attachment as well. This is to help when you get the inevitable "I lost it" excuse. I can post the homework to the wall, and then assign it to a folder. If at the end of the quarter they are missing an assignment, they can find it there. I also post Show Me videos, math games, info for their INB, etc. All of which is organized into folders!


    If you are doing a digital project (prezi, ppt, video, doc, etc.) you can have the students upload them to an Assigments post. You can view and grade them right within Edmodo! Saves so much paper and time! I would grade these write on my iPad! Super easy! One of our teachers had them do this after working on a simple word doc in the computer lab. No more printing!

    Parent Access

    Edmodo is primarily made for students and teachers. There is a parent code attached to each student account that the parents can sign up for. This is tied ONLY to their student for privacy concerns. They have access to the calendar, wall posts, grades, etc. I give my parents homework to sign up the first week, the kids love it!


    Edmodo is a website, and had apps for ALL devices (YEAH!) They can get notifications sent to their phone when I post something to the wall or an alert. They can easily contact me or post to the class. Parents can have it on their phones. I have it on my phone and iPad. For those users that do not have a Smart Phone they can get text notifications sent to their phone. I never know their phone numbers. 

    What website do you use? Have any other suggetions? 


    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Working on PRAXIS Exams? and a FREE Course from Stanford!

    So on my last post for Technology Tailgate about Technology with iPads, I said a little bit about an app called "Apps Gone Free". Today, when I got my daily list of apps, there was one that caught my eye. You never know what kind of apps are going to be on there. There are tons of games, picture/photo edit, books, etc! They are all FREE for the one or two days. I have gotten Angry Birds Star Wars, some workout apps, and cookbook apps.

    My brother in law is currently working on taking his PRAXIS exams before student teaching. There was one on there for the PRAXIS1 Exam for both iPad and iPhone. There are 500 questions in Math, Reading, and Writing. Once it ask you a question, and you have answered it successfully, it will not show you that question again until you go through the entire question bank. You can use it in a study or exam mode. It does NOT use data! Hopefully one of your friends can use this app!

    Here is the link from the Apps Gone Free app and from iTunes for PRAXIS 1!

    Here is the link for Apps Gone Free!

    I am also starting a course from Stanford today called "How to Learn Math". It is a FREE course from Stanford for teachers that talks about Math and Growth Mindset, Conceptual Learning, Challenges, etc. I am so excited about this course. It is an online course that runs from today until the end of September, but all of the classes will be released by the end of July so you can finish in time for back to school! This will be my first class since my undergrad, and I am looking at starting my Masters next fall so I am nervous. You do not get any Grad School credit, but some schools are allowing professional development credit. I am doing it for myself and for my students so that I can become a better teacher. If you are interested, check it out it's not too late! They are also creating one for students that will be released this fall.


    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Tune into Technology: iPads!! with a FREEBIE!

    It's Thursday, and I am linking up (on time hehe) with Learning to the Core for their Thursday linky party, Tune into Technology. This week it's iPads. When parents ask me iPad or *insert brand here* tablet, I always say iPad. As far as apps are concerned, the Blackberry/Google Play market has more, but when it comes to Educational apps Apple takes the prize. I often times can't find an app that I have for Apple on the other markets and the kids get disappointed. I know they are $$$$ but it's worth it. I bought mine during Tax Free Weekend in TN and it was refurbished so I saved money, and it works just like it was brand new!

    I have to rely on my students bringing in devices, check out the iPad cart, or use my personal devices in the classroom. If I give the students warning, I will usually have enough devices for partners and definitely one per group, but they aren't guaranteed to have an Apple product. The iPad cart is great, but you have to reserve it weeks in advanced and request any apps that you want on it as well. It just takes a lot of planning. I would die to have a few that would just stay in my classroom. So since I don't have as many activities, centers, etc. to share I figured I would share my top MUST HAVE apps that I couldn't live without!

    Teacher Apps

    1. Dropbox/Google Drive/Sky Drive - cloud and file sharing programs  

    I use Dropbox for school and Google Drive for blogging. The firewalls at our school allow Dropbox, but none of the Google services (otherwise I would only use Google Drive!) I lose USB drives, I want to work on stuff from home, and I will pull up documents when working with my PLC partner. This makes it so easy to have everything at the tip of your fingers. I don't even save anything to "My Documents" or my hardrive  anymore!

    2. Evernote

    I have folders for all of my meeting notes, and for my RTI classes where I have to do jot downs. You can embed pictures in it as well. This also works on a cloud network and you can download to your desktop or online.

    3. Splashtop/Doceri

    These are a remote desktop. I used to use Doceri because it has in a built in whiteboard, but I have found Splashtop easier to use. You do have to be on the same network as your computer. Makes it easy to be away from my computer but pull up something from the Internet or our workbook. It has also come in handy during some boring, three hour long faculty meetings where I can work on documents that are on my computer from my iPad in another part of the buidling or if your gradebook is Java/Flash based.

    4. Too Noisy 

    The kids love this app! I will let them work in partners, but 7th graders tend to get noisy and off topic so this help keeps them in check. If it gets in the yellow three times they have to work independent. I use yellow, because it's really far away from them because I have to use a cable to attach it to my projector. So if it's that loud, it's too loud. I did have to start warning them that if they set it off on purpose that person would be working independent. Some do find it distracting, so I have them sit underneath the projector screen or in the back of the room.

    5. Show Me/Educreations

    Record your voice and movements on an in-app whiteboard at the same time. See my post HERE for a detailed comparison of the two apps.

    Student Apps

    1. Cover Up Math

    This app is an introduction to Pre-Algebra/Algebra and has the students solve the problems intuitively. The students were doing complex two step equations on the same day I did a pre-test! This led us into some conversations about their mathematical thinking and being able to talk themselves through the problems.

    2. Socrative - Student and Teacher Apps

    This works in conjunction with where you can create EXIT slips and quizzes. The quizzes can be run as a "Space Race", teacher paced, or student paced. I let them work in teams to solve. I have the online version pulled up on the projetor while we are working on the iPads as well. They really like the Space Race, and don't realize it's really a quiz!

    3. BrainPop

    Access all the videos from online on the iPad. You can use it as a center! Does require BrainPop membership.

    4. Scan

    We use this app for our QR activities. More to come with the QR code linky party!

    5. MathChamp - Student and Teacher App

    Now, I have not used this in the classroom yet. I ONLY ever write about apps that have been classroom tested and I approve of. But I hope to use this next year. It looks very similar to Socrative, but maybe geared more towards the elementary student and they can pick their own monster. 

    One non-educational app I would suggest to everyone is Apps Gone Free. They offer a list of usually 8-10 apps a day that are free for a limited time. There are usually some pretty good apps in there you might not normally see that are usually 2-5 dollars!


    I have created an Apps to Download poster to use in my classroom. It helps with classroom management and is great for parents to see what you are using in the classroom that they could use at home. I would like to get some reviews and feedback for it, so I am offering it FREE until SATURDAY over at my TPT store. This product is normally $5.00, so it's a great deal! It has a poster and over 50 icons of apps that are common in the classroom. All I ask is that you leave me some feedback! :-)

    What are some other ways you use iPads in your classroom? I'm really interested how some upper gradees teachers use them!


    Leibster Award!

    I was so excited to find out that Rachel from La SeƱorita Creativa nominated me for the Liebster Award! This is an award given to new and up-and-coming customers to welcome them to the blogging company. I have had so much fun blogging and learning more about the blogging community. I also have to give a shout out to probably my “blog-celebrity/hero/idol” Charity at The Organized Classroom Blog. She has built herself a little blog empire, but I love her Teaching Blog Traffic School, and that’s where I found some of my nominees!

    To accept this award I must:

    1. Link back to the blog that nominated me 
    2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers 
    3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator 
    4. Share 11 random facts about yourself 
    5. Create 11 questions for your nominees 
    6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

    Questions for me to answer:

    1. What is your must-have teacher tool?

    There is so many! But write now I would say my InterWrite tablet. It is a Interactive Whiteboard and Remote Desktop controller all in one! I don’t have a SMARTboard, which I actually don’t mind not having, and it works with a screen and projector. I still have full use of my whiteboard. I dropped it and it didn’t work for a few days and I just about went insane!

    2. What is your favorite age to teach?

    I have taught 6th-8th grades. At my previous school, I would have told you 6th or 8th, and that’s what I told my principal when I interviewed. But I currently teach 7th, and I LOVE IT! They are older, but still a little bit young. They understand sarcasm and you can joke around with them a bit. It’s like The Three Little Bears, it’s just right. Lol

    3. If you had to eat one food/dish every day for the next year, what would it be?

    I love “Mexican”. I say that with quotes because I don’t like spice or hot food. Quesadillas, tacos, or “pollo con queso” from my El Metate. But I probably shouldn’t do that! I do eat chicken salad a lot for school lunches though. Easy to make!

    4. What is your favorite subject or topic to teach?

    Well…I’ve only really taught Math! I student taught in self-contained 5th and math/science. But math has always been my favorite! Standard within math, would be Probability and Statistics.

    5. What is your favorite place to buy teacher clothes?

    On our one income, teacher salary household it’s ROSS, Cato’s, and Walmart. But I would love to shop more at Torrid or Lane Bryant.

    6. Chevron or polka dots?


    7. What is your best teaching-related memory?

    I went on two separate retreats with my 7th and 8th graders, cabins, team building exercises, and all. I got to know my kids outside of the classroom, who they are as people on a deeper level. It was a great way to start the school year, and something we really needed to bond. I ran into one of my kids today after sending him off to high school last year.

    8. What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?

    I can’t think of anything in particular, but I have had some goofy students who in the end turned into some of my favorites.

    9.What is your favorite organizational tool (teaching-related or not)?

    Teacher Assistant App! It helps me manage homework, behavior, etc. It’s easy to pull up info on a particular student during a meeting, and assign missing homework to several students at once. I have it on my iPad and iPhone.

    10. If you could talk to yourself before you started teaching, what would you tell yourself?

    RELAX and BREATHE. Not everything is going to be perfect, and it gets better every year.

    11. What is your favorite movie or tv show?

    Big Bang Theory, I actually reference it often in class. J

    11 Random Facts About Me

    1. I started teaching in the 6th grade at my dance studio.
    2. I took tap, jazz, ballet, and gymnastics for 13 years and can still do many of the steps, including my splits!
    3. I played clarinet for 6 years, but have always had a passion for singing.
    4. I am ADDICTED to pinterest! I have a personal and a teacher/blog account!
    5. I love cupcakes, our wedding cake was actually made of cupcakes.
    6. If I had another occupation it would be something with computers or event planning.
    7. My maiden name is Griswold. I would always get comments about it from National Lapoon’s Vacation.
    8. My family actually lived up to the Griswold reputation with having a 12-foot tree and tons on the house.
    9. I’ve seen over 20 Broadway shows in 5 different states.
    10.  I would love to travel across Europe, like everywhere!
    11. I have two tattoos, and have plans to get at least two more.

    11 Questions for My Nominees

    1. Who inspired you to start teaching?
    2. If you had an all-expenses paid trip, where would you go?
    3. What is something you have always wanted to try or do?
    4. Who is your favorite author?
    5. PC or Mac? iPad or tablet?
    6. What made you start blogging?
    7. Coke or Pepsi?
    8. Where did you go to school?
    9. What is your favorite grade and subject?
    10. What is your favorite season?
    11. Are you married? Do you have any kids?

    And the nominees are…

    1. Melissa and Brittany at Frugal in First
    2. Kim at Frogtastic Friends
    3. Amber at Creative Ideas for the Upper Elementary Classroom
    4. Mary Ann at Superteach's Special Ed Spot
    5. Jamie at Sixth Grade Tales

    Happy Blogging!

    Tuesday, July 9, 2013

    Tune into Technology: Math!!

    I am (late) linking up with iTeach 1:1 for their Tune into Technology link up! We are visiting family in TN for three week so I haven't had as much blogging time as I would like. Last trip before getting back to the grind of school! Each Thursday they are doing a linky party for technology with different themes. This week it's Technology in Math. Other topics will be iPads, websites, and probably my favorite, QR codes!!

    For those of you that don't know, while I love technolgoy (and actually started out in college as a Comp. Sci. Engineering major) I actually teach 7th grade mathematics. So combining my two loves, I was totally excited! So here are a few of my favorite things to do with technology when it comes to math! These are all games and websites you can do in class or students can play at home.

    Fun-4-The-Brain - Math Facts self timed quizzes

    I teach two RTI classes, one every day for 45 minutes and one once a week for 45 minutes. We did not focus on math facts towards the end of the year (I don't know what I was thinking!), but this is something we are starting right off the bat with. I want to build their confidence in math and I feel like finally mastering these basics will help them. I'd like to not just do multiplication/division but also addition and subtraction to help them build the fundamentals. Friday is our testing day in my class that meets everyday, and this is so easy to use! Unfortunately it doesn't work on the iPads.

    Manga High - Grades 2 through High School

    Our students loved doing games and challenges on this website because they competed with other schools internationally. At one point our school was ranked in the top ten, but since its summer we currently are not ranked. You assign topics that you are working on currently and the students play games and challeges associated with them. A con is that it is a British based program so some of the vocabulary is different. 

    Middle Grades "Monkey" App - 6th-8th Math, Science, and Vocabulary

    When students are done with an activity, we had them complete default activities that reinforced math skills or were brain teasers. This was a lot of paper and very time consuming so they eventually faded out. When we were working on integers, I found these apps for the kids to play at home, but I eventually let them play in class when done with their classwork. You get some subjects for free but can purchase an additional levels for $.99. Each subject has three levels. You can reset the scores to go to the first level if multiple people play on the same device. You can also send the scores to an email address. We affectionately called them the Monkey App because they have monkeys on the app icon. I keep them on my iPhone and iPad and let the students play with mine if they don't have their own device.

    Middle Grades Math 7
    What are some of your favorite math based technology that you use?


    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Helping Students Organize and Technology

    Technology can be so helpful in the classroom, but sometimes teachers are afraid to use it because it can sometimes take a lot of classroom management! I wanted to show you ways that I have helped my students and my classroom get organized when it comes to using technology. I teach 7th graders so some of these ideas are addressed for middle schoolers, but they can be easily adaptable to other grade levels as well!

    Password Keeper

    At the beginning of the year, my students create an Edmodo account for my classroom website, Manga High for math review, and we added a few more over the course of the year. After a couple of weeks, I was constantly being asked "what's my password?!" With both of these websites, I can not see the password, but I can reset it. It was so overwhelming and it wasn't benefiting the students. We use an Interactive Notebook (INB) for our classroom notes, so I created a Password Keeper for students to keep in their INB. This cut down the questions to NONE, and if they did ask I would remind them to go look in their INB. It was a lifesaver!I did not implement it in until October, but this year it will go in when we are initially creating them, and we will have a day in the lab where we set up these accounts and familiarize with the websites.

    If you don't have a notebook where they could paste this in or you would rather keep them all, you could keep these on a ring, binder, or index card holder and keep them near your classroom computer. Below is the one I use with some of the websites/logins they will use and extra blank spaces for them to be able to add them later.

    iPad Apps to Download Poster

    This was one of my first creations, and I just recently updated it! My students AND parents asked what apps we used or I recommended, so I created this poster to hang in my classroom. It has over 50 icons of recommended apps for teachers and students, and the iPad has 20 places for the apps. I chose the corkboard background so that I could easily use a push pin to attach them to the bulletin board. This would be a great poster to hang in the classroom for Back to School night or an Open House! Here is a picture one of my students took of it in the classroom to post on my Edmodo sight and also one of the actual poster.

    iPad Apps to Download

    Bring Your Own Device (B.Y.O.D) Poster **FREEBIE**

    I love doing app or internet based activities in the classroom! When I can't check out the iPad lab or its just a quick activity, I let the kids bring in their own device. This is extremely helpful when it is an app based activity. Unfortunately, not all apps are available on all of the app markets. I made a poster that hangs in my classroom and I will check off which phones or devices students can bring in, Apple, Android, Blackberry, or Regular Cellphone. This helps answer so many questions!

    Bring Your Own Device - TPT

    Hope these products help you organize and manage the use of technology in your classroom! What are some things that help you organize and manage technology in your classroom?


    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Congratulations from Bloglovin!

    Congratulations to Rachel B. on winning my Bloglovin contest! Be sure to check your email! :-) Thank you to all those who entered and who have visited my blog lately. I am slowly building my blog, TPT store, etc. and have had a blast doing so! I also be getting a new look at the end of the month! Be sure to follow my blog to always be kept up to date with new products, hints, and techie tips!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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