Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My New Favorite Tech Tools!


This year I have added more and more tools to my daily repertoire of Technology Integration. Some of them I happened upon by chance, others I learned about during workshops. Some were shared with me by colleagues. The more I use Twitter for professional development by participating in weekly Twitter chats and tweeting questions I have about topics, the more tools I discover! (Follow me on Twitter @NVradenburg!) What I am learning is that about the time I think I have run out of tools, a whole new crop of them pop up in front of me. I feel so lucky to teach in this digital age!

I made the word cloud above using an iPad app called Tag Cloud. (another new favorite!)

Web tools

Go Noodle
I learned about this tool from our school’s Librarian and Technology Specialist, Jason Greenwald. (Follow Jason on Twitter @jaycgreenwald) He was participating in a Twitter chat where Go Noodle was recommended. My class and I use this site every morning. It is a collection of brain break videos intended for grades K-8. In the mornings we have sharing circle and then our daily data collection with the calendar, weather graph and number of the day. This is over 30 minutes of time when students are sitting on the carpet. I use Go Noodle as a transition between sharing circle and the data collection meeting. The kids in my class cheer when it is time for brain breaks. They love the videos where Olympic athletes teach them about the different events. They also love singing and dancing to popular songs like “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen. The site has a gamified element to it that my students find very motivating. Each brain break we do allows us to bank minutes of physical activity. A “champ,” a cartoon character, acts as our mascot as we go through the brain breaks. Each minute of activity we acquire makes our champ grow in size and strength. There is a printable certificate for the class at the completion of five levels. My class currently has two of the certificates. They are worth gold to them!

I first learned about Padlet when I attended a conference last fall sponsored by RESA4U ( @RESA4U)called The Technology Summit. Padlet is just one of the great tools I took from that event. This is a free google tool that acts as a virtual bulletin board. Teachers create a “wall” with a questions for students to post answers. I’ve been using Padlet to check for understanding after lessons in Social Studies, Reading and Science. I use the student answers to inform the direction of my instruction for the rest of the unit. I create a QR (using code for the wall. I print the code and tape it to the whiteboard in the front of my room. As students enter the room in the morning the grab an iPad, scan the code and sign on to the Padlet to answer the question of the day. There is no need for them to sign in with a user name or a password. The QR code gets them right where they need to go. Two taps on the screen opens text box. Students type their names and their answers then put their iPads away. I project the Padlet on the Promethean so that they can see the comments from their peers. When everyone finishes we have a discussion about the Padlet. Later, I share the Padlet link with parents on my class web page so they can see how our discussion went.

PBSKids Lab
PBS Learning Media

I am honored to be one of the 100 teachers who will participate in the 2014 Digital Innovators Program this year. While I am still waiting to start those classes I have discovered and used these two sites as a result of my interest in the digital innovators program.

PBS Kids Lab is a collection of online games, Interactive Whiteboard Activities and Mobile apps created for kids ages 3-8. Most of the activities are math related but there are a few Social Studies and Literature things as well. I have used the site during math workshop for a fun way to practice problem solving, spatial awareness, basic facts, patterns and counting. I also set up a laptop computer at one of our learning centers. Students choose to visit PBS Kids Lab on that device as well.  

The PBS Learning Media site is a treasure trove of video clips in all areas of study for grades K-12. Teachers can search the large collection by subject, grade level and standard. In addition to videos there are several games for Interactive Whiteboards, Interactive read alouds and full units of study. The site is a compilation of the resources created by local PBS stations from all over the country. I highly recommend using it!

Smore Flyers
Jason Greenwald (@jaycgreenwald)shined me on to Smore as well. He used it earlier this year when we introduced computer programming to my class. I love how quick and easy it is to create a virtual flyer using this web site. I created these two flyers to share information with teachers and parents. I love that when I login to the site I can see how many people have viewed my flyers. I can share them using all the social networking tools too!

I created this flyer for a differentiation workshop I co-presented for the Belgrade School District. It serves as a summary of the topics and resources we shared in our workshop and gives the teachers a place to go with further questions after the workshop is over.

I created this flyer as an informational resource for parents at our school about Montana Common Core State Standards. We shared the flyer with parents at our Family Curriculum Night.It serves as a resource for them to refer to whenever they have questions.

iPad Apps

This is a wonderful app for students in the primary classroom to listen to and read quality literature and non-fiction. The app is free and comes with your choice of three books. A yearly subscription can be purchased for under $40 that offers unlimited stories in all genres. I purchased the subscription for the my class iPad and it gets used daily during or literature block. Students who choose to listen to reading on the iPad love the variety of stories.

My students use this app during our literacy block frequently. It provides instruction in rich vocabulary in a gamified setting. My students brag to one another about which level they have completed and delight in the virtual rewards they accumulate the more they play. For teachers looking to use gamification in their classrooms I highly recommend this app! It costs $1.99 but is worth every penny. We were lucky enough to get it from free using Apps Gone Free last year.

There you have it! My new favorite Tech tools at this moment in time! Check back next month for more great information about using Technology in the primary classroom!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

AGATE Conference 2014, Billings Mt

I am honored to be a presenter at this year's Association of Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) conference. Thanks to my affiliation with RESA4U/Southwest Montana School Services I will get to represent Region 4 and LaMotte School at  this state conference. AGATE is one of my favorite conferences in Montana as it is always well attended by like minded educators interested in working with gifted students. Every year national speakers visit Montana to share their expertise and current research in the field. This year I am very excited to hear Bertie Kingore speak. I have used her web resources in my classroom for years and I can not wait to see what she will share! I am also excited to hear Brian Housand speak about the two areas that interest me the most in education, Technology and Gifted Education!  To learn more about the conference click here,

I will be presenting three sessions at the conference.

Thursday April 3 8:00-9:30 Working With Gifted Students in the Primary Classroom
Here are the resources I will be sharing!

Thursday April 3 1:00-2:30 Tech Savvy Teaching For All
Here are the resources I will be sharing!

Friday April 4 3:00-4:00 SENG Model Parent Groups Support Parents and Gifted Kids
I am co-presenting this session with Wendy Morical, GT Specialist from Bozeman Schools

In addition to presenting I will be able to attend sessions as well. I am looking forward to going to a session about the workshop model and another about how to get an AGATE mini grant. Brian Housand is holding two breakout sessions that I hope to attend to learn more about using gaming in the classroom as well and new technology resources. I most excited to attend "An Evening with the Experts" on Thursday evening at 7:00. This will be a panel discussion with the National presenters! I am taking questions to ask the experts from parents of gifted students at my school.

I look forward to the AGATE conference every year and this year is no exception!