Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Google Classroom Updates

Google Classroom is a tool that the Jr./Sr. High School teachers use on a regular basis with students. This year there have been several updates that have changed the look of Google Classroom and also made it more efficient for students.  These updates align Google Classroom with many of the other online learning management systems that students may encounter, especially in college courses.  

The blog post "9 Updates for Google Classroom (and 3 more to come)" goes into great detail about each of these updates.  I have also put this information into a Slides presentation for a simplified view.

One important note for teachers: One of the new features of the "Classwork" page is that when you post an assignment, a notification also shows up on the stream.  This is a great way to notify the students of a new assignment since it is not on the first page they see when they open the class. However, some of us may find this to look cluttered and want to delete those notifications on the stream.  DO NOT DELETE THEM! If you delete the notification from the stream, it will delete the assignment from the classwork page as well.  I don't want you to learn this the hard way like I did! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Blogging in the Classroom

I chose to research and implement blogging in my classroom as my personalized professional development for this year. My goal was to use technology to show student learning. As I researched I found several blogging apps that I could use, but after collaborating with my technology integrationist, Megan Birchette, I chose to set up a daily blog theme where each day was connected to their independent reading book using Google Classroom.
The blogs were designed with a daily theme. Monday was titled My Job Monday. The task was for the students to blog about what they read throughout the week from their chosen book in a summary form. Tuesday was titled Talk About It Tuesday. This task was for the students to read the summaries written by their classmates and comment on at least two blog entries. Wednesday was Word Study Wednesday. For this blog students were provided a form in which they had to choose two unfamiliar or new vocabulary words that they encountered in their reading for this week and complete the form. Thursday was titled Think About It Thursday. On this blog I would post a question that would correspond to the weeks mini lessons and the students would have to apply what they learned to their independent reading book. On Friday I would post a reflection question from the week for students to answer. The blogs were posted at the same time every day and were used as a bell ringer activity in a split class schedule. Students quickly caught on to the routine and were consistent in completing their blog on a daily basis.
The advantages of blogging in the classroom that I encountered were the peer review component, looking at their reading/writing with a different perspective,and the opportunity to reflect on the weeks lessons and apply them to their chosen literature. I felt that the blogging was well received by the students and proved to have some educational value. I will continue the daily blogging in the fall with some adjustments to give students more opportunities to continue the conversations with their peers on their chosen books. Overall, I am looking forward to next year's personalized professional development opportunities and trying another new strategy or tool to increase student learning in my classroom.

Below is the link to personalized professional development presentation. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at shelley.mitzelfelt@se-warren.k12.ia.us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May Tech Tip - Google Sites Update

As we prepare to wrap up the school year, I wanted to post about the new Google Sites for those who have not transitioned to it yet. The old version will be phased out eventually, although there is no official date as of yet. The new version has been out for two years, so it is likely it will be soon.

There are a lot of resources available to help you make the transition the new sites. You cannot convert the classic to the new one, however the new one is very user friendly. If you are interested in looking at some examples, several of the Jr./Sr. High teachers are using the new sites. This video is a short overview (not a tutorial) if you want to know more. Also, I created a tutorial for the 7th graders on how to set up their Google Sites for a project. Some of the details will be different, but this video will give you an overview of how to get started on setting up your new site.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Using Class DoJo for Classroom Management

Class DoJo is an easy to use and easy to set up online classroom management system.  It provides a fun way to motivate positive student behavior, keeps track of data that can be shared with parents, and doesn't require a great deal of teacher time or effort to implement. 
Image result for class dojo image

1. Setting up Class DoJo
Class DoJo is simple to set up. You first create your class and assign each student an avatar. (which they think is so cool) Then, as a teacher, you have the ability to set up each category for which points will be awarded. (homework, behavior, organization, listening, etc) When students are awarded a point, a "chime" sounds over the speakers for everyone to hear. They love this feature too! You also have the ability to deduct points or assign "negative" points as well. Teachers can also decide how points will be used once a student begins to accumulate points in their bank. Some popular incentives have included free time, prize box treats or free homework passes.

2. Data/Communication 
One of my favorite features of DoJo is the way in which it makes communicating with parents so easy and time saving. Once parents are connected on DoJo to their student (through email invitation) they can view their child's point bank, and access daily or weekly reports that show their students behavior/ homework being turned in, etc. This eliminates the need for daily emails or notes home for some students who are being more closely  monitored.

3. Time Saver
In my experiences using DoJo, and in speaking with other teachers who have used it in their classrooms, the amount of times it saves and the great line of communication that it provides from teacher to parent each day makes this an excellent tool!

Friday, April 27, 2018

April Tech Tip - Memes in the classroom

Memes in the Classroom

Memes (pronounced meemz) are an image with a brief, bold caption overlaid on the image. They are incredibly popular on social media these days. Our students, especially at the secondary level, are likely looking at and sharing several memes each day.  I myself see them everywhere, and one day when I was on Pinterest, I saw a post about using them in the classroom to share classroom rules.  I did some digging and found several that I put together in a Google Slides presentation.  I use this at the beginning of each course to go over classroom rules and expectations with my students in a fun, engaging manner.
I use this one to discuss the materials
they are expected to bring to class.

This one is a favorite of mine, but the
kids are usually too young to get it!

They were a huge hit, which made me wonder how else they could be used in the classroom.

Here are my favorites takeaways from the ISTE blog post 5 ways to use memes with students:

1. Thinking Prompt/Ice Breaker: You could project a meme (related to something you will be learning about or discussing) as the students walk into the classroom.  They could write about it or discuss it with their classmates.

2. Creating Memes: Student can use a meme-creation tool online to make an original meme.  Miss Sealock has her English 12 students create their own memes as a project in class.  In the ISTE blog post, the author go in depth about this specific activity and how she used it in her math class.

3. Vocabulary: Students to create a meme to define a new vocabulary term.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Shane Rowlands - Personalized PD Level 5 share out

For my personalized professional development, I wanted to find a way to incorporate technology as an assessment tool.  Thanks to the assistance of our Technology Instructional Coach at Southeast Warren, I was guided towards information and research that would help me reach that goal by having the students create web pages summarizing the first five chapters of their textbook on google sites.  Additionally, Mrs. Birchette also instructed my students on how to create and share their webpages with me, as my technology aptitude is quite low.
The implementation process worked quite smoothly on the technology end, as Mrs. Birchette was quite effective at getting the students to understand the setup process of google sites.  Any glitches that occurred in the implementation process occurred on my end due to not providing a more clear edict to the students in regards to how they needed to show their understanding of the subject matter and how to display that information on their webpages.
In reflection, I feel that I greatly benefited from this collaboration with Mrs. Birchette, and my students definitely benefited from the experience of doing this project.  I look forward to seeing how the students improve upon their end of year test being able to use their webpages as notecards to truly see the benefits compared to last year. I also think that this will be a good experience for the students next year, as the webpage can continue to grow and expand as their learning increases.  The final change I will make next year is having Mrs. Birchette teach the students to do this at the very beginning of the semester so the students can expand their webpage each chapter. Overall I think this was a very beneficial experience for me as an educator and for the 7th grade students to learn at Southeast Warren.  I’m also quite hopeful that these students choose to use google sites on their own to help organize their learning in other classes.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

SeeSaw in the Elementary Classroom

SeeSaw in the Elementary Classroom 

SeeSaw is an online learning journal that can be used for all ages of students, PreK-12th Grade. SeeSaw can be used as a resource for collecting and organizing student records in a digital way and can also be used to provide interactive and engaging learning opportunities for students. One of the most beneficial features of SeeSaw is the communication it provides between teachers/students and parents enabling student work and learning experiences to be showcased in a digital archive.  

For Students-
Students can share what they know and what they're learning through videos, photos, drawings, texts or links. This can be shared privately with their teachers, shared with parents, or shared collaboratively with others students.  

For Teachers: 
Teachers can review and grade student work and upload new assignments through SeeSaw. This also provides a great resource for documenting student work over the course of the school year. 

For Parents:
SeeSaw creates a triangle of communication between parent, teacher and student. It allows parents to see inside the classroom and be more actively engaged in their child's learning experiences. It provides an avenue for effective communication online in a safe and confidential way. 


Third Graders had fun participating in one of their many STEM Challenge Days in March. STEM Challenges incorporate the use of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into lessons and activities to promote problem solving. It also provides hands-on learning opportunities for students and encourages the use of critical thinking skills and application. These challenges allows students to become creators, inventors and problem solvers in a fun and active learning experience. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Quick Response

 Watch my latest video and send me a response! Happy Spring everyone!

Friday, March 9, 2018

March Tech Tip

Video tutorials & instructions:

This month I wanted to share an idea about how you could use videos in the classroom. Many of us have used videos created by other to teach or share content with our students.  We have also had students use video to create projects and presentations.

Another way to use video in the classroom is to create your own videos for tutorials and instructions.  I have used this a few times recently in my own classroom, and it has helped me because I don’t have to explain something multiple times to students, especially those who are absent.

Example #1:
Students were working on formatting a Works Cited page, including a hanging indent. Usually this is something I have to show them and explain several times.  This year I created a short video using Screencastify that walked the students through the formatting process so they could watch it whenever they got to the point of formatting.  

Example #2:
Students in Mrs. Cooper’s social studies class were creating quizzes on Google Forms. Several of them were unsure how to turn the form into a quiz. I created this short video to walk them through the process. Mrs. Cooper was able to put the video on Google Classroom so the students interested could watch it and learn how to create the quiz.

Example #3:
Ms. Sealock has her students create videos over Greek gods and goddesses.  This year she is going to record a video that walks students through the assignment expectations and rubric.  This will allows students to watch the video if they can’t remember something about the specific expectations.  It will also be helpful for any students who are absent.

These are just a few examples of videos you could create for your students. If you have any questions or would like help making a video, please let me know!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

February Tech Tip - Unsplash Photos

Unsplash Photos Add-on

Unsplash Photos is a website that has “creative commons” images, which means they are free for anyone to use - no copyright issues.  I know that many of our students are used to just using Google Images when they need an image for an assignment, however, when they do this they are most often taking copyright laws into consideration.  Unsplash (along with other sites) offers image that are free for anyone to use.

Unsplash Photos are not the standard clipart style photos or stock google images we are used to seeing. These are much more creative images from photographers around the world.  

This is an example of an image from Unsplash. 
Easily Accessible:

The Unsplash Add-On is a great tool that allows students (and teachers) to add images quickly and easily into their powerpoint presentation as well as ensure that they are no copyright violations.  

This video will how you how to get the add-on within your Google Drive and what it looks like once you have added the add-on.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Learning to Code in the Elementary!

Coding is a fun and interactive way to teach kids the basic concepts behind computer programming. There are numerous apps, websites and types of software that students can engage in to learn some of these early and simple skills behind programming. In the month of January, all Kindergarten through 6th grade classes began their first coding lessons using a website called Code.org. This website exposes students to problem solving and computational-thinking throughout each scaffolding lesson. The students greatly enjoyed these first coding lessons and are looking forward to incorporating more coding into their future instruction.

A couple of other great coding resources are included below.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Breakout EDU

Breakout EDU

A Breakout EDU is similar an escape room.  Participants use clues to solve puzzles and “breakout” of the situation they have been given.  The goal of a Breakout EDU is to have student gain content knowledge through student-led exploration, problem-solving and teamwork.

Through the past two years, I have been hearing a lot about Breakout EDU. However, I didn’t really understand what it was until I was able to participate in an actual Breakout EDU.

Due to this experience, Shelley (our instructional coach) and I developed a Christmas themed digital Breakout to introduce Breakout EDUs to our staff. This Christmas Breakout didn’t focus on the teachers learning new content, but instead exploring how a Breakout is set up. Feel free to click on the link and explore this breakout.

A screenshot of our Christmas Breakout EDU
Since this experience with a digital Breakout EDU, several teachers have begun to explore them even more.  If you are interested in using a Breakout EDU in your classroom, there are several different options for both the physical Breakout as well as the digital ones. You can build your own activity or you can use/modify one that has already been created.

Here are a few resources:

Pinterest - This is where I have found the majority of the Breakouts I have explored.  Some of them are on teachers pay teachers and there is a cost, but there are also free ones available as well.

Breakout EDU - This link will show you how to sign up for free access to several Breakout EDUs (physical ones, which require a kit)

TEMPLATE - This site provide a template if you are interested in creating your own digital Breakout EDU.

Teachers - There are several teachers at the Jr./Sr. High Staff who have either created, played or used Breakouts in their classrooms this school year (or they are about to).  Please feel free to contact myself, Mrs. Mitzelfelt or Mrs. Cooper if you have any questions about Breakout EDU.

Breakout EDU at SEW:

Mrs. Cooper's Jr. High TAG students recently completed a Minecraft themed breakout called "Back to Reality." It was great to watch them work together as a team to problem-solve and figure out the clues to breakout!

This group was able to break out the fastest!

Working hard to figure out the clues.
I recently had my English 9 students complete a digital breakout entitled "Escape from Plot Mountain," and they really enjoyed it.  

This group was the first to Breakout.  Their excellent communication and teamwork definitely helped them to succeed in this challenge.

This is a screenshot of a poll I gave to my students after they completed the Breakout.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

MakerSpace Demo Day in the Primary Building

In December, Jeff Glade (Technology Integrationist from Heartland AEA) came to demonstrate different MakerSpace and STEM resources that can be used and incorporated into Science, Technology and Math instruction.  The students and teachers had the opportunity to learn about and try out Ozobots, Osmos, Spheros, SnapCircuits and more! It was so much fun finding out more about these resources, and we are looking forward to having more MakerSpace items available to our classrooms in the future!