Any teacher will tell you the school year runs through cycles, much like seasons in a year.  Each year might bring new adventures, but old standards hold true no matter the age of the kids.

I'm pretty sure we've reached the season of Lost Respect.  This lovely time of the year normally arrives after winter break and continues through the cold and desolate month of February.  It is during this time that kids (and teachers) begin to forget about respect.  There's many different facets of respect, but the most important point remains this: respect is crucial for social and emotional learning within a building.

Many of my students are working on understanding exactly what it means to be respectful and identifying times when they are/aren't.  We understand that respect comes in many different forms  but forget how nuanced it can be, which is why I created reminders for students (and adults) to practice respectable behaviors using the strategies below.

I've just put together another poster set for RESPECT.  You can pick up a copy for yourself in my store.  And yes, it is completely free.  Each letter represents a strategy someone can use to show respect.  The seven ways represent each letter in the word (TIL).  Go grab a copy for your classroom or hallway bulletin board.

Grab a FREE copy here:  ALL ABOUT RESPECT

Obligatory Aretha shout-out:


iPad & Mobile Device Classroom Rule Poster Set

I don't know about you, but lately I've seen too many of my students trying to treat my iPads like TV dinner trays.  They've gotten a little too loose with the rules...but it happens because we're over halfway through the year.

To curb these actions I've put together a simple set of classroom rules for my iPads (I know some of you use other devices).  You can grab a free set for yourself in my TPT store.

I kind of felt like I was rewriting the rules for Gizmo.  The last thing we need is more gremlins running around school.

Enjoy the posters.  Grab them HERE.

...and if you want to check out my latest PBL activity that journeys through the rainforest just follow this link:  Discovery in the Rainforest.


Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Today students basked in the glow of augmented reality.
It was amazing!

Augmented reality (AR) apps, as they are known, are have been gaining steam in the classroom and real-world.  AR is when the real-world is supplemented with computer generated objects in real-time, kind of like live special FX.  It's a combo like when you see a KFC-Pizza Hut-Taco Bell of pure heaven.

These AR apps are pretty cool, but they all vary in difficulty level.  I started at the easiest, colAR Mix.  And you should too.

  1. Download colAR Mix.  It is free.  There are extras you can buy, but for this lesson you won't need to.
  2. Go to the colAR Mix website and print out a photo they have.  Most of the photos say FREE and others have prices.  I used a Starbucks photo, because I'm a teacher and I need coffee.  On the coloring sheet they can create their own coffee cup (very cool). side note: I also need students to create new kinds of coffee because I drink so much coffee.
  3. Kids design a coffee cup.  The more color the better.  Have them make it pretty, bright, and everything nice.
  4. Scan the ENTIRE page with the app open.
  5. Sit back and watch the kids go crazy.
I really just needed to get some of my kids writing, so we went with the theme "favorite drink" or "favorite Starbucks drink".  I used this because the coloring page was available and coffee is good fantastic.

We made a live anchor chart with categories for drinks, tastes, feels, and looks.  These can be really tough ideas for my students.  I tend to get a lot of  "good" or "fun" type responses so needed to work on expanding our vocabulary.  One kid said "mouth EXPLOSION!" 


Then we worked on sentence starters, which doesn't seem like a big deal.  But. It. Is.  Complete sentences can be tough.  Each student (this was a mix of 2nd and 3rd graders) had to write 4-5 sentences.  I know, I'm mean.  And would you believe I had kids that didn't want to stop writing?!

The we began designing/creating/coloring our AR pages.

When they were done we had some pretty cool redesigned Starbucks coffee cups.  It was quite the eclectic mix from rockets and orange juice to #swaggyunicorns and rainbows.

Above is a shot from my phone using the colAR app while iPad is too.  So meta.

We also had another third grade class create their cups.  I set a table up outside my room with my iPads and had students coming and going all afternoon checking out the app, looking at their creations, and just going bonkers.

A couple of notes about the app too:  
-You can swipe the cup on the screen and make it move.
-You can turn your paper around and see even more details
-"This is awesome!" will be spoken quite a bit.
-It looks like each image does something unique
-I let the kids teach each other how the app works. 

This is one of my favorites,  reminds me of Starry Night.

I've never heard students so excited about seeing their creation come alive.  The best part was the multiple teachers who stopped and talked with the students.  They then shared all the details and info with the teachers.  Circle of life, teaching style.

If you've thought about giving Augmented Reality a chance in your classroom, this would be the one to try.  It is a perfect starter kit.  It's easy enough for you and the students, plus they'll go home and try it out for themselves.  It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Maybe I should change my name to Digital: Divide and Coffee...

UPDATED:  Since this post the app has changed and is now called QUIVER.


Project Based Learning With A Ski Resort

I love projects. I think they're just wonderful; the depth and complexity, the choose-your-own-adventure feel, the open-ended choices.  Projects are a simple and great way for students to show of their learning.  Even our masters' programs are dripping with projects and presentations.

That's why I've started creating mini-project based learning activities that are filled with math, ELA, social studies, and technology aspects.  These PBL activities allow students to be creative and imaginative (most important factor to me), but also combine multiple areas of academics to complete a project.  My most recent PBL is Build A Ski Resort, seen below.

My favorite aspects of these PBL activities is the chance to individualize the learning for students/classrooms.  Each page can stand alone, or you can bring in outside resources to enhance the learning potential (or your teaching potential).  Since this focuses on skiing and ski resorts you can answer essential questions with movies from you tube.

What is a ski Resort?

What are Logos and why are they important?

Anytime we, as teachers, are assigning projects or activities we need to stoke the flames of students' creativity showing them the endless possibilities.  

Technology integration and access play a crucial role, not so they (students) can just use it--but they can see how others have used it or to gain a little background knowledge.  Hands on projects are the best too, so please don't assume I'm yelling, "All aboard the technology bus!"  There are times and places for each.

This is twofold.  
1. You must give up some of the control and put the learning in your students' hands.
2. You have to allow the students to struggle.  I know, this one is tough--but it is important.  Allow them to collaborate with other students before they run to you.  Remind them it might hurt a little bit, then tell them to collaborate with more students (again). 

If you've never taken the plunge with some project based learning activities I suggest finding one that is right for you and give it a try.  Also, make sure the project time happens in class (so you're a part of it).  If you think a ski resort is right for you--well then, have a blast.


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