Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It - July 20

I'm joining up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics again for Monday Made It!  I actually have 2 this week. I have been in and out of my classroom working on it along with searching ideas on Pinterest... which is very dangerous.

My first Made It was inspired by the metal tray other teachers have been using to keep track of their students' whereabouts. I decided I needed something different and easier to handle. I had already done a lot of hands-on projects and bought a lot of stuff for my room, so I decided to make my own clip chart version!


The students will each have their own clothespin and will move it to the appropriate spot when they leave. I am going to hang it by my door, so in the event of an emergency I can grab it and be able to say exactly where my students should all be.

You can check this out at my TPT store where it is marked down for today only, just for Monday Made It! :D

This was my other Pinterest inspired craft. I have the old plastic drawers in my classroom and I was really tired of the way they were looking. I really don't have the money to go and buy new ones. I was debating what to do with them (including to just bring them home and put them in the garage for the time being) when I saw this amazing teacher on Pinterest who was going spray painting crazy in her room! I was so excited!

I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased spray paint:

Here are my ugly drawers before:

Then here is the awesome new set of drawers!  It took 2 coats to really make sure it covered it and any blemishes, but now it looks new and is colorful!

I was so excited by this that I went and bought my spray paint (using my 40% coupon) and I continued to paint! More pictures to come!

I'm returning to school again today so I will keep sharing the progress of my classroom and any projects I complete. :)

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Made It - June 29th

I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics and joining in with her Monday Made It! 
My goal is to keep up with this every week, keep your fingers crossed for me.
I only have one "Made It" for today and that is a Novel Unit that my 4th grade team and I created together. Our school is fortunate enough to be 1:1 with laptops now, so we wanted to cut down on the paper and copies. We created this in Google Docs. The goal is to have everything in one document so that it is easy to check in and you do not have a lot of files floating around. This could be printed out if you would like to do that.

Even though the document says for a 4th/5th grade class, this would be easy to adapt for any grade level.

The file is a View Only, but you can make a copy to save as your own and edit as you please.
The BFG Novel Unit
I would LOVE any constructive feedback from this as I am working on novels for other books. Please be sure to follow my blog to continue getting updated on EdTech and using technology in your classroom.

Thank you for coming by!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

ISTE 2015

ISTE 2015 is taking place right now in Philadelphia, PA. Sadly... I am still here in California. One day I will attend ISTE. My favorite thing about conferences is my name badge... geeky right? :) I just love it along with the ribbons you can attach! Thankfully there is a #NotAtISTE15 name badge! Go to the Google Plus community Not At ..... EdTech Conference and you will be able to create your own!

What is ISTE?
ISTE is the largest EdTech conference in the nation.There are people from all over sharing ideas and tech for you to use and share with everyone. It's like the best PD session ever!
I hadn't heard of ISTE until I attended the CUE conference last year. CUE is an ISTE affiliate.
Learn more about ISTE at their website.

Not at ISTE? Here's how you can keep up.
On Twitter follow the hashtags #ISTE15, #ISTE2015, and #NotAtISTE15
I highly recommend using an app for Google Chrome like Tweetdeck. This way you will be able to add columns and following the hashtags easily.
Another way is to follow me on Twitter @CampsCrusaders, and I will be sharing from educators who are tweeting using the above hashtags as well. Over at The Edublogger they have listed more ways to stay involved with ISTE.

Not at ISTE? You can still have fun as if you were!
Join the Google Plus community Not At ..... EdTech Conference. Here you will find a way to connect with other educators who are not at the EdTech conference. There are fun challenges and other ways to collaborate!
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Exciting School Finds at Target

Yesterday, I went shopping for groceries at Target and just happened to stop by the Dollar Spot because it looked well stocked. I was so excited at what I found! My head is reeling over what I can do with all of these, thankfully I've found several great suggestions on Pinterest. I know many of your are groaning that I'm already thinking about school considering some of you just got out or in the middle of your time off... but I can't help it! I'm always thinking about school.

 I just LOVED these signs! I'm planning to hang them up in the front of my room.

They had awesome chalkboard and dry erase labels! Now, to be perfectly honest... I don't know EXACTLY what I'm going to do, but I just HAD to get them. Anyone else feel that way about things for school? :) 

The "Create, Inspirate, Learn" border I want to put around my writing center wall or maybe a wall for Genius Hour. 

I'm going to use the dialogue bubbles with the pictures I take of the kids on the first day of school. I'm thinking about having the kids write what they're most excited about it in, or a meaningful quote on the bubbles.
Check out my Classroom Organization/Decor board on Pinterest for more ideas on how to use these exciting finds.
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Open House

Every year in May my district has Open House. This is basically a showcase of student work in our classrooms. My students had a lot to show off this year, especially with technology! 
Here are some pictures from my classroom:

Overview of my classroom.

Showing off tech projects: There were 6 laptops lined up here so the students could show their parents their Minecraft projects (MinecraftEDU in the Classroomand then we had a few other laptops so the parents could see the Guardians of Time website the students helped build (Guardians of Time Project Part 2)

Several mornings a week the students would come in and have a writing prompt or picture posted on the board. Each of them had created their own Google Slides presentation to write in. I had my students choose their favorite morning writing, edit it, and then illustrate a picture of it to showcase on the board.

This is a fun project where the students get to create their own amusement park. The students get to sketch it out and find the ordered pairs of their attractions on graph paper. Then the students have to write a descriptive paper talking about their park, from the sights and smells all the way to descriptions of the attractions. If you would like to check out more details, you can download all the directions here.

I was a little nervous about this craft because there were so many pieces to it, but my kids LOVED it! This really helped them understand photosynthesis. You can check out the craft here.

My students also did a craft to learn about plant and animal cells. It was very detailed. This craftivity was made by Runde's Room and you can get it here.

I LOVE this wall! My kids had so much fun doing our Science Vocab Wall. You can find the freebie from The Science Penguin here. Instead of having it just a picture, I had my kids draw a line towards the bottom and writing what the words means as well.

The One and Only Ivan extension activity that I discussed here. My students had to take a stance on animals being held in captivity. Their response was amazing.

I really enjoy when the students get into a book and start relating to the characters. This is our Character Trait Stick Quilt. The students were given eight craft sticks and had to use four sticks to write four quotes and/or character traits from the book, and then do three sticks with symbols or illustrations that would represent that character and then the last stick was for the character's name.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

MinecraftEDU in the Classroom

Did you know that you can use Minecraft for educational purposes? I found this out last year at the CUE 2014 conference. I was so excited to use it.

This past year at the CUE 2015 conference I was fortunate enough to attend another session by John Miller ( He shared a wonderful Japanese poetry project he did using Minecraft. The final product was the students created a Japanese tea garden set to music and lead you on this journey through their poem. There were different sound effects and actions that would happen when you would crossover the action blocks, the poem would even be read to you. I was blown away and that was when I got even more excited for using Minecraft with my kids.

We really used Minecraft this year by incorporating it with our Guardians of Time project. The students had to work with their teams and create a time period appropriate headquarters for their superheroes to live in. After that was completed, their next task was to reconstruct the first setting of their main event from their mission assignment. 

This proved a bit more challenging and I had to guide them a bit more than normal so they knew what I was expecting.  I gave them all Information blocks, which is special to the EDU version, and the students had to strategically place these blocks around their setting and explain what was so important about this piece. 

This was the part they struggled on because they were not sure why certain things were important to, let's say, the Gettysburg address. I spoke with the group about that and finally asked them specific questions like, "Why was it held in that cemetery? Why should we care it was held there? What was the big deal about his speech? How did this speech affect hisory?" After doing this with several groups they started to get the idea.

I was speechless at the outcome. You know, you always worry about the fun activities and that the kids aren't taking much away from it. I really expected the parents to come to Open House and question me on the kids JUST playing Minecraft... but I had a much different repsonse.

The parents were blown away at what their kids were learning with this and the details they were sharing about their specific events. When my principal came in with a board member, one of my students explained, in detail, about where Christopher Columbus set sail from, why it was important, the name of the dock and much more. I was blown out of the water!

I had my kids do screencasts of their projects and you can find them below. It was our first attempt at a screencast, so the volume is a bit low because the kids still felt the need to speak in a soft voice even though they were told to speak normally.


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Friday, June 12, 2015

Year End Student Survey

This school year has just flown by, I cannot believe it. As always though I look back at the year and am bummed I did not get to everything I wanted to do this year, so many projects were not touched and books not read... but this is normal for any teacher. There never seems to be enough time to complete everything you have envisioned.

At the end of the school year, I gave my kids an exit survey and asked their feedback on procedures, projects, and activities we did during the year. I made sure to make the questions all required through Google Forms so that they could not skip through it. I also had kids rank activities and procedures on a scale of 1-4 (4 being Awesome!)
I read carefully over all of their thoughts and notes they left for me and highlighted ones I wanted to look into more. It was so helpful to get their feedback. I told them to be honest, but if they did or did not like something they had to tell me why and to be descriptive in their answer.

I was so happy to receive great feedback!

Here are the results:
Favorite Activity - Minecraft (of course)
     Runner Up - Art activities that went with our core subjects
Least Favorite - Novel Unit writing along with any other type of writing text dependent answers (no         surprise there) My kids said they were not as exciting as our other activities... now to figure out           how to make it more exciting. :)
Top Awesome Activities/Procedures-   
        *Makerspace - This area consisted of Legos, K'Nex sets, Play-Doh, 3Doodler pens, and more!                                      The kids were given free time to go back and build!

         *Minecraft - A post is coming up on this. :) 

        *Guardians of Time project - See these two posts for a description: Part 1, Part 2

        *Art Boxes - Students shared these art boxes which held art supplies. It worked really well for     my class! Students were given the opportunity to sign up and be responsible for these art boxes. I had to have them sign up so I could track who was responsible. I only had half a class set so when it was time to use them the people who had art boxes had to work with a partner who did not have one. Art supplies were kept in a medium pencil box and all the boxes were numbered. Supplies inside the box such as crayons, colored pencils, and markers, were neatly held together with a rubber band. This worked very well and I was able to hold kids accountable for anything broken or missing.

But... here are my favorite notes at the end of the survey when I asked for additional comments:

"No, this was my favorite school year that I have had so far. "

"I love this class and I hope I am in it again. You are the best teacher ever and I hope you have a great summer!"

"This school year was the best school year out of all the other grades and I would really love to be in your class again if you do have a 5th-6th combo again."

"The thing that I would want to tell you is that you were the best teacher I had ever had, and it's not just about the Minecraft, but you ar fun because we can do lots of things, and write stories, dialogues ,projects, and other fun stuff.I really want to be in your class next year because I know that it will be fun with you,I also think that I will be able to finish more of the work than I had this year."

"Everything about this past school year was great because we had a great teacher who gave us fun project that we could do and if you didn't turn something in on time she might even give you some more time if you behave. I have loved everything about this school year it has been the best yet and all of my classmates are helpful care for everyone in the class. The nice thing about having classmates like this is they will help you with any problem you face."

This... these comments... are what matter... they learned something, they're taking away life lessons and problem-solving skills... they learned to work with each other in a group setting, to have compassion and have empathy. My favorite is where the last student above talks about the classroom atmosphere. I work very hard at the beginning to make my class a safe place where students feel safe to fail and ask for help... that statement... lets me know I did my job... These things are things that a standardized test will never show. I am happy to know that my students have built amazing memories in my class and will carry them with them. :)

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Student Tech Team

For the past several years, before 1:1, my school has had a student tech team. We have learned a lot about managing it throughout the years, although we still have a lot more to learn. 
In my school, I am one of two tech teachers who helps the other teachers out before we have to call out IT. We do our best to take care of little problems, but were having troubles getting to everything so we call in the student Tech Team.

Every year I hold a meeting for those interested in Tech Team and a lot of kids sign up, but only a handful remain steady. We train these kids in phases.

**Note: Our school is now 1:1 with Acer laptops running the Ubermix. The students have their own WiFi network that is separate from the staff network.**

This year we started just going over the basics: how to connect to the internet, how to troubleshoot a connection or a basic computer error.  Once they conquered those we moved on to more difficult tasks such as reimaging a laptop (our student laptops run the Ubermix so reimaging restores original settings), troubleshooting printer errors, and even checking networking errors.  My students blow me away with how quickly they catch on and how they're always eager to learn more.

With the school year ending, now when I receive an email request for help I can quickly go over what I want my students to check and look for and they can troubleshoot it before I have to! This has made the turn around time on tech help requests so much faster!

Here are some of the crazy things my students have done this year with Tech Team:

1. At the beginning of the year, one of my 4th grade teachers was having networking issues and her student laptops would just not hold a connection. Two team members went to her room, troubleshooted all of the connections and then found the issue was with the router placement in the room (they knew this just from hearing me talk about it in class from a conference I went to). My girls then disconnected the router, placed it elsewhere in the room, reconnected all the laptops (including the teacher) and the network was up and running again!

2. I received an email about a teacher having an issue with the sound on the projector. I showed my Tech Team member what cords to look for, what buttons to check, and how to check the sound output and then I sent her to the other teacher. My student came back with notes to report what all she checked and the cords that were or were not connected. IT was contacted to check on it further for the missing cords, but the problem was solved within 10 minutes of my Tech Team member going over there.

Tech Team doesn't only troubleshoot and help with problems, they also teach classes!

Currently, two of my girls are working with a 2nd grade class and teaching them how to use their laptops. They have taken the kids through Google Docs, Slides, and Drawing as well as Edmodo and Moby Max. Those little 2nd graders are flying through their technology lessons!

Moral of this story: Do not be afraid to turn over power to your students! I have been amazed at the growth of my Tech Team members. They are starting to learn things on their own because they want to understand more of what is going on with the technology.
Does your school have any type of technology team set up?
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

"The One and Only Ivan" Extension Activity.

My class has been reading "The One and Only Ivan" which is about a gorilla and elephant who are in a circus. It told from Ivan's point of view, so the students understand his thoughts on things and how they're treated in the circus. 

This book led to a discussion about animals in captivity. Even though it would be very easy for me to tell them my thoughts and try to get them to understand my side of things, that's not the job of a teacher. My job is to get them to think for themselves and do their own research, which is exactly what I did. 

They had to write a research paper on whether or not they agree with animals being held in captivity, which included circuses, fairs, and amusement parks. I allowed them to research articles on their own, we discussed biased and unbiased sources. They then had to create a picture of their campaign. I'll let you figure out their stance based on their pictures below. (By the way, the class was unanimous in their opinion)

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Guardians of Time Project Part 2

I started this project before Spring Break, so over Spring Break my students had the 'homework' to write their superhero origin stories and draw a picture of their superhero. I was shocked when 80% of them came back ready to go!

I wanted this project to be published somewhere and an easy place for my students to work collaboratively with each other. I decided to create a Google Site for the students to publish their work on.  My students were very excited about being published on a website.

Google Sites and Google Docs work VERY well together.

I started with a basic site. My students helped me brainstorm ideas for our agency name that all their heroes would work under and the name of the project itself. I told them that this was my first time doing this project and wanted it to be a collaborative effort amongst all of us.

Once we decided on the project name, Guardians of Time, and our agency name, H.E.R.O.E.S., my wonderfully talented brother-in-law created our graphic for our agency. I posted this to the site to make it feel 'professional' for the students. They got the biggest kick out of it. 

After creating a page for the superhero origin stories, I knew I would have difficulty keeping up with the site itself with adding links and documents. In their superhero teams, each team selected a leader and this leader was in charge of keeping their web page updated. Crowdsourcing at it's finest. :)

The team leader updated their team mission page, journal page, and their interactive story page (which I'll get to later).  Below are some screen shots to the webpage and a link. I am not sure how much you will be able to see at the link because my district has a closed server through Google. 

Here's the full site picture. 

Here's the menu side bar with the different parts of our site. 

If you have any questions feel free to comment or post on my Facebook page. 

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Guardians of Time Project Part 1

When I attended CUE 2015, I went to the most amazing session. It was actually the very first session of my entire weekend! The smile on my face and my bright eyes said it all. One of my friends looked at me and said "You're done aren't you Sarah?" I just smiled and nodded, "Yep!"

I went to a session called "Steamy to the Core" and Mr. Jeff Brain was the presenter. In his middle school class they created superheroes who traveled through history to protect it from evil villains. They took pictures and created comic books. It blew me out of the water. You can see his presentation here:

My brain started reeling with all the ideas and information. Then I figured out how to use it in my 4/5 class!  

This post is first in a series, so I don't overload you with information.

First step was to get my kids on board, which actually took no time at all. Once I mentioned they were going to create their own superheroes they were sold.

My students had to create a 100% original superhero. I used articles from Superhero Nation. I actually posted the articles in Google Docs and shared them with my students. I credited the site but did have to edit a few things and warned my students that some comics use inappropriate language so if they explore the site on their own they need to have a parent with them.

I shared the following articles with my students which was a great jumping off point:
"How to Write Origin Stories"
"List of Superpowers"

I had them choose just two superpowers to keep it simple. After they read about origin stories, we then brainstormed as a class the important things they should include.  Here's our graphic organizer:

My students then started on their origin story. Along with that, I had them draw a picture of their superhero both as a super and as a 'normal'. 

My next post will focus on student teaming up for their history mission. :) 
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation week. Have you thanked a teacher?  

I have seen several Facebook posts on great teacher gifts and others asking teachers what their best gift has been.  Mine is simple.

As a teacher all I really want is a 'Thank you' from parents. That's it. It could be in the form of a card or just verbally, just a simple, heartfelt 'Thank you'. 

I put a lot of extra time into my lessons and projects to make sure learning is fun for your students and is keeping them engaged (like the majority of other teachers do). I spend countless hours researching, planning, preparing, and finding the most exciting way to teach something like fractions or writing. I love what I do with all my heart and it shows in my classroom.

I'm not looking for an expensive or elaborate thank you gifts.  I knew coming into this that my thank you's would be seeing your child's eyes light up when they finally understand a concept or hearing how excited they are to be coming to school. It's wonderful when students tell me how excited they are to come to school or that they are excited about a project or subject we are working on. Those are the types of things that money can't buy and nothing can replace, but parent thank you's are huge.

The most wonderful gifts I have received this year have come from parents. The first was after second quarter report cards. You always dread when the "Note Enclosed" box is checked. I saw this and panicked trying to figure out what could have happened or what questions the parents could have. I opened up the report card envelope and it was a note from my student's mom thanking me for all my time, effort, and communication I have had with her and how I've helped her son. I was touched.

The other was an email from another parent thanking me for looking out for his student and being there when the student needed me. I told him I care about his student as my own and that I would always be there for his student. The wonderful words just kept flowing in the email telling me how his child loved coming to school and the impact I've had in his child's life. I sat at my computer screen crying. It took me a bit to take in and finally reply back.

If you're wondering what to get your child's teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week, thank them for all they do for your child. :)

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Back and Ready To Go!

Hi everyone! I deeply apologize for my long absence. I had several family matters come up including the passing of my brother and then my eight-year-old niece being hospitalized for several months with the flu.
I am back though and ready to keep this going! I hope you all are ready to go for a ride because I have A LOT to catch you up on from this year!
To help keep everyone up to date I have a Facebook page for my blog and TPT store. Please stop by and give it a like:

Shutters & Scribbles Facebook Page

I just updated my TPT store with some new products. Since my class is 1:1 and we are a GAFE district, I created Google Doc novel units. What that means more paper packets! I was so excited when I put these together and it has saved me so much time. In the documents, I created a Table of Contents with links so it will take you directly to certain pages. No more flipping or scrolling looking for the right page.

TPT is having sitewide Teacher Appreciation Sale May 5th through 6th and my store will be included in the sale. Be sure you stop by and check it out!

Shutters & Scribbles TPT Store

Watch for more exciting posts coming up from me. I'll try not to overload the blog, but I have a lot to share!
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