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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