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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