Friday, August 14, 2015

Flexible Seating for a New Year

After using i Pads with my third graders last year, I noticed something very interesting.

They NEVER sat at their desks!

Generally the desks were just a place for storing items.  When my students used their i Pads alone, they liked to sit in a quiet space to listen or record.  This usually meant they were on the floor.  When they worked in partners or groups collaboratively they either sat at a table around the room or also on the floor.


This year I decided to remedy this situation!  I starting collecting tables last year, and I ordered one this year to round out my collection.  I currently have a trapezoid table, a circular table, two rectangle tables, and a group of desks.  Each child has a place to sit, but the seating is flexible so students can move around to different tables as needed.  To start the year next week, I will be using these "Name Tents" I created!

Each child will have a name tent at their place to start the year.  As the year progresses I hope that they will be able to sit in different spots depending on the work that is being done.  Many of my students like to take assessments or work on their assignments in different places, and I think that this only helps to differentiate!  Even now as I type I am sitting on my couch and not at a desk.

I will be posting more pictures of my set up and organization of materials next week!

How do you organize your room?  Click on the link from for more ideas!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What to do with all of those Anchor Charts!

Now that we have been using our I pads consistently for a while, we have settled into a routine.  One routine that has become extremely helpful for the classroom is taking pictures of our anchor charts!

Anchor charts had become overwhelming wallpaper before the I pads came.  The students loved them and used them, but they were taking up way too much space!

Now every time we make a great anchor chart for a lesson, it goes into an album in our photos.  This is the anchor chart we made for Capacity.

To create an album, click on the Photos app.  Then click on the word Album in blue
at the bottom.

Next, click on the plus sign at the top and add an album.  We have albums for Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science.

To insert a photo into an album, open the Photo app, click Select at the top right corner.  Then click on a photo.  You can then click Add To at the top to add it to any album you want!

My students use their anchor charts all of the time for reference now.  They also use them to create amazing Educreations videos!  More on this soon!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tiny Pdf App for Annotating Text

My lovely coworker found this amazing app for annotating, and I have to share!

Tiny pdf is a FREE app that allows students to annotate pdfs. 

My students are all logged into one Dropbox account at the same time on their Ipads.  This way, they can all see what I share with them, such as a pdf!  Tiny pdf allows you to connect a Dropbox so that any pdf in a Dropbox folder will appear in the app.

This week, we started reading a Science A-Z book in tiny pdf so that we could use our think marks to annotate.  First, we opened tiny pdf.  Then we connected our Dropbox account by following the prompts and logging in using our classroom email and password. Each student had to type in the email and password, but it did not take too long!  Once students are logged in, just like in Dropbox, they stay logged in.  No need to ever log in again!  As you can see, it is also possible to upload a Google Drive account as well.

After our folders appeared, we opened the Science A-Z book in the app and wrote on it!  The app saves documents that are being annotated, so my students can go back and add more notes and think marks while they read.  They absolutely LOVED it, and their comprehension sky-rocketed after reading just one section.  We had a great discussion, and they cannot wait to keep reading and annotating more in all subjects!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


This week my third graders have improved their comprehension during read aloud and reading mini lessons by using TodaysMeet!

This website has many uses, but I have been using it for a backchannel while reading aloud.  The backchannel is the conversation that goes on alongside the primary activity, presentation, or discussion.  This allows for students to show their thinking while I am reading, and it does not interrupt the flow of the reading or the lesson!

This is a snapshot of one of our conversations this week while reading "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe."
We were practicing using "Think Marks" to enhance our reading comprehension.  For example, the question mark means that student is confused.  A star means that student thinks that part is important.  The conversation that arose online while I was reading was amazing!  They really had to listen and comprehend in order to respond online.

To set up a room, go to
 Pick a name for  your room, and decide how long you want to keep the room open.  I choose one month for my reading room.  Then Open your room!
Once your room is Open, if you look at the website, your room has a unique website so that you and your students can access the room.  I created a room named Blog, and this is the website for that room.  I add the websites for my rooms on our classroom page!  This way the students can get to the room quickly.
Finally, each student goes to the website on their Ipad and types in a name to join!  I have my students use their first names only.

I am planning on using TodaysMeet for other lessons, but for the past month it has been an amazing tool to increase reading comprehension.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Annotating in Skitch

This week we read a fable and annotated it in one of our favorite apps, Skitch!  We have been working on close reading and using think marks to annotate.  This of course is possible with paper, but using Skitch has made annotating a really fun process!
In Skitch, you can write and type over pictures!  It is perfect for annotating on the ipad, as well as other activities.  To annotate pdf files it costs extra, but to write on a jpg or png picture file, it is free!

To do this, I first scanned the pages I wanted and downloaded them to my own ipad.  Then I took a screen shot of each page.  This created a picture file that I could write on in Skitch!

I downloaded these pictures to the classroom Dropbox account so that all of my students could see the pictures.  Each page is separate, but since my students are working on close reading, they only really need one page at a time!  To open a page in Skitch from Dropbox to annotate, click the blue box on the right at the top of the picture.  Then click "Open in."
Next click on the Skitch icon for "Open in Skitch."
Then the document is open in Skitch so that your students can write on it!
The pen on the right allows students to choose whether they want to write or type.  The color on the left allows students to choose color as well as thickness of line.  While there is not as much room to write answers to questions, there is plenty of room for annotating!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ipads Are Awesome, but So Are Paper Spelling Games!

 Last week my students learned how to use Spelling City to practice their spelling words!  To create an account it is free!  I type in their spelling lists each week.  I have three levels, and three lists.  Then in their app they can search for my name to find their list.  Once they search for my name once, it saves on their ipad, and they can play games to practice their words any time.  The free app works best on the ipad since there is no flash player for the regular website.

They also love paper spelling games!  Here is our spelling game for the: or, ore, our, oar, ar vowel variant pattern.  Just click on the image to download for FREE!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

IBooks for Read To Self

My last post explained how I use Dropbox to share documents and books with my students.  This week I took this a step further!

IBooks has some amazing features for "Read to Self" as well as for guided reading.  (I use the Daily Five model for my Reader's Workshop.)  After teaching my students about these features, it was impressive to see them in use!

First, we had to get our book from Dropbox into iBooks.  (My last post explains how to get a book into dropbox.  Our books are from Reading A to Z!)  This screen shows our book in Dropbox. Click on the blue box with the arrow, click on "Open in", then "Open in ibooks."
Now this book will be saved in the ibooks library!  We closed these apps, and opened the Settings.
Next we turned on "Text to Speech" in our settings.  We started by clicking on "General," then "Accessibility."

 Then we clicked on "Speech."
Turn on the "Speak Selection" by sliding the white circle over to make it appear green!  After this is on, you can slide the white circle to change the speaking rate.  We also have on "Highlight Content" so that the words read aloud are highlighted.

Finally, we went back to our book in ibooks, highlighted a word by pressing down on it, let go, and LISTENED to it by clicking "Speak"!  This is a simple trick that can help all readers when they are struggling with a word independently.

After learning about this, my students took a reading comprehension assessment using the cause and effect strategies they had been learning about all week.  They used the "speak" feature for words when necessary, and no one really abused this.  It helped them with their comprehension, and they felt more confident answering the cause and effect questions.  I will NOT have them use this all of the time, but it is great to have when they need it, especially for my students struggling with fluency or students with IEP's.  If you only have a few ipads in your room, this could definitely help those students who need fluency help!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dropbox on the I Pad

Organizing documents for students is difficult using real paper, let alone documents on an I Pad!  An easy way to organize everything is to use the free Dropbox app.  Simple, but very effective to share items with students.  Dropbox is also free to use on any computer or phone.

ALL of my students are logged into one Dropbox account.  The first day, they opened the app, typed in a classroom Gmail account that I created, typed in a password that I created, and they were instantly in the classroom Dropbox.  The I Pad does not log out of this, so each time they open the Dropbox app, they are still logged in to see what is there!

This week my class is reading a book called "Alice's Birthday Cake" on the I Pad.  This book is from Reading A to Z.  Our grade level has a subscription to Reading A to Z, where we can find endless books and lessons to teach Common Core Reading Strategies.  This week my class is thinking about cause and effect while reading this book.

To put this in a Dropbox folder for my students, I first open the book on the Reading A to Z website.  It is a pdf file that comes up when I click on "Print single sided."  Once it is open, I tap the top of the book, and this pops up:

I click, OPEN IN, and I can open it in Dropbox!  All I have to do is tap on "Open In Dropbox"  (I can also open it in other apps as well if I wanted to save it somewhere else)

I click on the folder I want to save it in, and ALL of my students can see it!  It is wonderful because whenever I share any document in the classroom Dropbox, everyone can see the documents.

This is how we are all able to read books on the I Pad easily and quickly throughout the week.  I also have folders for Math, Writing, Science, and Social Studies so that I can share documents in these subjects as well.  We are loving Dropbox, and we are becoming more confident with our I Pads each day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More I Pad Math: Greg Tang Math

​Last year I had the opportunity to hear Greg Tang speak about math!
 Greg Tang is the author of such books as:

He has an amazing FREE website:

This is one of the links my students and I use for games everyday!  To find the games, click on the games tab at the top.  There are many games to choose from that reinforce  math fact practice as well as critical thinking skills.  We love Math Limbo.
There is also a special game entitled Kakooma.  To find this, click on the Kakooma tab at the top of the website, and the game pops up.  You can enter your class by signing up, or your students can play without signing in.  The game can be played live against other students, or your students can play with their class only.  They can also practice only without playing live.  I played as a whole class with my students to teach them how the game is played.
The goal of the game is to find the two boxes that when added, subtracted, multiplied or divided together equal a third box.  The basic version is just addition.  The answer is then clicked on to win that box.  Once you play it makes much more sense! 

There is also an app for each operation if you choose to buy the apps, but the online version is free.  Your students can create a link to the game that looks like an app by adding it to their Home Screen.  Just click on the blue box with the arrow at the top of the screen on the specific website so that it can be added to the Home Screen.

My students love these games, and the positive reinforcement given by the timing and points really motivates them to keep practicing!