Thursday, January 23, 2014

Digital Catch-Up

A lot of things going on this week in our classroom, almost too much to absorb sometimes, but the great feedback from our parent followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook keep us motivated.

Let's rewind and take it back to earlier this week....

Monday was filled with a very inspiring institute day. I sat in on a great blog session from a colleague at our local Middle School, who inspired me to get my kids blogging again! Operation blogger is on the mends in 5T this week!

Besides attending, I also got to present myself. If you haven't checked out Aurasma, I highly encourage you to do so. It is a great way to turn what used to be the new and exciting idea of QR codes to the next level. My kids really love augmented reality and I encourage you to try it. View my slide show below that I used for our institute day. It will easily walk you through step-by-step.

Forwarding to the middle of this week, Nearpod has been an app that I have been experimenting with in the classroom. I've been implementing it during math to review our flipped assignments. So far, the feedback has been amazing from the students and they really enjoy using it. 
If you aren't familiar with it, Nearpod can be used on computers or on the iPad. It is a way to mirror presentations to multiple devices. The instructor can create the presentation in advance, similar to a google presentation, and then publish and share a live code with the students. Students can view the slides and answer live questions using different formats of activities. You can even pull a report to see how students answered for an assessment review. 

After the response I had in math, I contemplated using it in reading. I figured, what the hey, might as well give it a shot. So, on Wednesday, I experimented with using Nearpod to guide my minilesson for Reading Workshop. The idea was to give my students the text and visuals to follow along with me, since many of our population needs ESL strategies. However, let's be honest, those strategies are good for any students. 

Using the app, we analyzed a You-Tube video and did some shared reading from our current text. I encourage you to take a look at the website. Any feedback on how you use it in the classroom would be greatly appreciated! 
We also had a bit of fun experimenting more with our iPads during guided reading to focus on inferencing! 
1:1 Guided Reading photo BemxDoBCMAABaRC_zps8bde74d0.jpg Nearpod photo Bems4OVCAAEQzxU_zpsc9f67588.jpg

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Since I've gone vegan, and even more so now that I am a gluten free vegan, I've always been in search for a really good pizza recipe. I've heard of using cauliflower as a replacement for mashed potatoes, but never heard it used for making pizza crusts until a friend of mine sent me a picture of a pizza she made. Let me tell you, it look delicious and it was constantly on my mind all week.

So, I began searching for a vegan alternative to the cauliflower pizza crust on Pinterest and this was the recipe I decided to follow. Click Here for the recipe!

The process was fairly simple, but my only issue was getting the crust to be crispy without overcooking it. Regardless, I still could have ate the whole pizza!

While the crust was baking for 30 minutes, I started to cook my veggie choices in advance to soften them. My toppings included tomato paste, vegan mozzarella teese, broccoli, mushrooms, soy grilled chicken, tomato and spinach. Once the crust was done, the toppings were tossed on and then I allowed it to bake again for an additional 10 minutes.

I honestly can't wait to make this pizza again! It must have been good because my vegan husband, who isn't normally a pizza fan, demolished the last half of it tonight!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

That's Genius!

Nearly every educator who loves teaching with technology has heard of the two famous words "Passion Time" or "Genius Hour" at some point trailing its way through Twitter.

A colleague of mine introduced me to the topic from a conference he attended. It automatically intrigued me and I couldn't stop reading about it. I was referred to the website of Paul Solarz. If you haven't had a chance to meet him or follow his blog/website or Twitter handle, I highly encourage you to do so! (He also has some great information on Mystery Skyping) Mr. Solarz' Website

I had the privilege of being invited to observe Mr. Solarz' students in action, thanks to a colleague of mine, and I am so happy I took him up on his offer. I was blown away by what I saw!

I think many times we get caught up in education with making sure we follow workshops or curriculums that we forget about the students, even though we are trying to help them. One of the great things about common core, is that you can still hit various informational reading/writing standards by allowing the students to explore their own interest.

Passion time is just that, a passion....I couldn't have been more excited to introduce this to my students.

In our writing workshop, we are currently working on informational pieces. I thought this couldn't have been a more perfect time to introduce the idea to them. What better way to strengthen their research writing, but by allowing them to research something they are truly passionate about. Eventually down the road, our passion time will turn into Genius Hour. Right now it works out perfectly because of our unit of study, but in the future students will have that "hour" of time dedicated to them a week where they can purely research the essential questions that intrigue their brain.

Mr. Solarz explains the process very clearly on his website above. I think the important thing is to modify the idea to however you can fit it into your plans and routine.

My first general steps....
1. Have the students brainstorm questions that they have about their interests. (I showed many examples of what Mr. Solarz' students had completed over the year)
2. Narrow those questions down to their top 3. Conference with students to construct an essential question.
3. Since it was writers workshop, we began with an on demand writing piece. You could just dive into their prior knowledge with a chart.
*4. This is where we are right now...I wanted a platform where my students could share their ideas, almost like an electronic portfolio. So, after break, each student began constructing their own google site.

I'm excited to take you along on our journey as well! I look forward to hearing any advice or feedback that you may have from experience too.