Monday, August 11, 2014

Grab A Seat...Let's Get This Digital Learning Started!


     Its August and yes that "back to school" mind set is here in full force! As the summer comes to an end and your mind is filled with new ideas from books that you may have read, classroom designing trends you have seen and new curriculum at the forefront of it all, I still get excited about welcoming my students on the first day! School is just two weeks away and I can't wait to see my students and hear all about their summer. This year, I have added lots more maker spaces in my classroom, some new furniture added to our spaces and a few surprises as well. 
     Last year, I did not have desks and chairs in my classroom and my students LOVED having that kind of freedom! So at the end of last year, I had to pack my entire classroom and move to a different hallway. This allowed for me to think about how I would design my room to meet the needs of my students in a 1:1 iPad environment. I love the design process and I'm anxious to hear the feedback from my students when they enter my classroom on that first day. They will be given the opportunity to change anything that may fit their needs more effectively. Though these are returning students I had last year, I still want to be able to give them those opportunities to share their thoughts with me. After all, this IS their classroom where creative thinking and designing will be taking place all year long. So a few of my followers wanted me to post pictures of the design process. I still have a few more pieces of furniture to add, Hokki Stools coming in October from our first project that was funded and can't wait for my students to use them and get our learning on! Here is a glimpse into my classroom and the new maker spaces I have created throughout the room for more collaboration and shared learning between my students and connected classrooms around the world! I will post my final design floor plan next week with a short video describing each space. Happy designing!

 My favorite space....Big Joe Cafe
(chairs bought at Walmart and are called Big Joe's, come in many styles and colors, as well as black coffee tables; leather ottoman was bought from a friend. Chairs are like bean bags and can easily move around as needed

Picnic table was a gift from one of my parent volunteers and totally LOVE IT!!!

 Student collaborative space with dry erase board where students can use to write down their thinking strategies, questions, workflow using a certain app, etc. This is more of a "Think Tank" space for student lesson designing. Chairs will be replaced with our new Hokki Stools coming in October...yipee!!!!

Teacher table right in the center of room towards the back for small group math and reading instruction. I have a great view of all maker spaces in my classroom. Chairs will be replaced with stools bought from JoAnn's Fabric (not pictured yet)

Another maker space where students can work and share collaboratively with each other. iPad cart will be stationed next to table. A small mobile dry erase board (not pictured) will be handy for students to use for lesson designing and thinking

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Change Is Empowering

      A recent post on my blog titled "Summer Blessings" recaps my summer activities thus far. I talk about my growth as an educator both professionally and personally and the many ways that can happen. My principal +Kyle Chambers  gave us our summer book to read titled "One Word" and I started thinking about what kinds of "changes" were going to take place in my classroom this next school year and how I was going to keep changing and growing as an educator. The word "change" is uncomfortable for most. It brings "unsureness" of what lies ahead. It creates anxiety, fear, less motivation to try new things, peer learning resistance and collaboration but that word has a POWERFUL message when you think about it! So during my long runs (long distance runner) I thought about our campus "one word" which is "empower" and I decided to begin by changing the name of my blog to reflect our campus "one word" so that it has a greater purpose for students, parents and our community! It's a word that all learners can embrace no matter their background or life experiences. But those changes must be reflected through all my social media platforms such as +Twitter+Instagram+Pinterest , +LinkedIn and +Google+. I'm sure there are others but these are the ones I check on a weekly basis. 
     To "empower" students learning, you must "change" the way learning occurs in the classroom so that students begin to embrace and inspire others in their creative thinking process and share their learning on a global scale. I challenge all educators and administrators to find their "one word" so that you also may be empowered to change in some small way! I thank my principal +Kyle Chambers for putting this book in my hands and continue to be a positive influence on my campus for students, teachers and parents. I highly recommend reading it as he "empowers" his staff to make this next school year the best one yet!! So the name of my blog will now reflect my campus' purpose for this next school year, "Infusing Technology To Empower All Learners" and look forward to a great 2014-15 school year! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summer Blessings!


 Its been a little over a month now that school has ended and I am finding myself with lots of time for reading, swimming, biking and running! Its a time to unwind from the hectic schedule of school and find ways to grow professionally and personally. I have read a total of five books, three are for professional development and the other for a little pleasure reading. Titles include, "Comprehension Through Conversation", which I HIGHLY recommend, "Writing About Reading", "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" and "Gone Girl". My principal also gave us our short summer PD book, "One Word", which has challenged us to look deep within ourselves to find our "one word" before the start of the school year. I am happy to say that our campus "one word" for the 2014-15 school year is "empower"!! I love this word because it has a "purpose" that resonates with me on so many levels of teaching! It brings a strong sense of ownership to learning and gives students a voice to make decisions that will affect them the rest of their lives! 
     Summer is also a time for reconnecting with old and new friends past and present! These friendships sustain us when times get hectic in our daily lives. I'm thankful for my friends that encourage me to dream big and have fun all at the same time. Family of course can help bring back a sense of normalcy whatever that may be. There are no schedules, homework, alarm clocks going off and rushing out of the house to beat the school zones!! When you have teenagers in the house, some who are working, sleeping and eating are summer survival mechanisms that seem to be the only thing important these days! Of course, social media begins to take a higher precedence in their lives from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. More time to text, facetime, @snapchat, tweet and gain new followers on @Instagram and catch up on Netflix shows (I'm just as guilty) to watch. 
     Summer will be gone in a flash and I will be back in the classroom rearranging my furniture to get ready for another exciting year! I have so many ideas stored in my head for this year to continue our digital learning in a 1:1 iPad class. My new "hokki stools" from @donorschoose will arrive in October and I can't wait to get those in my hands. I have purchased some new bean bags to place around the room and will be setting up our new picnic table that was given to me as a gift this past year. This year I would like to add two swings in my classroom. I got this idea from an @instagram pic I saw from my friends @remind. I thought it was brilliant but don't know how I'm going to get that done with a little engineering consulting on the side (tile cork board ceilings). After I had all my desks and chairs taken out of my classroom last year, it transformed my classroom's learning in more ways imaginable and not to mention how that impacted my teaching as an educator. My summer continues with on demand PD at my fingertips through Twitter, blogs, #rscon5, #googlehangouts and lots more reading! Summer 2014 will be in the past and a new adventure will begin in my classroom with lots more new ideas, connections to cherish, classes to connect with and students to "empower" and "inspire" them in their learning!! For this I am blessed beyond measure! Happy summer!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Google Presentation...Rainforest Animal Research

Its Spring and that means one thing in our 1:1 iPad classroom...creative technology projects to finish out the year STRONG! The spring time for me brings some stress as I get ready for end of the year testing, TPRI, IPT testing for bilingual students, LPACS and the list goes on and on. It's also my favorite time for learning new content in science. We have been studying the rainforest, the layers and its plants and animals for two weeks now. The students have chosen their favorite animal to research. I have designed lessons that will help the students incorporate lots of rich technology into their research. We are trying out some new apps and exploring +GoogleTools to enhance their research skills. 

I began the unit by asking students if they knew what kinds of animals lived in the rainforest or what they knew about the rainforest in general. Hands went up in the air as I began to generate a list of their facts on the board. But prior to starting the lesson, I called one of our district technology specialist several days before to design a research template in google presentation to help the students type their facts. The template was adorable to say the least!! The next day, I "chirped", one of my favorites apps, the link of the website that the students would be using for their research (Facts4Me) I use the Chirp app all the time when I want students to go to a website. They open the link in Safari and takes them straight to it. The students used this website to transfer their research to a hard copy of the template created in google presentation. 

After they completed the research, I reserved the computer lab for several days for students to work on their presentation. They completed their presentation in two visits, not a surprise, as they had prior experience working in google for various projects earlier in the year. So the following week, I introduce them to a new app called "facetalk". We were learning about acrostic poems in RLA. I had the students create an acrostic poem on manila paper of their rainforest animal and draw a picture of it. They took a screenshot of their poem and uploaded to "facetalk". Here, they can record their voice and email their recording to the teacher to post on various social media platforms. I use my class YouTube channel to post all projects for parents to see and leave comments. 

It was time to create their own "rainforest" in groups. My classroom environment is one that "fosters" creative learning and thinking. I have no desks or chairs in my class this year and this kind of environment has had a HUGE impact on digital learning! The collaboration and discussions have benefitted their English language development when working in groups. Having that mobility throughout the day keeps their little minds active. I can't imagine going back to having desks and chairs. I hope to gain new knowledge through their blogs as they will reflect on how we can improve as 21st century learners for next year. I can't wait to see what year two will bring! In the meantime, I will continue to design engaging lessons that inspire creative thinking and learning! Here is a sneak peek into our week....

Students working on their research in google presentation

Facetalk App (student example lessons)

Manuel's Video

Jacqueline's video

James Video

Sasha's Video

Group Work

Looking Back...What a Difference A Year Makes!

Spring brings lots of exciting learning in my classroom. I can't believe we just have 6 weeks of school left. As I reflect back on this years learning in a mobile 1:1 iPad classroom, I can't help but think about where I was this time last year. I am a looping teacher which means I teach 2nd and 3rd grade bilingual. My third graders last year had the opportunity to use iPads for a short time after our roll out in January. The end of the year was so exciting as I planned new and exciting technology projects for my new 2nd graders coming in this year. I can honestly say that having these devices in a classroom for a whole year has made a HUGE impact on learning! Their confidence level has boosted their enthusiasm for learning in all content areas and they continue to be "fearless learners and leaders"! So here is what I have noticed this year from my students. They come in every morning waiting anxiously to hear what our days schedule will be and if it will involve technology. The questions start at my door before they come in..."what are we learning today Mrs. Lackey? "What projects are we going to be working on this week and the next?" "Can we work on coding?" "Are we going to have another google hangout with someone new?" The list goes on and on. The environment in my classroom this year has impacted their "hunger" for creative learning. I see and feel their excitement and this kind of attitude "inspires" me to continue designing lessons that will challenge and motivate my bilingual students to be 21st century learners! Their eagerness for learning and their desire to be "fearless learners" has inspired me to start my Masters Program this summer in Instructional Technology and Leadership! These are exciting times in education and for a veteran teacher like myself, I KNOW there is so much more that I can do to help teachers and children continue this quest of "digital learning" in what seems to be endless! I am so blessed beyond measure and so proud of what my students have accomplished this year in the world of mobile device learning!  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

FaceTalk App

Wow oh wow!! Spring has arrived and it has been a busy two weeks in my classroom and in my personal life as TRI season and summer running have arrived!! Spring brings lots of new learning and we have discovered a new app that continues to help my students with their fluency in English. We have been learning about area in math and how to find the total square units of a shape. The students created their very own robot on graph paper and decorated it. They had to add the total number of square units that their robot equaled. I let the students work in groups to help those that may have needed some help. They took a screen shot of their robot with their iPad and uploaded it to the app @Facetalk.  If you haven't explored this app, you will quickly notice the students having fun with it. It allows you to choose a mouth to place (drag) over your photo's face so that it looks as if your person or animal is talking! The students record their voice and it creates a video of your person or animal talking! This is great for developing fluency or vocabulary for ELL learners! The app allows the student to email the short video to their teacher where you can export to various social media platforms! I uploaded the videos to my class YouTube Channel for parents to visit as well as our class Twitter account. Next week, the students will be learning about the Rainforest and they will be choosing their favorite rainforest animal to research. We will be using the FaceTalk app as students share facts about their animal. I love this app and have lots of ideas on how to use across the subject areas! Be sure to check it out or share ideas on how your class has used it. Here are a few videos that were created by my students.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our Second Language Is Soaring in A 1:1 iPad Classroom

The spring always brings new learning, a little stress as you begin to realize the year is coming to end, not to mention testing season in Texas (lots of anxiety) but I am always on the quest for new experiences in student learning. As a bilingual instructor in 2nd grade, one of my many challenges is to assess how my student's second language is developing in a late transitional bilingual program. We have many apps that help my students develop their English. My two favorite apps are @writeaboutthis and @explaineverything. These two apps have helped my students develop fluency skills in reading and writing. In 2nd grade, we begin to transition into English speaking skills while continuing to support their native language throughout the year. I am always amazed when my students create projects using these two apps. They know these apps like the back of their hand and can easily navigate through them without any assistance from me. Students have used these apps all year long and I have seen great improvement in their speaking and reading abilities! I am a firm believer that digital learning can enhance and enrich the lives of students who are inspired to achieve success! Thank you to these two developers for their love of learning and their inspiration to continue their quest to achieve even more! I am honored to know Brad Wilson @dreambition who has made our dreams come true! My dream is to meet both these developers in person as they have inspired me and my students in many ways! Here are a few examples of how these apps have been successful in my classroom. The first video is our first live google hangout with developer Brad Wilson of @WriteAboutThis and why we love his app (he has a new app @TellAboutThis) and we love it and a few surprises up our sleeves!

Using ExplainEverything to read for fluency

  • Students took pictures of each of the pages from a printed book in RazKids or better known as A-Z Reading that I had provided for the students. We were learning about our solar system
  • Then they basically recorded their voice on each slide created in Explain Everything. 
  • The students listen to their recording as they play back their project in their Daily 5 stations throughout the week. This reinforces how fluency reading should sound when they hear themselves read

Reinforcing math vocabulary as students learn about 3D shapes using Explain Everything

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Think Central and Explain Everything...Two Companions

As a bilingual instructor, I'm always on the hunt for apps that help my students develop good reading fluency. Several weeks ago, I came across an app that has brought a new meaning to reading comprehension. That app was +Subtext. It has been a great resource to help improve comprehension in texts, articles and stories for my students in guided reading groups. It has allowed me to differentiate instruction based on my students needs. In Texas, our last reading adoption was +Houghton Mifflin Harcourt so all of the decodable books are available for download via ebook format. The students are able to download their ebook assigned to them through and then open it in Explain Everything. This is where my students practice their reading fluency by recording themselves reading their ebook. The students reformat the pages of the book by locking them in place so that the pages do not move around if they are accidentally touched. I can then share their recording via YouTube so that parents can hear their child read their ebook. We did discover a few scratchy sounds in our recordings and we learned that when recording on the iPad, its important to not touch the microphone area. This causes background noises when reading. So investing in some recording headphones or just a few in a station may prevent that from happening. You also may hear other students reading in the background as this activity was done in class during their Daily 5 rotations. So we talked about some things to remember when others are recording and reading around them. The students love hearing themselves read and this has really brought a new level of engagement to reading! Here is a sneek peek of two ebooks I have uploaded to my Channel You can find them all there in spanish.