Digital Teaching Resources, Uncategorized

Teaching with Padlet

This blog post could easily be titled Year Four: Personalized Learning because it ties in with my previous posts. While students are working at their own pace in my math class through ALEKS and their tracking sheets, I also have Padlet pages for every standard. (I use their app on my iPad, too).

Padlet is a virtual bulletin board. I can post pictures, videos, links, task cards, practice problems, and so much more to one page. My students have an understanding of what the standards mean (NSF stands for Number Sense Fractions) since they track their own learning each day (see previous post). Here is my Padlet from standard 4.NSF.1:


I have a Padlet page for every single standard. If a student is working on 4.NSF.1 and I’m working with a small group, they know they can not bother me. If they are having a problem understanding the concept, they click the link to Khan Academy or Math Antics video through the Padlet. They can work on practice problems too, to see if they truly understand.  I also love Anchor Charts, but I have terrible handwriting. So, I search the standard on Pinterest and copy and paste someone else’s anchor chart image and save it to Padlet. Is that borrowing or stealing? 


At the start of this year, I created a Proficiency Scale using what my district provided and this resource I bought on TpT. I printed them out and color coded them by standard. On the back of each proficiency scale is a QR code that takes them directly to that standard’s Padlet page.


This has worked so well for me in math, I am planning on creating Padlet pages for each science and social studies standard as well. I’m teaching US Government right now and can just picture links to the White House, video clips, and even School House Rocks. (I’m just a bill, on Capital Hill).

Digital Teaching Resources, Genius Hour, Personalized Learning, Uncategorized

Top 5 Reasons I use Technology in my Classroom

It was my first year teaching at a new school and I was handed 28 iPads around October. Now what? The kids were excited and had used them at home for games and videos. It has taken me four years to get my students to see them as tools for learning, but here are the top five reason why I would never go back to teaching without them.

1. I’m saving trees. I used to spend hours at the copy machine loading ream after ream of paper into the sorter. I still print some things…interactive notebook pages, extra credit holiday packets, and some math sheets, but almost everything else is attached to Google Classroom in the form of a Google Doc or PDF. (We use an app called PDF Expert and even type, draw, highlight on PDF docs).


2. My students know how to collaborate. I use the term “elbow-partner” multiple times a day. My classroom has flexible seating. (My students may sit wherever they like when they come in each morning, as long as it follows certain criteria. I have seats with stationary bikes, standing tables with spooner boards, Hokki stools, and bean bag chairs. Students can’t sit at the same table twice in a week and must have an even number of girls and boys at each table.) My students work with their elbow partner daily, for quizzing each other on math facts, or completing assignments. I know they don’t always want to work with their elbow partner, but they know I won’t let them work independently on certain assignments, so they just get down to work, usually through a collaborative Google Document.

3. I’ve saved time grading assignments. I use Google Forms for quick quizzes or checkpoints that are graded automatically. I get immediate feedback, and so do the students. They can go home and tell their parents their grade and don’t have to wait a full week for the assessments to go home in their weekly folders. I also choose to send response receipts so they students can see the questions, their responses, and the correct answers to learn from their mistakes. I also use Google Sheets for digital rubrics. (CCSD employees can open and copy this rubric here.) I borrowed this idea from another presenter at the Google Summit.


4. The kids sometimes forget they’re learning. We’ve been using the “A Google A Day” feature recently. Google posts a random question that takes multiple searches to find the answer to. My fourth graders love this game and we get to bring in our research standards as well as digital citizenship and internet safety discussions. Genius Hour has also helped with this (see previous post). No longer do we need to go to the library, search the card catalog, or find an encyclopedia. The internet is at our fingertips (or in our pockets… some of my students have newer cell phones than I do!) With this wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, its our duty to teach them how to use it.


5. The future is digital. When I got my first teaching job, my father gave me this picture of his mother’s kindergarten class. If you look at classroom, not much has changed. There is a teacher, a chalkboard, and rows of kids. The global workforce is more and more dependent on technology (walk anywhere and see how people are on iPhones, laptops, etc.) Technology isn’t going away, and if we want students to be successful in higher education and the workplace, they must get used to using technology as a tool or textbook and not just as source of mindless entertainment.



Digital Citizenship, Digital Teaching Resources, Uncategorized

Digital Citizenship

You can’t talk about digital citizenship without talking about Common Sense Media. They have a website for parents, educators, and advocates.


CSM has plenty or resources for the classroom including lessons, videos, and games. And best of all,  you can choose the appropriateness level by age group. I use the Digital Passport resources because they are geared for grades 3-5. Once a week, I play a short video from their library. Topics include oversharing online, thinking before posting, being a super digital citizen, and leaving a digital footprint.


Throughout the year, we do several research projects in my class, and also our weekly Genius Hour (see previous posts). I always ask the kids to cite their sources. Most fourth graders will write: and I use this analogy with my class: Saying you got your information from Google is the same as me saying I got my information from the library. Where in the library? What section? What book or magazine? I need more information than just “google” including a direct url. Common sense media has a lesson on citing sources designed specifically for grades 3-5. I do not ask nine-year-olds to use MLA format, but listing their sources at the end of their projects is age appropriate.

This is also a great time to bring up copyright and plagiarism. This cute PowToon video was created by Rocky Creek Elementary but is a great introduction to the topic.


Finally, common sense media has a page devoted to setting up your digital classroom including management strategies and apps/websites to use.




Digital Teaching Resources, Uncategorized

21st Century Skills

I follow several educational websites on social media including WeAreTeachers and Edutopia.  Through the course of following them, I stumbled across this image of skills employers would be looking for in the future workforce.


I asked my students what they noticed was missing from the list. We had a fun discussion, because being able to divide a four-digit divisor by a two-digit dividend, or writing a five paragraph essay are not skills that were listed. Since I teach at an IB World School, we spend time trying to create well-rounded humans and not just test-taking machines. These IB attributes are infused into daily lessons, and the students who have been at my school since Kindergarten are very familiar with them. (They also show up as grades on their report cards each quarter).

We spent a class period looking at the qualities and characteristics needed for the future work force  (21-Century Skills) and matched each and every one up to an IB attribute. It finally clicked for some of the students as to why we talk about the attributes so much. These are life-long skills that they will need to be productive citizens, workers, and friends.