Digital Citizenship, Digital Teaching Resources, Flexible Content, Flipped Classroom, Math Rotations, Personalized Learning, Uncategorized

Flipped Classroom

I have been intrigued with the Flipped Classroom for a while. (The general idea is the reverse of the traditional learning environment: delivering instructional content like videos, primary source documents, reading assignments– outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, like discussion questions, projects, and activities based on the readings for school.) This video is a great overview.


At the beginning of the year, I promised my kids and parents that I wouldn’t assign homework. I was nervous to try flipping my classroom because I was afraid there would be backlash when I started sending work home. I think I will fully embrace the flipped classroom next year, but for now I’m experimenting with the “in-class flip.”

It was easiest for me to start thinking about flipping my reading and math lessons. I created this choice board with different activities for the students to work on (their choice) while I pulled small groups for differentiated instruction. My students all went straight for the games, and not much else.

Version Two: This math choice board works so much better! There are three choices in dark blue. The students must complete two days in the dark boxes, before moving to the lighter boxes. They spend two days in the medium blue boxes (or they can go back to dark blue). Finally, they can choose the game on Friday or any of the previous activities. I made a similar version for reading but is a little more flexible.

This took a bit of time…I had to link up the videos, Padlet boards, skill sheets, etc., but once they are created, I’ll have them for years. Another issue is that YouTube is blocked at my school. I had to link up BrainPop! videos (students have passwords for this site), and explained that the other videos can be watched at home.  While it’s not a full “Flip” it is definitely a start. Here are the links to my Padlets. It’s so easy to make your own.

  • Padlet Examples:

          Social Studies

Here are some additional resources that have helped me or that I have created to help others in my building.

Digital Citizenship, Digital Teaching Resources, Google Sites, IB, Uncategorized

End-of-Year Lifesavers

If you are like me, those last few days of school are a struggle. The students have finished their end-of-year exams, they know grades are finished, but you’re not quite ready to pop in the movie just yet. I found a  few lifesavers that helped me keep my sanity this week.

  1. Rock on to 5th Grade – Interactive Google Slides
    This is a take on the old paper booklets where students write about their year. I made an electronic version, posted it to Google Classroom (with the option that each student got their own copy) and set a due date. Students had to write about everything from how my future class could succeed in my room, to their summer plans. I even included alphabet pages, where students wrote one thing we learned this year for each letter.
  2. End-of-Year Brain Maps
    I saw this article on Eduptopia and copied the directions in a Google Doc to post on Google Classroom. I gave each table (four students) a large piece of butcher paper, some markers, and they were off to the races. I saw many students using my class Google Site to think back about what we’ve learned this year. A short presentation followed.
  3. IB Exhibition (Part I, II, and III). 
    While “Exhibition” is unique to IB schools, any inquiry based, research project could be completed at the end of the year. Students started by researching man-made systems. They interviewed someone in the field or went on a community visit, then researched a real-world problem that exists within that system. Finally the students had to “take action” in some way to help with the real-world problem. Some students made lesson plans for lower grades, others passed out fliers in their community, and some even started their own farmers market.


Summer is almost here! Enjoy!

Digital Teaching Resources, IB

IB Exhibition: Part II

My students have been working on Exhibition for a few weeks now. (See previous post on how we got started, our Unit of Inquiry, and “Finding Out”.)

After researching man-made systems, my students moved on to “Sorting Out” and “Going Further.” The students chose three key concepts to start brainstorming questions to go along with their unit.

Key Concepts PYP

I then had students think of real-world problems that are occurring with the system they chose. I created a google slide show where each student was responsible for filling in one slide with the problems associated with their system. Make a copy for yourself here.


Students then reached out the the community for interviews. We had responses from around the city. I had students interviewing local chefs and farmers about the “farm-to-table” movement, two members of the Charleston Ports Authority and Boarder Patrol came to hand-deliver their interview questions to one group, and still other students went to local software companies to discuss computer coding and hacking. We were overwhelmed with the positive support form both teachers in the building who had local contacts and the responses from around our city who had no affiliation with our school.

This will then move into our “Taking Action” portion of exhibition. Students will take action in some way to address the real-world issue researched above. See my future post on “Taking Action.”

Digital Teaching Resources, IB, Uncategorized

IB Exhibition: Part I

What is IB Exhibition?

In IB terms: The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile developed throughout their engagement with the PYP. It also provides teachers with a powerful and authentic process for assessing student understanding.
In educator terms: Students in 4th grade  engage in inquiry-based, collaborative, research project. Students identify, and offer solutions to real life issues or problems they discover through their research.
In kid terms: Students use their IB attributes, apply knowledge from previous years, and take action as a result of learning.

This Exhibition project is unique to International Baccalaureate schools, but could really be used for any student-centered research project. Here is the presentation I use with my class.


Going Digital with Exhibition:

Last year was my first year working with my students on Exhibition. We definitely winged some of it, but borrowed a lot from teachers who had done it before. I was happy with the research my students had done but knew I could improve.

(The students should be using the IB Inquiry Cycle during this project, as well as the IB attributes that they’ve learned about since Kindergarten. I reference both of these through the entire Exhibition process.)

I started with a pre-survey on Google Forms to see what they know and remember about our IB units. (Students in an IB school get six units each year, each with the same broad title/theme, although the content varies greatly). My class has only had five units this year, because Exhibition is the 6th.

The unit we are doing is called “How We Organize Ourselves” and is described as, “An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.” That’s a mouthful! We tend to focus on the first part to make it easier for 4th graders to understand (human-made systems and communities).


I created both a digital journal and a digital sources list for the students. These are shared on Google Classroom, so each student gets their own copy. Students are responsible for keeping up with their journal throughout this process. I usually ask our IB coordinator to come talk to the kids about Inquiry and to do a provocation at the beginning:



I created a Google Doc with the list of man-made systems to build on. I can’t wait to see the length of this list after a few more years of Exhibition.

Finally, I sent a “Seeking Mentors” flier and a Google Form to the parents of my class asking for volunteers. There is no way I can help all of my students with their research, community visit, and ideas for taking action. I depend on these mentors to help with answering questions and facilitating the visits. People in the community, as well as in the school building, have also been helpful mentors! Mentors who respond will receive this form about their responsibilities and later a checklist.

So far, we have only “tuned in” and done some “finding out.” I will write another post as we we move toward “sorting out” and “going further.” The inquiry cycle isn’t linear, and students should never be “done” with one of the stages, but it is helpful to keep track and follow a natural progression.



Digital Teaching Resources

Breakout EDU

Ever since doing a Breakout Room in Miami on vacation, I loved the idea. Three friends and I (all with graduate degrees) did not make it out of the “Pirate” room in the 60 minutes but we had a lot of fun. As soon as I heard about the educational version, I created a Donor’s Choose project and got my breakout box funded ($125).


Luckily, my partner in crime, Lisa Stewart, got her own Breakout EDU box delivered on the same day. We settled on our test breakout, “Alien Invasion” and got to work. We decided to use both boxes, in two rooms, so students could work in smaller groups.

Note: There is a lot of front-end prep work for the teachers. We had to print out documents, write on them in invisible ink, and set all of the locks. These videos were helpful. My box was also missing a directional lock, which I had to order on Amazon

We hid the things around each of our rooms. We divided the class in half (this time it was girls versus boys) and read the story line and let the kids go. Lisa found this amazing YouTube video which has a 45-minute timer that also played suspenseful music. This added to the excitement in my room.


This breakout is listed as for ages 5-10. Since I teach 4th Grade, we started with this one. We now realize that we could do some middle school ones since the girls finished with 11 minutes to spare and the boys with 8 minutes. I am so excited to try this again, and we will be doing The Lost Lincoln Letter next week during our Civil War Unit. I will be using the ones that match my state standards/units, but the alien one was a great place to start. If you are interested in other Breakout EDUs, they can be found below:


Note: Some of the breakout games require things not included in the box. There are helpful video tutorials for each game that I would recommend watching beforehand!


Digital Teaching Resources, Google Sites

Game Changer: Google Sites

As I was showing a colleague some of the negatives of Google Classroom (things tend to get lost at the bottom of my stream, I keep posting notes after each class and kids can’t find them, etc) when she asked me if I was going to use Google Sites next year to solve these problems. Light bulb! I was immediately transported back to my first IB Conference where the keynote speaker was Alan November. He is an international leader in education technology and part of his address was about providing students with all the resources before the class even begins. College professors have been doing this for years, but it hadn’t been done in elementary classrooms yet.

Even my husband asked if there was a way to lock the pages so kids wouldn’t get ahead. But why shouldn’t they go ahead? The more material they know or learn before I cover it in class, the more time we have to spend going in-depth or doing real world, inquiry based projects. I immediately took over his laptop and created my first Google Site.

You can view my site here:

My home page has links to my Open House presentations and brochure. The Genius Hour page has all my links (mentioned in previous posts…but all in one place.) My favorite sub-page is for Notes. I have a page for each subject and then a sub-page for each standard. (This is still a work in progress.) Students can click on the notes which will open in Google Slides before, during, or after we talk about them in class. I also provide relevant links like to NASA and Brain Pop so students can explore these topics at their convenience. My Links page has all the links my class frequents (ALEKS, Quizlet, Renaissance Learning) all on one page. Finally, my IB page has information about all six of my IB units and a link to their summative assessment project.


I previewed it with my class yesterday, and they were so excited. They loved the idea of having all this information in one place, (and were a little annoyed that I hadn’t thought of it sooner.) Thanks, Lisa Stewart, for your suggestion about Google Sites. You are always pushing me to be a better, more efficient, educator.

Genius Hour

Genius Hour: Part IV

This has been a pretty cool journey, and is by far the most fun we (consistently) have each week. During our science and social studies lessons, questions constantly come up and we add them to the Genius Hour wall of questions. The students also found this website from School in the Cloud with other big questions posted by people from across the globe. An abundance of questions has never been our problem. But putting together meaningful presentations has. Here’s how we solved the problems from Genius Hour Part I, Part II, and Part III.


Problem 1: Students were boring their classmates with their presentations.
Solution: We started videotaping the presentations and posting them to Google Classroom. Not only would any absent students be able to see what they missed, but the actual presenters could watch their own presentations and analyze it to improve for the future.
Proud Teacher Moment: One group did a presentation answering the question, “What is sketch comedy?” They were very much interested in doing a mock news show but their presentation was just a video of them talking to the camera. After watching themselves, they re-did their presentation adding b-roll footage and it was much improved.

Problem 2: We were having a hard time keeping track of who was doing what, and when.
Solution: We created a Genius Hour Record sheet in Google Sheets. This is posted in Google Classroom and students can access them at any time. Each time we meet for Genius Hour, students  are  expected to record what their topic/question is and what they did that day (researching, preparing presentation, etc).


Problem 3: Students were copying and pasting large chunks of information from the web into their presentations.
Solution: We (the GT teacher and I) decided we must approve genius hour questions before students can do the research, and they have to show us their research before they start working on their presentation. We also required research and presentations must be presented with bullets. No complete sentences! This threw the kids off for a few weeks but they are getting better at trimming their information down. This helped for presentations too, because they couldn’t just read from the board.

Problem 4: We (students and teachers) were getting overwhelmed watching 10-20 presentations in one sitting.
Solution: We created a Google Calendar where students can sign up for 5 minute presentation time slots throughout the week. I get an email alerting me a few minutes before and the students write it down in their agenda. These are peppered throughout the day  during transition times, like after lunch.


Anyone else doing Genius Hour? What is working in your classes?