Guest Blogger #5: Cyberbullying

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Today's guest blogger is Emily Levine who is a 3rd grade teacher. She just wrote a dissertation on Cyberbullying.

As a teacher the list of to-do is constantly growing and changing.  One thing that has not changed in the last several decades, however, is the issue of bullying.  Now, bullying is prevalent not only on the playground, but also on the technological devices that all children have access to.  Many adults believe that if their child does not have his/her own cell phone they are safe from being cyberbullied.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  If your students, sons, or daughters play video games that have the capability of chatting with others, they are susceptible to being bullied, or bullying others.  

Cyberbullying can occur when students share their passwords with others, and those "friends" use the passwords to alter information in an account.  When playing video games, if children exclude someone from the game, or kick them out of a game that is also considered cyberbullying. 

Previously, children would pass mean notes around the classroom, now they just post mean messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets for all to see.  A popular reference to this phenomenon can be seen in the new movie DUFF.  The movie Mean Girls (slightly dated) also shows how a written slam book is used.  Students are now creating online slam books to put down others publicly. 

Cyberbullying and proper netiquette need to be discussed from an early age because access to technology is ubiquitous.  Children need to know how to respond if they are bystanders, oppressors, or those being bullied.  

Teachers can help address these situations by doing role plays, showing students how to responsibly use technology, educating students on how to report cyberbullying, and educating parents on how to respond to cyberbullying situations.  

For those students who are younger, there are books available that can be shared.  One of my particular favorites is Cell Phoney by Julia Cook.  

I would also suggest The Bully by Patricia Pollacco as a read aloud for 4-7th grade students.  For those students who are older, I would suggest reading Words Wound by Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja.  

I would love to serve as a resource for anyone needing additional information on the topic.  My dissertation was on the parent's perspective of cyberbullying and how they would respond if they became aware of their children's participation in cyberbullying.  

Write About: Digital Writing for the Classroom

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Do you use Write About in your classroom? This FREE online service truly motivates students to write and respond to writing. Any teacher can set up a free account and plug in their students' names and passwords. To login the student simply visits the website and clicks "Student":

 Then they enter their teacher's code, their username and password:

There is also an option to sign in with a Google account.

This website truly encourages reluctant writers by providing visual cues and an authentic audience. Students can choose from writing prompts with visuals like this:

They write a response, can record audio reading their piece (Extra proofreading? YES, please!) and post for a specific audience to read. If I were the teacher then I would require the child to record themselves reading their post since often times they don't catch their mistakes when reading in their head. Heck, I can't even catch all of MY mistakes when proofreading!

Write About has a ton of INTERESTING leveled writing prompts students can choose from. 

Students also have the option to create their own piece from scratch. They can even add their own image or photo! I REALLY like how the site makes the kids give credit to images that they do not own.

Students can receive annotated feedback on their drafts from their teacher. The posts can be viewed publicly, privately or by a specific group. Other readers can comment on the student's posts. The kids absolutely LOVE when they receive a new "message". 

Write About could also serve as a Read to Self center. Students can filter posts by grade level and topic.

Here is an example of a final post:

Of course, like most online tools, there is also a paid version. However, the FREE version will give you 40 student accounts that will allow for 5 posts each. You maybe thinking that five posts doesn't seem like a lot but we know that an upper elementary child needs to change things up so they don't get "bored". That's why teachers are constantly having to change up their writing center...KEEP THE INTEREST and MOTIVATION going. Try this out for a few weeks then head over to Google Drive. It NEVER hurts to dabble in different programs to see what works best for your kiddos.

Here are the different plans and pricing:

Have you used this with your students? I would love to hear what you think!

Guest Blogger #4: Wixie

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guest Blogger #4 is Julie from The Hip Teacher.

Hello, bloggy world!  This is (another) Julie, from The Hip Teacher.  I am a third grade teacher in a district that is blessed with all kinds of technology, and we have had amazing success since we went 1:1 seven years ago.   Today I am going to tell you about one of my favorite programs that is used at the elementary level: Wixie!

Many of you may be familiar with Pixie, an app that students can use to make multi-media presentations.  Wixie is similar, but it takes projects to a new level because it is web-based.

My school (which is K-3) purchased a license for Wixie two years ago, and it was such a hit that the other elementary schools wanted it too!  I have yet to use Wixie to its full potential, but I wanted to share some of the highlights of this program and ways that my school has used it.

So how do you get started on Wixie?  First you design your lesson and assign it to your students.  There is a box on the side of the screen where you can type out your directions.  You can also record yourself reading the directions, which is beneficial for struggling readers.  I will often do a cover slide to introduce the project.

See the directions in the bottom right corner?

Directions with voice-over

Most of the lessons that I have done have been as a slideshow.  I set it up with the desired slides and add directions for each.  The slides can be blank, but there are many available templates with graphic organizers (Venn Diagram, anyone?).  

If you are looking for lesson ideas, there are numerous lessons and templates already created for you.  These can easily be copied and modified for your class.  
This is just a small sampling of the available templates.

The Tech4Learning section has numerous lessons ready to go!  Search by subject and then content area.  These all can be copied and modified for your teaching.

Wixie has many pictures and backgrounds available for students to use.  There are resizable "stickers" for almost any purpose, both drawings and photographs.  You can also upload photos from your desktop to create stickers specific to your project! Just search, choose, and go!

To me the best part of Wixie is the ease of accessibility.  Since it is web-based, Wixie can be used from any computer.  Students only need their usernames and passwords to get to their work.  Completed projects also have a student-specific URL.  I have embedded these on my classroom website as another way to share these projects.  Teachers have the option of requiring a code in order to access each project (also provided by Wixie).

Finished projects can also be printed.  When my third graders had to do a presentation on a famous leader of the Civil Rights Movement, each student printed small individual slides that could be used as reference notes.  One unique option is to print out trading cards.  This was something that one member of my team did during a research project on famous Americans.

Some of the ways that I have used Wixie:
  • slideshow of the planets
  • slideshow of continents
  • presentation tool for research project on the Civil Rights Movement
  • review tool for area and perimeter, where students did a voice-over to explain how to use the formulas to find each
  • template for sorting shapes by their attributes
  • numerous graphic organizers for helping students to take notes and synthesize what they have learned-great for visual learners!

Ordering the planets-quick assessment!
Fun visual to make a list of facts and opinions,
great for any subject area!

I used a provided template and added to it
for a multiplication review activity.

What I have shared with you today is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are drawing tools and  numerous other sharing options (both print and digital).  If you have used Wixie, I would love to hear what you have done!

Viva Las Vegas! A TPT Conference Linky Party

Monday, July 13, 2015

WOW. This was my first time attending a TPT Conference and all I can say is WOW.

I am linking up with The Elementary Entourage to share our Vegas adventures from last week. WOWzas! I wish I could share EVERYTHING; however, a lot of the information was intended for attendees only and I need to be cautious and respectful of the presenters' wishes.

Before I begin, I have a disclaimer. It is SO easy to get wrapped up in the "business" side of TPT. Throughout this conference I would hear about the best marketing strategies, product appeal, and countless ways to "sell" your "stuff".  However, we have to remember the true reason why we do what we do....simply to help other educators. So I would like to share my first sticky note with you:

If I had to sum up this entire trip in one word, I would choose INSPIRING. Listening and talking to hundreds of teachers about their TPT journey was so emotional. I realized that we are a community full of support and we all have the same passion: to help teachers save time by providing QUALITY resources. TPT sellers are "selling" time for teachers to spend with their families, travel and other endeavors. New financial opportunities have given sellers a chance to:

  • expand their product lines (many are going full time!)
  • research the more effective teaching strategies
  • the chance to attend quality professional development
  • being able to travel and network with educators around the world

Some interesting statistics that I learned during the Keynote presentation included:
  • TPT launched in 2006
  • Currently there are 5.25 million users (3 million are active)
  • Currently there are 50,000 active authors
  • 1.5 million products have been posted (I actually thought it was more!)
  • 25 million downloads each month
  • The average item costs about the price of a Starbuck's coffee
  • There are 3.75 million teachers in America
  • There are 2 million homeschooling parents in America
It was pointed out that PARENTS are very active in the TPT community. These parents are looking for supplementary materials, extensions and extra practice for their child. Also, they want more than PDFs (amen!!).

So...what did I learn? A LOT! Here are just a few highlights:

Session 1: The Superpowers of Powerpoint Michelle Oaks, Hope King and Rachelle Smith

At first I was not sure why I signed up for this session because I have been a high user of PowerPoint. Honestly, I almost switched sessions at the last minute but some "powerful" force prevented me from switching it up. That would have been a HUGE MISTAKE. I think this session was one of my faves! The girls were awesome presenters and the entire session was very interactive. I learned so many tricks I didn't know existed and it just proved how powerful that program continues to be. We learned how to:

  •  add shadows to images to make them pop
  •  secure files 
  •  add images inside of shapes
  •  create quality previews
  •  and so much more!
I'm excited to go back and update some of my products with some new twists!

Session 2: Advanced Marketing Panel Shelley Gray, Chris Kesler, Kelley Dolling, Rachel Lynette and Tabitha Carro 

There are so many ways to market these days: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, etc. so I was VERY pleased to hear a reoccurring theme throughout these sessions: Choose just a few to pursue! There is no way one could do ALL social media platforms and be effective (without a virtual assistant). My personal go tos for now are Facebook, Blogger and Pinterest.

Another reoccurring theme throughout the week was hearing about how powerful photos of your products in action can be for marketing. Seeing is believing. Photos make it authentic. This will be one of my goals for this upcoming year.

This session was jam packed full of amazing marketing strategies. Time to start cranking!

Session 3: Design Panel Kimberly Geswein, Nikki Casassa, Michelle Tsivgadellis, Blair Turner and Julie Faulkner 

These women are true artists! My biggest take away was that white space should be your friend. I am one who looooves some color and I think I go a bit overboard when designing products because I get so excited to use my fun digital papers, frames and clipart. However, white space can make things less overwhelming to the eye and has a cleaner look. I have a lot to learn when it comes to "design"...

Kimberly Geswein (KG Fonts) literally has the BEST fonts out there. I highly recommend biting the bullet and investing in her font license. I'm not sure where I have been but I didn't realize she has posted several font pairing guides (like THIS one) in her store. Be sure to check them out if you haven't done so already :)

One last thing I want to share without going overboard is an excellent tip that one of the presenters mentioned. When you finish a product, reduce it to 20% and see if you can read the cover clearly. This helps determine what people see when using mobile devices.

Session 4: Fix Your Brand and Take it to the Next Level Ariane Huddleston, Blair Turner and Mary Montero 

Many topics were covered in this sessions such as:

  • finding your product niche 
  • branding your logo and style
  • how to deal with snarky feedback
  • Pinterest/Tailwind
  • pin like a person, not all worksheets (amen!)

Session 5: Did I Really Sell That? Deanna Jump and Deedee Willis

I really enjoyed this presentation by these top sellers. Some take aways include:

  • revise your older products (uhhhh! But I know I need to hop on this)
  • TPT style constantly changes (chevron is OUT people!)
  • Don't use color on student response sheets for printing purposes
  • Spacing your fonts using the AV tool in PowerPoint
  • Need to resize your thumbnails? Use
  • #1 TAKE AWAY: will hyperlink any link for you without you having to manipulate the html code. Once again, where have I been???
Session 6: Do This, Not That Rachel Lynette

I walked away from this session chanting "Create with Intention!". She had so many awesome insights and tips for sellers. I really can't share too much on this session without violating copyright. Moving on...

Session 7: Your TPT Business: Taxes, Finance and Copyright Jared Cohen and Amy Borrell Berner I wasn't "excited" about attending this session but I went to Vegas to learn all about this topic. I won't bore you with the details. However, having your own small business isn't all sparkles and rainbows. You have to invest time, $$$$ and effort..a lot of each. Even after this session I am still unsure of many details but it sounds like things vary state to state. I guess I will be headed back to my accountant at the end of this month to get everything ironed out :)

Hands down the most AMAZING part of this adventure was getting to network with other bloggers!

Other activities:

Wednesday evening I met up with Carla from Comprehension Connection and her reading crew. We attended the What the Teacher Wants meet-up and it was HIGH ENERGY. I met a ton of incredible bloggers and was blown away with the swag bags and amazing giveaways that were handed out. The bloggers who threw this bash did an incredible job. 

Thursday I had to take a break and hang out with my mom :) heard me...MY MOM. She hadn't been to Vegas in 54 years so she wanted to make it into a girls trip! We had a blast eating out and even went to the Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil..

Mom was SO excited that she tracked down Elvis. I do have video of Elvis serenading her. I think she was in heaven.

Friday evening ended with Primary Pack's Kickback. Once again, HIGH ENERGY, swag bags and giveaways galore! It was so nice to kickback and meet even more bloggers I follow and make new connections.

Would I attend again? In a heart beat! I definitely was out of my comfort zone going into TPT Vegas week not knowing anyone. However, every single person I talked to was so friendly and down to earth. At the end of the day we are all teachers and teachers are special individuals that have huge hearts.

Be sure to check out other posts about TPT in Vegas by heading to The Elementary Entourage.

Guest Blogger #3: Google Forms

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Today's guest blogger is Dianne from Tech Teacher Tidbits.

Hi Friends,
  I'm Dianne from Tech Teacher Tidbits and I'm thrilled to be guest blogging here on Julie's blog.  The Techie Teacher has been one of my go-to blogs for quite some time now and I'm happy to be a very small part of it.  :)

    Today's topic is...

     Friends, if you have not heard of Google forms or you're not using them at all, please give them a look.  Forms is an excellent way to collect information.  They're NOT just for conducting surveys or filling formal data needs like RTI, although many people still think so.

     In my classroom, I've used Google forms to collect my parents contact information quickly and easily.  I simply give the parents the link at out Open House and have my computers turned on and ready.  After my little talk is over, I send the parents right to the computers to complete the form.  Here's a screenshot of the form I made for this purpose.

     I've also created a volunteer form and embedded it into my class website.  It is SO much easier to direct a parent to the website to fill out the form.  There is no longer a need to write down information, lose it, go crazy looking for it, and end up having to ask the parent AGAIN when they said they were available.  The fight is real, my friends.  An added bonus to this strategy is that the parents actually peruse the website.  Ever wonder if you're parents are actively using your site?  You will know for sure every time a form is filled out.  By the way, I also embed the communication form mentioned above for those who missed Open House.)

     Up until this year, I've had two guinea pigs as classroom pets.  The students always took the piggies home on weekends and vacations (except summer).  With Google forms, you can work out a schedule without actually doing the work.  What?!  You heard me.  Just put the options on your form for parents to choose and send the link via email.  Their email address came from where?  You guessed it - the communication form!  I never have to decipher illegible handwriting or figure out if it's a zero or the letter 'o'.  I could go on and on with this one.  I also never have to then type all of their email addresses one by one into my gmail account.  Copy and paste, my friends.  Copy. And. Paste.

     Once a choice is made on the form, that option disappears.  It's first come, first served at its finest.  Gone are the days of sending home a paper form asking for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices.  Gone are the days of having to organize all of those choices.  Gone are the days of having to work out the schedule and then respond back to the parents yet again.  Have I convinced you yet?

     And don't limit yourself.  It's not just for school related needs.  Here is an example of a form that I created for a HUGE family reunion that's happening at my house this summer.

     166 relatives have been invited.  Do you have any idea how much money I have saved by using forms to communicate with the family.  No invitations needed.  I collected as many emails as I could and created the form.  When I sent it, I asked the people whose emails I had to forward the invite/RSVP/all the information you could possibly need to the people in their immediate family who would also need it.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  Now, I'm just sitting back and watching all of the information roll in.  That is - in between cleaning the house, preparing the yard, shopping for paper goods...yikes!

     I'd like to wrap up this post by showing you how easy it is to complete a form.  I realize that I only showed you screenshots above and the reason is this; I do not want a ton of information showing up in my spreadsheets.  There is an option to 'shut off' the form but I need them 'on' for those whose information I do need.  :)   I created the form below so you could play a little and I could get a little help.  Enjoy!

Guest Blogger #2

Friday, July 10, 2015

Today's guest post is from Brooke who is the author of The Smarter Balanced Teacher.

Hey, Y'all! I'm so excited to crash the party at The Techie Teacher. Ahem... I mean, join Julie at The Techie Teacher! You know how often you use Publisher, PowerPoint, and Prezi to create your own presentations and products? You're probably pretty well-versed in using these programs, and maybe prefer one over the others. 
But, have you ever had your students, or even your own children, looking over your shoulder and start asking about a million questions about what you were doing? That's authentic, intrinsic motivation to learn how to do something new! Add that to content-area learning objectives, and you have built-in buy-in from your kiddos to master the material you need them to learn.
Way back in 1999, I had a second grade class of about 24 students. I taught in a Title I school, and we had two computers in my classroom. They were desktops, not laptops, and teachers didn't have computers at all, much less Promethean boards, Smartboards, or Polyvision boards. I didn't even have a whiteboard...yep, good old chalkboard! 
The science standards back then weren't much different than they are now in South Carolina, and second graders needed to learn about animals. I had the crazy idea to let the kids in my class use PowerPoint to create slideshows, complete with music, sound effects, photos, clipart, and, most importantly, the information about an animal they chose to research. My coworkers thought I'd lost my mind. My students were thrilled beyond belief, and these were kids who really hated to come to school! Long story short, each student chose an animal, researched it online by reading several non-fiction books, as well as encyclopedia entries, and prepared a PowerPoint slideshow. At the next PTA meeting, my class was featured, and each child showed his or her PowerPoint. Parents were amazed. Kids were proud. Teachers were astounded. I guarantee you that those now 22-year-olds still know an awful lot about animals!

Technology has changed so much since then. Programs have been refined. Students come to us much more tech-savvy than ever before. But, you know what? I still have kids do presentations using Publisher, PowerPoint, and Prezi, and they still love every minute of it. As soon as I say we'll be researching, anything, really, and doing presentations "on the computer", they're hooked!
We might use Publisher to create fliers, brochures, or ads featuring colonies in North America, insects, or dream vacations. We might use PowerPoint to create slideshows about habitats, types of sentences, or mathematic algorithms. We might use Prezi to create biographical presentations, Native Americans, or the scientific process. The point is, it's a lot like flipping your classroom, while the students learn the content as they read and research it, relearn it as they create their presentations, and cement it in place, as they present the information to their classmates, teaching the other students as well. With so many students, and so many standards these days, I'm more likely to have students work together in small groups. They determine their essential questions, based on a grading rubric, decide who will research what, then draft, revise, and edit together. Finally, they publish their work in whatever format they choose. I'm more like a facilitator than a teacher, just stepping in to help where needed, during these assignments. Luckily, I have great support from our computer lab paraprofessional, and my kids have some extra time for research online, because, just like in 1999, I still have only two computers in my classroom!