Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Have you ever wondered about African Penguins?  
Have you ever sang a song in hindi? 
What do the children in Iceland eat?

The students in my district have experienced all of these things!  No, we do not have an unlimited field trip budget. 
We are globalizing!

This year, we have been working very hard to move the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards for students off the paper and into our classrooms.  One of the ways that we are addressing the standards of Digital Citizenship and Global Collaborator is to go on Skype field trips.

We chatted with the team from Anturus (@anturus) while they were on their most recent trip to Iceland.  The students asked questions about the northern lights, glaciers, whales and found out that the people in Iceland actually eat a lot of the same things that we do, as well as some strange meats.

One of the teachers in my district has a friend that is working at a school in Malawi and we were lucky enough to get a chance to Skype with the children there and ask questions about Africa, what the children there like to do and listen to a song that they had prepared for us!  They will continue to connect and learn from each other throughout the school year.

We Skyped with Park Ranger Kelly for a Mystery Biome Skype.  The students asked questions to determine where Ranger Kelly was video chatting from.  The children used maps and charts and determined that she was in Mt. Rainier National Park.  This was a great Skype experience set up through Microsoft Education. They offer other experiences that we would like to try later in the year.

Another Skype experience that we really enjoyed was with SANCCOB (seabird rescue organization) in Cape Town, South Africa.  We got a tour of the facility and see the penguins that were being healed and ready for release.  We also learned about how SANCCOB helps the wildlife in the event of an oil spill.  The children had great questions about the penguins and even want to adopt one of them!  You can too!

 Our fourth grade students are learning about the Native Americans of New York and how they used the natural resources in NY to make housing, clothing and get food.  Our Skype session with the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming was aligned with this learning.  The presenter at the Center showed us how the Plains Native Americans used the Buffalo and the natural resources around them in order to survive.  She was able to present actual artifacts that were made from the buffalo.  I never knew that there were so many practical uses for the parts of a buffalo! Guess what they used the bladder for????

One of the cutest Skype sessions that I have participated in so far was a visit with a school in Mumbai, India.  The students' school day was over but the children came BACK to school at 7pm their time so that they could videochat with one of our kindergarten classes at the beginning of our school day. We showed them how to play duck-duck-goose and they showed us a performance of "Old MacDonald had a Farm". We taught them some nursery rhymes and they taught us a song and Hindi.  It was a great opportunity for our children to see what school was like in other parts of the world.

We are new at videochatting.  
We have experienced technical difficulties. 
We have had some failed attempts while scheduling.
We are motivated!
We are inspired! 
We will continue to help our children to explore the world! 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Five for Friday - November 12th

Five for Friday

Well....it has been quite a week.  No matter how you look at it, this week has been one that I will not forget. I will not make any political opinions in this post although there may be some politically themed content. :)

I may have mentioned that I have a Senior this year.  I just filled out the Graduation Order Form for his cap and gown.....what?????? Crazy.....

Election Day 2016.
I voted in my 8th Presidential election. (don't do the math)
For the first time in the history of EVER I saw a woman's name on the ballot for President.
So cool.  So very cool...

I was able to spend Veteran's Day with my favorite veteran again this year! For the past bunch of years, the kids and I have taken my Dad (Retired Army Colonel) out to lunch at Roadhouse Steakhouse.  They provide a free lunch for Veterans on this day.  I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be able to do this every year with my kids, my Mom and Dad.

I may order the Classic Vanilla Latte every day just to see this written on my cup!

So, I live in Rochester NY and we are lucky here to have a beautiful and historic cemetery called Mount Hope Cemetery.  It is the final resting place of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. This past week was a pretty busy week for Susan B. Over 8,000 people went to the cemetery on Tuesday to pay their respects and leave their "I Voted" stickers on her grave.  This is not an unusual occurrence on election day and the day that Hillary Clinton won the nomination was a pretty impressive day too. I was really happy to be able to take my Mom and my daughter to visit the site for both of their first times. We waited until Saturday to avoid the massive crowds.  It was a lovely day....

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Video Chat Etiquette

We teach our babies to say "please" and "thank you".  We teach young schoolchildren to raise their hands when they want to speak. We remind kids to take turns. When we chat face-to-face we remind our students of all of the etiquette that they have learned in their lives.  The same should be expected when we video chat.

We start our video chat etiquette session by talking about the different types of video chatting and in what situations we might want to chat.  We video chat for a reason. When we chat with Grandma, we do so to say "Happy birthday" or "I miss you".  Before we make the call we determine our reason for calling.

In order to be prepared for a time-sensitive call, we encourage kids to have some questions ready to ask the caller.  The correct type of question is also important.  For example, the questions that you have when you  are talking to a zookeeper should have to do with animals!  Little kids love to tell stories and teaching the difference between asking a question and sharing a story about your new, naughty puppy is important.

Digital Citizenship and creating a safe digital footprint is necessary even at the youngest grades. When conducting a video chat, we encourage children to introduce themselves when addressing a guest speaker.  We teach children to look directly into the camera and introduce themselves safely by using their first name only.  During the chat, being aware of your body language and paying attention to the caller is stressed. At the end of the call we say "thank you" and "goodbye!"

These sessions have set our kids up well for the SKYPE virtual field trips that we have done in our elementary schools.  So far we have connected with South Africa, Iceland, Mt. Rainier and Florida!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Recap, Padlet and Stemscopes! Oh my!

Today I got to venture into an exotic land. A land where I had never traveled before.  I had come close but had never been brave enough to enter.....

5th grade.....

I always had so many reasons to avoid it.  The content was hard!  All those hormones!  They were, almost definitely, TALLER than me!  Lame reasons, I know, but they always seemed valid to me.  

In this new position, I get the fabulous opportunity to experience different grades and work with some excellent teachers.  Today I tackled 5th grade science.  My district is piloting a science program called STEMscopes.  Our grade-level team leaders are leading the charge with the pilot program and 5th grade is working on a gravity scope.  

The first class that I went into this morning was completing the last activity in their inquiry.
The egg drop.
They had already learned about gravity, all of the ways to counterbalance gravity and had to design a structure/vehicle to protect their egg from cracking when dropped from the tallest point on their playground. They had tested with plastic eggs and today was the real deal.  This project needed cooperation, creativity and communication in order to work.

Making changes to protect that egg!

Teamwork was essential.

Before their test, Mrs. Young had them introduce their teams and explain their design in the web-based application, Recap.

She gave them 60 seconds to introduce and explain.
Recording and previewing their Recap entries

Then it was time for the test, so off to the playground we went!  The groups each went to the top of the slide deck and dropped their eggs!

Ready to drop!
Upon their return to the classroom, they had to unwrap their eggs and determine whether or not they were cracked.The results were good and all passengers survived the fall.  

My second 5th grade adventure involved the very first lesson of this same scope. I decided to teach the students a new tech tool since the content and lesson itself was not too complicated.  The tool that I chose was Padlet.  

The students had never used this tool before and caught on VERY quickly.  I had them record any thoughts, questions or wonderings about gravity.  We did this activity at the beginning of the lesson and at the end of the lesson.
Working on our Gravity Padlet
Padlet also gives you the option to print out all of the great thinking done by the students.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math all culminated into a fantastic, meaningful activity for these 5th graders.

Well what are my thoughts on my 5th grade experience?

Although I had never been there before, I would totally go back (and I promised them all I would do another Padlet lesson so I have to, right?).....even though some of them were DEFINITELY taller than me!

Words to live by

Sunday, October 23, 2016

5 for Friday (2 days late)

 I am participating in this week's 5 for Friday hosted by Doodle Bugs Teaching!  I am a former vigilant blogger that is hopping back in the saddle with my new blog and a new position in my district!  Come over and follow!

I have stepped out of the classroom for a couple of years to work in a new position as an Instructional Specialist.  I have started a NEW blog to chronicle all of the exciting things that my new job gives me the opportunity to do!  Follow me!

I have a Senior.  I can't believe it really.  The reality hits pretty hard when you are standing on the court during Senior Night.  Nate has played for his school's volleyball program for 6 years so it was a pretty great accomplishment.  I didn't cry.......much.

Did I mention that I have a Senior????  On top of attending the first of 4 Senior nights this year, I got his Senior pictures today.  I must have blinked.

Click HERE to visit Amazon
Have you read this book yet?  I am running a book study with a group of teachers in my district and we are focusing on this book.  We are learning how to integrate technology into classrooms.  I am traveling to Buffalo this week to see one of the authors speak about this book and am really excited to come back and share some great ideas!  I will be blogging about the conference and about each chapter as we journey through the school year.  Click on the image if you would like to purchase it from Amazon!

Tis the season for pumpkin..........everything........
This is a rough time of year for those of us that do not like pumpkin.........anything..........

Alas, soon it will be peppermint time.