Technology and the Common Core

Today, technology plays an important role in classrooms around the country. View my VoiceThread presentation below to learn about the impact of technology in the Common Core State Curriculum, and also how it is used for assessment purposes, like PARCC, which is a standardized test given in about 13 states across our country.


Web 2.0 Tools!

PhotoPeach is an excellent slideshow tool. In addition to adding pictures, PhotoPeach allows you to customize your slideshow using captions, music and you can even include multiple choice quizzes! Teachers can purchase an educator account, so their students can create slideshows of their own. In the classroom, this would be a great tool for digital storytelling, biographies, book reviews, reading to preform a task/ “how-to” writing etc. Teachers can use it during quarterly or end of the year celebrations, as additional support or resources for students, and even professional development seminars.

I created a slideshow that reflects the second grade math curriculum. At times, students and their parents find that it’s difficult to decompose numbers to add and subtract. This slideshow shows step by step directions on how to use this strategy, a few questions to review, and questions at the end to practice and their solutions. Students can view this slideshow on our school’s second grade website and use it as needed. Also, parents can view the slideshow to get a better understanding of how and why we practice this strategy.

View the slideshow here: How to Decompose

Librarian Blogs

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“Librarians are the coolest people out there doing the hardest job out there on the frontlines.”

– Neil Gaiman

Librarians work extremely hard. At any given time, they are teaching lessons, working the circulation desk, collaborating with teachers, leading book clubs, weeding, placing orders, reading new books and reviews, and implementing new technology into their lessons. Librarians provide students with the appropriate tools to search for and use information.

Through my journey to find librarian blogs, I came across the following three. These outstanding blogs show the passion and dedication of three librarians through their meaningful posts, examples of student activities and by making the connection between reading, technology and learning. I hope you enjoy exploring these blogs as much as I have!

The Busy Librarian

As a former graduate of the McDaniel SLM program, and member of several professional associations (such as, ALA, AASL, ISTE and the Howard County Association of School Librarians), Matthew Winner created this outstanding blog. He did not need to include all the bells and whistles to get readers interested- the content alone is what makes this blog unique. The most recent posts feature podcasts, where different authors and illustrators talk about their books. If you click on the Let’s Get Busy Podcast link on the navigation bar, you are taken to a separate page that houses all of these podcasts. In addition to interviews with various authors and illustrators, Matthew features, “The Best Book Ever“, which is a weekly podcast that features five great books, reviewed in five minutes. This is a great little preview for teachers and students. Another wonderful feature of this blog, is that he includes Vine Book Trailers, where students can view brief videos about a book, similar to movie trailers. Matthew also includes a link to his Pinterest Page, where he posts books related to his lessons, such as the Mock Caldecott 2014 (Such a great idea!), links to his SLM Shelf Challenge, Great Non-Fiction books, and Must-Have Graphic Novels.

Unlike a lot of other library blogs that I have visited, this blog is all about books. He doesn’t feature a lot of student work like some of the other blogs. I was so drawn in by the book reviews and author podcasts, that I did not feel like there was anything missing. In a way, Matthew keeps it simple. There are so many interesting and exciting things in technology and education, it was like a breath of fresh air to find a blog that uses these technologies to highlight excellent books.

Matthew goes beyond simply using Twitter to connect with his colleagues, students and the community. He uses podcasts, Vine clips, Pinterest and YouTube to connect with his readers and their families. Through this blog, it is clear that Matthew has a true passion for children’s literature. His school is lucky to have him as their librarian!

The MHMS Daring School Librarian Blog

While searching for my second librarian blog, I stumbled upon this one. At first, it was the banner that caught my eye. There are quirky avatars set in the Murray Hill Middle School Library, QR Codes and the quote, “LEARNING HAPPENS HERE!” in a bright yellow, superhero speech bubble. I then decided to scroll down, and take a picture walk (as we like to say in second grade). I was instantly amazed! In the most current post, The MHMS Instagrammy’s, students showcase special events, talents and their own work through an Instagram account created by qthe school librarian. Students are encouraged to use this as a way to share anything “cool” with their peers, teachers, parents and the community.

Students are also encouraged to comment on posts within the blog. The Daring Librarian (also known as Gwyneth Jones) even shares a link on the navigation bar, about tips on how to create a “quality” comment. Each tip and example is written clearly, using kid-friendly language. By showing students how to write appropriate comments, Ms. Jones is modeling how to be a good digital citizen. As we have discussed, this needs to not only be done in school, but reinforced at home too. When students follow these suggestions and give positive and constructive feedback, they too are being good digital citizens.

The True Adventures of an Instructional Technology Facilitator

I am a visual person. I love art and illustrations. What drew me to this blog, were the incredible illustrations in this blog’s banner. Of course, the title of the blog caught my attention too! The blog’s creator and Instructional Technology Facilitator, Nikki D. Robertson is clearly passionate about collaborating with teachers and working towards helping students become good digital citizens and 21st century learners.

As a finalist in the Edublog Awards in 2013, for the Best Library/Librarian Blog, I think The True Adventures of an Instructional Technology Facilitator focus more on technology and literacy, rather than focusing on specific books and authors. This is a great blog for teachers and students who love technology!

I have found that many of Nikki’s posts showcases new and innovative technologies, examples of how she utilizes them, and thorough directions explaining how to use these applications and programs. I particularly liked her post on Padlet. Here, Nikki explains how she used Padlet with her students to show what they know about a certain story they have read. She also shares useful and interesting ways to use Padlet in the classroom. This is helpful for teachers who want to experiment with a new technology, but may need suggestions on how to apply it to their classroom instruction or activities.

Another feature that I loved, was the Virtual Hallway. From what I have researched, the Virtual Hallway is a county-wide website for each school to highlight student work, completed on MacBook Air laptops. Other school districts in various states have similar websites for student work. However, many of them use text and hyperlinks to bring you to a separate page with the work. Nikki uses applications like Padlet, Google Slides, Google Drawing and ISSUU- Digital Publishing Platform to showcase student work right on the page. No hyperlinks necessary! Although the Virtual Hallway is not something Nikki developed on her own, she puts her own spin on it by presenting her students’ work with a variety of applications. Since my county does not have something like this, I would love to create a virtual hallway for my classroom, grade level and eventually for my school.

Image used with permission from Microsoft.

Classroom Blogs

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As a second grade teacher, I am always looking for innovative ideas and lessons that correspond to the CCSC. Below are a few blogs that I follow and have been incorporating some of the ideas and lessons into my own instruction.

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog

“My blog is for my stuff that I do”, said by Gracie, a six year old student in Ms. Cassidy’s Class. Based out of Canada, Ms. Cassidy shares the excitement of learning through the eyes of her students. From activities like, Flashlight Friday, a visit from the fire station, and drawing shadows, to charitable activities, guest speakers and cross curricular activities, Ms. Cassidy always seems to make learning meaningful and fun for her students. She teaches her students about being a digital citizen by giving each student a blog to post their own work. Students also add their own photographs and explain learning through their perspective. Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom incorporates technology into all aspects of her teaching, to promote 21st century learning.

This blog inspires me to be a better teacher. Ms. Cassidy’s passion is evident through all of the innovative tasks she creates for her students. In the future, I would like to have a similar blog, where students can share their work and experiences throughout the school year. This blog allows parents to see exactly what their children are doing and thinking, and I think they would love to see how proficient they have become with various technologies such as, Skype, Twitter, and QR Codes , just to name a few.

Some teachers may find it difficult to incorporate this much technology into their classrooms, due to the demands of recent assessments creating limited access to computers. However, teachers, students and their families can benefit from blogs. A blog like Ms. Cassidy’s classroom is like an online portfolio, where teachers, students, and families can access it at any time. Students will be proud to share their work, and love reminiscing about the activities they have done throughout the year.

Erica’s Ed-Ventures

Step into a world of bright colors, bold prints and fun! Created by Erica Bohrer, an inspirational first grade teacher, active blogger and creative mind, this blog is sure to capture the attention of any elementary school teacher.

Compared to other blogs I have visited, this isn’t your typical classroom blog. Erica’s Ed-Ventures is geared towards teachers who are looking for lesson ideas or organizational tips. Erica frequently shares her weekly lesson plans, along with samples of student work. Many of which are available at her Teachers Pay Teachers store. She has also worked with Scholastic and created teacher resources such as these reading response activities and ready-to-go spelling activities.

Erica also shares pictures of her classroom set-up, with different tips on how to create an organized, kid-friendly, visually appealing and functional classroom environment. She includes directions and where to buy certain items that she used to personalize her classroom.

Erica’s Ed-Ventures is a definite must see for elementary school teachers!

Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog

Once you enter this blog, it is like you are entering Mrs. Yollis’ actual classroom. Her blog posts go from one topic or subject to another, as many teachers in self-contained classrooms do. The actual appearance of the blog is a little plain and somewhat cluttered, but don’t let that deter you from exploring it further.

I really like how her posts are informative and interactive at the same time. Mrs. Yollis’  blog appeals to different types of learners because the information is displayed in a variety of ways (text, videos, hands on activities etc). For example, in one post, Mrs. Yollis shares that her students are learning about text features. First, she includes the Common Core Standard which is the foundation of this lesson. Next, she gives the definition and examples of informational text and text features, using kid-friendly language. Then she includes two videos (from YouTube and Vimeo) and an activity where the students respond to a question in the comment section.

In addition to the academics, Mrs. Yollis’ classroom also highlights some of the special and fun activities her students participate in. On a school-wide pajama day, Mrs. Yollis’ class compared their slippers, built structures for their stuffed animal friends and even read with other classes. You can view a Photo Peach video she created, which shows the students reading, writing and having fun on pajama day.

This is an excellent blog where students can interact with their peers, and parents can see what their children are learning about in school.