Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Manga Math--A free math site that will knock your socks off!

My class is in love with this site...and so am I.  This is a "game" site that
works on all types of math skills.  I have been so impressed with the
growth my kiddos have made on their basic math skills.  Because a
little competition is built in, the kids are willing to work on their facts
outside of class time.  Even kids without internet access at home have
been going to our public library to participate.  The great thing
about this site is that is also allows connections between schools. Our class recently was challenged by a school in Ireland.  Talk about exciting.  Also, did I mention that is it free??  Check it out.  Here is
the link:
Manga High

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Searching Google By Reading Level

Hi friends!
Sorry for the delay in postings.  Life got a little crazy.  While I have been delayed in posting, I have been gathering ideas that I can't wait to share.  This is the first one.

Google info searches scare me when dealing with kids, so I normally have my students use kid-friendly search engines.  But, kids do need to learn google!  I just learned the most amazing tip!  I will show you how to search google by reading level.

Step One: Search for a Topic
Step Two: On the left side of the
search screen. click on "Show
Search Results."

Step Three: Click on "Reading

Step Four: Click which level you are looking for.  It is that easy!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

QR Code Literacy Activity Reflection

Well, I was able to borrow 15 iPads and begin our literacy work.  It was a HUGE success.  The kids were so engaged on what was happening.  It was a moment where I just stood there and let the learning happen. 

I did encounter a few issues; however.  Two of the station activities did not work with the iPads.  The first was due to a block from our internet filtering system.  I built this activity at home, so I was unaware of how the blocks might impact our lesson.  Also, one activity runs on flash.  Remember my earlier post about how iPads do not run flash?  Yep, I forgot my own advice. I guess I thought it ran through YouTube.  So, what I did was make that one station into a laptop station.  For the website that was blocked, I simply downloaded the short story I wanted them to listen to right into iTunes and they were able to enjoy the story.  So, my take away from this is: 1) QR codes immediately engage kids.  2) Our room was buzzing with all the learning. 3) Check each QR link at school to be sure that what you want them to do is not blocked. 4) Do not choose something that is run by Java.

This lesson took about 2 hours.  The kids were really engaged for the entire time.  They are now asking for their next QR code treasure hunt.  I love that kids think reviewing literacy strategies is a treasure hunt.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Literacy QR Code Activity to Share

Hi my friends!
I have created a reading activity that includes the use of QR codes.  I will be using this with my 5th graders tomorrow.  I wanted a way to review "what good readers do" while checking in on the skills they have mastered and the ones I will be sure to focus on in the next few weeks.  Feel free to use it!  It was super easy to make. Let's walk through how I made this lesson.
QR Codes and Great Readers

  I first chose the topics/focus of my lesson.  I was actually inspired by this "Good Readers" poster I found on pinterest.  It did not link back to its original home.  I cannot find its  author, so if anyone out there knows who made this,  let me know so I can give credit to him/her.

I then decided to make a QR code activity that reviews/assesses these skills.  I created questions that I wanted the students to answer.  I then found websites that would allow them to practice those skills.  For example, I chose visualization as an important reading skill.  I talk about "mind movies" all the time.  I knew I wanted a story that they could listen to, but not have any images to support the story.  I also knew I wanted a story that was engaging and had great atmosphere.  It made me think of the author, O. Penn-Coughin.  This local author writes amazing spooky stories for kids.  He also has amazing audio podcasts of these stories.

So, I found the link to the story I wanted the students to listen to.  I then went to http://www.esponce.com/ to create my QR code.  I made sure the generate tab was clicked.  I then copied and pasted the URL of the spooky story and hit "generate."  It then creates a QR code.  I then saved it as a jpeg file.  It looks like this.------------>

I now plan to take the QR codes for this activity and hang them around the room.  The students will be in teams of 2-3.  They will go around the room to scan the QR codes and answer the questions.
I plan to do this lesson with my class tomorrow.  I will let you all know how it goes.  I have to admit I am excited to watch this lesson unfold.  It is much more engaging than the workbook pages that review this same information.  I will post tomorrow to let you know how it all works out. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

QR Codes in the Classroom

Hi friends!
Well, the first week of school is now over.  The kids were ready to go, and I was excited to bring some new ideas into the classroom.  So, of course, I wanted to share those ideas with you.  The first is QR codes.
QR codes are the new bar codes that can be read through free readers on smart phones and tablet devices.  You can also read them on your laptop.   You will start to notice these square codes on all sorts of products that you buy--like shampoo, coffee, breakfast cereal and much more.  QR Codes are easy to create--and even more fun to read.  It feels like a high tech treasure hunt.

Here are my suggestions for apps to use QR Codes
QR Code Readers For your iPhone/iPad: AT&T Reader or Red Laser
QR Code Reader/Generator For your laptop: Esponce Reader and Generator
Here is a video that shows QR codes in the classroom.

 Coming up on the next post...I will be attaching some QR code lessons I plan to use in my classroom.  Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why reinvent the wheel, when you can steal?

Ok, so not really steal.  Teacherspayteachers.com is an online marketplace where you can buy and then download lessons, units, posters, or even super cute clip art created by teachers all over the world.  It is super easy to use and very addicting.  I have purchased many fabulous things that have become part of my classroom routine.

For instance, there are several QR code lessons for easing yourself into integrating QR codes.  What are QR codes and why would you ever use them?  Tune in this week for a crash course in QR codes.  In the mean time, here is a link to this amazing gem. Click here:   Teachers Pay Teachers

There is also a similar site called Teachers Notebook.  It does not have quite as many resources, but I have found some great items there as well.  Here is a link for that site.Teacher's Notebook

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Need a little inspiration??

Ok, so this is not necessarily and tech tip, but as teachers, we sometimes need a reminder why we got into this crazy field.  Here is a video that reminds us of the power of one--and the power of a supportive community.  Get your kleenex...you will leave this video feeling a little better about the human race. You have an amazing job; be proud.  You are truly molding our future leaders.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Free Apps...No really!

Hi all!  It is the first day back for me.  Yikes,  that transition out of summer is a difficult one.  So, how about some free stuff??  There is a great free app on iTunes called "AppsGoneFree" that sends you a list of well received apps that have gone free for a day or two.  Sometimes they are useful apps and sometimes they are silly, but free is always the way to go.  Today there are some great free math apps from Everyday Math, so go and check it out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What about the iPad?

I love iPads.  I am excited to see them in the hands of kids and teachers.  They are engaging and the list of apps continue to grow each day.  The future of textbooks and books in general seems to be pointing in this direction.


It is so important to know a few things before you jump on the iPad bandwagon.  To successfully integrate iPads into the day, one needs really great professional development.  All technology integration requires good pd, but for iPads it is vital.  The reason is that iPads do not run "java."  Java is a programming language that is used in A LOT of websites, especially interactive education sites.  So, one cannot just have kids jump on websites using their iPads.  For example, the virtual math manipulatives will not all work on the iPad.  Starfall, the awesome phonics site, only partially works.  All of those wonderfully fun games on the Colonial Williamsburg site will not run.  Most video will not work unless you are using an app to run it.  Also, apps cost money and all must be approved through your district tech person.  You also have to figure out how to easily get those apps onto all of your devices.  You don't really want to have to load the apps one at a time on each individual machine. 

So, one needs to find creative ways to use the device and also needs to have ways of adding apps easily.  All of that requires great professional development and a smooth relationship with your technology department.  It is possible and it will be worth all of the hard work.  With that said, this week I will be covering some great apps and sites that you can use for the iPad.  I can't wait!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Do you Voki?

Press play for information on Voki and some examples of its use in the classroom.  It is a free service located at www.voki.com.  The kids (and adults) in your life will absolutely love it!

50+ Ways to Tell A Story

So, I was out and about on the web looking for new ways for students to tell stories. I came across this wiki by other ed tech teachers. Wow! So many new ideas listed by names, types of stories they can create, and by media capability. He has also included videos of the same story being told in each web 2.0 tool. What a resource!  Check out the intro video from the site.

How to Begin

Ok, so when I started using technology in my classroom, I was overwhelmed with how to begin. How do you teach 35 excited (often uncoordinated) kids to use this stuff without damaging it? So, I made a little powerpoint/keynote that I share with each class at the beginning of each year. I also review it periodically during the year. I am providing them both for you to use/change as you see fit. But...of course I cannot load them onto my blog, so I am providing them on a free file sharing site. Don't worry this is a very popular site used by loads of teachers. The address is: http://technologyuptospeed.minus.com

Here is a tip: If you want to change a powerpoint into a keynote, simply click on the file (do not open the file), hold down the control button and click the mouse. A menu of options will appear. Click "Open With" and choose "Keynote." The slideshow may shift or change a bit, but it is always better than having to rebuild everything from scratch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who I am and what I believe...

I am Jaime Speed. I have been a classroom teacher for 11 years and have a Masters Degree in Education and a math endorsement. I am also an Apple Distinguished Educator and a technology leader in my school and district.

Ok, so now that I have that out of the way...
  • I believe the best way to impact where our world is going is to inspire and prepare those that will be the future leaders.
  • I believe that teachers are more important than most people are willing to recognize.
  • I believe that we learn best from each other.
  • I believe that technology is the setting in which our students live. It knocks down the walls of the classroom and shows students that the world and their place in it can really be anywhere.
  • I believe that technology is not "fun" or an "add-on" or "something people are into"; it is a vital skill for all of our students.
I hope you will join me as I post integration ideas, tips, app reviews, my experiences (good and bad), questions, and various musings. I also hope you will post ideas that have worked for you. Collaboration is the best. I am so excited to have you around!