Thursday, October 24, 2013

This App Changed My Life...

Silent Light.  Where have you been all my life?  In the past, I have used a generic decibel meter on my iPad to help show my students the noise level in the classroom.  But,  I just discovered this app handmade for teachers.  It lets you set the noise level.  It then allows you to choose the time increment expectations.  Every time your class meets that expectation, they get a point.  My class earns points for parties, so this was a big hit.  Also, if you set your iPad to landscape viewing, you can set the learning target.  I have used this app over the last week, and it has been a miracle for keeping a large class of 5th graders on target for learning and for noise.  And at only $0.99, it is a steal.

**UPDATE: The app price has risen to $3.99.  For me, the price is still worth it--but I wanted to be sure everyone knows about the increase!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wow! My blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award

A Liebster Award!  Wow!  This award is give to new and exciting blogs with less than 200 followers.  Thanks so much to Tonya at Swashbuckling in Seventh for nominating me.

In order to accept the nomination you need to do the following:
  1.  Link back to the person that nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions from your nominator.
  3. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 5 more blogs with less than 200 followers.
  5. Pose 11 questions for your nominees
Here are the answers to your questions, Tonya!

1.  What/who was your inspiration to become a teacher?
     A:  I was not a person who "knew" they were always going to be a teacher.  
          When I was a junior in college, I volunteered in a 5th grade classroom in 
          Portland, OR.  Jeff Creswell, the teacher, used a method of instruction 
          called Storyline to teach integrated social studies and science.  I
           was completely inspired!  And so because of that, off I went to my first 
           education class.

2.  What is your favorite grade to teach?
     A: My favorite grade to teach is 5th grade!  I love it!

3.  What is a goal for this year?
     A: A huge goal for my year is to focus on what I love and am passionate 
         about, and ignore the noise of the outside world.  I don't want the  
         grown-ups of the world to bring me down.  :)

4.  What is a pet peeve of yours?
     A:  My biggest pet peeve when people patronize others.  I don't like to 
          experience it, or see it done to kids.

5.  What is the best book you've read that didn't have to do with the education world?
     A:  My favorite non-education book that I read this summer was In the 
          Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson.

6.  What is the best teacher resource that you've come across?
     A: Yikes!  That's a hard one!  Let's see, I think the resource I use the most 
          is the book, Strategies That Work, by Stephanie Harvey.

7.  What are three of your favorite apps for your classroom?
     A: I am blessed to have a class set of iPads in my room.  My favorite apps 
         are Aurasma, iMovie, and, Edmodo.

8.  What is the best lesson you've done?
     A: Another hard one!  I think my favorite lesson was a unit that my   
         students completed.  They researched a major historical event and then 
         made silent films using their iPads.  They were amazing!

9.  Why did you start a blog?
     A: I love integrating technology into my day to day classroom life.  I know 
         that it can be intimidating for some.  I want my blog to help teachers 
         make the transition to technology in fun and easy ways.

10. What is one thing on your wish list?
     A: I would love to have a 3-D printer in my classroom--and my life!

11.  If there was one thing you could change about the city you work in, what 
       would it be?
     A: I love Bend, Oregon, but I wish it were about 2.5 hours closer to 
         Portland.  That way I could  visit the big city whenever I felt like it, no 
         matter the weather.

Here are 11 random facts about me:
1. I have my BA in music.  I sang opera in another life.
2. I am a voracious reader of all things--but I love picture books!
3. Project Runway and Sherlock are my favorite TV shows.
4. I love movies!  One of my most favorite movies is Whale Rider.
5. I am a Disney Dork.  I love the movies, theme parks, and history.
6. I am a lover of gadgets.  I often have two screens open and working at once.
7. I love working with teachers.  Collaboration is my favorite!
8. Kids constantly inspire me.  They are what is best in the world.
9. I try to do a social studies focused teacher institute every summer.  Some 
    that I have attended are: Ellis Island Teachers Institute, George Washington 
    Teachers Institute, National Geographic Institute, and the Colonial    
    Williamsburg Teachers Institute.
10. My two favorite animals are the manatee and the octopus.
11. I am addicted to Candy Crush Saga.  I hate to admit it.


Now, here are my nominations!

I am nominating these amazing blogs:

Nominees:  Here are your 11 questions:
1. What is your favorite activity for the first week of school?
2. What book do you love to read aloud to your students or your own kids?
3. What is a quote that inspires you?
4. How much time do you spend on Pinterest each week?
5. What keeps you coming back to this job every year?
6. What is something you do to take care of yourself each week?
7. What is your favorite tip/lesson/post from your blog?
8. If you could take your students anywhere in the United States, where would 
    you go and why?
9. What is the funniest student story from your career?
10. What is one thing you hope to learn this year?
11. What is your favorite lesson to teach and why?

Thanks again, Tonya, for the nomination! What an honor!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Movie Shorts and Reading Strategies

Hello friends!

Monsters University, what a great movie.  But, the short, "Blue Umbrella" really affected me.  Not only did it make me feel sad for inanimate objects, but it also made me do some metacognition.  I realized I was predicting and inferring the entire time.  I realized this was a gem for introducing and practicing important reading strategies.  So I went on youtube and pinterest to look for some shorts to use.  Holy Cow!!  There are a ton of amazing shorts that are appropriate for kids.  There are also many that are not appropriate.  In doing this search, I decided to make a resource that could be useful to all of us.  That is what I am sharing with you today!

This first google doc link is to a list of animated shorts.  I have included the youtube links and what reading strategies with which I believe they work the best.  You may use them in any way you wish, but having watched them all, I placed them where I plan on using them in my classroom.

The second google doc link is to a list of graphic organizers to use with each short.  They are not specific to the short and can be used for any resource.  There is one graphic organizer for each reading strategy.  I plan to later make additional graphic organizers that are video specific, but I wanted you to have it to start your year.

Great Apps for Classroom Management

Hello everyone!

The start of the school year is almost here!  I can't believe the summer zoomed by as quickly as it did.  So, I am thinking of ways to integrate the iPad into the classroom for a more seamless classroom management system.  In my search, I discovered this amazing slideshare.  Thank you, Monica Burns for your resources! Click here to visit the slideshare presentation.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

This is a math/science website that makes me smile!

Hi all!
I have found another new and amazing resource.  This website: is a collection of all the best science and math activities (tech and not) on the web.   There are three great thing about it.
1. You can create your own free account and set up lists to come back to at any time. 
2. You can also search by common core standards and connect to activities that hit that standard.  Wow!  
3. You can then visit lists created by other educators.  I spent far too much time on this website planning my next storyline that has a science focus.  To check out my first SMILE list, look for my username: mrsspeed.

Click here to visit SMILE

Monday, July 8, 2013

Amazing Practice Website for Reading Comprehension Strategies

Hi all!
So I have been bopping around online looking for additional practice resources for specific reading comprehension skills.  Since the common core requires a more rigorous understanding and application of these strategies, I need to be constantly adding to my arsenal of resources.  I came upon this site and it definitely is rigorous.  It is listed as a social studies skills tutoring website, but these skills are definitely cross-curricular.
I like this site for a few reasons First, I like that each strategy is clearly defined.  Next, I appreciate that there are varied levels of difficulty for each strategy.  You can also choose to have the directions and passages read to you.  That is great for kiddos who may not have the fluency, but still need to practice the skills.  Finally, I appreciate that there are three options for mastery: learn, practice, and apply.  I definitely plan to have my students access this site next year.  It should provide additional practice for comprehension and test taking skills alike.  Click here to visit the site.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

TimeToast Timelines: Students Make and Share Them

There is a great new website for interactive timelines, called  It is a super easy place to make and share timelines.  I have used this site with my students.  They created timelines to show the major battles of the American Revolution.  It is amazing how much more they work when they know people out in the world will be viewing their work.  I believe this is a great website to use with your students. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Digital Literacy--A necessary part of our job

Hello edtech friends!
So, we can talk all day about the cool things you can do with your students.  But, there is one topic that often gets left out until a student comes to us with a report/research that is a bit wonky.  Maybe the only cited website is wikipedia, or maybe the website is not a reputable one.  How can we teach our kids to use their inquisitive natures to question their resources?  Well, an article at will help.  Here are 11 hoax websites that you can use with your students to evaluate websites.    I have created a website evaluation printable that your students can use as they learn to stop and think before they believe everything they read online.  Click here to download that form.  Have a great day!