Friday, September 1, 2017

Reflections on Blended Learning

I've been asked to reflect on what blended learning means to me, using the items in this photo. 

Reflect on Blended Learning using the following items as a lens: an envelope, a pencil, Duplo blocks, a Hot Wheels car, and three crayons

Truth: Uncomfortableness

I'll be honest. This reflection has been more difficult for me to write than I would like to admit. I can go on all day about what blended learning is, how to implement it in a classroom, and come up with ideas to help teachers implement blended learning in my role as a Technology Integration Coach. As anyone that knows me would tell you, I love the word persevere, and I seek challenges. So, I present to you my blended learning mystery basket recipe for success!

Recipe for Success

Blended learning allows me and other teachers like me to reach learners at all levels and abilities, represented by the red, yellow, and green crayons in the picture above. It allows me to give students a choice in their learning that is appropriate for their learning levels and allows them to develop their unique voice.

The pencil reminds me that technology is just a tool in blended learning. When we blend our learning environment, we combine traditional learning methods and tools with modern tools and methods. Pencils are still necessary in today's classroom and work in balance with the time that my students spend on their iPads.

The Duplo Blocks make me think of how I started in blended learning. In the photo above, there is a stack of blocks. When creating a blended learning environment, it's important to choose one part of your environment or lesson to blend and build on it as your comfort level (and your students' comfort levels) increase. Small steps that can be built upon are important to a sustainable blended learning environment.

As I reflect on blended learning, I see the Hot Wheels car and I think about how integrating technology and blending my classroom environment has excited my students and engaged them in learning. Providing them with choice in tools to demonstrate their learning excited them as much as it would if I were to have provided them all with a toy car to play with. Learning through exploration, and demonstrating your learning through a tool that excites you, makes learning more exciting and engaging for students and teachers! Students end up becoming leaders and teachers can facilitate learning instead of being "knowledge-holders."

Finally, the envelope represents how blended learning is a complete package for giving students choice, voice, and freedom to lead their learning through the tools that work for each individual. It gives students the ability to work at their levels, to work collaboratively, and to feel empowered within the classroom. It knocks down walls and connects classrooms across buildings and around the world. It envelops our learning world more and more each day. It wraps it up for all of our students and teachers. It's an important practice in my classroom, and it should be an important practice in yours, too!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Under Construction

This blog is currently under construction! A new post is currently in the works and will be coming shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Way to Communicate and Share with Parents--Bloomz App!

Looking for a way to communicate with your parents? Would you like to share pictures with your students' families, but don't want to post them over social media or load them and send in email? If so, bloomz is for you!


Classroom Feed

On your classroom page, you will see a Facebook-like feed where teacher updates, links, photos, and more are posted for parents to view.
Class feed from bloomz demo class,

Bloomz isn't just teacher driven, though. Parents can communicate with one another within the bloomz app!
Class feed from bloomz demo class,

Share Your Classroom Calendar & Photos in a Secure Environment


What I really LOVE about this app is the calendar and photo feeds. I've posted my calendar on my blog before, but only a handful of parents actually regularly access my blog, so they aren't getting the updates as they are posted. With bloomz, the calendar is built in AND it posts changes on the classroom feed as they are made!

Even better, you can add information about items and/or volunteers needed for activities!

Calendar feed from bloomz demo class,

Parents can click the need link and it will open up information about the event and what is needed. It looks like this:

Calendar feed from bloomz demo class,

In this example, parent volunteers are needed for the Art Docent that repeats every first Monday. Parents can volunteer right through the app!


In bloomz, you can upload all of your photos in a secure environment. Most of my parents are okay with posting their students pictures on our class Twitter account. Last year I had parents that did not want their child's picture posted. I wish I had used bloomz all year last year! In this instance, the photos feed within bloomz would have been great! You can add albums and parents can view your photos as long as they are members of your bloomz class!

Photos feed from bloomz demo class


In bloomz, you can send out a class broadcast through your class feed, a group message to select parents, or individual 2-way messaging between yourself and one parent. All of your messaging needs can be met within bloomz!

Would You Like To Try Bloomz?

I cannot stop recommending this app to all of my teacher friends! I'm really looking forward to using it this year. I do plan on keeping my Remind account for parents that don't have access to a smartphone or a computer for updates or would prefer text messages, but bloomz has become my go to!

Do you want to bloomz? Click the link below to sign up!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#2getherwearebetter August Linky! Bulletin Boards-Minecraft Style!

This post is part of the #2getherwearebetter linky organized by Ashley at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Angie from Lucky Little Learners! I'm so excited to be part of their linkups that they have every 2nd of the month! This month's topic...Bulletin Boards!!!

A Little Info About Me

Here's a little info about me:  teach 3rd grade in a 1:1 iPad environment. My school is located in a rural Northern Michigan community. Our district is comprised of roughly just over 1,000 students, in a K-12 connected building. We are very blessed to have a very supportive community that supports our 1:1 initiative. Grades 5-12 have MacBook Airs.

Getting Started on My Boards

Now, getting to my bulletin board situation this summer. Last year I had moved to 3rd grade from Kindergarten. I had a jungle-themed classroom in Kindergarten and I carried that theme with me to third grade. I used fun fabrics on my bulletin boards, but found it difficult to concentrate on the content on my boards with all of the busyness of the fabric. This summer I was determined I was going to paint my bulletin boards. Before I could even consider picking jungle colors, my husband suggested I make some large blocks to place in areas of my classroom--"kinda Minecraft style," he said (we have an almost 14 year old that is passionate about Minecraft!). Then I had an epiphany! With our 1:1 status and kids that love gaming, how awesome would it be have a Minecraft-themed room!

The color scheme for my 3rd grade Minecraft lair!
Now on to the color scheme. With the help of my good friend, Dawn, I chose these colors. I got the okay from my official "Minecrafter", DestructionNite, that these were good colors as the yellow and green could be considered wool block colors and the navy is close enough to a stained, hardened clay-colored block. I was on my way to making an AWESOME Minecraft board!

I didn't take a before picture of my board pre-paint, but I did think about it after I painted and started adding my double scalloped border.
Painted and measured out, my way...not the right way!

Painted and Bordered, Now What?

Last year I had used my large, long whiteboard to house my vocabulary word wall. I found it messy and though I referenced it and used it often, it wasn't used by my kiddos much at all. This year I was resolved to change this. I found the idea of a moving, or interactive, word wall on Pinterest. As you can see above, I measured it all out and placed pins where I wanted it. Unfortunately, I only planned for 24 letters, not 26! I don't have too many ideas floating in my head, do I? I was thinking...squirrel!!!

Anyway, the solution to all of this measuring and frustration was my very supportive husband! He came in, measured it all out, and helped me put it together. Then he helped with painting the rest of my boards, too! I'm blessed!
My supportive, helping husband!
Before I show a picture of the completed board, let me tell you a little about my vision for it! I've put all of my math vocabulary for the New Everyday Math 4 and Reading Wonders on Minecraft backgrounds (I also have it on Chevron and Jungle Backgrounds in my TPT store--click here or at the top of my page if interested). I printed them 6 slides to a page. This made the 3 words per page fit perfectly on a 3x5 index card. I cut them down to the block, glued them on, laminated them, and hole punched each word. Then I took a binder ring and put it through each word and hung them on a pin. I hope that my students will be more willing to use the vocabulary (I plan on working it in to my stations--that's another post for another day) by posting it this way instead of individually under each letter.

And it is! My Minecraft-styled Word Wall!!
My Minecraft-styled Word Wall!

I'm so proud of this board. I think this is the BEST bulletin board I've had in my room so far! I'm excited to see my kiddos in 5 weeks.

So...that's my board. I'll keep you updated on how the others go as we finish painting. Please be sure to follow me on Bloglovin' (follow button on the right). I'll be posting twice a week--I have a schedule now!--and I'll be linking up again September 2nd with my classroom reveal!!

Thanks for following the linky. I'm eager to view the bulletin boards of the other participants!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MI Open Book Project-What's that mean for you?

Have you heard of the MI Open Book Project? The project is entering it's second year this fall. If you are an educator, especially a Michigan educator, then this post is definitely for you!

What it is:

The project is funded by the MDE and the materials are created by Michigan educators for all educators and students. The purpose of the project is to create OpenEd Resources (this means that the materials are FREE for everyone to download and use!) for all educators, students, homeschoolers, and interested individuals to use. The textbooks are created using iBooks Author software. Once completed, they are rendered, uploaded to the iBooks store, and then they're ready for download. Android and computer users can also download these books. The beauty of iBooks Author is that the books can be exported as ePub and PDF files!

Why is this important?

It is important because it is a high-quality, Michigan based solution to the need that teachers have to incorporate meaningful social studies content into their classrooms. The books are interactive, which means that they allow students to highlight and take notes, take quizzes on what they've read while still inside the book, to view geographical features inside Google Maps or Google Earth as they are reading!

Another reason this project is important is because the digital nature of the books allows for differentiation among student ability groups, as well as providing supports for students that have special needs. Many devices will read the text aloud for students that struggle with reading. You can't do that with a paper text book! Free, interactive social studies texts help us as teachers reach our students in deeper, more meaningful ways than we have before.

If you want to know more, please visit the MI Open Book Project by clicking on the photo at the top of the post. The books from the first year have been finalized and are being uploaded shortly. Let's revolutionize learning by becoming creators and sharing content, FREE content, with other educators that are in as much need as we are!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What is Periscope?

That's the question I've been asking myself as I've seen tweets about Periscope flying by in posts on my Twitter feed. The best way to find out is to ask others or Google it, so that's what I did!


Periscope is a live feed video social media service. I follow a bunch of people that are using it, so this was enough information for me to give it a try....well, that and my curiosity!

After downloading the app (iTunes, Play Store), you can sign up for a free account. You are given the choice on whether you'd like to use your Twitter handle or your phone number. Personally, I chose my Twitter handle, but I like the phone number option if you do not use Twitter. I chose to use my Twitter handle as my username for continuity between all my accounts. That's it! I am set!


For those of you who aren't ready to just take the plunge without more information, please visit Ana Hoffman's Periscope Tutorial. It has pictures and descriptions and gives the new user a very thorough walkthrough on getting started with Periscope.

Looking to use Periscope in the classroom? Check out Tony Vincent's Scope on Periscope for ideas on how to use this with the education community.

Exploring Periscope

I decided to explore Periscope after logging in. Of all of the individuals that I follow on Twitter, none were broadcasting at the time I was on. Never fear, I was able to explore the map (worldwide!) of people live streaming their "Scopes" from across the globe. I live in Northern Michigan, and found someone live broadcasting his Scope from Sleeping Bear Dunes in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Our fourth grade visits this amazing destination every spring, but I've never had the opportunity to visit before. What a great way to see in real-time what Sleeping Bear Dunes is all about! It was really neat to visit a family hiking through the dunes to the lakeshore. I recommend trying it out!

Now I Periscope! Will you?

Monday, July 13, 2015

East Lansing Public Schools Tech Camp

Today, East Lansing public schools will be offering a free three day technology camp for educators. There are lots of opportunities to learn about many different ways to incorporate technology into your classroom, as well as using technology to enhance your professional learning experiences. Please come out to connect with other educators and learn about technology implementation in the classroom. You can find the three day session schedule at the following link: