Integrating Technology (with The Friendly Teacher)

We use technology daily in my room. We have both chrome books and iPads and love both! One of my favorite ways to use technology is through book clubs.

I love having book clubs in the classroom. I love when students are reading books that they enjoy, but also reading them with their friends. What I hate about book clubs is all the copying for the different groups. So, I changed to all digital book clubs!

My students will read their pages for the week and then complete a book club sheet on their Google Drive. Each week I have students read a certain amount of pages and work on the skill that their group needs to focus on. Then, when they come to meet with me they bring their computer and book. We discuss what they read and then focus on that specific skill. Before they leave I will teach them the skill they will work on next week and give them the assignment!

The best part is all I have to do is post the different sheets on my Google Classroom. Gone are the days of copying five copies of all these different types of paper! Students are much more motivated because they love using the computers! Also, with computers you can add more color which adds engagement for kiddos!

Here is a kiddo completing the point of view assignment after reading their book club pages!

Integrating Technology {ALL Y'all Need}

Integrating Technology in Pre-K

My class is obsessed with our Letter of the Week iMovie productions! It's a quick and engaging way to assess your students' knowledge of letter identification, beginning sounds, and capital/lowercase differentiation. I'll show you how to use iMovie with your students. First, here's an example:
Please note that I did edit one of our class iMovies for a preview. Most iMovies contain pictures of my students.

Activities Day-by-Day: 

Monday and Tuesday - Investigate the letter via books, songs, etc... Use your usual teaching tools.
Pretty easy so far, huh? Nothing new needed.
Wednesday and Thursday - Have your students walk around your classroom or school and take pictures of letters and objects that begin with the letter of the week. Send all of the photos via Dropbox- more on that below- and put them in whatever order you would like on iMovie.
Friday: Have a viewing party and watch the iMovie. The kids will want to watch it several times.

Don't feel discouraged if you don't have a class set of iPads or any iPads at all! Just use your iPhone! The students could search for objects and raise their hand once they have found their object/letter. Then, you'd just have to send them iMovie. I did this at the beginning of the year and it worked perfectly.

How to Set Up and Use Dropbox:

I have 1:1 devices, so I share all of the photos via AirDrop. However, our AirDrop is sometimes locked. Then we use Dropbox. I just send them to myself during nap time or after school. You can teach your kiddos to share photos via Dropbox....IF YOU'RE BRAVE! ;)

If you don't have Dropbox, go here to create an account. It's really easy and only takes 2 minutes max.

If you already have a Dropbox account, just make sure you sign in.

How to Make a 1-Minute iMovie: 

Reasons why I love Letter of the Week iMovies:
  1. The kids are completely engaged!
  2. Technology! Technology! Technology!
  3. The students feel a sense of pride because they are taking ownership of their learning!
  4. They get to yell, "That's what I found!" really loudly while the other students cheer.

Integrating Technology into Upper Elementary

This is my first year as a full-time technology teacher but I know the struggle is real when trying to integrate technology. Time is tight and it can be a hassle at times to fit it all in! However, the best part of technology is that it is super engaging and can enhance ANY lesson. Today I want to share with you guys how to integrate coding into a math geometry lesson. My third, fourth, and fifth graders LOVED this lesson! I even created a video lesson for you to share with your class!

I created this lesson as an enrichment lesson to get students practicing angles, coordinates, and geometry. I decided to focus on squares and rectangles and then challenge my students to create other shapes on their own. Here is the video lesson that you can share with your students.

I also created a spirograph lesson that is the follow-up to this lesson. My students were super creative and created some awesome spirograph designs using shapes and angles. I will definitely create a video of that for you guys in the near future.

I love using Scratch in my classroom with my students. I would love to hear how you use Scratch in your classroom.

Integrating Technology in the Primary Grades

Technology is one of my absolute favorite things in the classroom. I try not to overdo it because they shouldn't be dependent on technology. So, today I'm super stoked to bring you my TOP THREE ways to integrate technology in the classroom using powerpoints.

Interactive Powerpoints

This is one of the simplest ways to incorporate a form of technology and possibly another piece of technology if you have the tools. If not, you are able to use non-technology tools. All you need is Powerpoint for this to work!

My kids have LOVED every second of working with interactive powerpoints. We use them in math and in reading. This particular one was earlier in the year when we were reviewing short vowels. They had to write the beginning sounds for each picture and it reveals a secret word. We use this same method to practice our sight words, phonics skills and MORE! What's the super fun part about it? We use the Doodle Buddy app to write our words. There is something about that app that is WAY more exciting for them. We do switch it up and use whiteboards, but they really prefer this way.

Timed Powerpoints

This is also one of my FAVES! I especially love this when I have a doctor's appointment or a meeting and have a sub in my classroom. My reading block runs on a powerpoint and works like clockwork. It keeps me on track to what we should be doing.

Under certain slides, I've set them to a timed transition. You can do this under the Transitions menu. Just change the time (add a sound if you'd like). I add a YEE-HAW sound. This signals that we need to clean up and then they move to their next Daily 5. It work FLAWLESSLY. I keep my group that I have for about 2 more minutes while everyone is cleaning up. That normal wasted time isn't wasted anymore because we keep working. We are usually finishing up our book/story right at the end.

iPads as Digital Portfolios

I know some schools do not allow teachers to add apps. In this case, you're actually in luck! If you aren't allowed to add your own apps, you can STILL use any number of iPads in your room as a digital portfolio. Allow your students to use something with their name on it. In the past, I used a laminated picture of them and their name. They took their "license/id" and placed it by their work. Then, they grabbed an iPad and took a picture of their work. Later, I moved their pictures into folders with all of their work. Super easy! This way, I still know who's work belonged to who and the only thing I had to do was make a card with their name and picture on it. I used their folder of pictures to use during conferences. I didn't have to keep as many hard copies of work as I've had to in the past.

Incorporating Purposeful Movement into Science Content Instruction

Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
I think most people would agree that when we exercise, blood flow throughout the body increases. But did you ever stop to think that the blood also flows more to our brains as a result of physical activity? With this increase of blood flow to the brain comes more oxygen which enables our brains to perform better.

Shift to the classroom setting where much of the day (especially in upper elementary and middle school classrooms) is spent sitting at a desk listening and/or taking notes. Why not find ways to incorporate movement into instructional activities in an effort to improve student comprehension and overall concentration?

Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.

One strategy I incorporate regularly is the Kagan strategy Mix-Pair-Share. In this class building structure, students "mix" around the room while I play music. When the music stops, they partner up with the person closest to them and share their ideas or answers to a question. I love how this gets my students thinking, moving, and talking to each other about topics that we have been learning about. It also ensures that each student has a chance to share their ideas. Everyone is engaged in the discussion instead of just a handful of students.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
A second way I incorporate movement is through the use of hand signals or body movements as a way for checking for student understanding. If I have students respond to a multiple choice question, they may walk to a corner of the room designated as A, B, C, or D based on their answer. Sometimes I simply have them stand up to agree or choose a side of the room. During a review of examples of potential and kinetic energy, I posed several simple scenarios for students to classify. To show me their response, they stood up to represent potential energy (because they are higher above the ground and thus have more gravitational potential energy) and they waved their hands above their heads to represent kinetic energy (because going down the first hill of the roller coaster involves kinetic energy of motion). They got a chance to move AND show their understanding.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
I also like to have students complete SCOOT "games" - basically another way to check for understanding - by placing various questions around the room for students to scoot to and answer on a sheet of paper. Rather than a basic independent worksheet that is completed in class, students answer similar questions while moving around the room. I've even had them make observations and identify the physical properties of matter while "scooting" around the room.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.

Finally, every teacher recognizes that students aren't able to focus on content learning every second of every day. Even as an adult, I find my mind wandering and my attention drifting during especially long meetings. Using physical activity breaks in the classroom helps students get ready to learn and remember information better.

I use the activities in this set of Brain Breaks for Bigger Kids to get my students up and moving. To refocus them. To encourage them to think in a different way. To reward them for good behavior. I will even leave the cards for a substitute teacher as "filler activities". (My students LOVE that if they complete the assignment given by the sub they can have a brain break at the end of class!)
Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
 Although there are many opportunities for students in my STEM class to participate in hands-on activities or move around the room as they collaborate, there are also days when the lesson is pretty teacher centered. I have had to be creative when I plan for these lessons so that I can get students up and moving and refocused.
Some of the ideas are simple (or even common), but I find that by having a set of ready-to-go brain breaks on a ring I am more likely to flip through the cards and actually USE them on a daily basis. And that's the point, right?

What other ways do YOU find to incorporate movement into your lessons?

5 Ways to Get Your Students Moving

Incorporating more movement into your school day doesn't have to be difficult. Little changes can add up to make a big difference! Here are 5 easy ways to get your students moving and learning!

1) North, South, East, West - This is a fun game to play while reviewing any subject. All you need is 4 walls and some multiple choice questions. Tape a sign on each wall with the correct direction. Then read a question to your students, giving the multiple choice answers as N, S, E, or W (instead of A, B, C, or D) Students then move to the correct wall to show they know the answer to the question. 

2) Vocab Match Up - Students love this game to practice vocabulary words. Use index cards and write vocab words on half of the cards and the definitions on the other half. (You can also do this with math problems, putting a math problem on half the cards and the answers on the other half.) Mix them up and pass them out. Students then walk around the room comparing cards with each other until they can find their match. Gather the cards, mix them up, and play again!

3) Move it outside - With spring approaching, now it the perfect time to get students outside! Have students bring their journals outside to complete a writing assignment, or have them do an observation of something in nature. 

4) Sidewalk Chalk - Even older kids can have fun with sidewalk chalk! Work on math problems or spelling words outside on the sidewalk. Once I even had my class do a collaborative project where we drew a life size blue whale with chalk in the bus lane. 

5) Movement Jar - Write some quick exercises on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Examples could be 10 jumping jacks, hop on one foot for 30 seconds, touch your toes 5 times, etc. During times when you are already transitioning during the day say, "Time for the movement jar!" Have a student pick from the jar and read the movement. It takes only an extra minute, but it can really help add movement throughout the day!

Focused Movements = Focused Learning (Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching)

The topic of physical movement embedded in instructional settings is HUGE! The research is strong and it expands in a variety of ways. As adults, we all know we don't learn when we are sitting in lectures. So why in the world would we ever assume a young human could?!?! 

Currently as a 5th Grade ELA teacher in tight quarters with 50+ large bodies, I was in search of some moving / life skills to implement in my classroom. Today, I'm going to share with you how I keep the students moving in our classroom.

Going into my journey I was looking for a way to allow my students to move their bodies in a healthy manner that included strategies of concentration, focus, decompressing and alignment. 

I found myself reading and researching online for solutions that would work in my classroom. I immediately started looking for more information on blood flow, oxygen flow, calorie burning, posture, body alignment, focus and concentration.

I began with a complete flexible seating classroom. The research of alternate seating all leads to increasing consistent positive body movements which then leads to inner body functions flowing constantly which allows alertness. 

I wrote a complete blog post of how I created a budget friendly classroom transformation on my blog and the reasons why flexible seating improves inner health through the positions of your body.

[click here or on any of the photos below for a direct link]

Then I began breathing and meditation exercises combined with yoga for our transitions between Reading and Writing. 

My classroom's daily agenda:
1) Daily Language/Grammar and Focus Board
2) Writing Block
3) Break- Breathing, Meditation, Yoga
4) Reading Block

The research of breathing, meditation and yoga in schools is completely spot on in my classroom. 

The yoga exercises allowed my students not only to move their bodies through stretches and poses, but it also helps align the child's spine. This is a huge benefit to me as a child's spine needs to be stretched into the proper position every so often after sitting in a position for a certain period of time. Yoga poses allow for proper blood and oxygen flow through your body as the poses change in a sequence. Yoga also helps to build core strength and muscle strength in the limbs.

The breathing and meditation exercises allow my students to center themselves as the day progresses. It's very important to me to teach my students life strategies that they can use beyond my classroom. This is a single time each day where my students are able to close their eyes and focus only on there own mental state. I have students with high anxiety and really bad nerves. Students need a strategy that allows them to step back, refocus and then return to a task. It helps students to be able to focus on their breath as a strategy and as an anchor to their inner-self. 

Here are some cards I use daily in my classroom. They allow teachers to read to the students as the meditation, breathing or yoga activity goes on. I simply play music through Pandora or Spotify. 

Click here to purchase these cards for your classroom or on the photo below -

Here as a small clip from my classroom, I sped the timing in it up a little bit...
Everything in the video comes from teaching students from these cards!

I hope this informational has helped you in a useful manner! There are a ton of different routes to go when implementing movements into your classroom! I hope you follow me along my journey by click below:-)

Get Movin' {with The McGrew Crew}

Happy March everyone! Spring is upon us and we all know what that means...SPRING BREAK! This time of year often brings out the CrAZy in our students (and in ourselves if we were being honest). So, here are some fun ways to get them moving (and still learning).

1. Flash Card Races

Whether your students are working on math facts or sight words (or other facts), take the opportunity to put those flash cards to a more exciting use. Tape flash cards down, have students hop from card to card reciting their facts as quickly as possible to see who gets to the finish line first! Are you able to go outside? Even better! Use sidewalk chalk to write out facts or problems!

2. Preschool Letter Hunt

When my kids are 3-5 years old and we are working through a letter-of-the-week curriculum, I always enjoy letter scavenger hunts. I let them use a kid friendly camera like THIS one and we look for letters in nature. Here are a few examples: 

3. Hide-n-Seek Puzzles

Two of my boys' favorite activities are puzzles and hide-n-seek, so I married the two! They love to either take turns, or have me hide the pieces and then race to see how fast they can find them and get the puzzle put together. This USA puzzle is a great educational puzzle to hide and get them up and moving on a rainy day!

4. Twister with a Twist

Use this classic game for a fun way to practice sight words! Write sight words on sticky labels and place one on each dot. Make sure to add them to the spinner as well. Turn this fun game into an educational (and potentially comical) activity! 

5. Musical Masterpiece

This looks so fun to me! It makes me wish I had more than 3 students (home school ya know?) to do this with! You can find more details from The Write Stuff

We Like to Move It! Move It! (Mrs. Grooms' Room)

Hey y’all!!  I hope everyone is having a great March!  I love this month’s post!! (We have had so many awesome posts lately!)  

I think every teacher in the world knows how important movement in the classroom is for students.  If we don't have recess for more than a day?  Bless.  

  We try to get movement in our day in all kinds of ways. 

In the mornings, when we do our calendar time, we practice our time on the clock.  I love to give my students a minute of exercise. (I tell them that I think it’s important to know what a minute feels like.)  During our minute, we also count by tens when we do jumping jacks, or we do toe touches when we count by twos.  We do a variety of things that I think we may need to work on.  It’s really a great way to practice counting and to GET it in!!! 

One of my favorite ways to include exercise is to play Hop on Odd and Hop on Even!  I use it with odd or even, of course.  I give my students a number and they either jump on one foot for odd numbers since one foot is odd and they jump on two feet for even numbers since two feet are even.  If they say “8” then my students jump all the way to 8 on both feet.  If they say “3” then my students jump to three on one foot.  It is a game they can play together or with a partner. 

Another game that we like to play is In the River, On the Bank.  It’s been around for a while and I wish I could say that I had created it but...I didn't.  Props to the creator...whoever you are!! You rock!

To play, you will need a tape line or a line in the classroom.  We use the plastic strip where the carpet and the tile meet.  One side of the strip or tape is the bank, and the other side is the river.  I like to post these signs to help my kids remember so they know which side is the bank and which side is the river.  

For example...if the river is for true answers and the bank is for false answers, students will answer the question by showing where they hop…on the bank (false) or in the river (true).  You can use it for odd or even, fact or opinion, tens and ones, yes or no, or any answer that has an opposing view.   I just write the answers in the space below the sign.  

I have a free copy for you in my store.  I hope you LOVE it like we do!!  You can also hit this website to read about this game and get specific directions for In the River! On the Bank!

If we have a spare minute in class, we use our fitness dice.  My “coach” for the week picks up our fitness dice and my kids start sweating to the dice! I have had mine forever…the lazy in me thinks they look like possible pillows.  You can find them on Amazon.  If you are interested, just click on the picture above.

We love to GoNoodle everyday as I am sure most teachers do. “Kitty High-Five” is burned in my mind.  (I will always Kitty High-Five!!)  But the videos on GoNoodle that I really love are the yoga and meditation videos.  I think these are very helpful in creating a calm and focused atmosphere in my class.  

An activity that a fellow teacher taught me is called “Zoom!”  Zoom is made to encourage teamwork, listening, and paying attention.  Kids of all ages love to Zoom!  Shoot!  Even I love to Zoom! 

Here’s how you play: Everyone has to sit in a tight circle (criss-cross, and knee to knee).  One person will begin by turning their head to the right, looking into the eyes of the person on their right, and saying Zoom! The person on the right will do the absolute same action.  Everyone will do the same until everyone in the circle has had a turn.  The goal is to Zoom! around the circle until everyone gets a turn and the Zoom! is completed perfectly.  To do that?  You have to pay attention and you have to focus as a team. The kids get so excited when they finally Zoom! perfectly!  And it looks really, really a chain reaction!  

Later you can create challenges where Zoom! changes directions in the circle.  

Speaking of Zoom....PBS Kids has a great sight for game ideas for kids!

These look like soo much fun!!

What kind of movement do you do in your classroom?  I know it seems daunting but just changing simple activities and adding fun movements can really help students get that extra energy out and learning in!  

Have a wonderful March!! 

Engaging Games to Get Your Students Moving While Learning

Now more than ever, it's important to include some movement into learning. With schools limiting recess, free play, and even special area classes like PE, music, art, etc. This is one reason I developed my Fluency & Fitness resources a few years ago. I wanted to make learning more fun again! 
Fluency & Fitness allows students to work on essential reading and literacy skills, but then get a chance to move and exercise every few slides. Here's a sneak peek of some Fluency & Fitness in action in the classroom. 
These games can be used during your reading or math block, transitions, brain breaks, morning meeting, inside recess, etc. They only take about 2-3 minutes to play and are very helpful to give your students a fun way to review. Below is a preview from my Silent E Fluency & Fitness Bundle. This particular game has students turn CVC words into CVCe words. 
Students BEG to do these and don't even realize how much they're learning. Teachers love that not only are their kids having fun, but they don't have to lose any instructional time. This is the Money Fluency & Fitness Bundle.
I left these games so you can adapt them for your own classroom. You can choose to click through the slides manually or add a timer if you'd like to participate with your students. :) I like to click through so I can go slow as we are still practicing the skill, then a lot faster as they've mastered it. This Number Sense Fluency & Fitness is one my best sellers. You can find more Fluency & Fitness games here, including grade level bundles and my popular MEGA bundle!
Since teachers are loving Fluency & Fitness, I wanted to create something similar but with a team or small group aspect and Holiday themes. My new resources called Fluency Find It have students work in small groups. Students look at the screen and then find the answer on a worksheet at their table. They may find the matching letter, middle vowel sound, answer to the math problem, etc. That student continues playing until they see the "switch spots" slides, and then they go to the end of the line. Students may help each other with the answers if their friend needs help. I've played these games since October and really love watching how the students work together.
Each Holiday comes with 5 games that students should be fluent in for that time of the year. Here's a peek of the 1st grade St. Patrick's Day Fluency Find It in action. I have these games for Kindergarten and 1st grade, but will be working on the 2nd and 3rd grade sets soon. You can find all of my Fluency Find It game here