Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy 2016! Go ahead and live it with #JOY!

Last year, I learned about #oneword365 and thought that it was the most perfect way to start 2015. I chose the word 'purpose' and stayed pretty focused on this word all year long. I was pretty mindful of keeping this word in the fore front of my mind all year and I even had the word #purpose at the end of my signature on my email.

I had been thinking for the last few weeks about what my word would be for 2016. I had some ideas. I thought about the word focus, or balance, or truth, or listen, or mindfulness, or reflection, or optimism, or persistence. I also thought about the word joy. I decided that I would let the next two weeks play out and the right word would reveal itself to me. Well, over the last two weeks the one word that keeps popping up...all the joy! I see signs for joy everywhere. It's like that new vocabulary word that you teach your students or even learn yourself and then you start to see that word everywhere you look!
I have seen quotes about joy, news reports about joy, Facebook posts about joy, images about joy, I've read books that mention joy, mentions about joy on Twitter,  there's even a movie entitled 'Joy' right now.  The list could go get the idea. I even saw an interview on a local news station about a lady who wrote a book about  finding the pockets of joy in life and created a journal for people to write down their 'pockets of joy.' Guess who is going to buy this journal? :-) I also plan on getting notecards that say the word 'JOY' so that I can send little notes of joy this year. You can read about these awesome notecards here and then purchase them yourself if you are interested at


Joy is even listed as one of the 13 Belief Statements in the book, "The Teacher You Want to Be:Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching" by Matt Glover and Ellin Keene. Belief 8 is Joy! The belief is stated, "... that learning is based in relationships, and that interactions between teachers, families, and students be joyful, compassionate, and authentic." 

So I plan on focusing on JOY this year. At home, in my personal life, at school, in my classroom...all of these will a place to put joy into daily practice. Next week, I plan on having my students choose their own word to focus on in 2016 and I can't wait to see what THEY choose! As you enter 2016, don't forget to live life with JOY!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

#Cyber PD-Last Chapters...Digital Reading

#cyberPD 2015

I can't believe that this is the last blog post for #cyberPD. This book was a quick read and one of those books that was just easy to read and made a lot of sense. There were many applicable ideas in this book and #cyberPD has taken this book to even the next level through this awesome "cyber-opportunity." :-)
Chapter 6-Assessment: Keeping Our Eye on the Literacy

The quote that starts out this chapter...nails exactly how I feel about assessment in literacy. 

"Assessment needs to be the vehicle that moves us beyond defining our readers as a number. Assessment should not be about defining a reader but about piecing together information to help us design classroom experiences so we can observe our readers learning and understand what each one needs."-Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan

I've always believed that assessment when it comes to literacy should be qualitative. Teachers often think that there is one magic reading assessment that they can give to identify a child's reading/literacy needs, but it really is a bunch of little observations and assessments. I usually conduct the Words Their Way spelling inventory, a writing sample, the Fountas and Pinnell benchmark assessment, reading observations, conferring notes, and an assessment that entails an extended response. I put all of these together to develop a profile about the reader and then I can decide on the direction that I need to go with the reader. As I'm reading this book and reflecting, I realize that I would like to also incorporate assessing digital literacy skills. I need to do some more thinking around how this would look and what is most crucial to assess. I'm almost thinking...instead of concepts of print...maybe concepts of digital literacy to get a feel for what they already know and what they need to learn. 
I love the digital reading survey questions and I will definitely incorporate these questions into my reading survey in our data binders. I'm also looking to expand on using digital portfolios and "beefing" them up. Last year, I created digital portfolios on Google Drive and we used them, but not to their fullest potential. This is something that I really want to focus on this year as a way to collect student work and reflect on it. These are a great way to collect work for student led conferences and to show off the student's impressive digital work. 

Chapter 7-Beyond the Classroom Walls: Connecting Digital Reading at Home and School

As for the connection between school and home, I use our class Twitter account, our class website, and my most favorite tool...smore. This is a website that allows you to create digital newsletters and I love it so much that I buy an educator subscription. The newsletters are sooo easy to create, look attractive, and are "parent friendly." I can add links to articles or websites, have parents RSVP for events, add pictures, change the background/fonts/color, and the list goes on. I always try to add in an article or resource each week for the parents who wish to read them. 

Here are some links to some of my newsletters...

I send out a newsletter ALMOST every week and it's a great way for parents to access newsletters. They can go back to it at a later date and refer to the dates or the information that I have given out. It even has analytics so that you can see how many people have accessed your newsletter and you can even see where people are viewing it from around the world. I have noticed that there are a A LOT of traveling parents out there that access the newsletter.  This is just an AWESOME digital tool that I just LOVE! 
It's important for parents to see the importance of technology in our school and support our 1-1 iPad initiative. That's why I try to incorporate it as much as possible to showcase the importance of technology in the classroom. 
I love the line that says, "Teachers need to offer opportunities for schools and families to connect around these topics and make meaning of them together." This is an important job for each and every teacher! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

#CyberPD-Chapters 3-5: Digital Reading

#CyberPD 2015

Well to start...I decided to change my blog name this weekend. Not sure of the repercussions 
 of doing this but I just did not like the name of my blog anymore. So it is now "Reflections of An Intentional Teacher"...which of course my 14 year old thought was HORRIBLE;-)... but I'm totally comfortable with my new blog name! 14 year old girls think that EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE IS HORRIBLE pretty much all of the time! Hoping that will change soon! ;-) 

Anyway, we've had beautiful weather here in Minnesota, so I've spent some hours by the pool reading this great book and reflecting on this "cyber-opportunity."

Chapter 3-What Really Matters? Authenticity

I loved the quote from Lucy Calkins, "I do not think those readers would tell us about making shoe-box dioramas of beloved novels or writing new endings to published stories. They wouldn't talk about sending make-believe letters from character to another, or about cutting books into sentence strips and reassembling them. Instead, I think that great readers would tell us about weaving reading together with the people and passions of their lives. They would tell us that reading, like writing, is a big thing we do with our whole lives." I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and I'm pretty sure I've underlined these same words or at least very similar words, somewhere before! As I've matured in my teaching career, I try to always I like to make a diorama after I read a book, do I like to log my reading minutes and write a summary about my reading, do I like to answer critical thinking questions to the book that I just read and write them in a complete paragraph? No, no, and no! Then why do we want our students to do this? Let's make the learning authentic(more often than not) and maybe, just maybe, we can create a classroom of students who LOVE reading! 
I love Franki's connection to the book trailer being similar to the diorama because it wasn't authentic. 
Another reason for giving students choice in the classroom! When students ask me if they can use a different app on their iPad or create something that is even not digital, I usually always say yes. My students have blown me away over the last two years of having iPads with what they can do when given choice. Often times their projects turn out BETTER than what I had originally planned or envisioned and it is because I allowed them to be authentic and have choice. I've seen amazing projects this year with Padlet, Popplet, iMovie, Keynote, Pic Collage, Nearpod, Book Creator, iBrainstorm, Animoto, Prezi...and others that students have found and asked to use and have been amazing!  

I also agree that Genius Hour is a great time for students to explore new apps and tools and allow time for discovery. I've had students learn how to design amazing websites, create iMovies that were so good they brought tears to my eyes, create visually appealing Prezis, app-smashed many apps together to make their product more interesting, created beautiful keynotes without too many annoying transitions, and there are many more. This is why we host a classroom wide EdCamp every year so that students can be the experts and teach the other interested students about what they know. It is one of my favorite activities to do with my students and by far it is one of their favorite activities of the year. This supports the point in the next chapter that, "it's not important for the teacher or the students to be familiar with every tool available." Odds are that someone in your class is going to have it figured out before you can even turn on your iPad. Happens to me all the time! 

Chapter 4- What Really Matters? Becoming Intentional Decision Makers

I like the word "intentional" in this chapter. I love the thinking around teaching our students to be "intentional" with their reading. Is it best to read on the kindle app, borrow from the library, purchase the book and read a hard copy? I find myself being more intentional about "how" I read my books now and have different preferences based on what I am reading. If it is a book that is going to have difficult vocabulary in it, I prefer reading on my iPad as it is easy to touch a word and get the definition. If it is going to be a quick read and I would never want to read the book again, I will borrow it online from the library and read it on my iPad. If I want it NOW...I will buy it through Kindle and send it to my iPad. If I want to reflect it on the SMARTBOARD for teaching, I will buy it digitally. Otherwise, I still prefer old-fashioned books. But space is becoming a problem in our office, thinking may shift to more digital copies. 
I loved the section on page 48-49 on the teacher scaffolding intentionality by text choice! This is so important and something to really keep in mind going into a new school year. There are so many options out there! I LOVE Wonderopolis and I'm always amazed when I find a teacher who hasn't used it before! I love it so much and use it so much that I always think to myself that I should probably work for Wonderopolis! There are soooo many options when it comes to teaching with Wonderopolis and I appreciate the fact that it is free and has stayed free! 

Chapter 5-What Really Matters? Connectedness

I had a "text-to-self" connection when I read about Franki feeling "weird" about not having a device to refer to while reading a magazine on the airplane. I often read a book or a magazine and open up my phone or my laptop and google something that I read about, learned about, or want to buy. Amazon Prime is the best thing to ever happen in my shopping world. I see a book...I can have it in 2 days. It's beautiful. 
I also have found real value in connected learning. I love using Twitter to connect with other classrooms and authors. The students get really excited if an author retweets us or responds back to us and it is exciting to share this with them. I also loved participating in The Global Read Aloud this year and the March Book Madness. Both of these activities provided some added excitement around reading and allowed us to connect with others all around the country. I also enjoyed using Padlet to connect with other classes for It's Monday, What Are You Reading. I'm excited to try this again in the fall and see where it leads. Biblionasium was another favorite tool for the students to record their books and to recommend books to other students in the class. I felt that Biblionasium was way more powerful than a paper/pencil reading log. I love the lines, "one important paradigm shift in this connected thinking is to move beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge; instead, we want our students to build deep understandings around concepts and ideas and then adopt these ideas as they read independently. Connected reading builds this understanding." This is what it is ALL about...the whole reason we teach reading. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

#oneword365 revisited

My word is PURPOSE. I still use it and refer to it...even though it's July. My goal is to make it 365 days with me "purposely" using my word.  I have it as a hashtag in my email signature. I had my students choose their own word in January and they use their "words" all the time. I haven't forgotten my word and it pops into my mind often and reminds me that I need to be doing everything with #purpose. 

In June, my wonderful friend Mandy came to visit me all the way from Ohio with her family.  She brought me a little gift and when I opened this little gift...I LOVED this little gift! It was beautifully made!  This is what it was...

Stationery with the word PURPOSE!

I received 8 greeting cards with beautiful hand drawn mandalas that were sized 5x5, with the word purpose written inside of the mandala! They are gorgeous and the mandala is made BY HAND! Can you believe that!? I can't...because this is something that I could never do! 

"A mantra wrapped in a mandala"

These cards are on beautiful card stock and are blank inside. I wanted to share this artist's work with all of my blog readers as I know many of you have "a word" for 2015...and 2016 is closing in on us faster than we would like! :-)  You can find her work at and order a set of your own or order a set for a my dear friend did for me! I love them and will definitely be ordering a new set or maybe sets! You can even custom design your own! Check them out! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

#CyberPD:Digital Reading-Chapters 1-2

#cyberPD 2015 book

NCTE Statement

I was so excited that this was the chosen #cyberPD book for the summer... especially after ending our first full year of having 1-1 iPads. I feel that in just 2 short years, I have done so much with my class digitally than I ever could have imagined.  So this book and "cyber-opportunity" is a perfect tool to help me reflect on my practice this summer. 

The book starts out with the NCTE Policy Research Brief about "Reading Instruction for ALL Students." 

"Both the qualitative dimensions and the reader-text variables depend upon the professional judgement of teachers, especially the reader-text variables, because only teachers know students well enough to help them find the best text for the purpose at hand, something "leveling" systems cannot do." 

This line really resonated with me because as educators, we have to remember that our professional judgment is so much more important than any program that can be offered to us and that students should not be strictly tied to "a level." Professional judgment will help us guide each and every student. 
The other line that resonated with me was, "Reading research shows that educational policy needs to include professional development opportunities that enable teachers to match instructional approaches to diverse student needs." It goes on to say that teachers need frequent and sustained opportunities to learn with one another...I can't even say enough this statement! Professional development is key for quality literacy instruction and should be ongoing throughout all of your years of teaching. Reading the latest literacy books, connecting with others on Twitter, reading blogs, reading articles from educational reading journals, dialoguing with literacy experts in your district, and taking post-graduate courses are all essential for growth as an effective teacher. 

Chapter 1-Defining Digital Reading

When reading this chapter, I underlined and marked the following lines with !!!!. "Digital reading experiences much be a part of the opportunities we give students on a regular basis. If not, we're discounting much of the reading they will engage with in the future." I couldn't agree more with this statement. If you think about how digital reading has changed in the last 10 years, 5 years, and 2 years...think about what will be happening in the next 2 years, 5 years, or 10 years. We HAVE to prepare our students for their future. The days of paper copies are coming to a quick end and we have to be fluent in navigating digital text so that we can teach our students. For example, which links should they click on, which ones should they stay away from, how can they navigate through the pages, how can they quickly look up a definition of a word, how can they open a new window in order to search something that is related to their reading? All of these are lifelong skills that our students need. 

Another important part of this chapter was that, "Just because students are 'good' with technology does not necessarily mean they are literate in the digital age." We need to guide students to use technology to their fullest potential and not on a "superficial level." It is imperative for students to know what the best tool is for them to use and how to really use the resources that are out there to their fullest potential. Technology is just not a source for checking Instagram and Twitter, playing games, and making Powerpoints.  

I also thought that the line, "We can't wait until a child is competent with traditional literacy skills and then expect the child to transfer those skills to digital text." was important. There are basic reading skills and there are digital literacy skills, and both of these must be taught in this day and age. We can't hold students back from digital literacy until they are reading at a certain level or reach a certain benchmark. I love the chart on page 10 that elaborates on how digital reading expands traditional reading skills. A very useful chart that will make teachers think about their instruction. As it states, "learning to read digital texts must be embedded in the ways we do our literacy work on a day-to-day basis." 

Chapter 2-From Reading Workshop to Digital Reading Workshop

Yes, yes, and yes to using
 the workshop model for reading and embedding the structures of time, choice, and response into the reading workshop. This chapter really gave me something to think to create an effective digital reading workshop! I LOVED the list on page 19 and 20 about the role of digital texts in the literacy workshop. Definitely a stellar list to consider when teaching digital literacy during reading workshop. Are we teaching students how to use apps like Kindle, Overdrive, or the 3M Cloud Library? Are we showing digital texts as we read and modeling what we can do with them as we read? Are we looking for content online instead of looking it up in a textbook or outdated library book? All of these things are important for our students...or rather imperative for our students to know. 
My kindle app right now

I agree that a digital reading workshop is a "structure that honors authenticity, intentionality, and connectedness." The importance of a strong reading community is important, both inside the classroom and outside of our classroom. This is pretty easy to do in 2015. I use Padlet to build a reading community within our classroom and also connect with others outside of our classroom. The students love it and their responses are more meaningful(most of the time) when they know that anyone can see their posts. 
I'm looking forward to building an even stronger digital reading workshop this year! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#5BookFriday and It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

So if you are looking for a way to build a lot of excitement in your classroom around reading, try #5BookFriday and a weekly rendition of It's Monday, What Are You Reading? These are two literacy ideas that I saw this year from reading literacy blogs and looking at Twitter. I learned about both of these ideas from the blog by Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris. I tried both of these ideas in the classroom in January and they sure have evolved!


One of our 1st weeks of #5BookFriday!

My students LOVED #5BookFriday so much that they would eagerly anticipate Friday afternoon just to hear about the latest 5 books! I would pick out 5 books that I wanted to share with the class and motivate them to read. I would pull either new books that I had ordered through Scholastic, new books from our school library, old favorites of mine that I felt needed a special "look at" from the students,  or a theme of books around a certain topic or genre. After about 6 weeks of sharing books, students started asking if they could share 5 books on #5BookFriday. I made a schedule for the rest of the year and they would eagerly await their turn. Some weeks I didn't assign anyone the task so that I could share books with the class. I kind of missed sharing my favorites every week! 
The excitement that was built around this activity was amazing.  After 5 students were chosen to read the books, I would take a picture of the students with their "new reads" and post it on Twitter with 

So many new titles were shared, 
so many students received some great book recommendations for future reads, 
so many students thought about their "Top 5" books that they would share, 
so many students sat in anticipation of what books would be pulled out of the bag,
so many students would have to decide if they wanted to read that book or wait for maybe a better one to come out of the bag, 
so many students heard the excitement around these books and it helped them as readers, 
so many students wanted to share and be part of #5BookFriday,
so many more books were read because of #5BookFriday,
so....I deemed it a classroom success!  

How to do it...
1. Choose 5 books(sometimes I did 6 because I JUST couldn't decide...)
2. Put the books in a bag(easy)
3. Share out each book to your students(with lots of excitement)
4. Pick someone in the class to read each book(often the book has a line of students wanting it when they are done reading it)
5. Take a picture of the students with their books(students can do this as well)
6. Tweet a picture of the students with #5BookFriday

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

If you are a blogger, you probably know about "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?" 
I used to participate in "IMWAYR" for some of my blog posts. I enjoyed reading the different blogs and seeing what others were reading both in the classroom and professionally. I decided this fall to start a classroom version of "IMWAYR" and this is what it looked like...
Pretty simple...they wrote it up on chart paper in the morning.

Over time, this started to evolve. I saw a post about doing this activity on Padlet in the classroom and I thought it was a brilliant idea! Since we are a 1-1 iPad classrom, we could easily do this using padlet. This was one of our first tries. 

It was a decent first effort, but with anything we have learned a lot and improved our posts. I started asking for more specifics and pushing for higher quality posts since anyone could view them on Twitter, in our newsletter, or on our blog! 

 Here is an example from the end of February...

The students really enjoyed posting to Padlet each week and sharing their book. They also were able to get some great book recommendations from reading each other's posts. There were many times when they posted their first post and then I made them go back to revise their work and improve it. As a teacher, you can also go in and delete any extraneous posts or posts that do not represent the expectations of the classroom. 

We then got a little crazy at the end of the year and tried to go global! We would complete our Padlet and then send it out via Twitter around the world. We asked classrooms to add to the Padlet to share their reading. We were pretty excited to see other students from as far away as Canada adding to our Padlet. 

We will definitely continue this next year and try to have others add to it as well in order to foster collaboration and connection across the country and even farther. This was an activity that we did in class that really added to our learning and helped to foster a love of reading and a strong culture of reading in our classroom! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Reflections on ANOTHER Year!

ANOTHER year is in the books! I think that this is the end of year 14 for me! Between staying home with my girls and moving, I lose track of the years each year!  It's the end of June and I finally have some time to sit down and write down my thoughts about the past school year. Reflection is always important for me because it helps me to figure out...
 -what to keep doing 
-what to stop doing 
- what to tweak and improve upon for the following year

This year, I know for sure that I want to keep the following...

-Genius Hour
-Personalized Learning opportunities 
-a Balanced Literacy approach to reading and writing
-End of the Year Writing Contest in my classroom
-Student Data Binders
-Goal Setting and Reflection
-Voice and Choice
-Global Read Aloud and World Read Aloud Day
-using Padlet in the classroom for collaboration and communication
-#5BookFriday(I NEED to do a blog post on this!) 
-engaging, hands-on STEM activities

This year, I want to stop the following...
-students talking over each other or not actively listening to each other
-students not being purposeful with their talk in the classroom
-students questioning the need to reflect on their work in the classroom
-students not being appropriately challenged in math when they are 2 or 3 grade levels ahead of our gifted math program
-wasted time
-letting writing time fall to the wayside 

Of course, I have grand ideas for all of the above and a stack of books to help with the above, but these are things that I seem to always struggle with each year.  I make a list about how I can be more intentional in my teaching around these things and how I can seek out help in these areas. If you have any suggestions...shoot them my way! 

This year, I want to tweak and improve upon the following...
-Discovery Quests-how can they be more meaningful and still be an excellent source of public speaking practice?
-Math Workshop-how I can set this up to reach all of my different learners and challenge my students appropriately
-Writing Workshop-how can I include more authentic writing time into my already tight schedule?
-Goal Setting-how can I be more purposeful in following up on SMART goals and making sure that SMART goals are written appropriately?
-Reflection-how can I continue to teach the importance of reflection and how it transfers over to everyday life?
-Authentic Assessment-how can I create more authentic assessments that are purposeful and truly measure learning? 

As you can see, I have a lot to think about and a lot to plan out as I sit by the pool in July and August! I'll keep you posted on what I come up with as it develops! Feel free to shoot me any ideas or suggested resources. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Power of Conferring

Conferring with students, conferencing one-on-one with students, individual conferences...whatever you want to call can be so powerful when you take time to analyze and reflect on your work with the students. 

In January, I committed myself to ramp up my reading conferences. I wanted to make a concerted effort to meet with each student once a week. I had started off the year strong with conferences in September and October and then November and December were a bit more inconsistent. 

Since ramping up my conferences, I have had so many aha moments about the importance of conferring. I have conducted reading conferences since I started teaching in 1998. I had a wise friend who taught me (as a first-year teacher) to always point out a "praise point" and a "teaching point." She suggested I label it PP and TP while keeping anecdotal records and it is something I have done since 1998. I loved the idea of always praising a child for something, as well as finding a teaching point to focus on each time. Meaningful compliments or "praise points" are so important for building a trusting relationship with your students.  I usually only give out compliments for the first month of conferring, before I begin to give teaching points. Students are more receptive to the teaching points after you have built that safe and trusting relationship. I try to make our conferring sessions feel like a one-on-one laid back conversation about books. The students then WANT to come up and conference with you and will actually ask..."when is it my turn?"

An example of conferring notes
Over the years, I have experimented with many different ways of keeping track of my conferences. Post-it notes(no-way...they were all over the place), an anecdotal grid with each child's name in a box(this worked really well for me...but the papers would pile up over time), a whole class conferring binder(this ended up being a HUGE binder that was hard to carry around and would fall apart halfway through the year), and finally what I use now. Now I use 5 different colored binders, one for each day of the week with 5-6 names in each binder divided by tabs. I read about this idea from Steven Layne and his book, "Igniting a Passion for Reading." I love this idea because I can focus on a certain set of students each day. Inside these binders, I include certain reading assessments, my conferring notes, and other data that gives me a comprehensive picture of each reader. 

Color-coded binders for conferring

When meeting with the students, I love the conversations that we organically have around books. They share with me their thoughts about reading in 4th grade, how their reading lives have changed since the previous years, their thoughts about why they are loving their book, their thinking about their books, what they are wanting to read next, their feelings about themselves as readers, their passion for a certain genre or series....the list could go on! 

It's important to listen and to model "good listening" when conferring. (This can be hard with all that we have to manage and observe while conferring!) I usually only ask open-ended questions when I meet with my readers. I also will sit and wait for my students to respond or for them to elaborate on their thinking. I don't rush them through their thinking or through the conference. I sometimes need to paraphrase what they are saying to familiarize the student with academic language. I will name what the child is trying to say as inferencing or say that they are using their background knowledge and the text clues to help them make an inference. This helps the child recognize what they are doing as they are reading and reminds them about what an inference actually is. 
An example of my notes...I paraphrase in my notes.

There are so many possible ideas for teaching points and that is where you as the expert teacher gets to make the decision about what that child needs to work on next. Do they need to work on reading the punctuation, thinking deeper about the text by using strategies that you have given them, building their reading stamina, setting reading goals, slowing down to think about the book, tracking how a character changes throughout a text, or whatever else the child is ready for NEXT in their reading life!

When I sit and confer with my students, I have so many feelings of affirmation. It reminds me of why I teach reading the way I do (using the balanced literacy approach) and why I have the goal of teaching reading so that every child in my classroom LOVES to read and walks away with a lifelong love of reading. I want them to read the pages willingly, find phrases that resonate with them, stop and think about the author's writing, make connections to the text, reread pages that didn't make sense or are worth going back to reread, and think about how that book has enriched their reading life. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Using Padlet in the Classroom

A tool that I recently started using in the classroom is PADLET. I was familiar with it, but didn't know exactly how to incorporate it. We played around with it last year, but I didn't have much success.

What is PADLET? Padlet is basically an online bulletin board. A teacher can post a question, a link, or an image on the wall and the students can respond on the wall. It is a great way for students to collaborate and to be creative. I love it because I can see all of their work in ONE place. I can easily assess who has not completed the assignment and I can easily assess who needs to keep working on the assignment. Since others can see the wall, it encourages the students to do their BEST work and it gives them an authentic audience. 

One of our more recent Padlet posts.

I started out the year having my students respond to the prompt, "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?" I would write that phrase on a piece of chart paper and the students would write down the title of the book that they were reading and their name. The students loved doing this and it was a great way for the students to get some great book suggestions. Now I look back on that practice and laugh because Padlet has made it SOOOO much better! 

I read about creating a Padlet for "It's Monday, What Are You Reading?"in a blogpost by Kristin Ziemke. I thought that this idea was brilliant! What a great way to digitize my practice, adjust my expectations for my students, and to make our work public. Kristin Ziemke also helped me via Twitter figure out how to keep my Padlet neat and organized! Important note!!!! When setting up your padlet, go into settings(the cog wheel) and click on layout, then click on grid. This was life changing! The freeform layout did not do much for us and just caused us frustration! 

I started this in late December and continued it when we came back to school in January. I love it! The students have improved each week and they have referred back to the Padlets to get book ideas. 
We have focused on basic skills like capitalizing the title of our book and using punctuation to more complex skills like writing down the point of view of the story. We tweet them out every week from our class Twitter account @Skogstad_Class

Here are a couple of examples...

February 2nd Padlet

January 12th Padlet

January 5th Padlet

Another way that I have used Padlet is for Wonder Wednesday. Each Wednesday, I post a "wonder of the day." It is usually an article from Wonderopolis, but not necessarily. I just LOVE Wonderopolis, so I can usually find something good from their site! I post a link to the article on a Padlet and the students read the nonfiction article and respond to my prompt.  I choose articles that relate to our standards or something that we have been discussing in class. For example, we are currently reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. We have been discussing the water cycle and how the water supply can be different all around the world. I had the students read an article about water and then post a response on the Padlet.  They had to record a "thick question" that they would research further and then also write about what they learned. 

Another Padlet that they completed was an article that compared bacteria and viruses on Wonderopolis.   
They had to read the article and list in order the top 5 things that they learned.  They had to rank them in order by what they thought was the most important. This is what they came up with...
Viruses vs. Bacteria

We have had a lot of fun using Padlet. It is interactive, creative, collaborative, and fun to use! 
A sample of a Padlet post.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015! Live it with #purpose!

Yesterday on New Year's Eve,  I received an email from my wonderful principal to check out a blog post about choosing a word for 2015. I took a look at it and thought that it was ingenious. I started to think about my word and I thought about that word on and off all day. I was first thinking about going with the word "challenge." I liked that word and almost committed to that word for the year. I was trying to find a word that I could easily use in both my personal and professional life.  Then I came across THE word...PURPOSE! 
As I get older, I want to live my life with purpose. I want to make the most of my days. I've kept a gratitude journal for the last 2 years and it's amazing how it changes your outlook on life and makes you appreciate all of the little things in life! Sun, flowers, green leaves, colorful leaves, laughter, solitude, a clean house, health....the list goes on! 

I want to focus on purpose this year. Purpose to me transcends everything. Purpose allows you to have joy, show gratitude, be challenged, focus on important things, be mindful and present, simplify your life, take risks, demonstrate your strengths, allows you to reflect and breathe and take time for yourself...all of which I need to work on in 2015. 

I want to have purpose with my family. 
I want to have purpose with my daughters.
I want to workout with a purpose.
I want to be healthy for a purpose. 
I want to eat for a purpose. 
I want to teach with purpose. 
I want my professional life to be filled with purpose. 
I want my friends to have a purpose.
I want to spend my free time with a purpose. 

So here's to 2015...and living with purpose