Category Archives: Technology Integration Stories

Authentic Learning

So it is summer, and teachers really should not be blogging about teaching. That is what most people think. But I am not most people. Last year, I used the website goanimate to integrate technology into my third grade classroom.  In one lesson, students were to create a video showing a conversation between two characters to tell about one of the symbols of the United States. Over the summer, one of my students entered a contest sponsored by the PTA. He won first place for his creativity with technology describing generosity and compassion.  Now this makes a teacher proud. Way to go Matthew!

Guess I should add that if you click on the title, it will take you to the link 🙂


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July 10, 2013 · 12:16 am

What Does The Data Say?

I started this blog as a discussion post on technology integration into the classroom.  The more I wrote and discussed, the more I was convinced that I needed to Flip my 3rd grade classroom and put my words to action.  That was a little over three months ago, and I will never go back!  I truly believe that the time has come for teachers across the country to begin the process too.

But what does the data say????…….

Now this is not to imply in any way, shape, or form, that I conducted some sort of formal research.  I would just like to share some of the student data produced by my systems standardized test scores. 

According the data, from the Fall of 2012 until the Winter of 2012, my students showed an average SGP (Student Growth Percentile) of +53 in reading. That is pretty average.  93% of my class met district benchmarks.

Using the same standardized test, my students showed a larger SGP in reading from Winter 2012 to Spring 2013. Their SGP was +73, and 100% of my students met district benchmarks.  That is a pretty huge jump in numbers.  The only notable change in instruction was the use of technology to support the curriculum.

I know their will always be skeptics.  And I have seen growth and motivation that test scores will never show.  So for me, this is just another incentive to keep on keeping on!

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Third Grade 2012-2013

Third Grade 2012-2013.

Animoto video of our year! Edited by one of the students.

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Filters and Blocks

Just when I thought I was really rolling with my technology integration plan, I ran into a road block. The school system blocked some of my sites.  That is right.  They blocked Goanimate and!  Goanimate was blocked due to “adult content.”  Seriously? I wrote the site administrator, asked my principal to call, and had the computer tech call too.  After a week the site is still blocked!

This site was made for educators and classrooms. Another similar site Xtranormal was not blocked.  I had looked into using that site before choosing Goanimate but decided against it because many more types of people were using it, and there were some more adult type content.  Who decides these things?

Since the system has blocked all users (including teachers) to download any type of web content (including an update to adobe….but that would be another blog topic), I have been importing pictures students are taking onto their computers using a flash drive.  I decided to use flickr as an easier way for students to get their own content.  I created a classroom site and set it to private.  And yes, the system has blocked flickr because it is a “computer system.”

Integrating technology has been challenging enough without the added worry of some abstract way of blocking content for my class. The key is educating students on Internet safety.  I am ready to go downtown to the “big dogs” and have a discussion before this next school year begins.  My class and I have been working very hard these last few months, learning together as a team. They know that they are helping me decide what works and what needs to be changed to make my third grade class more successful with technology next year.  We need our school administrators to be on the same team too.

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Go Animate and Research

This week, I looked at the objectives we were to teach in reading.  Those objectives were using capital letters with proper nouns, finding main idea and summarizing, asking questions, and note taking.  The story was The Statue of Liberty.  I decided this was a great week for students to do online research on the symbols of the United States.

I started out by finding some kid friendly sites and adding those to our class Edmodo group so the kids could find the references easily.  Little did I know the system would have the sites open on Monday but blocked the rest of the week. So I also had to teach them how to do better online searches.

One of my students finished his work quickly and wrote a three paragraph report.  I asked him how he wanted to present his work on his blog.  He replied Go Animate! This link will take you there, and it is so worth the couple of minutes it will take for you to see.

I guarantee you the rest of my class is working hard to write their reports so they can create an animation too!  Click on the title of this blog and it will take you to the link!

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April 11, 2013 · 1:03 am

Observations of My First Week Flipped

What a week this has been! This has been the most thrilling and motivational yet frustrating weeks for myself and perhaps my students.  We really took the plunge into technology integration this week.  And I do mean we. We worked together as a class to discuss objectives, help each other, problem solve, and assess our learning.

I started out this week with a list of objectives on the board.  We had to review syllables and spelling patterns, finding and comparing character traits in stories, writing a persuasive argument using information from a text to support our case, and review figurative language. To accomplish each objective, we would integrate technology.  To assess if we were successful, we were required to take an online unit test established by our reading publisher.

First I established the students’ blogs.  This is where we would publish all of our created material.  If you can in any way, please visit and check out some of their blogs.  This was probably the greatest motivation the students had all week. They knew their work would be published “World Wide”, and they were thrilled.

We incorporated Wordles to review our spelling words and uploaded those into our blogs. We wrote persuasive paragraphs directly onto our blogs. And I must say the students were extra careful with spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  I also allowed them a chance to create a Voki character to talk about what they loved about third grade. My goal there was to teach some of my more “techy” students how to embed and to help others.

While all of my students had the opportunity to create a cartoon demonstrating their ability to locate information in a story and ask questions, only a few were able to complete that assignment.  They were too anxious to play with the technology and they rushed through the preparation part of the assignment. In retrospect, I should have allowed the time for students to play with the technology first, and then assigned them a topic.

Our formal assessment went well. The class average for the unit test was around 77%. I would have liked the average to be higher, but I learned a few pointers this week too.  Some of my students still need that extra support of more concrete assignments before assigning creative or abstract written work.  For example, a few of my students had trouble writing questions or turning their statements of information they read into a question.  I had to work with them on that before they could make the cartoon.

I have always believed in what some may consider a busy classroom with students working together collaboratively.  This week was even “busier” than ever. I had students at different levels of technology knowledge, hardware issues, content questions etc.  One of the most pleasing things I noticed about this week were that the students did not need to be assigned a partner or a team.  They really worked together, offered to help each other, and walked around the room asking each other questions. That was awesome!  However, I did have maybe one or two students who took advantage of this time and did not work. I am going to have to work to decrease this response.

With only a few weeks left of school, I am so eager to try all of this with my class.  I knew going into this week I was introducing more technology tools than should be started in one week.  I would not advise anyone introducing so many different technologies at one time unless you have either a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of patience, someone to help, or some serious down time when you get home.  But I have a good clue of where I am going starting next year.

I can’t stop now! Even if I wanted to stop and go backwards, my class would not let me. They are having fun. They are learning. They are helping each other. And isn’t that what school should be all about?


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Wisdom From Nike: Just Do It

So April 1, 2013 I put my plan into action. Since I seem to be going against the grain, starting on April Fool’s Day is almost fitting. I took all my classroom reading objectives for the week and found technology we could use in the classroom to replace worksheets…..the staple of the Pearson environment.  I wrote the objectives on the board and told my class the plan. In 17 years of teaching, I have never seen a class so excited!

My first goal was to introduce them to a form of Wordle called Tagxedo. I found Tagxedo easier to save. We were creating word pictures and having fun with our spelling words in no time! My next goal was a little loftier. I introduced them to our classroom blog.

I have to say I did not expect the excitement of the class over a blog! I mean, a blog means writing, and my class has not been overzealous about writing. We brainstormed together what our first post should be, knowing that their writing would be published to the world prompted correct sentences, grammar, punctuation, everything! They helped each other. They helped me! The class did not want to go to PE because they wanted to stay and work on their blogs. (Of course I made them go so I could catch my breathe).

Did we bet all of our Wordles and blogs published? No. But we will. We learned together. My class was a talking, working, organized group of learners yesterday. I can honestly say it was the best, most productive day ever. Every student was engaged every moment. I call that day a success.



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