Thursday, November 21, 2013


I came across this resource on Edmodo last week. This web resource looks like a comic strip. Teachers drag different types of content on to each panel. Teachers can post: images, video clips, power points, quizzes, and much more. I love this resource because students are not only engaged but they are showing understanding in multiple ways. The teacher can interact with the student directly on the site through messaging. I also like this resource because students can work at their own pace; they can pause a video or zoom in and out on a map.

How do I use BlendSpace?
I give students a packet that is interactive with my BlendSpace board. I use my own Show Me videos, power points, and quizzes to assess student learning.

This site is the future of learning in my classroom.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Please Be Seated

Be Seated is a free app available for the iPad that complies a list of names and even the faces of your students. This app relieves teachers of the headache of creating a seating chart by hand. You first design your classroom: pairs, rows, groups of four, etc. Once you import the names of your students Be Seated assigns them a desk. Be Seated will randomly seat your students and then you can move your students around as you see fit with the touch of your finger. Finally you can email the seating chart or print it out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Show Me

Show Me: Egyptian Geography

Show Me is a resource used to make videos. As a History teacher I used Show Me when I am teaching students to identify countries, capitals, or geographic features on a map. I record myself labeling the map and I have students label their maps at home. Students access the video from home via Edmodo.

My Show Me goal:
 SWBAT Identify geographic features by creating their own Show Me video.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Taboo in the Classroom

For this review game you will need at least 2-4 students to participate. Each student gets a set of cards with a concept at the top, students give clues about the concept without saying the word or words underneath the concept. Students have 2 minutes to guess/give clues to concepts on their cards. Students love this game and I as a teacher love hearing my kids use prior knowledge when giving their own clues, it is a great way to check for understanding.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Need A Quick Review Game?

To review concepts from a previous lesson or from an entire chapter I like to play "Last Student Standing." I use the List Selector app to pick a random sample of students usually about 8-10. Those students come to the front of the class and from right to left they are asked a review question. If the student gets the correct answer they stay standing, if they get it incorrect they sit and then the student who is next in line answers their question. The game continues until there is one student left standing. I usually don't let it go more than 5 minutes if I am doing just a quick review. From high school to middle school, this is one of my kids favorites!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Become a Rubistar

Need a rubric fast? Rubistar has a ton of rubrics for teachers to use or add to for assessments in all major content areas. They also have rubrics in Health, Pys Ed, and Technology. Teachers can access the pre made rubrics, change the point value, or add details in each category. It's fast and easy to use!  


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Turn Your Basic Powerpoint Into Something Engaging

If you haven't started using Prezi you are missing out on a chance to connect new concepts and engage yours students.This user friendly site allows teachers and students to upload slides from Powerpoint or start from scratch. They have a number of  templates to choose from or you can create your own Prezi. Teachers can search for their content area on the site and use existing Prezi's. This site does a great job of saving every Prezi you create so that you can go back and reuse or recreate old Prezi's.  Prezi has an app for the iPad and is even compatible with Edmodo when uploading it to the site.

Trust me, you want to be using this! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Student News

Fridays are "Student News Day" in my classroom! Carl Azuz, the host of Student News, composes a  variety of national and international news stories for students. Each day a 10 minute clip is available for teachers to stream in the classroom. Carl breaks down difficult concepts like the "fiscal cliff" in terms that students can understand. Student News also does a great job of keeping the kids in the loop about days of observance around the world. The site offers resources for teachers like quizzes and maps for each news report.

What are my students doing while Student News is playing?

"3-2-1" My students are writing down three facts they hear in the clip, 2 locations Carl mentions, and they are creating 1 quiz question about the news report. At the end of the clip students will switch quiz questions with another student, who is then responsible for answering the question correctly.


"Who? What? Where? Why?" My students choose one news story to answer Who? What? Where? Why? during the news report.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaching Content via Skype

For the last three years I have used Skype to connect with other classrooms around the globe. I have found students to be very engaged during Skype sessions because for most of them this is a new experience. Each of these activities requires excellent classroom management from the teacher. Students must be familiar with the appropriate use of Skype in the classroom, this is something that partnering teachers should discuss before attempting these activities. The following activities go beyond the typical "guest speaker" Skype session. 

Here are some active approaches to Skype in the classroom:

1:1 Activities (One iPad or Computer for every student)
Reading buddies: Students on both sides of the computer take turns reading passages of the same book to one another. 
Example: Student 1 reads while Student 2 follows along, then they switch. Students have the same guided reading questions and answer the questions together.

 Study buddies: Students are given the same review sheet for an upcoming test on the same content. 
Example: Students can quiz each other via the web and can use their class resources to check their answers if they get stuck.

Whiteboards: Students are given the same worksheet, they show work, draw political cartoons, or share other answers using their whiteboards. 
 Example:  Students can complete the same math problems over the web while checking each other's work.

Speed Debating-  Students are given a topic from History or a character from the same book. Example: Students hold a "one on one" timed debate, they are instructed to complete a writing activity based on their Skype partners opinion. When time is up, students on one side of the web switch seats and begin a new debate with a different Skype partner. 

Jigsaw Activity- Students read a piece of the same article and come together to talk about the main idea.
Example: Students on both sides of the web are put into pairs with one computer or iPad for each pair (making a group of four). Students from Class A read the beginning of the article while students from Class B read the end of the same article. Students then discuss the article as a whole and complete a common assessment.

Whole Group Activities
Mystery Skyper- Connect with teachers across the globe and have them "Skype in" to your class giving clues as to what area they are calling from. 
Example: Each class gives 3-4 clues about their city, state, or country. Each class ends the call and has 5 minutes to discuss  their 3 guesses. Students can even keep track of each city, state, or country on a map.

Competition- Host a competition with another school in your locally, nationally, or internationally. 
Example: Math Tournament, History Bowl, etc.

Formal Debate- Hold a formal debate via the web.

Language Speaker -Language teachers can connect with a guest speaker who will fluently speak to students (this is also great for ASL classes.)
Example: Language Speaker tells a story while students answer questions about the main ideas. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to School Shopping for the Teacher

I recently found some good deals on teaching supplies. Target's dollar section has some great materials like: whiteboards, flash cards, organization supplies for your desk, and cheap "prizes" you can use for student incentives. My next stop was Micheal's, they are very teacher friendly when it comes to their 20% discount. I bought some colorful boarder for my bulletin board for cheap. If you are an elementary school teacher they have bulletin board decorations like Dr. Seuss and animal themes. Staples is also a great place to seek out decorations for your room, their prices are minimal and they have a wide selection. My last stop was the Scholastic book store in NYC. They offer a 50% off discount on certain teacher resources. However, I was unimpressed by their limited resources for secondary educators. I think elementary teachers can definitely utilize their material.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Meet My Intern: Edmodo

Edmodo is a social networking site for teachers and students. To students it looks like Facebook, to teachers it looks like Course Web with upscale features. Edmodo holds students accountable for handing in assignments on time and staying organized. Edmodo tracks students progress throughout the year all while keeping parents informed. Edmodo is like an organized intern that never makes a mistake! 

 Here are some ways that I have used Edmodo efficiently in the classroom over the last 3 years:

Expecting a guest? I once had a state representative come in and speak to my government class. I created a "group" on Edmodo and I had students (after researching the representative) post questions from their seats via Edmodo. These questions would appear on the SmartBoard, the representative would select the questions he wanted to answer. The guest speaker was comfortable because he was able to pick his questions and my students were excited when their question was answered.

Make differentiation easy: I found it very feasible to differentiate homework, projects, and tests using Edmodo. On the day of a test or quiz I would actually send my IEP students the adapted test directly. This way they would not have to leave the room, or get a different color test, etc.

Not your average poll questions: I have used poll questions for the Presidential Election, Breakfast Invitations, or "Do Now" document based questions. This is a tool to quickly assess student learning, plus students answer anonymously.

Need a vacation? Edmodo makes a substitutes life a lot easier. Post your class assignment to your students and have your students turn it in by the end of the class period.

Never hand grade again! Edmodo has a quiz feature that acts like a modern day scantron. Teachers can ask T/F questions, multiple choice, short answer, essay, and matching. Teachers can also time each quiz. When I give students a test on Edmodo, I select 45 minutes since my class ends around that time. When I assign a quiz for homework, I may ask 10 questions and I may only allow my students 25 minutes. Edmodo will grade your test or quiz (essay questions must be graded in real time) because you tell Edmodo the correct answers. Teachers can also randomize the questions.

Grade written assessments the modern way: Have students upload their word document file to the assignment you create. Once students have uploaded their paper, you can actually edit their paper by commenting, highlighting, or crossing out information directly on their paper. Students can go back and view your critiques.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who says you can't use Brainpop in the High School?!

Brainpop is a teacher resource that has been around since 1999. I have used Brainpop for about 4 years now, and recently they have added some fantastic videos for all subject areas. Teachers at the high school level sometimes feel Brainpop may not be age appropriate for their students....and I say YOU'RE WRONG! The videos are engaging and my high school students laugh just as loud as my middle schoolers. 

1. When should I use Brainpop? I use Brainpop when I introduce new content or at the end as a review of a concept.
2. What are students doing while the video is playing? Brainpop goes beyond textbook information, this is great because you as a teacher can create a variety of learning strategies with each video clip. Sometimes I give my students guided listening questions, a single essential question , or a KWL chart to complete while the video is playing.
3. What other features does Brainpop provide? Brainpop has a quiz feature for every video clip. When using this feature I let my students take it as a class. Because Brainpop records all scores for each video quiz; my classes compete with my other class periods for the highest score.
4. How much does it cost? For a 1 year subscription it is $205, I suggest having your school or even district buy a subscription and share the username and password. The app is free to download and free to stream on their website.

Here are my favorite Wold History clips via Brainpop: 

1. Black Death                                                         2. Democracy
3. Rise of the Roman Empire                                    4. Fall of the Roman Empire
5. Sumerians                                                           6. Athens
7. Religion                                                              8. Ramadan
9. Pax Romana                                                        10. Middle Ages 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reminding Parents and Students the Modern Way

Finally there is a new way to communicate with students and parents without giving up your privacy. Remind 101 is a free app that sends text or email reminders out to parents and students. Once you create your teacher account you will be prompted to create a group. Remind 101 will create a special group code and phone number, you give students and parents the code to text or email and they are immediately signed up. This app allows you to write a text message from your phone or the web (up to 140 characters) to the group of your choice. Parents and students cannot reply to the message, this is just for reminding purposes. As an alternative you can give parents and students your email address in the message if they have further questions.  I have sought out some of my friends who have kids in middle school and they said that this would be a life saver because they may not always check their email on time.


Monday, July 22, 2013

List Selector: The App You Use To Randomly Select Students

I stumbled upon this app last year and I cannot seem to put it down. This app allows you to randomly select: individual students, pairs of students, or make groups of students. I use the app in front of my classes on a daily basis via the iPad. If we are going over homework, guided reading questions, or playing a game I use this app. The app holds all students accountable for their work in my class because they never know when or if they will be called upon. My students like the app because they know it’s random, all the students are quiet until the names are revealed…it’s pretty hilarious.

I have also explored other ways to use this app such as inputting content information like vocabulary terms or names. As a Do Now or Exit Slip I will have the app select 5 or 6 terms and have the students write a cohesive paragraph using those terms in the order in which they appear. Sometimes I will pick 5 terms or names and call on students to create a question using that term and have another student answer. Again, using this app really holds all students accountable in the class, it’s wonderful! 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Not Your Typical Review Games

Need some new ways to engage your students when it comes time to review? Here are some games that my students rave about:

1. Cash Cab- Depending on your class size, place the students in groups of four. Set up the desks like "cars." Pass out white boards (or white paper) to the "drivers." As I go through the questions, all drivers are responsible for writing down the answers on their whiteboard. Each group gets about minute to discuss the answer, but not talking too loud so that other groups don't steal their answers. When I call 3-2-1, the drivers hold up their whiteboard at the same time. I have students put a tally mark on the top right hand side of their board if they get the question correct. You'd be surprised how honest the students are, they think that I am tracking their points but I'm really not. At the end of the game I do a BONUS question and groups wager an amount. Whichever group has the highest points is declared the winner of cash cab. You can get more creative and give the students flashlights for the RED LIGHT CHALLENGE questions and which ever group flashes first gets to answer the question.

2. Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? - For this game, I sometimes change "fifth grader" to whatever unit or topic you are covering. I use the Geico caveman's picture for "Are You Smarter Than A Caveman." So get creative and change it up to give your students a good laugh. If you are familiar with the game you know that there are categories by grade, I usually do it by topic. I randomly select about 5 contestants per game from my class and they use whiteboards to answer the questions. The contestants are seated in front of the class and they answer all of the same questions.  Each contestant gets one "phone a friend" life line. This game actually goes by pretty quickly, so I always make sure I have prepared questions for two games. The student with the most points wins the game. So what about the students who are not playing? They are writing down the questions and answering them on a sheet of paper. They will use this sheet as a study guide. If you have good classroom management then all of your students will be on task during the game without talking. Plus, the students seated never know when they will be called upon by one of their classmates for assistance in the game.

3. Deal or No Deal- For this game the class is divided in half, I actually arrange their seats so that each of the sides are facing each other with space in the middle for myself to walk around. The left side of the room gets the even number "cases" and the right side of the room gets the odd number cases." The cases are silver construction paper that have a number on the front and a question on the back. I stapled yarn connecting the sides so that the students can hand them around their necks. Each case has a question, answer and a point value on the back. When a number is called by a student on the opposite side of the room the student whose number has been called reads their question aloud. The student who called out that number must answer the question. If they get the question wrong, the case is still in play, if they get it correct that student takes off their case. All correct answers give positive points to the team; all incorrect answers are subtracted from the teams score. I do put the word BONUS on the back of two cases (one odd one even), these questions, when wrong do not get subtracted from the score but they are out of play once read.  I usually do not allow teams to discuss the answers because things can get chaotic but you can add them in if you'd like.

Do you have a "not so typical" review game? Share it with us by commenting below.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Social Media in the Classroom: 3 Tricks to Make Learning "Sweet"

Our students are surrounded by social media and many of them have never known life without it. Instead of looking at social media as a distraction, why not use it to your advantage. Here are some of my suggestions:

1.  Do Now or Exit Slip: Create a tweet in the point of view of one of the characters below. Be sure to get creative with your username. (sometimes I use post- its for this activity)
a.    Depending on what grade level you are teaching, students might get stuck, so provide them with a model of a person you have studied in the last chapter or section. Students might ask if they can “tweet” other characters you have listed on the board. This when you start to see advanced level thinking. Encourage students to use hash tags, if you are unsure what that means, create a twitter account and learn.

2.   Project or Homework Assignment: Use the template provided to construct a Facebook Profile or Instagram Profile on the philosopher of your choice. You must include: 3-4 status updates, photos, and short biography.
a.    There are Facebook/ Instagram templates available for free online. You can upload the template to your site (Edmodo). The students can either submit them digitally or print them out. Be sure to show students examples of a Facebook/Instagram profiles either that you create or have found online.

3.  Study Guide or Homework Assignment: Upload a Blog post using the terms and names provide to create a cheat sheet for an upcoming test.
a.    Edublogs (Edublogs.orgis a free site you can use with your students or you can provide a digital/paper copy of a blog. Math teachers can use this idea to have students explain and use certain formulas as mathematicians. When students complete the assignment they can swap blogs with other students and “check” each other’s work. Another great idea is for students to use their “cheat sheet blog” to participate in a Review Game the day before a test or quiz.

Have an idea? Share it with us by commenting below.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Get to know Knowmia

If you are having trouble viewing the video use this link: Get to know Knowmia

Knowmia is a free app that is very easy to use. Check out my video on how I use Knowmia in my classroom. Use referral link:  to sign up today. Let me know what you think of my video in the comments section.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Teacher Cheat Sheet: Acing the Interview

Let me start off by being completely honest. Due to certain circumstances i.e. budget cuts, better job offers, moving out of state, etc.  I have been around the block when it comes to sitting in the interview chair. Whether you are interviewing for a charter, public, or parochial school here are some (of the many) key terms and phrases that you should be knowledgeable of BEFORE participating in a phone interview or a "face to face."

1. Common core standards- if you don't know what they are you should research them as they pertain to your content and if you are asked to show a sample lesson plan, you should highlight specific standards. 

2. State Standardized Tests-  depending on what state you hail from this may vary by grade level and or subject area. (NY- Regent Exams, PA- PSSA exams, etc) 

3. Differentiated Instruction and IEPs- you should give your employer an example of how you differentiate your instruction. Try to give at least one specific example while interviewing. 

4. Use of Technology- employers want to know if you have a background in technology, from Smartboards to the everyday educational apps. Do your research and become familiar with some of the free resources out there. 

5. Blooms Taxonomy and Rigor- schools want to choose a candidate that is aware of the taxonomy and who knows what that looks like in a classroom setting. This does not mean you should memorize the pyramid but instead have an idea of higher order thinking. Talk about your rigorous instruction and how you guide your students to master a specific concept. 

6. Engagement- the number one question is how do you engage your students? Think of the strategies you have used in the past that have captured student’s attention. Maybe you use hands on instruction, technology, partner activities, or maybe it’s your enthusiasm and tone in the classroom. 

7. Classroom management- can you control your classroom? Every school has different rules for handling different behavior crises; however they want to know if you can manage your classroom without another teacher, behavior specialist, or principal present. 

8. Teaching Style- principals want to know how you kick off your show. Do you greet your students as they arrive? Is there a Do Now posted immediately? Are you the type of teacher that stands in font of the room the entire time? (I sure hope not) They want an employee that can teach from any angle of the classroom and who diversifies their lesson planning. 

9. Collaboration with Coworkers- across content or in your department, employers want to make sure that you are willing to share and learn from your peers. Some charter schools require their teachers to co-plan, while others leave it up to individual teachers. 

10. High expectations- tell the employer that you have high expectations for your students and explain to them what that looks like in your classroom. 

11. Data collection- collecting data is hot right now; basically employers want to see if you use student assessments to drive your instruction. For instance, maybe students did poorly on a section of homework, what do you do to address this? 

12. Professional feedback- I have gotten this question a lot. What was the last piece of constructive feedback you received? What did you do to change the issue?  This can stump a lot of people, but I'm warning you now...take time to think about this one. 

Like I've stated before, I'm not a master at this, I am simply paying it forward. Interviews can be scary, but remember...they want YOU! 

(Feel free to add anything you deem helpful in the interview process)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Your Teacher Desk: Expect the Unexpected

Running late? Miss your bus? Oversleep?

Aside from your regular teaching supplies, here are a few items you should have ready for your first day of school:

An extra pair of nude color stockings
An extra tie (male)
Bobbi pins
Hair ties
Band aids
Nail polish remover
Static guard (travel size)
Wrinkle remover (travel size)
Feminine products
Safety pins
Small umbrella (for the city teachers)

Want to add something? Comment below.

Back to School Icebreaker: Who's Who?

Tired of the same old "Tic Tac Toe" icebreaker? Try my "Who's who" icebreaker! Who's Who: The teacher se...