Chrome-flections Weeks 4-5!

These last two weeks have been very different in terms of success.  Week 4 I felt like I hit my groove with using these devices but Week 5 brought feelings of failure, stress, and oh no am I using technology as busy work??  Part of this I feel lies in my need to have everything run smoothly and practically perfect.  If there is anything this pilot has taught me it’s that fail means first attempt in learning.  It is OK to fail.  Now the learning and growing process can begin.  I thought I would take a moment to divulge why these weeks felt so different.

Week 4:
By this point in our pilot, students have established routines and we have procedures that have been tweaked and practically perfected.  Logging in has become a breeze, students know when to get devices, where to store them, and are quicker at finding what they need. Students have used Canvas (LMS: learning management system) and are familiar with the set up and organization.  Typing skills have improved thus boosting their familiarity of the keyboard.

During this week, I made sure to infuse more mini lessons throughout the day.  I have become a fan of Google Docs as a way to make interactive lessons where students can move at their own pace.
Setting Exploration Google Doc
Fraction Investigation Google Doc
(these would be the 2nd and 3rd Docs we have done!)

I noticed that students were having trouble with managing their time, so I instantly delivered a mini lesson teaching them where to start, where to click, how to manage their tabs, and how to record their thoughts while they watched the videos.  We were using post-its but they were getting lost and misplaced.  Students now use their writing journal as a way to record items they want to remember and then use that to help them fill out the independent component of their Google Doc.  Introducing the notebook was a game changer.  Students then didn’t have to go from the video to the Google Doc and it made it easier for them to remember what they wanted to say.  It also introduced a way for students to revise their thinking when they went to type.

Students were given a 2 week time period to complete and submit the above Google Docs and were encouraged to use lessons taught throughout the week as a way to help them.  I also made sure to monitor student work by making myself present and available for students who needed guidance.

Week 5:

The week started out strong, but I slowly realized a couple of things.

  1. Students were submitting assignments that were either missing components, had incorrect sentences, and or were completely submitting the wrong document altogether.
  2. Students loved watching the videos but were stuck in a loop of just that and not recording their learning on the actual Doc itself.
  3. Students were not using the rubric as a way to check to make sure they have completed all of the assignment.
  4. Students knew the due date was approaching and gave up when a problem would arise.  Instead of trying other things or asking a peer, they immediately wanted me to fix it or they guessed.

This then caused a million and one thoughts to pop through my head.  Had I expected too much?  Were there too many steps?  Were the assignments setup in a way students would fail?  Is it because of their age?  Why are their writing skills regressing when they type?  Did I just create a bunch of busy work so they were using the device or was it really enhancing their learning? Are students too distracted by other students watching the same videos so they are unable to concentrate? Is it a time management problem, an assignment problem, a device problem, or a technology problem?  Or is that how it will be at first so maybe less is more in the beginning?  Maybe I did too much too soon?

Oy. Needless to say that is a lot for one person to think about but a great opportunity to reflect non the less. Friday left me feeling completely defeated.

On Saturday, I participated in a free Webinar through SimpleK12 on how to use Chromebooks in the classroom.  At first I thought this might stress me out even more but it actually did the opposite.  One of the presenters  was asked her number 1 piece of advice for people going 1:1 for the first time.  She said, try everything and get yourself familiar with what you’re asking the kids to use and do.  Her example was to use a Google Form to figure out who is coming to a party and what they are bringing.  Basically find a way to infuse it into your daily life.  That is still you practicing how to use a tool.  We have to be the students and we have to explore too.  You will fail but you are learning as you fail.

This started me thinking, even if last week was a complete failure on the surface, maybe more learning was happening then I thought.  I then made a list of what my students were doing at any on point throughout the week and came up with the following:
-naming a Google Doc
-making a copy of a Google Doc
-practicing using a Google Doc
-navigating a Goolge Doc and YouTube in a safe manner
-recording their observations
-practicing their typing skills
-learning about setting and fractions in a different way
-collaborating with their peers
-navigating our LMS
-submitting assignments
-learning the importance of time management
-familiarizing themselves with what keys to push to correctly punctuate and capitalize a sentence
-navigating Google Drawings
-learning what tools will give them the picture they want
-how to insert a Google Drawing in the correct place
-how to check spelling using their touch screen feature

OK. So maybe not as bad as a I felt.  Is there room for improvement? YES! If and when we move forward with a 1:1 roll out we will have to keep this in mind when communicating with teachers, students, board, administration, and families.  It will take time.  This is a learning curve for everyone.  But anything worth doing is worth doing well and anything done well will take time. The amount of rigor that is involved with using technology still shocks me on a daily basis.  This is hard.  Do I think it is impossible? No.

While sharing my woes, something was mentioned that maybe students can’t do this.  Maybe they can’t, but maybe they just can’t do this yet.  And that’s where good teaching needs to step in.  Also as this rolls out throughout the district, each grade will notice an increase in skills.  It will get easier as it becomes more familiar.  I feel that with anything new you will have ups and downs throughout the process.  There is nothing wrong with high expectations as long as students are given the tools to reach them.

Alright week 6, I have a new plan. (Thanks of course goes to my teaching partner Kelsie who continuously keeps me in check and reminds what to focus on.)

Less is more.  I just went through all of my courses and eliminated pages or assignments that were busy work or unnecessary.  I also limited the amount of assignments kids are responsible for within a week.  Thanks to a coworkers suggestion, I created checklist for students to use as way to manage their time while working through a Google Doc.  I made links that made copying a Google Doc easier thus saving instructional time. I also want to brainstorm ways to incorporate the technology in a more seamless fashion and not so rigid.

Phew! Here’s to an open mind, a deep breath, and a fresh outlook on week 6!

Success & Failure


Leaving a Positive Digital Footprint!

Piloting a 1:1 classroom has been a dream for me! I cannot even begin to express how giddy it makes me on a daily basis.  I love the idea of creating a glass classroom where collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking can happen on a more global level.  I feel lessons now have the rigor the common core and the education system requires but in a way that is fun and engaging for kids.

I know what you are thinking.  That sounds great but what happens when a child misbehaves and the device is involved?  How do you take away or limit the time spent on a device when the whole point of being 1:1 is using said device?  Do not get me wrong, face to face communication and pencil paper skills are still important and are vital to a balanced life long learner.  However, if the punishment is always no device for you do this worksheet instead, are we sending the right message?  Are we creating a society who when faced with a digital citizenship, cyber-bullying, or device care issue will know how to fix their mistake and learn from it?

As a teacher and a mom, I know the natural reaction is to take it away.  Does this mean then for every lesson you create digitally, a backup must be created that could be used in case a behavior issue arises?  While I’m all about putting in the work to do something well, I’m also all about working smarter not harder.  Should a teacher have a back up plan in case of a technology or internet break down?  Yes. Should a teacher have to create a paper and pencil or “old school” version of every single lesson on a device? Oh boy. Teachers would be burn out in the first week of a 1:1 roll out.

So what is the answer?  I don’t know that is that simple yet.  However, I do think there are alternative arrangements that can allow for students to be taught important social emotional skills in a safe learning environment.  Why not take the opportunity when they are young and they are surround by trusted adults to teach students how to behave when it comes to using a device or the internet.  This way we can create students who are capable of leaving productive and positive digital footprints.

I feel an important first step is creating a list of expectations.  This can be done in a way that is comfortable for the teacher’s style but the more of a group effort it is, the more buy in.  We used expectations our school had created for iPads, our student handbook, and my student’s ideas to create a list of expectations.  This was a great classroom meeting topic and brought up some great discussion points.  After the meeting and a consensus of the final product, everyone signed it.  A copy hangs in our classroom and a copy  was sent home to all of the parents.


I then took these expectations and converted them to a Chromebook reflection sheet.  I wanted a way to document broken expectations in a manageable way that would be able to communicate with families what I had witnessed at school.  When a situation arises where one of these is broken, they select the expectation(s) that apply and reflect on the following: what they choose to do, what they should have done and how they will prove they can handle this the next time.  I sign it, it goes home for a parent to sign it, and then is returned the next day.  Here is the reflection sheet I created: Chromebook Reflection

As soon as the reflection sheet was introduced, I felt students understood the seriousness of the issue even more.  They didn’t want to have to explain to their families that a unique opportunity our classroom had been given was something they were taking for granted.  What I am trying to be proactive about is should there be a set number of reflection sheets before another step is taken?  Or do I just continue to use these and base it on a case to case basis?  I also am keeping in mind that anything new makes it much easier to manage because of the excitement level.  That could wear off, so then I feel as a teachers, it is our job to keep that drive and excitement at the forefront.  When students are engaged in the experience, behavior problems lesson or disappear completely.

Another alternative I have found to be effective is instead of typing in TodaysMeet, Google Docs or a website, students who break expectations have to write their responses instead.  Students know where to grab writing paper if they are prompted and we can continue on with the lesson.  I also have had students sit in a designated spot and have a required check in before posting, submitting or sending anything over the internet.  This way they are still able to practice the digital skill but they have more of a guided and monitored approach.  The goal of course being to achieve digital independence that I would expect of a second grader.

What do you do though when cyber-bullying or misuse of the internet occurs?  The pilot team discussed setting certain internet filters that would still allow a student to use the device and the internet to complete lessons, but their freedom would be restricted until a time when they were able to handle it.  For example a junior in high school might get the same filter as a K-2 student until they could prove they were able to handle the freedoms that come with being a more experienced digital citizen.

One of the most interesting social emotional conversations that has come out of this pilot for me is students critiquing others ideas, typing, writing, or spelling.  For some reason once students were reading the words of others on a screen, it became easier to poke fun of or overly criticize their ideas.  It made for a great lesson on how typing is not as easy as writing.  There is a lot more thinking involved.  You have to know where the keys are, type them correctly, and sometimes press multiple keys to get what you need.  We then acted out scenarios, practiced kind words to say, and discussed ways to disagree that were appropriate.  I feel this is where some teachers might give up all together.  However, I kept at it.  I changed the way I monitored postings, circulated the room more frequently, checked in more often, and celebrated success.  I feel by providing students with what it should look like and then giving the opportunity to directly apply this skill, has been important.  I feel teachers know this but for some reason once technology is involved, we assume they don’t need as much guidance.  The directions are there usually in audio and or video form.  Why on Earth can’t they figure it out on their own?  We have to teach them.  We have to lead them through it and we have to fail several times in the process.

Tonight I created a playlist on my classroom’s YouTube Channel dedicated to digital citizenship: My plan moving forward, is to introduce students to these new resources and discuss the idea of leaving a positive digital footprint.  In order to get families on board, I created a homework assignment inspired by Pinterest.  Students will think about the positive digital footprint they hope to leave 15 years from now. They will make a list with their families and bring it to school where we will create some “digital footprints”.  Check out the blog post that sparked it all:

Digital Footprint Homework Assignment

Social emotional skills involving technology are extremely important and often overlooked.  We also have to remember taking away the device, while possibly solving the problem temporarily, might not help them develop skills to fix it later in life.  What plans could we have in place to help students learn the importance of being a mature digital citizen?  Will there be times when a device must be taken away?  Absolutely.  I think we just have to be open to the fact that maybe that shouldn’t be the first gut reaction.  Just like we teach students to interact with friends on the playground, we need to teach them how to interact with students on the digital playground as well.  If we only teach them how to interact on this digital playground without the tools to do it, it will take longer to sink in.

Better readers become better readers by reading. When a student struggles with reading, we put plans, procedures, and small group work in place to support those learners.  They are given more guided or one on one support until they are able to take off with a book!  So why not do the same when teaching digital citizenship or social emotional skills involving technology? Better digital citizens become better digital citizens by practicing and applying digital citizenship skills.  When students struggle with this what type of plans, procedures, and small group work can we add in to support these learners?

What do you do to help your students leave a positive digital footprint?

digital citizen


Chrome-flections Week 3!

Week 3 of being 1:1 has brought a sort of breath of fresh air in a sense.  I am already noticing huge improvements in logistics/management, typing, problem solving, and overall engagement.


When it comes to managing a classroom of 25 + devices, I really feel that each teacher will have to find procedures and plans that work with their teaching style.  Here is what works for me.  The cart remains in the hallway during the day but students get their devices first thing in the morning after doing their lunch count.  Each table has arranged a way to stack and place their devices in the middle of the table in a way that works best for them.  We stack the devices only 2 high and always check the label on the bottom corresponds with our number in the classroom.  This way students ensure that they are using their device. This was the first week I had students get the devices after lunch count right away without being reminded.  This worked for our classroom and I love that they are there right away so when we need them we don’t have to go through the whole process of getting them out.  Next week, I plan on having them log in right away too so we are not wasting classroom time later.  I have been most impressed with how students seem to not mind the extra items on their table and have been able to make space so they can also write and read.

In order to help with logins, I made each student a laminated card.  I made labels and typed all of their usernames and passwords that they would need thus far.  I then stuck labels on the child’s card and had them laminated to store in their pencil boxes.  This way they always have it and can access it at any point in the day.  I have a sample below.  On an actual students cards, I typed all the information in a label template through Microsoft Word.


This week I also added a Chromebook reflection sheet for students who are breaking our expectations that we agreed upon as a class.  Students must select the expectation that was broken, write what they did, what they should have done, and what they will do next time.  I sign it and the students takes it home to be signed by a parent/guardian and returned the next day.  Monitoring and managing behavior with 1:1 devices is something I plan on addressing in a separate blog post.

Here is an example of my reflection sheet: Chromebook Reflection


One of the coolest things I have noticed, is how just in the last 3 weeks how much typing skills have improved.  We have really been working on placing both hands on the keyboard (home row) so we are ready to type.  We also have been working on typing in complete sentences with capitals and end punctuation.  This was hard for students at first.  I think as adults we don’t realize how many keys we need to press to write complete sentences but it is a lot to remember.  Even just the logging into their Google account has gotten so much better.  Students are now more aware of the keyboard and the keys they need to press in order to get their message across.  It has been rewarding to watch,

I’m most interested in how this will change typing classes during our district’s technology time.

Problem Solving

In all honesty this has been one of the hardest things during this pilot.  I think, and to no fault of our own, we automatically assume we can give student multiple step directions when dealing with technology and they will figure it all out the first time.  With that being said though, I do feel like there are students who can rock that out the first time perfectly.  However, in order for this to be successful in any building we have to apply best practices and the gradual release of responsibility.  It will take more modeling and guided practice at first.  I think a big part of this difficulty lies in the fact that this pilot started in the middle of the year or at a point where I am starting to pull back in terms of how much I help.  I encourage students to use their resources and solve their problems on their own.  However, with these devices being new I have had to step in and help but then I don’t help with other things we have been doing all year.  That back and forth I think has caused some confusion for both the students and myself.  We had to adjust expectations and find a balance that we both could live with.

When going 1:1 we as teacher’s have to be open to a learning curve.  We have to be willing to try something and have it fail.  We have to be willing to go through a trial and error process knowing that in the end we will be better off because of it.

On the positive side of problem solving, I LOVE how much our devices have given me more of avenue to practice problem solving.  It has led to powerful conversations on saving progress, what to do when the internet being down, what to do when you can’t log in or find something.  It also has allowed my students to collaborate and be more open to asking for help.  I feel these are HUGE and vital to a child being a successful 21st century learner.  My new favorite graphic for sharing with families is the skills and attributes of today’s learner.  Going 1:1 has provided me a vehicle in which to foster these skills on a more daily basis.

21st century skills new


THROUGH. THE. ROOF.  One of their assignment in Canvas (our learning management system) last week was a simile exploration .  Thanks to a Twitter Chat, I learned about creating a hyper doc: Simile Exploration  Students loved working through this document and creating something at the end. I have seen students using and locating similes more than any other year of teaching.  I feel that when students have been using the devices it has allowed for more opportunities to communicate and collaborate with one another which in turn has made them more engaged.  They want to use their device and are willing to do whatever it takes to do that.  They also all have different needs but the devices have been able to provide with me more opportunities to have students work at their level of understanding.  I have been stressing the importance of asking for help and problem solving.  There is something so powerful about a peer teaching them how to do something that beats even my best explanation.  I feel the doors that are opened and still have yet to be explored, or what will make kids more engaged and willing to embrace being a life long learner.

Overall, each week has gotten better.  I still feel overwhelmed at times and frustrated with the fact everything isn’t practically perfect and constantly worried about making sure to not just use technology for technology sake.  However, the amount of learning I have done in these 3 weeks is the most I have done all year. I can’t wait to see what my classroom will look like in the fall after these next few months of trying and trying again.    



Chrome-flections Week 2: Canvas Learning Management System

Chrome-flections Week 2: Canvas Learning Management System

This week marked the first use of our learning management system Canvas with our touch Chromebooks. I created their first assignment on contractions.  This was similar to the assignment they had in Google Classroom last week.  If there is anything this pilot has taught me, it’s that simple is sometimes better when they are learning.  I wanted the objective to be for the students to learn how to navigate through Canvas and submit their first assignment.  I decided that would be easier if they had a familiar assignment so they could concentrate on how Canvas would work.  They were eager to get going and I was floored by the amount of engagement in the activity.

First thing I noticed is that headphones are going to be a must have.  I love to use videos to embed into their assignments to make them more engaging and visually stimulating. However, students are working at different paces and it can be rather distracting to hear other students at a different place in the video.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much they rolled with the punches though.  I can see that though becoming an issue the more assignments that are added within Canvas.  The question now becomes what to do throughout the rest of the pilot.

I did see the benefits of using Google Classroom last week to prepare them for Canvas.  They were familiar with the basic concept of receiving an assignment and submitting it correctly.  So I am glad I had given them the time to do this.  Next year if we are to roll out Canvas to more teachers, this may be something to suggest as a stepping stone especially in the younger grades.

What I love about Canvas:

  1. I love how when you embed videos into assignments, students are not directed to YouTube but instead the video plays within Canvas. While it will be important to teach students what to do when they are out in YouTube, this will be a great stepping stone in teaching digital citizenship to younger students.
  2. I love the option of creating your own rubrics. They give you a template but you can edit the categories, rating scale, points, and the format you wish for the students to submit the assignments.
  3. Grading was a breeze. I was able to look at each student’s submission, select their rating they received according to the rubric, and then provide students with feedback on each category/overall if I needed to.
  4. I appreciated the ability to not publish everything I’m building. Since I’m building the classes from scratch, I get to decide what the students see.  This allows me to continue working on building my site without the worry of students seeing it not ready.
  5. Being able to organize everything in once place. You could either have one course and then a home page that links to all your subject or a separate course for each subject. I chose to do a separate course for each subject.  This way I could organize my files and folders even more.  All of my reading will be with reading and so on.  According to Canvas this is going to be a teacher preference thing.  When Canvas was linked through Powerschool, it sent me all the subjects that are currently listed in Gradebook.  I did have to create a few more courses on my own for other things I would like students to work on.

Setbacks I am finding using Canvas:

  1. Grades are supposed to push to Powerschool (attendance/lunch cards/report card program), however K-2 is standards based grading so my grades won’t push out to Powerschool. I wish there was a way for that data to go somewhere or to be logged in to their report card.
  2. From a teacher standpoint it will take a lot of time to build our curriculum within Canvas. Teachers are going to have to be given effective and ongoing professional development.  I loved that the pilot team was allowed to participate in a webinar and also granted a half day together and work on building our Canvas sites.  Since we were all in the same room this was really beneficial in terms of figuring out logistics and brainstorming what would work the best.  This will be vital in teacher buy in.  I also feel when we give them the time to work within Canvas, members of the pilot need to be present to guide and assist where needed.
  3. At the moment you cannot assign a quiz or an assignment to individual students and you can’t change the due date for individual students. While I understand the need for these type of requirements, from a differentiation standpoint, I see this becoming an issue.  I have a lot of questions about meeting the needs of gifted and IEP students.
  4. I enjoy there is a place called the Commons for us to use as a resource when creating our courses, but I have not found many things for second grade other than blank templates. I would love more samples of assignments that teachers have created.  I realize that as our district implements this, those resources will start to grow but it will be something to keep in mind when rolling out.
  5. Canvas can be hard to navigate and figure out but then again anything is when you first implement it. There are a lot of steps to remember when setting up a course in terms of your home page/front page, and then how will your organize the rest of the course after that.  While I have better feelings about it then I did initially, it still can be stressful especially when determining the best way to organize your courses, modules, pages, assignments, etc.  I also feel I am pretty tech savvy and we must keep in mind there are teachers who are not as tech savvy.  What kind of support will the district and the pilot team be able to offer them?
  6. The tables, fonts, and sizes are difficult to edit. Sometimes when you are editing a page it looks one way and then you go to save it and it looks different.  When creating a table, you can’t edit every line within that table so the sizing gets thrown off.  While not a big rock, that can be very frustrating for some teachers when wanting to create something that looks nice and clean. Also there is one font choice.  Again not a big deal but I wish there were more to choose from.
  7. One item that has been problematic is that we currently have to log in with Google to get into Canvas. At school this is not an issue because they use their Google log in to log into the Chromebook itself.  However, if the whole purpose of this is for students to have access to it at home, they will have to make sure they are logged into Google first.  This could mean logging out of their parents Google and or siblings.  I think this is one of the pluses then to being able to bring their device home.  They wouldn’t have to bother with their parent’s Google information because everything they need would be on their own device.  I find myself sad that we are not piloting taking these devices home so we can work out some of these kinks.  It is my hope that is something that maybe could be tested before a full implementation.

low tech texting

This pilot has taught me so very much and I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity.  One of my favorite things so far in terms of support was having the half day to work with the other elementary teachers.  I learned so many neat tips and tricks that I can’t wait to use.  I said this last week, but there have been so many moments where I have felt like a first year teacher all over again.  While this can be frustrating it has been a great way for me to grow and push my limits as an educator.  There are things I never would have tried had it not been for this pilot.  This will be important to share as other teachers being their 1:1 journey.  It will be hard, it will be work, but it will get easier.  We will have to collaborate and lean on each other.

I also have learned that there is the same learning curve for students.  The initial response as a teacher is to get frustrated when we see students not able to perform as we think they should.  However, we have to remember that yes what they are doing in theory may be easy, but when we add a device and a new way for them to do it, it will take time.  It still has to be about the gradual release of responsibility.  They are figuring out things way quicker than I imagined, but we still have to give them time.  We have to plan these lessons just like any other lessons.  We have to build their stamina and knowledge base slowly and understand that typing and computer skills require a different mindset than we are used to.



Chrome-flections Week One: Resources!

During my first week with Chromebooks in my second grade classroom, I have come across some amazing resources.  I know there are so many out there but here are three that I used this last week, that are my new favorites!  These are tiles that I have made sure to include in my class Symbaloo:


The second day of last week, I wanted to take our failed Google Doc vocab discussion and find a better way to have our discussion, I remembered TodaysMeet.  This website is for lack of a better description, an online chat room.  You don’t have to create an account to set up a room but I did.  This way I could pick how long I wanted my room open and I could delete comments that may need to be taken down. (Oh and then screen shot page as a reflection for appropriate digital citizenship).  This went a million times better then having 25 kids edit a Google Doc at the same time.  In real time students were looking at a collection of pictures that described our vocabulary word and typing what was the same, different, and seeing what others were typing.  While I feel technology is amazing, I wanted to still have a face to face component.  After allowing them to type their reflections in TodaysMeet, I had them discuss everyone’s comments by scrolling through the feed.  It was a great way for them to point out what was good and what they needed to work on.  It was in doing this I realized this would be a great way to do a number talk before math lessons.  Enter number talk TodaysMeet lesson.  Our number talk that day was how many ways you can make 20.  It was beyond neat to see students type away and then reflect with our peers.

Honesty Alert! I LOVE TODAYSMEET! I can print transcripts and since my room is open for a year, students will be able to look back on previous discussions.  I also love how quickly it opened student’s eyes to proofreading and how important typing skills are if we want to communicate a message.  I also noticed some of my best spellers struggled with that when typing.  This will give them the challenge they need and will hopefully strengthen their typing all at the same time.  While I feel Google Docs are way cool and am currently researching how to use them more effectively, for this particular discussion TodaysMeet worked better.  I did have a student who chose to not type what they were asked to do.  They simply had to close their Chromebook and look off of someone else’s while writing out their comment on paper.  My cooperating teacher also uses it on the iPad and it was a similar hit for her students.


This is probably me new favorite teacher resource.  It is a way for me to make an online interactive quiz.  I create problems with either pictures or videos playing.  Students log in with a number code that my quiz generates.  Students have to look at the SMART board to read the question and the answer choices, then use their device to select the correct colored shape that is the answer.  I created an intro to Kahoot as a way to introduce my students to how it works and highly recommend doing this.  Make your questions simple and answers they either know or can look around your room and find.

After each question it shows a graph of how many students selected what choices (so you can gauge understanding) and it provides the leader board after every question which my kids LIVED for.  Not only were they excited if it was them but I was very impressed with how much they were excited for each other.  At the end of the quiz students can provide you feedback.  Then you can save the results to your computer and it makes an Excel spreadsheet for you.  Yep, I totally nerded out over this.  This spread sheet records every students score, what questions they missed/got correct, and what they answered for every question.  There are even multiple sheets so you can break it down by questions.

Honesty Alert! Engagement will be high but students get swept up in the game and begin to get click happy.  I showed them the spreadsheet it creates and they were surprised to see that I could see how they answered.  They realized that it isn’t about how fast they can be but how accurate they need to be.  My partner teacher and I thought this would be a great way to review skills and asses their knowledge of that content.  The amount of rigor is HIGH and we feel the data collected is way more meaningful.


This is a free program that teachers can set up for their students that I mentioned in a past post.  On Fridays, I have time in my schedule for them to have coding time.  Students build code by watching an instructional video, and then moving code tiles to make something move.  In the first level it is moving an angry bird.  The amount of critical thinking and problem solving skills is through the roof.  Students are highly engaged and began naturally collaborating with others to solve the code.  They even acted out which way their angry bird needed to turn which then led to discussions of how did you figure that out.  It was neat to sit back and watch them be independent thinkers.  These problem solving skills are also teaching them not to run to me every time there is a technology problem.

Honesty Alert! While our time is precious as teachers, I highly recommend giving students time to do this!  The skills outside of computer science are important in every subject and will help them become independent thinkers which after all is one of the main goals of going 1:1.

Are their any resources that you feel are must haves in a 1:1 classroom?


Chrome-flections Week One: Using Google!

It is hard to believe I’ve had the Chromebooks in my second grade classroom for a week. After a great first two days, I decided to dive right in head first.

Google Classroom

Since, our LMS system was not up and running, I wanted to give students a taste of what it would look like to have assignments and submit them.  I set up a Google Classroom page and decided to start with a Google Doc.  When we are learning a new vocabulary word, I start the lesson by showing them a collection of pictures dealing with the word.  As a class, we then discuss what we see, how they are the same, and how they are different. I thought it would be cool to have this discussion be on a Google Doc, where students could see everyone’s ideas and it would give us practice using them for the first time.

Honesty Alert! Holy buckets Batman!  That was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.  I do not have much experience in using Google Docs and it was only after using them with 25 second graders, I realized I had only used them to edit with a few people.  I think my first mistake was having 25 of them trying to edit the document at the same time.  Cursors would disappear, lines were deleted, and the blame game began.  I immediately saw myself sinking into lesson failure and time management twilight zone (lesson lasted 40 minutes which is double usual time).  I must admit I felt like a first year teacher all over again.  I found myself getting frustrated with them at first because why couldn’t we get this to work.  It was after the second time of going over directions step by step on the SMART Board, I realized just like anything else we must use the gradual release of responsibility.  The skill set required to do things on the computer is different and takes time.

The next item we tried in Google Classroom was a question, where I asked them to record phonics pattern words they found while in guided reading.  This went MUCH better.  Not only because we had had that lesson fail earlier that day but because in the question component, they just type in their answer and cannot edit others responses.  This also made me realize how cool it was to grade and give feedback immediately from where ever I was! It made me start to see the value in an LMS.

In the middle of the week, I wanted to try my hand at another assignment on Google Classroom (since Canvas wasn’t ready yet).  I wanted to show the students that we could have some success with more practice.  I set up an assignment where they had to watch 3 videos about contractions and then write 2 sentences with at least once contraction in each.  This was pretty neat and well received.

Honesty Alert! When I post YouTube videos from my classroom playlist on Google Classroom it takes them to YouTube.  Now this led to great digital citizenship conversations but I am looking forward to how Canvas plays the YouTube videos within the LMS.  Students do not have to actually go to YouTube.  While I feel it is important to teach students to navigate the internet in a safe way, I like that for younger students we have this as a way to foster those skills first and then open it up to going to the actual YouTube page.  When it came to students writing their sentences, we realized how when typing we must remember capitals and punctuations since those require us to hit different keys on the keyboard.   Good news is going 1:1 means keyboarding will be introduced before 3rd grade.

It was in these lessons, I realized the growing pains that will occur going 1:1.  While kids now a days are able to pick up things much quicker, it will take time for them to grasp the logistics of it all.  As a district, we must prepare for that and plan accordingly.  After a while though and if our work is done early on, we will see those logistical items become easier if not obsolete.  Also our teachers are going to need effective Google training or at least be pointed in the right directions.  Whether that be teachers within our district who know how to use Docs, Slides, Draw, Sheets, Forms, etc or a video library of resources, we must be prepared to set teachers up for success.

After feeling like I was a complete failure, I wasn’t prepared for how much typing helped them to remember the vocabulary discussion or how our failures led to amazing problem solving discussions.  They saw what it was like first hand to fail and fail again.  We had to think quickly on our feet and come up with alternative guidelines and expectations.  In a way it was the best authentic real world lesson I could have given them.

As teachers moving in to a 1:1 environment, we will have to remember there will be elements of first year teacher and extra work.  It will be overwhelming and seem unmanageable.  Believe me I felt that very much in my first week and must honestly admit to spending 3-5 hours at home planning, researching, and creating lessons.  However, that is my personality and I realize that is not for everyone.  Collaboration is going to be a HUGE component of our districts 1:1 success.  It will be key to collaborate with grade level, district level, and or department levels on a regular basis to lessen some of the burden.  Instead of creating everything yourself, alternate by units or chapters when creating and make sure to share!  We must lean on each other and share resources and tips more frequently.  Granted this has my first week, so I am anxious to see how the work load and overwhelming feeling changes as I get further in to the pilot.

If you have any tips or tricks that have helped you when beginning your 1:1 pilot please feel free to share with me!  I am eager to learn!


Flight #2Pis1to1 is prepared for takeoff!

I recently started my adventure in piloting a 1:1 classroom for my district with touch screen Chromebooks.  Within this pilot, I will also be working with Canvas which is a learning management system.  My techie heart is overflowing with excitement!

Part of my work with my district’s 1:1 team is compel quantitative and qualitative data to in a presentation to our Board of Education.  I thought this blog would be a great way to capture my journey and reflections in hopes to help others and perhaps learn myself.

Day One
My cart of 30 devices arrived on Wednesday, February 3 at the end of the day.  Wanting to ride the excitement train of my students, I did something very unStefanie like.  I decided to take a risk and just go for it! That next day my students were able to get their hands on their device.  Since I teach 2nd grade, I wanted to spend that first day creating our Chromebook expectations:

We had great discussions and worked out a few logistics.  Afterwards, I had each students sign a copy of the expectations.  One copy hangs in our classroom, another copy was sent home to all families, and one was posted on my classroom blog as reference.

I then wanted to put the devices in their hands so I opened up the cart (before it was labeled and numbered), and passed out devices.  Upon further reflection I wish I would have labeled everything before that first use.  I also wish I had remembered they had to log on for the first time.  This meant they had to type in their district email address and password which was over 20 characters.  This was also the first time any of them had seen this information.  After they typed it all in, there was a mini lesson on how usernames and passwords must be spelled and typed exactly right.  It then prompted students to reset their password.  On the fly I was able to come up with one but I wish I had thought that through a bit more.

That first day of devices was probably 20 minutes for expectations and 30 minutes for logging in.  I feel now that I have things in place that time could be cut down.

Immediately after students went home I proceeded to label my cart.  I placed signs on the outside to help differentiate my cart from some of our whole school carts.  I then took masking tape and numbered all the slots and cords for each device.  I am huge fan of color coding and class number systems.  Every student in my class has a number and that number corresponds to the number that is on their device.  It is also color coded.  Even numbers are blue and odd numbers are red.  Each device also has a number on it (made with label maker).  Now my cart is set up to where students place their numbered device in corresponding slot making sure to plug it in with their numbered cord.

IMG_3032 IMG_3234
I can’t even begin to tell you the difference this made in students getting and putting away the devices!

Day Two
I wanted students to be able to find my Symbaloo:

A Symbaloo is a collection of websites where instead of typing a web address, students merely click on the tile and are taken directly to the site.  I highly recommend making one of these.  Not only does it save time with typing in web addresses and help younger students, but it organizes your resources in a neat way. Symbloo even has a collection of Symbaloos for you to search for.  I was able to find other premade Symbaloos for students who use Chromebooks and came up with even more tiles to add to my own. Be sure to check out the Symbaloo website:

It probably took me 4-5 hours over a 3 day span to create my current one.  A big part of this though is my need to want everything to be visually appealing.  I wanted the perfect photo to represent each site.  Symbaloo will generate one for you that sometimes worked but sometimes I felt it didn’t provide my students with enough information to know what site that tile was.

Now came the task of teaching students how to access and use it.  In order to do this, students needed to be able to access my blog.  I wanted to show them the longest way to find it in Google Chrome so that if a problem ever arose, they would be able to figure it out independently.  Students were the ones that discovered shortcuts that I didn’t even think of or realize.  It is now a competition to see who can get to the Symbaloo the fastest!  I used the gradual release of responsibility to ensure they would be able to find this independently.  Part of their homework that night was then to teach their parents.

After explaining how to find the Symbaloo, I explained the websites that were available and stressed the importance of digital citizenship.  I especially stressed this with our class YouTube page.  I have a classroom YouTube page with playlists that provide students learning videos to refer back to.  We discussed how randomly traveling throughout YouTube requires more skills and safety considerations that I plan on embedding in my future lessons. I then allowed students to explore the different tiles.

This lesson probably was about 40 minutes and took the place of my JAM session (journaling about math).  My schedule on Friday’s allows for about 40 minutes of this time which worked out perfectly.  It really opened my eyes though to how this time needs to be restructured to revolve around 1:1 activities.

Phew! The first 2 days already had me feeling excited, overwhelmed, proud, and frustrated.  The key I realized right away is the amount of patient that will be required when this is first rolled out.  As with anything new though, after practice and tweaking, things such as logging in won’t seem as daunting.

Please follow our journey on Twitter:

Here’s to the adventure!